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How to Earn Money as a Singer/Musician on YouTube – Ultimate Guide 2021

If you are an upcoming musician and looking for ways to make money off your musical talent, you might want to continue reading this post. In this post, we will share with you five ways to monetize your music career on YouTube. I know most musicians don’t see YouTube as a channel to get established. However, many artists are making a living off of YouTube, and today, we will share with you 7 ways you can do this too.

YouTube Ads

The first way everyone on YouTube makes money is by placing ads on their video. As a musician, you can also capitalize on this opportunity to earn some income from your music.

So, How Does It Work?

As a content creator on YouTube, the platform allows you to place ads either at the beginning of your music videos, the middle, or the end of your videos. Based on the views your video can generate for each ad, you get paid a commission. Usually, YouTube pays content creators 68% of the total ad revenue and keeps 32%. So, assuming an advertiser pays $10 for an ad, YouTube will pay you $6.80 per 1000 ad impressions. This ad impression system is known as CPM( Cost Per Thousand), this amount of money YouTube charges advertisers based on 1000 views they get from their ads.

As a musician, your CPM revenue depends on three main factors:

  • Your music genre: Genres with vulgar language are likely to receive less revenue from ads compared to genres with genteel languages.
  • Your country: Your CPM revenue will depend greatly on the countries your audience is from. For example, if most of your viewers or listeners come from the USA, you are likely to generate more revenue than an artist whose listeners are from Ghana. Here is a post that breaks down the CPM per country.
  • The views you get: The more views you can generate, the more money you will make.

How To Get Started:

Note: Before you can monetize your music video, you need to make sure you license it first (we will discuss more into licensing in subsequent subtopics).

The YouTube monetization program is known as YouTube Partnership Program (YPP), and before you are eligible to join this program, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You need to make sure you are in good standing with all YouTube community guidelines.
  • You need to have at least 1000 subscribers.
  • You need to have at least 4000 public watch hours within the past year.
  • You must live in a country where YPP is available.
  • You need to have an AdSense account linked to your YouTube channel.

If you are looking for ways to reach 1000 subscribers and 4000 public hours quickly, you should read our eBook on how to optimize and grow your music channel on YouTube.

That been said, here is how you can sign up for the YouTube Partner Program:

Step 1:

Sign in to your YouTube music account, and then click on your avatar. After clicking on the avatar, a drop-down menu will appear and then you click on “YouTube Studio.”

Step 2:

Once the Studio page opens up, scroll through the sidebar on the left, and then click on Monetization. After clicking on the Monetization tab, if you qualify for the monetization program, you should see a window that guides you on how to sign up for the YouTube Partner Program. However, if you do not qualify, you should see a window that says “Notify me when eligible”.

Step 3:

If you qualify, you want to make sure that you:

  • Read and agree to the YPP terms
  • Sign up for an AdSense Account
  • And choose the type of ads you want to run and where the ads should be placed.

By following these simple steps, your channel should be ready to be monetized.

Tips For Ads Placement:

i.For musicians, we recommend you place ads either at the beginning or the end of your music video. Placing ads in the middle of your music video will kill the vibe of the viewer.

ii. We also recommend you try other ads placement alternatives such as banner ads which you can run just below the video or the side of the video.

These are the types of YouTube ads we recommend you utilize.

If you haven’t qualified for YouTube’s monetization yet, do not be dismayed. We will share 6 more alternatives to help you earn money on YouTube as an artist.

Sell Your Music Via Links

You can also promote links to other streaming platforms where you have your music uploaded. When uploading your music on YouTube, you want to make sure you add links to other streaming platforms in the description section. It is as simple as copying and pasting the links in the description box. You can leverage your YouTube views and encourage your viewers to go stream your music on these platforms.

License Your Song

Another way you can make money from your songs on YouTube is by licensing them. YouTube gives you the ability to claim rights to your song, such that if any other creator posts the song, you get paid for revenue that the creator generates.

YouTube allows you to take charge of your original work through their content ID feature. The YouTube Content ID software is copyright management software that allows you to license your music on YouTube by allowing you to upload audio or video files of your work to YouTube.

How It Works:

After submitting your audio or video file (the reference file) to YouTube, the content ID feature then stores your audio or video file on YouTube’s database using a digital fingerprint. YouTube then scans its entire catalog with the digital fingerprint to search for any content that matches your original work.

