How to make a full time living with music

Hey friends!

Today we’re going to talk about how to make a full time living with music.

Specifically we’re going to be comparing multiple types of income streams so you understand what’s required for each. This will help you decide which path is right for you.

This newsletter is also available as a podcast, listen on your favorite podcast platform here.

Full Time Living Value

Making a full time living means a lot of things for different people. It depends on the city and country you live in, but also what your lifestyle is like. If your spouse / partner has a solid income you might not need as much, but if you’re the breadwinner of the house you might need more.

For the sake of example let’s just assume $50,000 USD per year. In this USA this would put you somewhere between the mean and median personal income.

You might be able to live off of $25k per year, others might require $100k per year. So adjust everything here accordingly based on your unique situation.

Income Streams

Now let’s consider which income streams we’re going to calculate and compare.

  • Streaming

  • Digital Downloads

  • Merch sales

  • Membership subscriptions

  • Touring

These are all artist based income sources. I’m skipping sync here because that’s very difficult to get into.

But you can also consider some ancillary income streams that are related to your music skillset.

  • Production / mixing / mastering / session work

  • Teaching work

  • Beats / sample packs

These won’t apply to everyone so we’ll be covering these more briefly, or possibly in more detail in a future newsletter.


Alright now lets do some math to see how many results we need in each category to make $50k USD per year.

To do this we have to make some assumptions for how much we can make per unit sale in each category. This is definitely a variable so adjust accordingly.

I’m assuming a stream is worth $0.0033 (check my calculator here). A digital downloads on DSP’s is about $0.69. For merch sales lets assume a $15 average profit. For memberships we’ll assume a $10/month plan.

Touring is all over the place, so i’ll just say $500 per show. Obviously some shows might pay almost nothing (or literally nothing), and if you have a band this can quickly shrink.

With these metrics in mind, here is how much you need in each category to make $50k USD per year.

  • Streaming - 15 million streams per year, 1.3 million streams per month

  • Digital Downloads - 72k sales per year, 6k sales per month

  • Merch Sales - 3,333 sales per year, 278 sales per month

  • Memberships - 417 monthly subscribers

  • Touring - 100 shows per year, 8 shows per month

BTW if you’re wondering what I use to run this newsletter… its a platform called Beehiiv. The reason I chose it is because it would allow me to build a newsletter email list while also building an online blog at the same time.

You can read all previous newsletter posts on the web version here.

Easiest Path

I want to mention that almost every artist I know relies on multiple income streams. It’s quite rare for someone to have 1 single revenue stream that covers everything. Even if they did have that, its super risky.

But from my experience talking to thousands of artists 1-on-1 (really), merch sales, memberships and touring are typically the ‘easiest’ way to make a living.

If I had to pick one i’d probably say memberships because you only need 417 people to sign up, and it isn’t as grueling as shipping merch or touring all the time.

Keep in mind, none of this is easy.

However one thing that can simplify the merch sales and memberships aspect is MusicFunnels. With MusicFunnels you can build your website, your online store, sell subscriptions with membership areas, grow your mailing list and more.

In my course Fan Growth Machine, I cover a few of these income streams as well as how to setup your website, email list and online store.

If you’re able to take advantage of those ancillary income streams you’ll be in even better shape. Often you can charge $500-$2k for production / mixing / mastering work depending on the scope of the project and your experience.

Sample packs and beats are also quite profitable and scalable. Sample packs and Kontakt libraries was actually how Genera Studios started. In my free time back in 2018 I was able to grow it to $1,000 per month while working a full time job and having zero experience in the industry.

If you’re particularly gifted in your instrument, teaching can also be quite profitable as well. Typically clients will stick around for a long time, and charging $60/hour is a pretty reasonable start in most niches.

The beautiful thing is that you don’t to, and shouldn’t, pick just one of these income streams.

For example in my online music marketing business here are some of my income streams:

I’m pretty sure this isn’t even everything either. And I have other products and services in the works all the time.

Why? This gives me different products for different types of people. Also, diversification in income is key to stability.

Whenever you’re ready, there are 4 ways I can help you:

  1. My courses. Spotify Growth Machine teaches you how to use Facebook ads to promote your music on Spotify. YouTube Growth Machine teaches you how to grow a YouTube channel organically and how to use YouTube ads. Fan Growth Machine teaches you how to build a website, online store and grow your email list.

  2. My ad agency. Forbid Media specializes in running Facebook conversion ads to promote your music on Spotify.

  3. Website / Store / Funnels. MusicFunnels is the best all-in-one platform for music artists to make a website, online store, sales funnels and build their mailing list.

  4. 1-on-1 consulting. You can book 1-hour calls with myself or Alex Bochel here.

My Links:

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If you’d rather just purchase the e-book, or physical book or audiobook you can do so here.

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