Sometimes it can feel like your day job takes away from your music.
It takes up all your time. It drains your energy. It gets in the way.
But is there a way around this? Are there jobs for musicians that allow for more time to do music?
Why, I’m so glad you asked.
Because I happen to have just written this really long, detailed post about the best day jobs for musicians…
No time to read the whole article? Check out this handy-dandy table of contents:
- What To Look For In A Day Job
- What Types Of Day Jobs To Avoid
- The Best Day Jobs For Musicians
- Regardless Of Your Job, You Can Still Make Music
What To Look For In A Day Job
I’m not saying you should just up and quit your current job.
I’m not advocating homelessness here.
I’m just saying, if you’re thinking about changing directions, then there are some things you should look for in your new job.
I’m self-employed, so I know that having a day job with a flexible schedule is a huge bonus as a DIY musician.
It means you can schedule your work around your musical endeavors.
It means you can make time to produce that artist’s track.
You can make time to prepare for your concert.
You can make time to work on that co-write.
I’m not saying you should shirk your responsibilities. But you just have a bit more freedom to work on music.
This can also allow you to transition into more music-related work if you want.
And there are plenty of flexible jobs for musicians out there.
This one is almost just as important as having a flexible schedule.
Making money from music is sometimes inconsistent.
It’s not like you get a paycheck every two weeks for the same amount.
That’s why having a job with a steady income is so important for your music goals.
And most day jobs provide this.
I’ll be talking about some income opportunities below that can provide that (if you do them right).
What Types Of Day Jobs To Avoid
I’m sorry if I describe an aspect of a job you have right now.
But I’m also not sorry.
Because that means you may want to consider a different type of day job.
You see, your day job could either be helping or hurting your musical dreams.
And these are the hurty types of jobs…
Long days. Long commutes. Lots of over time.
These types of jobs suck.
Literally. They suck up all the time in your day right along with your passion.
And if you’re left with no time, it’s difficult to follow the One-Thing-A-Day method, as simple as it is to begin with.
It makes it hard to keep going.
If you have this type of job, you probably feel like giving up on this whole music thing.
You may have a family relying on your income and you feel like you can’t simply quit and start a new job.
I totally get it. I know what that feels like.
That’s an honorable thing to do, to stay at a job you don’t like to provide for your loved ones.
But what if you got a job that you did like and could still provide for your loved ones?
Yeah, it may take time to transition into a new day job, but the flexibility you’ll have with that new job will be worth it.
I went from working at a bank to freelance writing in just a couple years.
So I know it’s possible.
(More on how to do this later).
Mentally Or Physically Draining Jobs
Just as some jobs can suck the time out of your day, some jobs can drain your mental and physical energy.
You don’t want this.
Even if you work a regular 8-hour shift.
When you come home at the end of the day, you’ve got to have the energy to do what you love (even if you’re not getting paid for it).
If you have this type of job, chances are, you’ve probably already thought about moving on to something else.
So let’s talk about where you can “move on” to…
The Best Day Jobs For Musicians
Some of these jobs I’ve done. Some of them my friends have done.
And some just sound like really good jobs for DIY musicians.
Keep in mind, you can think of these as potential full-time positions, side jobs, or a combo of multiple to equal the income of a full-time job.
This one I do. It’s my main source of income.
It’s my day job.
Sometimes I really enjoy it and sometimes I hate it.
When I’m hating my job, I try to remind myself of the pros of freelance writing:
- I can include music-related jobs in my work day (jingle writing, audio work, whatever)
- It can pay very well
- I frickin’ get to work from home
But to be honest, there are some downsides too. Every job has ’em.
These are a few of the cons of freelance writing:
- Sometimes inconsistent pay (if you don’t stay on top of gaining and retaining clients)
- Work-life balance can be a challenge (ask any work-from-home person)
Overall, I’m so fortunate to be able to work from home.
I get to see my kids a lot. I set my own schedule.
And most importantly: I can do music in the middle of the day.
Again, I’ll only do this if I’m getting paid to make middle-of-the-day music, like writing a jingle or mixing a song for a client.
But if I get a song idea, I can record it. Heck, if I want to take a 10-minute break to work on a song, I can.
How to become a freelance writer:
- Start a free blog (seriously, potential clients often want to see your portfolio – i.e. your blog)
- Look for jobs on ProBlogger, BloggingPro, Upwork, and FreelanceWriting.com and start applying
- Consider taking a writing course:
- Write, write, write!
Uber Or Lyft Driver
I’ve never been an Uber or Lyft driver, but I’ve taken a lot of Uber rides.
Side note: get $5 off your first ride by signing up for free through my invite link
But my friend Felix is an Uber driver, and this seems like the perfect job for musicians.