The Content-ID software is smart such that it can even identify videos or channels that have even used a snippet of your work. Once YouTube finds any channel that has used your music, they notify you and give you three options to choose from. These are:

  • You can choose to take down the video using your work.
  • You can choose to also monetize the video using your work by placing ads on it– which we recommend.
  • You can request analytics, stats, and insight about how well that video is doing.

As said earlier, we recommend you monetize your work when someone else uses it in their content. What this means is that when a video or a content creator uses your song on YouTube, you will get a percentage of the ad revenue that video generates. This makes it an extra source of income for you as a band or musician.

That being said, you cannot apply for Content ID directly on YouTube. You need to have your music with a digital music distribution company. After uploading your music distributor, you can set up the YouTube Content ID from there.

After you have been approved to license your work on YouTube via Content ID, it will take a couple of days to weeks before YouTube scans to find any video or audio that matches your music on YouTube.

It is important to note that you can whitelist channels from being detected by the Content ID system. This means that you can permit certain channels to use your music without being flagged by the Content ID system. In such cases, you won’t receive any monetization revenue. To whitelist a channel, you will need to do that through your digital music distributor. This is great to exclude people who asked for permission before using your video from being flagged.

How To Get Started:

Unlike YouTube monetization or the YouTube Partner Program, the Content ID feature has no requirements on the number of subscribers or watch hours you need to be eligible. Channels with less than 1000 subscribers or 4000-watch hours can be eligible for the Content ID feature.

Below is a video to walk you through the content ID application process:

Selling Merchandise

If you have a little following and love your music, you can sell some merchandise and then make money. For those of you who do not know what merchandise is, it is any auxiliary tangible product you sell. This can range from branded shirts, mugs, hats, wristbands, etc.

YouTube gives creators the chance to advertise merchandise on their channel underneath each video, and we highly recommend you capitalize on this as a musician.

How Do I Go About This:

Well, there are two ways you can sell merch on YouTube as a musician. These are:

DIY (Do It Yourself)

The first way you can sell your merch on YouTube is by Doing It Yourself (DIY).

DIY involves you handling everything, from purchasing the inventory to printing the merch, and shipping them out to people. With this business model, you are in full control of the profits and losses you incur. With the DIY method, you get to leverage the fans you have built over the years and then encourage them to purchase your merch to show support to you. Mostly, you will have to advertise your merch in your videos and then provide your audience a way to purchase your merch.

The upside of this kind of business model is that you get to keep 100% of the profit. However, the downside is that you can run at a loss if you print your merchandise and no one purchases them.

Before you try out the DIY method of selling merch, you will have to make sure you have fans that love the kind of music you make and are willing to purchase the merch you make. Ensure that you have provided your subscribers or fans with tons of content before you try. Also, do not make it seem as if they are buying your merchandise. Sell it in a way that makes them feel as though they are supporting your hard work by buying your merch.

We highly recommend this kind of business model for channels that are established and have above 3000 subscribers. DIY isn’t ideal for musicians trying to establish a presence on YouTube. Because with smaller channels, no one will be interested in the products you might want to sell. Also, as a smaller channel, you haven’t provided them with so much value(music) for them to trust you enough to purchase an item for you.

However, all hope isn’t lost, the next way to sell merch is perfect for upcoming artists looking to make money off of selling merch.

Print On Demand Dropshipping

If you are an underground artist; however, you do not have much cash to buy inventory and print your merchandise, the print-on-demand drop-shipping method might be for you. With the print-on-demand model, you need little to no cash to sell your merchandise.

Print-on-demand makes it cost-free for every YouTube creator to sell their merchandise without having to buy inventory or print the shirts. All you will have to do is sign up with a print-on-demand website, and then advertise the catalog of your merch on your music videos. Whenever someone purchases the merchandise, a company ( the print-on-demand service) will print the merchandise, ship it, and then pay you a cut of the total sales.

The upside of print demand is that you do not need to have so much money to get started. And the downside is that you do not get to keep the total profit, since you are sent only a portion of the total profit made. Usually, the musical artist gets to keep a 10% royalties rate.

This form of selling merchandise is ideal for both upcoming or established artists because there is little to no upfront cost.

This section will focus on print on demand because it is the most cost-effective strategy out there.

How To Get Started?

