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8 ways to make money playing music…even if you’re amateur

MoneyMagpie team 28th Nov 2019 No Comments

Reading Time: 7 minutes

There are thousands of musicians in the UK so making money playing music is a tough ask.

Many very talented musicians are struggling to make a living and often gig for free.

But that doesn’t mean there are no ways you can make money if you have the talent and desire to make money as a musician.

Here’s a list of ways you can make money playing music – which one will work best for you?


1. Make money busking


Make money buskingWhy not liven up the London underground and busk?

You can make good money!

You certainly don’t have to be professional to be a busker…just fairly decent and persistent.

Sometimes you can even make better money by being different rather than being brilliant (which gives all of us hope, doesn’t?!)

I spot a blind man busking most mornings as I travel on the London Underground and a sneaky peek at his money-hat shows he’s taking in some good change!

He’s not bad but he’s not an amazing musician.

However, people are impressed that he’s out there having a go and put lots of money in his cup.

If you want to promote your band or music and are keen on performing to crowds, it’s a good idea to take part in the London Underground scheme.

You pay £20 a year for a permanent busking position.

By performing regularly throughout the London Underground, you get to perform to a huge audience everyday.

Who knows what kind of people are watching?

You never know, you could get talent-spotted and be offered some great opportunities.

Another benefit of this scheme is you receive a regular newsletter detailing events and companies looking for performers for special events – which puts you ahead of the crowd!


2. Enter London’s big busking competition

Earn money busking in London

This is another great opportunity for you to expand your fan base, get more publicity and grow as an artist.

Gigs – London’s big busking competition began in 2009 and is open to young Londoners aged 11-25.

All types of musicians are welcome from classical to country, beat box to ballads.

Performers get the chance to perform to thousands of people at locations across the city, which is a great way to get some more fans.

There are three categories in the competition and therefore three winners. The winners of the big busking competition get some fantastic and unique special prizes…

  • A licence to busk on London Underground (this way you can generate fans and make money on the side)
  • Recording time at a professional and top quality studio
  • A range of busking material
  • The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance training package
  • Appearances at festivals
  • A busking trip to Paris
  • Newspaper and radio coverage throughout London
  • Performances publicised on their YouTube channel

If you are accepted to perform in the competition you will also receive press and social media support.

This is a great opportunity so go on, be brave and give it a go!


3. Join a music agency

Band join a music agency

Alive network is the UK’s leading online entertainment booking agency and it has been going since 1999.

It has lots of experience recruiting talented performers and has some great opportunities for talented and unique bands.

Alive network recruits jazz singers, musicians, bands, DJ’s, wedding singers and more for all kinds of private occasions and events.

If you want to earn some good money from your music it’s a good idea to make an appointment with a reputable music agency like this – if you get on their books they’ll work hard to find you work.

You have to audition for Alive network and the top acts signed by the agency get the chance to perform at lucrative events and get well paid!

Keep an eye on Alive Network and regularly have a look on their website as they often hold auditions with good opportunities for live musicians.

Those who top the auditions and make the best impression are given a great deal.

They are given an advance to cover recording studio time, video production, web design, photo-shoots and much more.

This is a fast-track unique development deal which will help bands not only get more work, but also get the publicity they need to build their reputation.

You are also given an agent that will organise your diary and a development manager who will be responsible for promoting your band.

There is real demand for exceptional talent and if you’re good enough, it’s a great opportunity to earn a load of cash and experience.

Think about it, you’ll be doing what you love, earning good money and if you’re in a band you could gain a great reputation and career for yourselves.

It could be your big break…


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4. Enter the Open Mic UK competition

Open mic night

If you dream of being a successful music artist this could be for you.

Open Mic UK is the biggest search in the UK for talented and special unsigned acts.

The competition looks for the top singers, songwriters, rappers and vocalists and thousands of acts enter to try and win the prize.

You can win recording studio time and the final winner gets thousands of pounds in prizes to help them develop their act and go forward as a professional artist.

