How To Make Money As A Musician In 2023

Ways To Make Money As A Musician In 2023

1. Sell Music and Merch Online
2. Streaming (Spotify, Apple Music, etc) and Social Media (when others use your music in their videos)
3. Concerts
4. Patreon
5. Crowdfunding (Kickstarter, IndieGogo, GoFundMe)
6. Live Streaming
7. YouTube Monetization
8. Twitch Monetization
9. TikTok Monetization
10. Facebook Monetization
11. Influencer Marketing
12. Playlist Curating
13. Write a Music Blog
14. Run Ads On Your Website
15. Affiliate Programs
16. Podcasting
17. ASCAP and BMI
18. Sync Placements
19. Music Production
20. Music Lessons
21. Performing Covers
22. Making Beats
23. Be a Session Musician
24. Host An Open Mic
25. Be A Trivia Host

I don’t think about monetizing music while I’m making it.  Actually creating is a completely separate action, and is not influenced in any way by how commercially viable I think a song could be.  I make music because I love it.  I have experienced things I could never have experienced otherwise.  I have learned an incredible amount about myself.  Music has saved my life, made the bad times easier, and the good times better.  Music is who I am, not what I do.

When I’m not creating music, though, I am thinking about how to make a living from it, and acting on it as much as possible, because making a living from my music is a huge goal of mine.  While I’m not there yet, putting everything together in one place about ways to make money from music, once it is made, will be helpful to me, and I hope it’s helpful to you as well.  

1. Sell Music and Merch Online

TLDR: Bandzoogle and Bandcamp both let you sell music and merch directly to fans.  Both also require you to have the merch and to upload your music in order to sell it.  CustomInk is a great option for physical inventory, as is (which also sets up a store for you, and allows you to sell on Spotify through Shopify, which they set up for you).  Integrating Teelaunch to sell merch online with Shopify to reach a larger audience takes some effort, but is worth it in order to reach a larger audience, as Shopify allows you to sell directly on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Spotify, and any website using a widget.

There are several options for selling music and merch online.  I will start with Bandcamp and Bandzoogle, as both allow you to do both, and then talk about where to get physical merch.  Then, I’ll get into print-on-demand services, including Teelaunch and Teespring, and how to integrate them with Shopify in order to sell on social media and Spotify.


Primarily known for allowing independent musicians to sell music using a name your own price model, you can sell merch there as well, and now, you can also live stream there, which I will discuss later in this blog post. I won’t go into the details of how to create a Bandcamp account, but I’ll mention a little bit of the album and merch creation process.

Adding an album is a pretty easy process.  It can take an hour or so, depending on how many songs you have, how organized you are, and how fast your internet is, since you’ll be uploading wav files.

You set the price to whatever you want, and can allow fans to pay more.  Most pay what I ask, if they buy, but I’ve had a few pay more because they wanted to support my music career. Bandcamp keeps 15% of digital sales, and 10% on physical goods.  You can see more details on their fee structure here.

Adding merch is slightly more complicated because of the number of options you can have with your shirts, including sizes, colors, and inventory quantity.  It’s also very easy to lose track of actual inventory numbers because you could sell the same physical merch at a concert, and forget to update the quantity on Bandcamp, so find whatever works for you to prevent that.  It could be as simple as setting an appointment on your phone’s calendar for the day after a concert, or a tour, to update Bandcamp inventory, or something more comprehensive. You’ll also have to set shipping costs, which gets complicated as well.  If you haven’t sold any merch yet, an easy way to get estimates on shipping costs is to stop by a post office with the actual t-shirt and a padded envelope that you’ll ship the shirt in, and ask how much it would be to ship it to various places within your country, and set the shipping price to cover the most expensive option (shipping to Seattle vs shipping to Kentucky from Ohio, for example), including the cost of the envelope.  Or, you can use the USPS shipping calculator to get domestic costs, if you know the size of the envelope, and the weight of the merch.

I haven’t sold a ton of merch online through Bandcamp, but overall the system is nice.  It even lets you add a free download of an album if someone buys a shirt.

Once you’ve created the merch, you’ll see a page like this one, and if you ever need to edit the merch, you can do so from the product page.  

Bandcamp also does Bandcamp Fridays periodically, where they waive their fees, so the musician keeps all of sale price, minus payment processing fees. The next Bandcamp Friday is August 4th, 2023, and you can see more upcoming dates at


To add music or merch on Bandzoogle, simply edit the page you’re working on, and click “add feature.”  You get a wide variety of features, including album, single, and store.

Then you just upload the song, and optionally the album artwork, and set a few options, including whether or not the song is a free download, a fixed price, or a fan based price (with a minimum price) like Bandcamp.  

The fan can pay more if they want.

Since Bandzoogle is a complete website solution for musicians, and you’re already paying $9.95 per month for the basic package (you can sell up to 10 songs), or up to $19.95 for the pro package (you can sell unlimited songs), they do not keep any fees from the sale.  You just have PayPal’s payment processing fees (or Stripe if you use them as your payment processor).  

Bandcamp’s fees are higher, but you might get a boost in sales just from being on Bandcamp, due to their name being more familiar to music fans, and you can sell directly on Bandcamp even if you don’t have your own website.  I am currently selling only on Bandcamp, but after going through the process to set up a single on Bandzoogle, in order to show how to do so on this blog, I’ll probably sell directly through Bandzoogle as well, especially for songs that I run ads for because it will give an option to buy directly on that landing page, instead of having someone click over to Bandcamp.  I’ll probably include the Bandcamp link as well, though, since Bandcamp already has my entire catalog, and some merch, so there’s a decent chance people will buy more than just the single there.

CDs are now in a gray area. Are they a way to sell music, or are they merch? I'd say they're merch at this point because even if someone buys a CD, they're likely to stream your song. Vinyl records are in a similar gray area, though I think more people listen to records than listen to CDs now because vinyl records have a different sound quality to them, and many audiophiles prefer that sound.

For CDs, I always use Discmakers bought CDBaby years ago, so you're actually using Discmakers to press the CDs when you use CDBaby, and Discmakers provided the best quality for the cost when there were countless CD manufacturers, so they're still the best now, in my opinion. 

I have not pressed vinyl, but I have friends who have. I'll try to find some good sources and put them here. The only time I looked into pressing vinyl, there was an 8 month backorder because there are very few vinyl manufacturers, and they were busy pressing millions of copies of Adele and Taylor Swift's albums.

