13 Best Side Jobs for Musicians

As a musician, you will need to have a backup plan for your career. Our passion and dreams will keep us motivated to make musicianship a full-time occupation, but fate is never in only our hands.

People come and go and our daily circumstances change. We need to be prepared to adapt to every situation that life throws at us. That’s why it’s crucial to have a solid alternative plan to keep your head above water during your career in the form of a Plan B.

It is essential to have a structured plan for getting paid gigs. I wrote a step-by-step guide to help beginner musicians in getting their first paid gig. It takes time and patience like in most jobs in the entertainment industry, but definitely possible in a short period of time!

Let’s get into the list of best backup jobs for musicians:

1. Become a Teacher

Being a teacher is an extremely holistic job for a musician. No day is the same as the previous and you get to learn a massive variety of skills:

Social Skills

You interact each day with at least 50-1000 people per day. This is a great chance to practice and improve your social skills and learn to be confident with yourself.

Communication Skills

Other than talking all day, and educating kids, schools also need hosts and announcers.

It is funny how quickly you end up with the microphone in your hand once people notice your skills and confidence.

Becoming Empathetic

In a school setup, you learn how to feel sorry for people in need and how to support the community.

As a musician that is an ideal opportunity to reach out and help others. The reward is immense, and one learns the skill of giving instead of only receiving. A skill that not many people have.

Discipline and Punctuality

A challenge for many musicians is punctuality. Creative brain people are often a little reluctant when it comes to structured and disciplined setups.

Being a teacher, you learn this skill rapidly since you are the one setting the example, and you get to experience the world of other people acting this way when you expect them to be punctual and disciplined.

Network Possibilities

Most schools have a music department where kids attend academic music lessons from specialist music teachers, or the kids have the possibility to attend private lessons.

Build contact with the teachers and try to learn as much as you can from them.

Sound Specialists Needed

A school always needs a “sound guy”. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn the skill of sound engineering.

You will quickly learn things like:

  • Preparing a sound system for assemblies
  • Fixing feedback
  • Mixing microphones and balancing sound
  • Work with a team of students and teach them the same skills
  • What is the difference between good and bad sound equipment?
  • Powered speakers vs. unpowered speakers
  • etc.

The list goes on. Definitely something to get into as a teacher.

2. Hosting Events

Being a host is a fabulous side gig for a musician with a wide variety of skills to learn and be exposed to.

Organisational Skills

You will learn how to organise a list of how the evening will progress.

Communication Skills

You will have the chance to speak to the audience and learn how to prepare yourself accordingly.

This includes making appropriate jokes, making an audience feel welcome and comfortable, and being able to improvise where the program might change spontaneously.

Financial Planning

You will certainly need to work within a budget to set evenings together.

Learning how to use money wisely and resourcefully is a much-needed skill when you are in a band and you need to plan a tour or work with a band’s budget to buy equipment, make deals with venues, and organise the general program.

There’s always money involved and having someone that can deal with budget, finances and bookkeeping, comes in quite handy.

This post was written and posted by De Wet from startingmyband.com on 16.04.2023. The content was stolen from me if this blog post is seen anywhere else.

A graphic designer at work (Photo Credit: Canva)

3. Graphic Designer

For any band having a graphic designer within the group is a massive gain.

That means you have the freedom to design your own band logos, album or single covers, event posters, etc.

I would also use this skill to make deals with concert venues and exchange my services by creating concert posters or logos in exchange for more bookings like concerts or festival inclusions.

4. Sound Engineer

Having a sound engineer within the band is worth gold.

I have a sound engineer in my main band and we continue to benefit from having him onboard with us every single day.

During Performances

That means you always have a personal expert onboard whenever there is a need or a challenge that the sound engineer is struggling with.

A sound engineer in the band also knows the needs that the band have and can communicate this easily to the sound engineers on duty.

For Recordings

Having a sound engineer in the band means that you can literally record new singles any time you like.

You can sort out song arrangements and take your time to perfectly record the music that you would like to release.

5. Videographer and Video Editor

Learning the skills to be a video editor in the modern day has such a massive impact on a band.

You will learn to shoot music videos, create content for social media, and build and keep a history of content for future documentaries. Keep all possibilities open.

It might cost a bit to get the needed equipment, but start with what you can borrow from peers or use a smartphone camera as a last resort.

Keep an eye on the 2nd-hand section to start collecting the equipment that could help your career.

6. Session Musician

Since you are already striving to become a successful artist, band or live performer, why not invest in further developing your skills and specialising in accuracy and recording music?

There’s always a need for affordable session musicians to perform live and for recordings.

Once you have a foot in the door and made a name for yourself, you will be called up regularly for gigs.

