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Profiting from music...?


Thy God

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Now, I'm not talking about big bucks, or necessarily even making a comfortable living. About all I'm really looking to do is basically replace my part-time convenience store job. I suppose this would be literally "selling out", but I'd rather figure out a way to practically make bank doing something I'm talented at than to have to drudge it out at another retail thing (I don't have a college degree or more than 4 days' worth of experience of non-retail work). What's the most realistic way of pulling something together? A popular-music cover band? Teaching guitar lessons? I'm not terribly great at mixing, otherwise I'd consider going into live sound or recording. I'm having difficulty thinking outside the box on this one, honestly.

 

tl;dr - I want to make a little money from music somehow, and am looking for ideas and suggestions.

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Teach guitar lessons? Play in a popular music cover band? Yes, and yes. Here's the reality of the so-called real world - the real world assigns values to things that people can do. Some of those things seem bat{censored} insane. Some seem unfair. But it is what it is. In my day job, I will drive to a high school where none of the kids can log into the local network, diagnose the issue, fix it, get everyone back up and running, and that's worth $25 an hour. Out of the 7,000 people employed in my district, there are probably 10 guys who have my skill set. I'm not complaining because I'm making a middle class living. I'm also a solo musician, and I can play stuff like "Piano Man" at a private party or bar and make $50 per hour. Wouldn't you think it'd be more valuable to fix servers than to play Piano Man? Anyone can freaking play Piano Man.

 

Yes, if I worked in the private sector instead of education, I probably would make $50 per hour fixing servers. And I can't sing Piano Man for 38 hours a week. Still...

 

You can make decent money playing solo gigs, and playing in a couple of different cover bands, and giving lessons. Get in the right bands and you'll make far more than any cashier minimum wage gig. But you may have to be willing/able to play any type of music required, not just the stuff you like. That can be the tricky part.

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I'd rather figure out a way to practically make bank doing something I'm talented at than to have to drudge it out at another retail thing.

 

 

Why not do both? As a practical matter, you will have to anyway, for quite a while most likely.

 

 

I'm having difficulty thinking outside the box on this one, honestly.

 

 

Why do you want to think outside the box? In music, there's little enough money INSIDE the box.

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I played 102 shows in 2008 and 100 shows in 2009, and made a total of $25,387. And that wasn't even with a "popular" band. We had no real draw, but somehow our frontman continually kept us booked. That doesn't count any acoustic shows that he did over that time, either, since I didn't play those; I was the drummer.

 

If we figure each show was a 6 hour job -- four hours of playing, an hour setup and an hour teardown -- that's 612 hours in 2008 and 600 hours in 2009, for an average pay rate of $20.95/hr.

 

We were playing bull{censored} cover songs that every band does, and people ate it up pretty consistently -- at least enough to get us rebooked, I suppose. Either way, if you can get a band together that plays 2-3 nights a week, it shouldn't be hard to surpass what you're making. As well, there's the whole "tax liability" thing; depending on how legit you want to be, most bars won't bother 1099'ing you unless you made a significant amount there, so you can be a bit creative with your books if you want. I played shows as a side job and reported all my income, as I wanted to be able to use my tax forms as proof of income when applying for loans, etc (easier to be legitimate), but I know plenty of people who pocket the cash and pretend like it never happened.

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I played 102 shows in 2008 and 100 shows in 2009, and made a total of $25,387. And that wasn't even with a "popular" band. We had no real draw, but somehow our frontman continually kept us booked. That doesn't count any acoustic shows that he did over that time, either, since I didn't play those; I was the drummer.

 

 

I have a really good set of kneepads, that's how. Metaphorically speaking, of course...

 

Wait, wait.. how in the blue hell did you end up with a "7" at the end of that? I don't ever remember splitting something that ended in a 2 or 7.... did you count tips or something?

 

EDIT: To the OP.. Zeromus was the drummer in the same band I was in.... but like he said, he didn't play the acoustic shows. I don't have numbers in front of me, but it's safe to assume I did 25 to 50 percent more shows than he did in that time, and made about 25 or 50 percent more playing music in that time. Of course, I also spent 25 to 50 percent more time playing those shows... and Zeromus doesn't take into account the time I spent booking the shows, the time he spent researching and putting together a solid PA system, the time invested in making the light rig work.. or a number of other things.