I've also had a few friends in bands that have sold cassettes of their music. It's a niche merch item that I know nothing about in modern day context, so I have no recommendations, but wanted to mention it.

Sources for physical merch

I use CustomInk, but there are multiple options for getting shirts and other merch made.

CustomInk has a nice online designer. I did all of this in just a few minutes on my phone. The price includes shipping.

My first design is full color and very detailed, which brought the cost up to $13.85 per shirt with a quantity of 50 t-shirts. Switching to a 1 color image brought it down to $8.18 per shirt. Standard shipping is 2 weeks, but you can pay extra to get it sooner.

They have designed multiple shirts for me, including the Music Arcade shirt you see in the Bandcamp screenshot above. The price on that one was initially higher, but they brought it down to a 2 or 3 color print without a significant decrease in quality or detail. The design is also based on arcade gaming from the 1980s and 1990s, so it doesn't need to be high def. 

They mainly do silk screening, but can also do digital printing for smaller orders or designs with a high amount of details. 

CustomInk also has physical locations in various places, including one about 25 minutes from where I live, so if I need to go in with questions, I can. 

When I lived in Oxford, Ohio, I used Moonshine Screen Printing. It was nice having a local screen printer, as it reduced turnaround time and shipping costs by eliminating shipping. If you have a local screen printer already that you trust, that's a great option. If you don't, I wanted to let you know about my experience with CustomInk. There are other online options for physical merch as well, but I'm happy with CustomInk, so I've stuck with them.

Also, for stickers, does a great job and usually has specials going on.

Also also, you can get very creative with your merch. This is probably the coolest piece of merch I've ever seen from a musician:

Mega Ran put his entire discography on a USB cartridge inside a Nintendo case! I think he was selling it for $50 when I saw him on tour in Cincinnati in 2018. He sold out of that special edition USB drive, but his current one ( looks pretty cool too!

After checking out Mega Ran’s store, I emailed Hello Merch about what they do.  They do silk screening, and they offer other physical merch.  They will also set up an online store for you to sell that physical merch.  They do not print on demand.  It is a Shopify store, so if you want to sell that merch on Spotify, you’ll be able to do that.  They just ask for permission to edit your Spotify For Artists in order to set that up the first time, and then you can customize which products you display on your Spotify pages.  Speaking of Spotify, they just added the ability for fans to search your entire store directly from Spotify.  I just got the email from them about it an hour ago.

That's a perfect segue into discussing…

Custom Merch On Demand

I sell my merch on Spotify, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and, all thanks to Teelaunch, who prints merch on demand, and then ships it to the customer, and Shopify, which allows for the integration with social media and Spotify. Teelaunch is free to set up, and Spotify has a $5 monthly starter plan. Once the order comes through on Teelaunch, I get notified via email, and I then have to pay the wholesale cost of the product and the shipping before Teelaunch sends the order off. Once the order is fulfilled, they then send me the entire amount that the customer paid. That detail is my least favorite part of the process, as there are times when paying that cost myself upfront, even with a later reimbursement, would theoretically be a financial hardship. However, I have not run into a situation with that level of unfortunate timing yet. It is that detail, though, that will make me also take about Teespring (now known as just Spring). 

Teespring vs Teelaunch

Teespring (on the seller's end or just Spring on the buyer's end) does not integrate with Shopify. It does integrate directly with social media, though. Just not Spotify. So, if you don't care about selling merch on Spotify, Teespring might be a better option for you. 

There are other differences between the two as well. With Teespring, you don't pay upfront. You simply get the profit, and Teespring handles everything. Teespring doesn't notify me when I get a sale either, so I have to just remember to periodically check it. I always assume I have zero sales there, so that when I do check it, it's like finding a $5, or maybe $50, bill in the pocket of a jacket that I haven't worn in months. 

I had a customer contact me once directly through Instagram about a Teespring order that was missing an item. Since I only had one order from Teespring in the timeframe that he contacted me about, I was 100% confident that the order details I was seeing were for his order. The order didn't have the item in it that he thought he ordered, so he wasn't charged for it. I then set up a 25% off coupon code just for him so that he could order the item if he wanted to, and not be burdened with the extra shipping cost involved with 2 separate orders. If there had been several orders in that time frame, it could have been a bit more complicated and/or awkward to handle. Teespring also doesn't automatically pay out. I need to manually check my balance and request a payout.

Teelaunch gives me the customer's name and email address, so whenever I get an order through them, I email the customer to thank them for their purchase and let them know what to expect as far as turnaround times go. I also mention the turnaround times on my website, so they know what to expect before ordering, but it helps in case they ordered through social media, or if they didn't see the turnaround time information on my website.

Summary of differences

Features Teelaunch Teespring
Setup cost Free Free
Sell on Social Media Yes through Shopify Yes
Sell on Spotify Yes through Shopify No
Sell on Website Yes Yes
Payment Due

Wholesale + shipping 

before production

Customer Contact Info Yes No
Notification of Sale Yes No
Extra Costs $5/month Shopify Starter $0


Selling through direct contact (email, Instagram, etc).

I've had fans contact me directly through Instagram and email, asking about merch. I then tell them about the options, including what physical inventory I have, and they might order online through my Teelaunch store, but more often they just tell me what they want, and they pay me via Venmo or PayPal, and I ship it to them directly. When they do, I usually throw in a few stickers, and sign the CD or merch item. 

Occasionally they ask me to send a custom video for someone's birthday or anniversary, and I always happily do so because I really do feel honored when my music has made enough of an impact on someone to get such a request.

2. Streaming and Social Media

It's really easy to forget that there's more than one way to make a living from music, and focus solely on Spotify. I'm absolutely guilty of doing this myself. I have devoted a ton of time, and a few thousand dollars, in the last 15 months trying to hit Discover Weekly, and just trying to get more Spotify streams in general. I've watched countless videos, created countless Snapchat Ads, and pitched my music to probably close to 1,000 playlist curators. 


And it worked, to some extent. I went from 1,200 streams in 2021 to almost 20,000 streams in 2022. At an average earnings of 0.035 cents per stream, though, that resulted in about $70 in earnings. 1,000,000 streams would earn me about $3,500, which is a comfortably living monthly wage in most parts of the USA. That means, I would need about 30,000 daily streams (about a 5,000% increase) to make a living solely from Spotify streams, which is not a reality for most independent musicians. It's definitely possible, even as an independent artist, if you hit the algorithm correctly, so I will absolutely still try to do so, but it won't be my only focus.

