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. I used to work in customer service and this is what it felt like.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. To make things easier on yourself, you need a day job that both provides for you financially and doesn’t totally drain you.
So here are some of the best day jobs for musicians who are building a career…
What To Look For In a Day Job (and What To Avoid)
If you’re thinking about changing day jobs, then there are two things you should look for in your new day job.
A workable schedule and a steady income.
By “workable,” I mean you’re not regularly working overtime, your boss is willing to work with your life circumstances, and the hours allow you to have time for music.
Obviously, this day job needs to provide for your basic needs. There’s nothing that will kill creativity more than being stressed about money.
On top of that, you’ll ideally make enough money to fund your music career. You’ll need money for mixing and/or mastering, distribution, and promotion.
So this means you should avoid jobs that are time-sucking and mentally draining.
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 part-time musicians.
In 2017, I quit my customer service job and went full-time as a writer. This allowed me to have a flexible schedule, work from home, and be able to work on music whenever I felt inspired.
Your best bet is to get into copywriting. Copywriting can pay anywhere between $0.10 and $1 per word, $25 per page, or $50+ per hour.
Here are the basic steps to get into copywriting:
- Learn the basics of copywriting from books or this course
- Choose a specialty (marketing emails, social media ads, etc.)
- Offer your services for free to a few friends and for your own website (even if it’s a mock website)
- Get your first jobs from places like ProBlogger, BloggingPro, Upwork, and FreelanceWriting.com
- Do really great work so your clients refer you to others
This day job may take a little time to get into, but the pay-to-time-spent ratio can be fantastic. Plus, you work from anywhere with WiFi on your own schedule.
Music Store Employee
This would be at Guitar Center or your local music store. You would probably be the person helping musicians test out and buy instruments. You’ll need people skills, musical knowledge, and the physical ability to lift heavy objects.
You may make minimum wage starting out, which currently is not very good in the United States. But this can vary based on where you live, and you can make it work depending on your cost of living.
Your best chance is to walk into a music store and ask to speak with a manager about open positions.
Uber or Lyft Driver
One of my musician friends used to be an Uber driver, and it seems like a great job for musicians.
This job can work because you set your own schedule, get paid fairly, and even subtly promote your music by playing it while you give customers rides.
You will need a car that’s new enough and in good condition. And your income doesn’t take into account the wear and tear on your vehicle. But it can still be the ideal day job for musicians.
Private Music Teacher
This is one of those often overlooked music-related jobs that could really work well for a lot of musicians. It can pay very well (usually between $20-$40 per hour), it has flexible working hours (usually in the afternoon/evening), and it allows you to do music for money.
To get started, tell your friends and family you’re giving lessons, hang up posters around your neighborhood/town/city, and post on social media. If you’re good, people will refer you to their friends.
I’ve never been one, but a Virtual Assistant is basically a remote secretary/professional assistant.
So you’d be 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
VAs can get paid well, so (like copywriting) you can work less than 40 hours a week and make a full-time income.
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.
Yes, you may have heard horror stories from current and former restaurant workers. But if you can put up with it, this day job can be a good option. You’ll probably make minimum wage, but you can make lots of money in tips if you’re friendly and attentive.
To get started, walk into a restaurant you like and ask to speak with a manager about open server positions. Or, if you know someone who works at a restaurant, try to get a referral.
Your Day Job Is Your Side Hustle
If you’re serious about building your music career, you have to think of your day job as your side hustle and your music as the main thing.
If you want music to stay a hobby, that’s totally fine. This post may not apply to you. But if you want a career in music, you can’t have a backup plan. What you do for money has to either be music or a day job that works around your music goals.