How to make money as an independent artist

How to make money as an independent artist in 2023. Here are five ways.

It’s never been harder to be an independent musician. Firstly the Pandemic killed live music and now the cost of living crisis is threatening day-to-day existence. With that in mind here are 5 ways to make money as an independent artist.

1. Start With The Money Owed To You

If you are a UK-based musician and you haven’t registered with the PRS. (Performing Rights Society) Stop everything and register immediately! The PRS pay royalties to their members when their work is performed, broadcast, streamed, downloaded, reproduced, played in public or used in film and TV.

It costs a one-off fee of £100 to join the PRS and a further one-off £100 to join MCPS. But don’t let this put you off, this fee can be paid back very quickly if your music is used, so don’t leave what’s owed to you on the table.

2. Play Covers Gigs at Weddings

Did you know there were 350,000 weddings in the UK in 2022, that’s a lot of potential live music bookings! It’s a sad reality that people will always be willing you pay you more to play well-known songs by famous artists than they would do to hear your own music. But right now, we suggest you take the money, think of these shows as free rehearsals and suck it up. At least you are surrounded by people having a great time!  There are tons of agencies looking for live bands including the Alive Network that are actively recruiting for artists.

3. Music Sync & Licensing

Everyone always suggests music sync as a great way to earn extra money, but often the idea and the reality are miles apart.

Getting your music placed in adverts or TV shows is easy when you are Wet Leg or Miley Cyrus but what about when you are an independent artist? Well, it can happen, but the chances are slimmer.

So start smaller. Start on YouTube find content creators you like and click on their About page where you should find an email address. Drop them a note and offer them the chance to use your music on their next video in exchange for an on-screen credit. Start by offering music for free to secure some placements and then once you have a few, start charging and use these example placements to show bigger content creators the value you bring.

Now repeat the exercise with independent filmmakers. Take a look at the latest award winners on the BIFA website and reach out to them, offering high-quality affordable music for their next film. This is a great way to build your portfolio before you start approaching Netflix music supervisors.

4. Get Paid To Review Other Independent Artists

Music blogs love having reviewers who are also musicians as it means you can talk about the technical side of the music, not just the emotional side. You probably already know the names of some music blogs from your own career, so reach out on Instagram or get in touch via their websites and offer your services. We (Right Chord Music) currently have a team of over 20 freelance writers, we can’t hire everyone, but maybe we can hire you? You can earn £6 per each review you write and keep 100%. Find out more and apply here.

5. Produce Merch Fans Really Want

A few years ago I went to see an artist play a gig in London, on her merch stall was a framed copy of her latest album on vinyl. It looked great and seemed pretty cheap, I got talking to her and she explained it was her best-selling item. But this is the smart bit… The framed vinyl didn’t contain any vinyl, it was just the cardboard sleeve in a frame! Apparently, she used to sell records and realised almost none of her fans actually had record players, so when someone bought one it normally ended up on their wall. So she decided to cut to the chase and give the people what they really wanted, which was some cool wall art in a great frame. Sales soared and costs dropped! Winning.

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Words Mark Knight