Tuesday, November 9

Do You Earn A Living From Your Music ?

There's been a lot of discussion this week on the 'new music business' websites about a claim that there are only 30,000 artists making a living from their music.

You can read more on Digital Music News - HERE, and on Hypebot - HERE

A lot of the discussion has revolved around what constitutes 'making a living' and how much income that actually is. There's also talk about the costs of recording and distribution going down while the costs of marketing are going up. Then of course there's questions about whether this number is accurate and if this is for individual artists or bands.

We figure it's our turn to join the conversation and more importantly YOUR turn to join the conversation, so head to the comments below and let us know;

Do you make a living from your music ?
Does the money come from selling records, gigging, merch sales, licensing, publishing ?
Any other interesting ways to earn a dollar as a musician ?
Is music a hobby, fun on the weekend or supplementary income ?
Do you make music just because you love it and you have to ?
How much money or time do you spend on marketing ?

Thanks for joining the conversation

-The Jango Juggler


burzinski said...

So many ways to ask the wrong questions.

I don't make a living out of my music, even if I don't consider myself a hobbyist. Not at all... My dayjob pays me a lot better, it's not into music and I wouldn't want it to be into music. I don't want to lose the pleasure I have making it...

I don't want fame or money, I just try to produce the best music I can. In that sense, I do make a living out of my music.

It's just a question of goal. What do you want ? music or money ?


Randy Mullet and the Red Hot Tyrannophonic Bunny Dogs said...

Absolutely not. I spend way more on making and distributing music than I make back from it.

However, I also play golf, and I never make any money from golf.

Nobody is ever going to pay to watch me play golf. Some people do pay to hear my music (or at least I get paid when they listen to it on iTunes, Napster, etc. even if they don't purchase the songs). I might actually make some money from music one day.

I must confess that there was a time when I was in high school that I played in a local pizza place and actually did make enough money to cover my usual weekly expenses. That was also a time I needed the money and music was the way for me to make the most money in the shortest time. I was working 40 hours a week at a day job and only making twice as much as my one-night-per-weekend music gig where I worked 5 hours.

You never know when something is going to click and open a door. That's why I take the trouble to share my hobby through Jango, Tunecore, iTunes, Napster, Amazon, etc., instead of just making CDs and listening to them myself.

Confidentially, making music has occasionally opened doors that paid back in ways other than money. They don't call them "groupies" for nothin . . . .

Randy Mullet and the Red Hot Tyrannophonic Bunny Dogs

Anonymous said...

"Such a fine line between stupid and clever"
Is it for the music or is it for the money 'poll' ?

"Remember, Information is not knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom; Wisdom is not truth; Truth is not beauty; Beauty is not love; Love is not music, ... Music is the best."
Then go figure it out.

Anonymous said...

Gee, is Jango paying us royalties? Hmm...We're paying to get played,they're making money off of our subscriptions, they're making money off of advertising. You gotta wonder. Has Jango heard of Sound Exchange?

Anonymous said...

Define "living". I know people who have it as their sole income, but are sleeping on floors as they tour and have no health insurance. I know others who might be making more but wouldn't dream of it being their sole income since they have a mortgage.

Shantae Sexy said...

I think that it takes more than simply being an "Artist to actual benefit financially in the music industry. You have to be marketable and industrious as well as an individual. For instance getting involved in charitle causes or being useful during times of crisis.

Those factors do bring up your own personal criteria as an Artist, and still sets an initiative.

I design shoes and other promotional product items as an incentive to gearing funds to be helpful in other departments of life; such as military and other universal causes that need support and funding to maintain on top of the barriers.

Adam Rey said...

I have been paying the mortgage with my music again since 2002. My income is derived from gigging mostly with multiple bands, some studio work, some travel, though not as much in the last 3 years. I have been professional for 35 years. Never hit the 'big time' but I still derive much satisfaction whenever i play my guitar. It is a creative outlet for me, just like cooking or my son and our 16"x8' model train set.
Just about to release my first CD after all these years.
This year I seem to have been working harder for less money. A lot of my pro friends are struggling for work this year. But you take the down times with the gravy times and continue to be open for opportunity when it rears its beautiful head!
My family loves me.
I have the respect of my peers.
God is good to me.
Music is a blessing!
I may 'want' more but i truly have all that i need for this life!
Now go make a joyful noise!!!!!

Rybird said...

Not yet, but I am getting hungry.

Anonymous said...

No, and even with frequent gigging and airplay in 3 countries, it's not likely. Good thing I own a small business that pays the bills and gives me flexibility!

Andrew Tosh said...

I grew up playing music with my father Peter Tosh. There is no escape for me. Music is all I know.. Oh I love football and tennis and love to have intellectual conversations.

Music is my life and it is all I have and know. I play guitar and piano and ride the unicycle.

Music is where I earn my living.

It has been challenging in recent years. As fans are not the same.

Andrea Koehle Jones said...

The Shannon Robinson song My Persephone debuted on iTunes at the end of September. I wrote the lyrics, executive produced and shot the album cover photo for the song. My Persephone is dedicated to everyone who loves trees and a portion of profits will be donated to Love Trees children's environmental education and tree planting projects. (lovetrees.ca)

I would love for My Persephone to be used in a tv show or movie for a heartbreak scene or something about loss. It would also be neat to see it in a doc or youtube awareness video for a non-profit helping the environment and children. I found Jango's free plays very helpful for identifying that the song is popular with the Twilight teen and 20-something crowd. Fingers crossed that this song will make money because every iTunes download will help put a tree in the hands of children in Africa, Haiti or North America.


kip kreuter said...

I just have fun playing covers

Anonymous said...

In Cuba all musicians live solely from their music and there must be almost 30,000 of them on the island. :) We don't make much, but believe it or not we make 3 times more than doctors do...

dandrbiz said...

I supplement my income by playing music professionally and have for the last 15 yrs. Prior to that I was playing full time with my duo partner on cruise ships and with act of my own. My total paid road time is close to thirteen years. I have a current sit-down gig in L.A....virtually unheard of in this town. Both my partner and I have been union for 37 yrs. and are vested in the union pension, another "unheard of" in L.A. if you're not a studio cat. We're pretty proud of our accomplishments yet keep day jobs to pay the mortgage. Music is up and down and we've never quit. We did one-nighters for the better part of 20 yrs. Not so much now. We throw a union contract in front of anyone who talks to us. The business end is a lot of work but pays off if you stay on top of it. We're only just now getting action on the social/airplay/network sites and it's extremely difficult to make the time to record. But we try.

Keep faith!

Dean Clark (D.C.) Hall

Anonymous said...

Not yet. I think most of the kids think music should be free. It is not easy getting people to pay for music. I think it is possible to make money, but there must be a solid marketing and business plan behind one.

Misti Flowers said...

