When Will I Start Making Real Money?

money© 2011 Vinny Ribas

It’s one thing to be a working musician, and a completely different thing to actually make money at it. So when does a musician actually start turning a profit? Here are 12 milestones to work towards:


  1. When your gigs cover all expenses, including gas, rehearsal, lessons, equipment, accessories (strings etc), and there is still money left over (profit).
  2. When you have amassed a large enough physical mailing list/fan base to fill seats in venues. The more people you draw to the venue, the more you can get paid.
  3. When you have amassed a large enough mailing list/fan base such that he can pre-sell CDs and merchandise.
  4. When you have created a demand for your recorded music and videos. That means that you can release more music, alternative renditions of your music, karaoke tracks of your music and maybe even sheet music.
  5. When you have enough true, or ‘super’ fans that they will buy every CD, piece of merchandise, download etc. that you release, right when you make it available.
  6. When you release your 2nd and 3rd CDs. This is because most artists try to make enough money from the sales of their first CD to recoup their production costs. The smart artist takes all of that income and invests it into a 2nd CD. Now he has 2 products to sell, which is often as easy as selling one. The difference is that one of them is pure profit. When the costs of the 2nd CD are recouped, and a third CD recorded with that money, you how have 2 almost purely profit products.
  7. When you license your music to film and TV. This can only happen if:
    1. The songs are appropriate
    2. The recording is master quality
    3. You have someone pitching the songs for you, or you develop the appropriate relationships yourself.
  8. When you develop a large enough YouTube following (your own channel) that YouTube will share the advertising revenues from the ads they place on your pages. You also need to know how to successfully transform those fans into paying customers.
  9. When you take advantage of technology to reach your fans how they prefer to be reached. You also give every potential fan the opportunity to hear and buy your music because your music is where they discover new music.
  10. When your have created a demand for your live performances and your calendar is full. That is when you can bump your price and play bigger and higher-paying venues.
  11. When you learn to and succeed in getting reviews on popular music blogs (and the reviews are positive). This can increase your fan base dramatically and almost instantly.
  12. When you learn to promote your songs to radio worldwide, on both terrestrial and internet stations. This includes the major internet stations like Pandora, Spotify etc., as well as smaller ones.

The most successful artists are those who have taken advantage of most, if not all of these opportunities![/private_freebie]

About The Author

Vinny Ribas

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, an artist management, consulting and training company. The company also hosts networking and educational events and has published an app that connects people to the Nashville Music Industry. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, artist manager, booking agent, songwriter, studio owner, producer and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He has also coached over 1000 artists and songwriters. He is a sought after speaker and has authored over 400 music industry articles. Vinny is also the CEO of Top 4M Entertainment, an independent film and television production company.