The first step to getting started is to find a company that offers print-on-demand services. There are a couple of them out there, however, this list goes into detail on the best ones out there. Even though they may all offer the same services, here are a few things to consider when choosing a print on the demand service provider:

  • Shipping time: Buyers love to receive their items on time. So, the company you choose must be shipping out the customer’s package within 72 hours. If you can get a provider that ships packages in less than 72 hours, then you can go in for them.
  • Royalties: Generally, most sites will offer artists a 10% or 12% royalty per sale. So, you want to make sure you choose a company with an ideal royal rate for you.
  • Features: Besides printing merchandise, do any of these print-on-demand services offer any extra feature that might be beneficial to you? For example, some of these print-on-demand services offer a discount to any customer that purchases a new design within 72 hours of release. So, you want to make sure that the POD provider you are choosing is offering you a feature you love.

After choosing a POD provider and then integrating it into your YouTube channel, this video should provide you with tips on how to make some sales. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-OhdBmm7Js

Selling Tickets To Live Gigs

YouTube allows you to sell tickets to your live gigs to your viewer through their concert ticketing feature. This feature allows viewers watching your channel to see the dates of your upcoming events closest to them. With this feature, they can book a seat without having to be redirected to a new site. Also, you can display various tickets from ticketing websites.

To be able to sell tickets on YouTube using their concert ticketing feature, you will need to meet the following requirements;

  • Your channel must be an Official artist channel.
  • Kids shouldn’t be part of your channel’s audience.
  • You must be signed up with any ticketer supported on YouTube.
  • The country you plan on having the concert in must support this feature.

Once you meet these requirements, YouTube will automatically enroll you into their ticketing program.

Let’s talk about the ticketer:

It is important to note that YouTube doesn’t support all ticket platforms with this feature. They support the following ticketers:

  • Ticketmaster
  • AXS
  • SeeTickets
  • Eventbrite

YouTube only has to display the tickets you have with any of these platforms, any ticket sales and payment processing need to be handled by the ticketer.

Let’s talk about YouTube’s Official Artist Channel:

This is a feature that enables artists to dedicate their channel as an official music channel. Whether you are a cover artist, or you compose your songs, you can still be eligible for this feature.

Unlike a regular channel, the official artist channel comes with lots of features that help you grow your music audience. Before you can sign up for an official artist channel, there are some requirements you will need to meet. These include:

  • You need to be a part of the YouTube Partner Program.
  • Your channel has to follow all of YouTube’s community guidelines.
  • You need to have at least 3 official songs released on YouTube. These songs need to be delivered and distributed by a label or any distributor.
  • You need to own a channel on YouTube representing an artist.

Upgrading to the official artist channel comes with a lot of benefits. Here are a couple of benefits:

  • It makes the channel look professional with its auto-generated playlist shelf. This feature automatically organizes all your music based on relevancy and popularity.
  • Upgrading to this feature also improves your music discovery such that people can see your watch card which displays all of your most popular songs. The watch card can be found on the right side of the screen.
  • Also, this feature helps you promote your channel and tickets to your concerts and gigs.
  • It provides you with real-time analytics that helps you discover where most of your audiences are from and what they watch on your channel.

Generally, the official artist channel makes it easy for you to manage your YouTube channel as a music artist.

Sadly, this ticket display feature isn’t available in every country. It is only available in the following countries:

  • United States
  • Canada
  • New Zealand
  • Ireland
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom

Alternative:

Well, if the YouTube ticketing feature doesn’t work for you, you can simply attach a link to your tickets in the description box. With this, you would have to inform your viewers that they can click on a link to purchase tickets for your upcoming event. With this method, there are no requirements. Also, you can post the link to any ticketer. All you need to do is to be able to tell your viewers about the link in your description.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is another way to make some cash on YouTube. Crowdfunding has to do with a group of people coming together to raise funds for a project or venture. In your case, it will be your subscribers supporting your work by donating to you.

Crowdfunding is great because it allows your fans to support your work. There are three main ways you can crowdfund on YouTube:

  • Through Patreon.
  • YouTube channel membership
  • Livestream donations.

Why Crowdfunding Is Important For Musicians:

There are a lot of expenses that come with being an independent artist. And sometimes it takes a while to get monetized on YouTube. Even when you get monetized, it takes a while to make substantial earnings. Well, crowdfunding helps you gain an extra source of income from your loyal fans.

