Being a successful musician in today’s musical environment requires a lot of work. Some lucky few achieve stardom and financial security at a young stage of their careers and it works out for them. For others, it takes years of work to make it in the business. For others, being a musician means scraping by from paycheck to paycheck merely surviving. From some of the shared experience that some colleagues and I have accumulated, I have found out that to be financially stable you need to diversify.
A lot of people have probably heard this word before in the news, movies, business magazines, marketing videos, etc. But most people brush it off as something business people talk about and don’t ever pay any attention to it. To diversify means to invest time and effort in more than one venture. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Yes, you should have a main project on which you work on. But all of your income should not come from just one place.
Rock stars and movie stars create their own clothing brands, fragrances, TV shows, you name it. These people are the first ones to know that they have to capitalize on their fame as an opportunity as most fame now a day is short lived. But as every day working musicians most of us don’t have the financial resources to partake in such ventures. What we do have is access to the internet (which is an incredible tool when used correctly), our knowledge and our own brand of creativity.
What are some diversification ideas to spend our time on as musicians?
1. Book writer:
The good thing about books is that once you write and publish it, most of the work is already done (aside from marketing and selling) and the earnings from each sell trickle down slowly. This helps to increase you’re total income while reducing your workload a bit. It’s also a way to give back to the community by sharing your personal insights.
It’s a digital platform full of potential revenue, but it requires a lot of work and more importantly it requires that you are consistent with your video uploads. There definitely is money to be made but it can almost become a fulltime job. It is also a great way to stay in shape for gigging, helps out with your teaching and speaking chops all the while creating a cool presentation card for other ventures. It’s also a great way to get your products out in the market. Just remember to keep posting.
3. Session musician:
Playing for other artists as a session musician usually comes with a steady pay as long as the gigs keep coming. It’s a great way to network and meet other musicians in your area. This means more gigs in the future as people will know you, and you will have a larger contact pool when you are in need of another musician for one of your gigs.
4. Top 40 bands/cover bands:
In most cases, this is one of the best ways to maintain a steady gig and cash flow. Some musicians gig up to 10 times a week while playing in cover bands; although the average is more around 3 gigs per week. On the flipside, don’t get caught up trying to become an artist as a cover band; you need original music (unless you can find an incredibly original way of doing these; exhibit 1: Dirty Loops).
5. Music teacher:
Being a music teacher is another great way of making that extra dough while working on your personal projects. It can provide a steady stream of money while you work on your teaching skills. There are tons of ways of doing this; you can teach at a school, an academy and/or private lessons at home. You have to be careful as with the cover band because teaching does tend to fill a lot of your work time/energy during the week. A good dose of patience also comes in handy for this gig.
Having more than one source of income is becoming more and more invaluable in the life of musicians and non musicians alike. These are just some options that can come in handy if you find yourself struggling to pay rent or if you are just looking to make an extra buck on the side. One has to be willing to learn new skills and take new risks when looking to survive and prosper as a musician nowadays. For more ideas stay tuned for part 2!