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Face The Music: Earning In Tough Times as a Musician

Article written by Derek Cannon

The pandemic has wreaked havoc across the music world. Luckily, the digital space has helped soften the blow and provided artists with much-needed avenues of income. If you have the right technical know-how, it’s possible to open up your earnings as the country continues to recover. Today, Strum University shares some tips to get you going.

Distribution Networks

Perhaps the first and most important step for a modern musician is to choose and sign up to a distribution network. Distribution networks have become essential conduits for independent artists – their role is to send your music to all major streaming services but also to collect royalties from these services on your behalf. The differences between these platforms is immense – some function only on mobile apps, some include CD/Vinyl distribution, some double-up as a record label. It’s up to you to do thorough research and make sure that you place yourself with the right provider.

Content Creation

The closest thing to performing live during a pandemic is live streaming. Performance content serves many uses for an artist, some of which are financially advantageous. Over ten years since YouTube found its popularity, there is still a thriving ecosystem of cover artists, some who have made a living by posting videos. Video content is also a passive way to promote your brand and drive traffic towards your music.

The major channels for content output are still YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, although some artists find success on Twitch and it can be worth uploading to Soundcloud. Each of these channels serve a different purpose, you need to identify what makes your content unique and then match the platform accordingly. Consider, also, that pay varies between these options – Youtube, for example, requires 1,000 subscribers before you can begin to earn. Remember to keep your image clean, the way you present yourself may directly affect ad-revenue.


The most stable way of earning as a musician (without veering from music entirely) is to secure repeat paying customers. The amount you can earn from sites such as Patreon directly correlates with the value you are providing as an artist. If your music is good, your rewards are worthwhile and your personality is likable, you could succeed in securing a long-term income just from fans alone. Consider that $10 contributions from 1,000 fans per month equates to $10k per month earnings.


The music industry is a wide and deep ecosystem of style and variation. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the digital age, it’s that everyone has a niché and finding yours is key to success. Using one of the many collaboration apps/websites, it’s possible to link up with other artists and profit through the selling of beats, samples, instrumentals or vocals. This is not only a way to earn but also to network with others in your genre.

Get Business Ready

If you’re able to secure a passive income, it could also be worth forming your own business. An LLC (Limited Liability Company) can be a great choice, and it provides advantages with regards to tax, reduction of paperwork and limited personal liability. Each state has its own rules and regulations to do with LLCs, so learn how to start an LLC in Arizona in order to help navigate the specific regulations and avoid expensive lawyer fees.

Whether you’re advertising your music or your new business – or both – remember that you can advertise for free by posting promotional images via Facebook and Instagram. To avoid spending a small fortune on a graphic designer, simply design your own promotional images using this free logo design program.

Even with the curtains still slowly re-opening, your skill and work ethic remain crucial to achievement in the world of music. If you can learn to play the digital game as you’ve learned to play an instrument, there’s no reason this pandemic should hinder your career.

Strum University offers the best music studio, music lessons, and music instructors in the North Phoenix area. Call 623.451.0976.

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