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Money talks: generating passive income as a musician

Making money as a musician isn't the easiest of tasks, but the arrival of the digital age has created a substantial number of ways for working artists to generate passive income when they're not on stage or selling CDs. Here are four ways to generate passive income as a musician.

Teaching On a Digital Platform

If you're an experienced musician, chances are you can develop a method of passing on your valuable knowledge to other aspiring artists. A little bit of work upfront can help you generate hundreds of dollars in passive income – design a curriculum, make videos, and upload them to the platform of your choice. Skillshare is a great platform for anyone who wants to teach, along with Udemy; Coursera is also a great option if you have an advanced degree in music. With regular course creation and a little marketing, you can set up a great source of income – even when you're not recording videos or writing course outlines.

Digital Distribution

While digital distribution won't necessarily add up to a ton of cash, registering your music on platforms like Spotify, Pandora, or other streaming platforms can generate a little extra cash. In a lot of cases, music enthusiasts who really love your work will eventually purchase your music directly – whether they order a disc or pick up a digital release on Bandcamp or iTunes.


If you really love making videos, YouTube can be another source for a small amount of passive income. If you have a big following on social media already, this is a lot more viable – but even if you don't, creating regular YouTube videos about everything from touring to lyrics writing can help you build your audience and get you more regular likes and follows (not to mention getting you more music sales).


Probably one of the best methods of passive income streams, licensing your music for games, television, and film can be a great way to earn. While you should pay close attention to any restrictions and requirements that may come with licensing your music with a particular platform, you can upload your entire catalog and just sit back and wait for the royalties to roll in as various media companies purchase the license for your music to use in production. This method takes time, but the payoff in the end can be significant.

Being a career musician doesn't have to involve living on ramen. If you're bound and determined to make music your sole career, each of these methods can help ensure that your bills are not only paid – but that you can live well.


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