Hello Musicians! First off, thank you for stopping by to check out this article. I hope you find some value here. These are strategies you can implement in your own life whether things are getting back to normal or not! This detailed article will give you very practical ways to make money as a musician online. Please like and share this article if it helps you, it really helps me to continue educating musicians. Also, please follow us on Instagram at @themusicentrepreneur to learn more.
Music is meant to inspire us. It gives us ways to connect with our emotions and with one another. Music is an amazing distraction from real life. It’s so important for us to keep sharing the gift of music with the people of the world. It’s scary and sad to think of a world with no live music, but that’s exactly what happened when the world went into lockdown. Thank god for the internet because it gave musicians a platform to continue performing live. Social Media and the Internet opened up new ways to make money as a musician.
This is Brad from The Music Entrepreneur. There I am up there on the right in that top picture, looking mighty shaggy in mid 2020 lockdown form. I discovered a few ways to make money as a musician during the lockdown and today I want to tell you all about it.
Why this is Important:
We were all thrown for a loop in March of 2020. We all have to adapt in this world where live performances have basically stopped happening. Even as things get better the possibility of another lockdown being imposed on us is always lurking in the background. I want you to know how to adapt as a pro musician during these tough times! This article looks at ways to continue your career in the age of lockdown.
What you will learn?
In this Two-Part post you’ll learn ways to make money as a Musician during trying times such as these. Being adaptable is so important and below you’ll learn what worked for me:
In Part 1 of 2 (this article):
- Live Streaming: this is a big one, we have a ton to cover here. There’s a few great ways to make money playing music online and I’m diving deep into this today.
In Part 2 of 2 (coming in 2 days – sign up to the blog to get notified) ->
- Teaching Music Lessons
- Receiving deposits for future bookings (parties and weddings)
- Performing for Seniors – Online
- Alternate non music income sources. I took some initiative to make money outside of music – in tough times it’s worth considering other options. I’ll discuss the things I did to keep paying my bills and save up a little extra cash.
These are all things you can start to do anytime to make money as a musician, from home. Let’s jump in…
Before the Poop hit the fan 💩
Before everything went to “ish” I was playing anywhere from 3-8 gigs a week. I had a residency at The Tap & Tankard in Whitby, meaning I performed there every Thursday night. My wedding and event music company (Brad Cooper Weddings) was growing and 2020 was gearing up to be my best year yet. I had played a bunch of corporate events and weddings and was running out of business cards. This was great because my own wedding was planned for September 2020 and I needed the work! (Luckily, we were able to have our wedding and it was amazing). Creating a sustainable career with better work opportunities was my priority but it all came crashing down when the lockdown occured in March 2020 (almost a year ago to the date of me writing this). To continue to make money as a musician I had to adapt to overcome this challenge.
Living without Government Assistance
In Canada, where I am located, our government has been offering financial assistance to people that have lost their income as a result of Covid-19. The first couple months I was able to partake in this program but this soon changed. My wife and I were planning to buy our first home and I learned that I’d need to show actual income to qualify for our mortgage. Turns out being on Covid support doesn’t give lenders confidence that you can pay off your loan… For this reason I’ve had to keep working to make my own money without any help from the government.
Performing live at venues was no longer an option. Luckily, social media and the internet gives us an amazing platform for reaching people. This is why in March of 2020 (and for the last year) you have seen so many artists going live to perform their shows. There are some crucial things about streaming that I want to quickly cover before the deep dive in.
Live streaming does not replace real concerts. I think we have to see it as it’s own platform because the two are so different. One of the main differences is how in your face streaming can be. What I mean by this is that in a live stream your viewers can usually chat with you and amongst one another. After songs you’ll see people posting clap emojis or “wooooo!!! keep singing I’m drunk!”, or whatever, lol. Being interactive is SUPER important in your streams so remember to acknowledge people, take requests, ask them questions, and keep them engaged. As I mentioned, live streaming has gotten pretty saturated. The surge has calmed down a bit from when the pandemic began and fan but you still want to stand out by interacting effectively with your crowd.
I began performing chill evening sets and soon realized I had to give supporters a way to tip me. I already had a PayPal account so I decided to go with that. Another great way to get tips is through your own website. Many website builders, including BandZoogle, have great options for getting tips online so it’s definitely worth looking into that as well. Comment down below if you need further assistance with that and I’ll hook you up! (also – Check out my article “Is a Website Necessary for Musicians in 2021?”).
