12 Opportunities for Musicians to Make Money Online

We’ve all heard that saying, “If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.” That certainly applies to making a living as a musician. And when it comes to virtual opportunities for musicians, it’s hard to know the real opportunities from the scams.

That being said, there are a lot of legit ways to make money with your music online, if you know where to look. If you’ve got good business sense and you’re willing to work at it, you might even be able to make a full-time living through virtual opportunities alone

Having multiple ways to make money with your music can help you get through the tough times, such as when you can’t book live concerts and shows. Here are 12 virtual opportunities for musicians that you may not have thought of- but should definitely know about.

1. Crowdfunding

As you already know, it takes a lot of money to produce and promote your music. Crowdfunding is a fantastic way to use technology to fund your passion.

Whether you go with Kickstarter, GoFundMe, or some other platform, a well thought out crowdfunding campaign is a creative way to earn money with your music so you can move forward with your next project.

2. Make Money with YouTube

There are two different ways musicians can make money virtually with YouTube. You can start your own channel with music videos or online lessons, monetize those videos with ads, and earn money based on the number of views you get.

Don’t forget to promote your shows and website merch in your videos, too. Or, you can use Content ID to earn royalties when people use your music in their monetized videos. Many popular musicians got their start on YouTube, including Soulja Boy and Justin Bieber.

3. Sell Merchandise from Your Website

Most musicians are already selling CDs and music downloads from their websites, but don’t forget about selling other merchandise, too.

Selling band merch like clothing, posters, car decals, and autographed photos can be very lucrative, especially if you’ve got a younger audience. Try to offer items in a wide range of price points, such as stickers and PDFs of your lyrics to autographed photos and posters.

4. Digital Performance Royalties

Streaming music services like SiriusXM, Music Choice, and Pandora must pay digital royalties if they play your music. You can sign up for a free account with SoundExchange to collect your royalties.

There might even be money already waiting for you. SoundExchange holds unpaid royalties until the rights holder claims them.

5. Create Music for Movies and TV

Movies and TV shows always have soundtracks or background music playing at some point. Filmmakers need unique tunes and soundscapes to use in their projects. Any music that gets used has to be licensed in order to give the creator the rights to the music legally.

Musicians can connect with these creators easily by working with a music licensing agency, like Marmoset, who provides film & video music licensing. They can help with custom music production services, as well as the licensing of your work for commercial use. Whenever your unique piece of music is chosen, you’ll earn money.

You will also appear in the credits for the show, which could open up opportunities for you in the future.

6. Teach Virtual Music Lessons

Many musicians teach music lessons to make extra money, but you may not have thought about teaching music lessons online. Working over the internet allows you to teach students from anywhere in the world without ever leaving your home.

You’ll need a laptop, tablet, or phone with a webcam and free video chat software like Skype or Zoom to get started. There are several online platforms that help virtual music instructors connect with music students, too.

7. Patreon

Your fans love your music and want to support your career and Patreon makes it easy for them to do that. Creating a Patreon account allows you to collect small monthly pledges from your fans in exchange for fun perks like live streams, behind the scenes vlogs, and other exclusive content.

You can start your pledges as low as $1 per month and add them in increments however you like. If you have a lot of fans, those pledges can add up to a substantial income boost each month. To entice bigger pledges, offer things like free music downloads, sneak peeks of upcoming videos, or VIP passes to shows at higher levels.

8. Create Custom Songs

Many musicians have never thought of creating custom songs, but fans tend to love this idea. They already love your music, so why wouldn’t they love a piece you created just for them?

Whether they want a personalized song to give as a unique gift or something just for themselves, it’s an opportunity for you to earn money doing what you love. As an added bonus, it’s another virtual income stream you can market and sell right from your website.

9. Hold Live Virtual Shows

Holding live virtual shows gives you the opportunity to perform right from your own home and broadcast the show to fans everywhere. You can charge people a fee to access your live stream show, or simply ask people for a voluntary tip or donation during the show.

Venmo and PayPal.me are easy to set up for collecting tips and donations. And, check out Facebook Live’s toolkit for musicians who want to hold live virtual shows on their platform. Don’t forget to promote your music downloads, CDs, website merch, and Patreon page during your show, too!

10. Offer Virtual Private Performances for Special Occasions

Much like live virtual shows, virtual private performances can be done via platforms like Skype or Facetime without ever leaving your home. This type of performance is for private occasions only and it can be offered as a gift option for purchase on your website.

For example, a man might purchase an hour-long private performance for his girlfriend on Valentine’s day or some other special occasion. You both log on at the agreed time, and you provide music while they enjoy it over drinks and dinner. Fans love this one of a kind experience and it can be quite lucrative if you market it right.

11. Compose Music for Other Musicians

If you’re good at writing songs and you enjoy doing it, composing music for other musicians is a great way to make money without leaving the comfort of home. Ghostwriting music can be very lucrative once you get your name out there. In fact, there are many well known musicians who exclusively use music that was originally written by ghostwriters.

12. Consider Freelancing

Freelancing websites like Fiverr and Upwork are very popular among writers looking to make some extra cash online, but did you know they offer a fantastic opportunity for musicians, too?

They’re a fantastic place to find clients who need help mixing music, custom jingles, or even creating music videos for all kinds of uses, from TV commercials to weddings. It’s easy to get started. Simply create an account, fill out your profile, upload some samples of your work, and you’re ready to begin sending out proposals!

Final Thoughts

As a musician in today’s environment, earning a reliable living through tours and live shows is hard to do. These virtual opportunities should spark your imagination and give you some new ideas for making money with your music online. Modern technology can be a wonderful tool for marketing your music to a limitless fanbase, so every musician should learn how to take advantage of it.

Donna Maurer
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