How to Make Six-Figures & Beyond as a Musician

by | Sep 17, 2020 | Uncategorized

Interested in making six-figures as a musician?

Look. Despite what everyone else out there is saying, I understand most musicians don’t do it for the money.

Most of us just want to live, sleep, eat, and breathe our art.

Am I right?

But there’s a reason you’re here. Maybe you know, think, or suspect six-figures is possible.

Want to know the exciting truth?

You’re 100% right.

It isn’t just possible. It’s been done. Time and time again, by musicians most would not consider household names.

So, let’s look at the steps involved in making six-figures and beyond as a musician.

Step #1 – Accept no Substitute

There are good ways of getting to six-figures and bad ways of getting there.

I don’t think we need to spend ages on this.

But let me say this…

Hope is not a strategy (you can’t just “publish and wait”).

“Getting discovered” is a not a strategy (it’s more of a plot device in a movie).

Becoming social media famous is not a strategy (do you understand how many people are competing with you?).

Generally, these are all losing propositions.

So, what do we do instead? It’s not just about getting on Spotify playlists (that’s a bit of an uphill battle too).

It’s about being clear on what your role is in getting yourself to six-figures.

And your role is to take the reigns.

If we can sort that out, the rest becomes a walk in the park.

Step #2 – Use Your Neck-Top Computer Wisely

We DON’T need to become publishers, digital marketers, or entrepreneurs to get to six-figures as musicians.

Growing in those areas, undoubtedly, will help. This can, in fact, make a huge difference for you.

But the main thing we need to get ourselves to accept is that we’re the captains of our destiny.

We’re the captains of our destiny. Share on X

Once you’ve taken full responsibility for yourself, your actions, and everything that happens at a granular level…

Your schedule…

What you do with your time…

How you prioritize…

And so on…

We can get ourselves to the point of being fully in control of the variables we can control…

And letting go of the variables we cannot.

I interviewed author, entrepreneur, and musician Andy Seth (A-Luv) on the podcast, and he said his greatest challenge was getting mastery over self. Wow.

What’s important to understand is we’re never truly in control of ourselves. We are always in the process of getting in control.

But there’s one thing that will make all the difference, and that’s investing in your growth.

You were born with the amazing capacity to learn. And you can keep learning. You NEVER have to stop learning.

If you get on that path and stay on it, you will tap into your amazing god-given capacity to become more than you are right now.

My book, The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship is all of that in a concise, easy to read volume.

Either way, if you want to learn more, make sure to join my email list.

Step #3 – Achieve Crystal Clarity on Your Brand

Again, we don’t need to become full-fledged, risk-taking, night-grinding entrepreneurs to figure out our brand.

This part is quite simple.

Because it’s all about understanding your why.

If you can clearly define your reasons for existing as a musician, the difference you want to make, and the impact you have on the world, everything else will fall into place.

Most importantly, it will help guide every decision you make.

Do you understand how many questions come up on your way to making six-figures?

  • What should our website look like?
  • Should we take this gig or not?
  • What emails do we send our fans?
  • Is it okay to release music in another genre?
  • Should we put our music up on Spotify or not?
  • And oh, so many more…

Your brand can act as your North Star. But only if you’ve defined it with crystal clarity.

If you’d like to learn more about how this works, check out author Simon Sinek’s TED Talk on starting with “why”:

My book, The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship helps you figure out your brand.

Either way, if you want to learn more, make sure to join my email list.

Step #4 – Play Nice & Make Friends

Despite all the well-documented jerks in the music industry, being one is a sure road to failure.

And restoring a bad reputation can take a huge amount of time and effort.

Many artists seem scared of meeting people.

But this is EXACTLY how I got invited to play guitar on several albums, accompany various singer-songwriters on stage, NEVER have to book a gig of my own, and even earn $800 per gig.

Is that result worth it!?

The problem is we overthink the process.

All you need to do is get to know people. Be a good hang.

I like the idea of creating a Dream 100 list. A list of 100 (or more) people who you’d like to connect with, partner with, and ultimately, have access to your audience.