Obviously, Spotify isn't the only streaming service, but they have far and away the best algorithm, and are the most likely streaming platform to get discovered on.

For social media, you can get money from people using your songs in their videos. You do this using the same method as getting on streaming services. Send your music to streaming services and make it available as a sound on Instagram Reels, Facebook Reels, and TikTok by signing up with a music distributor. 

The Big 3 music distributors are CDBaby, which has over 1 million musicians on its platform and has been around since 1998, Distrokid and Tunecore. I started using CDBaby in 1998, and I love them, so I have stuck with them the whole time.

A note on how TikTok pays, because more musicians, and music fans should know this.  If someone uses your music in one of their videos, and that video gets viewed 1 million times, that is the same as a video that gets 100 views.  TikTok pays musicians PER VIDEO that their music is used in, not per view.  You can read the full details on TikTok earnings from CDBaby here: The wording is a little ambiguous for Facebook (and Instagram by extension since Facebook owns Instagram), but it seems that is the case on there as well.

YouTube pays out based on monetized views.  For example, if a YouTube video has 100,000 views, and an ad runs on that video 25,000 times, you’ll get paid out based on the ad revenue generated from those 25,000 views.  Exactly how much a monetized view pays out depends on a number of factors, but on average, it’s definitely going to be less than a penny.  A fraction of a penny times 25,000 views could still be $20-$50, though.  The same number of views on a single TikTok video will still be just a few pennies at most.  

I will go into detail about ways to get monetized directly, on each social media platform, in detail, in separate sections.  This concludes streaming income, and income from other people using your music in their social media videos.

3. Concerts (including open mic nights and house parties)

Whether you call them shows, gigs, concerts, live performances, or anything else, performing your music in front of (old, new and potential) fans is still one of the main ways to make money from music.  They are a little different for artists who only perform original music vs those who perform covers.  For this section, I will focus on artists who perform primarily original music.  For those who perform primarily covers, scroll down to section 19.  Other sections in this blog post may apply to cover bands/artists a little bit, but most of this is for original artists.

Before you can perform your concert, obviously you need to book your concert. Here are a few good resources for finding local venues. has a database of music venues that includes genres, contact info, and capacity. I'd start there, and then I'd look at BandsInTown and SongKick apps for shows in the area I want to play. If the show is someone I've never heard of at a venue I've never heard of, and the ticket price is less than $20, I'll check the venue's website for booking info. Then, I'd Google "music venues in city" and then I'd Google "local music papers in city." They'll have local show listings. Finally, I'd check because if a venue has an open mic, then they might have full shows on the weekends.

I’ve always booked my own shows, and played venues with small capacities, with the exception of two Playing For a Cure events at a venue with a capacity of about 2,000, so I’ll be focused on how those small venues tend to operate.  For most small venues, that venue charges customers a certain amount to get in, ranging from free to maybe $15 or $20 for small artists, with $5 being a very common cover charge.  For illustration purposes, I will use $5 as the average example.  

Their formula is usually total cover charge minus production fees equals artist payout.  If the cover charge is $5, and the artists bring in 30 fans, including 5 who were on the guestlist and didn’t pay a cover charge, then the total cover charge would be $125. If production costs are $50, then that leaves $75 for the artists.  Some venues will split that evenly among the acts, especially if the acts didn’t put the entire night together themselves.  When I go on longer tours, I am often paired up with bands I’ve never heard of, because they’re local and bring in bigger crowds, and when that happens, the venue will typically decide how to split up those payments.  When I put together full shows myself, including openers that I’ve performed with before, the venue will pay me the full amount, and I’ll discuss with the artists how to split it up. If you’ve toured before, I’m sure you’ve had similar experiences.  If you haven’t toured before, I hope this helps.  

For those who haven’t toured, or haven’t toured often, some venues will try to pass on more of the expense to you than they should, but in my experience, most venues are upfront with how they pay.  They usually even have the information listed on their website somewhere.  Check their band booking page for frequently asked questions before asking them in email.  If the information is not on the website (or the venue doesn’t have a website), it is absolutely acceptable, and a good idea, to ask “How does payment work?”  That way, there’s no awkward conversation in person.

If the cover charge doesn’t bring in enough to pay the production costs, most venues will pay the remaining production costs out of their own pocket.  It’s always a good idea to promote as hard as you can, though, to try to avoid that happening.  Sometimes, no matter how much you promote your show as a small act, you just won’t draw people out.  Fans get sick.  Fans have family emergencies.  Fans have work.  Sometimes a big event will draw away your fans.  It’s easy to get discouraged when fans don’t show up for various reasons, but don’t get too down over a few rough nights on tour, and just because you draw 5 people for a show doesn’t mean the venue wouldn’t like to have you back.  Just give it some time, and properly promote again.

Even if you make $0 from the cover charge, you can still sell merch and CDs.  I’ve had nights where I’ve made $20 from what’s left of the door cover charge, and sold $200 worth of CDs and t-shirts.  If you read the above section about selling merch online, you’re prepared with t-shirts from CustomInk, or a local screen printer.  You’ll want to organize those shirts.  I use 2 large clear containers.  The first one has sizes small through large, and the second has sizes XL and above.  The shirts are rolled up, with a piece of tape to keep them rolled up, and that piece of tape has the size of the shirt written on it.  That way, it’s easy to find the right shirt quickly and not lose out on a sale or disappoint a fan.  You’ll also want a display.  If you have the budget, you can get a nice tri-fold display case on Amazon, or maybe on Etsy.  You could even make it yourself if you’re that mechanically inclined.  If you don’t have as much of a budget, it’s perfectly acceptable to get a tri-fold cardboard display for a few dollars, and print up a few flyers to tape to that cardboard display.  Include images of your merch, prices, and accepted payment methods.  It's also a good idea to get a portable, battery powered light to shine some light on that display board.  I picked up a couple of $5-$10 reading lights that clip onto the top of the display board, and adjusted the angle as needed.

