Written By: Nicola Reid
Making money as up-and-coming musicians can be a challenge. It typically takes many years for those in the talent industry to establish themselves and make money through traditional channels – think live performances, recordings, merchandise, and royalties.
Fortunately, you don’t need to wait until you’re a household name to make money if you’re a
budding musician. With a nice side gig, you could earn a significant sum on the side, while still having enough spare time to make music.
The Mic Radio & Media covers side gigs below, including suggestions on how to manage your time so you can still make music:
What kind of side gigs can musicians have?
While there is no real limit to what kind of side gig you can do, it may be a good idea to do
something that harnesses your existing creative talents, skills, and experiences. Below are
some music-related side gig options:
● Sell music: You could attempt to sell your music directly on online marketplaces, music
libraries, and streaming platforms.
● Freelance: There are many freelancing opportunities out there directly or indirectly
related to music. Some examples are transcribing, narrating, composing, and writing
● Perform: You could perform for fans online or offline. You can set up live gigs, have a
YouTube or similar channel, find patrons, and make money from shows and tickets.
● Teach: You could tutor people in music, online or offline. It can be lucrative and also
help you grow your own skills.
● Get a part-time job: Working in the music industry is always an option. It can help you
find contacts, gain experience, and make money.
Making It With Chris G. offers a handful of other music-related options that are worth exploring. You could also always do something non-music-related, although that might be harder and take up more of your time.
Working a side gig offers many benefits:
The main advantage of a good side gig for an up-and-coming musician is that it could be something both profitable and flexible. You could potentially make enough money to support yourself while you focus on your music and get established as a musician. Other advantages of side gigs are gaining experience, building up your portfolio, raising your profile, and becoming more confident in yourself. If you set up a dedicated, in-home workspace, you have a multitude of benefits. It allows you to dive deep into your craft when inspiration strikes, you can work uninterrupted, you can meet with clients as needed, and you can even deduct certain expenses on your taxes. Done correctly, any upgrades you make (soundproofing, decor, improved parking, etc.) could even improve your home's market value.
How to find gigs:
You can find gigs both online and offline. Here are some suggestions:
● Scouring ads and local listings.
● Participating in shows, events, and competitions.
● Approaching people working in your area of interest.
● Approaching local venues and hosts.
● Networking with fellow musicians.
● Marketing your services actively.
● Using side gig apps.
How to market yourself:
Good marketing will allow you to establish your brand, allow people to get to know you, and find paying clients. Again, you could market offline or online (or both). A website promoting your work is a wonderful way to advertise yourself and organically draw in clients. You could also get on social media, list yourself on top sites, get on freelancer marketplaces, start a newsletter, pay for advertisements, and more. Having a long-term marketing strategy is critical. You should put SEO to work in helping you build your brand. These principles aren't exactly intuitive, but there are online resources to help you learn how to apply them. Check out informational sites that provide expert advice and direction on how to best use content
marketing to your advantage. Marketing, as essential as it is, can be time-consuming. Doing it effectively also requires expertise. Teaming up with a music marketing company can free up some of your burdens and make it easier.
Managing your time to leave enough for your art:
As a musician, your priority is your music – and it takes time to practice music, learn new skills, and grow as a musician. Having a side gig can be time-consuming – doubly so if you have a day job. You’ll have to carefully manage your time to ensure you have enough to dedicate to music. A good way to go about this is to be disciplined, get organized, and apply time management skills. Some examples are prioritizing, creating a schedule, setting goals, eliminating distractions, having a dedicated workspace for focus, not overcommitting, and using apps and tools. LeaderBoy offers other time-management suggestions.
Some legal considerations:
Unless you get a job for someone else, you’re going to be working for yourself. Instead of being an independent contractor, you could start a freelancing business like being a YouTuber and register an LLC for the benefits on offer: limited liability, tax advantages, less paperwork, and more flexibility. You can avoid hefty lawyer fees by filing yourself or by using a formation service. States have different regulations around LLC formation. Check the rules in your state before you move ahead. If you plan to be a business, you will also have to consider some other legal aspects – getting registered, having an EIN, getting bank accounts, acquiring licenses and permits, getting insurance, and more.
As an independent or semi-independent musician, you will have to look after your own interests. Knowing contracts – including how to create basic ones – can help you get paid on time, keep everyone on the same, and avoid legal trouble down the road. When drawing up terms and contracts for clients, you can use a tool that allows you to sign and fill out PDF forms online. That way, you and your clients can sign documents online, without having to print anything out. It’s fast, efficient, and eco-friendly. After e-signing, you can securely store or share your PDF file.
A good side gig can help you make a significant sum of money, which you can use to support yourself while attempting to grow your music career. Solid time management skills are essential if you want to both have a side gig and a music career. You can work with professionals like marketing companies to grow your brand and make your journey as a musician easier.
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