Have you ever composed your own music?

How can you make money as a musician today?

What additional sources of income do musicians have today?

The digitization of music production and the Internet offer musicians new opportunities

Feature: How can you make money as a musician today? (Photo: Shutterstock / Von Fortune-stock)

The music simply cannot get rid of its image as a breadless art. There are more rich and successful musicians today than ever before. Just think of names like Jay-Z, Puff Daddy, Dieter Bohlen or Ed Sheeran.

At the same time, there are certainly many more musicians worldwide who have also invested a lot of time and effort in their musical skills and careers and still can barely pay their rent. In the following article, however, the question of what makes a musician successful or why one makes a lot of money with music and another does not should be about the question. Rather, we investigate how music professions have changed, which new fields of employment have emerged, which role the digitalization of music plays, and in which new areas money can be made as a musician that you may simply never have heard of. Let's think outside the box!

Instrumental Lessons 2.0

Instrument lessons are as old as the instruments themselves. And there will probably always be the usual one-to-one lessons. Most students cannot even imagine that one can learn an instrument without attending a teacher every week. And even if famous autodidacts like Sviatoslav Richter, Jacob Collier or Lucas Debargue prove the opposite, one-to-one lessons naturally have many advantages.

However, like many other professions, the profession of instrumental teacher has changed due to digital technology and the Internet. Grades are more readily available, videos can be shown in class, and the student can be easily recorded for demonstration purposes. However, new income opportunities for teachers have also emerged.

For example, there are ways to develop and market apps. Of course, the market already has offers in this area. Your own app could also be useful for your own students so that they always have the most important teaching content from individual lessons with them, even on vacation. That said, you either have to have the necessary basic knowledge yourself, or you have to entrust yourself to professional programmers who develop the app (s).

An app can also be used to learn to play the piano.

There are also a number of YouTube channels dedicated to learning to play an instrument. Werdemusiker.de and learning to play the piano are those that are both dedicated to the piano. That too could be a source of income. Even if the distribution by YouTube itself has its financial limits, income can also be generated via affiliate links from Amazon or advertising contracts. For those who want to learn even more, both online teachers then offer self-produced video courses in which lessons from a wide variety of areas are taught in detail and clearly. This new source of income should not be missed as a piano teacher.

Further possibilities exist in the form of digital piano lessons, e.g. B. via Skype. Since almost everyone has a sufficient Internet connection these days, this is particularly interesting for students who are heavily involved in time or who cannot appear for class at a fixed date. There are offers here that are aimed more at beginners, but also international stars such as Cory Henry or Nicolas Semrad, who also offer Skype lessons.

Open a YouTube channel and build a reputation as a teacher beyond your city. You could also present your own compositions, sell the sheet music and offer the associated audio files for download. Produce digital content in the form of courses with which you can generate passive income and offer Skype lessons. This increases your reach and also your income as an instrument teacher.

The role of the home studio

However, digitalization has also changed the musician's profession. Of course, if your goal is to make music on stage, you still need to cultivate your instrumental skills above all else. Today's music landscape also offers completely new possibilities.

The creation of music and sounds in particular has now become relatively easy thanks to computers. Almost everyone owns a laptop or other computer that can easily be used musically. To do this, you need music software that can be used to create, record and edit music. Under the technical term 'DAW' (Digital Audio Workstation), the market offers many products of this type that are not expensive at all.

A microphone for recordings then complete the equipment. So you can set up a small home studio on a tight budget, even in your bedroom. A home studio like this allows you to compose and produce music for a variety of purposes. With it you can become a choir director, band leader or conductor without having to leave the house.

A wide variety of music can be composed and produced in a DAW.

Almost all of today's successful composers and producers started this way. And since nowadays compositions are no longer given to the client in the form of a sheet of music, but in the form of an audio file, the production of music and the associated handling of a DAW are so important for today's musicians. With the right use of effort, time and skills, you can earn money with your music and maybe even earn a passive income through royalties.

Act as a media composer

The term Media Composer summarizes musicians who set film, TV, games (computer games) and advertising to music. The main difference to the former professional profile of the composer is that you not only compose and write down your music, but also produce it, i.e. make it audible. Therefore, a Media Composer must also be an expert in handling music software, because he not only thinks up the music, he also programs it into the computer and mixes it there.

Junkie XL, aka Tom Holkenborg, already had a thriving career as a techno DJ in the 1990s. At its zenith he decided to switch to film music. Today he is one of the most successful film composers in America. He also shows all aspects of the profession on his YouTube channel. He gives a good insight into the everyday life of a film composer, shows how his music is made and answers questions.

Christian Henson will meet another role later, but he is also a media composer. On his YouTube channel he gives detailed tips on how to get into the media composing industry, how to be successful in it, what equipment you need for what you should be able to do for this job and what problems you may encounter.

A wide variety of training centers are now responding to the changed music market. Today you can also train to become a media composer for film, TV and games at the famous Berklee College of Music.