And below are some of the ways you can earn money through crowdfunding on YouTube:

Patreon

Patreon is a membership site, which allows fans to support their favorite creators financially by subscribing to the creator’s Patreon channel. When they subscribe, they get access to exclusive perks from the creator. Patreon has helped numerous channels monetize their content outside of YouTube.

Unlike YouTube, Patreon allows you to post whatever content you like (given that it is original). This makes it a great way to serve your customers better since you wouldn’t have to worry about being sanctioned for posting music with explicit or vulgar content. You are free to give your subscribers the type of content they will love to enjoy.

How To Get Started On Patreon:

The truth is people aren’t just going to throw money at you just because you have a Patreon account. You must produce content that will benefit your fans. Before joining Patreon, we recommend that you cultivate a fan base on YouTube, then you can tell your fanbase to join your Patreon to support your work.

However, before starting you think about asking them to join your Patreon, you need to make sure that you have something creative to offer. Your viewers are going to subscribe to your Patreon page with their money, so, you need to make sure that you are giving them something enticing which they wouldn’t get on YouTube. You do not want to create a Patreon account just because of the money, however, you want to offer value to your fan base.

For example, assuming you are a band, you can create a Patreon and then teach your Patreon fans how you organize your tours. Or you can show them your rehearsals. Also, if you are a solo singer, you can use Patreon to show your supporters how you train your voice, or just anything interesting. The whole idea here is to give them some worth of their hard-earned cash.

We recommend you classify your subscriptions into tiers, that way, you can offer more perks to your subscribers and charge more.

In addition, think of Patreon as a long-term investment. This is because it will take a while to be able to grow your subscriber base to make a living out of that. So, you will have to remind your YouTube audience always to subscribe to your Patreon.

If you think you are ready to get started on Patreon, then the video below should help you set up an account:

Channel Membership and YouTube Live Donation:

YouTube also allows your fans to support your music career by giving them a chance to become members of your channel. This is different from the generic subscription YouTube offers. With a subscription, your audience can join without any payment. However, before they become a member, they’ll have to subscribe.

YouTube membership works just like Patreon, however, for you to be eligible for YouTube membership, you will have to have 30K subscribers to your channel. The video below should help you set up your membership account once you are eligible.

Also, YouTube allows you to receive donations via live stream through their Superchat feature. However, to enable this feature, your channel will have to be monetized, and you must be above 18. If you meet these requirements, then you can follow the video below to set up YouTube’s super chat feature.

Whether you’re using YouTube’s crowdfunding services or Patreon, the catch here is to make sure you build your customer base and that you offer them great high-quality content. This way, they wouldn’t hesitate to support you whenever you take any of these initiatives.

Influencer

The next way you can earn money on YouTube is to become an influencer. An influencer is a person with a moderate or large following and can convince his or her followers to buy a certain product or service. As an influencer, you are trusted by your subscribers and these subscribers trust that anything you recommend to them is good.

As an influencer, you can make money in two ways:

The first way you can make money as an influencer is through sponsored ads. Companies or individuals will pay you to promote their products or services to your audience.

The second way is through affiliate marketing where you are assigned a unique link by a company. With affiliate marketing, you might be paid to promote the product, but most of the time you’d have to promote it for free. However, the main way you earn is when someone clicks on the unique like to make a purchase. After a purchase is made, the owner of the company pays you a cut for each sale. Sometimes a company or an individual might approach you to help them promote their product, or you might have to use an affiliate marketplace to find products you would want to promote.

Becoming an influencer can be quite lucrative. Because you do not only get paid to promote ads and earn from the sales you generate. But also, you get freebies from these companies.

The most important part about being a music influencer on YouTube is by building an audience that loves the kind of content you put out there. So, to make it easy, we will walk you through the steps you need to build an audience for yourself if you are just getting started.

So, how do you become an influencer?

Choose Your Style Of Music

You must choose the genre of music that you are into and then build your content around that genre. This way you will be able to grow an audience that knows what to expect from your channel. Also, it makes it easy for brands to work with you because brands love to get their products to their target audience. So, when your content is specific, brands know the type of audience you have, making them eager to work with you.

The whole goal as an influencer is to get as many subscribers as possible. So, you must choose the right content that will attract people to you.

