How to Earn Extra Money as a Freelance Musician

Welcome to todays post where I’ll be sharing all the info you need so that by the end of this you’ll know exactly how to earn extra money as a freelance musician.

The days of major record labels controlling artist careers are fading. The disruption of the internet has broken down barriers to entry, allowing musicians more freedom than ever before to chart their own path.

This seismic shift has fuelled massive growth in freelancing opportunities across the industry for both full-time and part-time players.

How to Earn Extra Money as a Freelance Musician

Whether supplementing income from a day job or working to fully support yourself on music alone, embracing freelance work allows you to take control of your earning potential.

By diversifying your revenue streams beyond just recording and releasing songs, it’s possible to build a healthy career on your musical skill set.

With some business savvy and hustle, you can progress well beyond waiting tables or hoping for a big break.

This guide examines 8 powerful ways to expand your money-making toolbox as an independent freelance musician.

Stepping into these roles both utilizes your existing talents and builds versatile skills that drive higher income potential over the long term.

Each section moves logically from fundamental concepts to tactical steps you can take to lock in gigs and start padding your wallet.

Master these money-making musical roles and you’ll possess the diverse know-how to profit from your passion wherever it takes you.

1. Diversify Your Skill Set

The one-trick pony musician is a dying breed. As label reliance fades, artists wearing many hats thrive by offering a Swiss Army knife-like diversity of skills.

By mastering complimentary musical abilities beyond your primary instrument or talent, you transform into a versatile, self-sufficient machine primed to capitalize on income opportunities.

Do you sing lead vocals? Consider learning rhythm guitar or piano to accompany yourself. Are you a lead guitarist? Add arranging, song writing, and music production to your toolkit.

Even basics like music theory, ear training, and melody composition open doors to teaching, session work, and orchestration gigs.

The most employable freelance musicians provide numerous services under one roof.

Combining just guitar skills, lead and backup vocal ability, and music production chops presents a compelling package for solo artists needing backing bands for live shows.

That blend with teaching aptitude? You’re now qualified to offer complete vocal coaching services.

Start building out your skill set by identifying weak spots that limit income potential. Shore up music theory gaps with online courses and self-study ear training apps.

Use free production software like Audacity to start honing mixing, editing, and arranging capabilities. Even small improvements position you for new opportunities as a multi-talented musician for hire.

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2. Offer Music Lessons

Imparting musical skills to eager students represents a time-tested income stream for gigging musicians.

Even working part-time, teaching provides a lucrative lifeline between gigs. Develop a large enough student roster and instruction fully funds your career while keeping playing skills sharp.

Set your rate based on experience level and local averages – major metro areas support $60-100 per hour.

Smaller cities see $30-50 per hour as the norm. Calculate your travel time and prep work to determine an accurate hourly or per lesson rate. Account for materials and space costs if not teaching from home.

Get the word out by creating professional print and online materials. Business cards, brochures, and a dedicated teaching website/social pages project credibility for securing lesson commitments.

Reach out to local schools and community bulletin boards to promote services. Leverage existing performance networks and word-of-mouth marketing to build an initial student base.

Apply the same professionalism to lessons as real gigs. Create structured, personalized curriculums balancing skill development with student goals and enjoyment.

Document progress and provide at-home assignment materials. Occasional recitals maintain engagement while demonstrating concrete advancement.

3. Perform at Events and Gigs

Performing live taps directly into most musicians’ passion while providing immediate cash flow. Restaurants, bars, weddings, conferences, holiday parties – if people gather, venues need entertainment.

Translating stage excitement into income simply requires knowing where to look and how to effectively promote your act.

Start by hitting local venues to pitch your act in person. Bring professional marketing materials like electronic press kits detailing your musical offerings, preferred genres, fee structure, stage setup details, and visuals showing past performances. Highlight flexibility to mould into events’ vibes and audiences.

Online gig listing services like GigSalad, GigMasters, and PartySlate are more scalable ways to access wider event opportunities if willing to travel.

Fees, often 15-25%, are incurred but these sites reach corporate event and wedding planners with heavy entertainment budgets. Integrate your act’s brand styling and messaging into all virtual profiles for consistency.

