How to Make Money Writing Songs: 17 Ways Songwriters Get Paid
As an artist, musician, or songwriters, it’s your songs that will make you money. They generate the revenue and keep your music career going. There are a whole host of different ways that you can use one song to bring in extra money and also to help promote you as an artist.
How to make money writing songs? Songwriters should look at making different versions of their song as well as bonus content for your fans. You can also focus on elements of the song to bring out merchandise. The greater the exposure, the more you can make money writing songs.
You’ve written a great song, but where do you start when it comes to giving that one song a big boost to bring in the extra money? Here are 17 ways in which you can learn how to make money as a songwriter, earning money from your music.
How to make money as a songwriter
#1 Perform it in PRS licensed venues
Performing just one song in public generates a royalty that you’re entitled to claim. Every venue playing music should have a PRS license that goes towards paying royalties to the songwriter. Just make sure you’re registered with PRS. Songwriters can also make money even if they aren’t performing the song!
#2 Record and release it
It sounds obvious, but platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music are all brilliant streaming services. It’s just another great way to ensure your track is getting as much exposure as possible. It also means that you can release your different versions out to different platforms and will be a great way to get your name out there.
How to make money streaming your music
Some artists don’t like streaming services because they feel it pays too little. But for those of you just starting out in the music industry, it’s a really good way to bring in some money and to get your name out there. Streaming is a very popular service amongst music fans so why not embrace its popularity?
The best way to make money from streaming services is simply to make your fans aware of its presence. Whether it’s through Spotify or Apple Music direct your fans to it through your website and via social media. Once they know it’s there, you’re likely to get a lot more interest.
You can also look at advertising on Spotify or Facebook so that more fans know your music is available and waiting to be listened to.
#3 Make an instrumental version
If you remix the track and take away the lyrics, you could sell the song ready to be licensed on television and in films. That’s a big audience and if it makes it onto the film soundtrack. That means more exposure and more money for you.
#4 Turn it into samples
Offer the recorded stems to your individual track. This gives the option of producers making their own versions from your song. It’s exciting for your fans because it gives them the opportunity to create new mixes and share them with each other.
#5 Record an acoustic version
Record the song with just you and your guitar. Fans always love an acoustic version of a track. It means they can enjoy it in a different way and it shows off your talents in a different light. It also changes the song and could help you pick up more fans and help to plug the track.
#6 Record a duet version
If you find another singer who enjoys your track, you could gain more exposure. Remember when Dido re-recorded Thank You with Eminem? That was a career changing moment for her and she even starred in the video. See what opportunities there might be to re-record your song with another artist.
#7 Record a version a capella
Record a video of you singing the song without any music. Your fans will love to hear you singing the song they love a capella. Make sure you record a video and release it to sites such as YouTube as well as sharing on your social media.
#8 Compilation album
If you release it with some of your other singles, it could be a compilation album which will give exposure to all your other tracks as well and will help bring in extra money.
How to make money with music on YouTube
YouTube is one of the best platforms for artists starting out in the music industry. For people such as Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepson, it helped to kick start their career and turn them into the superstars that they are today. So it’s one of the most invaluable tools you can use to give yourself a real boost.
Firstly, get all your back catalogue signed up. In this digital age, music doesn’t have a shelf life and so you want to get as much of your music out there and into the public domain as you can. It doesn’t matter how old it is, if you fans enjoy your music, they will like having the option to listen to all your songs.
For all your videos, put up a description and a link to your website so your fans know where they can find out more about you. This is another way to help build up that fanbase.
Create and upload videos for all your songs. Even if it’s simply a slideshow of photographs, it will keep the audience engaged and is more likely to keep them watching and listening to your music.
#9 Performance video
Record a video of you performing the song, either when you recorded it or when it was recorded live. You could put it on YouTube which could earn some extra money. You can also consider putting it together as part of a DVD collection of singles for release at a later date.
#10 ‘Making of’ video
If you film yourself making and recording the song, it could be used as part of a ‘making of’ feature which your fans will enjoy. You could put it on your website and share it on social media or you could make it an exclusive which your fans who pay a subscription can benefit from.
#11 Stream a live performance
Streaming your song live through social media platforms is a fantastic way to bring about excitement and interest for your song. Make sure you plug it in advance so you can get lots of interest and a bigger audience.
