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How Can Songwriters Earn Money Without A Recording Contract?

Songwriting comes naturally to some people. They hear the melodies and the lyrics fall into place, and after a lot of hard work and frustration, they come out of the other side with an amazing song. But what are you supposed to do with your songs once you have written them?

A lot of people don’t take advantage of their incredible songwriting talent because they don’t know where to start. They don’t think that they have what it takes to be a superstar, so they give up. But you don’t need to be Adele to make a career out of songwriting because there are all sorts of ways that you can make money from your talent. These are some of the ways that songwriters can sell their songs without signing a record deal.  

Record Them Yourself 

The most obvious thing to do is to record the songs yourself and sell them. With a half-decent computer and a good microphone, you can make a good quality recording of your songs and start distributing them online. A lot of people assume that you need a record deal to sell music online on platforms like iTunes or Spotify but that’s not the case at all. Some great services will help you get your music onto streaming platforms and promote it, for a small fee. You never know, you could get lucky and end up with a huge hit. Even if that doesn’t happen, you’ll still be earning money every month off the back of your songs. 

Play Live Shows 

Playing live shows is the other obvious way to earn money as a songwriter. You can start with open mic nights to make a name for yourself and hopefully, you’ll soon start getting paid gigs. As long as you invest in a good mic so the sound quality is perfect and you put on a good show, you will start building a following. When you start filling venues, you’ll be offered bigger gigs with a higher paycheck at the end. Again, you probably won’t become a millionaire but you’d be surprised how much you can earn just doing gigs around your local area. 

Write Wedding Songs 

Personalized weddings are becoming more and more popular and many people want their own songs for the first dance. The thing is, most people aren’t songwriters so they can’t come up with anything good. If you are looking for new opportunities, get in touch with some wedding planners and let them know you are a songwriter and you can write personalized songs if they have any clients that want them. You can charge a good amount for this because you are writing and recording a completely personal song. 

Contact Film Makers 

Films need music, and sometimes, original music is best. You’re probably not going to get a commission from Steven Spielberg but there are plenty of new filmmakers out there that would be interested. People that are just starting out and trying to make films on a tiny budget can’t afford to buy the rights to popular songs. But they may have a bit of money for an original song. If the film does well, your song gets a lot of exposure, so this is definitely one to consider. Just make sure that you don’t charge too much and price people out because you are targeting people that are at the beginning of their career. 

Do Session Work 

Many musicians get their start as session musicians before making a name for themselves. These days, it’s easier than ever because there are some great online platforms where you can advertise yourself and find work. Sites like AirGigs let you upload a sample so people can hear you, and then they can commission you to sing backup vocals, write original songs, or even do voiceover work. If you make a name for yourself, you can earn some good money. However, you do need high-quality recording equipment if you are going to submit work for people on this site. 

The other big benefit of doing session work is that it gives you an opportunity to network. If you work with somebody and they like you, they will probably work with you again in the future. They’ll also tell other musicians about you and more commissions will come your way. 

The difficult part of being a session player is that you have to be diverse in all types of music…funk, jazz, house, rock, rap, etc… If you can cover many genres, put yourself out there!

You don’t have to be a superstar with a recording contract to make money from your songwriting skills. A combination of these options is more than enough to earn a living. 

Edel Alon
Edel Alon
Edel-Ryan Alon is a starving musician, failed artist, connoisseur of fine foods, aspiring entrepreneur, husband, father of two, geek by day, cook by night, and an all around great guy.


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