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At the end of 2021, there were over 500 million users who had paid subscription accounts to streaming services. With so many people integrating music into their daily lives, there's plenty of money out there for those looking to start a music industry career.
This is especially true for those looking to get involved in music production. Not everyone understands how to make money as a music producer, though.
Let's explore this topic in detail below.
🎨 Produce for Artists
This is the most straightforward way to make money as a music producer. It involves working directly or indirectly with artists to create music for their projects.
For example, you could communicate with an artist the email or social media and discuss their needs before creating a rough draft to send to them. Or, you might communicate with their manager instead. Regardless, the end result involves an artist creating a song out of the music you make.
During the early stages of your career, you can't expect to get the attention of big-name artists even if you have a significant amount of talent. Reputation goes a long way in the music industry, and more people will begin to notice as you develop a greater presence.
💻 Offer Alternative Services
Music producers don't have to focus strictly on making music.
They could also offer mixing/mastering services to those in need. This involves taking someone else's music and ensuring that it sounds as loud and clear as possible. It takes someone with a trained ear to handle this role, especially when it comes to popular music genres.
It's also not uncommon for a single individual to produce the music, mix it, and master it. Marketing yourself as a music producer who also has audio engineering skills can go a long way in terms of increasing your income. Mixing and mastering are far more objective than the creative music production process.
To clarify, different people will have differing opinions on if they like your creative work. On the other hand, a song is either mixed and mastered well, or it isn't. There's simply no in-between. So, ensure that you have the required skills before offering these services.
💸 Create a Patreon Account
Patreon is a platform that allows people online to support their favorite creators.
This comes in the form of monthly subscription payments, and many people offer Patreon subscriptions for only $1 per month. In exchange for subscribing, people gain access to exclusive content. Depending on the creator, this could come in many different forms.
It often includes exclusive video footage of their creative process, tutorials, project files, etc. Unless you have a substantial following, you shouldn't expect to make a living from this process. However, it's a great way to diversify your income and grow your audience.
To get started, you should offer something for free that leaves your followers wanting more. This way, they'll have an incentive to subscribe to your account for future content.
🎸 Sell Leasing Rights to Instrumentals
You don't always have to work directly with an artist to have them create a song with your music. You could sell leasing rights to instrumentals that artists can purchase before they put their music out on streaming services. This often comes in the form of uploading instrumentals to platforms dedicated to facilitating sales.
This is a great opportunity for producers to connect with a large number of artists and grow their production catalog. To get the most exposure, you'll need to properly tag the content you upload with relevant keywords.
For example, you wouldn't want people searching for an R&B instrumental to be the primary demographic that finds your gritty, aggressive beats. For this reason, it's essential to thoroughly understand your audience before you move forward. This will give you the best opportunity to maximize the number of people who find your content.
Selling leasing rights is a long-term goal since you will need to substantially build your audience. However, it's entirely possible to make six figures per year once you grow enough.
📽️ Start a Youtube Channel
Believe it or not, YouTube is one of the best platforms that music producers can take advantage of. You aren't limited to posting solely music content, either.
You can post vlogs, music critiques, tutorials, and music production gear reviews. You also have the opportunity to monetize the content on your channel.
As your channel grows, you'll be more likely to develop professional relationships in the form of sponsorships and partnerships. At a high level, even a brief moment in one of your videos where you mention a sponsor could net you thousands of dollars. Keep this in mind when moving forward so you can make the most of what YouTube has to offer.
📻 Music Syncing
For those unfamiliar, music synchronization licensing is when music producers give a limited license for their composition to be used with visual media. To clarify, a producer might make a song that is picked up by a TV show. They might use the song once or twice throughout the episode, allowing the producer to collect payment per use.
This comes with two primary benefits:
- You can generate residual income
- You can get your name out in the industry
In some cases, music syncing could pay out thousands of dollars per use.
Keep in mind that those who release music under a label will have to split their earnings with other parties. The percentage will vary depending on many circumstances, such as how many people are involved, the label's contract, etc.
👑 Music Royalties
Most people are familiar with the term royalties, but not everybody understands what it means.
