A Guide to Making Money as an Artist

by | Sep 21, 2020 | Uncategorized

Making money as an artist may SEEM hard.

But how much of that is programming?

When you were a child, didn’t you have wild dreams about what your future could be like? And didn’t you 100% BELIEVE your dreams could come true?

So, something obviously changed between then and now, especially if you NOW believe that it’s hard making money as an artist.

Did the dream die, or did the belief die?

Let me tell you something…

It isn’t just possible to make money as an artist – you can even make six-figures, seven-figures and beyond if you do the right things!

So, that’s what we’re going to focus on here – the right things.

How Many Ways Can Musicians Make Money?

There aren’t just five ways, seven ways, nine ways, 26 ways, or even 27 ways

There are literally 100 if not more revenue streams just waiting to be claimed by artists.

This includes everything from the relatively obvious, like merch sales and live performances…

All the way over to some of the less obvious ones like digital royalties and even affiliate marketing.

The THING is…

We could talk about all the revenue streams available until we’re blue in the face, and it might not make a lick of difference for you.

Frankly, trying to pursue all the revenue streams at once is impractical and unrealistic. Without a singular focus, you’re going to have a hard time getting anywhere in any endeavor.

There’s more to making money as an artist than just knowing how.

How do I know that?

Because we’ve covered this topic on the blog multiple times already (whether it’s bundling and packaging your music products to maximize earnings or how to make money as a DJ), and none of those posts have changed lives.

So, let me share a few things with you that MIGHT change your life.

Do You Have BALLS?

I know your knee-jerk response because I’ve seen it:

“Oh yeah, I’m a courageous person.”

Congratulations. But tell me if thinking about doing any of the following makes you nervous:

  • Going on stage to perform in front of a crowd of 10,000 when you’ve only ever played to a crowd of 100.
  • Striking up a conversation with a record executive who would sign you on the spot if you just knew the right things to say (and they’re literally minutes away from leaving).
  • Being invited on tour to open for your favorite artist AND play in their band.
  • Getting on stage to give a presentation on your artistic career for 1,000 people (because it will land you a big gig).

I mean… Only god himself would say these moments wouldn’t make him nervous.

Don’t you find that life is made up of moments like these though?

Like if you didn’t ask out your girlfriend or boyfriend, you’d be living a drastically different life…

Or if you didn’t move into a specific house, you would have never met the bass player across the hall…

Or if you didn’t go to the store that day, you wouldn’t have found that book that shifted your paradigm.

Here’s what you need to know:

Each of us face these moments EVERY SINGLE DAY. Because we have unprecedented access to people and resources right at our fingertips.

The opportunities are there, staring back at us. And we constantly miss out on them because we’re not looking for them.

Can you honestly say you’re doing something about this?

Or are you just putting off “networking” until tomorrow?

Hey, I’m not judging. I’ve been there!

What I’m saying is you need a stronger mindset.

And that’s something I’ve covered in detail in my book The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship.

Either way, you’ll want to join the email list for more mindset tips.

Keep the Winners, Ditch the Losers

It’s incredible how much waste is in our days, isn’t it?

Again, I know your knee-jerk response (so spare me).

But I BET the most productive person in the world would tell you that they simply can’t believe how much time goes to things they never chose or planned for.

Because they’re humble. And they’re students of life.

We as musicians typically have a TON of unacknowledged waste in our days. We even have a good idea of what’s working in our music careers (a good intuitive sense at least), and a good idea of what isn’t working.

Yet, we keep spending time on things that aren’t working (because they’re easy to do) and avoid the things that are working (because they’re hard to do).

If you’re serious about making money as an artist, you must double down on the winners, and cut the losers as soon as possible.

If you’re serious about making money as an artist, you must double down on the winners, and cut the losers as soon as possible. Share on X

This isn’t just a fun mantra people use to describe how advertising works. It applies to every area of your career.

What is a business? A system that consistently and repeatably generates revenue. That’s it!

It might seem weird to think about your music career the same way, but if money is what you seek, my friend, then you’ve got to realize that there is SO MUCH you can learn from how businesses operate.

And that’s a big part of why I wrote The Music Entrepreneur Code. It shows you exactly how to build the structures around your career that makes everything consistent and repeatable.

Either way, I’d recommend signing up for my email list if you want to keep learning about the importance of structures and frameworks in your music career.

Do People Know What You’re Up to?

This is something I came to understand talking to Jules Schroder of Unconventional Life in episode 108 of the podcast.

She explained that many times, if you aren’t getting the results you want, it’s because people don’t know what you’re up to and what they can count on you for.

Lately I’ve been publishing daily. I started doing that towards the end of July and I haven’t broken the chain yet. I’m not planning to break the chain for at least 365 days.

So, YOU now know that you can count on me to deliver quality content daily.

Jules also shared that if you’re having a hard time making money as an artist, it might be because you’re not making many asks. It could be that you don’t have many ways for people to support you, and even if you do, you might not be making them obvious.

(For instance, is all your merch buried three or four clicks deep from your homepage?)

If you hadn’t noticed, I talk about my books every chance I get. Not in an aggressive, “Buy this, you dumbass” kind of way. Just in a “Hey, just to let you know…” kind of way.

So, YOU know that you can support me by checking out my books.

Your life will change if you let people know what you’re up to, what they can count on you for, and how they can support you.

Your life will change if you let people know what you’re up to, what they can count on you for, and how they can support you. Share on X

It takes GUTS. That’s why it’s hard.

And it has nothing to do with mastering this digital marketing thing, becoming a full-fledged entrepreneur, or trying to act like a publisher when you’ve already got dozens of other important items to tackle on your to-do list.

It’s about being in conversation and realizing that in many cases you’re just one conversation or one resource away from being EXACTLY where you want to be in your career.

You’re just one conversation or one resource away from being EXACTLY where you want to be in your career. Share on X

Making Money as an Artist, Final Thoughts

Can you make money as an artist? Hell yeah!

Are there 100 or more revenue streams to tap into? Without a doubt!

Is it possible to earn six-figures, seven-figures, and more as an artist even today? Yes!

But the sooner you grasp the above, the sooner you’ll get there, because much of life happens in those six inches between your ears. If you can’t master that part, mastering other parts will prove difficult if not impossible.

Did I miss anything? Did you have any questions?

Let me know in the comments below!