How to Make Money with Music in New York

A trio of musicians in front of a wall of graffiti

How to Make Money with Music in New York

New York offers an amazing amount of opportunities for you to make money as a musician–and everyone else that’s in the city trying to make a buck, too. As one of the biggest entertainment hubs in the world, this is where music professionals come to test their worth while also putting food on the table. But as someone that’s new to the city–and the industry–trying to figure out how to make money with music in New York City can get pretty stressful.

It requires a combination of talent, dedication, and strategic planning–and maybe having an uncle in high places would help too. But without those familial ties, it’s going to be really competitive if you want to thrive, or even survive at times. So it’s time to strap in, open your mind, and be available to all the different options at your disposal.

How to Make Money with Music in New York

NYC offers numerous opportunities for musicians to generate income. Here are several ways to make money with music in the city:

  • Performances
  • Education
  • Songwriting
  • Online Sources
  • Merch Sales/Crowdfunding


For musicians looking to gain exposure and make some cash, playing gigs at local venues, clubs, bars, and music festivals is a great option in NYC’s thriving music scene. There are plenty of opportunities to showcase your talents and connect with audiences, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out.

If you’re looking to take things to the next level, consider organizing your own shows or events, and collaborating with other musicians to create something truly special. Busking or street performing could also be the solution to help make ends meet. With the right permits and a prime great location, you can showcase your talents and earn some extra cash through tips from people passing by.

Another way to make some extra cash as a musician–while also expanding your network–is through session work. As a session musician, backup vocalist, or backing instrument player, you can collaborate with other artists and contribute to specific projects like studio recordings, live performances, and studio sessions.

Not only will session work allow you to showcase your talent, but it can also help get your name out there to other music professionals, potentially opening up doors for future opportunities. While you may be dreaming about seeing your name in lights, this work will help pay the bills.


For those who are musically inclined and have a passion for teaching, consider offering music lessons as a way to earn a living. Not only is it a fulfilling experience to share your knowledge with aspiring musicians, but there is also a growing demand for quality instruction in the city.

Whether you specialize in teaching an instrument, vocals, or music production, there are always eager students looking to improve their skills. With the convenience of online platforms and the ability to offer lessons from the comfort of your own home, teaching music has never been more accessible. Plus, being able to do something you love while earning a paycheck is a win-win situation!


There are a few different ways to make money from songwriting, even if you’re not the one performing. Submitting your work to music libraries is a great way to get your songs licensed for use in film, television, and other media. There are many different music libraries that accept submissions from independent artists–just make sure to follow their submission guidelines carefully.

Submitting to sync licensing companies is another potential money-making avenue for songwriters. Sync licensing companies are businesses that specialize in licensing music for film, television, and other media. They often have relationships with music supervisors and other music business professionals, so they can be a great way to get your music heard.

When your songs are performed live, you earn performance royalties–paid by the venue or event organizer to the performing rights organizations (PROs) like ASCAP and BMI. The PROs then distribute the royalties to the songwriters. When your songs are recorded and sold, you earn mechanical royalties.

These royalties are paid by the record label to the publisher (who is usually the songwriter or their music publisher). The publisher then distributes the royalties to the songwriters. When your songs are used in film, television, advertising, video games, or other media, you can earn sync licensing fees. These fees are paid by the company using your song to the publisher, who then distributes the fees to the songwriters.

Streaming and Online Distribution

Another way to make money from your music is by distributing it on streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube. While the revenue you earn from each stream of music sales may not be substantial, the power of consistency can help you add up those earnings over time.

You can also create engaging content on platforms like Instagram and TikTok (and your YouTube channel for that matter) to make some additional revenue streams. By monetizing your content through ad revenue, sponsorships, and affiliate marketing, you can further increase your income as a musician.

Merch Sales/Crowdfunding

Selling merchandise related to your music is an age-old strategy that musicians have been using for years. It’s a great way to earn money and promote your brand at the same time. You can sell T-shirts, posters, stickers, and more, both at your live music shows and online.

If you’re looking for a bigger financial boost, crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Patreon can be incredibly helpful. These platforms allow you to gather support from your fans and offer rewards in return for their contributions. However, it’s important to be mindful of how often you ask for financial help, as overuse of this option can potentially alienate your audience.

As an artist, making money with music in NYC often requires a multifaceted approach. Diversify your income streams, maintain a strong online and offline presence, and continuously refine your skills to increase your earning potential. If you can also work on the other side of the glass so to speak, there are other opportunities for audio engineers and music producers as well.

How to Make Money with Music in New York as an Audio Engineer Music Producer

Two people at a mixing board while someone sings in the studio to illustrate Best Way to Break Into the Los Angeles Music IndustryMaking a living as an up-and-coming audio engineer or music producer in New York can be a tough task, but it’s not impossible. To be successful, you must leverage your skills, build a strong network, and offer valuable services to musicians, artists, and the larger entertainment industry.

It’s no different from pursuing the life of a musician–it requires persistence and a willingness to put in the work. Although it may be challenging, being a skilled audio engineer or producer can be rewarding, both professionally and financially. Keep honing your craft and pushing yourself to be the best audio engineer or music producer that you can be, and the possibilities are endless.

And if you want to make yourself more marketable as a musician, or level up your audio engineering skills, Recording Connection offers programs that will hone your skills, open up networking possibilities, and give you practical experience so sought after in the industry today.

You will be placed inside a professional studio, where your mentor–an experienced engineer or producer–will show you how today’s music is made. Because these studios are being used in the real world, you’ll be learning as your mentors work with the next big thing and superstars alike.

This is New York City after all, where the biggest names in the music industry play two, three, or four nights a week while on tour. And during that time, they often need studio time to work on their sets or record new music. And you could be there watching–or even helping–it happen and jump-start your music career.

You just can’t get that experience in a classroom environment. Get started here if you’d like to know more about our programs.

How to Make the Most of Your Audio Engineering Skills

First things first: make sure your work is tight. Then develop a portfolio to present to potential clients, employers, and other industry professionals. Don’t include anything less than spectacular, but do include a variety of sounds, genres, and vibes. Include examples of mixing, producing, recording, and any other services you offer.

In the meantime, rent studio space or set up your own home studio to offer recording and mixing services to musicians. This is where the saying “spend money to make money” really comes into play. Quality production is in high demand, and NYC’s music scene provides ample opportunities. Building successful working relationships can lead to referrals and repeat business.

Connect with advertising agencies, media production companies, and content creators who may need audio services for commercials, videos, podcasts, and more. You can also use online platforms to offer remote mixing and mastering services to clients beyond NYC. Websites and platforms like SoundBetter can help you connect with potential clients worldwide.

There are other opportunities once you step out of the studio as well. Offer to Work as a live sound engineer for concerts, events, and performances. NYC hosts numerous live events, and skilled sound engineers are always in demand. You can add to your portfolio, make more connections, and show your versatility.

Similar to musicians and songwriters, submit your work for licensing with libraries and syncing companies to continue to make money. The royalties may not be much at the start, but as your name grows, so will those checks. And don’t forget to build up those social media platform profiles–those ad revenue streams can add up.

Starting out as a young audio engineer or music producer in New York may require some initial hustle, but by consistently delivering high-quality work and building a reputation for professionalism, you can establish yourself in this competitive field and start generating a steady income.

Get your music production certification and build your music production and audio engineering skills by learning with an industry professional near you.