I definitely spend more money marketing my music than I do earning an income from it. I have my songs available for download, merchandise available for purchase, etc. I would love to license some of my songs out in hopes of receiving royalties at some point. That would be nice.

But, my first self definition is that of a musician/singer/songwriter. Regardless of the other activities that bring income into my household, it's music that defines who I am. So, regardless of whether I'm making a living at it or not, I can't help but continually be writing and producing my songs. If I don't, I'm not being true to myself.

Christine Bauer said...

I used to make a good living from music, many years ago, before computers, I guess that dates me.... After 12 years I'm going back into my passion and I will make a living again in music with the aide of a computer. Success is 100% intent. Do what you love and money will come. I REALLY LOVE Making music and performing.

V said...

All I can do is create music; I'm not good at anything else.I could list all the jobs I've been fired from but it woul be too long for this comment box. It's very hard to make money from my music; not because it's bad but because I'm a shut in and don't tour., most I give away for free. I've got over a thousand songs recorded but only released 16 songs on iTunes. When you go at it alone with no management or producer, it's hard to tell when a song is finished. What's worse are all the websites that take advantage of a musicians limited funds with their "submission fees" . The most important aspect I find is exposure and promotion. Without it no one even knows your songs exist. I take every opportunity I can. Yet still it's hard to play manager/promote/writer/producer/engineer - less focus on the creation and the music suffers; luck is probably the best thing one can have, really; that and talent, they say is all you need. But I have bills that need to be paid like everyone else. Thats all that comes to mind right now.....

Heyward Woodward said...

I don't know that much about the music busines but I just had a solo cd released on Oct.8th 2010 and I think it's pretty good. It is on Amazon MP3, ITunes , etc, but I am like someone buying a lotery ticket. I work as a custodia/bagger for a supermarket and most likely will until I retire. But being able to put some songs togeather and actualy have it out on the digital stores is quite an accomplisjment for me

Rashell said...

I have spent mass amounts of money to promote, engeenier, produce, copyright, distrabution, manage,all while being a mother of 4 and a wife... up keep a image, sell out shows, and work on my 1st album. I use to work 58+ hrs a wk in health care.. while I enjoy helping ppl I resigned to give my self the satifation of releasing my passion ...my goal is to mainstream but I will have the contentment of knowing I gave it my all even with a small home business to keep afloat and a large family. I trulely am blessed with all I have. Yes, a few thousand dollars spent on my new found career is a challenge. Yet, every dollar is well earned and well spent! I can now say I am a full time artist, my next goal is climb the charts as high as I can............... I don't believe in limits.. So, See you all at the top! Good Luck & Best Wishes!!!

John Pappie said...

well its interesting. I made a living as a working pro for many years. The vast majority of income coming from gigs and teaching and the cross referrals in a moderate sized community. Most of that from being pro, on time and treating music like work, usually about $1,200 a week or so. The teaching was the most rewarding.

As far as being an artist. Well I liked recording and did a few shows. I have promoted online and with radio. Can't say you can really break the barriers but I'm giving it a shot again. It boils down to the fact that artists aren't pushed by media unless they have a major deal. If you think otherwise you are dreaming. You have to create and record for the love of it or don't bother.

Harpgrrl said...

I make a living. I teach, am a soloist for big productions, do work as a sideperson for other people's music, play weddings and have 2 pop groups. I live in NYC in an ok neighborhood..... My "high art side" only makes about about 1/3 of my income. The rest is paying attention to what my audience wants to hear.

Aaron Hedges said...

Very interesting topic. My band, Crawpuppies, plays about 150-200 shows a year. For the most part, the band is the big money maker for each of us. We play covers and originals. We each have music-related day jobs. The majority of our income comes from playing out. We sell a decent amount of merch, roughly $100 worth at each show. I would say we make a living from our music. For me, I support a wife and 3 kids on what I make running a music store and playing out. It's a tough business for sure, folks. We play music at this point, after being a band for 15 years, because we love it and because we have to. Wouldn't want to do anything else. As far as time and money we spend on marketing, one can never spend too much time or money on marketing. The key is to spend the time and money wisely.

Sinem Saniye said...

I think making any sort of money in the business is a huge feat. I've spent so much on the production of the CD (Grammy-winning producers,)
the music video (see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TNfW-Ku61G4) on the CD manufacturing,
promotion, marketing, image, tour expenses gas plus car and lodging, attending conferences and plane tickets and such, attorney fees, etc, so much than at $10 a pop, there is no way I'm going to even come close to making the money back, let alone a profit. A lets not forget even with a profit, there's something called taxes. Without a label backing you financially and marketing wise, its really very hard to turn a profit independently.

Anonymous said...

People won't hardly pay for music right now..cause it's given away on the web...About the only way to make money at it now is do live shows...if you get lucky enough to be able to do that.

Pete said...

It's a tough go out there...I feel blessed to be able to gig about 50 times a year and sell about 200 CD's a year. For me it's a great part time income, plus not to mention the great time we have during those gigs...it's alway a party and we get to exercise our passion for music. It's all about the journey and being in the momment and it's all about making memories...I understand the business and know a lot of "full time" musicians who make it work, usually they have their fingers in other pies to make ends meet. The full time musicians are in a few bands or do duos or single gigs, they produce and record or studio musicians etc... It's all about picking your spots in the music business, there are lots of opportunities...you just have to find them and if you look hard enough and keep yourself networked, it will all work out. But as you know...talk is cheap :) All the best!

Marilyn Carino said...

I make a living 100% from music. Although I do teach, when I do I get $75-$100 an hour for private lessons and I also work for a major hip-hop artist who's name I will not drop, I coach the young artists he is getting ready for the big time (they have seven-figure amounts behind them before they've performed even once) in "singing" (they only need to get close enough for autotune) and rapping, if you can believe that a white girl from Long Island knows more about hip-hop than these kids do (I actually do). For this I get $100 an hour plus any costs I have. I bill for transportation, use of my instrument and all expenses. People ALWAYS cry poverty to musicians and I got sick of that bullshit.

Why do I bring this up? Because I want all of you with sad stories about crummy day jobs to know that we as artists have to DEMAND to be paid what we feel we are worth! Stop being beggars and you won't be! I also get creative with my gigs - I recently did a show in a non-traditional venue, and partnered with a local arts organization to do a benefit. I got their large mailing list and I split the door with them. They did all the work and provided the PA and everything. For a one-hour gig I made an easy $250. GET CREATIVE!! Do house concerts in rich people's fancy homes, get them to invite all their friends for a private show (you better be good though) and charge $25 a head (throw in a CD or download card for each person) Get a young caterer to donate some canapes. Buy a few bottles of two-buck chuck and you have a party..

I am also aggressive about licensing, I have several songs in rotation at Sephora and Caribou Coffee stores nationally, and a few songs have made it into big TV shows, feature films and a few indies. That's where the money is for people who do music like mine, its always called "cinematic" - its weird music, not like 10,000 other boy-rock bands or Gaga wannabees. This works to my advantage.

