Mechanical royalties. This started off as money from the physical sale of a record, cassette, cd, sheet music, etc. It has also come to include the sale of a digital download from a source like iTunes. But let’s be honest with ourselves! Nowadays nobody pays for music anymore, isn’t it? Writers need someone to collect this money for them. Typically, the publisher whom the writer is under contract with, collects mechanical royalties.
Performance royalties. This is money from live shows, radio and TV play, and has come to include streaming royalties for services like Spotify and Pandora, satellite radio, etc. Typically the music associations such as COMPASS, CASH, BMI, ASCAP and SESAC collect this money.
YouTube. YouTube has become one of the biggest sources for music. If you monetize your videos on YouTube, you can get paid up to $10-12 per 1,000 clicks. You must be sure that you properly register the song you are performing if it is not your own. I know someone who created a mashup video of two of Taylor Swift songs that Taylor herself tweeted about. The video has over 22,000,000 clicks. Do the math on that. The songwriter royalties will go to Taylor, but the people that did the video will get a nice payday as well. You can work with a publisher that is a YouTube affiliate or deal directly with YouTube to monetize your videos.
Internet TV. I have had some songs on internet TV which means platforms like Netflix. I know someone who got a song in an internet soap opera. After the show, she got in the chatroom for the show and wound up selling 1700 CDs at $10 a piece to people that loved her music in the show.
Sync licenses. many people make money for providing music to TV, movies, wedding videos, etc. The possibilities here are limitless if you can find out who the people are who NEED music and establish yourself as a reliable source. I don’t recommend giving people music for free upfront and counting on royalties on the back end. I’ve never seen that work.
If you have great music and you are creative in your marketing, you can still make a nice living writing music. Be creative.