Taking Venmo is very helpful, and super easy to set up.  I also use Square so that I can take credit card payments directly from my phone.  For those who use Venmo, that’s usually their preferred method. For those who use credit cards, Square is a super portable option that works as long as you have a decent internet connection, and now you can even take payments when your phone is offline, and they’ll process when you’re back online.  Square charges 2.6% + 10 cents per transaction, with no monthly charges.  If you want to accept chip cards, you will have to buy a chip reader, which is currently $49. The chip reader also allows you to take Apple Pay and Google Pay. If you only want to use the swipe functionality, you can get that reader for free.  It’s small enough to fit in your wallet, which is where I keep mine.

The free version uses either a headphone connector, as seen above, or a lightning connector for use with iPhones and iPads.  If you only have a USB-C input now, as I do, you can still use the headphone connector if you plug in a dongle.  I tested the mic input on my dongle, and it did not work, but plugging the connector into the headphone input on my dongle did.  It looks a little goofy, but it’s functional.

Whether you use the free reader, or opt for the $49 chip reader, is up to you, and it largely depends on how much in sales you’re expecting to do, and how concerned you are with payment liability.  Specifically, if you take a credit card payment using the swipe reader (and the credit card has a chip), and that credit card turns out to be stolen, or otherwise fraudulent, you won’t be able to keep that payment.  If you take a payment using the chip reader, and the credit card turns out to be fraudulent or stolen, you will be able to keep that payment as the bank will eat the cost. Full details here:

Open Mic Nights and House Parties

If you're looking to fill some weeknight dates on tour, and haven't managed to book full shows, open mic nights can be a great way to fill them in, and is a great place to start your search. Just confirm with the venue that it's happening before you go. If there's a Facebook event page, you may even be able to get in contact with the open mic host about potentially playing a longer, featured set, increasing your chances of getting tips and selling merch. Even if you don't get a featured set, you can still potentially sell CDs and merch, as some people will be understanding of how tough it can be on the road, and will support you. You can also put out a physical tip jar, with a note on it that could include your Venmo for virtual tips. It'll likely be very small tips, but it could still be some income, and you could make some new fans and musical connections for the next time you come through town. Open mic nights locally aren't really the place for a tip jar or merch sales, but they can be a great way to make new fans locally, and meet local musicians. If you have a website, or your music is on Spotify, be sure to mention it on stage.

As far as house parties go, I've played several, and it's always been because the host was a fan of mine, and they reached out to me to perform there. If you want to book more house parties, you can mention your availability for parties on your website and on social media. It may or may not lead to more. The host will either offer a certain amount of money, or they'll take donations at the door. I tend to sell more merch at house parties than regular shows because the host hypes up the event to all of their friends. They'll do all the promoting since it's a private event, and you shouldn't post their home address online.

4. Patreon

I’m not great at Patreon, so I can’t give specific advice on how to build your following there.  I currently have 3 subscribers there that each pay me $1 per month, so after Patreon’s fees I get $1.90 per month there.  I am thankful for that income, especially since my 3 subscribers are really just sending me $1 per month because they want to support me.  I’m not very active there.  Some musicians are doing very well there though, so it’s definitely a viable solution for bringing in income from music.  If you haven’t heard of Patreon, the easiest way to describe it is Netflix for musicians.  Fans pay a subscription price, and you get to keep that subscription price, minus Patreon’s fees.  You can set up as many, or as few, subscription tiers as you want.  $1 per month could just give them a monthly shoutout, or the ability to see a few YouTube videos before everyone else.  $10 per month could give them a lot more, and what that means is up to you.  Other sites, including Bandcamp and YouTube have added subscription models to their platforms, so if you don’t want to sign up specifically for Patreon, you do have other options. I just set up my memberships on YouTube, and just got approved and added memberships on YouTube as an option today, May 16th, 2023, and will discuss more in the YouTube monetization section.

Patreon's payment processing fees. 


YouTube keeps 30% of monthly membership fees, after applicable taxes, for comparison, and Bandcamp keeps 15% on digital goods. Of course, a subscription on Bandcamp is centered around music downloads, and YouTube and Patreon are centered more around videos, including exclusive videos and early access.

5. Crowdfunding 

IndieGogo and Kickstarter are platforms for raising money for projects. For musicians, that's most commonly a new album release. It can include CDs, vinyl and other merch. Just be sure to account for shipping, fees, and other fulfillment costs when setting your goal.

IndieGogo charges 5%, plus the following payment processing fees, per their website.

IndieGogo allows you to set up a campaign that does not have to hit its goal. For example, if you set your goal at $500, and you raise $350, you still get to keep your funds. With Kickstarter, you have to reach your goal. If your goal is $500, and you reach $490, then your customers don't get charged, and you don't get anything. Kickstarter has a higher average raised amount because there's more at stake. If a fan sees that you're at $400 with 2 days to go, they're more likely to pledge $10 to help you get to $500, knowing that you get nothing if you don't hit $500. Whereas, if you already have $400 pledged on IndieGogo, your fans may see that you've already raised most of what you need, but won't be as compelled to get you closer to your goal because they know you're going to get the money regardless.

In the US, Kickstarter's fees are exactly the same as IndieGogo's. 5% plus payment processing fees of 3% plus 20 cents.

So, the real question becomes, does your project require a specific amount to get funded, or are you just trying to get some help covering the costs? If you're just trying to get some help, and minimize your out of pocket, IndieGogo may be the better way to go. If you absolutely need $1,000 to make it happen, and your account balance is $31.21, you'll probably want to go with Kickstarter.

6. Live Streaming 

Some musicians have found a way to make a living solely from live streaming on social media, YouTube or Twitch.  The popularity of live streaming really peaked when people were stuck at home, and while many people prefer going out to a concert, live streaming is still a popular option.  I’m actually listening to a DJ friend of mine spin records on Twitch right now as I’m typing this.  He lives 500 miles away, and doesn’t DJ down my way, so I like keeping in touch with him through music.  I have live streamed on YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope (it became Twitter live at one point I think), and Instagram.  I don’t have enough followers on TikTok to live stream there.

Whichever way you choose to live stream, the basic model for making money is the same.  Put your Venmo information up, or a link to a virtual tip jar.  My virtual tip jar is, which redirects to the longer from version of 

You can mention the tip jar throughout the live stream, and people might tip you.  For most of my live streams, I have generated $0 in tips, but I’ve had the occasional live stream where I’ve had $20-$30 in tips.  For most musicians, if you’re live streaming everyday, you probably won’t get tips everyday, since you likely have a limited amount of songs that you can perform.  Even if you have several hours worth of original material, people likely aren’t tuning in and tipping everyday, so I would generally advise people to use it selectively.  Of course, if you are getting tips everyday, or if you just love live streaming even without getting tips, absolutely do it.  This blog is about ways to make money from music, but money is not why I make music, so whether you’re making money or not, if you love it, keep doing it!