This will however take some work on your skills. Being a session musician means being 100% accurate on your instrument, tempo or timing, and sound quality.

It will definitely depend on your experience and skill level on how successful you will be, so I do recommend

7. Artist Manager

Being an artist manager is hard work, but extremely rewarding.

I’ve written a champion article about How to Become an Artist Manager that you can find here, that includes all the necessary information for you to pursue this as an occupation.

I’ve managed a couple of bands, also while being in a band, and it was an amazingly fulfilling experience that I can highly recommend to anyone that likes managing people and loves the music industry.

You will build up such an incredible base of network and connections to skyrocket any band you will play in, and you will build a name for ourself in the industry.

If this sounds like something that you might be interested in, you will find the blog I wrote about What Makes a Good Artist Manager extremely helpful!

8. Event Organiser & Event Manager

Learning to organise and manage external events is a helpful job for artists to learn the art of network, and improve communication and goal-setting skills.

Sometime during your career as a musician, you will have to end up organising your own shows, concerts, events, birthdays etc.

Especially the skill of goal setting. Many bands struggle to set goals and end up being bored with one another.

In the case of an event manager, you learn to live off of deadlines and renew the goal-setting process.

This reminds me of an interesting article I wrote about Why Most Bands Fail. Go ahead and scan through if you would like to take notice of some of the warning signs.

9. Photographer

A photographer at work (Photo credit: Canva)

Being a photographer is an excellent job for a musician.

There’s also a variety of types of photography one can specialise in:

  • Live events: Music concerts, stand-up comedy, sports events etc.
  • Weddings
  • Modelling shoots
  • Nature photography
  • etc.

This will help your band by being able to take awesome pictures, and also edit them to your liking and style.

10. Website Designer, -Host and -Manager

It’s a great job for a musician to specialise in managing, hosting and designing websites, which will make you a great tool to place your band on the next level regarding the online department.

This is often a skill that many people teach themselves as well. Find yourself a great role model or practitioner and learn these skills yourself to make your own business.

My brother-in-law did this as a musician, and he is the middle-man for all the people in the community to operate their websites now.

He currently also has a band but has grown so well in the meantime that he performs under his own birth name. Well done Champ!

11. Social Media Specialist

In the modern day, this has become a crucial skill for all people to learn. Especially in the younger community. I am sometimes left in awe when I see the quality of editing, posts, photos, videos and content, in general, they can produce.

But specialising and doing it for various companies or artists makes you unique.

Here’s the secret: 90% of people born before 1980 are scared and intimidated by operating a social media channel.

This will place you on the next level if you can become confident in doing it and offering your services.

An obvious advantage for your band would be that they have a professional social media operator in their midst.

A tip from my side: Use your skills to market your band’s music where you can.

For example: If you operate the social media of a sports star, try to use your band’s music in his stories, and then maybe where a shirt with his name on during a live performance.

12. Event Marketer

A marketer is a popular person to have in your band since it opens doors to more ticket sales for concerts and creative ideas to sell more merchandise.

You will learn to market events to attract certain groups of people to a show, expo, shop etc.

13. Songwriter

If you have a talent for songwriting, this might be a great option for you. The catchy-simplified-concept songs are still booming and everyone wants the next hit.

It is not in every case that all the songs you write will be taken up by your band. You might be very talented in other genres as well and would like to sell your content to other artists.

This can be quite challenging when you don’t have the contacts and are just beginning. I have so much respect for beginner songwriters that I wrote an article about How to Sell a Song You Wrote to an Artist that you would find rather helpful!

A Quick Conclusion

This list is a growing one, so if you have any other jobs that you think are worth practising as a musician, and that are beneficial to the industry, please add them to the comments below.

For most of the above-mentioned occupations, one also needs confidence. If you are struggling a bit with confidence, no stress, I’ve got you.

I recently wrote a blog post about building confidence for a musical performance with genuine tips to take you forward and reach the next level of your career. Go ahead and give it a scan-through.

Running a side hustle is important as a musician. We all want to perform for a living, but having a plan B in place is crucial for survival.

I hope you found this article helpful!

Until next time…

De Wet

The dream started during a school tour at the age of 15 years old. One that might take a long time to reach. De Wet was 16 years old when he got his first bass guitar as a gift from his dad. The guitar was found, hidden under boxes. As if it was waiting for its owner to come by and pick him up. He practiced every day to improve and to teach his fingers to dance to the music. After finishing high school, he played in various bands where he collected valuable experience, before being signed by a record label as an upcoming band. He reached success at age 22 when he released two albums with his band, which also included televised music videos for publicity. By age 24, he co-started management, artist promotion, and booking agency for successful and upcoming musical acts.

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