I've met so many incredibly talented, creative and skilled musicians who have a poor understanding of how to manage their finances. Unfortunately, most of those people are unable to sustain themselves through their music. In order to make your living in music, you first need to find the ways to make the income, and then you need to know how to manage that income. The tips below will help you with both of those aspects.
1. Develop Multiple Income Streams
You may have heard this before but it's worth you hearing it a hundred more times. In today's music industry, it is completely essential to have multiple income streams - even top 40 artists rely on multiple sources of income including streaming, downloads, ticket sales, merch sales, royalties, CD sales, etc. You need to discover what YOUR income streams could be. Be prepared to think outside the box with ideas like: transcribing music, recording as a session musician, helping an artist with booking, mixing other people's music, teaching, Patreon/crowdfunding, etc. Or stick with the aforementioned revenue streams that are a little more standard for artists, plus things like TV/film placements which can result in great royalties coming your way.
2. Sign Up For A PRO
PRO stands for Performances Rights Organization. Examples in the US include BMI, ASCAP, and SESAC, but each country has its own equivalents. These companies collect and distribute royalties to you on your behalf each time your original music is played in a public space or on a public medium such as radio, TV, Internet Radio, Spotify, etc. You even get royalties simply for performing your original music live in most venues! There's no reason not to sign up - you're missing out on royalties you are entitled to if you don't. I'm with BMI and it's totally free except perhaps a small sign-up fee, but no regular charges.
3. Set Financial Goals For 2019
You will feel a great sense of optimism and excitement after you set a figure for 2019. Take a look at your current income streams, then think about your future income streams, and how you are going to make those happen. Then set a numerical goal that is going to stretch you but not paralyze you. If you set your goal too low, you aren't maximizing your potential, but if you set it so high that you'll never achieve it, the goal is worthless and you will abandon it, defeating the purpose of setting it. Once you have figured out your target income for 2019 divide it by 12 to see what your average monthly income needs to be in order to achieve your annual goal.
4. Create A Financial Spreadsheet
This is an absolute MUST! Your income will be very varied and inconsistent compared to someone with a standard job, and will be coming from all kinds of different sources, so you need to be carefully tracking your earnings if you can ever hope to achieve your financial goals. If you have some basic skills in a program like Excel, use columns and functions such as "SUM" to automate the spreadsheet as much as possible, so that when you play a show, get a royalty payment, etc., you can simply enter the value in the spreadsheet and it will be added automatically to the monthly and yearly total.
Commit to making 2019 a substantially better financial year than 2018. The above tips will help a lot if you execute them properly and creatively. Good luck!