If you are more in the mainstream, get creative with merch. Cool shirts and cute things do sell if you push them, CDs really don't, unless you play like Gregorian chants and really specialty music that people can't find easily.

I really only make money when I play solo. Touring is wicked expensive, you mostly lose money. I don't know why people say touring makes money, I only know one person personally who makes money touring and her name is Norah Jones.

There is NO MAGIC BULLET folks. But I have learned one thing from ten years of doing this and that is -- BE AGGRESSIVE, don't sell yourself short. If you want to make money, the Internet has opened up tons of avenues for smart, entrepreneurial souls. People will steal your music, WHO CARES -- find a way to monetize that, give it away but get their email address so you can sell them other stuff they can't steal so easily. I don't even really make CDs anymore, I've been switching to download cards that I made into fridge magnets. They cost like 50 cents to make and I sell them for $5.

What else... oh yes -- DON'T.. I REPEAT.. DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PAY ANYONE IN ADVANCE!!! No managers, someone who says they will shop you to music supervisors, God, THEY WILL DO A BAD JOB AND STEAL YOUR MONEY!!! And I know no one wants to hear this, but HAVE A REAL CONTRACT FOR EVERYTHING AND HAVE A REAL **ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER** LOOK AT IT FOR YOU!! If you don't, I 100% absolutely guarantee you you will get completely screwed and make no money.

Good luck my comrades, be courageous, you deserve to do what you love.


Jimmy of April said...

Jango does pretty good. Do you think the author oif this article laughed while it was written?

Anonymous said...

Wow, such a loaded question...

Yes, I make a living from doing music. I haven't always been able to say this but I can now. I teach vocal and performance and have a thriving business doing that. I receive royalties from SOCAN, I make money playing shows with my band, Sister Girl, I teach songwriting and put on workshops as well. All this adds up to a big YES. Being diversified is the way to be, if you don't want to simply sell your soul and live like a pauper for the sake of the music. I like a nice home and a decent car to drive...that whole starving artist thing is for the birds.

Rick Lee james said...

I do make a living from my music.Most of the money comes from selling records and gigging. Some of th eincome does come from royalties but only about $1000.00 a year. I Do you make music just because I love it and you have to. There are easier and better ways to make money. I barely get by financially but I love what I do. I do most of my marketing online on free sites like Facebook and through contacts so I put very little into advertising.

Rick Lee James

Marilyn Carino said...

One more thing, if you can stand it...

Rick Lee James makes a good point, do LOTS of social networking -- it gets you email addresses and adds to your worth in the eyes of prospective labels, managers, etc. And do videos, even cheapy ones, with you performing. While "going viral" is kind of a pipe dream, you will gradually build a fan base and its possible to build a financially lucrative business if you use it well.

And ps - watch what you spend on Jango.. it makes you feel good to have "listeners", but if you don't monetize them with followup contact and marketing your music, gigs, etc. to your "fans", then all you get back is a warm fuzzy, which won't pay your cellphone bill. Cheers!

Cimplex Music Studios said...

Music is all I do. Music superstars like Michael Bolton make no less than $52 million a year. In a few years I hope to do no less. I'm connected to some pretty cool folks in the business and that's what counts.

If a music manager is not consistently pushing sales of my music on iTunes, in the stores, getting me booked for shows in the best world class stadiums, and being serious about constantly promoting my career, I let them know their fired in a big hurry and get someone else. A manager has to make it possible for me to afford the best tools, so I can continue to make great music. Protools and Yamaha Motif are what I have to have to make good music, when the band is not around.

FM airplay on stations that will pay you a royalty every time your music plays is important. And again a manager that will offer the stations perks, to play your music often. Think of it as making a sale, everytime your music is airplayed.

If your famous, you can offer mechanical licenses on your songs through a company like Limelight and Discmakers. When an artist applies for a license on your songs, they pay a 9 cent royalty everytime each song is used, which goes back to you.

Fortunately I have my pensions on the side for those times when profit in this business is not all that great, so I can get by just fine.

Once you have your CD in about 3000 Target, Walmart and Bestbuy store in the country, then you'll making good money, and can sit back and enjoy the benefits.

I also plan to eventually buy a music store and invest in chains like bestbuy, and maybe even a recording studio in high traffic areas when I start making more money off the music in the soon future, as yet another way to help me make a profit.

If you write good music, there's no excuse to not be making profit off of it. With music at my level, there are plenty of ways for me to make good profit off my music. It's just how much you know about this business, and getting your music marketed. Oh don't forget, a good major key here, A GOOD ARTIST MANAGER!
Airomee Wind

Cimplex Music Studios said...

I only use sites like Jango as a tool to help raise my fanbase before national or international tours. because the stations pay me for airplay, not the other way around. Airomee Wind

CrybKeeper/Mike said...

Do you make a living from your music ? I do make some money from being a freelance music publicist, booker, A&R person for 6 music artists.

Does the money come from selling records, gigging, merch sales, licensing, publishing ? I get a percentage from licensing and sometimes from bookings and the promoters.

Any other interesting ways to earn a dollar as a musician ? Licensing music for media broadcasting is where the money is these days. We only take 35% of the net, while the industry standard is usually 50%. I am proud of this fact and I don't get paid, unless the music artist gets paid - I also feel good about that.

Is music a hobby, fun on the weekend or supplementary income ? I would say supplementary income, usually averaging 2 or 3 hundred dollars a month, But I LOVE doing this for the artists! However, If we successfully license just one soundtrack for a major motion picture, it can net as much as $100,000 for even an unknown music artist.

Do you make music just because you love it and you have to ? I adore music and I am passionate about taking good care of our artists. It was the under-handed dealings in this music business, that compelled me to come to the rescue.

How much money or time do you spend on marketing ? I spend all my free time marketing and publicizing the music artists. E-mails, phone calls, beers with local program directors, whatever it takes to establish a network within the media. Have been VERY successful getting reviews, interviews and advertising, without having to pay a single penny ;-)

It's important to understand the inner workings of radio, magazines, television, newsprint and all forms of media outlets. I have 15 years experience in the journalism field, so this helps tremendously, as I know who, what, where and when we should get some press.

I also enjoy using the internet for spreading great music news and have been on top of this medium for well over a decade. Started using the internet with windows 3.1 and started writing music reviews online with Win 95.

Our music artists do not get rich in this cut throat business, but generally, they do make enough money to fund studio time, equipment/gear and distribution. Occasionally we have a windfall with licensing tracks to media. I usually re-invest my 35% into the artists, as I already make a comfortable living at the newspapers.

Life is very exciting, as a music publicist - if the bands/musicians are doing it, I am usually right along with them. I would love to change careers and work for one of the major labels and yet, I am a bit uneasy with their tactics. It's difficult to find true honesty in this business, which is a very sad thing.