Tips are just one way to make money from live streaming, though.  You can mention your merch and CDs and potentially get people to order from your website while performing, and each platform has ways to make money beyond a virtual tip jar.  I will discuss each platform’s live stream monetization options within their own sections.

7. YouTube Monetization 

To get monetized on YouTube, you need 4,000 hours of watch time in the last 365 days, and 1,000 subscribers.  The subscribers can subscribe at any time and count toward that goal.  YouTube Shorts are only monetizable once your channel is eligible for monetization.  If you are running ads to grow your following on YouTube, the subscribers gained from ads count, but the watch hours gained from ads do not.  If someone watches your video in a YouTube ad, and then chooses to rewatch that video, or watch another video on your channel, then that extra view will count towards your watch time. It’s called an earned view in Google Ads.  Google has this policy because they don’t want people to buy their way to monetization.  If those watch hours come from off platform though, then those watch hours will count, so you can run Facebook ads to get people from Facebook to watch your YouTube videos, and increase your watch hours that way.  However, those viewers will likely be less engaged, and could hurt your analytics in the long run.  I mention all of this because I have run thousands of dollars in YouTube Ads, and in Facebook Ads.  The YouTube Ads helped me get to 1000 subscribers, and Facebook Ads helped me get to 4000 watch hours.  My channel, which I’ve had since 2006, has been monetized for almost 2 years now, and I’ve earned $31 from ads on the channel in those 2 years.  The payout threshold is $100, so I haven’t actually received my first YouTube paycheck.  

In short, I would advise against running ads with the sole intention of reaching monetization, because that’s a large part of how I got there, and I think it has actually hurt my channel in the algorithm.  I still recommend running YouTube ads if your goal is to gain new fans, but make sure your targeting is strong, so that you’re reaching the right fans.  Also, if you’re running YouTube ads for a music video, I would advise uploading a second version of the video, and having that be an unlisted video with the specific purpose of being an ad.  That way, your public video’s average watch time doesn’t get decimated. If you're going to run Facebook Ads which link to your YouTube video, in order to gain watch hours, that video will have to be public because only watch hours on public videos count towards monetization.  Again, though, I would advise against running Facebook Ads to get to 4,000 watch hours as it will likely hurt your analytics for the algorithm.

If you’re going to pursue getting monetized on YouTube, know that it is almost never a quick journey for anyone, and it is even more difficult for musicians because the platform is so saturated.  Plus, the average music video is 3 minutes long.  That’s about 80,000 full length views, or about 160,000 half length views.  If you love making music videos, and live streaming, you can get there, but be patient and be prepared to do a ton of work to get there.

Direct monetization through the YouTube Partner Program is the main way to make money on YouTube, but it’s not the only one.  You can still live stream from your computer with 0 subscribers, and put up a virtual tip jar in the comments.  Once you hit 1,000 subscribers, you can live stream from your phone, even if you have less than 4,000 hours of watch time.

You can earn money from affiliate income starting with the very first video you make.  Just mention in the video that the affiliate link is in the description.  In Section 15 Affiliate Programs, I’ll share a list of every music related affiliate program I’ve found, and how to sign up for it.  If you mention the gear you use in one of your videos, for example, you can then include a Guitar Center or Amazon affiliate link in the description, and if a fan buys that gear because they want a similar sound, then you get a commission.  

Once you are monetized on YouTube, there are several more ways you can earn money from the platform. The primary revenue stream is ad share.  For every monetized view (meaning an ad ran on your video), YouTube keeps 45% of the ad price, and gives 55% to the creator.  If you’ve used copyrighted music in the video, that 55% will be split with the creator of the music.  If the creator of that music is you, and you opted into YouTube Content ID through CDBaby or one of the other distributors, you’ll be sharing that money with yourself.  You’ll just get part of the revenue directly from YouTube, and the other part through your distributor.  Also, if your channel is not monetized, YouTube may still run ads on your channel.  If the video that the ad is on contains music that you monetized through the Content ID system through a distributor, you’ll still get your share of revenue as the copyright owner of that music.  That will come through your distributor, not YouTube.  The Content ID system allows you to make money from your music whenever anyone uses your copyrighted music in their videos.  It’s basically an audio fingerprint that YouTube recognizes.  

Other monetization options that YouTube opens up after you join the YouTube Partner Program include Memberships (simliar to Patreon subscribers), including merch directly on YouTube, Shorts Feed Ads, and Supers (which I will explain).  I just set up Memberships on YouTube today as part of creating this blog post.  I only set up one level.  For 99 cents per month, fans can now post custom emojis in my YouTube comments, and receive different colored badges based on how long they’ve had a membership.  I have only created one emoji so far.  It’s the album cover for my most recent album, “Gummy,” because it seemed relevant, and it was convenient to just resize the image to 50x50 pixels.  The emoji has to be less than 1 MB, and obviously it’s very tiny on screen, so 50x50 pixels should work just fine.  The minimum size is 32x32.  Shorts Feed Ads are simply ads that run between YouTube Shorts.  YouTube pools all of the Shorts Ads revenue into one fund, and then divides it equally based on what percentage of total YouTube Shorts views your shorts are responsible for.  Supers are essentially tips. Directly from YouTube Studio “Super Chat and Super Stickers are ways to connect fans with creators during live chat. Viewers can purchase Super Chats to highlight your message within live chat. Viewers can also purchase Super Stickers to see a digital or animated image that pops up in the live chat feed.”

If you have a popular enough channel, you can even run a paid sponsorship, where a brand pays you to talk about their product during your video.  You have to mark the video as “includes paid sponsorship.”  This is a pretty popular way for medium and high popularity YouTubers to make money.  If done right, it’s a less disruptive ad experience, and a better experience overall.  If it’s not done right, the sponsorship experience can be worse than a regular ad.

After you connect your store to your page, you can now tag products in your videos.  This is a brand new feature, and the YouTube Creators channel just published a video about it 11 hours ago.  You can watch that video for more details.

