Royalties and Touring: 2 Ways Musicians Can Make Money

Introduction: Understanding How Music Artists Make Money: Royalties and Touring

The world of music is a harmonious blend of creativity and commerce, where artists create  melodies that resonate with audiences worldwide. Behind the magic of a hit song or a sold-out concert, lies a complex web of financial intricacies that sustain the careers of these talented musicians. In this blog post “Royalties and Touring: 2 Ways Musicians Can Make Money“, we’ll delve into the financial mechanics of the music industry, exploring the two fundamental ways through which music artists generate income: Royalties and Touring.

Citing an array of iconic artists like Rita Ora, Zayn Malik, Ellie Goulding, Burna Boy, Two Door Cinema Club, Anne-Marie, and Lily Allen. These names don’t just grace concert stages and airwaves, They also bring to light the diverse revenue streams available to musicians. 

Beyond the spotlight and the applause, there is a complex dance between creative expression and financial viability that keeps these artists thriving. This Article aims to shed light on the essential financial assets that form the backbone of an artist’s income.

 We will unravel the distinction between performing and writer’s royalties, exploring the role of record labels, performing societies like PPL, and writer’s societies like PRS in collecting and distributing these earnings. Furthermore, we’ll journey into the dynamic realm of touring, tracing the trajectory from intimate pub venues to grand arenas like the 02 Arena, Madison square Garden etc. while also dissecting the financial intricacies that accompany these ventures.

So, whether you’re a budding artist seeking to understand the economic underpinnings of your craft or a curious music enthusiast eager to peek behind the curtains, join us as we unravel the financial secrets that allow music artists to turn their passion into profit.


 Royalties as Intangible Assets

The concept of assets for artists is not limited to physical properties like real estate or luxury car collections. Instead, it extends to an intangible yet highly valuable resource known as royalties. Think of royalties as the intellectual property equivalent of owning a piece of art, a patent, or even a trademark. These intangible assets are the lifeblood of an artist’s financial stability, representing the fruit of their creative labor and the key to sustainable income.

Royalties refer to the compensation an artist receives when their work is used or performed by others. Just as a landlord collects rent from tenants, musicians collect royalties when their compositions are played, performed, or reproduced. This compensation isn’t a mere token of appreciation; it’s a tangible acknowledgment of the artist’s contribution to the cultural and entertainment landscape.

In the world of finance, royalties hold a unique status as intangible assets. Much like a physical asset, such as a house, can be owned and rented out for regular income, a song’s royalties represent an ongoing stream of revenue. While you might not be able to touch or see these assets, their value is undeniable. Just as a house appreciates in value over time, a hit song can continue to generate income long after its initial release.

Consider this: a well-crafted song is a product of creativity, skill, and emotional investment. When you allow others to use that song – be it through radio airplay, streaming services, or live performances – you’re essentially renting out a piece of your artistic creation. In return, you’re entitled to a share of the financial gains generated by its use. This ongoing stream of payments adds up over time, making royalties a critical component of an artist’s financial portfolio.

In essence, royalties aren’t just passive earnings; they embody the artistic legacy and creative prowess of a musician. They reflect the notion that artistic expression isn’t limited to the moment of creation; it has the power to resonate and enrich lives long after it’s shared with the world. Just as a painter’s masterpiece can hang in a gallery for generations, a musician’s creation can continue to fill concert halls, playlists, and hearts for years to come.

As we delve further into the importance  of royalties, we’ll explore the dual dimensions of performing and writer’s royalties, deciphering how they contribute to an artist’s financial journey. We’ll unravel the complex network of record labels, performing societies, and publishers that facilitate the collection and distribution of these earnings. By the end of this exploration, you’ll have a deeper appreciation for the intangible treasures that underpin the financial success of music artists.

READ ALSO: Turning Your Passion into Profit: A Guide for Independent Musicians to Boost Their Music Business Earnings

Distinction between performing royalties and writer’s royalties

There are two distinct streams of music royalties: The performing royalties and writer’s royalties. Each stream represents a unique facet of an artist’s contribution to a song and plays a pivotal role in shaping their financial landscape.

Performing Royalties:

Performing royalties are the reward for the magic that happens on stage or in the recording studio. They encompass the moments when an artist’s voice resonates through speakers or their fingers dance across instruments. These royalties acknowledge the performers’ dedication, talent, and the energy they infuse into bringing a composition to life.

When you sign a record deal, performing royalties are often managed by the record label. Whether you’re signed with a major label or an indie one, their role includes ensuring that you receive your fair share for every radio play, concert performance, or streaming instance. Performing societies like PPL (in the UK), BMI, and ASCAP (in the US) act as intermediaries, collecting these royalties and distributing them to artists.

 It is an organized system of data collection, where musical contribution translates into a steady stream of income.

Writer’s Royalties:

Behind every great song are the unsung heroes: the songwriters. Writer’s royalties are a tribute to the creative minds who pen the lyrics, compose the melodies, and sculpt the emotional landscapes of music. Whether you’re scribbling verses in a quiet room or crafting hooks that resonate universally, your contributions deserve recognition – and compensation.