Christian Ross said...

For me the demand for time to be spent creating music and performing now outweighs the time I have to work another job, however; I still have to work, like most artists and everyone else, in order to live. Though I make some money from music it's still not enough to support my band and I...yet.

As far as how much money and time I spend marketing...let's just say if I'm not paying a bill with it or eating, it goes to music and marketing. If I'm not at work or sleeping, I'm making music or marketing.

I feel that I'm here to make music...that's it; my goal; my purpose. So I find joy in the struggles as well as the successes. To make money with music only frees your time to make more music! Glad to report, after many long hours and diligent work, we are getting there. Slowly but surely, and thankfully.

Exhibit Buddy said...

Is music a hobby, fun on the weekend or supplementary income ? It is a ministry to others and self expression form of Art for me.

Do you make music just because you love it and you have to ? No, I do not make money at my music because I do not try to, however, I am recording a new album and have signed a distribution contract in which for the first time in my career, I hope to promote myself.

How much money or time do you spend on marketing ? Under a few hundred dollars a year - website, CDs etc. I have won about 7 or 8 awards and received two nominations in the last 3 years and that is the way that I promote myself.

Do you make a living from your music ? No, nor do I expect to.

Does the money come from selling records, gigging, merch sales, licensing, publishing ? No, I give them away in hopes that my music will have an eternal affect on the peoples life.

Any other interesting ways to earn a dollar as a musician ? Yes, teach others.

Les LaMotte - SudanHope.org, WithoutAVoiceTheMovie.com

Presently in Southern Sudan - Malakal while doing humanitarian and development work - affecting the lives over over 1 million people of Southern Sudan... and witnessing the birth of a new nation...

Martin Lorentzson said...

For me it all starts and ends with a great song. If I don't have songs that people really can relate to, it doesn't matter how much money I spend on gigging, CD production, marketing, networking, etc.
For me, the craft of songwriting is what ultimately counts if I want to make a living out of my passion.

Dirk Radloff said...

Creating music is something, what I do for myself. Because if an idea inspires me and leads me to a working process and at last to a song, I am not able to think on a possible commercial success. Many people have told me often to write songs, which could be successful, but if I would work like this I would loose the joy. So in my opinion it's much more satisfying to compose for yourself and not to think on an audience.
Some classical composers became successful long after their death ...

Anonymous said...

I am Guilherme, composer and pianist.
I am 50 years old, i wrote 200 classical music, 150 pop songs, and 40 Movie themes, awards as a classical pianist, classical composer and songwriter.

I dont have any profit, so I need still the support from my family to keep my artistcal dreasm alive.

I am in Los angeles right now trying opportunitites.

if someone knows some producer, music business in los angeles, record companies, agents or any another person interested in invest in my music, here is my contact, phone etc

(213) 5900524
1728 Glendale Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA - 90026

Some of my most recent pop songs,
examples of classical and Film music
(solo piano themes)

I love her she loved horses

Our never had romance (produced by Tomas Ocarthaigh)

Walking Away

To see Love but Her and forever

Missing you

Secret Love

I found you

One Kiss


I will never forget you

Unreachable Love

Theme and 7 songs part I

Theme and 7 songs part II

Theme and 7 songs part III

Theme and 7 Songs part IV

Theme and 7 songs part V

Theme and 7 songs part VI

Theme and 7 songs part VII

Theme and 7 Songs part VIII

Movie Theme Op 181 No 35 (C Major)

Nocturne Op.81 No.10 (C minor)

Nocturne Op.91 No.12 (C minor)

Nocturne Op.211 No.5 (F minor)

Piano Concerto Op.215 Op.5 (Eb Major)

Symphonic Overture

Edfead said...

We make money when we gig - of course - especially if we are on a longer tour, then venue income combined with merch sales gives some cash, but almost never more than for gaz and food money. Whatever profit is left will be put aside for a next tour / album.
Royaltiy checks come 4 times a year, the biggest one in june, which is very important, as each member in the band gets "alot" of money given that the band has been really active. Yes, gigging the right venues pays well in royalties. I've recieved everywhere from $100 to $2000 (no it isn't that much but it is a great bonus to get a few times annually).
We have tried to get into licensing deals, it's hard, but get the right publisher. We almots closed a deal of $20,000 for the use of 30 secs of one of our tracks for 1 year (would be increased to $30,000 for 2 years). However, the week the contract was to be signed, the company went with a different artist. The reason I am mentioning this is that you do not need to be a major artist to close huge deals like this. All you need to do is get a Publisher that believes in your music, and you might just get a great spot.

To conclude. We have spent 1000 times more money on the music that what we are earning (from buying gear, to buy-in tours, to travels, you name it, but as the band grows, the checks get bigger, and I guess, that as long as there is a balance (preferrably green number), well, then it keeps being fun, we're not in the business to get rich anyways ;)

U.A. Morrison said...

Actually yes, I do make a living from my music. I have to due to the recession wiped out my job, my career and my life savings. I've been unemployed for almost two years. In that time I dusted off my guitar and started writing country songs again. With the little money I had left I self-produced some demos and hit the road, trying to get the attention of the public. Ive even busked and played subway stations in different cities. It's been a tough struggle but the reviews Ive gotten have been all positive. In the old days if you had talent and a good industry connection you could possibly get signed to a recording contract through A&R, but those days are gone. Now it's all self-financing which is a big wall to climb, especially in my shoes (or cowboy boots). Putting a back-up band together has been tough because of the lack of funding but now I have a band of younguns' who are quite enamoured with the old man up front. We have been doing small honky tonks (Im in Brazil these days, seeing there's more opportunity for me here and less competition)and playing restaurants unplugged and I now have a few real concerts lined up.
As long as my health and strength hold up I can continue. All I ask for is a fair hearing of what I can do, that should take care of the rest

Ty Macklin said...

yes...i make a living from music. it took about 20 years or so to get to this point. it definately wasn't overnight for me. one would think so since i've been a multi-platinum songwriter since 1998 but i think i had a few lessons to learn before i got to the point where i am now. imagine having a platinum plaque on your wall...and having to pass by it in the morning when you're on your way to a 9 to 5. well, that was me a few years ago. im thankful though. i may not have made the kinda money i was supposed to have made off that particular project but that whole experience taught me about the business in ways that's priceless. now, im able to point other artist in the right direction. i make my living from recording, mixing, songwriting, producing, running an indie label, teaching others about the music business, etc...i make money from mechanical royalties, performance royalties, producing fees, and running our recording studio.

i stuck with my art when there seemed to be all kinds of obstacles in my path and then one day i realized that I was the only real obstacle. i had to let go of pride, ego, insecurity, doubt and fear (sounds so cliche) to get to the point where im able to survive off of music. i had to strengthen my patience and stay focused. these are all intangible things but they have a tremendous effect on the physical side of life. also, an important thing to remember is music is subjective. to me there's no such thing as a "hit record". usually, that means that "the machine" has put some big promotion cash into a song. i do think music can be "timeless" though. if indie artist had promotion cash like the corporations, they would be able to reach just as many listeners. just because a major label thinks you don't have a hit record, it doesn't mean that's true. it's really a numbers game. the more people who hear your record, the more sales you make. simple as that.

i guess im saying all this to say...it's definately possible to make a living from music! especially now, with the internet leveling the playing field for indie artist. all you have to do is keep going and keep following your passion and you will be guided to the exact experience/person/place/thing you need in order to reach the destination of making a living from music.

