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how to make money as a music producer in 2020 (+9 revenue streams)

how to make money as a music producer in 2020 (+9 revenue streams)

Written by: Dexxter Clark, 13-12-2019

You might know it’s incredibly difficult to make it as a DJ music producer.
In this article I tell you open and honest what the business is like and how you can approach it.
Later in this article I’m going into specific revenue streams for music producers.

This stuff determines if you are gonna make it in the music business or not.
If you are looking for a quick fix and want to stick you head in the sand: go and watch the hundredth video about Serum.
This video is for the producers that want to make it, not the ones that in ten years talk about how it could have been.


Trying to make a living out of producing music is incredibly hard.
It’s incredibly naive to think that  if your have a record contract that everything will be fine.
If that is your strategy, rethink it.
Same for a manager: hiring a manager and think that everything will work out is not the way it works.
The good manager wants to see a brand, before he is even remotely interested.

Making money with music is next to impossible nowadays.
Spotify streams pay extremely bad: $0,004 per play.
Selling music online via iTunes or your own website is almost dead.
You can’t live of that.
You need to find other ways of generating income.
Relying on your music to make money gives a tremendous amount of pressure and is next to impossible.

make a plan


You need to have a system in place to pay the bills.
Creating multiple revenue streams is best and safest way to do this.
And if one of your revenue streams is your music on Spotify, then it is a bonus in stead of a necessity.


You may think: well Martin Garrix had a hit and he made it.
But also Marti(j)n was working on his music for years before he became famous and lived at his parents.
He had not to worry about paying the rent.
But for the rest of us mortals: it doesn’t work that way.


Music business is (above everything else) a business.
You need to treat it as such.
A key ingredient of a business is the finances, a business without money goes bankrupt.
A common pitfall for beginners is that you rather play with your DAW “because you are a creative person"
Guess what: Steve jobs was also a creative  person, but he sure as hell did know how to make money

Financial literacy


Know how to make and manage money.
In stead of watching Netflix read read a book about income and finance.

One of the things I learned from Rich Dad Poor Dad: invest in assets not in liabilities.
An asset puts money in my pocket, a liability money out of my pocket.
Building a YouTube channel is an asset.
A website is an asset.
A mailing list is an asset.
Writing a book about starting a YouTube channel is an asset.
Making a CDJ 2000 course is an asset.
Those will put money in my pocket in the future.


Most debts cost you money, if you have such a debt, you approach life (and business) with the wrong mindset.
You first need to fix that mindset before you can build a business.
Thinking that “once you have a record deal” won’t get you there.
You need to learn how to manage money, besides the skill of producing music.
Again, music is a business.

Passive income vs active income


The first step to financial independence is: uncouple hours from dollars.
When you write a book, you only have to put in the hours once and get paid over and over again for that one time investment.
If you make a sample pack the same, you get paid over and over and have to put in the hours once.
This is called: passive income.


Trading hours for dollars can be working for a boss, but also in your own company when you bill your client for the amount of time you put in.
This is active income: for x hours, you get x amount of dollars.
Active income puts a cap on your maximum earning potential, because you have only 24 hours in a day you can trade for dollars.
With passive income,  you have no cap.
In fact: with every extra asset you earn a bigger monthly salary.


Every asset is another revenue stream.
But what most people underestimate is that building an asset takes time.
And most people are just too lazy and have so little confidence in themselves that they pull if off


Try to aim for passive income: one time time investments.
Once you have a passive income system in place, you get paid over and over again and you can focus on making music in stead of having to worry about the rent.


These are the basics.
Now let’s look at the specific ways for a music producer to earn money.

9 ways to earn money as a music producer



1. Selling and streaming music


Itunes, beatport,  spotify or sell music in your own store, Sell music on soundcloud
It’s not big but better than nothing

2. Ghost producing shares


The royalty splits of Ghost productions

3. Royalties & sync deals


You made a song and someone wants to use it to remix
or use it for a video or movie
sync deals: Really lucrative

4. Tv ad or youtube ad, facebook ad


Only possible if you are a big brand dj
This can be based on a buyout (active income) or royalties (passive: you get paid per month, based on revenue or impressions)

5. Start your own label


You get 50% of songs that others produce and you sit on your ass.
Most small record labels do nothing to promote music.
Why do think there are so much independent labels?


Which brings me to another point.
Why do you want a deal with a record label that takes 50% of your revenue when you can release your music yourself (via Landr, Distrokid or others) and keep all the money?

6. selling sample packs


Digital download it is completely automated
But in order to sell them them you have to have some kind of platform like social media

7. selling online courses


Same as with sample packs: digital download it is completely automated.
You need a marketing platform to sell, otherwise no one will buy your course.
this is why I invest heavility in websites and mailing lists.
those generate organic traffic I don’t have to pay for.

But there are so many course sites online.
You can upload your course there.

8. doing dj gigs


That’s why it is important to develop DJ skills as a music producer.
The money is in the gigs
But to get the gigs, you need to be a brand (an asset).
This is active income.
In this case, it doesn’t have to be ‘bad’ because it pays well.

9. Social media


It’s more a platform (asset) to interact with your fans that can enable all of the above.
But can also earn you some revenue with ads on YouTube ads, although it pays terrible.
But sponsorships can be very lucrative. 
How can you make money on YouTube?
How do sponsorships work?
If you bought my book: “What big Tubers don’t tell you”, there is a whole chapter about making money on youtube.


If you are serious about music production and want to take it to the next level,
download my free music production e-book.
Besides information about music production basics and computers for music production, the book gives also a unique perspective on the world of DJs and music producers.

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photo author dexxter clark
Dexxter Clark
Music Producer / YouTuber

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