So, for example, if you are a vocalist, a DJ, or a drummer, we recommend you start with covers. Even though you wouldn’t get monetized or maybe you might get a little revenue, covers are the easiest ways to gain traction on YouTube. With covers, you are already leveraging the fan base of a top artist and then drawing them to you. You do this by covering a popular song that an established artist has released and then leveraging on the hype of the song to get attention to yourself. When the fans of that artist see your cover and are impressed, they will eventually subscribe to your channel. This gives you the ability to grow your channel by leveraging the fans of that artist.

We highly recommend you do a cover for songs that are relevant and popular. Do not go do a cover of an old song unless it is in memory of the artist or maybe for a special occasion, because no one might be paying attention to them. Also, depending on the style and genre you do, you can transform certain popular songs to fit your genre. For example, you the country version of a hip-hop song. A good example of someone who does this is LEGIQN. He is a popular YouTuber known for transforming popular songs of different genres into the country version.

On the other hand, if you are a producer, you can teach people how to remake a beat to a popular song. Also, you can teach people tutorials on how they can get started as beatmakers. You can also create a beat mix of some of the most popular songs. Generally, you want to think of the kind of content that people will love.

Regardless of what you do, whether you sing or produce beats, we recommend you put out music that people are searching for on YouTube. This is because people do not know who you are, so, the probability of someone searching you up on YouTube is low. So, you want to do what people love to watch, to get the attention you need to yourself and your channel.

Be Consistent

You aren’t just going to blow up and then get 1K subscribers by posting one or two videos (even though it might be possible, but it is rare). The YouTube algorithm loves consistent content creators. Posting consistently means you post your videos at certain periods, and your viewers know the type of video you’d be posting. Posting consistently shows the algorithm how much effort you put in and in turn, the algorithm rewards you.

You do not need to post every day but you need to make sure that you release at least one content every week. Do not post whenever you want, because your viewers wouldn’t know when to expect your post.

Optimization

The next step has to do with optimization, optimization means using various techniques to ensure that your video appears on the first page of the search page on YouTube. Below are some of the ways you can optimize your videos:

  • Do your keyword research
  • Use optimized titles
  • Fill out your video description
  • Use tags
  • Use hashtags
  • Improve engagement signals
  • Increase audience retention
  • Increase watch time.

We have an eBook that goes into full detail on how to use these techniques to help your video rank higher. So, you check that out for a whole explanation of these tips.

Produce High-Quality Video

One way to make sure that you gain more viewers is by producing high-quality video. A high-quality video has great sound, great picture quality, and great content. Let’s take a look at how to achieve this as a beginning YouTuber. High-quality videos compel the viewer to watch to the end because high-quality videos make your videos enjoyable. When your viewers can watch your videos to the end, they boost your audience retention and overall watch time. Audience retention and watch time are metrics that can boost your organic reach and ranking on YouTube.

Great Sound Quality:

As a musician, people must hear the sound that you produce to enjoy your work. Having quality sound in your video will make your viewers more attentive and let them watch your videos to the end. A great way to boost your sound quality is to use a microphone. help you choose the right microphone for you. Here is a guide to help you choose the best microphones for singing.

Great Video Quality:

Video quality impacts user engagement. If you want your user engagement to be high, then you need to make sure that the video you produce is high quality. To ensure that you have a great resolution, you will need to invest in a camera and a video light.

These pieces of equipment will ensure that you have a video of high resolution. For beginners, you do not need to invest in high camera gear if you do not have the cash. You can use your phone to do the recording, given that it has a great camera quality.

However, you will need to ensure that you have a video light. If you do not have the money to invest in a video light, then you can use the natural light. However, the natural lighting isn’t always stable, and you might need to adjust yourself to get a great lighting angle. This is why we recommend you get an artificial lighting source.

Great Content:

Producing great content has to do with having a great content strategy. We have discussed this in our How To Optimize Your Music Channel article. So, you can check that out too.

Final Take:

It isn’t easy to make a living out of YouTube. It is going to take time, dedication, and hard work. However, if you can follow all the tips given to you above, you should be on your way to making a great living just by doing what you love. To be honest with you, it might take you a year before you start making a steady income from YouTube, depending on the monetization method.

Also, you need to be ready for criticism. Many people are going to criticize your work. So, you need to make sure that you are mentally prepared for that.

With that said, when you follow these tips, you should be on your way to be a full-time independent music artist on YouTube.

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