Think about how easy this is. All you’ve got to do is join their email list, follow them on social media, comment on their blog posts, maybe buy some of their products, and bit by bit, build a relationship with them.

And NO target is too lofty, assuming you’re committed to the process long-term, so THINK BIG.

Would you like to connect with JAY-Z, Beyoncé, Marianas Trench, Justin Bieber, or Ed Sheeran?

NOTHING is beyond the realm of possibility if you just work at it.

Step #5 – Build Your Relationship List (NOT Your Email List)

Yes, we are talking about email BUT…

We want to treat the people who sign up for our emails like REAL PEOPLE.

We get into trouble when we think in terms of users or avatars or target audience or whatever else.

Looking at the people on your list that way can serve a purpose, but fundamentally, we want to remember that people are people and they all have the same basic goals, dreams, and desires.

Because let’s face it…

It doesn’t do you much good to have a huge, disengaged email list.

It’s far more desirable to have a small, engaged list.

In the battle between the two, an engaged list wins every time. Because an engaged list will come to your shows, buy your merch, and stick their neck out for you when you need it most.

There are also a lot of great tips in this interview I did with musician coach Cheryl B. Engelhardt:

And this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t build your list big.

I want you to build it as big as possible, while maintaining a sense of authenticity about the whole thing.

Like your email list is your little tribe (because it is).

And begin doing EVERYTHING in your power to build your email list daily. If you start and end your day thinking about how to grow your email list every day, I promise your brain will begin to present you with answers.

Step #6 – Create Multiple Streams of Income

There is no live music (except for live streaming) right now.

Does that make six-figures unattainable?


You might need to think a little outside the box, and tap into a few revenue streams you’ve never paid attention to before…

But the key will be building multiple revenue streams and doing it in a sustainable way.

As much as possible, you want to find complementary revenue streams that don’t require you to add a million new tasks to your to-do list.

Selling your music is just the beginning (though there are SO many ways to repurpose and bundle up your music).

You can…

  • Begin selling print on demand merch through Printful
  • License your music on a platform like Marmoset
  • Contribute your music to HITRECORD projects
  • Ask for tips online using PayPal
  • Sell both digital and physical merch on Sellfy
  • And more…

People often ask:

“Are there REALLY that many opportunities to make money in music, David?”

The answer is yes, yes, and yes!

Because the above is just the tip of the iceberg.

Looking for more ways? I’ve written extensively about this in my books, The New Music Industry as well as The Music Entrepreneur Code.

Either way, if you want to learn more, make sure to join my email list.

Step #7 – Focus Ferociously

Once you’ve got the pieces in place, building a six-figure music career becomes about JUST ONE THING.

And that one thing is – you guessed it – FOCUS.

Trying to build a presence on EVERY social media platform? Good luck with that… That’s not how you’re going to get to six-figures.

It’s going to come down to a dogged determination to master one platform, build traction with it, and then (and only then) adding new channels to your strategy.

Want to hear something crazy?

You can earn as much as seven-figures if you just focus on one channel, build a Dream 100 list of prospects on that channel, and find opportunities to collaborate with the people on that list.

(Thanks goes to Russell Brunson for this insightful tip.)

That’s it!

Again, I ask – is that result worth it?

You’ve got to show up consistently. You’ve got to do something to move towards your goals daily.

But you’re going to put in a lot of work anyway. Might as well dig a mile deep and an inch wide instead of the other way around, because you’re not going to find traction that way.

Final Thoughts – 6-Figures isn’t the Upper Limit…

Author David Hooper (of Music Business Radio) has a book called Six-Figure Musician.

And, in it, he says six-figures isn’t the upper limit. Musicians can climb so much higher than that.

He just wanted to make sure the book was still digestible (and sounded realistic) to musicians like us.

By no means is six-figures the limit.

You know what that means? Getting to six-figures is not as hard as it looks…

With the above steps as your guide, you can reach the mountaintop.

Do you have any questions? Any “aha’ moments that reached out and grabbed you?

Let me know in the comments below!