Coronavirus has been brutal. We all know why we had lockdowns; it’s a killer virus that’s tragically taken away so many people from us. To make things worse, COVID took away livelihoods, too. It really messed things up for venues, artists, performers, DJs – everyone in live entertainment, really.
It has been physically, mentally, financially and spiritually draining to endure the pressures of COVID. Finally, things are easing up and the world’s slowly coming back to life. But if the coronavirus pandemic showed us anything, it’s that there’s no guarantees in life. Lockdown could just be another variant, and another spike in infections away.
For some musicians, producers and DJs, lockdown proved to pose too many challenges for them to keep their careers going. And that’s one of the saddest things about lockdown; it was kind of a dream killer for a lot of people.
But others found viable, sustainable revenue streams in digital content, virtual performances and even in skillshare and collaboration. These opportunities are still available – and places where all kinds of creative individuals can flourish.
Let’s look at how musicians found ways to diversify their income streams, and how you can do it, too.
One of the simplest ways of generating income is by doing virtual performances. Many bands, artists, DJs and performers jumped on this – either with live streams or pre-recorded content.
Read more about growing digital audiences: TikTok Promotion for DJs and Music Producers
Big names did it, smaller acts did it, and it definitely reignited audiences’ desires to listen to live performances again. But unless you’re established with a fanbase, your biggest hurdle will be effective music marketing for your streamed or broadcasted live sets.
What if you’re not a performer, though, or if your act won’t translate to a stream? There are still ways to diversify your income with music – if you’re able to impart your wisdom or broaden your skills.
Conferences and expert panels
Get involved in virtual conferences, and give expert talks based on your experience in the music industry. We promise you this much; you’ve got something to say, and people will listen. The right people will love what you say and how you say it.
If you need inspiration – check this out: Music as a Language: Victor Wooten
Speaking and conferences aren’t a new gig, but they’re a great alternative stage to take to: one that could grow your presence as an artist or producer.
Alternative revenue streams for music producers
Your production skillset goes far further than you think it does. If you know your way around a DAW and have the knowledge, you can work remotely – arranging, mixing, producing and mastering tracks by other artists.
That’s not all you can do, though. Some of your income can become passive, bringing in money every month with little to no work – but you’ll have to work really hard to get to that point.
Here are just a few ways music producers can make money online beyond lockdown and COVID.
Create sample packs
If you’ve got a good recording space or a unique, rare instrument (electronic or otherwise) – or even just a great idea – you can create sample packs to sell online. For example, hyper-sampled drum libraries are ten a penny, yet all very popular.
Not everyone has a big studio, a bunch of microphones or even a drum kit to record; but the same principles apply to any instrument to make it a virtual one. All you need to make a sample pack is a good idea, and a functional recording space to capture the best possible source audio.
But, we’ll be honest, it’s a lot of work. You’ve got to record, label and organise each sample, package it all up, brand your sample library, market it… And that’s just the beginning. It’s a business in itself. It can be lucrative though, and once it’s established, can bring in money without much extra work.
If you’re a good writer, library music could be your thing. Music libraries pay royalties for tracks used commercially, but they tend to be picky and want excellent quality.
You also have to create albums based on a theme, like “cinematic trailers” or “ukulele music”, each with variations (with or without vocals, solo or accompanied instruments). You can’t just bang out one song and get paid – you need variety and diversity.
It can also take years to make any money out of it, but again – once you start getting royalties, they come in like a steady wage with little to no upkeep.
Monetising a YouTube Channel can take years, but it pays off big time! Not just financially – it’s a brand-launcher and an asset for life that any producer can leverage.
Use your skills and personality to launch a Channel about your music-making; your processes, ethos, or even just your opinions. Sure, everyone else is doing it, but they’re not you.
Your audience is out there, but you’re going to have to work pretty hard to get paid for your videos.
A YouTube Channel needs 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of Watch Time within 12 months to be eligible for monetisation – so the sooner you start making video content, the closer you’ll be getting paid for it.
Teaching and skill sharing
If you’ve got the skills to impart, launch EDM producer courses, writing courses, one-to-one sessions – you name it, you can get paid for it.
Share your passion with others and teach your skills, based on your real-world experience. Even the most prestigious schools in the world don’t have your expertise, and you can offer it at a fraction of the cost.