Musicians have it extremely tough right now. The pandemic and threat of COVID-19 has resulted in forcing everyone to stay inside. No one can attend shows or concerts, or even the open mic night at the local bar downtown. Musicians, who rely on audiences and headcounts for income, are finding it difficult to keep their businesses afloat, since all live performances and gigs have been postponed or cancelled.
With technology being the best way right now to stay in touch and reach people, is there a way that musicians can utilize this for their own gain?
The short answer, of course, is YES! They absolutely can, but they will have to be creative and find ways to reach their target audiences in new and inventive ways.
We will explore some helpful avenues that demonstrate just how musicians can make money and keep going utilizing the virtual online world.
Offering Online Music Lessons
One thing to remember and keep in mind is that musicians should first find a way to market themselves through use of social media and grow their following to create an online audience.
This first one is a pretty simple solution – even if you have never taught someone how to sing or play an instrument, as a musician, you have the skills and know what it takes to play the guitar or piano or learn how to improve their singing voice. So, a great way to utilize those abilities is by teaching others how to do it, and online lessons are all the rage with everyone at home these days. Teaching online is a great way to promote yourself in your musical field as well as provide you with a nice side income.
There are tons of different platforms you can utilize for free as well that include Facebook Messenger or Zoom. Just be sure to read the fine print (i.e. – You can’t utilize Zoom for more than 40-minute lessons, otherwise you would be required to get a business account).
Putting yourself out there on a social media platform like Facebook or Instagram that you’re offering lessons is a great way to get started. Most teachers and coaches offer lessons for 30 minutes to an hour in length. Depending on your community’s going rate, you can easily start making a nice chunk of change from utilizing what would have normally been a performance or a gig into teaching others.
Have an Online “Live” Concert Performance
This is a great way to keep what you do at the forefront of your business: performing live. Musicians enjoy performing to an audience so that people can listen to and enjoy their talents. And what better way to put on a show than to actually do a show! You can still perform “live” for your audience at a specific day/time you set up through your computer, laptop, or smartphone, going “live” on Facebook or even creating a Zoom meeting for those that pay in advance.
You can charge up-front ticket prices through the use of online digital payments like PayPal, Venmo or even Facebook payments. This way it can be a true concert performance, just like you would at a venue, but everyone gets to enjoy it from the comfort of their own home.
Another way to beef it up or to create a larger online audience and reach more people would be to add in some other talents, such as other performers online or those that you connect with locally that are struggling musicians too. It will create a bigger buzz and a larger turnout when you do your concert. Collaborate with the musicians so you can all benefit, lining up a master list of songs to perform on a given night, or even combine all of your talents and perform some music together. You can even offer a small fee for people to go and download the online “concert” after the live performance.
Create Downloadable Tools
Virtual downloads are easy and a creative way to educate your audience on different aspects of music. For instance, if you’re a voice teacher, you could create warm-up tracks for people to download and use at home for a small fee. This is a great way to create what is known as “passive” income, because once you’ve put the work into it, you can just sit back and let it be purchased over and over again.
The same can be said for creating an Ebook, downloadable worksheets, or even an online course if you choose to venture into that realm. Find something that won’t require a ton of your time but something you can really put your knowledge into, so that people will know when they buy they are getting something of value. It can be as simple as a step-by-step guide on how to learn an instrument, or an E-book that outlines the best way to secure monthly or weekly gigs. There are many possibilities, and all of them will bring in extra income.
Offering Virtual Services
This may seem a little bit off the musician’s track, but are you great at organizing, or maybe you have a really good following on Instagram? Virtual services have become widely popular and are a great way to earn extra income while staying home. You could offer to help businesses with their social media, organize all of their emails, write articles for their websites, or maybe if you have a knack for design, offer to help businesses create a new and improved logo and branding package for a price.
There are a lot of free applications that you can use to make things like social media graphics or logos. Canva is a free resource that will give you tons of social media templates to choose from, including Instagram posts, has E-books and worksheet PDFs, and even has a ton of royalty free photos you can use on your blogs or websites.
Create a YouTube Channel and Following
YouTube is another way to virtually provide your services and create passive income, though this is a bit trickier and requires more technical savviness. You can start a YouTube Channel and put up weekly or bi-weekly videos discussing different topics related to either teaching others how to play, or innovative ideas to keep musicians busy.
You should first be sure to poll your target audience to find out what they’d like to know more about in the world of music or being a musician, so you know that you have good and engaging content to go live with. You can also use it to promote services, e-books, worksheets or other downloadable tools that you are offering. There are many free video editing apps you can find, and although this may require some more advanced work and takes up quite a bit of time, as you grow a following on your YouTube channel, so does your income!
Create Some “Merch” To Sell
If you know anything about running a business, you know many of them have branded logos and designs that people can correlate to the business. As a musician this should be something you already have, but if not, then this is the time to do it! Branding is so important to creating a symbol of something that shows who you are and lets others know when they see it to think of your business.
In correlation with this, creating merchandise to sell is a fairly easy route to take to ensure some income is rolling in. Simple things that people like such as t-shirts, mugs, water bottles, hats, etc. can sport your logo or maybe some catchy phrases that you relate to your business, and sell them online. Bands that have a cool name with a logo can make some rockin’ tees, or maybe you are a big coffee drinker and want to make a bunch of mugs that have great sayings on them. Most of the upfront cost to create these is small, and the kickback from selling it is substantial and a great way to help keep you busy and working virtually.
Host a Giveaway
This last way to create some income virtually is more of a fun and entertaining concept to engage people who are all stuck at home. Giveaways are always a great way to help grow your following on social media, and a lot of entrepreneurs take advantage of having their followers tag “a friend” so that creates more people looking at your posts.
A great suggestion on how to go about this is to get together with some other musicians in the area and create a giveaway that has a bunch of music-related “stuff” such as a gift card to an online music store, some free worksheets, a free online lesson, some warm-up downloads, or anything else that can help promote you that you’re willing to giveaway. You and the other musicians can all post about it on your social media, getting others to follow and post and creating a big hype around this giveaway.
Though you may not think this will result in any income, if you’re doing any of the other things above, you’ve just grown an audience that now knows about you and will be willing to buy some of your resources, tools or services.
Think Outside The Box
Don’t fear getting creative; you may discover the perfect opportunity that you never knew existed. As an example, businesses continue to put out advertisements, and many need original scores. Musicians can submit their original work to Marmoset’s music licensing platform, where it can be discovered by companies across the globe. The same idea can be applied to SoundCloud, where videographers often look to find original music for their work – giving credit or payment to the musician, of course!
Hopefully, one of these opportunities resonates with you and inspires you to start working on earning some money in the virtual world. There are many ways you can forge ahead virtually, but start with one that you think will work best for you, and pour your heart into it. You might be surprised to find yourself loving this part of the business even more than being a musician. Don’t be afraid to explore all of the opportunities with this downtime and find what speaks to you.
Until we are no longer keeping our social distance, we will be looking for many ways to pass the time but also to keep our small businesses booming. Stay safe and keep your music alive!