8. Twitch Monetization

I am not monetized on Twitch, as I haven't streamed enough. I have streamed some, and find it easier to stream from my phone. My computer can't handle the technical requirements as well, and it's a more complicated setup.

You can find full monetization details directly from Twitch here:

Eligibility basics for Twitch affiliates:

At least 500 total minutes broadcast in the last 30 days. At least 7 unique broadcast days in the last 30 days. An average of 3 concurrent viewers or more over the last 30 days. At least 50 Followers.

Affiliates can earn revenue from Subscribers, Ads, and Bits.

Bits are basically tips using emojis during live streams. They're fun and interactive,  and once someone has a bits balance in their account, they're easy to send without leaving the live stream chatroom. For full details, here is information directly on Twitch.

I couldn't find the revenue split on ads, but the most common ad I see when watching a stream on Twitch is a pre-roll ad, before I get to watch the actual stream. 

Subscription revenue is the same as it is everywhere else.

Twitch Partner Program requirements are not specific, but they are more difficult to achieve. If you're already an affiliate, and are thinking about the Partner Program, Twitch gives details here:

9. TikTok Monetization 

I'm terrible at TikTok and only have 160 followers as of the time of this writing, but you can make some money from the TikTik Creator Fund (once you hit 10,000 followers, and have 100,000 views in the last 30 days).

To receive tips directly through TikTok, you need 100,000 followers, but there's nothing stopping you from posting a URL in the comments, or on the screen, or in the description. Of course, links are not clickable on TikTok, so you'll need something easy for people to type into a browser, like, or maybe even make a landing page, like (which doesn't actually exist at the moment, but maybe I'll create it). 

You need at least 10,000 followers to receive video gifts. If you get a video gift, you can earn diamonds, which is a form of popularity that TikTok uses to give you monetary rewards, or virtual items. Yes. I've read 2 different articles from TikTok, and the details are completely non-transparent. 

You can start live streaming at 1,000 followers. While you can't monetize directly through the TikTok platform, live streaming opens up a lot of possibilities, including playing for tips (again, you'll need an easy to type URL for tipping and/or you can use your Venmo ID). You could take requests for a specific amount of money, and play those tips in order.

Before you reach 1,000 followers, I really don't know much about monetizing TikTok, though you could still be a micro-influencer, which I'll discuss in Section 11, Influencer Marketing. 

10. Facebook Monetization 

In addition to live streaming for tips, which you can do even with 0 followers, there are other monetization options. I am currently getting money just for getting engagement on my Instagram and Facebook posts. I've made maybe $15 in 4 months that way, and there's no transparency on how much each type of engagement is worth, and the program is still in beta and invite only, so it's very unclear. However, it's nice to see Facebook finally doing something for its creators. 

They have a more transparent monetization option as well, in the form of stars. To be eligible for stars, your page needs 1,000 followers for at least 60 consecutive days. Fans can send you stars, and for every star they send you, Facebook gives you a penny. More details here:

In order to send a star, a fan clicks on the stars icon when commenting on a video (including Reels) or live stream. They have various options for stars in both appearance and number. They look kind of fun, so it's a gamified experience similar to bits on Twitch, or Love on the now defunct Sessions Live.

Fans can buy packages ranging from 45 stars for 99 cents (2.2 cents per star) to 6400 stars for $99.99 (just over 1.56 cents per star). Obviously, when they buy in bulk, it's cheaper per star for them, and you keep a higher percentage of what they pay. This also allows them to carry a balance of stars, making it easier for them to send stars to multiple creators. I don't know how widely stars are used. I have never sent or received them, even though my Mission Man Facebook page is eligible for them. 

You can run ads on your Facebook videos, once you have 10,000 followers, and generate at least 10,000 watch hours in the last 60 days. This is much higher than YouTube's 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the last 365 days, so realistically, very few musicians are going to qualify, but I still wanted to mention it.

11. Influencer Marketing

There are multiple ways to make money from having a following on Instagram, TikTok, and other social media platforms.  One way is by using Submithub as an influencer.  I started to apply on Submithub, and their system told me I was too small.

I couldn’t find an exact amount for how much Submithub pays influencers.  They specify their payout for playlist curators, which I will cover in the next section, but for influencers, they simply say they have paid out over $2 million to influencers, and show the total amount of money that several curators have earned, including a few that have earned over $20,000 on their platform. I can’t tell if any of the curators are actually musicians, but I see no reason why you would be denied if your Instagram and TikTok videos have enough views.  Influencers can set their own prices for sharing music.  I just don’t know what percentage they keep vs how much Submithub keeps. is another option for making money as an influencer.  I read about it in my news feed a couple of days ago, and signed up with my TikTok account.  Even with only 160 followers, I qualified to join.  As you can see from the screenshot above, you can sign up to share various products on your TikTok page, get the product for free, and get paid to share them.  I haven’t actually shared any, as I haven’t found a product that I want to share on my TikTok page that doesn’t seem like I’m just making an ad on my profile that is completely unrelated to my music in any way.  Also, JoinBrands does have an affiliate program, so if you sign up using my link above, you’ll get a $5 bonus after your first job, and I’ll get $5 as well.

I’m sure you can find several other options for making money as an influencer, which you technically are as a musician.  In general, I won’t be focused on making money this way myself, but in this blog, I am making use of affiliate programs that are related to music, which is a similar concept.  Before I talk about affiliate programs, though, I will discuss making money as a playlist curator, because you can use Submithub to make money as a playlist curator, just as you can make money on Submithub as an influencer.   

12. Playlist Curating 

You can sign up to be a Spotify playlist curator on Submithub and Groover.  

Submithub charges either 1, 2, or 3 premium credits for a musician to submit a song to a curator.  The curator gets 50 cents per premium credit to review the song.  If the curator charges 3 premium credits, that’s $1.50 to listen to and review a song, 2 credits is $1.  The curator doesn’t have to add the song to their playlist.  It would be against Spotify’s Terms of Service if the curator guaranteed placement to all submissions.  

Groover’s most popular submission cost is 2 Grooviz, which averages about $2 USD.  They’re based in France, and their primary currency is the Euro, so the price slightly fluctuates if you’re in a country that doesn’t use Euros.  You can also get bulk discounts if you buy 50 Grooviz, 110 Grooviz, 300 Grooviz, or 500 Grooviz.  Their website says that curators get 1 Euro to give feedback.  I’m assuming that’s on a 2 Grooviz submission.  For 4 Grooviz, I assume that doubles to 2 Euros, etc.  If you have a Spotify playlist with a lot of followers, you can make very good money reviewing submissions, as I’ve seen some playlists that charge 8, or even 10, Grooviz per submission.  That’s 4 or 5 Euros to listen and give feedback on a 3 minute song, which you can probably do in under 5 minutes per submission when you get comfortable with the process.  At 1 Euro per 5 minutes, that’s only about 12 Euros per hour, which can still be a decent income supplement.