When I asked Felix what it was like driving for Uber, he said:
“I’ll quote Forrest Gump’s mother with a small addendum: Ubering is like a box of chocolates — you never know what you’re gonna get!”
Here are the pros of being an Uber driver:
- Set your own schedule
- Fair pay ($25-30 per hour)
- You can meet cool people
- Can subtly promote your own music by playing it while you give customers rides
But of course, this job ain’t perfect for everybody. Here are some cons:
- Your car insurance company can drop you if they find that you’re transporting passengers without a rideshare endorsement. More info here.
- Extra wear and tear on your car
- You can meet drunk people (who puke in your car)
The best way to become an Uber driver is to go through my friend’s invite link — you’ll earn $275 guaranteed on your first 30 trips.
(Felix isn’t paying me to use his link and he didn’t ask me to do this. He’s just my friend, a cool dude, and a killer percussionist).
As for becoming a Lyft driver, you can simply apply here.
Private Music Teacher
This is one of those often overlooked music-related jobs that could really work well for a lot of musicians.
I’m contracted with Musika Lessons, a company that matches you up with students in your area.
You can teach lessons in your home studio, at the student’s house, or even online.
It’s not the only place to find music teacher jobs, but I really like the idea. I’m excited to see how it pans out.
Pros of being a private music teacher:
- Can pay very well (usually between $20-$40 per hour)
- Some flexibility with scheduling
- Experience the joy of teaching someone else the awesomeness of playing an instrument
Cons of being a private music teacher:
- Can be difficult to get your initial students
- You need to be very accomplished in your instrument in order to have success
How to become a private music teacher:
- Tell your friends and family that you’re giving lessons
- Hang up posters around your neighborhood/town/city
- Sign up with Musika Lessons so they can find the students for you (and let me know if you do sign up so I can refer you! Hit me up: MusicianWithADayJobBlog@gmail.com)
Full disclosure: I once tried to tune my piano. It did not go well.
I gave up and bought a MIDI controller.
But according to a guy who decided to become a piano tuner for a year, a good piano tuner can make $70 to $80 an hour.
You see, tuners are retiring and young ones are not replacing them.
This means tuners are more in demand. So they can charge more.
And it’s not just individuals who own pianos — showrooms, concert halls, orchestras, and schools all have pianos that need to stay in tune.
Here are the pros to becoming a piano tuner:
- Pays super well
- Flexible schedule
- Easy to find work
And here are a couple cons to tuning pianos for a living:
- Difficult to get the hang of
- It’s not just tuning — people will expect you to do maintenance too
How to become a piano tuner:
- Buy a piano tuning kit — I bought the Miriam Song kit
- Buy a handheld piano tuning device (I tried using free software and it was very limited and confusing to use)
- Watch a bunch of YouTube videos about how to tune a piano (here’s a good one)
- If you’re serious, check out the plethora of resources on Piano Technicians Guild
Qkids (Online English Lessons)
With Qkids, you teach English as a second language to kids age 5-12.
All of the lessons are video chats, and Qkids pre-plans the coursework for you. You don’t need a teaching degree or even much experience.
The company says you can make between $16 and $20 an hour and you’re required to work a minimum of six hours per week.
The schedule is flexible but within certain blocks of the day (because you’ll mainly be teaching foreign students in very different time zones):
- Between 6:40 a.m. to 9:10 a.m. EST 7 days a week
- Friday and Saturday nights between 8:40 p.m. and 11:50 p.m. EST
Within those time frames, you can basically choose your hours.
Here are some of the pros of this job:
- Work from home
- Decent pay
- Lessons are pre-planned
And here some of the cons:
- Timeframes may be too inconvenient
- If you’re not good with kids, this may not be a good option (obviously)
I’ve never been one, but a Virtual Assistant is basically a remote secretary/professional assistant.
So they’re a freelancer who offers a slew of services, like:
- Social media management
- Help with someone else’s blog (maintenance, editing, writing)
- Website and graphic design
- Answering emails
And the list goes on.
Here are some of the apparent pros of being a Virtual Assistant:
- Set your own schedule
- Choose what type of assistant work you do
And then here are some cons of being a Virtual Assistant:
- Work can be tedious and mundane
- Clients may ask you to complete tasks after your set working hours
If you want to consider becoming a VA, I’d suggest you check out this article from a woman who has actually been a VA.
But basically, you’ll probably find yourself on the job-finding sites I mentioned earlier.
Regardless Of Your Job, You Can Still Make Music
I know I said you should have a day job like THIS and not like THAT.
But honestly, those guidelines were, well, just guidelines.
You can still make music regardless of the job you have right now.
If you want it bad enough, you’ll make it work.
I talk more about this in a guide I wrote called “How To Be A Musician With A Day Job.”
And you can grab it for free by signing up here (or by clicking the image below).