Want to make money with your music?
This article will show you eight steps to earning income from music and a few shortcuts to make them easier. No fluff. No rhetoric. Just facts. On a fundamental level, this is everything you need to know to make money with your music.
This is the first article in a series that will give you an over the shoulder view of how to earn income from original music. All the info is taken directly from what I experience while performing the tasks myself. If you prefer audio, I recorded a podcast episode explaining all 8 steps from this article—click here to listen.
These are the eight steps to earning income from music:
- Write and collaborate
- Music video
- Market and promote
How To Make Money With Your Music In Eight Steps
Step One: Write and Collaborate
The first step to earning income from a song is to write one. And for two reasons, 95% of my songs never get past this step:
- Did not collaborate effectively with other musicians
- Got caught in a cycle of writing and rewriting
In a future article, I’ll share a few tips with you—everything from free collaboration tools, making the writing process easier; increasing inspiration by staying organized, and walking through how to set up the perfect practice space. Those articles are coming soon, and some of them are already published, so keep an eye out for updates.
Step Two: Record
Once the song is written, the next step to record it.
Recording music the traditional way is expensive.
Many of us know the technology to get a great recording is readily available, but it’s hard to get a DIY recording to sound good…
That’s why I’m excited for upcoming episodes of the MM podcast. Each episode will feature a guest that has a ton of experience recording music and has agreed to come on the show and explain how to do it.
Make sure you subscribe to the Musician Monster podcast on iTunes or your platform of choice.
Step Three: Market-Research
Once the song is recorded, the next step is to discover how to tell people you have the type of music they’re looking for. You have to do a bit of research.
I use a service called Audiokite to conduct market research. They survey thousands of music lovers to help you discover…
- The ideal audience for your music
- The strongest and weakest elements of your song
- If your music will keep the attention of listeners
- If people are likely to see you live
The real benefit of market research is that it will make steps 4-8 way easier.
I’ve reached out to Audiokite to request an interview for the Musician Monster Podcast. So, expect to hear some great insight on how to use the service.
Update: The Co-Founder and CEO of Audiokite, Alex Mitchell, decided to honor my request for an interview! We had a great chat about using Audiokite to perform market research and take the “guesswork” out of marketing music – CLICK HERE to listen to that interview.
Step Four: Music Video
Once the marketing research and final tweaks to the song are complete, it’s time to record a music video. This is prep for Step 8: Market and Promote and will help you get a feel for what you want to do.
I’ve worked with camera crews to record music videos before. They did a great job, but it was overkill. That’s why I plan to record a music video using nothing but my cell phone and Google Photos.
Check out our awesome guide about how to promote a music video on YouTube.
I have a ton of ideas on how to make the video cool, but I don’t want to go into everything in this article. You’ll hear more detail in the future as we get closer to filming it.
Edit: This step is interchangeable with Step 8. The reason I separated this from Step Eight is that the act of filming a music video and marketing or promoting it are two very different things. Just like writing and recording music, filming a music video is easy. Getting people to watch it is hard. That’s what Step 8 is for. Using proven promotional and marketing techniques to get people to buy your music. A music video is one of those techniques. BUT, the act of filming the video and getting people to WATCH it are two very different things.
Step Five: Copyright Your Music
Before beginning steps 6 and 7, it’s important to copyright your music. (It’s how you protect yourself if somebody tries to steal your ideas).
Copyrighting a song involves going to copyright.gov, uploading your song(s), filling out a form, and paying a one-time fee of $50.00.
I got frustrated the first time I tried to copyright a song. When I get to this step, I will record a video that will go through the copyrighting process. Stay tuned.
Edit: The video on how to copyright your music is below.
Step Six: Publish Your Music
Edit: Turns out, publishing music isn’t as difficult as I originally thought! You can actually publish your music when you distribute. If you watch the video from step 7 on publishing your music, you’ll see exactly how to distribute it, too. The price is the same and doing it is a piece of cake!
Step six is all about publishing your music so you can get paid for it.
There are many companies that handle music publishing. This can feel overwhelming at first, so I made a video showing how I publish my own music. It walks you through exactly how to publish your own music step-by-step (as in step 1, step 2, step 3…)
The company I plan to use is called the “Harry Fox Agency”—they administer music publishing rights on the songwriter’s behalf—(Rick Barker talked about Harry Fox in MMP013).
Publishing music is confusing. When I get to this step, I’m going to show you the actual process of publishing music and make a how-to video explaining everything.
The video on how to publish your music is below.
Step Seven: Distribute
Once your music is published, the next step is to distribute it.
The easiest way to do that is by using one of the following services:
For a yearly fee, those companies will make your music available for purchase worldwide at places like Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and others.
I plan on inviting reps from each company to come on the podcast so we can discover the best ways to distribute music.
Edit: Turns out, distributing music isn’t as difficult as I originally thought! You can actually distribute your music when you publish it. During the same step! If you watch the video from step 7 on publishing your music, you’ll see exactly how to distribute it. The price is the same. And it’s a piece of cake to do. And you’re probably smarter than me anyway, so if I can do it I know you can. You can watch the video on how to publish (and distribute) your music above (step 7 video).
Step Eight: Market and Promote Your Music
Step eight is about spreading the word, and actually getting people to actually “buy” your music. There’s one critical thing you need to market, promote, and make money with your music. You MUST have a brand, matching the sound of your music with a visual design. Read our in-depth guide to music branding right here.
This step is hard. Three things make it easier:
“Automation” means using tools like email and social media to do things automatically instead of manually.
“Planning” means having a picture of what you want to do and a basic idea of how to do it.
“Medium” means the capacity at which you market and promote. Online with a social media music marketing strategy? Or do you love performing and prefer to use proven strategies to market your music and get paid more for live gigs?
To create a “marketing plan” reference the info you gather from AudioKite, and use the following tools to automate:
- MailChimp (email)
- ConvertKit (email)
- Buffer (schedule posts)
- Google Drive (planning and organizing)
When I get to this step, I’m going to analyze the info from AudioKite and create a marketing plan. I’ll also so you what tools to use in order to make carrying out that marketing plan easier. You’ll see what’s working, what isn’t, and what to apply to earn income from your own music.
If you’re interested in using YouTube to market your music, I highly encourage you to read this article: how to promote a music video on YouTube.
Even though I’ve assembled these steps over the last 3-4 years, they’re still limited to my experience and perspective. That’s why it’s important to do your own research. Nobody cares about your music more than you do. You better have your shit together.
Each step has its own set of problems—some I have found solutions to… and some I haven’t. Advancing through each step will involve a lot of trial and error. I don’t expect this process to be easy and that’s okay. Most things in life worth doing are not easy—keep that in mind as we go through this.
If you have any tips—or questions—I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to use the comments section or social media buttons below, or send me an email: [email protected].
Rock on and prosper