 

For sheer cost (of money, time, and energy) to effectiveness of what you make, I can't say that doing this for a living is completely worth it. However, if you look at the big picture (being able to pick and choose where you want to work, opportunity to move up a step and make much better money).. that's when it becomes a bit more feasible. That all depends on your situation of course. I'm only worried about me. If I ended up having a child, wife, or family, I'd have to get a more regular, dependable job.

 

For what it's worth.. I've played music for a living for 4 to 5 years now.. but any time I needed money for anything outside the regular cycle of bills (rent, cable, phone, insurance, water, electric).. it meant taking an odd job. Booking another band, designing websites, doing some freelance/temp merchandising.... just being willing to hustle to get some extra cash for whatever the expense was. You have to understand that. You also have to take a look back through the forums. Playing music in bars and clubs means that no matter what you do, how good you are, or how together you have things... {censored} happens. There are venues that will double book you, cancel you the night before you play (or even as you show up to play), try to short change you, not appreciate you.. these are all things that you have to factor into the "cost" of playing music for a living. In the past two months.. I've seen two checks bounce (both of which were taken care of, one a bit nastier than the other), four gigs cancelled due to clubs closing/doing away with live music/being too hot to have a live band on the patio, one gig changed the night before it was supposed to happen to the point where it pretty much wasn't worth it for us to do, fired a close friend, hired and fired another friend, and a host of other strange problems and stupidness. Of course, I've picked up a few shows last minute, and played 3-5 times a week during that period too.

 

If you really wanna do this.. do it like any other business. Take a look at what works for the other businesses that make money (i.e. the other bands in your area that are doing this as a full time or part time career), and use that as your guidelines. If all the bands that work in your area are Swedish metal-polka bands.. then do that. If they're all Top 40 cover bands, do that. As a guideline, of course. For every business that comes out that's replicating what an established business has done, there is an innovative, new business too... it's just simpler to go with what obviously already works.

 

Best of luck, OP!

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Yes, if I worked in the private sector instead of education, I probably would make $50 per hour fixing servers. And I can't sing Piano Man for 38 hours a week. Still...

 

Of course, relative to your analogy, you'd only have to "sing Piano Man" for 19 hours a week to make around the same money. That's doable... :)

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A popular-music cover band & Teaching guitar lessons should be able to get you some cash. Not a HUGE amount of $$$ especially at 1st but if you put the work into making the cover band the best it can be or joining an already established one, you can make some decent cash. Plus guitar lessons are some easy money too and esy to get students if you have a "rep" as a guitar player or get a teaching job at a music store. (I taught drums for 10 years at a music store- it was decent cash)

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It's pretty easy to make $100 a week in a half-way decent cover band. How much you bringing home with your part-time convenience store job?

 

 

A bone a week is a very realistic figure to pull down in a cover band. The problem is that if he needs this cash flow to start right away. It takes some time to get a band going or even to get settled into a seat with an existing band. How realistic is it to work a day job , and a part time job at the stripes station,,, and have enough time left over to get the band gig under control and producing cash flow.

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It's pretty easy to make $100 a week in a half-way decent cover band. How much you bringing home with your part-time convenience store job?

 

 

About $140 a week after taxes.

 

Also, to clarify my living situation: I'm single, still at home, and the only bill I have of any urgency is my car insurance payments.

 

This honestly was kind of a dumb thread, I was mostly trying to see if anyone had creative solutions to this...trying to figure out a practical way to have a job I actually like (Something I'm both good at AND enjoy doing. Music is the only thing I've discovered that falls under both.)

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I'm assuming your part time job is your sole current income and that also that your current band is not bringing in serious money as yet. That's not a put down, it's trying to be realistic that a metal band like yours has a niche audience and unless you're a big fish in that pond you aren't going to be making a shedload of money.

 

In your position, I'd start with giving guitar lessons as you can fit that round your job and current band to start with while you build up a reputation and consequently a market. Be aware that you will get people asking you to teach them stuff well out of the Metal genre so "selling out" and playing stuff you aren't a fan of is probably necessary to achieve this.