Throughout the competition you will get the chance to perform to big, influential industry names and the competition is run by the label Future Music which has discovered talented and gifted songwriters such as Warner Music’s Birdy and musician Luke Friend.

You could be the next big artist, so what are you waiting for? Apply now!


5. Make money on YouTube

Make money on YouTube

If you develop a strong online fan base, you could make some good money from websites like YouTube. In fact, there are lots of ways you can make money from YouTube.

Many famous current artists have become famous via YouTube – teen sensation Justin Bieber being one of them (we didn’t say it was ALL good news!)

The Canadian singer and songwriter dreamed of being a successful universal artist and couldn’t believe it when a well-known record producer contacted his mother asking to work with him and singer Usher.

This shows the power of the internet and, how if you develop a big fan base, you can get noticed and be signed.

YouTube has a partner programme which is available for those who have gained a huge fan base and get loads of subscribers.

You can win prizes for the number of views you’ve gotten.

Each viewer earns the uploader money and you can get paid by allowing YouTube to place ads in your videos.

Basically, each ad click earns you money.

You will get paid more for the ad clicks and a smaller amount for your views.

This is why establishing a dedicated audience is so important.

To increase revenue make sure you promote and link to your YouTube videos all over social media.

Advertise it on your Facebook page, Twitter accounts and if you have a blog, put it on there to.


6. Enter the Teenstar competition

Enter teenstar competition

TeenStar is the new, much talked about UK singing competition organised by Future Music.

It began in 2013 and it’s for teenagers or pre-teens that are talented singers.

The acts perform and compete at regional auditions – if they’re successful they can go on to the next round which is live music showcases.

The annual national final is held at the 02 and the winner gets a good deal for the prize:

  • You get your album produced in one of the UK’s finest recording studios, River Studios.
    • You work with a top producer on your songs.
    • You get a video of your choice fully produced
    • An extensive winner’s publicity package (previous winners coverage includes; BBC and ITV television, Mojo, Q Magazines and more).
    • An all-inclusive consultation and development package including images and brand advice, a social media revamp, and access to industry contacts, plus more.

This is every young artist’s dream!

Even better, there’s not just one prize to be won…

Thousands of pounds are spent on prizes for runner up acts throughout the competition. Some special ones include:

  • Recording studio time at top studios
  • Singing lessons at some of the country’s finest facilities
  • HD filmed videos of the artist’s performances
  • Professionally taken photos of the act’s performances



7. Make money in front of an audience

Play music to an audience

Performing for free might be essential if your band is unknown and lacking a strong fan base.

Look out for local festivals, fairs and other small events as this way you’ll get more experience, build your confidene and hopefully get a good following!

However, don’t perform for free too often or for too long – if people are benefiting from your music, then they should be paying you, even if it’s not much.

Try to get gigs in pubs, bars and other small locations if you are just starting off.

Remember, the key to making money is having the likability factor.

At gigs, try to create personal connections with the audience. Tell funny stories about the band, introduce members and explain how and when you first started.

If the audience know stuff about you and your beginning, they’ll be more interested in seeing your band do well.


8. Have a merchandise table

Set up a merchandise table

Unfortunately, even if a audience member likes you and your songs, they might be too hard up for cash to buy your music and merchandise.

However, if you’ve managed to develop a dedicated following from social media, make sure you invest in some merchandise and make an extra few quid.

Your fan base won’t guarantee profits, but having a merchandise table at a gig looks professional.

Never be pushy and don’t keep talking about purchasing merchandise at gigs – that will just put people off!

Be very laid back and it’s a great idea to make up some business cards detailing your Facebook page, YouTube channel etc.

You can make new fans at gigs by being really open and friendly and approaching members of the audience. Show appreciation that they’ve come.

And remember, put some deals in there!

If you’ve been lucky enough to gain a good following, they’ll hopefully be interested in purchasing your merchandise.

Are you an aspiring musician? Which one of these will you try? Let us know in the comments section below.


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Jasmine Birtles

Your money-making expert. Financial journalist, TV and radio personality.

Jasmine Birtles

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