Today’s musicians face unique, technology-driven challenges to earning a living from their craft. How can you make money when recorded music sales have been replaced with free music downloading and streaming? We addressed this question in depth in a recent article. Now it’s time to explore how to use technology to your advantage and connect with a range of money-making opportunities.
In this article, we’ll be covering eight specific marketplaces where musicians can make real money in a variety of ways. Rest assured that these ideas won’t be tired old suggestions like “use Craigslist” or general advice like “just gig more.” These are technology-driven online resources, and they’re working for thousands of musicians. Now, it’s your turn.
1. Encore (UK)
Encore is a UK-based web and mobile app used to hire musicians for gigs. Gigs are typically for events, parties, weddings, or small venues, which can make this a lucrative side revenue stream. Many classical musicians have had success in landing quick gigs through Encore, and it’s completely free for musicians. For that alone, it’s worth signing up to see how the service works for you — if you’re based in the UK.
If you’re looking for another career in music, Encore is hiring!
2. Gig Salad (US)
gig salad musicians make money
Cost: Free for low visibility; $30/month for “Pro,” and $40/month for “Featured”
Like Encore, Gig Salad is a listing service for performers. They connect performers with the clients and venues that are looking for exactly what they do. They’re based in the United States and serve a similar demographic to Encore. However, their pricing is a bit higher for musicians.
A Free listing at Gig Salad allows for inclusion in up to two categories with the display of three photos. Deposits from clients are accepted at this level up to $200; however, you’ll receive the lowest visibility on the site. A Pro listing includes higher visibility and listings inclusion in up to fifteen categories. You may include fifty high-resolution photos as well as audio, video and a link to your website. Deposits from clients are accepted up to $1,000, and priority phone support is also included. A Featured listing offers the highest exposure and visibility on GigSalad. You’ll be able to list in up to twenty categories, show 100 high-res photos, upload audio and video, and link to your website. Deposits are accepted up to $2,000, and priority phone support is included.
Gig Salad is one of the best known gigging platforms online, with tens of thousands of musicians finding work through the site. Give it a shot with a free profile!
synkio musicians make money
Terms: 15% fee
If you’re a Songwriter or Recording Artist, music licensing allows for your musical creations to be used in movies, TV productions, apps, computer games, YouTube videos, radio productions, advertising and other media. With more and more people becoming “online Filmmakers” and requiring soundtracks for their work, these services can connect artists and musicians for mutually beneficial relationships.
The platform Synkio can assist you in getting your work into circulation and earning some money along the way. The company was founded in 2013 and has offices in both Los Angeles and London; however, everything about their service takes place online. Their mission is to reduce the barrier between musicians and the artists, businesses, agencies and developers that need their services. Some of Synkio’s clients include big names like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Audi, Kia and Sony Pictures — but for the most part, licensing comes from Filmmakers and Game Designers.
4. The Music Bed
musicbed musicians make money
Terms: 50% fee
The Music Bed is another money-making opportunity for artists who are Songwriters or Recording Artists. They have numerous high profile clients as well, including Google, Nike, Netflix, Mercedes Benz, and Jet Blue. However, their fee is substantially higher than Synkio’s 15% cut; instead, you’ll pay 50%.
Is the 50% fee worth it? The Music Bed promotes themselves as a premier curated source for music, so they cater to clients that are drawn to this type of exclusive service. The fact that this site is “highly curated” (their words) also means that it’s possible your work won’t be accepted, so getting listed here comes with some extra prestige. The Internet is a big place, so you might consider listing your work in both Synkio and The Music Bed to ensure that you don’t miss an opportunity. If you decide that the fee is simply too high, you are always in control of your work and can pull it from future usage on the platform. Of course, for songs that have already been licensed, you’ll still be committed to those deals.
Recording & Mixing Online
5. Air Gigs
airgigs musicians make money
Terms: 7% fee + PayPal transaction fee (2.9% + $0.30)
Air Gigs is especially for Studio Musicians, Mixers, Recording Engineers, and other recording professionals. They provide a marketplace and community for professionals who are working in their own studios and wish to sync up with others. Online collaboration can help to bring new heights of creativity and success as well as an additional income stream for Session Musicians, Sound Designers and Audio Engineers.
With Air Gigs, sellers offer music production services online. Audio samples can be presented and terms listed as well as the needed materials required from buyers. With Air Gigs, musicians have the opportunity to connect with talented like minds worldwide.
6. Sound Better
soundbetter musicians make money
Terms: 5% fee + PayPal transaction fee (2.9% + $0.30)
Sound Better is another service for Studio Musicians, Mixers, Recording Engineers, and other recording professionals. The site boasts affiliation with top music production professionals from around the world as well as dozens of Grammy Award winners. Clients can get quotes and find musicians to collaborate with and finish their projects. Fees paid to Sound Better are reasonable and the site is committed to facilitating creative collaboration among musicians and clients all around the world.
7. Take Lessons
takelessons musicians make money
Terms: You earn 60% of your fee for the first 5 lessons; then 70% for the next 5; 80% for the next 5; and for all lessons over 15, you earn 90% of your fee.
TakeLessons is a site dedicated, as the name suggests, to teaching lessons. But it’s not just for musicians. People teach lessons on everything from foreign languages to art to music. However, music lessons are one of the most sought-after types on the platform. With a free TakeLessons account, you can reach students around the world using either their mobile app or web platform. Lessons are taught over video, and you’ll receive extra resources like file sharing to help maintain lesson schedules over time.
While your account is free, TakeLessons does take a steep cut from your early lessons. When you’ve taught a student less than 6 times, you will only receive 60% of their payout. However, that percentage rises over time, and with long-term students you’ll take home 90% of your fee.
Music lessons have always been a great source of revenue for musicians, but the long commutes and all the effort it takes to get students can prevent lessons from paying well. TakeLessons helps remove those pains so you can focus just on teaching students. And, even better, because it’s online you can teach students all over the world.
sparkplug musicians make money
Terms: 3% fee from your payout
SparkPlug is a unique platform that allows performing or hobby musicians to rent out any extra gear they have to interested parties. Listings can be created on the site for any musical item, from guitars to trombones to microphones, amps, rehearsal rooms and studios. Listings can be created on the platform for free; however, SparkPlug receives 3% of your payout.
SparkPlug verifies all user identities, and musicians get the final say in approving who gets to rent their gear. If you have any extra instruments that you’re not using, why not let other musicians benefit? You can also make some extra money in the process.
The Internet led to the rise of file sharing and devastated record sales. However, as it took away that revenue stream for many artists, it has provided a diverse array of new opportunities. If you manage your music effectively across these 8 music marketplaces, you may find you’re making more money in music than ever, and all without selling a single song. Give them a try!