Earning a living from music production is no easy task. It will take a lot of hard work, some patience, more hard work, and then some more patience. But if you’re up to the challenge, the reward is well worth it. Doing something you love for a living is truly fulfilling. Spending 60 hours a week doing what you love is 10 times better than spending 40 hours doing what you hate!
In this article, we’ll go over the best ways you can make a living as a producer. You have quite a few options when it comes to making money as a producer and it is best to diversify and take advantage of as many of these options as possible so you aren’t relying on one source of revenue.
When people think about earning a living from music they think about being an artist. They think about being a DJ, playing shows, earning streaming royalties, and selling albums.
However, this may be one of the toughest ways to make a living as a music producer!
There are tons of other ways to make a living from producing that don’t require millions of streams or a huge fanbase. The best part is, these various methods of earning money can be done while you are pursuing an artist career!
To help you kick start your money making endeavors in the music industry, I have outlined a list of the top 5 ways to make a living producing music - and some best practices to excel at each one.
1. Sell Sample and Preset Packs
Selling sample and preset packs is a great way for music producers to earn passive income. This includes selling samples & loops, synth presets, and any sound that other music producers can use in their music. Sample packs can consist of drum kits, guitar loops, piano loops, vocal chops, sound effects, just about anything. When creating these sample packs, you don’t even have to start from scratch. You can capitalize on work that you’ve already done. Go through your past finished or unfinished projects and pick out the best sounds and samples to be a part of your sample packs.
Sample packs can range from a few dollars up to $100 depending on the quality of samples as well as the size of the pack. They can also include additional items that add value such as midi files, acapellas, and channel strip settings.
The ideal place for you to sell your sample packs is on your own website as you won’t have to split the revenue genreatatd from the pack with anyone. Most easy to use website builders like Wix, Squarespace, WordPress allow you to sell digital downloads in some capacity, so look into these CMS (content management system) platforms first.
A site like Splice is really tough to get samples on. It’s the biggest subscription sample site on the web and most sample pack releases are from established artists and sample labels. Make sure that you browse through Splices top selling sample packs and compare those samples to yours. Be honest with yourself? Are your samples as high of quality as the ones on Splice? If not then it would be best to work on your samples some more until they are professional quality.
Other sites like Sonoiz allow anyone to upload and sell sample packs for sale. There are tons of other sites out there that you can try and sell your sample packs on as well!
If you are using one of these platforms to sell your samples you will have to give them a percentage of your sale. If your personal website doesn’t drive a decent amount of traffic yet, it might be best to release your packs on one of these platforms as they will already have high traffic on the site.
Pro tip: If you are going to sell samples through your own website, think about starting an email list - and collecting subscribers by offering a selection of free sample packs.
2. Ghost Producing
I’ve always thought of ghost producing as something reserved for big-name artists. DJ’s that are on the road so much that they don’t have time to produce and are in need of ghost producers so they can continue to release original music.
However, it is not just big name artists that are using ghost producers. Even entry-level producers hire ghost producers to help them jump start their careers.
Since I started producing music full time 2 years ago, I’ve generated the most amount of revenue from ghost producing for other producers. And none of these producers are big names. Ghost production can take the form of a local DJ that wants an original song to play in their set or a small up and coming producer that wants to make a song that’s better than what they are capable of producing themselves.
Ghost producing is ideal if you’re an EDM or electronic producer. You can continue to make the type of music you love and get paid for it!
You can find ghost production work in a variety of ways. One of the best ways is simply by being active in music production communities. SoundShockAudio has a private Facebook group dedicated to helping music producers improve their skills. It’s communities like these where you can make connections with other music producers. Actively contributing helpful content to music production communities is a great way to establish yourself as a professional resource for music production.
Another great way to let people know about your ghost producing services is by uploading your songs on YouTube and SoundCloud. If other producers find your music and like it, they may reach out wanting to hire you for ghost production. Just be sure to include your contact info in the description and let everyone know that you offer ghost producing!
