Author Topic: Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?  (Read 7841 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 11
Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?
« on: July 22, 2012, 12:38:18 AM »
Hi all,

As I talked about in an earlier thread, I'm currently pursuing my Bachelor's in Guitar Performance, with the intention of teaching and playing in bands after I graduate (probably two years from now, going half time). I already have two substitute teaching positions at different schools which bring in a decent amount, and will hopefully turn into regular positions as they have a need for me.

My question is, what sort of above-minimum-wage jobs would be available to someone with my credentials that I could do during the day? Currently I'm putting in 30 hours a week at Subway, and while $700/month is better than nothing (covers almost all of my living expenses, then my teaching income goes into savings), it certainly feels like a waste of time.

My interests outside music include math and fitness. I was actually considering changing paths and pursuing something like Actuarial Science or Economics, but I'm not sure if I want to commit to that much additional time and debt. I also like the idea of getting a certification (wouldn't be very time-consuming at all compared to a degree) and working as a personal trainer. I'd like to bring home about $30k/yr after tax, which I think is pretty reasonable for working 2-3 jobs, hah.

But, I'm mostly interested in jobs I hadn't thought of. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 105
Re: Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2012, 02:26:20 PM »
Math: does your school have a math study lab? often students can work there helping tutor other students for hourly pay plus discounted tuition... If that is a possibility it may be a good fit for income as well as college savings...?
-Plus there is always outside tutoring: high school and/or middle school students usually having parents paying which can be more reliable than college-age peers. 

Best of luck!


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 86
  • Location: Longmont CO
Re: Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?
« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2012, 03:24:49 PM »
If you want to make your living gigging and teaching, whatever else you squeeze in will need to be very flexible, hours-wise.  The math tutoring option may be a good fit.

Part of the difficulty of transitioning to full-time self-employed musician work is that until you have the students/gigs, you don't have enough money to live on, so you can't quit your day job.  But you can't start racking up lots of students and gigs until you have the availability that you could only get by quitting your day job.  If you can build up a little money cushion to cover your bare bones costs for a couple months, it would make that leap out of the nest much smoother.

As a musician, you have to have HUSTLE.  You have to promote yourself and do anything you can to build your presence and business every single day.  Are you a good self-promoter?  If not, work on those skills now.  Sub with as many groups as you can, build up a great network of fellow musicians.  If people know you're reliable and a good musician, they'll call you first when someone storms out of the band.

I wish you luck - Mr. PS is a musician full-time and makes about $20k a year.  If he had some more hustle he might be able to get up to $30k or $40k, but he's a crappy businessman.  Work on it!


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1492
  • Location: eastern canada
    • Optimacheap
Re: Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?
« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2012, 09:23:59 PM »
As you figure out the rhythms of your music career (no pun intended, honest), you may find that it's not a day job you need, but a seasonal one. Back when I was a musician, we bridged the years when we were starting to do okay by working huge hours in the summer (in a restaurant with a big patio), then touring in the fall and midwinter, when our boss could spare us for a month (and many other musicians were in school and couldn't tour). I'm guessing you're aiming higher than another restaurant job... maybe tax preparation?


  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 398
Re: Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2012, 08:04:42 AM »
Consider becoming a part-time bookkeeping/finance assistant somewhere. If you're good at math, it's super easy to pick up--at the beginning, it's basically data entry. As you get more experience, you could go freelance. I know someone who does this now... she has no formal background in the work (and frankly, still doesn't have a great grasp on it, but is very organized), and makes at least $25/hr. with pretty flexible hours. She's also an artist, and many of her clients are artists/creatives/etc., who prefer to work with her than someone at a big company/in a suit.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 132
  • Location: Orange, CA
Re: Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2012, 10:21:03 AM »
Try a temp agency- office or labor.

Or bartend. A lot of people hate the day shifts in a bar, but there are still people in there drinking. A restaurant bar might be more lucrative than a dive bar.

What about getting in with a catering company, or a hotel on the banquet staff? The guys who set up tables for meetings and events get minimum wage, but it's supplemented with the service charge and gratuity that's tacked on to every hotel event bill. Some guys where I work clear $20/hr. It's very flexible/ seasonal work.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 123
  • Location: Beach Park, IL, USA
Re: Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2012, 10:39:23 AM »
I'm a musician (piano) with a full time day job in an office (actually so is my supervisor!). It's how things sort of worked out but I'll be moving gradually toward full time music as my peach fuzz grows into a stache. One of my classmates from college was also a guitar major and I remember him posting a facebook a couple of years ago that he was officially making a living on ONLY music. I was so happy for him! As far as I'm aware, he's in a band and also teaches.

I just got back from a really great piano workshop and the seasonal work thing really worked for someone I met there (jazz pianist). He would take temp jobs during slow seasons and wouldn't take temp jobs during busy times. It worked pretty well for him.

You might want to consider getting a church gig. Some of the newer/new-agey type churches might be worth looking into since they tend to have better music. That would be a part time regular income AND you could probably get some new students from it. 


  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1286
Re: Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2012, 08:07:45 PM »
Are you a decent writer? You could do freelance writing around music. Think articles for publications targeting musicians or target companies that make instruments or are involved in the music industry somehow and reach out to people in their marketing departments. Take a look at Carol Tice's website or Peter Bowerman's Well-fed Writer website. There are places that will pay good money for good writing.


  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 100
Re: Boosting income - "Day jobs" for a musician?
« Reply #8 on: August 19, 2012, 08:44:18 PM »
I second freelance writing. If you can wing it, it's a very nice second/third income gig to have. Also, maybe look into being a virtual assistant. You can charge $25/hr+. I'd do it if I could handle people better. ha.


Wow, a phone plan for fifteen bucks!