The Definitive Guide for How to Have a Day Job as a Musician


We get it. Having a day job is a part of life, but as a musician you’re always balancing the dream gig with the one that’ll pay the bills.

Unfortunately, the second part is the one we hate the most but is often required for us to continue on our creative journey. But, that doesn’t mean there can’t be some kind of balance between the two.

Whether your day job helps feed your musician life either monetarily or inspirationally, or your day job is somehow intertwined in your musician life, there are ways people make balancing the two work to their advantage.

From our experience, there are many ways to strike that balance and enjoy a high degree of satisfaction. Often, it’s all a matter of perspective.

Check out our thoughts on having a day job as a musician, and what you might be able to do to strike that balance. Who knows? You might be able to land a situation that feeds both your needs and desires as an artist!

Flexible Schedule

Being a musician means having a crazy gigging schedule. Often with late starts and late nights, you will want to have a gig that supports you while not getting in the way of your artistic aspirations.

Many musicians in NYC are becoming Uber and Lyft drivers. These ridesharing services, while not paying too much, is the ultimate in flexible schedule gigs. Work whenever you want—also, the people you meet might be the inspiration for your next hit song!

There’s also a lot to be said about the service industry. Many people who work in restaurants love the flexibility, as servers and bartenders are always trying to gain or give up shifts. You can make quite a pretty penny depending where you work, and the flexibility to give up shifts could very beneficial to making your schedule work around your gig calendar.

If you have a talent that people will pay for, starting your own business might be the best bet for you. If you’re a great writer, there’s tons of opportunities for freelance gigs, as well as if you are a designer, web development professional, and otherwise. As your own boss, you can make your own schedule on your own terms, though you will need to put in the work not only completing client requests but also marketing yourself.

Feed The Inner Artist

Many musicians choose work that feeds their artistic aspirations. If you’ve got serious chops in your chosen instrument, you can get hired for parties looking for live music, for instance. If you’re able to land that truly ritzy opportunity, the money could be well worth the years of practice you’ve put into your craft.

Whenever you walk into a music store, you’ll also see many employees are musicians themselves. The benefits of working at a music store most often is the discount on equipment. So, while you’re making a buck either on an hourly- or commission-based model, you could use your hard earned money to pay your bills and get great deals on gear.

Start Late, Gig Late

There are some gigs out there that have strange starting hours. In some cases you’ll be able to find a shift that works perfectly with your gigging schedule.

Security guards, for example, are often needed in places that need 24-hour surveillance. If you have a start time that works with your gigging schedule, these opportunities can pay quite well in New York.

Parking lot attendants also make pretty good money while benefiting from the need for shifts around the clock. A relatively easy and simple gig, you won’t have to spend too much energy ensuring people have paid for tickets or watching cameras.

Important Considerations

There are some important things to consider when choosing a gig. For starters, will you be able to handle the stacked schedule? This is important because you don’t want to wear yourself too thin too early, which could lead you to losing your job and your ability to gig.

You’ll also want to see if you can find a gig that fits the lifestyle you’re looking for. Are you willing to skimp on things like fine dining and drinks every night? That could mean there are a lot more gigs available to you, as you can make less money for the worthy sacrifice of wanting to gig and play out more.

Whether or not a job will somehow enrich your artistic life is also a valuable consideration. Can you find a gig in music therapy? Or, as a musician in a wedding band or event band? No matter the model, any recurring gig in music will make you a better musician and player as you meet and work with other artists.

Do you have a gig that works perfectly with your music career? Comment below, and tell us what you think!

 

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