Making a living as a musician can be a challenge, and trying to subsist only of your music at the beginning of your career can be next to impossible. That said, there are some day jobs that can not only help you eat while in the early stages, but also give you a leg up in the industry.
Guest Post by Anthony Cerullo on the Sonicbids Blog
Contrary to what some movies may depict, some big-time record exec probably won't be lounging in a dive bar looking for his next star. Of course, some people get lucky and meet the right people, but you shouldn't bet your career on that. If you wanna get paid, you have to work hard for it, and in this industry, that can take years.
Starting out as a musician has to be one of the least motivating ways to start any career. It might be a while before your investment in music starts to pay off, so it's not uncommon to see musicians balancing a day job or six. Some may call you crazy but, deep down, you know it's worth doing what you love. Love is great and all, but in reality, love alone won't pay the bills. So, it's best to get to work.
For those already stressing out, relax. Getting a day job doesn't mean you're giving up on the dream. It doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing approach. You don't have to trade in your Hammond B3 for a silk tie, suede shoes, and a business haircut. There are plenty of jobs out there to supplement your income and also allow you to drudge your gear across town on a Tuesday night for $20 and some free beer. These jobs range from music related to musician convenient, but they'll all help support your career in one way or another. Let's get started.
1. Piano tuner
Before you say "I don't play piano, so I can't be a piano tuner," just keep an open mind. If you're a musician, odds are that you like music. Better yet, you probably have a good ear. Granted, a good ear isn't all it takes to be a piano tuner, but it's certainly a good start.
Think of a piano tuner as a piano mechanic of sorts. Besides making the necessary adjustments to the strings of a piano, aligning their intervals and getting them in tune, you can also perform basic repairs on the instrument.
A great part of being a piano tuner is that you work around music. Playing music is already your passion (hopefully), so to have a day job related to music is an added bonus. Additionally, all that tuning will help strengthen your natural ear.
Perhaps the next best thing about becoming a piano tuner is flexibility. Piano tuners are self-employed for the most part. You can set your own hours and leave on tour for as long as you want. When you come back, there will always be a piano to tune, so you'll never go out of business.
To become a piano technician, though, you'll have to undergo some years of training, but you'll be in high demand once you have the qualifications.
2. Office temp
This one may create a bit of controversy but, once again, keep an open mind. Just the thought of working in a dreary office, wearing a tie, and decaying underneath the fluorescent lights of a cubicle is a depressing thought for many musicians. However, musicians should know more than anyone not to judge.As an office temp, you may be filing documents, answering phones, entering data, and doing other administrative duties, but it's not going to consume you. It's a
As an office temp, you may be filing documents, answering phones, entering data, and doing other administrative duties, but it's not going to consume you. It's a temporary job. Temp jobs have a predetermined start and end date. This allows you to plan your tours accordingly and rake in enough money when you're home. Being a temp allows you much more flexibility compared to full-time workers. If a temp assignment comes up that you're not interested in, feel free to pass on it.
Furthermore, temp jobs don't feel so soul-sucking since you're changing environments every now and then. You won't get bored, and even if you do, just tough it out until the contract is up.
From a financial standpoint, office temps are better paid than most other part-time jobs, and some even offer health insurance. You don't even have to be particularly skilled or experienced to succeed as a temp. By doing well, you'll become a sought-after employee for other companies.
3. Record/music store clerk
Now you're thinking, "This is more like it!" Working at a record store or music store is probably the dream day job for many musicians. It allows you to have free nights for gigs and practice while you spend all day working around what you love most.
Why this job is great for musicians is quite obvious. For one, musicians have vast musical knowledge. In a record store, you'd be using this knowledge to sell albums and assist customers with any questions. In a music store, you would know what equipment is best for the fellow musicians who come in.
As a bonus, your coworkers will probably be like-minded and fun to be around. As for management, they'll likely be more open to giving time off for gigs. Compared to something like an office temp or piano tuner, you probably won't be making as much money, but you'll have a great time in a flexible and supportive job.
4. Recording studio owner
Some musicians are already self-starters when it comes to recording their own music. If you're one of these people, why not combine your love for recording with a money-making venture? There are countless bands, solo artists, and voiceover actors out there with minimal (or no) knowledge of recording. That is where you come in.
Before you get started, though, know that owning a legit recording studio is no easy task. Depending on how professional you want to make it, a studio can cost a lot of money and take a lot of time. Of course, if you are just doing something small for your music friends, you can take a more laid-back approach. If you want to record with the big guns, though, they will expect you to know the equipment better than the back of your hand, or foot, or whatever.
On the plus side, owning a studio gives you maximum flexibility. If you're on tour, then don't schedule clients. When you come back, you have a full-fledged money-maker waiting for you.
5. Dog walker/pet sitter
Do you enjoy hanging out with dogs and cats on your time off? Why not get paid to do it? If it sounds like a cute and fun way to earn some spare change, you're not wrong. That being said, it can take a little bit of time to work up a solid base of customers. Once you get a few happy ones, though, expect a snowball effect to occur. People love their pets and only want the best for them. If you can prove that, you'll be set.
Additionally, starting your own dog-walking business has virtually no start-up costs. Start with a good pair of shoes and someone who needs their dog walked. You should have some kind of understanding of animal care, though, but that's not hard to comprehend. Best of all, dog walking is an extremely flexible job that allows you to accept and deny clients at will. Plus, walking is good for you!
- 3 Reasons Songwriters Should Not Quit Their Day Jobs
- How to Juggle a Music Career, Day Job, and Family: Advice From Damen Samuel
- 7 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Quit Your Day Job for Music
- Yes, It's Possible to Go on Tour and Still Keep Your Day Job – Here's How 14 Musicians Do It
- What These Full-Time Musicians Wish They Knew Before Quitting Their Day Jobs
- 4 Signs It's Time to Quit Your Day Job and Do Music Full-Time
Anthony Cerullo is a nomadic freelance writer and keyboard player. In his spare time, he can be found reading, hiking mountains, and lying in hammocks for extended periods of time.