Nine Ways Musicians Actually Make Money Today

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

Movie and TV Licensing

Green Day/Movies
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Low CD sales have prevented artists from making as much money off publishing royalties as they used to – but licensing fees from movies, commercials and TV shows from The O.C. to Breaking Bad have picked up some of the slack. One top music-business source estimates that Green Day made hundreds of thousands of dollars by licensing "99 Revolutions," from their upcoming album !Tre!, for the end-credits of the recent Will Ferrell-Zach Galifianakis political farce The Campaign.

Potential payday: $250,000-$600,000. About half usually goes to the performer, with the other half going to whoever owns the song's publishing rights.

Downsides: This can sometimes be a tough decision for an artist: will we ultimately do better by breaking our new song in a movie, or doing it the old-fashioned way on the radio? But that's a pretty good problem to have.

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