Writer’s royalties are typically collected through a publishing deal. These deals allow publishers to collect and manage royalties on behalf of songwriters. In the UK, the Performing Rights Society (PRS) is a key player in ensuring that songwriter’s royalties are properly accounted for. Similarly, other countries have their own societies dedicated to safeguarding the financial interests of songwriters.

Navigating the realms of both performing and writer’s royalties is crucial for any artist pursuing financial success. By understanding how these royalties function and how they are managed, artists can make informed decisions about their careers and ensure that they’re fairly compensated for their artistic endeavors. 


The Importance of Correct Royalty Registration

Imagine crafting a musical masterpiece that captivates hearts and souls, only to miss out on the rightful financial rewards. This scenario underscores the critical significance of correct royalty registration in the music industry. Just as a ship needs a precise course to reach its destination, artists must navigate the intricate waters of royalty collection to ensure their artistic labor translates into tangible income. This include the following;

Securing Your Creative Legacy: Proper royalty registration is akin to claiming ownership of your creative legacy. It is the process by which you assert your rights over your musical creations, ensuring that every note, lyric, and chord contributes to your financial prosperity. Think of it as placing a signature on a canvas; it signifies that you are the architect of the artistry, entitled to its rewards.

Navigating the Royalty Ecosystem: In the expansive realm of royalties, there exists a web of collecting societies, record labels, and publishers that act as custodians of your earnings. However, to access these earnings, your songs must be accurately registered within their systems. Picture these systems as interconnected highways leading to your financial destination – if a road is missing or incorrectly labeled, the journey becomes fraught with obstacles.

Maximizing Earnings and Opportunities: Correct royalty registration is the compass guiding artists towards maximizing their earnings and opportunities. It ensures that every performance, every radio play, and every streaming session is duly accounted for. By meticulously registering your works, you not only safeguard your income but also open doors to potential collaborations, sponsorships, and licensing deals.

The Role of Technology: In an age of digital innovation, technology serves as the wind in the sails of correct royalty registration. Online platforms and databases allow artists to efficiently register their works, track their usage, and monitor their earnings. Embracing these tools empowers artists to navigate the complex landscape with precision and confidence.

Financial Security and Artistic FreedomCorrect royalty registration isn’t merely a financial strategy; it is a means of asserting artistic freedom and securing financial stability. It ensures that your creative journey isn’t hindered by missed opportunities or unpaid dues. By registering your royalties accurately, you pave the way for a harmonious symphony where your artistry and income coalesce seamlessly.

In the subsequent sections, we’ll delve deeper into the multifaceted world of touring income, unraveling the challenges and triumphs of taking your artistry from medium scale venues to grand stages. As we journey through demands of touring, remember that the foundation of financial success rests upon correct royalty registration that will in turn convert your artistic expression into a resonating financial return.


Touring Income: From Small Venues to Arenas (Part B)

How To Make Money As An Independent Artist?

  • We will be discussing touring, as a significant income stream for artists. 
  • Personal account of artists progressing from small pub venues to large arenas like the O2. 
  • Acknowledgment of the challenging nature of touring and also highlighting the demanding daily schedule.

The spotlight, the roar of the crowd, the rush of adrenaline – touring offers music artists a thrilling odyssey that brings their music to life in a tangible, unforgettable way. From intimate pub stages to grand arenas, the journey of touring income is a compelling chapter in the financial playbook of a musician’s career.

Ascending the Stages (little beginnings): Imagine the humble beginnings, where an artist takes the stage at a local pub, sharing their melodies with a devoted few. These small venue performances, while intimate, mark the foundation of a transformative journey. The earnings from such gigs are often modest, but they plant the seeds for greater opportunities.

The Road to Arenas (growth): As an artist’s popularity and fan base grow, so does their potential for earning through touring. The ascent from small venues to grand arenas is a testament to the dedication, talent, and perseverance of musicians. The energy of a stadium crowd, the spectacle of a meticulously crafted stage – these are the stages where touring income takes on a whole new dimension.

The Balance of Cost and Revenue: The path to arenas is not without its challenges. Touring requires meticulous financial management. The grander the production, the greater the cost. It is a delicate balance between creating a captivating show and ensuring that expenses don’t overshadow the revenue. The lure of large venues is matched by the need to keep a watchful eye on the bottom line and overall budget cost.

Festival  and Concert Gigs: Among the milestones of touring income are the vibrant landscapes of festivals. Performing at festivals offers a unique advantage. This includes existing stages and reduced production costs that translates to potentially higher earnings for artists. The vibrant atmosphere, the diverse audience, and the possibility of multiple festival appearances can significantly contribute to an artist’s financial journey.

Endorsement (Income Beyond the Stage): Promo Work and paid Gigs:  touring is not solely about stage performances with ticket sales. The industry also involves what is known as promo work – like, appearances on TV shows, radio events, and promotional campaigns. While these opportunities may not always come with a monetary reward, they offer exposure and the chance to connect with a wider audience. It is a reminder that touring income isn’t solely about the immediate financial gain, but also about fostering a long-lasting fan base and expanding artistic horizons.

