Nine Ways Musicians Actually Make Money Today

With record sales plummeting to new lows, here's how top stars are helping pay their bills

Instant Concert Recordings

The String Cheese Incident
Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

Phish, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Umphrey's McGee and the String Cheese Incident are some of the acts that sell their fans full recordings of the show they just heard. String Cheese, who charge $10 for MP3s or $15 for high-quality, lossless FLAC, sell about 500 to 1,000 downloads per gig.

Potential payday: $5,000 per show

Downsides: Overhead is high – the band has to hire a tech employee to travel to each show – and logistics can be tricky. (If the band spontaneously plays a cover song, it must get approval from the original publisher and pay royalties.) "It's definitely a good supplemental revenue stream for bands," says Kevin Morris, one of String Cheese's managers. "I don't think anybody's getting rich off recorded music in any capacity these days."

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