Jobs for gigging musicians?

flamateurhour

Well-known member
I unfortunately had to part ways with my fencing job that I've had for the last two years. The split was on good terms but my boss cited my constant time off as a major catalyst in the decision to not bring me on for the new season.

As I re-enter the job hunt, I was just wondering if there were any potential job fields that have worked well for you as gigging musicians? I play in three groups, so my evenings are usually filled up, and I'm gigging or out of town on tour almost every weekend in the summer (and also take off a plethora of Fridays and Mondays to accommodate travel). I also have a BA in Business, but that seems to more commonly be irrelevant as most of the jobs in that industry require a higher level of committal than I can provide.

My lead singer in my main band is a lead developer, so he's able to bring his laptop and work remotely in the van, and the bass player owns a hardwood floor company so he's able to answer calls and conduct business while we're on the move as well. Ideally I'd find something that I could get busy with while on the road as well.

Thanks in advance.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
My #1 reason for getting into teaching is so that I could play music and have summers off. While I do work a 12-month contract at a college these days, and I work more traditional business-like hours (8-5, M-F), many of my colleagues have 9-10 month contracts and only have to be on campus while they are teaching in addition to 1-2 office hours per day. I think the minimum requirement is to be on campus 29 hours a week because the implication is that many of these instructors work from home (grading papers and tests in addition to class prep, etc.). It's a lot of work to get there, but working in higher ed. is great, and you would be surprised at the amount of community college and university employees play music. I work at a small "satellite" campus of a larger college, and there are about 30 full-time employees here, and there are about 4-5 active musicians who work just on this campus. There's quite a handful that work on the other campus.
 
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Benthedrummer

Junior Member
I guess if you work for a company or someone else.....it doesn't matter how flexible the hours are, you've gotta show some level of commitment..... otherwise the same thing will most likely continue to happen.

However, the guitarist that I'm working on a project with.....he does night fill at the local supermarket.

He works from 7pm until midnight 4 nights a week. But he lives at home with his mum. His family owns a block of apartments as well.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
You need something free lance so you can dictate hours- to some degree anyways. One of my daughters supplemented her job with a part-time dog watch/walker job-I was surprised how well she was compensated. That or become a part-time uber driver or something.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
That or become a part-time uber driver or something.
If you had your own vehicle sure, driving people around in the band van might not work.

This idea seems weird to me. Don't some of us become musicians to NOT have a regular job? I can't see being on the road and having to worry about a job too. This seems backwards.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
If you had your own vehicle sure, driving people around in the band van might not work.

This idea seems weird to me. Don't some of us become musicians to NOT have a regular job? I can't see being on the road and having to worry about a job too. This seems backwards.
I wonder if it's a choice all sooner or later have to make-my job/career or being a musician. I had a few good opportunities to join some bands in college years but being a science major was demanding especially for a dumb ass like me so the demanding practice and gigs just didn't seem would work so I always backed out. A friend of mine with a tree service pays 'young fellas" $200 a day-5 days a week to work for him (they earn it). I was like damn I'd never gone to college-I got paid crap pulp wooding. But he lamented he had a hard time keeping consistent help which I couldn't believe. I told him if I was young I'd be his huckleberry-leave my nights open.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I wonder if it's a choice all sooner or later have to make-my job/career or being a musician. I had a few good opportunities to join some bands in college years but being a science major was demanding especially for a dumb ass like me so the demanding practice and gigs just didn't seem would work so I always backed out. A friend of mine with a tree service pays 'young fellas" $200 a day-5 days a week to work for him (they earn it). I was like damn I'd never gone to college-I got paid crap pulp wooding. But he lamented he had a hard time keeping consistent help which I couldn't believe. I told him if I was young I'd be his huckleberry-leave my nights open.
The choice was easy for me. I don't like a lot of things about the working musician lifestyle. After 8 years I was done. I don't regret it one bit either. Wouldn't have my wife and kid, our home, cars, and everything else needed to pass as "normal". It might not be all glitz and glamour, but I like it that way and am happy with my decision.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
This idea seems weird to me. Don't some of us become musicians to NOT have a regular job? I can't see being on the road and having to worry about a job too. This seems backwards.
For the majority of musicians, frequent/steady gig income may not cover expenses such as rent, car payment, credit card debt, maybe a new family. Day jobs are nothing new, and help musicians to survive without going further into debt. For those players just doing local gigs, a 9-5 wouldn't normally interfere with rehearsals and gigs. For those doing long weekends away, it could be an issue.