There are also sites like ghostproducer.com that allow you to sell your tracks. Some sites allow anyone to sell tracks while others have some sort of acceptance process. Prices typically range anywhere from $150-$1000 for a ghost produced track.
Pro tip: Include your email address everywhere! On social media, all youtube videos, Soundcloud tracks, etc. It should be really easy to contact you if someone wants to work with you!
3. Selling Instrumentals
Selling beats and instrumentals has really grown in popularity in the last two years and can be a lucrative way to make money if you produce quality tracks and are consistent over a long period of time. Whether you are selling Hip Hop beats or instrumentals for country, pop, or EDM music there is a market. Although Hip Hop is one of the most popular genres for beat selling and is a bigger part of the market.
To get as much exposure to your potential market as possible, you will want to sell your instrumentals and beats in many different markets. Beatstars.com and Airbit.com are the most popular sites for selling beats. They make it super easy to make your own leasing agreements and provide some great tools for selling instrumentals. To further your reach, consider posting your instrumentals on YouTube, SoundCloud, and social media to get maximum exposure.
Over time, if you consistently put out high quality tracks you will start to grow a following and make consistent income from selling instrumentals. When you start to sell your beats and instrumentals, people will also need a way for you to
Not only will you start selling instrumentals, but it can also bring in additional music production work from people hearing and liking what you are producing! There are tons of great guides and resources on the topic of selling beats. If this is something you want to pursue, I’d suggest finding some of these helpful resources.
Pro tip: It’s important to have a specialty. What type of music are you best at producing, and how can you make it unique? There are tons of producers selling beats these days, so it’s important to stand out. Find your specialty and dominate that space!
4. Sync Licensing/Stock Music
Sync licensing doesn’t get much love or attention but it’s a solid way for music producers to earn extra money. Sync licensing involves making music for commercial use such as commercials, radio advertisements, podcasts, and YouTube channels.
This type of work might not get as much attention because oftentimes the music you’re making is more so jingles and background music. This isn’t quite as fun to produce for most people. However, there are still a lot of opportunities for EDM and electronic music.
You will want to try and get your music on sites that offer what’s often called “stock music”. Some of the more popular ones are Epidemic Sound and Premium Beat. The downside to these sites is that most of the time they require you to submit your music - so there is no guarantee that your music will get accepted. However, it’s still a great opportunity for producers to make some side money.
5. Creating music production courses
If you are a talented music producer than a great way to make money is by offering your knowledge to other producers. There are a variety of resources you can offer.from instructional video content, written guides, eBooks, song project files, song remake tutorials, and much more. You can offer each of these educational materials individually or as a part of a ‘course package’. Oftentimes a course could be a collection of different instructional resources on a specific topic.
For example, you could create a course on ‘How To Produce Something Just Like This By The Chainsmokers’. The course could provide a variety of resources and content covering everything needed to make the track. This could include music theory song structure, sound design, presets, mixing, and mastering. The more detailed and specific the better. By the end of your course, a producer would learn exactly how to make a professional sounding track.
You can sell a course like this through your own website or, through websites such as udemy.com that are designed specifically for selling instructional courses and content.
Start Earning Money Now!
There are a variety of ways to make a living as a music producer. Like anything worth having in life, the key to success is a combination of patience, a willingness to improve your productions every day, and to not give up. Here are a few final tips to help you in a career as a music producer:
1. Invest time, and sometimes money, into becoming a better producer. Being a music producer is about constant improvement. Keep pushing yourself to get better. The better you get, the more people will want to work with you, and the more you can charge.
2. "Diversify your portfolio”. Try and create as many sources of revenue for yourself as possible. A little here and a little there will start to add up over time. With options such as selling instrumentals and sync licensing, the work you do today can continue to pay out in years to come.
3. Don’t be afraid to get a part-time job as you work to make music production your full-time gig. It can take a long time to build up clientele and followers. A part-time job can give you the consistent income you need to pay the bills while still allowing time for you to build up your music career.
I am a music producer and entrepreneur. Founder of mamusicproduction.com and voclio.com, a marketplace where producers and DJs can license acapellas from singers.