Do artists get paid every time their song is played on the radio?
Often, artists try so hard to get their song played on the radio, that they forget to take the necessary steps to ensure they get the royalties they deserve. It can be an excellent way to support your music career, especially when you are just getting started in the industry.
You need to sign up to two organisations: The Performing Rights Society (PRS for music), which collects royalties for songwriters, composers and publishers, and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) which collects royalties for performers and record labels.
Both of these organisations will dish this money out to you in various instalments.
The amount of money the radio stations pay per play will change each year according to the individual station’s listenership, which varies year by year.
You also need to ensure that your track has the International Standard Recording Code (ISRC) from the PPL for the tracks you intend to send to radio stations as these allow radio stations to identify you as the owner of the track. Make sure these are encoded on your CD and MP3 tracks. Then, register the tracks with the PRS and the PPL. It’s all part of an important step to ensure you don’t miss out on radio royalties.
#12 Radio airplay
Send your music into local radio stations and to services such as BBC Introducing. If it gets picked up, it could catapult you to success and you will get royalties every time it’s played on the radio. Even if it’s only a couple of times, it will still help to raise your profile as an artist.
#13 Remix it with a guest DJ
Electronic dance music is hugely popular and mixing your track ready for release in the dance charts means you could get a larger following, particularly if it hits the nightclub scene. As well as earning extra money from any sales of the song, you could also hit a whole new audience of dance music lovers.
Why is it so important to make so much effort for one song?
Lots of artists have songs that people will immediately associate with them. Some of them will be one hit wonders, but many of them will become songs that signified the start of their music career and which people will always remember. In other words, the songs that made them stars.
Look at Eminem. Now one of the world’s most successful rappers, he had released music in the 90’s which didn’t do well at all. Yet when My Name Is came out, his career really took off. Katy Perry recorded and released her debut album in 2001. But it sold just 200 copies. In 2008, she released I Kissed A Girl, which saw her rise to fame begin. That song is now always associated with her.
You never know when this is going to be you. That song you’ve just recorded could be the song that makes your career. So it’s important you put all your efforts in to ensure it has the best possible chance of success. In years to come, you could be truly reaping the benefits.
How do you start making money from music?
There are so many different ways artists make money from their music. Primarily, the main source of income comes from live performance through ticket sales. Gigging is one of the most profitable parts of the music industry. You can make your money through sales of tickets online or at the door. Festivals also pay well and give artists the opportunity to play alongside bigger bands.
Merchandise also brings in extra money. Ensure you’ve got your merchandise stall in a prominent place for your fans to see and provide a price list. Your hard core fans will be very keen to pick up some memorabilia.
Streaming services are also a great way to increase your revenue. Make sure your music is on all the major streaming platforms and update them regularly.
Use lyrics from your song and get them printed onto t-shirts, hats, hoodies and any other merchandise. If your song is popular with your fans, merchandise is an easy way to bring in some extra money.
#15 Sing it in another language
Lots of artists sing songs in different languages. It’s a great way to connect with fans from other parts of the world and create a new fanbase. It’s also beneficial for you because you get to practice and learn new languages at the same time. If you hit the big time, it will be good for you to be able to interact with your fans in different countries.
#16 Keep your kit
If you have a little collection of items you used during the recording of your song such as a guitar pick or a sheet of music, keep it to sell them as collector’s items, which could be a good little extra earner.
#17 Share the experience
When recording your song, give exclusive snippets to your fans. Send out little videos of you recording it, or send voice clips. It will create that sense of anticipation and excitement and will build up some interest before you release it.
How much money does a songwriter make per song?
How much a songwriters will make per song will vary drastically. It’s very difficult to estimate. It will depend on various factors such as percentage of the song owned, the royalty agreement, how many sales or streams were generated, licensing, and many more factors. There is no one right answer for this.
Do songwriter get paid upfront?
Some songwriters get paid upfront, some don’t. It really depends on the agreement that has been put in place. With upfront payments, songwriters can make money from songwriting and give up any future royalties. On other agreements, songwriters will get paid upfront, and get future royalties. It will also very much depend on how much of the song the songwriter owns. To conclude, there are many different ways in which you can make money from songwriting.
We would love to know any other ideas you might have about different ways to make money out of one song. How do you make money as a songwriter? Share your thoughts below.