Lisa Marie Gabriel said...

I have devoted myself to teaching music (guitar especially) for many years. For a lot of that time I also gigged as a semi-pro guitarist, bassist and singer playing in a lot of different bands over several genres.

Only recently did I consider actually recording my own songs and my new album has yet to take off although I have made some sales. I consider myself a highly skilled professional musician by ability, training and choice rather than an "artist" the definition of which is ephemeral to say the least!

I make my music public for me in my later years - if others enjoy it and want to listen, buy MP3s or even cover it (contact PRS please!) then that is a bonus!

Andrew said...

I'm grateful to be able to say I live off producing music on commission and download sales at http://songstowearpantsto.com



Rene Labre said...

This is a very tough profession,perhaps the toughest one.Because you are doing what you love to do.And it is fun.To light up an audience when your sing and play is a rush that compares with skydiving.And your audience if you have done it right, only sees the end product,the illusion.Behind the scenes is work,work, and more work.You have to have a real passion for it to be able to carry on with it.All of the marketing/promotional issues aside you have got to develop yourself as an artist to your fullest potential.And it has to be something that your audience WANTS to hear.They are the ones paying for your spaghetti dinner tonight and last week all you could score was french fries.This emphasis upon money relegating your success,if you declare yourself to have the skill level of a pro the important thing to you is how good of a job did you do with what or who you had to work with.And wow how are you managing your success in order to further sustain it.As an artist you have got to find and hit what is your groove,infect your audience with your passion.Again who is buying dinner tonight-your audience.Who do you NEVER take for granted-your audience,well unless you painted the painting just to admire yourself and show to your family/friends in a comfort zone where you are not going to get a real critque.And that is okay if you are happy.It is okay if you play good music and still have a day job and are a music teacher.It is okay if you are sleeping on the floor of a stranger who is a friend whilst you are on tour.I have gratefully done so many times.It is freezing outside and you are safe and warm.And it is okay if you,come hell,rain, and highwater,and they all shall come forth, have decided to follow your dream. know this my dear reader,1/10 of 1% make it to the bigtime.And they are bigtime because they have an audience.Notables in the industry who can assist you towards a mutual and equitable benefit notice this.It has always been hard for indies and recent press releases form the RIAA refer to sucessful indies who are making good money as inferior underdeveloped artists as they sue their own customers.The coolest example of an indie who crossed over into the big leagues is The Dave Matthews Band.Who had so much business they could not handle it anymore and CHOSE what major they wanted to sign with and presented THEM with the contract.Revision clause complete I am sure.oh my now with the internet you can find fans in Bulgaria and you can spend a ton of money paying every leech site you find down the line.First you have got to find and develop your audience and then honestly deliver to them what they want.Your groove that they like.you fortunate and lucky little shower of shit you.If you are chasing a dream you must never forget what you are,a rock and roll star.In whatever you may have to do to get through this is how you identify yourself.renelabre.com

Mike McKinney said...

I just saw this quote on this blog today:
"Information is not knowledge; Knowledge is not Wisdom; Wisdom is not truth; Truth is not beauty; Beauty is not love; Love is not music, ... Music is the best."

It's a quote from Frank Zappa...the first time I saw it, it was in German on the back of a t-shirt I got in Europe from the Honky-Tonk Cafe. I love the quote.

Music IS living. We play a music tour in Ireland each year and get paid well for it. But it doesn't cover all the expenses. We make up the difference from other means - but music is WHY we tour Ireland. It's why we play the major folk festivals in Florida, why we tour the state and have regular music gigs here at home. Music has given us the world. Seven years in Nashville gave us the opportunity to know not only what we want from music, but what we don't want as well. Life's been easy since then.

Making a living at music implies a steady and reliable income. I know people who do that, but they're always on the move, and usually one step ahead of the bill collector. These are fantastic musicians, incredible songwriters, too....but when someone tells you they make a living on their music, there's usually a partner working full time to pay the bills. That, or a family trust.

You've probably heard this, but the answer to 'How do you get a musician off your porch?' is 'pay him for the pizza.'

I love music.


Anonymous said...

I wish I did- however, I spend much more on advertising/promotion/studio/cd's etc... than I make. Royalties from college/independent radio, paying gigs- selling cd's and merchandise doesnt really equate to much, but I must say- I love making music

Anonymous said...

Before Sept. 2001 I made my living at music and acting in NYC. I have had to rebuild my career as a lot of gigs vanished in NYC after that time. The music business has also vastly changed and continues to evolve with the internet and technology. I now have a day job which I despise, but yet I am thankful that I am skilled enough to have it as it provides health insurance and subsidizes my income so that I can produce my CDs, music videos and promote myself. I definitely spend more than I make at my craft currently. I had to give up acting (unless I am cast by someone I have previously worked with) as the day job cuts into audition time. However, I still work full-time at music and will never give it up as that is what I spent my entire life studying, practicing and focusing on. Playing music nourishes my soul and makes me feel fulfilled. I look forward to the day when I can quit my day job and focus only on music start acting again. I am confident that there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

Anonymous said...

With all the pay to play models taking over, no.

I used years ago though when the clubs screened their own music and we'd played the entire night for part of the cover (which was only a couple of bucks, BTW) and free drinks.

The places used to be packed with people eager to hear a decent Indie band.
In fact, you could barely get near the bar to get a drink the places had so much biz and we'd walk out with several hundred dollars when $$$$ was still worth a lot more too.

Now the P2P sharks destroyed everything.

Venues now allow anyone who pays to play and most of the bands are horrible and killed off the bars biz even if they don't know that is the problem.
Who wants to pay $12 to see a bunch of bands that still need to pull it together and are in no way ready to go public?
I can't believe the clubs that come and go here because they don't have a real and steady customers due to being sucked into this.
But yet they won't admit that if you have mostly lousy entertainment you are to blame.

J-Punch and Dave Moonshine said...

No one in their right mind makes music for money anymore. Modern technology, specifically digitization of sound and computerization of the recording process has greatly increased the amount of music available to audiences. As such, the audiences have learned to make their own music. Now, basically everyone can make high quality sound experiences to share with others. Due to this, when we try to participate in this infinite miasma of sound, our contributions, however decent, are lost in the screech of the hive. "Technology" has both enabled and doomed our careers as musicians, in that it has allowed us to more effectively create music, but also created a system wherein we cannot profit reliably.

