Do you want to pursue the music career of your dreams? Are you someone who probably won’t land a professor or orchestral gig? Consider becoming a part-time musician so that you can enjoy music and make a good living.
Working part-time as a musician can be great. You can enjoy the benefits of performing and teaching. But you don’t have to stress about your next paycheck.
Want to learn more? Keep on reading, but first…
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What Is a Part-Time Musician?
A part-time musician is a musician with a day job of some sort. The job can be related to music, such as arts administration or arts/music journalism. Or it can be a job that has nothing to do with music.
Meanwhile, a part-time musician can have a successful career as a performer, composer, or teacher. You can do a lot of things in your career, so you can make it something that you enjoy.
If you don’t want to commit to being a full-time musician or you struggle to find enough work, consider being a part-time musician. Then, you can still do what you love without being a starving artist.
What Does Life Look Like for a Part-Time Musician?
Life doesn’t look the same for two part-time musicians. Factors that can affect your daily life include:
- Your day job
- Your music career
- Where you live
- Your family situation
Other factors can also come into play, so your best best is to start working as a part-time musician to see if you like it. Even if one day looks great, the next might be more stressful or less so.
However, your days will usually involve your day job, a bit of practicing, and perhaps going to a gig or pitching for your next gig. And with social media being so popular, you may also need to spend time networking and posting online.
Either way, working as a part-time musician means you don’t have to only rely on music to pay the bills. Instead, you can take on work you really enjoy, which can be nice, especially when feeling burnt out by music.
Qualities of the Best Day Jobs for Musicians
When looking for a day job, you have tons of options. Of course, you can work at a restaurant or in a retail store. You can join the corporate world. Or you can go freelance with some other endeavor outside of music.
The best day jobs for part-time musicians can vary based on the musician. For example, I work as a freelance writer and blogger. Writing comes naturally to me, but the job might be hard for someone else.
Before you decide what type of day job you want, consider some qualities of jobs. You don’t need all of these qualities (freelance writing doesn’t hit all of them). But it can help you narrow your search for a day job.
One of the most important qualities of a day job is that it should be flexible. If you can’t take off to go to a gig, it will be much harder to grow your music career.
It can also help to have a job with location flexibility. That way, you can go on tour and perform at night but work during the day.
If you’re interested in a freelance-based job, look for something that doesn’t charge per hour. As you gain experience, you can get faster and make more money without having to work as much. Then, you have more time for music.
Another thing to consider is stability, which can occur along with flexibility. As you start building your music career, the income from it will probably vary significantly. That means you need some stable income from your day job.
While I don’t earn the exact same every month from freelance writing, I can predict what I’ll make. And since I work for marketing agencies, I know they will handle getting clients so that there’s plenty of work for me and other writers.
Having some stability as a part-time musician can be great. Then, you don’t have to worry about picking up any gig that comes your way.
If your day job requires you to bring work home, or you spend a lot of extra time there, that can be hard. You won’t have as much time to practice or take on performance gigs or students.
Now, you don’t need to get an “easy” job. For me, freelance writing can be difficult, especially if I’m not feeling my best. However, I can make my schedule and stop writing when I want.
A simple job, like working in retail, can be a great way to separate your day job from your music. That way, you can have plenty of time to practice and perform.
Odds are, you’ll only get benefits from a full-time day job. However, some part-time jobs can also provide benefits, like:
- Health, dental, vision
- Retirement savings
- Paid time off
If you do get a job with these benefits, take advantage of them. While having group health insurance and a retirement account can be great, use your paid time off.
That’s a great option to go look for gigs or go to a gig. Use your vacation week to travel to a music conference so that you can network and land more music gigs. Then, you can grow your career and get paid while you do it.
How to Balance Music and Work
Balancing music and a day job can be hard at first. But there are a few things you can do to make the process easier.
Then, you don’t have to sacrifice your downtime or other personal activities just to work and perform. Here are a few ways to balance work as a part-time musician.
Set Realistic Goals
When setting goals for your music career, consider your day job. Then, set goals that you know you can meet while working in both careers.
For example, you may not be able to land a full-time orchestral gig. But you might be able to perform at a church once a month. Or maybe you can get five private students each week.
Setting good goals can help motivate you to work on your music, even when your day job gets to be more stressful. Then, you can make sure you don’t lose your music skills.
Make a Schedule
Next, you should make a schedule to plan out your day and week. If you have set hours for your day job, start there. Find time before or after work to practice or pitch yourself to get new gigs.
Use your goals to create a schedule that can help you meet those goals and succeed. Of course, you also need to follow that schedule as closely as you can.
You may have days or weeks when you need to change your schedule, such as if you get sick or have more work to do. But you should do your best to keep up with your schedule and make permanent changes if the schedule doesn’t work.
Consider Your Priorities
Another thing to think about is your professional and personal priorities. You should decide what is most important to you in your career and overall life.
For example, think about if it’s worth staying at a stable job that doesn’t let you take time off for music. On the other hand, consider if earning less money while working at a more flexible job is worth it for you.
Only you can decide which facets of your career matter most. To decide, think about your family and living situation. Consider if you can let something slide, or if you need to leave your job.
Implement Passive Income Streams
Another great way to balance your work as a part-time musician is to use passive income streams. Examples of passive income include:
- Affiliate links
- Digital downloads
- Online courses
- Sheet music downloads
You can use passive income for your music career or for something non-music related. As you build up your passive income and make it more consistent, you can spend more time on your music without worrying about money.
Then, you may be able to take a lower-paying day job that offers benefits and flexibility. Or you can start freelancing as your day job and have money to cover health insurance.
Work From Home
You may also consider getting a day job, freelancing or otherwise, where you can work from home. The same is true for your music career.
Using myself as an example, I work as a freelance writer. I can do this work anywhere, anytime as long as I meet client deadlines. As a part-time musician, I primarily create content on this blog, and I can do that from home.
Working from home can cut down on the time you spend commuting. It can also make it easy to switch between working on your day job and working on your music.
Will You Be a Part-Time Musician?
Being a part-time musician provides the flexibility you need to pursue music, but it can also be more stable than only performing and teaching. I, personally, love being able to combine my music and non-music interests.
And I can earn a decent living while I do it. Want to learn how I got past some road blocks to work as a freelancer and musician?
Check out The Freelance Solution!