Speaking for me, I didn't want to be a working musician in order to avoid a regular job, I just liked to play drums and figured I could make some money at the same time. Regular jobs never got in the way of that desire or eventual accomplishment. In fact, I had a corporate job for many years well into my career with Al. I was able to come and go for studio days and lengthy tours. I also played in local bands and was busy most nights rehearsing or playing. The advantage was, I had a paycheck all year long. The bad news was, after I got married, there was almost no spare time for us/me, as any vacation time was surrendered for part of the tour. So I did eventually leave, and have been enjoying a lot of free time, sometimes a year or more, with few obligations. :)

Do jobs with such freedoms like that exist now? Probably not an office job, but there are things than can be done remotely by coders, PowerPoint users, some consulting positions, architectural design, etc. But there's no shame in having a day job, and certainly shouldn't be viewed as a lack of accomplishment as a player.

Two of my favorite sayings apply here: There's nothing like a regular paycheck, and starving for your art is highly overrated.

If I was able to balance my day job and music, anyone can do it. :)

Bermuda
 

bananers

Junior Member
It's not my end career by any stretch of the imagination but I actually work in a big drum shop in London, 10am-6pm 5 days a week. On my days off I do some freelance teaching (mostly kids) which usually gives me a nice £100-200 extra per month depending on how much I can do. I don't gig as much as you are but I'm just getting myself back there, and right now I'm doing way more drum-related work than I was when I was studying (I was also working in a pizza shop so my evenings were always taken).

My point is that when I have gigs that potentially clash (assuming I'm not going to be losing money or anything) then it's not an issue for me to get a shift swapped or a day off because they understand! Not the case with a lot of employers unfortunately... :(
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
seems to me like since you have a business degree, you could find something where you help people manage their business' or enterprises via the computer? Then you are working remotely, and can be more flexible(?) . I am just trying to think of something that would keep you free to make your own schedule, and use what you have already...

I have been recently thinking about doing the same thing. I really like one aspect of my job -> high school drumline instructor - but don't like the aspect of my job that actually pays well -> middle school band director. And specifically, I don't like the early hours, bureaucratic bs from the govt, and wearing "teacher clothes". I love the kids.

But I have been trying to think of a way to make money so I can quit the MS part, and just do the HS stuff
 

flamateurhour

Well-known member
Substitute teacher. You only work the days you want to, as much or as little as you want.
I've got a bit of phobia of talking in front of groups that's kept me from getting signed up and into the database, but I'm going to go for it. I love the idea of finally getting over my hitch and getting to finally try my hand at subbing.

My #1 reason for getting into teaching is so that I could play music and have summers off. While I do work a 12-month contract at a college these days, and I work more traditional business-like hours (8-5, M-F), many of my colleagues have 9-10 month contracts and only have to be on campus while they are teaching in addition to 1-2 office hours per day. I think the minimum requirement is to be on campus 29 hours a week because the implication is that many of these instructors work from home (grading papers and tests in addition to class prep, etc.). It's a lot of work to get there, but working in higher ed. is great, and you would be surprised at the amount of community college and university employees play music. I work at a small "satellite" campus of a larger college, and there are about 30 full-time employees here, and there are about 4-5 active musicians who work just on this campus. There's quite a handful that work on the other campus.
My absolute dream is to someday transition from playing professionally into a position at a local community college. I was in school for 7 years and it wasn't until the last two years that I fell head over heels in love with education, and I've been yearning to be back in that environment. Do you teach music?
 

flamateurhour

Well-known member
My advice is to start a business in which you simply live off the profits. Overpay your employees so they stay loyal and solve a majority of the problems. This is what I do and it’s worked well over the last 15 years.
First off, good on you dude. My recent boss (building fences) treated his employees in this manner and it really taught me the importance of placing high value on your employees. My focus in college was actually on Entrepreneurship Management and I definitely intend to take a stab at a business venture at some point (aside from my three bands).
 

flamateurhour

Well-known member
I guess if you work for a company or someone else.....it doesn't matter how flexible the hours are, you've gotta show some level of commitment..... otherwise the same thing will most likely continue to happen.

However, the guitarist that I'm working on a project with.....he does night fill at the local supermarket.

