Author Topic: Musician side hustle - need advice!  (Read 2894 times)

NewMustachian

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Musician side hustle - need advice!
« on: August 07, 2014, 05:03:23 PM »
Hi,

I'm hoping to develop a side hustle as a musician and was wondering how others here have gotten started.  For background, I play the Celtic harp solo and in a semi-professional group.  I'm still developing my own skills, but am thinking that I could start teaching beginners at least in a year or 2.  I was also thinking of playing weddings and eventually looking for solo gigs.  I live near 2 metropolitan/touristy areas in the NE and have busked before but I'm not sure how effective that is in generating business...I plan on continuing to do this but more as a fun way to get a little extra cash and solidify performance skills.  Any thoughts/advice on getting clients/gigs?

NCGal

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Re: Musician side hustle - need advice!
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2014, 09:59:15 AM »
I don't know of this will help but perhaps there are places you wouldn't think of where you could get gigs playing soft background music? Our big hospital system and our international airport here often have someone playing a grand piano. I can see maybe some museums doing that. Also, if you have any wineries near you, many of them seem to hire all kinds of musicians for short sets on summer weekends.

guitar_stitch

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Re: Musician side hustle - need advice!
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2014, 11:24:15 AM »
1) Know the clientele you are targeting.  If you try to pitch Celtic harp to a venue that has regular mosh pits, you're going to be laughed out the door.  Similarly, if you sell a death metal group to a light listening lounge or hotel reception area, you're going to be shut down.

2) Have a marketable product.  Have demos, preferably with video available.  You may be descended from Apollo himself, but your potential bookings will not know that.  Be humble, and let the music speak.

3) Remember what your job is.  You love your music, but the venue couldn't care less.  What DO they care about?  That your service helps them sell their service.  Whether you're playing harp in a lobby to help a hotel sell rooms or playing Mustang Sally for the 1000th time in a seedy dive bar to sell Budweiser, your entire point of being hired is to help your present employer sell their product.

4) Build a fan base.  This involves a lot of hands-on marketing.  This involves talking to people at shows.  This involves knowing how to communicate across barriers.  More fans means more shows and/or the liberty to be SELECTIVE in your shows!  No hanging out backstage with the drunk busty babe doing lines of coke of a clown's boner.

All in all, use common sense.  I would further recommend that if you want to make a side gig out of this, you should legitimize it as a business.  Get insurance and a completely separate bank account.  All money goes through that bank account.  File everything on taxes, save receipts, etc.  Don't forget to 1099 your band mates as contractors.

Source: Life experience as a 29 year old cover rock musician actively playing every week in every shithole in North East Florida.

Lans Holman

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Re: Musician side hustle - need advice!
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2014, 11:44:17 AM »
Get business cards made up for sure, so you can have something to pass out it you are busking, for example, and someone wants to hire you.  Get some kind of basic demo recording, put it online, link to it for potential clients. 
Anytime you can make music that is pleasant but unobtrusive, there are lots of opportunities out there.  I would look into upscale retirement communities, a lot of them have a budget for entertainment and your music could be welcome.  If you're in a touristy area that's great for busking.  Anywhere where people are just off a boat, or there's some kind of pedestrian friendly shopping area.

NewMustachian

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Re: Musician side hustle - need advice!
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2014, 09:08:23 PM »
Hi all, thanks for the great suggestions! I will get more creative about looking for venues - I like the idea of museums/wineries/airports/hospitals - harp would probably work well there.  Also, I hadn't thought about having an online presence but that makes perfect sense - I would want to hear samples before hiring a musician too.  I was helping a co-worker choose a group for her son's wedding and a very promising looking group had terrible recordings online...needless to say we selected someone else.  I also hadn't thought about the business aspects, so thanks guitar_stitch....also for the lines of coke visual. :)

Seņora Savings

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Re: Musician side hustle - need advice!
« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2014, 07:28:18 AM »
You might also look into playing at folk dances.  English Country might be a good place for a Harp.  Dances get a pretty regular group in attendance, so this can be a great way to make fans/friends who will talk you up. 


If you're good enough to get paid to play you're already good enough to teach beginners.  If they end up surpasing you they can move on to a new teacher and won't resent you unless you taught them bad habits.  Ask a store that sells Celtic Harps if you can advertise there.

Cwadda

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Re: Musician side hustle - need advice!
« Reply #6 on: August 09, 2014, 07:46:54 AM »
Weddings and other church things, even regular services. I am a music director of a church and I am more than willing to have folks come in to share talents. That's a cool instrument.

Network with some local churches. They will want you and pay you handsomely especially if you're willing to play for a Christmas/Easter service.