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Musicians Making Music Make Money a Scale Approach

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 6

Whether you're a student of music, an aspiring songwriter, or playing in a "jam band", at one point in your musical life you have asked yourself...How am I going to make money making music? As musicians we love to play music, we love to be creative, we love performing, we love to write, think abstractly and dream that our music will change the world. Truth is, we also love food on the table and a roof over our head! I'm going to share a few part-time opportunities for musicians to earn money making music.

Do. Performing in a Live Group: 

Whatever your instrument, performing on stage is one of the most rewarding experiences as a musician. Ideally, there is an appreciative and responsive audience, they are hanging on to every note, shouting and applauding after every song. It's even more rewarding when there is a pay check at the end of the gig! You may be in a band or looking to get into one. Seek out these venues for your band or get into one that is already performing for them. 

  • Night Clubs/Bars
  • Wedding Bands
  • Private/Corporate Parties
  • Music Festivals/Fairs
  • Amusement Parks
  • Cruise Ship
  • Reunions
  • Military Bases
  • VFW Hall

Seek out groups that are already performing at a commercial level. Groups that are gigging, getting paid and have a following are more likely to give you consistent income. You can find ads on Craigslist. Beware of the ads that say "looking to form a band" or ads that say they are looking for "bass, keys, guitar and drums". They obviously do not have gigs lined up. 

Re. Performing Solo: 

One of the best aspects of performing solo is that you don't have to split the check with anyone! Pay can range from $25.00-$500.00 or more depending. You also get to make all the decisions; what songs, when to start, when to stop etc. You may not perform on an instrument that is suited for solo performance. But for piano players and guitar players get your name out and monopolize these events.

  • Coffee Houses
  • Hotel Lobby
  • Rehearsal Pianist/Guitarist
  • Dance Studios/Improv Workshops
  • Poetry Clubs/Readings
  • Reception Parties (corporate/community)
  • Retirement Homes
  • Accompanist

Me. Teaching:

Teaching is another rewarding way to make music and make money. You will need to define your method of teaching, where you're going to teach, as well as what defines your students profile. Are they classical musicians or guitar shredders? Do they want to learn music theory or just how to play a few pop tunes? On average, for private lessons, a teacher can charge between $25.00-$100.00. Be fair based on your skill level, but don't undercut yourself either. Another option is to teach for a local commercial music school. They will provide the students and location to teach, but they can take 10-50% of the hourly wage. It's a good deal if you're not sure about advertising yourself as a private instructor.

  Fa. Arranger:

A full-time arranger can make up to $100,000.00 a year. A definite goal to work towards! If you are new to arranging, there is a bit of a learning curve. Start off with simple arrangements. Using music software like Finale you can take a plain song and turn it into something spectacular just by adding a few horn lines. To work part-time as an arranger find local bands that suit your arrangements. For larger arrangements seek out the community bands. Depending on the instrumentation, you can charge $50.00-$400.00. 

 Sol. Transcriber: 

Good training to become a good arranger is to transcribe music. Transcribing helps develop your ear, teaches you song form and instrumentation. It can also get you money in your pocket. Copy music from what is on a CD or .mp3 and notate it on staff paper for a band to read. Start simple if this is a new process to you. Introduce yourself to bands around town and let them know of your abilities. This is a good trade to pitch to songwriters. Often songwriters are looking for someone to transcribe their music. Also, cover bands that rehearse only once a week take value in a good transcribed chart. Depending on the difficulty of the chart and how many instruments you are transcribing you can charge anywhere from $25-$200.00. 

 La: Writing Jingles: 

This is a more advanced part-time gig, but the rewards are very profitable. If you're a songwriter this part-time gig lends itself well to your creative process. And it only has to be :30 seconds! You don't have to write for McDonald's to profit. Stop by your local restaurants, car dealerships and the like. It will help if you have a demo of some sort so they can hear what you have to offer. You can make anywhere between $2500.00-$5000.00. If you have to hire singers and musicians you can charge the higher price.  

 Ti: Musical Director: 

If you have experience managing musicians, conducting and leadership in music you can seek opportunities as a musical director. Churches often have openings for Musical Directors that generally work two-three times a week and will pay a salary $34,00.00-$45,000.00. Of course, they are busier during holiday seasons. You may find your local playhouse is looking for a Musical Director for their upcoming theater programs.

  Do. Tips and Strategies: 

Networking is the key to creating these job possibilities. Attend local performances, visit local music stores and get your name out as a subject matter expert. Create your own job opportunities by advertising yourself in Craigslist and have business cards at the ready. Have fun making music make money.




Dec 3, 2011 2:24am
Creative article structure. Since private tutoring has become such a lucrative industry, there are plenty of opportunities to tutor music students. You could also consider making the school or the parents of band students aware of your services.
Dec 3, 2011 7:53am
Great comment AuroraWindsor. Thanks for being the first to comment on my first article on IB. I'm already learning alot.
Dec 7, 2011 1:06am
I liked this article. I am a guitar teacher myself, welcome to the site.
Jan 15, 2013 6:17pm
I am NOT a musician but a song writer and writer of musicals so I have dealt with virtually countless musicians over the years. Your article hit me as being right on since musicians need to keep their performance levels up just as they do their playing. Way back in the 1960s when I was in the service I used to have a show for my fellow uniforms and they were the best audience in the world. Does the Navy have that kind of opportunity? Anyway, two thumbs up from me and a rating.
Jan 21, 2013 8:55am
Lots of ways to make money making music.
Feb 13, 2013 2:43pm
Thanks Marlando. I still play with the Navy Band. I've been fortunate to play around the world for some fantastic audiences! I'm a songwriter as well. Where can I hear your music?
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