Do you want to be a professional musician? Is getting a full-time professorship or orchestral job basically out of the question? Consider some ideas to build a portfolio career!
A portfolio career is a career that involves many different gigs and income streams. It’s a great option for musicians currently in school, just out of school, or well into their career.
Consider a few ways you can earn money in your music portfolio career.
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Of course, I have to start by talking about performing as part of your portfolio career. Whether you have a performance degree or not, you have skills in performance, so you can put them to use.
Now, most of us probably won’t get a full-time orchestral gig. Many of won’t even get a part-time orchestral job or make a sub list, even after a successful audition. But there are plenty of other ways you can perform:
- Band/jazz band
- Collaborative music
- Worship service
- Corporate events
You can get creative when it comes to performing. And since the pandemic has made online performances more common, you don’t need to worry about finding a venue. As long as you have a clean space at home, you can use that.
Of course, performing requires practice, which can be hard when you’re busy with your other work as a musician. However, I’ve done a few paid performance gigs at churches, and they’re a great option for a busy schedule.
You can teach music in a lot of different ways. For one, you can teach in a public K-12 school system with a music education degree. Another option is to teach music at a private school.
If you’re willing to get your masters and doctorate, you can also look into teaching at a college or university. Some of these jobs, especially the full-time tenure track jobs, are competitive. But it’s another option to consider.
You can also teach private lessons on your main instrument and/or a secondary instrument. Group lessons are another way to teach, such as with a program like Musikgarten or Kindermusik.
If you want to teach even more people, you can create an online course. Some people want to learn to play music but can’t afford private lessons. A course can be a great way to reach those people.
Want to learn more about deciding where you should teach? Get your copy of the Where to Teach Workbook today!
Composing and Arranging
Next on the list of portfolio career ideas is composing and arranging. You can do one or the other or both if you like.
Composing is where you write a new piece of music from scratch. Arranging involves taking an existing piece of music and re-working it to fit a new instrumentation or making some other major change.
You can start selling sheet music on your website or on a site like Sheet Music Plus. The Sheet Music Plus program SMP Press lets you create an account and upload your music to sell.
Creating and selling sheet music takes work, and it may be a while before you see a profit, unless you get a commission project. But it can be a great source of passive
If you like writing words as opposed to music, consider writing as part of your portfolio career. You can write about music for publications, music companies, or individual musicians.
Writing can involve blog posts or journalistic articles. Or you can focus on academic writing and work as a researcher.
I’ve made money writing about music, but a lot of my writing is on related or unrelated topics. Being able to work as a writer is great because it’s flexible. You can make it work with any other music career.
Writing is especially great if you have interests outside of music. If you write blog posts and articles, you can write for a variety of publications and companies in different niches.
Coaching or Consulting
Coaching and consulting are great additions to any portfolio career, music or not. When you set up your own coaching or consulting service, you can make it whatever you want, as long as there’s a need for it.
A great way to get ideas for your coaching or consulting practice is to look for problems musicians face that you’ve overcome. Perhaps you’ve struggled with performance anxiety but know how to manage it.
I, personally, offer consultations in time management for working musicians. So if you need help managing your portfolio career and everything that comes with it, I can help!
Make sure whatever you consult on is something you’re passionate about. That way, you can really get into the sessions with your clients. Then, you can be the best coach or consultant you can be.
What Will Your Portfolio Career Look Like?
These are just a few portfolio career ideas. If you like something else, feel free to add it, even if it’s not directly related to music. It’s becoming more and more acceptable to do a mix of things.
Do you know you want to teach as part of your portfolio career? Check out my Where to Teach Workbook!