Musicians: How to make a living
Dancing around your bedroom, singing into your hairbrush or deodorant can, you can feel the atmosphere as the Glastonbury crowd sing your lyrics. You’ve finally made it, headlining at one of the biggest musical festivals in the world! You’re a millionaire, you’re on top of the world! Does life get any better? But then your Dad knocks on the door, reminding you to do your homework. The dream is dead. Ok, perhaps very few of us will ever get to headline Glastonbury or become millionaires. That said, if music is your passion, there are still ways that you can have a career within the music industry. At least if you make it to a stage anywhere, you can pretend you’re at Glastonbury even if you are only in the local down the road. So, how do you make money? Here is our guide to making cash as a musician.
Play live as often as possible
Even if you are not receiving any form of payment, playing live gets you and / or your band out there into the public. The more public places you play (pub, university, on the street), the more people will hear your sound. Who knows, some of them might even like it? Obviously, you eventually want to make money, so don’t play for free forever. As a starting point, however, take every opportunity you can get to launch yourself.
Protect your investment
If your sound really is unique, and people are lapping up your lyrics, make sure that it is impossible for anyone else to copy you. The music industry is fraught with plagiarists; don’t let them get you! Copyright your music at the earliest opportunity, and you can ensure that you become famous for your songs, and not anybody else.
Choose a good manager
Easier said than done, but you want to find a manager who has either been there and done it, or knows how. Try and find someone with good connections; they will get you the top gigs and link you with industry experts. Don’t get too attached, however. The time might come where you need to find a new manager, with even more connections, and you’ll end up having to ditch your existing one.
Only take advice from experts
When it comes to music, everyone thinks they’re an expert. Music is an incredibly personal thing, and many people actually believe that their taste in music is the only taste! Watching documentaries can help and hinder you. Not everyone is afforded the lucky breaks of the stars, and because the music industry changes as often as it does, it is not always possible to follow the route to fame that some of the older bands took. Ask advice from a similar sounding band, who has been through it already. Ask them what they would have done differently if they had the chance.
Get ordinary people to like your music
At the end of the day, you’re nothing without your fans. Fans want to sing lyrics and listen to music that talks to them and speaks for them. Singing in bars and on streets is a great way of learning what the people really want; start here and you will learn where your music should be focussed.
To begin with, it is very unlikely that you will be profitable through your music. A range of expenses (instruments, speakers, travel
Promotion can come in many forms. You could put some posters up around town or hand out fliers to people, advertising your next gig.
Don't forget social media too: offer people free downloads for a limited time, just to get your sound out there. Of course if they are good,
Who are we?
To begin with, it is very unlikely that you will be profitable through your music. A range of expenses (instruments, speakers, travel expenses, etc) will leave you out of pocket and it can feel like you'll never make back what you've spent! Subsidise your expenses by working in a different role, associated with the music industry. Perhaps you could be a roady for someone more popular? They might even get you a supporting gig in the future?
- Promote wherever and however you can!
- Learn how to go full-time
- Do musical 'odd jobs'
- Play other people's music
- Get ordinary people to like your music
- Only take advice from experts
- Protect your investment
- Play live as often as possible