You need to chose your method of receiving tips. If you decide to go with PayPal and are curious about their fees or conversion rates take a look at PayPal’s “Fees” Page. The fees are pretty negligible as you can see here:
How To Setup PayPal & Get Tips:
On Instagram Live, once I’m live, I usually pin a comment to the top that says something like “Hey guys – I seriously appreciate your support! Please feel free to make requests and send any tips to https://paypal.me/bradcooperweddings?locale.x=en_US” That’s my PayPal.me link, which is how the very nice people in the image above were able to send money to support my live music.
- Side Note: If you’re feeling cute you can make a handmade “Please tip me here -> YourPayPal.ME” sign. This is a really nice touch BUT if you’re doing this for Insta be warned – Insta Live mirrors everything so anything on your front facing cam will be shown backwards. If you want to make a sign you literally have to write it backwards! Like… what? This doesn’t apply if you use the rear facing cam but then you lose the ability to interact with your audience as well as to frame yourself on the go.
On Facebook Live you have to create a description of what your live feed is about. This is the description your friends see as they scroll through their feed. This is where you let people know that you’re live and performing right now. Make sure to include your PayPal.me link in this description as the description is visible (and your .me link is clickable) within your performance window.
When you’re done sorting out how you will get your tips you can go live anytime and perform for your friends & followers. It’s super easy to do. You may already know all about how to go Live on Facebook & Insta, but if not I’ve got you covered with my Guide for you, below:
If you’re not sure how to go live on facebook check out my guide below.
- First Log in to your Facebook Account
- Select “Post” – Highlighted in Yellow
- Click on the Ellipses (the dot dot dot in the bottom right)
- Select “Live Video”
- Name Your Live Stream, add your Description (make sure to include your link for getting tips), then click the blue “Go Live” Button at the bottom, under your description
- Perform and interact with your audience, take requests, have fun, make sure THEY have fun, and get some tips!
How you run your performance is up to you. You can sit and play while chatting between songs, or whatever you want really. I had a segment I called “Pub Night” where I’d have a couple of beers and encouraged others to join me for a drink and some live music in the “Virtual Pub”. Have fun and do your thing! The same goes for your Instagram Live sessions.
On Instagram Live:
I’d use my iPhone to go live on Insta, but it basically works the same. You should probably get a Ring Light for this by the way. They light up your face so that your viewers can see your lovely face as you entertain them! My ring light came with a clip that holds my phone, look for one like that on Amazon. Instagram Live didn’t bear too much fruit although it helped a bit. The good thing is that by using my using my phone for this I was able to stream from an extra device. My Facebook Live streams were streamed through my laptop using a webcam and OBS.
The steps to going Live on Insta are as follows:
- Open up Insta and sign in
- Click on “Live”
- Click the “Go Live” button in the middle
- You’re now Live… Nice!
- At the bottom of the screen click “Add a comment”
- Write something like “Thanks for watching me perform, if you wanna show some love you can do it riiight here: https://paypal.me/bradcooperweddings?locale.x=en_US”. MAKE SURE TO PIN YOUR COMMENT! That will keep your comment at the top so that you can welcome new viewers, thank them, and show them how to tip!
- When you finish your stream click the “X” right in the top right corner. You will have options to save your video to IGTV, to Download it to your device, or to Delete it.
- IGTV is Insta’s way of promoting video content, which is huge. All of these platforms want to keep people there watching so that they can be advertised to, and that’s straight up facts! I’ll have more about IGTV another time, but it’s a great idea to upload your videos here. At very least do some YouTube research and see how other Live broadcasters are using IGTV to grow their brand. If you decide to Download the video you can use it for whatever you like. If you don’t want the video to live on in any capacity, simply hit Delete, and you will be done with your stream!
Streaming Pro Tip
I have 2 extra pieces of advice for live streaming:
- Try to make your streams thematic. If it’s the anniversary of the release of a very popular album you love, you can make that the theme. For example, make some graphics to share around social media to let everyone know you’re doing a tribute show and will cover a whole album. It’s up to you but try to create a bit of buzz if you can!
- The beginning of your stream is the most important part. This is something I wish I knew when we were doing our online streams. We would start our streams before we were 100% ready to give people a chance to come in. We would even start out as we were still setting up, urghhh what a mistake. There are 2 reasons you want to be ready to go right away when you start your stream. The first is that you want to put your best foot forward to catch the social algorithms. If people pop in and stay and engage (like, comment, share) then your stream will be more widely distributed. Social media platforms depend on that feedback to push better content to their users so start strong. The other reason to make sure the start is stellar is that after your stream is over people can still watch it. You want these viewers to stay longer – you guessed it, so that the algorithm can keep organically boosting your content!
What to do next!
