Music Career Tips: Making a Living While Making Music

Do you make money from music? Does anyone you know have a self-sustaining music career? When I interview artists to feature on the Studio Pros blog, that seems to be the ultimate goal of most of them: turning their passion for music into a sustainable, full-time career. So what exactly is the right way to go about reaching that goal?

You could sell millions of CDs, but that’s pretty tough for unsigned musicians.

You could go on tour nonstop and play tons of paid shows that cover your rent and bills, but it can be hard for lesser known musicians to get gigs that guarantee payment.

In a recent post on the music blog Hypebot, they summarized how most non-famous musicians make careers out of music. Since most of us fall into the “non-famous” category, I was curious to see how my musical peers were covering life’s expenses without the luxury of star power. According to the post, most artists are generating income by playing in cover bands and wedding bands, teaching up to 40 students per week, directing music activities at their local church, or simply joining so many bands that they have regular paid gigs most days of the week.

I’ve personally never had much of a knack for teaching, and building up a clientele to the point of making a full living can take quite a while. But for those of us with formal music training, it can certainly be a way to pay your heating bill with something music-related. If you have aspirations for playing your own music professionally, the scheduling side of teaching can be a bit restrictive when it comes to rehearsals and touring. I would imagine, though, that helping a child discover the wonders of playing an instrument could be quite the rewarding experience and may make it all worthwhile.

Playing in cover bands for weddings, parties and cruise ships can be a very well-paid gig, but it also leans toward the less glamorous side of playing music. Would you feel fulfilled if you were playing other artists’ music every day for the rest of your life? For some people that might sound like a lot of fun, but to me it seems like it might get old pretty quick. I’d also expect the job to be rather thankless. I’ve played my fair share of drunken frat parties, and I have to admit that it isn’t too fulfilling in the long run, even if the crowd tends to have a pretty enthusiastic response to hearing their favorite songs.

So what if you’re like me and you want to make some money from your music but don’t want to exhaust yourself by having to play cover shows in three different bands five times a week?

I think that although this list sums up many of the ways non-famous musicians make a living, it doesn’t include all of the possibilities. There are tons of great opportunities for the modern independent musician to make money through licensing opportunities, getting their songs placed in films, TV shows and commercials.

The above money making avenues all have to do with performance, but there’s no mention of the compositional side of things. With services like TAXI helping to connect artists and composers with music supervisors, it may be the best option to make some cash for those of us who may not be up to surrendering our entire free time schedule to rehearsals and gig

In order to get song placements, you need two things: a great song, and a great recording.

The great song is probably the harder part. It can take a lot of practice to come up with a tune that will capture the imagination of the masses. But you don’t have to do it all alone. Submit your song to our free project consultation, and a Studio Pros producer will listen and give you professional feedback on your music to help you get on the right track.

A great recording is easier than ever. With Studio Pros, all you have to do is give us your song and we’ll provide you with a team of Los Angeles session musicians, producers and engineers who will get you a broadcast quality recording that you’ll be proud to shop to music supervisors. Get started on your project today!