Nine Ways Musicians Actually Make Money Today

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

Load Previous
Movie and TV Licensing
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Courtesy of Warner Bros.8/9

Movie and TV Licensing

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.

Back to Top