It’s hard to make a living from your music when you’re just starting out. Heck, it’s hard to make a living even when you’re making a living from your music! So if you’re just starting to transition into becoming a full-time working musician and still need to supplement your income with daytime hours, it’s always a good idea to try to find a job that doesn’t impede too much on your schedule, but that is also fulfilling and energizing.
In this gig economy, many of us find ourselves trying to avoid falling into the sometimes inevitable 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. work army that we’re brainwashed all of our lives to join. So what are some of the jobs that has flexible hours, pays pretty well, and won’t leave you emotionally and physically drained? Starting off, these 9 well falls into that category!
1. Music Teacher/Mentor
Teaching music is an obvious one, but there’s a reason why it’s such a popular choice! People will pay a lot for good music lessons, and you have complete control over your schedule and the number of students you take on. You could give private lessons in your students’ homes, have people come to your home, or even teach at a local music school.
If you travel frequently or want a wider pool of students, online music lessons and mentorship are becoming increasingly prevalent. Websites like TakeLessons and Lessonface are great for teaching instruments like guitar, piano, and voice online, while other sites like Soundfly pair experts in composition, production, orchestration, and more with students seeking personal mentorship for 4-6 weeks at a time.
2. Sound Tech
If you’ve gigged a lot, you probably know a thing or two about live sound already. Supplement your naturally good ear with a program or an internship to learn the equipment and hone your skills, and you have the potential for an awesome musician side job on your hands.
Work your existing connections at local music venues and see if any of them are looking for help behind the soundboard. If touring is more your thing, find out if any bands you know are looking for a sound tech to join them on the road.
3. Piano Tuner
You don’t necessarily need to be a pianist yourself, but having an excellent ear and a deep understanding of the instrument are essential to get hired as a piano tuner. A decent amount of training will be necessary if you want to really be in demand, but it’s worth it — piano tuners are typically self-employed with a ton of flexibility, and you can bet that there’s always a piano somewhere that needs to be tuned or repaired.
4. Freelance Writer
It makes sense that many songwriters also have a knack for other types of writing. Once you get some experience under your belt, make a list of music publications you like and find out which ones compensate for contributions. You can easily turn your own music career experiences into articles containing tips and advice for fellow musicians. You can also make great industry connections doing artist interviews, album reviews, and concert reviews. (The press passes certainly don’t hurt, either!)
5. Music Store Salesperson
Working at a music store or record store is typically an entry-level day job, but it’s pretty awesome to be around instruments, gear, or records all day — and you get the satisfaction of helping other people along their musical journeys in some way.
You’re probably not going to be getting huge paychecks, but the plus side is that you’ll be surrounded by like-minded coworkers who will understand if you need to take a little time off or cut out early for an important rehearsal or show.
6. Create and Sell Online Courses
Selling online courses can be immensely profitable, if you commit to it. Much like YouTube, selling an online course allows you to teach a musical skill that you’re passionate about to a huge group of people.
It’s incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to help people achieve their dreams. Receiving positive feedback on your course is truly a gift in and of itself. But don’t just take my word for it! Look at sites like Become a Bassist, Piano in 21 Days, or Rick Beato who teaches courses on things like advanced harmonic concepts. There are tons of musicians out there making serious money with online courses – and you can too.
7. Bartender at a music venue
Bartending itself obviously doesn’t involve music directly, but if you do it at a cool venue that you love, it’s a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your local music scene. The tips can really add up, and you’ll also be in a great position for built-in networking opportunities with other musicians who come through.
8. Live Sound Engineer/Venue Tech
Now this one will require some training; and by training I mean you’ll probably have to shadow someone a few times while running a four-hour show plus soundcheck, in addition to learning a lot about mixing live music. But if you know your way around a microphone, a drum kit, and a few amps, and you can manage a mixing board pretty well, the rest will come easily on the job!
Running live sound at a venue is not a very demanding job, but you will need to learn the basics of how to run a board for a variety of different sounding acts, and how to deal with a variety of musicians with “big” personalities. That said, being a live sound engineer is a great way to meet other bands and get close with local venues and promoters.
9. Sell Sample Packs & Patches
If you’re a studio guru with lots of great sounds running around, you should absolutely consider making your own sample packs, instrument patches, or midi patterns. The beauty of this idea is that these are probably things you’ve already made for yourself, and now you have an opportunity to sell them to earn extra money.
Just be sure that you don’t use copyrighted samples as a starting point for your sounds. You need to use original source material.It can also be a good idea to send the packs to artists that you’re friends with before you release it to the masses. Not only can they help you notice things like mislabeled samples, they can also provide you some feedback, and maybe even an endorsement!
10. Licensing Your Music Online
Music licensing is largely about creating a portfolio of songs that allow you to earn passive income while you pursue activities that interest you. Ultimately, music licensing is somewhat of a numbers game. So you need to be good at writing and recording efficiently. You also need to create templates in your recording software to rapidly speed up your workflow.
At the same time, it also requires you to write songs appropriate for licensing, create a good mix, and upload the song with a keywords that will allow the search engine to display your songs.