Making a living as a musician is tough. It can be discouraging when you’re constantly putting in the work and not seeing the financial return that you want and need.
Believe me when I say you’re not alone! Many musicians feel this way, which is why it’s important to get creative with your revenue streams. Incorporating passive income streams is a great way to have financial stability as a musician in a very unstable world.
There are a number of ways to generate passive income as a musician, and many of them don’t even require that you have a huge following or audience; you just need to be willing to put in the work upfront.
What is passive income?
Passive income is any revenue generated after the initial work is finished. Passive income for musicians could include royalties from streaming platforms, ads placed on your music videos, course sales, and affiliate commissions, just to name a few.
The key to generating passive income is to create high-quality work that can be automated or systematized to generate revenue. This way, you’re not trading hours for dollars–you’re creating something once and getting paid over and over again for it.
Why focus on passive income?
There are a few key reasons why you might want to focus on generating passive income as a musician:
- You can make money while you sleep. For most, this is one of the most appealing aspects of passive income. Once you’ve done the work to set up the system, it runs on autopilot, meaning you’re making money even when you’re not actively working.
- You can make money from anywhere in the world. This is especially valuable for musicians who want the freedom to travel and tour without having to worry about where their next paycheck is coming from.
- You can make money WITHOUT a large following or audience. With some of the strategies below, you don’t need a huge audience to generate revenue. This is great news for up-and-coming musicians who are still building their fan base.
Sources of passive income for musicians
There are a variety of sources musicians can tap into to generate passive income so let’s take a look at some of the most popular and effective strategies.
An affiliate program is a form of advertising that scales according to performance. In everyday terms, this means that when someone takes an action that you’ve specified, such as making a purchase or signing up for a free trial, you receive a percentage of that purchase.
As a musician, you can sign up for affiliate programs with companies that sell products or services that would be valuable to your audience. For example, if you have a following of other musicians, you could sign up for an affiliate program with a music store and earn a commission on any product sales that you generate.
Let’s take a look at a few of the most popular affiliate programs musicians should consider.
The Amazon Associate Program is one of the most popular and well-known affiliate programs available. As an Amazon Associate, you can earn a commission on qualifying purchases made by your audience.
To get started, simply create an affiliate account, then start sharing products with your audience that you think they’ll love. When someone clicks on your link and makes a purchase, you’ll earn a commission on that sale.
It’s important to note that you can only generate commissions on products sold within 24 hours of someone clicking on your link, so it’s best to use this strategy in combination with others.
It is also important to know that Amazon has strict rules when it comes to disclosing yourself as an affiliate. For example, if you scroll to the bottom of this article, you will clearly see that we are an Amazon affiliate, and you can check out this article for an example of how to incorporate affiliate links into your content.
If you have an audience of music lovers (and as a musician, you probably do), the Apple Music Affiliate Program is a great way to generate passive income.
As an affiliate, you can earn commissions on qualifying Apple Music subscriptions that you generate. When someone signs up for a subscription using your unique link, you’ll receive a commission on that sale.
To get started, go to Apple Music, create an affiliate account, and start sharing your unique link with your audience.
Not only is Affiliate Marketing a solid way to generate passive income, but it’s also a great way to support businesses that you believe in and that your audience will love. Win-win!
YouTube is one of the most popular passive income streams for musicians. If you’re not already using YouTube to promote your music, now is the time to start!
You can generate revenue from YouTube in a few different ways:
Advertising is the most common way that YouTubers make money. You can enable ads on your videos and earn money every time someone watches an ad. The amount of money you make will depend on a variety of factors, such as the length of the ad, your location, and the type of ads that are being shown.
Channel membership is another opportunity for musicians to earn money on the YouTube platform. If you have a loyal following on YouTube, you can give them the option to become a channel member for a monthly fee.
If you have any physical products, such as merch, you can sell these on your website or through third-party platforms and generate passive income.
You can set up a shop on your own website and process orders manually or use a third-party platform, such as Shopify, to set up and manage your online store.
If you don’t have any physical products to sell, you can always create digital products, such as e-books, templates, or courses and sell these through your website or third-party platforms.
Patreon is a membership platform that provides musicians with predictable and sustainable income without the need for record labels. Fans can sign up to become a patron of their favorite artists and receive exclusive content and perks in return.
This is a great way for musicians to build closer relationships with their fans while also generating a steady income. This platform, however, is not solely passive. Patrons often expect live streams, so be sure to outline your patron perks carefully when setting it up.
Music royalties are payments that are made to musicians for the use of their music. These payments can be made by radio stations, television shows, streaming services like Spotify, and more.
There are two types of royalties: performance royalties and mechanical royalties.
Performance royalties are paid to the songwriter(s) and composer(s) whenever their music is performed publicly. This includes live performances, radio plays, and TV broadcasts among other types of performances.
Mechanical royalties are paid to the songwriter(s) and composer(s) whenever their music is sold, streamed, or otherwise distributed. This includes physical sales (like CDs and vinyl), digital downloads, and streams on platforms like Spotify.
If you’re a musician, you can collect performance and mechanical royalties through a performing rights organization (PRO), such as ASCAP or BMI. PROs work on behalf of their members to ensure that they are fairly compensated for the use of their music.
We mentioned digital courses earlier, but we feel they are so valuable as a passive income stream for musicians they deserve their own section in this article.
If you have any expertise that you can share with other musicians, you can create a digital course and sell it online. This could be anything from a beginner’s guide to songwriting to an advanced guitar lesson series.
Not only is this a great way to generate passive income, but it’s also a great way to build up your reputation as an expert in your field.
What is the most profitable passive income?
When it comes to passive income, the possibilities are endless, but based on the options we listed above, course creation is by far the most profitable.
Are music royalties passive income?
Yes, music royalties are a great source of passive income.
Is Spotify passive income?
Spotify can be a good source of passive income through both royalties and as a Spotify affiliate.
There are a variety of ways that musicians can generate passive income, so there’s no excuse not to get started! If you’re not already, start thinking outside of the box and explore some of these passive income opportunities for musicians. It can be a lot of work to set things up in the beginning, but it’s well worth it once everything is running smoothly.
For more great content on passive income for musicians, follow me on Instagram (@dr.tonyalawson), where I’m always sharing new tips and strategies. Thanks for reading!