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November 11, 20228 mins read

Revenue checklist for emerging musicians

By Leesa

Money Money Money. Where can I find revenue?

We all know that the lack of financial support is one of the biggest challenges every emerging and even established musician will face. When you start from nothing, it’s incredibly hard to build. Revenue in the music industry doesn’t always come via traditional routes either. Unlike a part-time or full-time job where you go and work a number of hours and then get paid a fixed rate, musicians more often than not have inconsistent income streams. This makes it harder, but not impossible!

One of the most important things is to make sure you are covering all bases and not losing out on any potential revenue. You need to be totally across all of your financials if you want to be successful in the music industry.

Revenue Checklist for emerging musicians

We have created a revenue checklist, have a look through and see if you are missing any!

☑ Streaming Income

  • Every time you release music onto streaming platforms and people listen, this bolsters your royalties.
  • Make sure you are across what each platform offers in terms of dollars per stream. Find out where to collect.
  • If you have distributed via an online platform, find out whether they can collect these for you and distribute to your account. Many distribution platforms do this.

☑ Publishing Revenue

  • Publishing can be an incredible source of income for musicians. You can join a publishing house who will source opportunities for you, or you can submit to platforms like Vampr Publishing with no lock in contracts.
  • This can include syncs, songwriting sessions, collaborative songs.

☑ Performances Pay

  • This is a very obvious form of revenue for musicians. What is often overlooked is the pay versus the spend. When you accept an offer to perform anywhere, make sure that you are at least breaking even and not losing any money. The best way to do this is to build a budget and calculate all the expenses that the show will entail.
  • In your budget make sure you include; support act payment, sound engineer fee, venue hire fee, equipment hire if necessary, marketing fees, press fees, band member payments, travel costs and door person costs. There are certainly more things to include depending on the show, but these are the basics.
  • If the payment you are going to receive does not cover what you will spend and unless the opportunity is worth the financial loss – SAY NO!

☑ Performance Royalties

  • In certain countries, you can collect performance royalties for every public performance that you complete. Make sure that you identify the overarching body in your country, for example in Australia and New Zealand it is called APRA AAMCOS and you can submit your set lists to collect a sum quarterly. In the UK, this body is called PRS and similarly, you must claim these royalties.
  • This includes busking, festival performance, small venues, large venues, cover bands etc.

☑ Mechanical Royalties

  • Mechanical royalties are paid in relation to a song’s composition and are owed every time a copy of a musical composition is made.
  • Originally, these royalties were paid every time a song was mechanically reproduced as a CD or other physical medium.
  • With the rise of digital, mechanical royalties are now generated whenever a composition is streamed or downloaded on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes and Amazon.
  • You could be earning additional mechanical royalties on top of your existing royalty payments every time someone plays your song on Spotify.
  • Mechanical royalties are paid in relation to the composition of a song (rather than the sound recording), so when someone reproduces and releases your material as a cover version, you’re also owed mechanical royalties.
  • Most countries have their own mechanical right society and any mechanical royalties generated in that region are paid to the local society.
  • For example, in the US mechanical royalties are collected by Mechanical Licensing Collective (MLC) and Harry Fox Agency (HFA). While in the UK they’re processed by the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society (MCPS).

See more examples of societies below:

Australia – AMCOS (in partnership with APRA)
Belgium – SABAM
Brazil – UBC
Canada – CMRRA
France – SDRM (in partnership with SACEM)
Germany – GEMA
Mexico – SACM
Netherlands – STEMRA
Italy – SIAE
Japan – JASRAC
Portugal – SPA
Scandinavia – NCB
South Africa – CAPASSO
Spain – SGAE
Switzerland – SUISA

☑ Commissions

  • Sometimes, you will be asked to complete a certain project and you will get paid on commission for this. It may be 10% of the overall project earnings or something different.
  • This often acts as a contractor fee and means you have been paid and therefore do not retain any copyright claim to the works.
  • Make sure that what you are paid is worth your while! If you are performing on a track that you think will go viral, ask for more money, or better yet, a percentage of the royalties.

☑ Social Media Yield


  • There are two main ways YouTube can be monetized:

    • 1. Be a YouTube partner – earn revenue from audio and video.

      • To be a partner you need to be approved.
      • You can make money through ad revenue share and subscription revenue.
      • You need 1k subscribers and 4K public watch hours
      • To find out if you are eligible, go to your channel and hit the monetization button on the left.
      • Benefits: earn donations, earn from live streams – super chat and stickers, sell merch, earn from video advertising. You can also monetize your non music content.
    • 2. Collect distribution royalties by delivering releases through a distributor or record label.

      • Content ID needs to match your music, song or recording in UGC videos.
      • This will return to you in the form of copyright royalty.
      • Revenue flows back via label/distributor and then to you.
      • How it works: YouTube only grants content ID to the original owners. YouTube flags copyright and you get a content ID claim notification.
      • Benefits: You don’t have to manage this directly, your label or distributor does. Downside is you do not have full control and unless you have a good partner, you may not see the money as soon as it is available.
  • Make sure you apply for an Official Artist Channel. In order to be eligible:
      • You must own and operate artist channel.
      • Have at least 3 official releases delivered by a label.
      • Have no violations.


