How Do Music Artists Make Money

Musicians and singers perform in front of us and we idolize them for it. But sometimes, we fail to realize that these people have this kind of work to earn for their families and to make a living. These are real individuals who just want to do their passion for music and to be paid off it.

We know popular artists who make millions of dollars per album. But how do they particularly make money as a musician?

Composition and audio recording rights

First, you have to make a distinction between the two. Composition rights and audio recording copyrights are the two most used terms in the music business. I can build a website defining the two terms but they can be simplified in two statements. Composition copyrights belong to the one who writes the lyrics and composes the melody. Audio recording or sound recording copyrights belong to the artist and the recording label that they signed with.

What are Sound recording copyrights?

This copyright entails mostly to the performance of the artist. If the musician played the song which will be on sale either on a digital music store or as part of a streaming music site to generate website visitors, the artist gets paid through royalties. What is a royalty? It is a portion of the earnings made by the song in which the artists get paid with it. The more downloads or music streaming it gets, the higher will be the royalties of the musician.

What if the singer is also the writer?

Then he earns double the amount. He gets paid for his composition of the song and also for each performance of the song either on a recording studio or a concert. The more performance platforms and gigs he gets as a contract, the more earnings he and his label receives.

How do they maximize the artist?

The label invests on the artist to sell the song through good performance, treatment of his fans, regular social media postings, interaction with the audience, and overall great image.

But aside from this, the label also uses advertisements, promotions, guesting on talk shows, and other marketing techniques to reach out to the general public. Some buy website traffic for the artists and invite fans to like and subscribe to sites.


  1. Musicians must seek the help of a lawyer when they want to sign with a major record label to ensure that they are not getting the short end of the deal. He must read the contract multiple times so that he gets paid for the work that he puts in his performances.

  2. Angela J. Sawyer

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    It is not always a good image that sells an album. Take for example Justin Bieber and Kanye West. They do not have a wholesome image of the public and yet they still sell. I think the music, its lyrics, and melody, are the main reasons why musical artists sell.

  3. Edgar J. Hatchett

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    I am an aspiring artist who has been performing in lounges, bars, and restaurants. The difficulty encountered by every musician is finding a record label that can back them up. The label supports the artist financially, especially in the first album in which the artist is virtually unknown. He still needs the label to promote his songs and him as an artist.

  4. Music artists make money when they get that ‘break’. The big break comes to those who make the most requested and most listened to pieces.

  5. Most musicians make money through gigs and other promotional activities. They also get good money when their composition is used for commercials for some brands.

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