Estimated Read Time: 7 mins.

A key challenge for artists in 2019 is how to make money from music online.

From working with music distribution and sync licensing services to making money from your music on YouTube, there are many options and beneficial companies for independent artists to use.

As technology advances, becoming faster and more efficient, one of the biggest hurdles for artists is deciding on the right tools to leverage the musical fruits of their labours, transforming them into tangible revenue.

“In 2019, we are truly in the digital age with online music consumption the norm. Excitingly for artists, songwriters, and producers, this means there are now more ways to make money from your music online than ever before. From music licensing to publishing and beyond, there are infinite opportunities to establish you and your music as a force to be reckoned with.”

Rather than hiring a van, stashing your instruments in the back and hitting the road, emerging music stars can do much of the necessary groundwork to establish themselves with just a laptop and reliable internet connection. Read our top advice on the best ways to make money from your music online in 2019.


Join a Digital Music Distribution Company

As an artist, producer or songwriter, you’re likely to be a music lover. So ask yourself where do you usually head when you listen to your favourite tracks online?

From Spotify and Pandora to Apple Music and Amazon Prime, it’s likely you use a music streaming service to listen to old favourites or discover new sounds. With numerous services available to the modern music fan, it’s essential for artists to get their tracks onto as many of these platforms as possible. More exposure provides the opportunity to grow your audience and fan base.

Music streaming is undeniably huge. According to IFPI’s Global Music Report 2019, streaming revenue grew by 34 percent. It accounted for almost half (47 percent) of global revenue in 2018, driven by a 32.9 percent increase in paid subscription streaming. There were a staggering 255 million users of paid streaming services at the end of 2018. So targeting this form of music consumption is crucial if you want to make an impact and find the biggest audience possible.

Signing up to a distribution platform (like Songtradr), allows you to upload your music for global release simply. You can then concentrate on what you do best – writing and producing amazing music.

By digitally distributing, you’re giving your music the best chance to be heard by a broad, global audience. Music fans usually have a preferred streaming service, so bypassing one in favour of another means potentially excluding compatible audience segments. Signing up with a distribution company like Songtradr, allows you to tap into all major streaming outlets from one platform, and go beyond the traditional record label deal by retaining total ownership of your music. This is how the power of new music technologies becomes game-changing for the independent artist.


Use Spotify for Artists

Spotify is the most popular music streaming service in the world with an estimated 200M monthly active users.

While this is a considerable number of listeners, some music streaming critics have voiced concerns over the amount of income that returns to the pockets of producers and songwriters. Although the per-stream revenue figures may seem slight, all it takes is a feature on a popular playlist (such as Spotify’s Discover Weekly or Songtradr’s curated playlists) or an endorsement from a leading influencer to get your stream count soaring.

“Using Spotify for Artists is a great storefront, acting as a gateway to other money-making opportunities. Any artist who is serious about laying the groundwork for a long and successful career should probably take full advantage of the tools the service offers.”

How can you use a Spotify Artist account? Promote your music professionally with a bio and images, pin new releases to the top of your profile, share unique playlists, sell merchandise, and promote gigs.

In 2017, Spotify generated more than $40M in gig ticket sales illustrating how it’s fast becoming more than just a music platform. The dashboard also provides a comprehensive set of analytics, showing you who your audience is and where they’re listening. If you’re contemplating hitting the road for a live tour, this can be a great way of finding out where to pitch up and play.


Make Money with YouTube

A whopping five billion YouTube videos are watched every day on average, adding up to an estimated one billion hours. YouTube attracts about 1/3 of users on the internet: all in all, this is truly one of the online world’s busiest platforms.

As an artist, there are plenty of reasons to try and make money from your music on YouTube. Since 2005, the platform has expanded at a rapid rate with the power to make and break careers. Tori Kelly, Carly Rae Jepsen and Justin Bieber are among the global superstars who started out on YouTube.

With more content makers on the platform than ever, there’s a burgeoning demand for great music to enhance their content. And there are multiple bonuses for aspiring songwriters. A viral hit on YouTube can command a global audience, lead to revenue from ads, and drive traffic to your website or social media profiles.

Using a licensing and monetization platform like Songtradr can help get your music featured in YouTube videos. Video creators turn to companies like Songtradr when they are looking for music to accompany their creative projects. Your songs can turn up in a buyer’s search or our curated playlists.

