Remember the good old days when the entire fate of your music career depended on a run-in with bigwig music execs, an album recording session in a big-time studio, and the sale of CDs at the local Wal-Mart? We don’t remember, either. It doesn’t matter if you’re Taylor Swift or that guy Taylor who plays guitar in his garage down the street—financial success in the age of the internet is more about digital marketing strategy and exposure than being “discovered” as a big-time talent.

If you’re going to make money with your musical passions, you need to have an understanding of how musicians survive in today’s digital landscape. In the first part of a three-part series, the Nashville music production team at Nashville Demo Factory will take a look at some general tips for how to make money and increase your exposure as a musician so you can find short-term and long-term success.

Perform as much as you can.

There’s so much happening on the internet these days—especially when it comes to music. Apple Music and Spotify each have 30+ million songs in their music catalogs, and YouTube is a hotbed for music as well (more on this later). If you’re just getting started and want to get your name out there, you can’t depend on web surfers to stumble across your musical needle in a haystack—you need to perform in your local area as much as possible to familiarize the general public with your name and your music.

There’s nothing like some good old word of mouth—especially when the word is your music and the mouth is your mouth. Get out there and show people how talented you are—if they like your music, they might just search for you on their favorite music streaming platform and share the music with their friends!

We get it—it’s not always lucrative to travel around and play shows for small crowds. Oftentimes, you’ll lose money for years on live performances. However, performing helps you build up a steady following that will benefit you (and your wallet) down the road.

Stay active on social media.

I know we just told you to get out into the real world because the internet is saturated with up-and-coming musicians like yourself. However, if people can’t find you on the internet, you’re not going to be a profitable music in this day and age. Having a strong social media presence is crucial for your professional success as a musician, and there are plenty of ways you can use social media to your advantage.

First off, get accounts on any and all major music platforms, like Bandcamp, Soundcloud, and YouTube. These will be excellent places for you to share your demos, professional recordings, and live performances—and with YouTube specifically, you’ll be able to get your face out there through video updates, concert footage, and even music videos. When people ask about your music, you can do more than tell them about it—you can text or DM them a link so they can check it out for themselves!

Practice business like you practice music.

All of those guitar scales, vocal warmups, and song reps are the reason you’re a talented musician today. Your business acumen as a musician works in the same way—after all, it takes a lot of practice, experimentation, and mistakes (yes, mistakes) before the business end of your music business is impactful, engaging, and profitable. You must put in the time and the effort to make yourself a desirable live performer, recording artist, and/or YouTube star—and that means you’re going to have to work hard to make your website and social media channels visible, to make yourself marketable to bars and concert venues, and to make yourself a well-known musician in real life and virtual life. That’s what it takes to be a truly successful musician in today’s technologically driven world.

That’s it for Part 1 of our series on how to make money as a musician! Stick around for Part 2, and check out our other blog posts in the meantime!