[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Angela Mastrogiacomo.]
Being a musician isn’t easy. There’s a lot of time, energy, and money that goes into creating albums and supporting them on tour. And sometimes, when you’re trying just to make ends meet, whether it’s to pay rent or even just get that pizza you want (and why shouldn’t you have it?), it can be difficult to really pay for the “extras” like PR or awesome merch.
But you know what I’m going to say—these things aren’t really extras after all. You need PR to get the word out. You need that unique merch to build a relationship with your fans. You need to tour to get the word out.
And that can add up, can’t it?
Whether you’re looking to jump ship from your day job to something a little more flexible, or you want to add a new revenue stream to pay for a few of those extras in the next album cycle, we’ve put together a few side hustle ideas that keep you inside the music industry.
1. Music Business Consulting
This is going to be one of your best options. If you know anything at all about the business side of this industry, you can use that knowledge to help other artists overcome their own pain points.
For instance, if you know how to run FaceBook and Instagram ads that actually get you genuine, engaged fans out to your show or commenting on your posts or watching your videos, that’s a skill you can teach other artists, or, offer do for them.
This also goes for if you’ve done your own PR and have seen great results, if you’ve successfully booked a profitable tour, if you’ve managed to build an engaged fanbase—whatever you might be succeeding at, trust me, there are tons of artists who need that knowledge and would be willing to pay for a little help.
2. Working the merch booth
You’re already an expert at working your own merch booth, why not help out a few other bands?! Ask around with other local bands to see if they need someone to help out and peruse Facebook groups for similar opportunities.
Even if nothing pops up the first time around, this is one of those things that if you keep reminding people you’re interested, they’ll think of you when this or another opportunity pops up.
3. Tour managing
Now, I’m not talking about being a tour manager for major bands, but instead, doing this with smaller, growing bands. The pay probably won’t be amazing at first, but if it’s something you’re genuinely interested in and good at, and you’re willing to grow with it, this could be a really good option for you, especially since it can last anywhere from a week to a couple months, so it’s not a full-time commitment taking you away from your own band.
Plus, you’ll learn a thing or two for your next tour, and it’ll likely be rich with other learning and networking opportunities.
If you aren’t already, teaching part time, be it in person or online, can be a great way to make a little extra money while making your own schedule and potentially not even leaving your home. The best part is, you can do it as needed.
So if you know you need a couple of grand for an upcoming merch run or PR campaign, you can take on however many students you need and then stop once you’ve made the money you need.
5. Studio Musician/Cover Band
I know, this one isn’t for everyone, but being a studio musician or also playing in a cover band or even a wedding band can be a really lucrative way to make a little bit of side hustle money. Check out the options within the area and reach out.
6. Ask local venues and labels
Very often, labels, venues, and promoters will have small, one-off or recurring jobs that they need help with but don’t really post about. For instance, posting flyers around town for an upcoming show or event, stuffing envelopes (ok usually interns do that, but maybe they have a paid internship), keeping track of orders, things like that.
Do a lap around town and go in and see someone. Emailing is an ok option but you’ll get a lot further if you can get in front of someone and in the office or venue in this case. Also, try to seek out those smaller, independent outfits—it’s worth chatting with the larger companies as well, but you might get further with the more independent ones.
Remember, these can be full-time positions to help you fund your career, or flexible part time positions just to get you what you need for a specific project. The options are there though and despite what you may have heard, it really is possible to create multiple revenue streams and support yourself as you grow your career as an artist—all without leaving the industry.