He works from 7pm until midnight 4 nights a week. But he lives at home with his mum. His family owns a block of apartments as well.
Very true words regarding commitment. I've tried to be 100% transparent with my bosses about my music ambitions have done my very best to respect where they're coming from as business owners and managers. That way there's no surprise if they let me go or I throw in the towel. Luckily this has resulted in excellent relationships with several of my past employers leading to the whole "our door is always open to you" kind of mentality.
 

flamateurhour

Well-known member
I have to say do something that you can do anywhere. My band mates edit books and write articles as well as one is a real estate broker.
You need something free lance so you can dictate hours- to some degree anyways. One of my daughters supplemented her job with a part-time dog watch/walker job-I was surprised how well she was compensated. That or become a part-time uber driver or something.
seems to me like since you have a business degree, you could find something where you help people manage their business' or enterprises via the computer? Then you are working remotely, and can be more flexible(?) . I am just trying to think of something that would keep you free to make your own schedule, and use what you have already...
I've been looking into the freelance "side hustle" thing pretty closely actually! I've gotten signed up for Rover (dog walking) and if that goes well I will make my own cards and try to get more involved with that. I'd also really like to pick up a social media manager position with a band or small business. I did that for my horn band for two years and loved it, although it's hard to create nice content when your hands are tied up playing drums.
 
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flamateurhour

Well-known member
For the majority of musicians, frequent/steady gig income may not cover expenses such as rent, car payment, credit card debt, maybe a new family. Day jobs are nothing new, and help musicians to survive without going further into debt. For those players just doing local gigs, a 9-5 wouldn't normally interfere with rehearsals and gigs. For those doing long weekends away, it could be an issue.

Speaking for me, I didn't want to be a working musician in order to avoid a regular job, I just liked to play drums and figured I could make some money at the same time. Regular jobs never got in the way of that desire or eventual accomplishment. In fact, I had a corporate job for many years well into my career with Al. I was able to come and go for studio days and lengthy tours. I also played in local bands and was busy most nights rehearsing or playing. The advantage was, I had a paycheck all year long. The bad news was, after I got married, there was almost no spare time for us/me, as any vacation time was surrendered for part of the tour. So I did eventually leave, and have been enjoying a lot of free time, sometimes a year or more, with few obligations. :)

Do jobs with such freedoms like that exist now? Probably not an office job, but there are things than can be done remotely by coders, PowerPoint users, some consulting positions, architectural design, etc. But there's no shame in having a day job, and certainly shouldn't be viewed as a lack of accomplishment as a player.

Two of my favorite sayings apply here: There's nothing like a regular paycheck, and starving for your art is highly overrated.

If I was able to balance my day job and music, anyone can do it. :)

Bermuda
Honestly, at the end of the day, I also just really enjoy working. It gets my mind off of things and actually makes me hungrier for rehearsals. As I've gotten older, I've definitely wished that I'd developed some skills besides some marketing/business saviness and an okay American Grip.

One thing that I wish I'd learned earlier was that there is a huge period in the growth of a band where you play 50-60 dates a year and drive your day job crazy but also where you're not playing enough to justify quitting said day job. I think this further stresses the importance of learning marketable skills outside of music. Especially ones that can be used within the industry (coding, graphic design, writing, etc...).

I think that some musicians wear that "starving for your art" mantra like a badge of honor. Me, I like having my bills paid, groceries in the fridge, gas in my car, and enough money to take girls out to coffee. There truly isn't anything like a regular paycheck (especially when you're in your 20's :ROFLMAO:
).
 

flamateurhour

Well-known member
My point is that when I have gigs that potentially clash (assuming I'm not going to be losing money or anything) then it's not an issue for me to get a shift swapped or a day off because they understand! Not the case with a lot of employers unfortunately... :(
I personally find more and more employers willing to work with me (to a certain extent). I just do my best to be honest in the interview and explain my situation. The worst that's gonna happen is that they'll say no and I'll have to go to my next interview. I've noticed that employers that place a high emphasis on company culture and interpersonal relationships are more willing to take a chance on me. Probably because they know of the higher intelligence, creativity, and Sinatra-level charm of the average drummer (mild sarcasm).
 

flamateurhour

Well-known member
Thank you all SO much for the responses so far. You each brought up some really well thought out points and I wanted to respond to them all, so sorry in advance for the 7 responses in a row. I hope it didn't make this thread overly cluttered.
 
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