Music Business: 20+ Music Job Ideas

With the doom and gloom of the music industry, many artists are wringing their hands when it comes to making a living and making music. Why is it that the idea of the "starving artist" permeates through our culture? Are we just doomed to play our respective instruments, collect a small pittance, then go hum drum to our "day job" miserably rotting away in an office cubicle?

Maybe a century or millennium ago, but not today. With a little tech-savvy and a willingness to broaden your musical horizons, you can enjoy making music and paying the bills. Your day job can be your music job.
English: Lady Gaga performing "Poker Face...
English: Lady Gaga performing "Poker Face" on The Monster Ball Tour, March 4, 2010 at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, England Magyar: Lady Gaga a Poker Face előadása közben The Monster Ball című turnéján. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now before we go any farther, all the folks that hope to own 25 Hummers, 6 McMansions, and win multiple Grammies on their next amazing one-hit-wonder "I love, love, love, love, love, really LOVE you!" need to stop reading right now. This post is about paying rent, groceries, and insurance with your music, not making billions and becoming the next Lady Gaga.

First off, you need to diversify. Making music involves more than the incredible rush you feel on the stage or the artistic satisfaction you feel when you hear your song jamming in the club.  

Be practical. Make a laundry list of everything that you can do and love to do that is related to music. A short list may look like this:

1) Perform
2) Write arrangements
3) Mix hip hop beats and loops
4) Songwriting
5) Selling albums
6) Teaching 
7) Producing for other artists
8) Listening to music
9) Making music videos and graphic art
10) Music Blogging

This is just a short list, but it covers a lot of bases. Now look at each of these skills and think about ways that you can translate them into real jobs. Like any musician today or a thousand years ago, you will probably have to combine a few of these options to create an income, especially if you are supporting a family, mortgage, insurance. If you only need part time income or are single, you might be able to make enough by only pursuing a couple of your skills instead of several at once. 

music business

For example, I make the bulk of my income through writing about music, writing music for clients, making multimedia/videos, working for music companies, and teaching online courses. I also make some minimal income through ebooks, music reviews, and merch like t-shirts. Almost all of my clients are through, which has dozens of music/audio jobs up each day, as well as dozens of writing gigs related to music and entertainment. And I still have time to perform in a couple of local groups and write an opera.

SKILLS = JOBS How could you translate your skills into jobs? 

1) Perform: Paying gigs, special occasions, albums
2) Write arrangements: Publish pno/vox versions of your music or write for band, orchestra, or church choirs
3) Mix hip hop beats and loops: License your music, join a music library, or sell royalty-free albums
4) Songwriting: Work with a local band to write their music, or sell your songwriting skills for special occasions
5) Selling albums: Learn how to use the internet to sell music through affiliate links
6) Teaching: Teach online, at a school, give drum lessons, develop your own online music course, create music curriculum
7) Producing for other artists: Set up a home studio and produce for a fee
8) Listening to music: Become a music reviewer
9) Making music videos and graphic art: TONS of work in this, just look on elance
10) Music Blogging: Use your blog to promote your music, get paid to write about music, work for a music magazine or website (once again, elance is a great option here), write ebooks on music
music business
Music Industry Careers

PRACTICAL BUSINESS ADVICE Like anything, it will take a lot of work to switch gears and focus on your musical career. Take the time to make a solid business plan, list your resources and skills, and then follow up with a few focused means of income. For those in music hubs, you will find more in-person opportunities at arts centers, music stores, universities, studios, clubs. If you find that you move often or are in an arts-deprived area, then you may choose to take your music career online (like I have) and create a solid musical career through a combination of online sources of income and regional opportunities.

Amazon Kindle Select - sell ebooks for Kindle
Lulu Publishing - Self Publish books, scores, multimedia
Music Xray - Pros can review musicians and provide music coaching, musicians can find music opportunities (there is a fee, though)
Elance - Find work in audio, music, music blogging, multimedia
Zazzle - Sell merchandise with original designs
Scribd - Set up scores/ebooks/articles for free download or for sale
Blogger - Easy way to set up a blog site
Wordpress - Another free site for blogging, but with more options
Fiverr - Sell your services for a minimal fee or buy services
CD Baby - Sell your album through digital distribution
Reverbnation - Opportunities galore for bands
Online Universities - If you have a Masters degree, you can teach music/audio online
YouLicense - License your music
Ustream - Set up your own online TV station

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Aricka Williams said…
Thanks for such a nice blog. I like the Picture of music industry careers. music business jobs

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