There's an expression that goes, "If it was easy, everyone would be doing it." Such may come to mind when someone tells you there are ways you, as a musician, could potentially be making money online. And, hey, that's understandable — you can't swing a stick these days without hitting a scam.
However, there really are tried-and-true ways to make a few extra bucks (and in some cases, a lot of extra bucks) online as a musician. Are they easy? Well, easy is a relative term but it's safe to say that anything worth doing requires a little effort.
But if you're willing to put in the effort, the following methods of making money online could give your bank account a boost.
1. Listing your goods and services on online classifieds.
People are always, always looking for a good deal on great musicians to book for special events — whether that be a gala for work or to find a singer for their own wedding. Another idea? Music lessons! Most of us know at least one person who has expressed an interest in lessons, so why not capitalize on that interest? Offering music lessons for children and young adults may prove to be particularly popular. You can also try your hand at selling your music and merch through these sites (think Craigslist).
2. Searching the "gigs" section of online classifieds.
Another idea for Craigslist and other similar sites is to search the "gigs" section. Jobs for musicians are generally listed under the "talent" tab and vary in size and scope. In full disclosure, it's probably best to do a search in the gigs sections for "bands" or "musicians" — otherwise, you're going to have to sift through quite a few ads looking for "females interested in modeling" and "glamour models."
3. Sell directly through your website.
There are many benefits to selling your EP or album directly through your own website, namely that you don't have to shell out a big chunk of your revenue to a secondary seller. Stocking your online store with band merch like t-shirts and car decals also isn't a bad idea. Those sales won't make you rich, but they'll add up over time and aren't too cost-prohibitive to create.
4. Offering pre-order sales.
If you have an EP or full-length album in the works, offering pre-order sales accomplishes a few things. First, it obviously establishes a revenue stream for the release to build upon. Second, it hypes the release. There's hype inherent with pre-orders, because fans like feeling like they will hear the music they love before the proverbial masses. The more momentum you're able to build prior to release, the better yield you'll have once the album drops.
5. Auctioning gear and other music memorabilia.
There's a market for pretty much everything online, and music gear and memorabilia is no different. Is your band upgrading sound systems? Find an auction site that accepts used music gear (Google "auction music equipment") and list your old sound system. You can sell essentially anything this way, as long as you are willing to follow the rules of the auction site's reserve.
6. Blasting a flash sale.
Using your mailing list — if you don't have one, start building one now — send "flash sale" newsletters to your subscribers. Everyone loves a deal! By building special sale campaigns around special events (i.e. an upcoming show) or holidays (i.e. Christmas), you can unload everything from albums to merch to signed prints at a discounted rate. It's a smart way to move inventory that has been collecting dust.
7. Maintaining a YouTube presence.
While being discovered via YouTube and becoming a seeming overnight success isn't the most likely outcome, keeping your YouTube channel filled with fresh content will help you build a following. In turn, this drives traffic to your website, potentially boosting sales there as well as attendance at your shows. Just think of your YouTube channel as a living, breathing business card.
8. Submitting "bids" through online job sites.
As a musician, you are an expert in your field — you can levy that expertise on job sites like ODesk, Guru.com, Get a Freelancer, etc. The catch, of course, is that most of these sites are primarily a resource for writers. That can work in your favor for a few reasons, though. First and foremost, you are an actual musician who can generate music content based on personal experience. Second of all, the fact that you are a musician first could set you apart from the pack. At the very least, it's a great way to meet and make connections that could lead to gigs down the road.
9. Trying affiliate marketing.
This one definitely requires some thorough research and an understanding of what affiliate marketing is before you can determine if it's the right fit for you or your band. However, it goes without saying that there are plenty of bands who use affiliate marketing through their websites to generate income successfully. You can find a decent briefer from ProBlogger here.