Delivering strong auditions and reliable, professional performances encourages repeat bookings and referrals – bread and butter income streams.

Structure versatile set lists that balance crowd pleasers to fulfil client expectations with originals showcasing your abilities.

Be prepared for strange venues, tough crowds, and wide-ranging requests – it comes with the territory.

4. Collaborate with Other Musicians

They say everything is bigger in Texas. The same holds true when musicians collaborate. Teaming up multiplies musical perspectives, fan reach, gig options, and revenue potential.

Whether starting a new band or cooperating short-term on releases or shows, sharing the stage expands possibilities.

Full bands possess inherent advantages booking high-paying wedding and event gigs. Four-piece rock acts command thousands for private corporate performances and society functions.

Combining multiple decades of experience also strengthens credibility pitching musical projects to publishers, media outlets, and investors.

Seeking compatible collaborators starts locally through your existing network, then expands virtual and into nearby metro areas.

Define clear musical goals and preferences upfront when prospecting bandmates and potential collaborators – mismatched visions undermine groups quickly.

Leverage collaborator strengths rather than forcing uniformity – highlight diversity in tone, style, and ability across activities.

Formal agreements document revenue splits, decision making authorities, and exit procedures should relationships sour.

Schedule consistent gatherings focusing both on musical collaboration and business planning to maintain alignment and productivity. Shared success depends on mutual reliance – make sure all feel valued.

5. Utilize Online Platforms

The internet provides direct-to-fan conduits for musicians to distribute music, engage supporters, and generate revenue.

Streaming platforms empower artists once dependent on labels and media gatekeepers. Freelance marketplaces also connect specialized musical skill sets with remote income sources.

Top streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, and YouTube monetize tracks through subscriber fees and ads.

Although per-stream payouts are small, consistent new releases and marketing efforts quickly multiply decent passive income.

Niche sites like Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and DashGo offer higher cuts and ways to build loyal followings.

Music licensing platforms like Music Vine, MusicBed, and Songtradr let artists sell licenses for television, advertising, and film placement.

Set up profiles highlighting your catalogue’s musical styles and production standards for consideration into high-paying placements.

Multi-talented musicians can profit leveraging broader specialized skills on sites like Fiverr and Upwork.

Offer song writing and composing services, features and vocal collaborations, mixing and master editing, transcriptions or scoring.

Build profile credibility by highlighting experience, reviews, and professional examples of your work.

Promoting skills and music online reaches more income opportunities. Maintain an official site with bio info, press coverage, clientele, and available services.

Engage fans consistently via social channels with new releases, videos, lessons, interviews, behind-the-scenes content. Think persistence and value building rather than hard selling your musical wares.

6. Create and Sell Merchandise

Selling branded merchandise powers income between releases while strengthening fan loyalty.

As retail gatekeepers like record stores disappear, artists now control production, sales, and profit directly from items like t-shirts, hoodies, posters, accessories, and physical media.

selling merchandise

Start with trouble-free digital files before investing in physical inventory.

High-resolution logos, iconic visuals, album art, and photography make attractive phone cases, wall art prints, and laptop skins sold via sites like Redbubble and Zazzle. Download codes also push digital releases.

Think about creating and marketing your own specialty merch items. Niche vinyl and hand-numbered limited CD pressings appeal to super fans.

Apparel printed via low-quantity-friendly vendors gives control over sizing and design options. Posters, jewellery, stickers, face masks, and other accessories also extend opportunities.

Promote gear across social channels and at both virtual and live shows. Offer exclusives like limited edition colour vinyl or concert pre-order packages.

Small upcharge bundles provide prints autographed for resale value. Take photos featuring clients, celebrities, and taste leaders sporting your brand. Build excitement and pride in representing your musical identity.

7. Monetize Your Music Online

Beyond streaming royalties, artists now possess tools to generate sales income directly from fans.

Digital downloads, merchandise bundles, and compilation inclusions require no label middlemen. Maintain all rights while profiting from various channels – streaming playlists alone leave money on the table.

Media hosting platforms like CD Baby, Tunecore, and Distrokid simplify publishing music across major networks.

For annual or per-release fees, they place songs into stores and streaming services while collecting/distributing royalties. Retain rights and revenue minus their cut.