In the next sections, we’ll delve even further into touring, identifying techniques for increasing revenue while being financially responsible.


Maximizing Touring Profits

  • We will Discuss the financial aspects of touring, emphasizing the need for careful cost management.
  • Insight into the financial benefits of participating in a run of festivals and shows.

Behind the exhilarating curtain of stage lights and thunderous applause lies a complex financial dance that determines the success of a music artist’s touring endeavors. Maximizing touring profits requires an astute understanding of the delicate balance between artistic ambition and fiscal responsibility. 

The Cost-Conscious Showmanship: Touring is a spectacle, a visual and auditory feast that enthralls audiences. However, every captivating show comes with a price tag. Theatrics, lighting, sound engineering, and stage setups contribute to the overall production cost. The key is to create a mesmerizing experience that resonates with fans while maintaining a keen eye on cost management. By striking this balance, artists ensure that the financial investment aligns harmoniously with the revenue generated.

Strategic Geographic Routing: The geography of touring plays a crucial role in determining the financial outcome. Optimal routing reduces travel costs, minimizing the expense of moving equipment and personnel between locations. By carefully planning tour stops in proximity and adhering to efficient travel routes, artists can maximize their earnings by mitigating logistical expenses.

Fan Engagement and Merchandise Magic: Engaging with fans goes beyond the stage. Smart artists leverage their touring income through merchandise sales. High-quality, creatively designed merchandise not only enhances the fan experience but also serves as an additional revenue stream. T-shirts, posters, and other memorabilia become cherished mementos that fans willingly purchase, contributing to an artist’s touring profitability.

Negotiating Sponsorships and Licensing: As an artist’s profile grows, so does the potential for sponsorships and licensing opportunities. Collaborating with brands, merchandise partners, or local businesses can lead to financial support that cushions touring expenses. Furthermore, licensing music for commercials, films, or other media projects can provide a steady stream of additional income.

In the upcoming sections, we will explore the nuances of unpaid performances and paid promotional work within the context of touring.  The financial dynamics of these aspects will equip artists with the knowledge needed to navigate the challenges and opportunities that contribute to a successful touring career.

Unpaid vs. Paid Performing Work

  • Introduction of promotional work in the music industry, differentiating between paid and unpaid performances.
  • Importance of inquiring about fees and offsetting costs when engaging in unpaid performing work
  • Examples of promo work, such as TV appearances on shows like Jonathan Ross or Graham Norton, and radio show festivals.

Negotiating Value: While some performing work may not come with a guaranteed monetary fee, that doesn’t mean artists should accept opportunities without careful consideration. It’s essential to negotiate the terms and assess the potential benefits. In some cases, even unpaid appearances can offer perks like coverage of travel and accommodation expenses, or exposure to a particularly relevant and influential audience.

Calculating Return on Investment (ROI): When weighing unpaid performing work against paid engagements, artists should calculate their ROI beyond just the immediate financial gain. Consider the exposure, networking opportunities, and potential fan growth that can result from a well-executed promo appearance. A strategic approach to unpaid opportunities can lead to future financial gains that far exceed the initial investment of time and effort.

Considering Costs for Profitable Gigs

  • Reminder to artists about considering costs alongside performance fees for local and international shows.
  • Highlighting the significance of profit margins after accounting for expenses.
  • Encouragement for artists to factor in both fees and costs to make informed decisions.

The spotlight often shines on the euphoria of performances, but behind the scenes lies a crucial aspect that can make or break an artist’s financial success: cost management. For musicians embarking on tours and gigs, understanding and carefully considering costs is essential for ensuring that each performance contributes to a profitable journey.

Travel Efficiency and Logistics: Touring involves travel, and every journey incurs costs. The geography of touring plays a pivotal role in financial success. Artists who strategically route their tour stops in proximity can minimize travel expenses, maximizing earnings by reducing logistical costs. Efficient travel plans also mean more time on stage and less time on the road.

Strategic Decisions for Long-Term Success: Making informed decisions about which gigs to accept and which to pass on is pivotal for long-term financial success. While the allure of a high-paying gig can be tempting, artists must consider not only the immediate financial gain but also the impact on their overall touring budget and profitability.


Royalties transform artistic expressions into valuable intellectual property. artists are compensated for the magic they produce through performing and writing royalties.

Touring, the heartbeat of a musician’s journey, brings their artistry to life in a tangible and electrifying way. From humble beginnings at intimate pub venues to the grandeur of arena stages, touring income is both an evidence to hard work and a successful  performance. While royalties and touring stand as separate movements, they form an arrangement of financial and artistic achievement.

Tandu Emmanuel

Tandu is a Blogger, PR, Writer, Web Designer & Digital creator. Focus on promoting Educative content in AFRICA and the world at large. He is also a passionate expert in the world of profitable career pursuit.

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