How to make a career in music

How can you start earning money from making music?

Artists do what they do out of love for their craft, whether they are sculptors, writers or musicians, but they also work for money: after all, bills must be paid. But how can a musician make a reasonable living out of their craft? Here are some ways:

The first thing to work out is if your instrument lends itself better to solo work or group work. If it's the latter, then you might want to form a group with some like-minded friends, or advertise yourself as being available.

Studio work

If you can, sign up with a film or sound studio. All sorts of media require sounds and music: everything from films and television to advertisements and video games; getting your name on a list of capable musicians could see you gaining experience and connections that could bring in a useful income and set you up for future work at the same time.

Wedding music

There is a growing trend once again for live music at weddings. These range from solo players – depending on the musician – to bands with the full range of equipment. If you have a band which is versatile enough to adapt to the various styles of music that people enjoy at weddings and celebrations, you could be on to a winner.


If you write songs – or even collaborate with a fellow band member – you can make royalties for many years if the track becomes popular. It does not have to be a hit song, either, to make you a bit of money. Jaunty tunes, memorable snatches of instrumental music and even advertising jingles can keep making you an income for as long as they are used.


If you are serious about getting your band out there, but lack the funds to begin, you can set up a crowdfunding site. With these, people can listen to amateur recordings of your tracks, and if they believe in them, they will donate some money to your cause. In exchange, once the album is ready, those who donated a certain amount get one copy of the CD, those who donated more, will get perhaps two CDs or a CD and a t-shirt, for example, and so on up to more expensive gifts for those who donated large sums of money. This can be a useful way to kickstart your career, but do manage your expectations, both of how much money you can make this way, and what you will be able to achieve should you reach your target amount.

Band merchandise

Once you do begin to make a name for yourself, you could start to create band merchandise to sell at your gigs. You could consider limiting early pieces of merchandise: should you become very well-known these items could be worth a lot of money. Merchandise can include t-shirts, CDs, posters and other oddments with pictures of the band or soloist on them. Merchandise is also useful as advertising: think about having some items made to give away for free, so that people remember your name and contact details.

Use the power of social media

If you are prepared to build up a music income, you can put your work out on social media. Blogs, video channels and sound clouds all allow you to put pieces on the web for others to enjoy. Customers can either enjoy listening for free, or they can pay a small sum to download a copy of the track. You can also enable monetised advertising in which advertisers pay you a small amount for each click-through from your site to theirs. Finally, you could always teach others to play your instrument, either through a partnership with a school or private tuition in your home or theirs. Most people will use more than one of these methods to bring in a little money from several different sources, while they wait for some kind of career stability or success to occur.