Many of you are passionate about music, either making your music or performing music created by others. The amount of money you make from it, if it’s a hit song that topped the chart, will change your life. You might not know what’s waiting for you in your near future. Getting known by people all over the world just once, and money will start rolling in. But many of you have confusion about how do musicians make it. I will break it down to you in this article.
First, musicians have to sign a contract with a record label, such as Sony Music Entertainment or Columbia Records. There are also a lot of other music companies that musicians can sign a contract with. Or an artist can make a deal with a distributor who will sign a contract with a record label for that artist. There are some popular distributors like DistroKid, Amuse, or CD Baby. There’s also a famous distributor called Songtradr, which can get your songs on the most prominent digital platforms for absolutely free.
Now let’s talk about how musicians make money henceforth.
Once you get your music licensed by a record label, it will be available on the most prominent digital platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, and many more. Most of them earn you from the monthly subscription fee of the users.
If we talk about Spotify, it is the biggest streaming platform in the music industry, having 124 million premium subscribers worldwide by the end of 2019, followed by its biggest competitor Apple Music with around 68 million paid subscribers. However, none of the numbers are exact because free and premium users are changing daily. Spotify offers up to $6 per thousand plays, whereas musicians can earn up to double the money with the same amount of games on Apple Music. But Spotify has a lot more users than Apple Music. So you are more likely to be discovered by people on Spotify than on Apple Music.
Musicians also earn a little amount of money from YouTube streaming through their video hosting companies such as VEVO, Entertainment One, etc. The estimated amount is $1-$2 per thousand monetized views, which is low. But the plus point is, the audience on YouTube is much larger compared to Spotify and Apple Music. And because it’s a video sharing platform, artists have a better chance to get visually recognized by people.
It is a payment that musicians receive, forgiving others the right to use their music. If your song is profitable, then you might get an offer from radio stations or business companies or anyone willing to use your music for their purposes.
If you are one of the most prominent musicians in the world, then the biggest companies like Levi’s, Gucci, might make a deal with you to promote their products through you. You just have to upload a photo on Instagram wearing a Gucci shirt, and they will pay you for that. It’s as simple as that. But only the most prominent personalities get the chance, so I hope relying on that isn’t probably the best idea if you are just starting.
Concerts & Tours
Here comes the most significant source of earning for musicians. Concerts and tours! Yes, musicians make most of their money from singing in concerts and touring. With hundreds and thousands of people buying their concert tickets worth up to thousands of dollars each, singers can earn unimaginable money by singing just one night, and that too after paying the cut of organizers, producers, and songwriters. Tours are just concerts in different cities counted as a whole that generates most of the money that a musician earns. According to Wikipedia, Ed Sheeran’s Divide Tour has made the most by touring, $776.2 million US.
So, undoubtedly, singing in concerts and touring all over the world is the best thing you can do as a musician to make millions and millions of money.
Physical Sales & Merchandise
That brings us to the last but probably not the least part, physical sales of albums and merchandise. You can start a typical business by selling products that have your name printed on them. If you have an insane fan base like BTS or One Direction, you can just print your name and logo on top of products such as school bags, t-shirts, caps, wristwatches and sell them through online merch stores, knowing your fans would get crazy when your creations come out, just like your music.
Also, a lot of people still buy physical albums and singles in this era of digitalization. So, you recommend that you put your songs in a CD and sell them through online merch.
I hope you get an idea of how the top musicians live in a big mansion without any tension of how they’re going to make their luxurious living, knowing they have got enormous opportunities of earning money. But to reach that level, musicians have got a mountain to climb.