That covers the basics of going Live on two social media platforms. You should try to spruce up your stream by putting cool lights or posters in the background. We used paintings that my roommate’s wife had painted, which made an amazing backdrop to perform in from of. Just think about cool ways to stand out and be unique. This is as important as the songs you sing!
There are many other live streaming platforms which are fantastic such as TikTok, YouTube, Twitch, Periscope (😭Which after a few years in service is discontinuing on March 31, 2021😭), and more. I’ll talk more of these platforms in another article but this should get you started! After you know how to go live and get paid tips, I recommend that you start an actual Live Music Streaming Brand.
Turn Live Streaming Into Your Own Music Brand
After a month or two of live streaming and learning the ropes, my Roommate Vince, his wife, and I began to brainstorm about becoming more organized and taking our streams to the next level.
We came up with “At Home with Guitars”, our very own Live Music Streaming Brand. We worked on some digital art and media such as the picture you see above (you can do this with Photoshop, Adobe Creative Cloud, and Canva to name a few). Vince’s wife is pretty good with Photoshop so we used that – but Canva.com is a great online tool for making digital media, and it’s totally free (and easy to use).
After that we signed up for our Insta account (@athomewithguitars) and created our Facebook Page. At this point we created a schedule of performances and began to tell the world about our performances. We invited our friends and family to our facebook page and got the word out about our performances with our social media. Examples of our digital media:
What Came Next
All that was left to do was the performing. We learned new songs for our shows and continued to get the word out there. We had so much fun during our live streams, which are still up for you to watch on our facebook page.
By using these platforms we continued to learn about live streaming. We even tried streaming with YouTube and posting the stream link in Facebook. Facebook promotes its own native content over the links to other platforms because they are all competing for viewership. That’s why YouTube Live wasn’t ideal for us. We don’t really have a YouTube following but if you do YouTube could be a great option.
Live streaming and promoting At Home With Guitars was great. It was really fun to jam with my buddy and entertain everyone. Getting tips was also great as we needed to pay bills and buy groceries and stuff. The downside is that it’s hard to keep asking friends and family for tips at every live stream. People can only support so much, so creating growth is crucial. You will need to work hard to promote your Live Music Streaming Brand to keep bringing in new audience members. This led me to look for new avenues to diversify what I was doing. I was looking for new ways to make money as a musician during lockdown. That’s when I found out about Livit
Livit – A Streaming App with it’s own built-in Worldwide Audience
I found Livit when someone I follow on Instagram made a story talking about it. She was a streamer on Livit and was talking about the platform so I asked her about it. She explained that it’s a Live Streaming App with it’s own built-in following of people from all around the world. What’s really cool is that you can actually make money from it. I made around 7/8 hundred in my third month doing it, which was awesome! I could have kept building up and made more money but you know me, always diversifying my career!
How Livit Works
Here’s how Livit works. When you register and go live viewers join your Stream and you just do your thing. Viewers are basically just people that have downloaded the app to watch streams. Whether you sing, play an instrument, do comedy, draw, play video games, whatever, viewers will come and check you out. If they like you and what you do they can purchase in-app coins. These coins are used to tip you buy sending you “gifts”. Livit already takes its cut when the viewer purchases coins. The more you stream the more you will grow and the more people will see you and follow you. The company pays out monthly and the money goes right into your account. That’s basically the gist of it. This was one of my favorite ways to make money as a musician during lockdown.
To register you need to speak with what they call a “Talent Manager”. A Talent Manager is someone that gives you the basic run down of things. They also provide you with a contract to sign. I felt weird about that part because I’m often skeptical about online stuff that I don’t know about. After downloading the app I decided to do some research. I went online and chatted with some of the streamers on Livit to get a feel for things. The streamers were really cool and answered all my questions.
Livit can use anything you do on your stream for their own purposes (usually for advertising). They can take a snippet of your performance to put on a social media without your expressed consent. That’s because in signing the contract you are giving them the consent to do this. There’s no commitments though, you can quit anytime you want. After learning more and going through the contract I personally felt comfortable with everything. I decided to move forward and became a streamer myself.
Click on the Photos Below – They are Videos!
This video here is an example of an advertisement that the Livit team put together for their social media. They were promoting me and maria_noguiltgirl when we were new streamers doing well as beginners on the platform.
This is what I’m talking about when I mentioned they can use your image, likeness, and whatever you upload to Livit for their own goals. I didn’t mind, it was actually pretty cool. I got tagged on Insta, where this was uploaded, and it served as some cool social proof to show the kinds of things I was up to.
