7 February 2022

How to make money as a musician: Going digital with your music

By Lark Music

69,000 jobs in the UK music industry were wiped out during the pandemic. With little support from the government, other than to find alternative career paths, many musicians found themselves with little support and the need to get creative when it came to making money. Below we outline ways musicians are making money whilst still doing what they love – making music.

Make money whilst making music

Stream on Twitch

Twitch is a free-to-watch livestream video platform owned by Amazon and has over 3 million followers in the music and performing category and over 30,000 daily views.

What makes Twitch different is the length of content as musicians typically stream for 2-3hrs a few times a week. Think of it more as a live gig from your home that you host regularly where people can come and go. This is what makes Twitch so great for newcomers, as viewers are curious and will likely tune in for a few minutes at the very least so you don’t need to rely on already having an online following.

Ways to monetise Twitch without spending any money include:

  • Virtual money – Viewers can buy a virtual currency called ‘bits’ to donate to streamers through virtual applauses and other onscreen virtual interactions. Streamers earn per bit used on their channel.
  • Tips/donations – Viewers can tip musicians through online card payments and Twitch does not take any cut of these earnings. Some musicians offer up perks depending on the tip, for example £5 could get a song request or answer a question. It’s similar to the pay-for-content model, but instead of the subscription it is a one-off donation.
  • Subscribers – Twitch has a channel subscriber model and splits the revenue with you. Viewers pay to subscribe and receive perks chosen by you.
  • Ad revenue – Once you hit affiliate or partner status you will gain advertising revenue from your channel.
  • Affiliate links – These are hosted on your channel and are links to partner websites (usually Amazon) who will pay you a commission per click.
Launch your YouTube channel

With over 2 billion monthly users and the original home for user-generated content, YouTube is a great platform for musicians to monetise. You can create content anywhere by using your smartphone and upload a mixture of original songs, covers and get-to-know-you content which can help you build your library quickly. It’s recommended to upload between one and three videos per week to help build your following.

Once you hit 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the previous 12 months you will be eligible for the YouTube partnership programme, which is when you can start earning money through your content and adverts.

Going live digitally

All of the major online channels offer a livestream option which allows you to perform live to your followers. Monetising it is simple by setting up a tip jar for people to pay into. This is a great option if you already have a following on your social accounts. In the same way as YouTube, you can also monetise through adverts once you reach a certain number of profile followers and live stream views.

Writing for music libraries

Most video or radio/podcast projects will require a licensed soundtrack which is why music libraries are a great way to monetise your skills as a musician. You can either upload your existing recordings or do a little research on each site and record new stings or songs for different categories to stand a higher chance of your recordings being purchased.

You can find a list of music libraries to submit to here.

Upload your tracks to music streaming sites

There are two options when looking to make money with streaming sites, you can either pay an online distributor or you can save some money and do it yourself. Both options will have pros and cons, so it is important to weigh up your options and understand what that one-off fee really gets you. Some distributors will have a free option which is great if you’re just starting out or don’t have the spare cash to trial the paid options.

If you’re looking for a distributor, check out this blog which has some great advice.

If you’re looking to do it yourself, you’ll need to be aware of the requirements and processes. Below is a list of streaming services where you can upload your music:

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