As such, the motivation to create music nowadays is not profit. The greatest desire in music is to create something meaningful that evokes feeling in the individuals who experience it.

We hope both to evoke feeling, and to resonate with the current emotionality of the listener.

We also hope to profit somehow, so that we can make music exclusively and not have to divide our labor time with day jobs in order to feed ourselves. But we do not see this as a likely outcome, given the current state of affairs.

J-Punch and Dave Moonshine

sal anthony said...

It's not for everybody...But I have made a good living playing and writing music for forty years. it's up to the individual. How talented,how educated. etc.I gig over 300 dates a year I love it and always will....Sal Anthony

BZ Lewis said...

I make a living with music. I compose music for film & TV, sell CD's at gigs/online, license my music through two publishers I work closely with, and I produce/enigneer as well. I haven't had a day job in 10 years. I'm booked everyday doing something music related. I feel really lucky to do what I do- I know it's rare.

The Masked Bocu said...

I don't make any money from my music... yet. Yes, I definitely do want to earn from my music. Music is what I do best, and what I like doing best. I can't imagine myself one day wearing office shirts and a tie and sitting at a desk to earn bread.

I mean to say - I love making music and I would hate to do anything else with my life!

Anonymous said...

I am an indie artist. It has been about 6 months since I released my latest album and I have spent about $350 per month for my music promotion + devoting about 30~40 hours per week to internet promotion. Now my revenue is almost 10% of my expenditure.
My part-time job (not music related) pays that.

Anonymous said...

I've only recently realized a few important things like marketing, finding paying gigs, selling merch at shows, social network promoting, etc, but in the 3 years since I realized this, I've managed to make it up to part-time money. Enough to allow me to have certain things and get by, but not enough money to really consider myself a financial success. I play solo and although my sound is currently pretty empty, I actually sound better than any band I've ever been in, due to them usually being really crappy bandmates or untalented in some way lol.

I keep buying marketing books, searching for new ways to try and reach an audience online, try to find the rare place that will pay for a solo acoustic musician to play in the Southern California area where I live. Hopefully one day my income will raise enough that I can fully support myself using only music money, but I'm not sure how far away or possible that is.

One thing I haven't quite figured out yet, is how to sell merch online. I have an online store with CDs, a couple T-Shirts, stickers, buttons, etc at my main dot-com website, and yet I rarely get orders. And I blog once a month usually, sometimes more. I'm hoping if I can figure out how to play the online merch game, I might see more financial success. But who knows, I don't.

As for jango, I've been on one month so far.... and while I'm sure that its much harder to monetize jango fans than it seems at first glance, it sure beats the hell out of google or facebook ads... I mean think about it... In a regular ad, you pay per click or impression, and then just hope someone actually takes the time to listen to your music, from which a small percentage of people will end up buying something. At least with jango, you're guaranteed that someone at least started to listen to your track. Plus the CPC rates I've been getting for other ad networks are way way higher than the 3 cents per listen that I get with jango. So again, whether or not its good or bad, its still way better than traditional ads if you ask me lol.


Guillermo Del Noche said...

Hello Everyone,
I have been a touring musician for the last 18 years and even though having the evil "day job" for some of that time I have been able to now open a home studio to record my original music (5 CD's, 1 single on iTunes, Amazon, ad nauseum).
Even though like every overnight success, it took 20 years and that was after the previous 10 years of practice, failure, and Berklee.
However, now I wake ever day cup of coffee in hand, pit bull at my side and go into my studio to dream the days dream and record it to be released on my label (Guillermo Del Noche Records) and publishing (Guillermo Del Noche Publishing Group) to iTunes.
You must be able to focus on the ultimate goal and make all sacrifices to obtain it. This meant taking the money earned from gigs, merch sales, song sales, and investing and not ingesting and making other wise choices that made me able to name my price to walk out the door. Invest in yourself and your future!
Now my day is spent with one hour of Twitter, FaceBook, MySpace, fan emails and then off to spin myself on Blip.fm, Last.fm, Tweet about some air I just breathed... but you get the point. Then I record all day/evening or whenever the creative bug bites. What you put into it is what you get out of it.... and my sales reports are telling me that I am working it just fine. I couldn't Love my job more.
The reward for hard work is hard work.
and man is it worth it.
~Guillermo Del Noche

Michael King said...

Just wanted to chime in on the blog topic. We have been fortunate to be working musicians for several decades.

We have found that people love the Steeldrum Caribbean Sound. Although we have day jobs we are blessed that our day jobs are flexible.

The music has provided steady supplemental income even in difficult economy. Thank God for that. Irie!

sky.flying.by said...

i usually sum up my "music career" thusly (and as Randy up above used the golf analogy -- i shall too):

"some people like to play golf, i like to make records."

i have a very successful career and make a very comfortable living, so i would never give that up to make music professionally. it'd have to provide equal compensation in order for me to even consider it. not that making money is everything to me, it's that i have a comfortable lifestyle (one not indulgent even in the slightest) but i'm comfortable. i'm not one to discount the value of being comfortable.

and as others have stated, why turn a passion (making music) into a job? yeegads. that sounds terrible.

Paul Steward said...

I make a living, with my wife. I make more money with my music than she does with her part-part time job but that's because we are also full-time students.

When I graduate from college and can devote my full-time efforts to music I will likely perform and produce more, therefore earning more.

Being a pro-musician is all I have done since I graduated high school in 2003.

I play Blues music as my own stuff, but also do variety covers for weddings and parties. The key to making money is "get paid for your gigs". Also
"sell your cd's, and downloads".

The higher demand you have, the more you can charge. Simple business.

If your not in demand, then fix your product.

Anonymous said...

Jango should be free, but regulated. Cause honestly, charging to play what WE made is only destroying the music industry

will said...

i would love to make a living with music but its hard unless you know the right people..

Jimmy Gray said...

Music is supplemental income. I spend equal amounts of time on music and in the sciences but my marketing plan for music has always been long term since i started late getting into jazz music, in my early thirties actually. I have always wanted to show people you can do anything at any age and what better way than through my own life as exemplified by the artist. You can invest in a retirement plan or invest in yourself. The investments ive made in myself and my "arts" are the ones that have most consistently given me satisfaction monetary and non-monetarty.

Jimmy Gray. Jazz Pianist,Music Composer

Diva Joan Cartwright said...

I am a singer, composer, author and educator. I make most of my income from performance through grants that I write and administer through a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization WOMEN IN JAZZ SOUTH FLORIDA, INC. I am not able to save much. Most of the income I earn just pays my rent, lights, telephone, insurances, food and gas. I get a lot of satisfaction from performing and going into schools to teach kids about women musicians and music. I love going to senior centers to perform for seniors.

