For many people, the idea of turning a hobby you enjoy into a career is a very compelling prospect. But, particularly when it comes to music, there is often a stigma attached to it that makes us reluctant to dive in and explore it fully.
“Isn’t music competitive?” “It’s not a ‘real job’, right?”
These stigmas usually come from people who are inexperienced on the topic and shouldn’t deter you from this pursuit. This is why today, we’re putting together some tried and true methods that will allow you to turn music into a legitimate and viable career.
Let’s start with the obvious. You’ve spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours practicing your instrument and gaining knowledge about all manner of music related topics. Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how experienced you are and how valuable the knowledge you’ve gained is to young and upcoming learners.
Teaching is one of the most popular and reliable ways in which musicians can make either some extra money on the side, or if they are serious enough, this can be a completely viable career path.
You don’t have to be a world class player to be a teacher either, very few beginners will be looking to learn the most demanding of technical pieces that early on. Your ability to teach and impart knowledge to someone in a fun and engaging way is far more valuable.
One thing that will help you move into teaching is to make sure you have a good grasp of music theory concepts, as not only will this help you to teach these concepts where applicable, they will make tasks like transcribing songs for students much quicker and easier.
So how do I get started?
One of the best methods is to start contacting music schools or music stores that offer lessons. There’s a good chance they might already need a guitar teacher, and if not, try again next month! The stores aren’t going anywhere and neither is your passion for wanting to be a teacher.
Another good method, if you have a home environment that’s adequate for teaching, is to start booking private students. This can be tough in the beginning but gets far easier over time as you become better known in your local community. Word of mouth will help you out here tremendously!
The Music Business
When all we see is the on stage talent, it’s easy to forget about just how much ‘behind the scenes talent’ there is facilitating the whole thing. And I don’t just mean guitar techs or sound engineers (although if you have an interest in that they are both great pursuits). There are businesses and companies behind the guitars they use, the pedals in front of them, there are people who booked and promoted the show, people who produced the merch.
These are all extensions of music and for many offer that perfect balance between being involved and active within the music space, yet still have that consistency of a more traditional job.
The number of roles, specializations, and disciplines within the music business are far too numerous to list here, so it’s a good opportunity for you to do some research into what kind of jobs are out there and which ones fit with your personality and skill set.
Skilled in copywriting and social media? Become a social media manager for a musical equipment company!
Good salesman skills and enjoy in-person interactions? Work in a music-related retail store!
You get the idea, there are a myriad of roles out there that all stem from a love of music and we encourage you to keep in mind the business side of things when thinking about your career.
The Gigging Musician
Not really interested in the more business oriented side of music? Then no worries! Another very viable option is to become a gigging and session musician.
This works a little differently than the traditional idea of starting a band and trying to become known. These kinds of shows are often entertainment hired by a venue to please a crowd that is not necessarily there to just see your band.
They can be things like public events, performances at a bar or club, tribute bands, private parties, you name it! Musicians are in demand and people are willing to pay.
Obviously, there’s a lot of self-sufficiency required to do this job well, you will need your own transport, equipment, and be trusted enough to learn the material you’re given to a high level.
So how do I start getting ‘gigs’?
This is where your social skills are really going to benefit you, reaching out to bars/clubs/hotels that have regular performances might allow you to meet someone who can put you in touch with other bands. You can also try to educate yourself on what gigging bands are doing the rounds in your local area who you can reach out to.
Given enough time you can become known as a professional and reliable gigging musician and before you know it people will start reaching out to you for your services.
It’s a busy, exciting, and active lifestyle that allows you to exercise your passion and musical ability.
Recording, producing, engineering and editing
Behind the performing side of music is a slightly more technical one. For many musicians, they will at some point, have tried their hand at the recording/production side of music.
If this is something you take a liking to, it might be worth looking into roles involved in the audio production space.
This can be anything from being a front of house sound guy at a live show, or perhaps working in a recording studio setting up microphones and checking phase, or even an editor who polishes up things like podcasts or audiobooks for companies.
As technical as these roles might sound, you don’t need a degree (no one’s going to ask to see your diploma) or any special talents to do them, just a willingness and a passion to learn the required skills.
We hope this article has shown you some of the possibilities that are out there for anyone interested in music. The main point is to open your mind up to the idea that there are many music-related roles that extend beyond just starting your own band, and we hope this article can serve as inspiration in finding your calling as a music lover.