Despite what you’ve heard, it’s possible to be in a serious band while having a career. Part of being an active and successful musician in 2017 is abandoning the now defunct notion that “making it” means becoming so successful that you’ll be able to someday quit your day job and ride off into the sunset and leave a trail of cash in your dust. Even Grizzly Bear, one of the world’s most beloved and successful indie rock bands, famously revealed that not all of its members could afford health insurance back in a 2012 interview. Getting a serious job isn’t admitting defeat when it comes to making music. Defeat only happens when you stop making music altogether, and that can happen whether you’re employed or not.
Plenty of musicians are doing well in their careers and making meaningful music, and if you’ve been writing and performing seriously for a few years, you’ve probably developed some serious skills that could apply toward a career outside of music. Here’s five examples of band skills:
The world of marketing might be at odds with you and what your music is about, but every time you promote a show or encourage your fans to check out a new song, you’re employing skills that a marketer would in their job. Marketing is a broad term, but it’s basically the skill of deciding how to present products to consumers. If you make music and have tried to get people to listen, you’ve got experience in marketing whether you like it or not.
Communicating effectively with venues, press outlets, and anyone else your band works with on a regular basis is essential if you want to be taken seriously, and writing clear and cohesively is a valuable skill that you can use in many careers. The pitches your band sends off to venues, press, and blogs are actually pretty similar to the cover letters you’ll need to craft while applying for jobs. There will always be a demand for good writers, and this is a skill that can give you access to loads of job options in and out of the music industry.
If your band books your own tours, then guess what? You’re all professional researchers! Researchers are tasked with finding out everything they can about a certain topic, and looking into finding out what venues and press outlets to contact in the cities you plan on playing is absolutely difficult and tedious research.
4. Social media engagement
Did you know that people get paid to write tweets and Facebook statuses? There’s a lot more skill and work involved in the daily life of a social media marketer, but if you’re the person in the band who handles social media stuff, the skillset and knowledge you’re developing now can apply to a career later.
5. Graphic design/illustration
When your band has a big show coming up, are you the person everyone turns to to create compelling posters and online banners? If so, you’ve got graphic design and possibly some illustration experience! Whether you want to work for a big company or just for yourself, there will always be a demand for graphic design and illustration. If you’ve got an eye for design, color and composition, then you might have skills that could apply to a lucrative career.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.