Like many people, I play music by ears and with no theoretical knowledge. I was in bands since now more than 12 years, played drums most of the times. I do play guitar/bass/keyboard (my level allows me to express myself), and what is for sure is that when I stay home I can spend 10-12 hours in a raw playing, recording melodies, I plug guitar, bass and keyboard to my mac, I also own a e-drums to record, and I have such a fun that I'm not sure to qualify it as "fun" it's much more.

My question : what would be the "modern", or common way to build a musical career ? I know I have a lot to learn (in terms of recording, mixing etc..) but what options are possible ? play as a musician in studios to record for artists ? do my own albums ? what are the options ?

Should I upload my music in something like soundcloud or some new online platforms ? How to start ?

My stuff is blues, rock'n'roll, punk rock, and foo fighters (yes, it's a special type of music that for me it's the product of three first styles I put in my list). I want to do it for living, and quit my job as a software developer.

Thank you.

  • 2
    Well, I spent most of my life as a professional musician, even getting a doctorate in performance, switched to software engineering and instantly made twice as much (and a few years later, by now, close to four times as much)… That doesn’t answer your question though, and I intend to write a “real answer” later. Jan 22, 2022 at 21:56
  • Do you actually hate software development? would working as a part-time SW developer be an option? A life where part-time SW development provides you the money and freedom to explore music seriously may be more achievable, at least initially, than fully supporting yourself from your own musical creativity. Jan 22, 2022 at 22:41
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    A pro musician I used to talk to online told me that, if you're playing oldies in the club, you're not in the music business, you're in the alcohol business. Similarly, if you are a music pastor, playing at the beginning of a service, you aren't in the music business. Look at the number of players who are doing music instruction and gear reviews on YouTube; they're in the social media business, not the music business. But they are all making a living doing music. Jan 23, 2022 at 0:40
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    Standard answer is to go to Nashville. Find a hotel, and order a pizza to be delivered. If the pizza delivery person can play your instrument better than you can, go home.
    – PeteCon
    Jan 23, 2022 at 4:52
  • 1
    You will have a life of poverty like 90% of artist in the world today.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jan 23, 2022 at 17:18

3 Answers 3


Pretty much every YouTube musician/composer I saw who made the switch to making music their full-time career was either a video game music composer (e.g. Waterflame) or used Patreon to get that full-time career-level money stream (e.g. Jonny Atma of GaMetal fame). For the former case, I don't know how much uploading to sites like Soundcloud or Bandcamp would help you get your foot in the door, so to speak. You probably still have to apply for job applications for video game music composers or, at the very least, get your music in an online game or several for free (e.g. participating in hackathons). You will probably never get enough money from YouTube revenue alone to quit your day job.

Sheet Music Plus does host SMP Press, which lets you sell your sheet music through them, but I have no clue whether anyone who sells through them got to make music their full-time career.

Regardless, you gotta market hard (to the point that starting your part-time music career earlier likely gives you an edge). Releasing your music to multiple websites is probably a good idea. Make sure to actually fill in the descriptions of your YouTube videos (this is one of the most common places to find the musician's website, Patreon link, music file download link, tabs, the Bandcamp link of the song the video has, etc. from my experience). Making a Facebook and a Twitter account probably also helps, but make sure to keep updating your feed in both of them or your fans will stop visiting whichever website you haven't made updates in.

You get additional cred if you're also a member of a band, even a former member. (I've seen musicians in bands, such as Christian Muenzner, also have solo Bandcamp accounts, and one of my former project managers is promoted on the Bandcamp page of the (probably little-known) metal band "Every Hour Kills" as "ex-Divinity".)

The heavy implication I'm getting is that, if you publish music solely online and don't play physically in bands or buildings, you'll have to be prepared for a part-time music career for years, if not the rest of your life. As far as I can tell, anecdotes like LittleVMills/Little V's "I'd really like to move out of my grandparents basement (yes you read that right). Gigs are drying up locally and my only real stable form of income is teaching which barely pays the rent and bills." (found on his Patreon page) or worse are commonplace.

  • I have been on sound cloud, YouTube and SMP for about 3 months now yet to make a cent. I teach as well but the moment I finish my IT degree I'm never touching a piece of music again. I don't mind a hustle but trying to get paid with music just feels like smashing your head against a rock.
    – Neil Meyer
    Jan 23, 2022 at 17:24

Do whatever you CAN do musically. When you find you've got something marketable, that could bring in a living wage if you were only unrestricted by your day job... stop kidding yourself. Sorry.

But feel free to prove me wrong!


There are thousands of options. All of them will be more or less difficult depending on how good you are at making music and how good your performance is. I am concentrated on developing my skills in both things: make better music and make a better performance so one day both will be so good that I will be able to choose one of those paths that life will bring me. The better I am the more opportunities will present to me. So instead of thinking about which path to follow in music, I am 100% concentrated to be the best I can be. If one day I am exceptionally good at something people will hire/pay me. Not always but there is certain relation to getting what you deserve. Do you deserve to be paid?. What do you offer to society ?.

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