Making Passive Income with Music

It’s pretty surprising, a lot of singers, producers, songwriters, rappers, music artists in general on YouTube are missing out on making passive income with their music. I certainly missed out for over 3 years of passive income with some old song covers, simply because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing.

To start off, I am considered an independent artist. I am unsigned. I’ve never been part of a record label. I don’t have a music manager. I do everything myself, pretty much. Sometimes, I collab with or hire producers to work on a track. They are not part of any record label either. So if I want to monetize my music, it’s all up to me. Same goes for the marketing and whatnot.

Back in 2017, I released a video on YouTube with my song cover Oppa (originally called Nuna and performed by the artist Owol). It received a few thousand views over time, but the video was also claimed by Genie Music. When a video is claimed by the Content ID system on YouTube because of the music you are using, then there are a couple options that the copyright owner has. They can either share the revenue of the video, or they can claim all the revenue for themselves. Unfortunately, they would not split the revenue. The video has over 300K views, but I have not made a single penny from it. (Same with all the videos that people repost with my music.)

For a while, I couldn’t understand how artists on YouTube were making money. Some would have their artist name in the claim, and I didn’t know how that was possible. So clearly, they knew something I didn’t.

Eventually, I went down the rabbit hole during the pandemic and realized that I too could make money with my music. Now, I personally don’t mess with the Content ID system. You can find ways to do this. I’ve tried to monetize my Oppa cover with a certain company through the Content ID system, but it didn’t seem successful, and I have still not earned a penny this way.

In the US, you are able to cover a song and profit from it, so long as you obtain a license and distribute a percentage of the royalties to the original copyright owners. That means, you can post your music onto Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, etc. and earn a significant part of the streaming revenue. YouTube is more tricky because of their current system and how they require a different kind of license. So instead of focusing on monetizing on YouTube directly, I focused my efforts on getting my music out on other platforms.

Sadly, many new unsigned artists are completely unaware that they can even do this. Some even think that it’s morally wrong to make money this way. Why? You’re putting in the time and effort to do this, and you are the one driving up the views. Furthermore, you’re not stealing from the original producers by doing this. You are actually contributing to their bottomline by putting out your works and returning them a portion of the royalties.

You’d be surprised. There are some big YouTube music artists who simply don’t know that they can monetize their music, and they pretty much make nothing. Also, by just posting on YouTube, someone is going to benefit from the system anyway. So, why not the cover artists? Why not you?

The amount you make in royalties varies from month to month. I’ve never done any paid advertising for my song covers, so it’s pretty much all organic and word-of-mouth. Some months, I make more, and I’m am happily surprised.

Now that I’ve stepped into the world of making money through royalties, I cannot look back. It’s such a relief to know that I can earn income whether I’m actively working or not. And on top of that, the most important part, I can focus on the things that matter to me. So if I want to work on an album, I can. If I want to focus on mental or physical health, I can. If I want to help out somebody and I do not earn any money from it, I can. It’s pretty much life on my own terms.

I’m thinking about releasing a paid product, such as a series of videos, explaining how I was able to make passive income through music. It would be designed for beginners or new unsigned artists who want to produce music (showing tips using GarageBand) and monetize it using Spotify. If anyone would be interested in this or anything related, let me know. I personally wish that something like this existed years ago when I first started off. It seems like a lot of music artists on YouTube either 1) don’t really talk about this or 2) are unaware that this is even possible.

I am in the process of releasing a new song cover onto streaming services this month. And soon, I will be posting another song cover as well. I don’t know how much they’ll end up making. I might consider posting ads just as an experiment. But pretty much, once I post, it’s automated (the streaming, the payments, etc.).

I think monetizing music on YouTube alone is dead, as the platform has changed quite a bit from how it used to be. I still post on YouTube, but as I’ve mentioned earlier, I have not received a penny from them so far. It will probably be a while before I see any money, and it will probably be significantly less than what I’m earning outside of YouTube.

I also don’t own a big channel. I have less than 2K subscribers (at of 9/15/2021), and a lot of my newer videos take a while to each reach 100 views. Still, I am earning passive income in other ways. So certainly if I could pull this off, you could as well.

It’s not about “hard work”, either. It’s about “smart work”. I can tell you, there are probably much more talented cover artists out on there on YouTube. But, talent alone does not earn you money. You have to be resourceful in order to make passive income. There’s a reason why so many people do not earn it. And, I’m not gonna lie to you and say that it’s hard work. It’s not. Some people earn more than others, and it could be simply luck. I have definitely benefited from luck. But also, it takes a bit of experimenting to see what actually works.

If anyone has a specific question about producing music and monetizing/releasing song covers, feel free to hit me up using the Contact form. I might post an answer in a future blog post, video, or use it as feedback for creating this mini course.

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