How Musicians Can Make Money In 2021

by Jim Button
How Musicians Can Make Money In 2021

As depressing as it is, we need to face up to the fact that live music will not be returning in any meaningful form anytime soon. But if your daily bread used to be gigging, making ends meet in 2021 can be a particularly tricky task.

Whether gigging was a hobby or a full-on career path, things have changed and musicians have had to adapt. Below, we have listed some ideas for how musicians can make money in 2021. We hope some of you find it useful.

How Musicians Can Make Money In 2021:

  • Livestream Your Set
  • Develop a YouTube Channel
  • Record New Material
  • Stream Your Music
  • Claim Your Royalties
  • Mix & Master
  • Merchandise
  • Build Your Email List
  • Exclusivity
  • Music Tuition
  • Flip Your Gear

Livestream Your Set

Livestreaming your set is a great way to not only keep you sharp but also reach out to new or existing fans and even generate a modest income from virtual ticket sales. Whether you use Zoom, Facebook or Google Chat, or use a dedicated livestreaming music platform, there are options to play live music even when venues are closed.

Develop a YouTube Channel

If you've set up a YouTube channel for your band already then that's great! If not, now could be the time to get that particular ball rolling. Not only will it become a platform for your content (thing new songs, behind the scenes etc) but you can also earn revenue from ads and royalties. Perhaps most importantly, it is also an excellent way to find and engage with new fans.

There's also the possibility to set up a different YouTube channel focussing on another aspect of the music industry: how about reviewing guitar pedals (we would say that, wouldn't we!) or discussing landmark albums in detail? Go for it!

Record New Material

You wouldn't be the first musician to go down this route, but it makes sense to record new material if you have time on your hands. You don't need to visit a studio for excellent results these days, so just make sure you have an area at home with all the essentials for recording and away you go!

How to get the best guitar sound at home

Read: How to Get the Best Guitar Sound at Home

Stream Your Music

Distributing your music to streaming services is a great way to diversify your revenue streams. You won't become a millionaire off the back of it (well, you never know...) but a number of small incomes adds up.

There are numerous avenues to getting your back-catalogue online and in people's ears. Check out DistroKid, Amuse, Landr, CD Baby and TuneCore for starters.

Claim Your Royalties

If you're lucky enough for one or more of your songs to get airplay on the radio or television, you may be owed royalties. Sign up to various royalty collection companies and distributors, who will be able to check back up to two years on your behalf. Start with Bandcamp, Breaking Tunes, Amazing Radio, IMRO and PRS .

It goes without saying that this is an ongoing effort, so any future royalties will also be collected for you too.

Mix & Master

If you have a good, technical ear then consider offering to mix and/or master tracks for other bands. Note that this is not for the faint-hearted and there's a steep learning curve, but if you already have some experience and the gear required (a DAW and good monitors at a minimum; ideally some studio-quality outboard equipment or studio-quality plugins) then this can be an extra little earner.

Recording with guitar pedals

Read: Recording With Guitar Pedals 101

Merchandise

Depending on how established your band is, merchandise could be a lucrative revenue stream. Think t-shirts, hats and yes, even masks!

Not got a website yet? Build a simple one using Shopify, Wix or Squarespace and setup a devoted merch section and direct your fans and followers there.

Build Your Email List

It's widely acknowledged that email is the most effective marketing channel. Forget Facebook & Google ads - focus on building your email list and market directly and personally to them. What a great way to introduce your fans to your latest videos, music and merch!

Exclusivity

Consider setting up a Patreon page and encouraging your fans to subscribe for exclusive content - be that a special video series, exclusive recordings, livestreams or even tabs to your songs.

Assuming you have enough fans, this is a fantastic way to earn some fairly reliable cash month on month, but be sure to keep them engaged with plenty of new content.

Music Tuition

Why not setup a virtual tuition business? Whether you focus on guitar, bass, vocals or something else, use your existing networks to find potential clients and put your skills to work!

Flip Your Gear!

Lastly, you can always shift some gear that's sat around gathering dust. Do you really need all five lunchbox amps, and is that vintage banjo absolutely necessary?

You could even consolidate your pedalboard, selling off pedals only used for one section of one song, or that you haven't used in a while.

While we wouldn't recommend starting here, if you need some cash rather than an income then it's a good place to find some readies. And if you fancy a change, you could always sell to acquire...just don't tell your other half ;-)

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About the Author:

Jim Button, Founder | Boost Guitar Pedals

Jim Button

Founder, Boost Guitar Pedals

Looking to bring musicians something different, Jim founded Boost Guitar Pedals to provide small-batch, artisan builders with an outlet for all their incredible work.

A guitarist of 25 years, he knows a thing or two about gear - although his playing leaves much to be desired...!

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