How to make money as a musician

super interesting video from travis dykes. i have no interest in making a living as a musician but so much of this applies to fine arts (which i am in). now i more fully understand what @Gio and @JoshFossgreen deal with - lots of moving parts.


I just finished David Byrne’s book “How Music Works” - fantastic read by the way.
He says several times throughout, you make music (or art) because you are compelled to, making money on it and being successful is rarely a thing that works.

He gets into a lot of nitty gritty of the numbers which is very interesting (the book is a few years old and therefore doesn’t address the $12.18=1 billion streams issue) but the theme is, as Rick Ruben also states in his book, you do it for you, anything else is secondary.


My wife is an author and this is very much her. She is always writing, she has to write. She also happens to be quite good at it. She also has a desire to share her work with the world, but that’s the hard part.

This is also why I make covers. I just want to make music and put it out there, but I have no band to play with so onto YouTube they go.


Making money as an artist.

This could be separate, but not very happy, thread.
Plenty of thoughts and feelings about all of it, as someone who was - for a time - trying and failing to support a family of 4 as a touring musician living in Northern California.

The most important things for any passion-fueled enterprise is, I think, keep the costs down.
If you can keep the costs down and you don’t have massive living expenses or quality-of-life-expectations, you can do anything - art or otherwise.

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If anyone plans on profiting from music my suggestion is learn to write songs, copyright them, create pro demos of them as best you can, and use whatever resources and contacts you can muster to get people who will buy or record your material to listen to them. Royalties from song writing and producing are about the surest way to make money from your talent.

As a player unless you’re on the level of a first call studio musician sought after by others for studio work and touring music isn’t going to be very financially rewarding or be something you can earn a great living doing. I’m offered sub gigs now that pay less than I made per gig in the '80s and '90s. Entire bands are being offered as little as $200 for a 3-4 hour gig around here.

A good friend of mine who has written hit songs and produced platinum selling albums said it best when he told me; “If you won’t do it for the pure enjoyment of performing or recording don’t ever try and do it for a living. The music industry eats it’s young”. You need a whole lot of patience, staying power, and a very thick skin to survive professionally in the music biz.