Control sales and profit better by hosting your own downloads. Bandcamp facilitates no-fee uploads and flexible sale pricing while allowing unlimited free streaming to build fans.

Direct sales from your site via Gumroad or Selz give you customer data and 90%+ revenue share per transaction.

Give fans reasons to buy with value stacking. Offer full albums, high quality audio downloads, autographed physical media, and digital liner notes.

Super-serve niches with genre-specific EPs and niche compilation appearances showcasing specialized skills. Personalized video shout-outs, Skype lessons, or even custom songs provide creative patronage rewards.

Leverage email subscribers, social media, and free content to drive awareness of paid products. Share behind-the-scenes footage showing your creative process to foster emotional investment.

Spotify and Instagram ads also help convert casual listeners towards monetary support and loyalty.

8. Network and Build Relationships

Legendary music careers are built through reputation and relationships. Industry players call on trusted talents to collaborate, recommend them for gigs, and help promote their work.

Networking establishes critical connections that amplify word-of-mouth momentum as you build credibility.

Attend industry events, conferences, album releases, and local showcases to meet promoters, journalists, booking agents and fellow working musicians.

Come prepared with professional bios, business cards, press kits, and conversational soundbites about your musical offerings. Follow up post-event with personal emails to continue dialogues.

Music industry groups like NARAS and groups specific to your specialty area provide additional networking pipelines while demonstrating professional commitment.

Relevant groups on Meetup and Facebook – even niche mentorship programs – can facilitate key introductions once inside.

Look first to establish win-win connections before asking favours. Share knowledge and opportunities without expecting direct reciprocation.

Book talented musicians you meet for session work or gigs. Promote emerging acts via collaborations and co-shows. Publish and repost valuable content published by new industry connections.

Relationships drive the music industry. Start local utilizing existing contacts and proximity. Transition those personal connections toward national and global opportunities over time.

Sustain contacts through regular check-ins and updated on wins and projects. Let genuine mutual support and care guide all industry dealings.

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The expanding freelance landscape offers tremendous potential for musicians to prosper independently while retaining creative freedom over their career.

By taking a proactive approach and developing a versatile set of money-making musical skills, you set yourself up to profit from passion on your own terms.

The eight outlined paths focus on monetizing existing talents through teaching, performing, and collaboration while expanding scope into production, licensing, merchandising, and networking too.

Exploring these areas empowers well-roundedness to follow opportunity wherever it leads.

Each plays its part – events and lessons provide immediate cash flow, collaborations and internet platforms build recognition and passive revenue over time, networking and relationships form the foundation for long-term success.

Casting a wide net means some income stream always brings money in regardless of outside conditions.

Don’t wait for the big break or special moment of discovery that likely will never arrive. Generate momentum on your own as a skilled, resourceful freelance musician equipped to prosper.

Financial freedom lives within reach by providing profound musical value to students, clients, listeners and the industry. Go share your talents with the world.


Here are some recommended resources for freelance musicians to help build their careers:

Additional Freelancing Platforms:

  • Fiverr
  • Upwork
  • Freelancer
  • PeoplePerHour

Music Licensing Platforms:

  • MusicBed
  • Music Vine
  • SongFreedom
  • Songtradr

Streaming and Sales Channels:

  • Spotify for Artists
  • CD Baby
  • DistroKid
  • Bandcamp

Music Industry Organizations:

  • National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS)
  • Music Business Association
  • Future of Music Coalition
  • Music Managers Forum

Music Marketing Resources:

  • Indie Bible
  • Indie Band Guru
  • Music Think Tank
  • Promote Your Music

I hope these additional freelancing tools, licensing options, industry organizations, streaming platforms and music marketing references supplement the actionable advice provided throughout this guide.

Please reach out if any other recommendations would help working musicians seeking to maximize their independence and earning power.

About Sharon

Hey everyone, my name's Sharon and I'm the owner of this website. I hope you liked my post. I'm here to help YOU achieve your online ambitions just like I have :) The products I review are sometimes good and sometimes bad, but I will always give an honest opinion of them. You can access my 5 FREE LESSONS along with 1 FREE WEBSITE as well as KEYWORD RESEARCH here:

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