My 5 Favorite Ways to Make Money as a Singer OnlineNov 06, 2023
Hello! This is the Singer’s Success Path Blog, where we discuss all things making money as singers without having to perform live. I'm Kimera, and today I’m going to tell you about 5 of my favorite ways to earn some income with my voice, from home! We are highlighting:
1. Demo Singing
2. Licensing Acapellas
3. Teaching in a SCALABLE way
4. Sync Licensing
5. AI Voice Model Singing
#1. [ Demo Singing ]
The very first revenue stream I went hard with is demo singing. This was the huge catalyst for me to realize I could finally be full time with music. Demo singing is when someone pays you to record vocals for a song they already have written. Word got around in recording studios I’d worked at that I was the demo singing girl, so my first gigs were in person word of mouth networking. Keep in mind - when someone asks you to come hang out a session, think about who might be there, and it might be worth your while. But you gotta speak up and let people know what you do. It’s not even that hard - when you meet new people usually the second or third question they ask is, “What do you do?” Start telling people you’re a demo singer! This might turn on a lightbulb for someone who could use you (or refer you) on a project.
But, in person networking is not the most sustainable, so we are going to take you to the world wide web, where most people are searching for demo singers.
I got started on Soundbetter.com in April 2019. It’s the biggest and best marketplace to hire people for music services, and if you click on the singers page, you’ll see my mug toward the top of the page because I WORKED the algorithm on that website. At this time I have over 700 five star reviews. It was a major building process and that specific website has a long waitlist to get accepted, so make sure you set up your profile perfectly and apply to be premium. It is WORTH the money and it is well worth the wait.
I gotta tell you something kind of troubling though. Not long ago, I found myself saying, “I just don’t feel like singing today.” And this had a real feeling of dread. I realized, this is not just a “i need a day off” kinda feeling, this is a problem. After recording 2-4 songs a day, for clients who TELL ME what to sing, I noticed I was giving all of my energy to monetizing, and so my passion started to waver.
So I needed to pivot a bit and solve this riddle. I had a few other revenue streams going, but I was not giving them enough attention because they didn’t pay fast enough. But the value behind some of these other revenue streams is tremendous if we stop looking at the instant gratification, and zoom out to the bigger picture.
# 2: [ Licensing Acapellas ]
The first one of these is licensing acapellas. What that is, is you can license the use of ONE of your acapellas many many many times. So you can record one song once, and many different customers can all buy the right to use that acapella and it’s stems and make their own instrumental around it. These generally sell anywhere from $29-$129 per download. Sounds kinda low right? My mindset used to be to put most of my attention into the demo singing gigs that paid anywhere from $350-1500 per gig because I could see that larger check as soon as I finished the recording. With acapellas, after I record one song, I start to see $29 sales rolling in kinda slow and it’s a lot less exciting. BUT then something happened that put things into perspective.
I had a songwriting gig, similar to demo singing except this paid a bit higher because I wrote the song as well. I loved how this song came out and was so excited to send it to the client. He took 2 days to respond and I was on pins and needles. When he wrote back that he didn’t like the song, I was shocked and devastated. But since I loved this song so much, I made him an offer. I'd give him a full refund in exchange for the full rights to what I wrote, so he’ll have no claims to the topline, and he agreed. I put that song up for sale as an acapella license. About 6 months later, I go look at my sales and see that this song has sold so many licenses it now actually doubled the amount I would have gotten paid if he kept the song.
So let me circle back - I really needed to solve the riddle of “not feeling like singing today,” and DO NOT get me wrong, I thank God everyday that I get to earn a living with my voice. But singing is my passion, songwriting is my form of expression, and so I need a balance where YES it is making me money, but it is also making me feel expressed - and i really was starting to lose that. So I shifted focus and started nurturing the revenue streams that require me to only record a song ONCE and that song can pay me over and over. This is called residual income.
Acapella licensing is my favorite, but again it’s smaller sales, over time, and I personally wanted to make more money faster, so that thought process lead me to my next favorite revenue stream when I asked myself the question: how can I make a residual product that’s at a higher price point? And my answer was:
#3. [ Teaching in a SCALABLE way ]
If you don’t record yourself from home, or you’ve ever done vocal coaching, this may be the stream you want to explore first because it does not require a home recording studio. For me, since I don’t teach voice lessons, this was way less obvious to figure out.