On October 24, 2010, I produced the Lauderhill Jazz Jam with Parkway Middle School Jazz Band and Vocal Ensemble, Eugene Grey & Company and my quintet Jazz Hotline in an outside concert with a $5,000 grant from the Broward Cultural Division. This is our third grant this year and we are looking to get more in 2011.

I supplement my income by working in a law office once or twice a week. Also, I design websites for a few clients.

Finally, my books and CDs make a little extra cash to buy gas and cosmetics.

All in all, I enjoy being a musician and look forward to being one for a long time.

See our website: www.wijsf.org

Anonymous said...

Creating and Helping others to get an outlet for freedom of expression is liberty.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"Jango should be free, but regulated. Cause honestly, charging to play what WE made is only destroying the music industry"

Well, see, you're missing the point. If Jango did not charge you to play your music (which is basically paying for advertising), then most likely NO ONE would play your music. That's just the cold hard facts. A radio station that only plays music from a bunch of unknown artists will not be able to attract advertising, nor would it get an audience. No one would be listening to Jango if it were not for the fact that they play mainstream artists. Which is why I think Jango can be a good tool for the independent musician. If people listen to your music and still don't buy it, that's on you, man.

infinite Music Source said...

I was able to sustain myself with music for three years with a publishing deal, and it was a great time. But it came to an end and I had to find another career to take care of my family. In the meantime, I was able to make enough money with jingles and promos to buy extra income property. But the job still pays the bills. I long for the time I was free to make music more often, but reflecting back, find that I have accomplished more for myself and children with the limited time I have. I have a cd out, and am working on releasing a cd for a talented young girl who I hope to at least carry to the next level. The small royalties I get from airplay have helped me fund a non profit concert meant to generate money for local schools. I miss those old studio days, but life is about creating new memories. Music helps create the mood for them. Infinite music source. Com... checkoutmymelody.org

Solfrid said...

No, I don't. But I hope that people find my music interesting and if they are people with influence in the business, then great. Maybe I will earn something someday.

Jynx said...

hey i wanna say yes! i do make money of my music...wat i do is i self market my music in the streets...as da old saying says out the trunk...ive sold over 13k+ copies in just 2-2 1/2 yrs of doing it...its how i eat and pay my bills...music will pay u just gotta be focused and push urself to the next level...i do spend alot of money promoting but when i am promoting im making money back frm selling my album to the person im promoting to...and i do promotional shows meaning i do um for free but while im there i take the time to sell my album and other merch we set up for the show...and i give free bees on myspace and the radio stations where im frm for further promotion...im also the head of promotions for a tv show here in my area known as blinkshow tv...and now expanding to las vegas...check me out while u at it at www.myspace.com/jynxfromhtr

so basically yes! i make money of my music...lol...

Your Boi Jynx

Terry Grinde said...

Near the top of this blog, "Anonymous" asked if Jango pays royalties. The answer is absolutely not. I spoke with an ASCAP rep to ask why I was not receiving royalties for my Jango plays - his response concerning Jango and it's treatment of it's customers wouldn't be printable in a family newspaper. You do not, and WILL NOT, receive any royalties from your Jango purchases. And when you really think about it, what sense would that make? You pay to receive royalties? What kind of scam would that be. I don't have a problem with not being paid for these plays - I do this for the chance to get my music out where I know people will actually listen to it.

Robert Nix said...

Ha ha I can make a 'living' at it if everyone will kindly download my album for only $3.99-just go to my youtube site PLEASE,okay PRETTY PLEASE,okay PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE,okay PRETTY PRETTY PRETTY PLEASE'WITH THE BEATLES' REMASTERED CD ON TOP!(Doesn't get any better than that folks).

Anonymous said...

in response to the reply "if jango didn't play some music, nobody would".
Oh really? You pay jango to play your song on their website, tell me how much your return is?
-0, thats how much. Jango should be paying us royalties and stop profitting from our work.

Keith Gregory said...

I do make a living playing music. I must admit that playing covers to make a living is much better than 9 to 5ing everyday. I write and perform my originals as well, the important thing is to not lose focus of what my main goal is, originals, original, originals. Until then I'll be playing the covers and originals to stay afloat.

clarepearl said...

I do earn a living from music and while the music that pays the bills is rarely what I'd ideally like to be playing, it beats the hell out of most of the other jobs I had while I was trying to be a purist and only play originals. I still write and play originals and even manage to sell a CD here and there, but it's the covers, accompanying and copying work that keeps me going. I've had to learn to wear a lot of hats, but at least they're all musical ones.

Dick Twang Band said...

You're only as good as your last gig! If your music is in demand then the satisfaction that it gives people should generate some income everyday, hence a "living". More people could make a "living" playing music if we all took the time to discover and support the talent around us. I took the time to talk to the violinist playing for change at the seabus terminal. The next year he got the call as lead fiddler on the world's largest country music tour. A guitarist we "hired", and became friends with later became recognized as the country's best by CMA.
"Your Music" is a broad description. If you are a musician you get paid for playing the gigs and sessions, if you're a singer you get the marquee and the door $$$, sell albums. It is the songwriters and composers who create the musical "babies", those works of passionate art that take on a life of their own as popular songs.
Songwriters can very easily make a living in this day and age, provided they write songs that are popular and timeless, and can look after the licensing themselves. Furthermore they and their heirs can continue to enjoy the income generated by their "babies" for generations to come. "Happy Birthday" anyone?

Anonymous said...

Just one word: Faggeddaboudit!

But seriously, folks, I live in Switzerland where the economy is supposed to a bit healthier at the moment, and although both my husband and myself are very motivated musicians, we would never survive without his teaching salary on top. And I'm not talking hobby musicians, he's going on international tour with a major next year and has recorded music for over 40 film & TV productions... We have a friend who has platinum records (in Switzerland, which of course is a small market, but heyyyyy) and she can live off it be she is still struggling to make ends meet in a small and humble apartment in the city. She plays over 50 gigs a year. Don't quit yer day job.

p-dek said...

I like music from the start and i dream to be a musician so all my life i try my best to do what musicians do and my mother spent so much money on my demos.I l learned how to play the instrument and started recoding my own music but i have not make any money from music.

George Telezhko said...

I do not. And even do not intend to, at least now.
Still I have uploaded an album on CDBaby, just to see if anyone is ready to part with several dollars to get the pleasure of listening to my music.

Anonymous said...

Musik is my life i would love to make it a career I feel like i have a story to tell that could relate to alot of peoples lifes and thats my way of reachin out to people. It just makes it hard now and days because talent really has nothin to do with making it in this game, its all about money if you dont have money to market yourself then you'll never make it big enough to actually make enough money that will take care of you. I really dont wanna be #1 on TV and all over TV my musik is not for everybody i just wanna make enough to survive decent and really not have to want for nuthin, and too also keep doin the thang i love doin feel me

its yo boy BUBBA MANE signin out NO LAW ENT.

