5 Ways To Make Money While Building Your Music Career

We could all use a little extra cash from time to time, am I right? And wouldn’t it be nice if while you were making that extra money, you could also be: 

  • building your network 
  • learning about the music industry 
  • expanding your skillset 
  • staying within the music industry? 

Sure, there are plenty of ways to earn extra money that has nothing to do with this industry. But what fun is that? You only have so many hours in the day. If you’re not using them to get ahead in your career, someone else might be. So, when it comes to earning a little extra money, what are some of your options without leaving the industry?

What are you really good at?

Everyone has at least one thing that they’re better at than most people. It could be that you’ve successfully run ads on social media. Or maybe it’s that you know how to run your own PR campaign. You may even be able to create really great graphics/press photos/social media copy or you’re great at booking shows or routing a tour. 

Don’t worry if you’re not the best in the world at it. All you need is a 10% edge. Meaning, you just have to be 10% better than the people you’re marketing your skill to. And odds are if you’re great at any of the things I just listed, at least 100 people around you are not, and would pay for that service.

This is one of the first ways I recommend you start looking for ways to earn money, because it allows you to set your own rates,create your own schedule, work from wherever you want, and it allows you to network with people you might never get the chance to otherwise—from other bands to industry professionals, it’s a great way to establish a name for yourself, network, and maybe even create a sustainable business that you can continue on with. In fact, this is how I built my own PR company and I can tell you that being in charge of my own income, hours, and who I work with, is worlds better than any office job I’ve ever had.

After all, wouldn’t it be great to be your own boss and still have that income and flexibility for tours?

Teaching (virtual and in person)

This old standby had to make the list, because as much as you may not love teaching, it is a great way to stay connected to your music and earn a little extra cash. Whether you’re doing this in person or online through your own services or through an established music school, this is an easy and quick way to make a little extra consistent cash.

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Not only is it probably low effort for you, but it’s incredibly flexible, it works with your schedule and income goals, and it’s one of those gigs that you can take when you need it (and stop doing when you get sick of it) and it provides recurring revenue. Most people aren’t coming in for just one lesson right? So you’ll offer packages for say, 3 months of lessons and because of that, you’ll know for the next three months, every week/month, you can count on that income. Not bad.

Ask around

You’d be surprised how many opportunities are floating around out there, that you’ll never hear about unless you ask. Most of the music industry truly is who you know, which means most positions will never appear on any official job board—and if they do, it’s usually just for show. The real way to find out about opportunities big and small, is to start asking, joining the right groups, and making it known what you’re looking for. Odds are there are at least a few opps in your area, even for small, flexible positions like posting flyers around town or stuffing envelopes at a mom and pop label.

Experiment with merch

Everyone knows that musicians no longer make money off their music, but on touring and merch. So pay attention to what kind of merch your fans actually want and then, create it for them. Don’t just do the same boring t-shirt, do something highly brand specific that your fans can get behind. Something that they’d feel SO excited and proud to wear, because only people who know and love the band, or have their sense of humor, or love of (fill in the blank) would get.

If you have a knack for this, consider consulting with other bands to help them up their merch game.

Create your own opportunities 

There’s nothing like creating your own opportunities. When you’re not finding the perfect fit, it’s time to create that job for yourself. Similar to the first option, start brainstorming what it is you’re good at and what you’d like to do more of, and then, if you can’t find anyone hiring, just start doing it yourself. Like I said, this is a big part of how I started my own PR company and seven years later, we’re still going strong and it brings in more money than my nine-to-five ever did. So don’t let anyone tell you a career in the music industry doesn’t pay—it’s just a matter of finding the right fit, and then making it work for you.

Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.

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Join the conversation
  • David g smart g - October 6, 2020 reply

    Very help full

  • Isaa Kalluk - October 18, 2020 reply

    I can say I am good at any instruments I come across with and for once I had a dream to be one of the first of many individuals in the polar western arctic region to build my own recording studio since I have a bit of experience in the building industry and have also previously maintained buildings, the recording studio would consist of most available instruments such as drums, guitars, bass, keyboards, pianos and much more, further more inviting artists all over the region to record any music as a career development program, also create a sponsorship program such as a tuition or a grants funds.

  • Matt Lewis - September 3, 2021 reply

    You guys crack me up with all these ideas that take away from the one thing every Musician wants. Play live for an audience. If you can’t find a music gig, then by all means go teach, because you don’t belong in music biz. So say; This 74yr Old School Pro.

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