4 ways to earn money doing music full time

The question is asked, how do you make money from making music as a recording artist?
Because there are multiple ways of earning income as an artist I’ll focus on four of the main ones.

Selling your albums and singles

The first way is by sales.  You may record an album, get it mixed and mastered, you package it by CDs, vinyl, cassette, flash drive, digital files, you sell those to the consumer, that is the person who loves to buy music. Persons may buy a physical or digital copy of your album to listen to over and over again.

Streaming  is another way to earn money. This is where persons listen to your music using a streaming service, just like on the radio. The more they listen to your song, the more money you earn. (for radio you earn  from royalty).

But streaming is similar in context. it’s online  and on demand. so persons listen to your song whenever they want, as much as they want. the more they listen to your music, the more money you earn.  Streaming is basically a numbers game. If you put out a song and persons listen to it less than 1000 times in a month, you might not make as much money compared to a major label artist, whose song is being listened to a million times or more. They make more money in terms of streaming because of the number of time fans listen to their songs.

The more persons you can get to listen to your song on streaming on platforms like Spotify, Deezer, Apple music, Amazon, it works out better for you as an artist. You can make more money because more persons are listening to your song.

Streaming tells which songs persons are gravitating towards. If you put out a single and a lot of persons listen to it, and it’s being spread, you know you have a hit, persons really like that song. You can put more of your promotional efforts into promoting that song.

Live Performances

The next thing outside of sales and streaming is shows. The more shows you get to perform at, the more money you can get. When you are booked for a show,  you can charge a performance fee.

If you work through a booking agent, the booking agent books you at a particular price, and they take a cut of say 20%, however, you agree. The more shows you perform the more money you can get once those shows are actually paid shows.

Performances can be viewed as  two- fold.  It is promotion as well as an avenue for you earning income. If your music is not selling, but you can get paid shows, then you are earning income.

Look at the situation in context, in terms of how much money you are going to earn per month to live. eg.  On average lin jamaica, most persons working in offices get at least $50.000 per month.  some might get less , some might get a lot more.

As a benchmark let’s say you need $50,000 per month to pay light, water bill, rent, buy food and pay for transportation to move around from studio to shows, you need to charge for your performance, a certain amount of money, for you to earn your $50,000. Once you do that, then shows can be another way of supplementing your income, in addition, to sales and streaming.

Selling Merchandise

Outside of performances, there’s the option of branding, in terms of merchandise. Putting your artist name on a t-shirt, you sell it at your shows, and you are earning an income from it. In addition to the performance and music sales. Consider this as expanding your income opportunity. Should either one fail, there are multiple options, but if not,  you know everything is going to your goal of $50,000 a month.  


Another earning route is sponsorship. You may see an artist getting sponsored by a Digicel, FLOW  or a Wysnco; water, ocean spray. Companies pay them to advertise their product. Eg.  Usain Bolt, the only clothes brand you may see him wearing, is Puma. Puma sponsors Usain Bolt.  when Usain wears Puma,  it puts money in his pocket, just by wearing clothes.
Say you can create a powerful brand and leverage sponsorship opportunities from companies, that’s how to earn income from your music talent.


Sales, Streaming, Merchandise, Performance, and Sponsorship are four key areas to look at for building your career, as a musician. These things take time. The larger your audience , the more money you can earn. The smaller your audience, the less money you earn.

Once you look at leveraging other persons audiences,  and build your fan base over time, you can look to reaching the benchmark that you have set. This is how much money you need to earn per month to take care of yourself, and so you can grow your career over the long term, in music.

If you have questions leave them in the comments below. Share this with an artist who will find it helpful.