13. Write a Music Blog

I mean, that’s what this is.  Of course, your music blog could be a review of other people’s music, or if you’re big into production, it can be production tips, including what kind of gear you use.  You can even just maintain a blog on your website with stories about your musical experiences, like I do at Right now, that blog only has one story, but I’ll add more. At the end of each blog post, you can share a link to the song on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Bandcamp, or sell it directly from your site using Bandzoogle.  You could even leave a link to your virtual tip jar, and say something like, “If you enjoyed the story behind the song, and want to buy me my favorite cookie, or support my musical dreams, you can leave me a tip at or via Venmo at missionmanmusic, or stop by the store and see if any of my merch fits your style” except use your own tip jar and Venmo info.  You can have your fans tip me if you want, but they should be supporting you, not me.  

If your blog about other people’s music gets big enough, you can even sign up to be a blogger on Submithub and Groover, and earn money reviewing people’s music.  You can even run ads on your blog using Google Adsense.

14. Run Ads On Your Website

I’m going to try out ads on this blog post, and let you know what my experience is, so bookmark this page if you’re curious how much the ads on this post generate.  If you’d like to run ads on your own website, you can sign up for Google Adsense here:

50,000 page views per month is the minimum number on the slider.  That’s about 1,667 daily page views, which Google AdSense estimates to generate around $9.23 per day. That's about $5.53 per 1,000 views, or about 0.553 cents per page view.  That’s actually higher than Spotify and Apple Music’s payout per stream.  1 visitor per day could add up to 17 cents monthly.  30 visitors per day would be $5 per month.  Obviously, these are all estimates.  I’ll post my first month’s results here when I have them.  I just signed up at 12:15 am on May 16th, 2023, and am awaiting approval.  I have limited my ads to only be banner ads, and to serve as few as possible, because the user experience is more important for me than the ad revenue.  If I hadn’t mentioned running ads as a possibility, I wouldn’t have signed up to run ads on this site.  The system right now is also set up to let Google optimize where the ads appear to maximize revenue and minimize how annoying the experience is for users.  

15. Affiliate Programs

Affiliate programs are similar to ads, except that you can choose which ones to sign up for, and make sure that they are relevant to what you’re talking about.  Here are the affiliate programs that I am linked to in this blog post, and the sign up pages if you think they would be relevant to your content as well, and some quick notes on signing up.

Groover 10 Grooviz for each referral, and when someone signs up using your link, they get 10% off their first order Sign up using to get 10% off your first campaign
Submithub Need to spend $1,000 on the site before you can earn a commission.  However, if a curator signs up, you get 10 credits for every 10 reviews by that curator, up to 50 credits Sign up as a curator using 
Cloudbounce This one is very generous, as even as a new affiliate, you get 50% of the sale price of each order.  It’s been by far my best affiliate program. Try Cloudbounce using and I’ll get half the sale
Distrokid Get $10 for each referral, plus the person you refer gets 7% off Sign up using and save 7%, and I get $10
CustomInk Unknown as it’s still pending  
Amazon Manually create each link as needed. Percentage of sale varies Example URL gives me a commission if you buy the FocusRite, or anything else after clicking the link.
Guitar Center Percentage of sale varies

Buy the FocusRite using my Guitar Center link and I get a commission

Square Application still pending.  Was initially declined, so I asked for a manual review.  They said yes, but still waiting on final approval through the system If you didn’t read the section on taking payments, Square allows you to accept credit card payments using your phone and either a free credit card reader, or a $49 chip reader that also allows you to take Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
Bands In Town Promoter Get a $50 ad credit for each referral, and the person you’re referring also gets $50 off their first ad campaign. Use to get $50 off your first ad campaign, and I’ll get a $50 ad credit, which I’ll use to promote my next show and tell you about the results in this blog.
JoinBrands If you refer a friend and they complete a job, they get $5, and you get $5.   Use to sign up, and share a product on TikTok, and we’ll each get $5. You’ll also get whatever amount the job pays out, plus a free product.
BandZoogle For each person you refer, you get a free month. Sign up through my link and I get a free month. 


Here are the products and services I talk about in this post that don’t have an affiliate program, but that I have links to anyway: CDBaby, Tunecore, Bandcamp, CDBaby duplication, Sticker Guy, Hello Merch, Teespring, Teelaunch, Snapchat Ads, Indie On The Move,, Patreon, IndieGogo, Kickstarter, PayPal, YouTube, Twitch, social media platforms, and AdSense.

I mention those partially to show that whether or not I have an affiliate link, it won’t affect my comments on the product or service.  If something doesn’t work well for musicians, I’ll mention that even if I have an affiliate link. If I don’t have an affiliate link, I’ll also be honest in my evaluation of that product or service.  I also mention it to save you time, in case you’re thinking about joining some affiliate programs.  There’s no need to search for affiliate programs for any of those products or services in the previous paragraph because I’ve already searched for them.

Venmo doesn’t have an actual affiliate program.  You can send a code to your friends, and if they sign up, you can get $10 per new friend that signs up, up to $100.  You get that $10 once your friend sends $5 to someone using Venmo, so long as it’s within 14 days of signing up.  You may only refer friends, family and acquaintances.  You can send the link via email, social media, text, etc. but you cannot post it in a public forum where strangers could click on it, so I can’t share it here since there’s a chance I don’t know you personally.  This information is current as of May 16th, 2023, but it could change.



16. Podcasting

I have no experience running a podcast, but there are multiple ways you can make money running one for your music.  You can certainly mention your music and merch during the podcast and potentially get sales.  You can also run ads, and get sponsors.  Since I am completely unqualified to talk about the details beyond that, I won’t really say much else.  I just wanted to mention it as a possibility.  If it’s something you’re genuinely interested in, I say go for it.

