Musicians are used to hustling. In fact, singers are always cobbling together a career of many cloths that include teaching, church jobs, professional chorister positions, conducting, and an infinitely diverse grouping of day jobs. Even if you have a full-time gig with benefits and all, who doesn’t like a little extra money in their pocket? Perhaps a little extra to pay down those student loans? Pursuing some extra work on the side can help provide padding when you suddenly need to pay for car repairs or audition fees or that co-pay to get rid of your strep throat.
The Day 16 challenge, therefore, is to get yourself a side gig.
Preferably your side gig will be musical so that you can reap the financial benefits as well as the overall career benefits. It is often difficult to say “no” when someone asks you for your help and/or time. Thus, here are some points to consider before accepting a side gig.
- How much does it pay? Gigs are business deals even if they are one-time events. Politely inquire about remuneration and get your answer in writing if at all possible. Do any negotiating up front. It is quite tasteless to demand a different amount after the initial agreement.
- Will you be paid at all? There are many times when volunteering is beneficial to you. Decide if this gig falls into that category. Do not give away your product (i.e. singing/performing) for less than its value unless you have a very good reason.
- Are there any downsides? Even if your side gig is paying you a decent wage, think about the other factors like commute, parking passes, uniform purchases, etc. How much net income will you be taking home from this gig? Make sure it is a positive number.
- What is the time frame? Does your paycheck reflect the accurate amount of time you have put into the gig? “You don’t want to end up in a situation where all of a sudden you have to cancel other paying gigs, because major hours are being added on to your load without making up financially for your lost hours.”¹
Maybe you are unsure which side gig to pursue? Take a moment a peruse this list from Digital Music News.
Performer & Recording Artist Revenue
- Salary as Member of an Ensemble
- Income earned as a salaried member an ensemble.
- This is the most common type of side gig for singers mainly as choristers for churches and professional choirs.
- Shows/Performance Fees
- Revenue generated from playing in a live setting (for non-salaried players).
- Record Label Advance
- Paid to artist as part of signing a deal.
- Not sure who is giving out record label advances to young classical singers, but when you find them give them my contact info…
- Record Label Support
- Money from label for recording or tour support.
- Retail Sales
- Revenue generated from selling physical music in retail stores or via mail order. Paid to artist/performer by your label, or digital aggregator like CD Baby.
- Remember that great recording you made? Perhaps you can generate a bit of passive income by charging for downloads.
- Digital Sales
- Revenue generated from selling music digitally/online. Paid to artist/performer by your label, or digital aggregator like CD Baby or Tunecore.
- Sales at Shows
- Revenue generated from selling recordings of music at shows/live performances. Paid to artist/performer directly by fans.
- Whenever you are performing with a local group determine whether or not you can sell your recordings at the event.
Session Musician Revenue
- Session Musician/Sideman Fees for Studio Work
- Revenue paid to you for performing in a studio. Paid by label, producer or artist, depending on situation.
- One of my coolest gigs was laying down tracks for a computer video game. It was a great working environment and I walked away with a nice sum of money for a couple of hours.
- Session Musician/Sideman Fees for Live Work
- Revenue paid to you for performing in a live setting. Paid by label, producer or artist, depending on situation..
Knowledge of Craft: Teaching & Producing
- Music Teacher
- Revenue generated from teaching your musical craft.
- Teaching is a great gig to help you master your own craft while mentoring someone else. However, make sure that you are a pedagogically sound instructor. Imagine how you would feel if your teacher looked at you and only saw dollar signs. If you are going to teach, do it well.
- Money from producing another artists’ work in the studio or in a live setting.
- Honoraria or Speakers Fees
- Perhaps you are at the stage of your career in which your alma mater would hire you to teach a masterclass. Or, you could speak to a group of community members that are interested in subjects in which you are skilled.
- Merchandise Sales
- Revenue generated from selling branded merchandise (t-shirts, hoodies, posters, etc.). Paid to artist/performer by fans.
- Fan Club
- Money directly from fans who are subscribing to your fan club
- YouTube Partner Program
- Shared advertising revenue, paid to partners by YouTube
- Ad Revenue
- Or other miscellaneous income from your website properties (click-through, commissions on Amazon sales, etc.)
- Product Endorsements
- Payments from a brand for you endorsing or using their product
- This may not be viable for very many people. However, is there a local music store or music venue that would collaborate with you for endorsements?
- In television, movies, commercials
Fan, Corporate, & Foundation Funding
- Fan Funding
- Money directly from fans to support an upcoming recording project or tour (Kickstarter, Pledge Music, IndieGoGo)
- Corporate support for a tour, or for your band/ensemble
- From foundations, state or federal agencies
Other Sources of Revenue
- Arts Administrator
- Money paid to you specifically for managing the administrative aspects of a group that you are a member of.
If you aren’t ready for these types of revenue,
Or, maybe start a search here: Search for Singer Jobs
If you’re yearning for the great outdoors, perhaps you could pick up some tips from this article: Ten Rules for Street Musicians
Chris Guillebeau over at The Art of Non-Conformity recently posed a challenge to his readers: you have “to make an extra $300-500 in the next 30 days. You can’t rob a bank (or do anything else illegal), and you have no access to an existing email list or website. What do you do?” Read their responses here and here.
I would love to know the approach musicians take to make a little extra money on the side. If you suddenly got accepted to a festival this summer (surprise!) and had to figure out how to buy your plane ticket there – how would you scrape the money together? Let’s get a good discussion going. Share your tips below in the comments.
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