Earning

26-year-old music producer has made nearly $200,000 on Fiverr since 2019: 'I'm just really happy that I get to do this'

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Nick Ortega.
Courtesy Nick Ortega
Key Points
  • Nick Ortega, 26, had been touring with and producing music for his band PRXZM for years when the pandemic hit.
  • Out of work, the producer decided to spruce up his Fiverr profile and offer music producing services to anyone interested.
  • He's since made nearly $200,000 producing music and doing graphic design through the site.

Nick Ortega, 26, had always dabbled with music. He took piano lessons for 10 years as a kid and started messing around with music production software back in high school. "The person who got me into wanting to create music the most, I think, out of all the artists that I listened to, was [electronic music producer] Porter Robinson," he says.

While studying at Indiana University, Ortega teamed up to write some tunes with fellow student Emma Maidenberg. The two eventually formed synth pop band PRXZM and began touring immediately after college, in 2017. They played venues like the historic outdoor amphitheater Red Rocks in Colorado supporting acts like DJ and producer Marshmello.

In between tours in 2019, Ortega was looking for a way to continue making music, maybe even for other people. He created a Fiverr account offering music production services and picked up a few orders as the band continued touring. Having long lived in Indiana with his parents, in February 2020, he moved to Los Angeles.

Within a month of that move and this new chapter in his life, the world came to a halt. As Ortega waited to hear what would become of the band's forthcoming tour, he remembered his Fiverr profile. He updated his bio, refined his packages, and "made sure to just really make it look like I was the right guy for the job for someone looking for music," he says.

"From there," he says, "the orders just really started rolling in."

Altogether, Ortega has grossed nearly $200,000 on Fiverr. Even as he waits for the opportunity to perform again, the site has given him a chance to build his skillset and repertoire, and to stay afloat as a musician.

Writing music for people who 'desperately want to be a DJ'

As a producer, Ortega offers two basic packages. The first is as a ghost writer. "I'll make music for someone, deliver it to them, and then that's their song," he says. "They made the song and I'm completely out of that."

Often those paying for this kind of service are "people who don't know how to make music but so desperately want to be a DJ," he says. They'll pay for someone to make one-of-a-kind songs that can be theirs to start their careers with.

The other population is "more established brands that don't necessarily want to pay royalties to someone who they get the music from," he says. It's often companies that need background music for commercials and want to maintain the rights. He's worked with YouTubers, for example, or luxury accessory company Hermes.

The producer and composer package is not too different, in terms of the kind of work Ortega does. He's still creating music for a client, but whereas in ghost writing, the public can't know he wrote the track, with this package, his contributions don't have to remain a secret.

"They're essentially the same offering," he says, "it's just a matter of SEO. Like, which keywords are going to hit better" for the people seeking out the service online.

Ghost production services go for $50 to $300 each, and music production services go for $50 to $450 each.

Graphic design now 'outperforms my ghost production'

Over the pandemic, Ortega expanded his offerings to graphic design.

"I got super into making PRXZM's album covers and doing all the visual direction for our music videos," he says. "So I figured I'd offer it because I think our stuff looks okay and professional enough. And now, surprisingly, that outperforms my ghost production."

Ortega will use programs like Photoshop to make album covers, logos, packages for music releases, and so on. His graphic design packages go for $50 to $200 each.

Ortega performing with PRXZM.

Even today, '40% of my gigs are from Fiverr'

"At the beginning of the pandemic, like, 100% of my revenue was from Fiverr," says Ortega. But as the world has opened up and he's built up his repertoire as a producer, he's been able to expand his services to live writing sessions and production with people who've heard of him through word of mouth or who he's worked with around town.

Right now, "I'd say, like, 40% of my gigs are from Fiverr and then the rest are not," he says. Altogether, these days, he brings in between $8,000 and $15,000 per month.

His goal for the future is simple: To keep enjoying what he's doing.

"I'm just really happy that I get to do this," he says, "and I would like to continue that happiness and the growth if those two can coincide."

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