The best aspect of royalties is that they are residual, meaning that you will continue to earn over time. To put this into perspective, singer Mariah Carey earns over $600,000 annually from her song "All I Want for Christmas Is You."
While most people won't reach this amount from a single release, it's not unrealistic to get large amounts of residual payments as you build your production catalog. Similar to music syncing, you may have to split your royalties with other people.
Collaborators, labels, etc. are some of the most common parties that take a portion of the earnings. You can also earn royalties from artists who use your compositions for their songs. With the right collaboration, a single project could catapult your career.
💽 Sample Packs/Presets
When producers create music, they rarely record their own sounds into a microphone. Instead, they use something known as samples, which are prerecorded audio files.
The most common types of samples are drums, and many producers have access to hundreds or even thousands of different samples for the same drum instrument. With this information in mind, it shouldn't come as a surprise that there is a solid market for sample packs.
Producers can record their own sounds or edit existing sounds to make them unique. They can then package these into a folder and sell them to other producers. One of the most difficult parts of sound design is developing the sound you want in a synthesizer.
Hardware synthesizers can be difficult to work with, and virtual synthesizers can be overwhelming to new producers. Using presets is a great way to browse many different sounds without having to craft your own.
However, since both hardware and software synths come equipped with base presets, your music won't sound very unique compared to others who use the same sounds. Instead, people choose to purchase unique presets to help them craft their own atmosphere for their composition.
Designing your own synth presets is another product you can offer to your audience. It functions similarly to packaging drum samples together. However, synth preset files will only work with certain virtual synthesizers.
You need to consider which are the most popular to give yourself the greatest audience. Otherwise, people won't purchase them simply because they don't have the program required to use them.
🛠️ Skills to Develop
To succeed as a music producer, you'll need to stand out from the competition. Branding is one of the most important skills you can develop. This involves coming up with a story behind who you are as a producer.
It also involves incorporating unique sounds and elements in your tracks. For example, your producer brand might be all about creating a dark, moody atmosphere.
The other elements of your brand should align with the music, as well. Using the above example, any visuals that you release alongside your music should also be dark and brooding.
Sound design is another skill you can't neglect. One of the best aspects of being a music producer is that you don't have to learn to play an instrument. As long as you have access to the appropriate software, you can compose music digitally.
However, you will reach a point in your career where you need high-quality, unique sounds. Designing them on your own can help improve your music.
Audio engineering is also worth considering. As previously mentioned, many producers create, mix, and master their own tracks. Understanding audio engineering will help you resolve issues on the fly and also help you develop a professional ear.
Finally, teach yourself marketing skills. The way you present your brand to your audience goes a long way toward your success. Focus on search engine optimization, email marketing, web design, etc. when researching this topic.
🚧 Obstacles to Consider
The music industry is notorious for being incredibly cutthroat. You won't succeed in this space unless you understand the common obstacles you will encounter.
One of the most common is understanding how to use your time efficiently. If you've been working for months and haven't made any progress, you need to reassess your current situation.
Is it the quality of your music? Is it the genre of your music? Try to reach a balance between creating tracks that are both satisfying and have potential.
While it can be tempting to only make music you like, it's not realistic to make a living off of certain genres. This is simply due to the fact that some genres have only a fraction of the listeners that others do.
Negotiating is something that you'll need to handle professionally. It's important to know your worth but also be reasonable when it comes to payments, terms, etc. Do your best to remain as professional as possible in every situation.
Your reputation is everything in the music industry. If people begin to think that you're unpleasant to work with, fail to meet deadlines, etc., you'll close many doors that could have taken you to greater heights.
Look for ways to stay motivated and disciplined. You might find yourself in a situation where everyone around you seems to succeed except for you.
This can be notably disheartening, and it causes many producers to quit. However, you chose this path or reason.
It's important to stick with it and give everything you can. The last thing you want is to regret not trying harder.
📈 Increase Your Music Producer Income
At first, it can seem overwhelming to get started in the industry as a music producer. Consider the above information so you can make the most of the opportunities you encounter.
From here, you'll be sure to take your career to new heights. Get in touch with us today at Craft Your Sound. We have expert advice and tips available in our newsletter that can help producers of any skill level.