Then it hit me, what questions do people ask me the most? … write that question down, and revisit it later, because you might just realize you’ve got something unique to offer. So What questions do people ask you the most? The answer for me was
- how to record vocals
- how to make them sound radio quality
- how to make money with them
Well ok!! So I designed a few courses, filmed them so students can study on their own, and now I get paid every time a new student takes one of my courses that I filmed one time.
I see many people having great success with this with voice lessons, but no more needing to drive around from students house to students house. No need to be committed to an intense schedule where you have to show up!! Making a pre-recorded course is a great revenue stream and it allows you to help more people than you realistically could one-on-one.
But, yes, many people prefer to learn in a more live setting so they can ask questions and you can get live feedback to really cater your lesson plans to your students. So what you could do is teach live group lessons.
#4. [ Sync Licensing ]
Ok THIS source of income constantly gives me that amazing feeling when you find a 20 dollar bill in your jeans because once you’ve got this really rocking, you kind of don’t even know how money is finding it’s way to you. I’m talking about sync licensing, or getting your songs into tv, films, and commercials. I prefer to work solely with sync licensing agencies and libraries who get the songs placed in tv spots for me, so I don’t really have to deal with that business side, I just focus on making more music. A couple times a year I’ll send an album to a sync library and they go find the songs a home. The companies I’ve had the most success with tend to take a 50% commission from any up front fees they secure for me, and some of them do act as publishers. Check out this article where I share my top 30 sync libraries.
When I check my royalty statements I can see what shows used my songs, it’s pretty fun! But sync, just like any of these streams is not enough to sustain us as our one income stream. I always want to push people to diversify their music revenue streams because then you’ll really be setting yourself up to have solid longevity with your career.
#5. [ AI Voice Model ]
This last one I want to talk about is fairly new for me, and it’s possibly a little harder to get into at this time, but I feel like if you’re listening to this a month or two from now, new platforms will be popping up where you can much more easily take advantage of this. Keep your eyes and ears out for ways to create your own ai voice model.
What the heck even is that… ai technology is based on machine learning, or teaching a program how to do something by feeding it data. You can basically train an artificial intelligence program to learn how to sing like you by feeding it a bunch of your audio. This can then be monetized by turning it into a more affordable service for people to use the robot version of you instead of hiring human you to record for them.
Not gunna lie, it’s kind of trippy hearing your own voice singing something you never sang. There’s a lot of stigma and controversy around this topic, but my feelings are, cash in on it now, solve potential problems later when they come up. Be in control of how your voice is used with AI now, and I believe you’ll be in a better position.
What if people steal my voice, what if I stop getting hired for demo singing cuz people can just use my ai or anyone’s ai voice? Well, think about this what if… what if you could be making money every time someone wants to use your robot voice? What if you could do that, but chose not to cuz it’s kind of freaky and you're just uncomfortable with it…
The technology exists, it’s here. There’s a race to see who can best monetize it the fastest, so why not be ahead of the curve and be part of it rather than fear it. For everyone out there who’s not interested, I will gladly take your potential customers.
I'm not done. Really though, how bad is the idea that you train this machine once, and then every time it’s hired to sing for someone, you didn’t have to do anything? To me, that helps to solve my riddle of “not feeling like singing today,” because I’m overworked hustling these $350 gigs. Singing takes your whole body, it’s a lot of energy and work. You can only comfortably record so many songs in a day, even if there are many hours left that day, you have to set a limit or you burn out.
So for me, having a diverse portfolio of music revenue streams, with a heavy focus on the residual ones that require less work, that is the answer to my riddle. That’s what frees my time so I can make the music I want to make, get back to my passion, and still live a fulfilling life making money doing something extremely cool.
There you have it! Five of my favorite revenue streams. But guess how many I actually have?
23. Sheesh, I am NOT suggesting you stack up on that many revenue streams. I suggest 3 to start, focus on those and you will know when it's right to add more. But I actually have a list of 35 rev streams for singers WITHOUT performing live, and you can download it for free and circle the ones you think you want to try! Grab your free download, and check out the other resources available at singerssuccesspath.com.
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