  • It has been statistically proven that TikTok views convert into Spotify streams.
  • Virality on TikTok has also led to record label signings and hit songs.
  • Building your following and honing your niche on TikTok is well worth it if you have the time to commit.


  • Facebook does have some monetization features including:
    • Fan subscriptions where you choose the monthly price, fans get exclusive access, content and benefits.
    • FB takes 30% cut + absorbs fee of apple and google.
    • This isn’t the greatest deal.
  • Facebook Stars

    • Allows you to monetize livestreams on Facebook.
    • Fans can buy and send virtual stars.
    • Facebook pays creators USD $0.01 for every star.
    • Go to Creator Studio, monetization to see if you are eligible.
    • Eligibility: need to be active for 90 days, proven authentic content.
  • Video monetization

    • Have 30k 1 minute views in the last 60 days.
    • Have 10k followers.
    • Be in available country and language.
    • Videos must be at least 1 minute long.


  • Instagram has a shopping feature that you can integrate into your profile.
  • This is a great way to show off your merchandise and let people purchase without leaving the app.
    • Monetize on Instagram while going live
      • Send fans to link to receive tips.
      • Remind people they can tip throughout.
      • Drive them to D2C store.
      • Purchase badges during a live video, making their comments more visible as they are marked with hearts.

☑ Merchandise Revenue

  • Having apparel, vinyl, CD’s and more is a great way to make money at shows and while you are not performing.
  • Have you ever been to a performance where the live show was just so unbelievably incredible that you want something to remember it by? Enter merchandise. This plays on nostalgia, people not wanting to forget the experience and commemorate it by spending money on something they can take home with them. Make sure you utilize this at your shows. Never show up empty handed if possible. Every dollar matters so make sure you leverage this. It is also a great way to go and meet and greet your audience after a show.
  • Ensure that you have a website with your merchandise all available online. Even when people cannot attend your shows, they may still want to support you and buying merch is a great way to do this. You can also encourage people to do this on your socials.

☑ Patreon Cash Flow

  • If you love making content and want another creative outlet that will pay the bills (hopefully!), platforms like Patreon are where you should go!
  • You can make tiered packages for your fans, each higher tier charging a bit more for something extra on your part. This could be a monthly merch package, a special snippet of your songwriting that no one else is privy to or a special message from you to your fans direct.
  • Patreon is a great way to get regularity going financially. You can have fans subscribe on a monthly basis and this can help bolster your budgeting for shows where you may not break even but they are still worth playing.

☑ Bandcamp Proceeds

  • Bandcamp is another great place to sell your music and merch.
  • Bandcamp has a “Bandcamp Friday” on the first Friday of every month and this is where they waive their revenue fees, meaning all of the money goes directly to the artist.
  • You can have full control of your Bandcamp and set whatever prices you like. But, at the same time, you have full control of your Bandcamp, which means you need to manage and maintain it. Don’t forget to send out orders as they come in!

☑ Email Marketing revenue

  • Email marketing is often overlooked by musicians.
  • This is a great way to build a large subscriber base and offer special deals, early bird tickets and insights on where the band is at in their journey.
  • The trick to this is keeping it regular so people know when to expect it. Also, hone in on the things that perform well and amend to suit your target audiences. These lists can be used in advertising too to grow your audience further with similar people.

☑ Grants

  • Throughout the pandemic, many more grants became available to bolster the music industry in its time of need.
  • Many bands relied on these grants for survival.
  • You can always look through what grants are available and see if any make sense for you or your career trajectory. Don’t be put off by the application – it is well worth it if you are successful!

☑ Awards

  • You don’t need to wait to get nominated for every award. You can nominate yourself or get someone else to nominate you!
  • Often the winners receive cash prizes or some sort of recording package.

☑ Donations

  • Many musicians are wary of accepting donations. This can often make people feel like they are charity. However, this can also be looked at as an important form of support.
  • People would not donate to you or your band if they did not believe in you or want you to succeed.
  • The best thing you can do is take their money and put it to good use, don’t waste it!
  • Crowdfunding is also an effective way to raise money for a particular goal.

☑ Advances

  • Be wary of advances as a form of revenue. They ultimately are just another word for a loan. You have to pay this money back. In this case, it is intrinsically important to have a comprehensive budget to determine whether or not this is a good risk to take.
  • You are often locked in for a certain time frame or until you recoup the advance, so you need to think ahead and whether or not this might jeopardise some future goals you have.

Revenue Wrap Up

Remember that there are so many working parts when it comes to revenue for emerging musicians. Don’t get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of places you can source revenue. Work through the checklist one step at a time and then take a breather!

Want to know more about how to manage yourself as a business? Vampr Academy has it all waiting for you. >> Try a 7 day free trial today!

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