Other tips? It makes sense for certain artists to create their own visual content, whether it be in the form of studio diaries or live acoustic sessions. Creating engaging and clever video content can be lucrative in terms of ad revenue as well as another step forward in developing your brand. If you are a Songtradr artist, including your song link in video descriptions offers fans another way of connecting with you.


Explore Music Sync Licensing

Do you want to hear your music on programmes, films or content created by big brands such as Walt Disney, Microsoft, Netflix, or Columbia Pictures?

Music sync licensing can be a particularly profitable income stream for artists. Sync gives the license holder permission to use an artist’s music alongside their visual media. This applies to ads, films, TV and other forms of video (such as mobile apps or in video games). According to the IFPI, the global sync market grew again, year-on-year in 2019, with 2017 and 2018 showing a substantial and steady climb of 19.1 percent. Sync licensing revenue, therefore, is a lucrative market of about half a billion US dollars.

For major networks and mainstream programmes, music supervisors work as part of the production team and make the big decisions on what music to use and where. So you’ll need to impress them if you want to land a significant sync deal.

Read our previous blog going behind the scenes of music supervision. If you’re looking to make their lives easier and enjoy a featured placement, then artists should ensure their recordings are of the highest standard and even get your music mastered.

If you’ve added your music to our Songtradr platform, then we also advise you to upload high-quality files, 16 bit, 44.1k WAV or AIF files at a minimum.


Register for Performance Royalties

As a songwriter and artist, by owning the copyright behind your musical works, you maintain control over their usage. It means you can legally reproduce, distribute copies, publicly perform or display or even make a new version derived from those works.

Copyright is automatically generated when a song is written and is the exclusive legal right that grants ownership over that original work.

Songwriters often register their original music with the Performing Rights Organisation (PRO) in their territory either independently or via a music publisher. PROs occupy a significant place in the global music industry ecosystem. They help creators get paid for the use of their music by collecting performance royalties. Which is to say, money will be earned whenever music is broadcast on radio, used in TV, and played or performed in live music venues or businesses.

For the most part, royalty distributions take place every quarter, and in some cases, a one-off joining fee is applied.

American music creators can join BMI or ASCAP while in the UK, the leading collecting society is PRS for Music. Visit their respective websites to learn more about the essential services they offer. A list of PROs in other territories can be found here.


Get Your Songwriting Data Right – From the Beginning

Getting your songwriting data right may sound dull, but it’s essential if you don’t want to miss out on making money from your music online.

This applies when administering your works with PROs, licensing and distribution platforms. Adding correct metadata and tagging your music with the appropriate genre, keywords, moods, themes, and similar styles will give your music the best chance to be found by content creators.

Accurate song details when registering with a PRO is an excellent way of ensuring you get paid correctly for the use of your music online or elsewhere.

From the moment of musical creation, it pays to be as clear as possible on your songwriting splits. If you can attribute percentages shortly after writing a song, you can avoid disputes and fallouts later down the line. It’s especially important in cases where there are multiple writers, as increasingly found on many hit records. Check out the credits on big albums by top artists such as Drake, Ariana Grande or Beyoncé, where there is a myriad of co-writers involved.

“It’s helpful to remember that musical magic can come from any individual or combination of musicians. Inspired lyrics, guitar or bass riffs can transform something ordinary into a hit, so always be honest and fair when working out splits.”

If you can make notes, or complete a songwriter split sheet detailing song title, date of session, recording artists, composers, and appropriate percentage, then you’ll be well on the way to ensuring all co-writers are fairly compensated for their hard work … an approach which is in the best interests of everyone working in the music industry.

Good luck!


About The Author:
Jim Ottewill is a UK-based music journalist and blogger who has enjoyed more than a decade of experience working for the likes of MusicTech, PRS for Music, Mixmag, FACT Magazine, Resident Advisor and more.


$uperRich · August 14, 2019 at 1:09 am

Great work on this article.

    Peter Schneider · October 8, 2019 at 8:47 pm


Leland Bond · September 13, 2019 at 12:59 am

Thank you!

    Peter Schneider · October 8, 2019 at 8:47 pm

    Thank you for reading!

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