Additional Income Sources That Artists Can Exploit

Author : Marco Sgalbazzini
May 27, 2020

Additional Income Sources That Artists Can Exploit

It has always been difficult to be an artist and make a reliable income, particularly in the early parts of your career. There are countless examples of famous artists that did other things to make ends meet before they hit the big time.

Kurt Cobain worked as a janitor, Mick Jagger worked as a hospital porter, and Freddie Mercury sold second-hand clothes and his own artwork on a market stall in London. These are big musicians, and the same thing has happened to your favorite electronic music producers and DJs.

Today, musicians still often have to work these “day jobs”, but any artist can also find income from other sources. Here are some of the most popular sources of income for any artist in the electronic music industry.

Sell Merchandise

Selling merchandise has been a way for musicians and other artists to make additional revenue from their performances for decades. Today, selling merch continues to be popular among musicians. They help fans to express their love for a band and can also help spread the word, as the wearer becomes a walking billboard.

Today, all kinds of content creators and brands use merchandise for extra income. This is particularly prevalent among YouTubers who sell t-shirts with their channel’s logos or catchphrases. An example of this is Expedition Theme Park, a channel that discusses the history of theme parks and roller coasters. It sells t-shirts that contain the names of popular parks, where fans can pick their favorite. This helps to supplement the income from ads and sponsorship on the channel.

Brands like PokerStars use their branded merchandise as part of a loyalty program. Customers earn rewards points when they take part in real money games. These points can be exchanged for goods in the rewards store, with options including clothing products, poker chips, playing cards and keyrings.

Today, musicians can use services like Shopify to build a low-cost website, and then integrate it with merchandise drop-ship services like Print On Demand T-shirts that will print products as a customer orders them. This means low risks since money is not tied up in stock, and makes it cheaper to get started.

Streaming Services

Many people now listen to music through streaming services like Spotify. Since they don’t pay for any new songs they listen to, it’s easier for fans to discover new music. Streaming revenue may be quite small, or it may be very lucrative for you. It depends on how popular your songs are.

The majority of artists make around $0.006 every time their music is streaming, so it’s easy to see why selling merch and other options may be more lucrative. That said, streaming helps you to be discovered by more fans, and you may decide that a little streaming revenue is better than no money at all.

You can get your music listed on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music by working with distribution services like TuneCore or Ditto Music.To help get discovered, you can pitch your songs to playlist editors at Spotify. The song must be unreleased though, so you shouldn’t publish it until after it has been reviewed by the editors.

Live Shows

Doing gigs can be a great way to make a little extra cash, while also selling your music and merchandise. Many pubs and bars are on the lookout for acts to perform for their patrons, so just start reaching out to them.

You can also perform live shows online, opening up to a potentially larger audience. You can charge each person to watch, or you can request donations. The latter may be a better option for musicians just starting out.

There are plenty of platforms you can use for this, including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitch.


Busking in crowded areas is a great way to generate a little cash, sell copies of your music, and promote yourself as an artist, all at the same time. Ed Sheeran famously busked for many years, performing on the streets whenever he had an opportunity. A similar approach works for This may not be quite as easy for DJs, but still not impossible.

In the 21st century, it’s also possible to record your performances and share them on social media to encourage a wider audience to engage.

You often need a license or permit to perform, so be sure you’re not breaking the rules.


The best solution is to combine many of these together, promoting your songs on streaming services and selling merchandise when you do live shows, and promoting your shows through social media and whilst playing in public places. This way, any artist can use their efforts with each income stream to also develop the others.