The demand for music and sound for a wide variety of media has never been as great as it is today. And this will certainly continue to grow in the future. This field is definitely a professional field that could be worthwhile to enter. The internet and YouTube now offer additional opportunities to learn from the big players in the industry.

Berklee College of Music

A wide variety of training centers are now responding to the changed music market. Today you can also train as a media composer for film, TV and games at the famous Berklee College of Music.

The demand for music and sound for a wide variety of media has never been as great as it is today. And this will certainly continue to grow in the future. This field is definitely a professional field that could be worthwhile to enter. The internet and YouTube now offer additional opportunities to learn from the big players in the industry.

Sell ​​music to other artists

If you are interested in electronic music and pop music in general, there are also opportunities to sell music to other artists. Especially in the different genres of modern pop music, artists often use instrumentals or complete songs that come from other musicians. This type of collaboration has been known for a long time from hip-hop. There are specialized beat producers like Timbaland, Pharrell or OZ.

Young beat producers such as Kyle Beats and Chris Punsalan show that something like this doesn't only work for superstars. Both offer beats, sample and drum packs on their homepages. They also use relevant beat-selling platforms such as Airbit and BeatStars and document their work on their YouTube channels and social media. And although they have no musical training behind them, both use their dedication, their passion for music and a lot of hard work to make a living with music. Here and here the two of them reveal their business strategies.

But many well-known performers also use text and music that they did not write themselves. The best example of this is Helene Fischer and her song 'Atemlos'. This was written and composed by Kristina Bach and produced by Jean Frankfurter. But international stars like Rihanna don't write their own songs either. Instead, they often come from songwriters or entire song-writing teams. Here you can find out how Rihanna's song Diamonds came about.

Charlie Puth, an American singer who not only writes his songs, but also completely produces and mixes his songs, serves as a counter-example. This gives him full control over the entire creative process of his music. Here he explains how he creates a song.

Kyle Beats (Source: YouTube)

But many well-known performers also use text and music that they did not write themselves. The best example of this is Helene Fischer and her song 'Atemlos'. This was written and composed by Kristina Bach and produced by Jean Frankfurter. But international stars like Rihanna don't write their own songs either. Instead, they often come from songwriters or entire song-writing teams. Here you can find out how Rihanna's song Diamonds came about.

Charlie Puth, an American singer who not only writes his songs, but also completely produces and mixes his songs, serves as a counter-example. This gives him full control over the entire creative process of his music. Here he explains how he creates a song.

Publish music yourself

In times of the internet you can easily publish your music or that of your band yourself. Nobody needs a record deal for that these days.

On the one hand, you can open a YouTube channel and simply upload your music there. Likewise have z. Made by, for example, Charlie Puth and Ed Sheeran. In both cases, this made record companies aware of the two musicians. Sheeran was already very successful financially at the time of the signing and mainly hoped for more coverage from the record deal.

On the other hand, your own music can also be uploaded to streaming platforms such as Spotify or Apple Music. However, this requires paid services such as Distrokid or Recordjet. That also works without a record deal.

Via services like Distrokid ...

You can also use all social media channels and platforms such as Soundcloud or Myspace to draw attention to yourself and your music. The list of self-marketed bands and artists is growing every day.

The development of software and sample libraries

We have already talked about the possibilities that current music software offers. But what is actually behind it technically?

If you make music with a computer, you can create sound in three different ways. On the one hand, a signal can be recorded with a microphone and then played back. In the case of the other two types, the sound is created in the computer itself. The computer can generate a signal using a synthesizer, or compute it. The third option is a sampler. This uses recordings, also called samples, and places them on the keys of a keyboard. For example, a digitally recorded instrument can be played as if it were actually in front of you.

Surely you will now object that you cannot program and also do not even know how something like this works. And that's exactly how it went once to Urs Heckmann, the founder of the software company u-he. Today, however, his software synthesizers are among the best in the business.

With the synthesizer Hive from u-he there are no limits to the creation of sounds.

And that's exactly what happened to Spitfire Audio, the British manufacturer of mainly orchestral sample libraries. Their products are now known worldwide and also include collaborations with greats such as Hans Zimmer, Eric Whitacre, or the BBC orchestra. The reason for founding the company was the fact that the two founders as media composers were already looking for good orchestral samples, but simply couldn't find any. And neither of them had the slightest idea of ​​programming. Today they even show how the sampling process works.

And even if you have the feeling that you could never do something like this yourself, you can still be active in this area. Software companies always need consulting musicians and producers who test or demonstrate their software. The market for software and sample library development will definitely continue to grow over the next few years. You could become a part of it.

Closing word

Those were a few thoughts and suggestions on the subject of income structuring as a musician. You will probably not be able to imagine the implementation of one or the other option. But here you have to face challenges and dedicate yourself to new tasks, because the profession of musician is also constantly developing. There are certainly many more options. Here alone, two old proverbs have great significance: "The journey is the goal" and "Without diligence, no price".