42 Different Ways That Artists Can Earn Money

This has become a running list from the Future of Music Coalition (FOMC), which now counts 42 different, discrete revenue streams that artists can exploit.

Take a look; add your own.

1. Publisher advance

Bulk payment to songwriter/composer as part of a publishing deal.

Paid to: songwriter composer by publishing company.
Rate: varies according to deal.

2. Mechanical Royalties

Royalties generated through the licensed reproduction of recordings of your songs — either physical or digital.

Paid to: songwriter/composer by publisher, label, Harry Fox, or digital aggregator like CD Baby.

Rate: 9.1 cents per manufactured copy of song/composition.

3. Commissions

Typically a request from an ensemble, presenter, orchestra or other entity for a composer to create an original work for them.

4. Public Performance (PRO) Royalties

Revenue generated when your songs are played on radio, TV, in clubs and restaurants. Paid to songwriter/composer/publisher by ASCAP/BMI/SESAC.

5. Composing Original Works for Broadcast

Typically a commercial request to compose an original jingle, soundtrack, score, or other musical work for a film, TV or cable show, or an ad agency.

6. Synch Licenses

Typically involves licensing an existing work for use in a movie, documentary, TV, video games, internet, or a commercial. Paid to songwriters/composers either via publisher or record label, or via a direct licensing deal with the licensee (movie studio, ad agency, etc) if you are self-published..

7. Sheet Music Sales

Revenue generated by the sale of songs/compositions as sheet music. Paid to songwriter/composer by publisher, or directly from purchasers if you are selling it on your website or at performances..

8. Ringtones Revenue

Generated from licensing your songs/compositions for use as ringtones. Paid to songwriter/composer via your publisher, your label or Harry Fox..

9. ASCAPlus Awards Program

Awarded by ASCAP to writer members of any genre whose performances are primarily in venues outside of broadcast media.

10. Publisher Settlement

Payment from publishers to writers for litigation settlements.

11. Salary as Member of Orchestra or Ensemble

Income earned as a salaried member of an orchestra or ensemble.

12. Shows/Performance Fees

Revenue generated from playing in a live setting (for non-salaried players).

13. Record Label Advance

Paid to artist as part of signing a deal.

14. Record Label Support

Money from label for recording or tour support.

15. Retail Sales

Revenue generated from selling physical music in retail stores or via mailorder. Paid to artist/performer by your label, or digital aggregator like CD Baby.

16. Digital Sales

Revenue generated from selling music digitally/online. Paid to artist/performer by your label, or digital aggregator like CD Baby or Tunecore.

17. Sales at Shows

Revenue generated from selling recordings of music at shows/live performances. Paid to artist/performer directly by fans.

18. Interactive Service Payments

Revenue generated when your music is streamed on on-demand services (Rhapsody, Spotify, Rdio). Paid to artist/performer by your label, or digital aggregator like CD Baby or Tunecore.

19. Digital Performance Royalties

Revenue generated when your sound recordings are played on internet radio, Sirius XM, Pandora. Paid to performers by SoundExchange.

20. AARC Royalties

Collected for digital recording of your songs, foreign private copying levies, and foreign record rental royalties, distributed to US artists by AARC.

21. Neighboring Rights Royalties

Collected for the foreign performance of your recordings.

22. AFM/Secondary Markets Fund

Paid to performers on recordings used in TV and other secondary uses.

23. AFM/Sound Recording Special Payments

Paid to performers for the sales of recorded music.

24. AFTRA Contingent Scale

Payments paid to performers when a recording hits certain sales plateaus.

25. Label Settlements

Payments from labels to recording artists for litigation settlements (MP3.com, Limewire).

26. Session Musician/Sideman Fees for Studio Work

Revenue paid to you for playing in a studio. Paid by label, producer or artist, depending on situation.

27. Session Musician/Sideman Fees for Live Work

Revenue paid to you for playing in a live setting. Paid by label, producer or artist, depending on situation..

28. AFM/AFTRA Payments

Payments from the AFM/AFTRA Intellectual Property Rights Distribution Fund, which distributes recording and performance royalties to non-featured artists.

29. Music Teacher

Revenue generated from teaching your musical craft.

30. Producer

Money from producing another artists’ work in the studio or in a live setting.

31. Honoraria or Speakers Fees

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Brand-Related Revenue

32. Merchandise Sales

Revenue generated from selling branded merchandise (t-shirts, hoodies, posters, etc.). Paid to artist/performer by fans.

33. Fan Club

Money directly from fans who are subscribing to your fan club

34. YouTube Partner Program

Shared advertising revenue, paid to partners by YouTube

35. Ad Revenue

Or other miscellaneous income from your website properties (click-thrus, commissions on Amazon sales, etc.)

36. Persona Licensing

Payments from a brand that is licensing your name or likeness (video games, comic books, etc)

37. Product Endorsements

Payments from a brand for you endorsing or using their product

38. Acting

In television, movies, commercials

39. Fan Funding

Money directly from fans to support an upcoming recording project or tour (Kickstarter, Pledge Music)

40. Sponsorship

Corporate support for a tour, or for your band/ensemble

41. Grants

From foundations, state or federal agencies

42. Arts Administrator

Money paid to you specifically for managing the administrative aspects of a group that you are a member of.

16 Responses

  1. Visitor

    Keep in mind that these are entirely recoupable.

    13. Record Label Advance
    Paid to artist as part of signing a deal.

    14. Record Label Support
    Money from label for recording or tour support.

  2. Maxwellian

    The minute the artist is memorizing all of these is the minute they stop focusing on their music. You need good labels, good managers you can trust.

    • PartlyCloudy

      Are labels and managers even *aware* of these channels? Seems like I don’t hear much about most of these.

  3. Lou

    #2, Mechanical Royalties – does the phrase “manufactured copy” include sales as downloads, which are not actually manufactured, merely transmitted??

    The term needs to be changed to “copies sold” I think.

  4. Doing All=Doing None Well

    So cool how there are no expenses, start up costs or downsides to any of these.

    I’m going to start a nuclear reactor in the middle of Central Park because they generate a lot of money.

    Thanks for the music tips!

  5. Anand

    This is impossible for a musician. Today – more than ever an Artist MUST get signed or have some way to “make money” to Spend money, similar to a poloitical campaign The minute we Artists start concenttrating on other stuff, as mentioned in a comment, we will drop the ball with our craft. I know. For 8 years I practiced close 10 HOURS a day. This past year trying to do all of the above, I barely practice 10 MINUTES a day and still cant get ahead in music. Oh yea, and my group has been “on the verge” of “something happening” for oever a year now. I’ve grown tired as expected.


    the Plants Music Factory

    • NWT

      i hear you, these are rules for someone who, has already been sign by major label, someone like my group can not make music, if we keep 2 these rules, all rules are may to be broken.

  6. Visitor

    I think you may have left one out . . . There are many musicians that start out their career “Busking” that is playing in public for tips. Just an idea for those people that want to try their skill in front of a “Real Audience” it costs nothing to start , and some make a pretty decent amount of money . . . If nothing else , you will get pleanty of practice.