Love it or loathe it, touring for long stretches of time is mandatory for bands who want to be taken seriously. Even if things go well, touring can be a hugely taxing endeavor for most bands, with the chief difficulty of most tours being that musicians are often asked to work for weeks and months at a time in exchange for little or no money. And unless you’re packing the venues night after night or are touring with a cover band, your band is most likely not making a whole lot of money on tour. Bands run the risk of going broke and breaking up if they go too long between working and paying the bills at home. So, what’s a serious band to do when it’s in the position of needing to regularly tour but simply can’t afford to? Try getting a remote job.
Working remotely gives you the power to make money wherever you can use your computer. In the touring context, this means working in the van or in a coffee shop between shows. Even picking up some part time work will help support your band members in whatever unique financial situation they’re in. Twenty to fifty dollars goes a long way when you’re not making any money out on the road, but a remote job can often pay much more than that if you’ve got skills that are in demand and time to work.
The burgeoning remote economy is allowing people to earn money in ways that weren’t possible even a decade ago. Jobs in coding, writing, graphic design, and marketing are just a few of the many examples of remote work your band could find to help sustain serious touring. Even teaching English has become a reliable remote job for many people. This means that if you’ve got a computer, ambition, and some basic skills, you’ll be able to find remote work. But that’s not to say that a remote job doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges.
For many bands, part of the fun of touring is the escape from the job and relationship pressures of home. The right remote jobs will keep your band afloat, but at the cost of taking some of those job stresses with you out on the road. And while freelance remote gigs give you the ability to work for yourself, some remote positions demand strict hours, frequent video conference availability, and other requirements that aren’t conducive to most touring situations. For example, if your band’s in the habit of staying up until the wee hours of the morning every night, daily meetings done over video every morning are going to be difficult or even downright impossible for some musicians.
And taking the time out of each day to work for 2-8 hours just isn’t going to be a realistic option for some bands. Even for seasoned bands, the road is filled with all sorts of distractions. But if you can learn to make the most out of your down time during tours, you’ll have a good chance of sustaining yourself financially while developing your music career at the same time.
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.