While many musically talented kids dream of becoming professional singers or instrumentalists, it isn’t always feasible. And many more very talented musicians approach their lifelong goals only to find it’s very hard to make a living on just writing and playing the music you love. So what’s a working musician to do? Just wait tables in between tours and sessions?
The good news is there are ways to support yourself without setting music aside. Whether it’s in a studio or soundtracking a live event, there are many options to keep musical chops sharp while you simultaneously pay your bills and chase your dreams.
- Scoring Films and Television
If you’re looking for a new compositional challenge, consider exploring the world of film and television soundtracking. You don’t have to be Hans Zimmer or John Williams to get started. The job in this modern age is very technical, because most composing is now done on the computer and other electronics. Film composers must write, create, and edit the music before synchronizing it with the visual of the movie. If you have a love of ambient or orchestral composition, this field could be for you.
2. Sound Engineering
At some point, the vast majority of musicians want to record their work to push it out to a larger audience. But this isn’t as simple as pushing “REC” on four-track or Garageband and getting a great sound. Audio engineers often work in studios or remotely to help musicians produce the best possible version of their work. These technicians utilize and maintain the technical equipment so they can capture, enhance, mix and reproduce sounds. If you’re interested in the technical side of music or in helping musicians become their best-sounding selves, give engineering apprenticeships a look.
3. Providing Live Entertainment
Most musicians play live at some point, but if you’re looking to support yourself, you’ll have to get creative to find well-paying gigs. Don’t just bank on your own album release show or bar gigs to make it happen. Depending on your sound, seek out small or large events where you could play and find new exposure. Think weddings, park festivals, tailgates, flea markets, art exhibitions, and everything in between — there will be events out there that will suit your vibe and may have budgets built in to hire entertainment.
4. Teaching Music
Teaching the next generation of musicians can be a great way to supplement your income and ensure you have an airtight grip on your craft. There’s no better way to test your own knowledge than having to teach a concept! Private instructors work one on one to ensure their students are singing and playing to the best of their abilities. How committed you want to be to teaching is up to you. You could get started teaching out of your living room or consider partnering with your local music store.
5. Creating Sponsored YouTube Content
Countless musicians have found YouTube to be a valuable resource for learning and publicizing music as the online platform has grown over the last decade. Musicians often start out on YouTube, and as they get more popular, they begin to give tutorials on how to sing and play instruments just like them. Along the way, the most prominent YouTubers are able to pick up sponsors for their videos. Maybe it’s an instrument company or audio software company. You can head to YouTube right now and find hundreds, if not thousands, of examples of people successfully honing their online presence through well-produced, personality-filled videos.