The Payment Breakdown
When I started streaming on Livit this was the payment breakdown. Each tip is a gift that a viewer gives you worth a certain amount of coins. Hence the “Coins Total” column on the left.
Livit tallies up the amount of coins you receive over the month. You get paid based on how many coins you accumulate. It’s pretty simple.These numbers are in American Dollars, and for June/July of 2020 I made about $700/800 to chill at home and play guitar and build my online following. Below is a behind the scenes look at my stats for the roughly 3/4 months I was active on Livit. I saw MANY streamers on Livit with monthly coin totals in the MILLIONS! It’s wild!
Here is my Livit profile showing you how it looks in the backend. In roughly 4 months I ended up with just under 1,000 followers from all around the world and +64k likes. Not too shabby! I wanted to keep going and crushing it but I had to switch gears and get involved with some other stuff as I discuss below.
Some Screen Captures of Live Streams I Visited Today:
Below are a couple examples of Livit streamers in action. I went online to capture some streamers in action to give you an idea of what the platform looks like. They are having fun and just doing their thing, as you can see. They are also making money and growing their brand online. Check it out:
This is Lyricah, she’s an awesome streamer as you can see. You can find her on Livit throughout the day singing and taking requests.
This streamer is ArielPixie, as you can see she talks about energy and healing but also incorporates a musical element into what she does. Even though I haven’t been online in a while many streamers know who I am because I was VERY active on Livit from April to July, 2020.
My Experience on Livit
I loved streaming on Livit, it was so fun ! It took some consistency but within the first couple months I was getting a lot of new followers and seeing my monthly coin totals double month over month. It was also so great to be a part of that community with so many other creative people. I took part in a few contests on the app and I collaborated to make online music videos with other Livit streamers. The money wasn’t life changing but I was building up and I could see the upward trajectory. I do wonder where I’d be with it if I had been able to keep going consistently.
On a side note, Livit is HUGE in Asia! There are so many streamers in Japan and Taiwan and they get SOOOO many coins. I saw some streamers there with like 50-100 million coins. It blew my mind! I even started learning Japanese and got really good at reading and writing Hiragana.
Livit might be great for you if you have time to stream and will be able to keep being consistent with it. There are some pretty successful streamers on Livit, people whose lives were changed by streaming. I don’t guarantee that this will be your experience as it all boils down to your hustle and your consistency. My time on Livit was awesome but I was getting married in September and didn’t have time to grow a new project.
I had to find ways to make legit coin and quickly. My wife to be and I were in the market looking for a home of our own. If you know anything about Toronto area real estate, then you know how crazy expensive it is here!
Interested In Livit?
If you’re interested in streaming for Livit feel free to reach out to me. I’ll be happy to contact my personal Talent Manager to help you get the ball rolling. I’m happy to answer any other questions you have. Feel free to leave a comment below (bottom of this page) or contact me here.
Let Me Sum This Up:
- Streaming is an awesome way to grow your brand and to make some money as a musician during these crazy times.
- Before you stream, set up a way to receive tips. You can do this with PayPal or on your own website. If you are using paypal, make sure to Register at PayPal.com, then get a PayPal.me link to give out to your supporters to actually pay you your tips.
- Great platforms for live streaming include: Insta, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Livit, and more.
- To take things to the next level, create a Live Music Streaming Brand – your own concept for live music streaming. Start a Facebook page for this project as well as an Instagram account (any social media platform, really). Create your own digital media (canva.com can help – for free) and promote your upcoming streams online. Perform and get paid tips.
- Livit is also another great place to perform live. You need a talent manager so get in touch with me and I can help. Go live, perform and get to know viewers and you will most likely get followers and tips. Only was. toknow dfor sure is to try!
Live Streaming is only ONE of MANY options to make money as a Musician during lockdown
My life circumstance pushed me to look for other ways to make money with music (and without music too). Streaming has been so amazing and it’s always something to go back to at any point. I wasn’t in a position to dedicate the time and consistency it takes to keep growing with streaming. That said – it was a huge part of how I got through the early days of 2020. It’s important to look at your situation objectively and make the decisions that benefit you and your life the most.
If you’re looking to make money with music online (especially in these crazy times) then I hope this helps! The second half of this blog post will cover the other things I did to stay afloat this past year. Part 2 drops in 2 days. I’m not surprised streaming took it’s own dedicated blog post. It’s such a vast topic. I didn’t even cover everything because streaming is so in depth. Please comment below with any questions you have about anything. Part two will cover:
- Teaching music lessons
- Receiving deposits for future bookings (parties and weddings)
- Performing for Seniors – Online
- Alternate non music income sources.
Good luck and take care for now!