There are many ways to make money as a music producer in the modern age. Most of us music producers want to make a living producing music. Not just a living, but a great living! Many music producers are left wondering, “how can I make money producing music?” You hear often that there is no money in the music industry, budgets are shrinking, etc. A lot of music producers think that unless they are signed to a label they cannot make money producing music. That isn’t true. I’ve made a wonderful living as an independent music producer without labels, managers, publishers, or any of that. Now, was it easy? Not necessarily, but it’s 100% possible if you’re willing to educate yourself, continue to hone your craft, and work hard as shit! Making a living producing music isn’t a myth, just a concept, or for only a select few. I know many freelance independent music producers that are killing it. Below, I’ve listed 9 ways to make money as a music producer. I recommend growing your roots in 1 or 2 of these and then expanding. Don’t spread yourself thin. Ultimately, you’ll find which models work best for your business. So, let’s go…
9 Ways To Make Money As a Music Producer
#1 – Local or Home Recording Studio
This is how a lot of us get our start. We set up shop in our house and start producing our friends. Then all of the sudden they start to pay us. Then we go out and network and find more clients to work one-on-one with. The biggest issue with home studios is that producer’s aren’t making the “experience” feel like a pro studio for their clients. If you can do that then your home studio will thrive. I have other articles that go into more detail on that subject…
#2 – Working For Clients Virtually
This is my favorite and it’s how I’ve made most of my money producing. My music agency does custom music for clients all over the world. At any given time we’re working on 30-50 songs. There is a lot of work out there on the web. How do you get it? It’s about building a incredible online brand that speaks to the audience that you’re trying to reach. Everything must be in place from design to work process to lead capture and management tools. To me this model is the future of the recording industry which is why I’ve created courses on it.
#3 – Spotify Streaming
Now, I’m sure that you’ve heard about artists and writers not getting paid jack sh*t from Spotify. Please know that this is most likely because of the deal that they signed with their label/publisher. One of the benefits to owning a lion’s share of your masters is that you can retain most of your streaming royalties. So how do you get spins? I recommend hiring a streaming promotions service to help place your music on big playlists. That’s what I have seen work for people.
#4 – Selling Instrumentals on Beat Sites
This is popular in the hip hop and electronic world and has been a concept for a long time. If you are creating awesome (like not mediocre) tracks then you can still make some nice supplemental income selling beats. My issue with this one is that it’s where most producers try to start. I DO NOT recommend trying to start your career with a passive model. This is why most producers give up. They don’t see results. Always start with a more active model (#1 and #1) to start making money and then invest in passive models. That’s what I did with Anthemize.com
#5 – Stock Music
Thousands of video makers and companies need simple stock music for their projects. The stock music industry is pretty easy to start getting into. The success in this will come from really studying what types of tracks work best for stock music. I’d recommend getting started on pond5.com and audiojungle.com
#6 – Micro Licensing
Micro licensing is a a concept that’s been growing quickly in the past few years. It’s falls somewhere in between “big sync placements” and “stock music”. It’s the middle market. A common user of micro licensing sites are indie film makers, wedding videographers, and start ups. I’ve heard of producers and artists making fantastic money with The Music Bed. Just keep in mind that you have to have killer music. They won’t accept crap 🙂 My advice is to reach out and start building a relationship. Find out what they need… What type of music would help their clients?
#7 – Sample Packs & Products
Are you a badass sound designer? Is there a loop pack that the world needs and doesn’t have? Look into creating loop and sample packs. Again, I don’t suggest starting your production career with a passive model like this but it can be a smart expansion later on. For example, check out what mixer Jonathan Roye is doing with his Woodshed Audio Co.
#8 – Giving Back
Once you’ve built the foundation of your company and done some cool things it’s time to give back! Educating your fellow producers on how you created your freelance production business can be rewarding. It feels good to help. Also, at some point (when you build an audience) you can monetize by creating helpful tutorials and affiliating with other helpful products for your “followers”.
#9 – Sales & Royalties
This one is an obvious one and it definitely takes time. Firstly, you should educate yourself on how publishing, ownership, and royalties work so that you can negotiate fair deals for yourself and your clients. Get behind clients who “have a game plan” for their music. Those are the ones who are most likely to see some backend from their work. In that case, you’ll get your piece. This isn’t a very “active” way to earn money unless you are physically helping promote the music. This is more-so something that will come naturally as your catalog builds and your client’s careers grow.
So there you have it. 9 ways to make money as a music producer. This industry is all about adapting and putting your eggs in many different baskets. Some of the eggs will crack and that’s okay… Find what works best for your freelance producing business. Some of these will come naturally or be a bi-product of each other. You’re in for some cool surprises 🙂
I hope that helps!