While most musicians have the ultimate goal of doing nothing but performing or composing for a living, most artists – at the very least when they're starting out – still have to have the proverbial dayjob to make sure the bills are paid while they're making their way to the top of the charts. But don't despair – you don't necessarily have to clerk at a shop or cashier at a bank while you're forging your career in music, and some of the jobs that musicians are best suited to wind up also being lifelong career choices within the industry. Here are five great secondary careers for musicians.
One of the most popular options for practicing musicians – especially those who have a degree in music – private instruction is an excellent part or full-time job for musicians. Most major metropolitan areas – and even some suburban and rural areas – have a number of music studios or shops where you can ply your trade by training new artists to the rigors of music. Most studios allow you to set your own hours, and many have guaranteed payment agreements month to month – so you'll still get paid even if your students miss a few lessons.
From organizing club nights to putting together shows, promoters handle the marketing aspect of live music making and Djing. Typically, promoters will take a cut of whatever the show or event grosses at the door, with the rest usually going to performing talent, audio techs, and security. While promoting isn't necessarily always a full-time job, it can certainly be a well-paying option for promoters who are professional and dedicated.
If you're a seasoned musician who also happens to be a good writer, writing in and about the music industry can prove to be an excellent option, particularly for musicians who are all about making their own schedules. Whether you write for a popular music magazine or an online blog, industry writing can make for a fulfilling and interesting side career for musicians – and for writers who are particularly skillful, the paycheck can certainly be fulfilling, too.
If you've gone the industry writing route and you've proven your skill, consider approaching hard copy publications about critiquing music. Music critics are not only often well-paid, but they are frequently given comped tickets for everything from operas to rock shows. Not every newspaper has a music critic, but many of the major ones do – so if you've got a lot of experience writing about music and have a good ear for technique, the way of the music critic might be the one to take.
Stage managers are found at work in almost every venue that hosts music, theatre, or comedy, from bars and clubs to theatres and speakeasies. If you've spent a lot of time on stage – and especially if you've done behind-the-scenes work like lights tech or stagehand work – stage manager can be an excellent side gig. This can be a tricky role to negotiate for performing artists, since a lot of stage managers work weekends – but it can be rewarding and well-paying if you work for a successful venue.
Musicians develop all kinds of ancillary skills during the course of their career. Each of these secondary careers caters to a different skill set – and can support you while you're working towards making music your full-time job.