Billie Preston said...

Yes, I do earn a living doing music, and that's all I do. Here's how it happens:

I teach voice at Senseney Music, here in Wichita, KS - on average I have 15-20 students. The store charges the customer/student a monthly, and I get a portion of that.

I teach voice, guitar, and piano at my house. I have five students there, and I'm working now on gathering more students.

My husband and I are paid cantors/section leaders at the cathedral in town -

I am in a singing/playing folk/bluegrass duo with Robin Roberts. Together, we are Robin Roberts & Billie Preston. We gig around town, and we are booking more gigs, and gathering more fans as we go.

Also, I was awarded the first-ever scholarship from Wesley Medical Center (here in Wichita)to become a Certified Music Practitioner through an organization called Music for Healing and Transition: http://www.mhtp.org - Wesley is adding therapeutic music to their services, because science has found that the vibration and tones of live music can create a healing atmosphere, help lower blood pressure, help slow down rapid heart rates, and help relieve pain and stress unlike other therapies. Currently, I'm fulfilling my internship with Wesley, so I can then play/sing one-on-one for those in critical and palliative care.

In that regard, too, I have partnered with Progressive Home Care and Hospice here in Wichita to lead/present sing-along sessions at Nursing and Retirement Centers. The benefit to the residents can be seen while I'm there. It is an amazing experience to see what singing old folk songs together can do for a, many times, neglected group of people. For every hour I volunteer my services, they donate an agreed upon amount to a music nonprofit organization I formed back in 2003 - People Who GET It, Inc.

I spent decades doing other jobs - I had been involved in page layout since PageMaker came out. But I was never happy at my core. Now, I don't make as much money, but I'm happier, and I consider myself extremely fortunate to do what I love and get paid to do it.

Thanks for the opportunity to share :)

Billie Fredholm
aka Billie Preston

The Singing Patient said...

i was making a living, until i moved from down south to new jersey, where everything costs 10 times as much, and gigs pay *less*! wow, what a boot to the head! Then people stopped buying as many cds, now that everyone has an ipod and (if they buy at all) only buy a few songs at 99 cents a pop instead of a whole cd for $15.

So i've gone back to teaching guitar lessons 2 days a week (tues-wed, slow gig days) and taking fill-in cover tune gigs on short notice during the summer at the beach. I definitely feel like I got knocked down a couple notches when the economy tanked, but I continue to work my existing contacts.

Sound exchange has been a real boost to my income, since I get played a lot on satellite radio and the internet. Touring can sometimes lose you money after you pay all your travel costs, and making cds can be a losing game until you finally recoup your recording costs. I did the college circuit for a while, and you can blow a lot of money going to conference and doing showcases, then paying your agent a cut of every gig, and covering your own travel costs. And the indie scene, which I've done for 15 years, is the same- lots of hidden costs. You think you're making a nice living, then you add it up at the end of the year and *&^%! It's all gone! Nearly all of it went back into the biz! No wonder I always feel broke!

Royalties are a real blessing, and teaching is steady money, and cover tune gigs are sure money as well- no real out-of-pocket costs for those. I agree with whoever said to diversify, at least to some extent. You can diversify to the point of doing lots of things well, but nothing really fantastically. So, diversify, but don't diversify too much, or you won't have the energy to do the thing you're trying to support.

Two Face of The Workaholiks said...

This is for those that love to do music for a hobby. Thats fine and dandy; have at it. I love to play basketball as a hobby; but you won't see me at an NBA scouts front door trying to get noticed or drafted for the NBA. I'd probably be wasting his time and make a fool of myself at the same time. I think those of you that do this for a hobby should maybe do what it takes to satisfy you're needs but please don't clog up the resource channels us artists that depend on this for a living. I make music, love it, work very hard at it, and you bet you're ass I feel like I should be compensated for it. I work wat more hours than anyone I've ever met in my lifetime, but yet they get paid more for flipping a burger, or pushin a pencil??? I've put thousands into equipment(this doesn't include packaging costs for albums or any of the many other expenses that come along with being independent)and I've literally seen under a hundred bucks back, maybe two at the most. By the way in case you might be thinking maybe the music isn't great, WRONG. I am one of the most played artists in my fairly large city in California, most of the local artists have went to me for my production, albums are mastered and stand up to industry released albums quality-wise, and I've out rapped and embarrassed a million MC's during my career. Sounds like a winning formula to me. Yet, I see pennies for my efforts

George Telezhko & Co said...

Two Face of The Workaholiks, you are perfectly right saying that amateur musicians/composers waste their and not only their time.
But we really need at least one chance to make sure that our music is of no interest to the audience. Those of us who are rational enough live their depressive lives with no expectation of wonder )))
Sorry for my English ))

Mark Ramsey said...

Like a lot of people who say yes to this question, almost all of my income comes from teaching. I teach private lessons for piano, drums and guitar. But I also teach a group class that is kind of like "school of rock" but its about leading worship in a contemporary worship setting. I gig out and produce other musician's demos and albums because I have recording gear. So its a combination of teaching, gigging, recording, and producing. However, without the teaching componant I wouldn't be able to do this. I would like to be busier gigging and recording, and I'm working towards that. I really appreciate Marilyn's comments from Nov. 9th on this subject. I for one intend to take her advice about not selling yourself short.

MBeyeline said...

i haven't yearned nothin yet even though my songs are in heavy rotation in my country at all radio stations and even my music video is in the top charts in the republic of moldova... They violate all my author and singer rights. And I can't do nothing about it. here you get paid only by performing live and then they pay you like 50 euro and not more. You can starve here. I feel cursed for being born here and I really wanna get outta my country.

The Cool Customers said...

I paint and decorate homes during the day in order to pay bills and have food for my family.
Any money left over has went to the studio to record tracks, finish songs, and send them out.
They have received some radio and TV play " Not including Jango" lol, but I am not making a dime yet.
Most people who are making a living playing music never did it for the money to begin with.
Even a "Starving Artist" should be ecstatic if he or she gets their art on canvas or records their original songs.
Don't be like Van Gogh!
If your arts on canvas and out there be happy!

Peace and blues from Chicago

The Cool Customers

Fuzzy Soul Tiger said...

It used to really bother me that I put so much into what I love doing yet can't make a living from it financially. But each and everytime I quit, I find myself drawn back to what I love doing.

With a little soul searching, I realize I love the process of going from being inspired with a song idea to actually recording what I hear to making the song a reality for everyone else to

On top of that, it's also help me find my voice over the years especially when the big Earthquake in Haiti directly inspired my "Earthquake Song of Hope"
and when I went two years being unemployed

So, yeah, I wish I could enjoy a career doing what I love. Been at it over a decade and that's yet to happen but I do enjoy what I do, I enjoy the process and I enjoy the responses I get from others who hear what I do.

I'm Mr. PJ, The Fuzzy Soul Tiger from Chicago!