17. ASCAP and BMI

Royalties are so incredibly complicated that I always have to look them up, but by signing up for ASCAP or BMI, you get more royalties.  When my music was used on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, I made $41.57 through ASCAP for being the songwriter.  I also had my album “25” signed up for CDBaby Pro, which includes publishing royalties.  The Publishing royalty is actually the exact same amount as the songwriting royalty, except that CDBaby keeps 15% of the publishing royalty, so I got $35.33 about 6 months later, from CDBaby because there’s a delay in reporting the publishing royalties versus reporting the songwriting royalties.  

In my case, I signed up for ASCAP after my music was used on The Tonight Show, so there was some work involved in getting that royalty approved.  I had to contact the network and have them send me a cue sheet, which I then emailed to ASCAP.  It was quite cool talking to anyone working at a network.  Even in the streaming age, there’s still something magical about saying “I talked to [emailed] such and such at NBC.”  I actually expected the royalty to be much higher, given that my song was used on national television, which is why I’m sharing the exact amount I received.  Had that episode of The Tonight Show aired again, domestically or internationally, I’d be eligible to receive another royalty check.  That’s why syndication is such a major factor for some musicians.  I’m not sure how someone streaming something on Netflix works in terms of royalties, but if a show reruns on a network, the musician gets paid every time that episode is rebroadcast. 

18. Sync Placements

On the subject of getting your music used on TV, that is one form of sync placement.  Sync means that your music was synchronized to video.  That can be background music in a TV episode.  It can be that your music was used in an advertisement, etc. Most of the distributors now have an option for adding your music to their sync library.  You can choose not to, of course, but if you turn it on, CDBaby, Distrokid, or TuneCore adds your music to their sync library, and then someone can use your music in a show or ad. CDBaby does all of the price negotiating, and then pays the musician 60% of that price.  CDBaby keeping 40% may seem excessive at first glance, but if I were to try to negotiate my own price, I guarantee I’d either get less than I should, or the negotiations would fall apart, and I’d get $0. 

If you want to be more active in trying to get your music on ads, TV shows, and in video games, you can use  Their lite subscription is $19 per year, and you keep 60% of the sync placement fee.  Their pro subscription is $49 per year, and you keep 80% of the sync placement fee.  Songtradr lists sync opportunities, with descriptions, and you can submit to those opportunities.  I used it for a couple of years, off and on, usually submitting to a couple of placements every 2-3 weeks.  I was shortlisted twice, but never had my music used.  There was a free version when I used it, which is what I mostly used, but I tried a few months at about $5 per month because I was optimistic about getting a placement, and wanted to keep a higher percentage.  At the time that I used it, I also set my own prices for when music programmers found my music, which made the negotiation process a lot more straightforward.  When I submitted to listings, those listings always included what the pay was going to be.  

You can also get into some serious workshops on getting your music into TV, ads and video games.  I watched a free webinar on the process, which ended in the person running the webinar asking for $1,000 or so to join their course that would get me actual connections.  I don’t know if the course would have been legitimate.  It very well could have been, but I wasn’t interested enough in writing songs for the specific use of being used in film, TV, ads, and video games.  I simply wanted the chance to have my existing music used in various media.  

19. Music Production 

When I was 22 or 23, I charged $15 per hour for solo musicians to record music in my apartment, using my home studio equipment.  It worked for a few musicians who didn’t want to invest in the equipment for, or spend the time learning, audio production.  It was short-lived, but it was fun helping musicians record demos.  The more skilled you are, of course, the more you can charge.  There’s probably less of a market for it now as more people have access to the equipment and low prices, and YouTube has reduced the learning curve, but it’s still there if it’s something you’re interested in and want to take the time to do so.

20. Music Lessons

While technology has created many new ways to learn how to play music, some people still greatly prefer in-person instruction.  A simple “music” job search on Indeed will show you companies that are hiring musicians, including places like School of Rock and Bach to Rock.  You can also find your own clients, usually the parents of the children you’ll be teaching music to, and work out a schedule that works for you and them.

21. Performing Covers

If you want to perform covers, there are quite a few additional opportunities out there to make money.  You can join an agency that can help you get gigs.  There is a local company where I am that does all of the booking for about 10 different venues, all of which cater to cover bands and solo musicians who perform covers.  These are often at restaurants where the music is not the main attraction, the food and spirits are.  So, they’re looking for musicians who can cover family friendly songs in a fun atmosphere.  I’ve never performed a cover, unless you count karaoke, so I’m no expert here, but I have several friends who perform almost every day, and either make a living solely from those gigs, or that make a substantial income supplement.

22. Making Beats

There’s also a market for making beats for other musicians.  The form I see this in is producers making beats and selling them to rappers.  I’ve never bought or sold a beat, so I don’t understand the process, but I wanted to mention it for those who are interested.

23. Be a Session Musician 

Similar to making beats for other musicians, you can simply play whatever instruments you are best at, on other people’s songs.  I’ve never done this either, so I don’t know where or how to get started beyond a quick Google search, so I’ll leave you to it, if you’re so inclined.

24. Host an Open Mic 

Open mic hosts get paid because there’s actual work involved.  Making sure the artists start and stop on time, dealing with a multitude of setup options, promoting the event, etc.  There’s probably more information out there on simple ways to get started, but if I were to become one myself, I’d find a local bar or coffee shop that has a night free with no specific event, and suggest it to them.  Obviously, that’s easier if you already have a relationship with that bar, but I’m sure it’s something you could even just stop by several places in person until you find one that’s receptive to the idea, and then work out the details from there.  Most open mic nights I’ve been to do not have a cover charge, so you’d either need to work out a flat fee, or negotiate a percentage of bar sales.

25. Be a Trivia Host 

I host trivia one night per week now, and OpinioNation two times per week.  OpinioNation uses survey based questions, and I absolutely love hosting it!  It’s not music directly, but I do get to entertain and engage with people 3 nights per week.  I’m not exactly on stage, but I do have a microphone, and I get to bring joy to people’s evenings.  If you want to work for the same company I do, go to and see if they’re hiring where you are.  They are currently looking for hosts in 21 states in the US, so there’s a decent possibility.  You can also search for “trivia” on Indeed.  Hosting Sporcle is the most fun I’ve ever had working an actual job!.  


There you have it, 24 ways to make money being a musician, plus something fun and very close to music.  I will update this blog post periodically to make sure all of the information is still relevant, and if I find new relevant information, I will add it, so be sure to bookmark this page and come back to it anytime you need ideas for making money as a musician.

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