Over the past three years, I’ve gone from knowing nothing about the music business to building a music licensing side hustle that’s earned me over $10,000! I did all this part time, from the “comfort” of my studio (read: living room). And I have no connections, no incredible talents, and pretty simple gear.
So how did I do it? How do you make money licensing music?
Well, first I made a ton of mistakes. It was a learning process, and I was hurt a lot along the way after having my songs rejected from sites. But I knew I loved making music, and I was going to make it whether I got paid or not.
By the way, if you want to start applying this as your music side hustle, check out this free five-day music licensing crash course.
So the first thing I did is look for the best site to license my music on. I wasn’t good enough to be on a really professional site, but I didn’t want to be selling my songs for $4 on a site with no traffic.
Eventually I settled on Pond 5. It was the best site for beginners when I started, and I still think it is.
(Note that this is a referral link, meaning I get a commission if you purchase anything from the Pond 5 - but I don’t not get a referral for recommending that you sign up as an artist. It's just my honest belief it's the best site for folks new to licensing)
Check out this post to find out why.
Then I started to hone the craft of writing songs for music licensing and on getting better at producing. I took lots of courses (especially on mixing, which was a difficult skill for me – but I've learned a lot from the Recording Revolution) (affiliate link), watched a ton of Youtube, and practiced my butt off.
I worked full time, but I still tried to find time to finish one song a week to grow my music licensing side hustle.
Because you need a least a half-dozen songs to consistently see sales. Then to make the most of my limited time working my musical side hustle, I’d upload my songs in batches, maybe once a month.
At first a got a trickle of sales, one here, one there. Then it started to become a more steady thing, $50 a month. $100 a month. It’s been hovering between $200-$300 a month for over a year. You can see some of my earnings reports here.
And then the backend royalties started rolling in for public performances on TV. I got a check for nearly $1,900 in one quarter! And this was all passive income from music licensing. From one of my worst songs!
I’ve been exploring other business models this past year, and hope to have some interesting things to report in the future, but in my opinion, the steps you can learn from my free five-day music licensing course show why it's still the best side hustle for song writers.
Just look at this example – I barely uploaded any new songs to Pond 5 this for the first 3/4 of the year (in fact, I’d taken songs off!), but I still earned over $3,000.
All off of old songs!
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