musicmoney.gifWhether or not you’re in it for the money, making a few bucks with your music is a great feeling. I’ve been writing songs most of my life, and recording for the better part of the last decade. And while I’m not a professional, I’ve still earned enough over the years to warrant paying taxes as a musician and amateur recording engineer.

Inspired by Darren’s “top 5 ” project, I thought I’d share a few of the ways I’ve made money with our favorite hobby. [UPDATE: Below, I overlooked the possibility of winning money in song contests.]

In descending order of which has made me the most:

1. I sell CDs, both online and at shows: The industry’s changing, but for the time being at least, this tried and true approach is the most profitable for me. As I’m sure is the norm, I sell more CDs at live gigs than via my web site. Still, the online CD sales of Waking Up In August are more than enough to justify the album’s web site. And if you’re debating whether to use a service like CDBaby: I sell far more CDs via my own web site, but enough folks find my album via CDBaby to justify using both approaches.

2. I’ve written and recorded songs on spec: Most recently, last month a lady I’ve never met hired me to write a song about her and her fiance. (Out of respect for her privacy, I haven’t put the song online. But if you’d like more details, contact me.) It was a challenge: Writing a personal song about experiences I’ve never had was enlightening, to say the least. But I learned a lot through the process, so I can charge more next time.

Check out Tailored Music if the idea of writing songs for others appeals to you.

3. I’ve recorded and mixed tunes for other people: I have a decent basement studio, so my musician friends come to me when they want to record their own songs. One such friend commented after a session that my T3 probably cost more than his entire collection of instruments, and I realized I should be charging for the service.

4. I sell MP3s online: I offer Waking Up In August in multiple formats on the web site, but the album is also available on iTunes, and somewhat to my surprise, people buy it there! Though adding my own experience to the recent body of evidence that albums may be dead: People buy Brand New Car by itself much more often than they buy the complete album. Apparantly, that song is the “single.”

5. I write about music: Hometracked doesn’t make me a fortune. Really just enough to cover my hosting fees. (And while I could bury the site in ads to make a few more dollars, one of the reasons I started Hometracked was my frustration with the sea of affiliate marketing-ridden home recording sites telling me what to buy, rather than how to use what I already have.) But I enjoy writing, and most of the links I post are articles and web forums I’d be reading anyway. So it’s a natural extension of the hobby.

I’m curious: Have you found any novel ways to earn a few dollars with your music, or your home recording skills?

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