Artist’s Life: How Artists Get Paid

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Let’s tackle a mystery that many artists are trying to solve. So, you’ve been in the studio putting in countless hours, you have stockpiled a few songs and on top of that you are now starting to perform at shows. When you first start out you are probably hitting up some open mics around your city and getting onto artist showcases, but then you are wondering, so when do I get paid. Let’s address that. In order to understand how you can get paid, you need to know the things that will get you paid. There are certain things that you may not be doing as of yet, that are making it so that you are not getting to where you want to be. So how do artists get paid? Most people have heard about royalties, but in actuality, most people don’t know how to get them. So, to clear that up one of the best ways to start getting paid as an artist is to first go to and register yourself as a creator of music. Socan collects royalties on behalf of artists when your music is played on radio, streamed, used in movies, television, video games, as well as live performances. The more your song gets played on the radio, the more money you can collect. When you do any show that you are performing live at and the ticket is above $8 you can submit the flyer with your name or picture on it, and then you can also be paid for your live performances. Most promoters like to have artists perform for “Free Exposure”.

Touring: While touring has more of an upfront case, it is beneficial in so many ways. Touring allows you the opportunity to travel and see new cities and towns while building your fan base and your buzz. You get to experience life on the road, which really isn’t as glamorous as television tries to make it out to be. But on tour, after you perform the audience usually wants to take that experience home with them, so that is when you sell merchandise. Your merchandise can include cd’s of your music, or download cards, T-Shirts and other clothing items, as well as experiences. I read about one band that toured playing in people’s living rooms for the host’s family and friends or at special events and the hosts would then raise money for the band. While on tour you can not only make money off of your music and merchandise, but depending on the deal that you do with the clubs and/or promoters, you also make money off the tickets sold or door fee and depending on how well you negotiate, a portion of the bar sales.

Besides these, there are many other ways to make money as an artist such as acting, appearing on television or movies, (sometimes you can even appear as yourself as an artist). You can also write lyrics that can be sold to artists that do not write, teaching such things as vocal training or if you are a very stylish type of person you can do style consultations for up and coming artists. One of the more evolving ways to make money is through social media, where you partner with brands that fit into the ideals of your brand. Through this deal, you can gain sponsorship, promotion, a lot of exposure and a paycheck. The more your name is buzzing in the streets, the more brands that want to be associated with you, which means they will pay for the opportunity to have you as a brand ambassador. This list is in no way complete as there are so many ways that artists can begin to make money using their career. This is meant to be a guide to get you started. I wish you much success as you pursue your career.


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