 

You can also make money in a cover band as stated above but this will definitely require playing music you don't like. The other factor to consider here is your current band. If you stay a member, you will have to sort out which band gets priority in the event of a conflict, and be prepared to deal with the resulting complaints which could go either way, from your original band mates being pissed at you for turning them down for a sell out cover band gig, or the cover band guys getting annoyed they might be losing out on a well paying gig because you are playing an original band gig that probably won't make you any money. There's plenty of threads and advice about that here too.

 

One other thought is to get your original band to put together a side project be that covers or a tribute act. That avoids any conflicts if everyone is on the same page and a metal based tribute act would probably be more appealing to you than a bar covers band.

 

Good luck whatever you do.

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Get in the right bands and you'll make far more than any cashier minimum wage gig. But you may have to be willing/able to play any type of music required, not just the stuff you like. That can be the tricky part.

 

 

This is the key. Get ready to play any song, any time. Play weddings and corporate functions and you'll make pretty decent money. Play enough bar gigs and you can probably make more than a minimum wage retail job.

 

There seem to be a lot of guys on HC who are in working cover bands and I would recommend seeking them out and following their advice, as some of them have been doing this for decades.

 

If you want to perform your own original songs, keep it as a sideline, maybe throw one or two in per gig (MAYBE, depending on the gig) and don't get your hopes up. It's still possible (barely?) to become a rock star singing original material, but always keep in mind that the used records stores of the world are filled with music from guys who thought they had "made it" when they landed a major record deal and who are now working as lawyers in Scottsdale or whatever.

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solo guitar-the gigs can pay great, you don't need anyone else, and you can play many different kinds of music.

 

 

I'm glad you said that. I'm about to start this because I want to play out way more often than we do, and I want to get some of that folk out of my system. Plus the money. I'm glad that thought was a valid one. I just have to seriously brush up on my guitar. Which isn't a bad thing.

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About $140 a week after taxes.


Also, to clarify my living situation: I'm single, still at home, and the only bill I have of any urgency is my car insurance payments.


This honestly was kind of a dumb thread, I was mostly trying to see if anyone had creative solutions to this...trying to figure out a practical way to have a job I actually like (Something I'm both good at AND enjoy doing. Music is the only thing I've discovered that falls under both.)

 

 

It's not a dumb thread. But if you're able and willing to be the kind of musician who can play in a steadily working cover band, you should be able to make that kind of money playing music pretty easily.

 

It may seem like "selling out" to do so but, IMO (an opinion based on been-there/done-that) playing in cover bands for a living is no bigger of a sell-out than selling slurpees.

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As I said, I'm not at all concerned with the "selling out" part or the (obviously) playing music I don't like...even playing music I can't stand listening to is preferable to just about anything else.

 

And I can't see a conflict with my originals band arising, we're not playing out at all for the next few months, and even then only a couple of times until then and June. And even when THAT happens it's usually only twice a month tops, unless it's a full road-trip.

 

The side project with those guys wouldn't happen...the closest I could do is talk MAYBE the drummer and bassist into doing a hair band tribute as a one-off gag. And a metal covers/tribute act really wouldn't get anywhere in this area. It could be popular, but not really any moreso than my current band, and we wouldn't rake in the kind of $ I'm looking for. (My original band already plays all the non-pay-to-play places that will book metal around here, and we typically headline, so I know what they're willing/able to put out.)

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Teach guitar lessons? Play in a popular music cover band? Yes, and yes. Here's the reality of the so-called real world - the real world assigns values to things that people can do. Some of those things seem bat{censored} insane. Some seem unfair. But it is what it is. In my day job, I will drive to a high school where none of the kids can log into the local network, diagnose the issue, fix it, get everyone back up and running, and that's worth $25 an hour. Out of the 7,000 people employed in my district, there are probably 10 guys who have my skill set. I'm not complaining because I'm making a middle class living. I'm also a solo musician, and I can play stuff like "Piano Man" at a private party or bar and make $50 per hour. Wouldn't you think it'd be more valuable to fix servers than to play Piano Man? Anyone can freaking play Piano Man.


Yes, if I worked in the private sector instead of education, I probably would make $50 per hour fixing servers. And I can't sing Piano Man for 38 hours a week. Still...


You can make decent money playing solo gigs, and playing in a couple of different cover bands, and giving lessons. Get in the right bands and you'll make far more than any cashier minimum wage gig. But you may have to be willing/able to play any type of music required, not just the stuff you like. That can be the tricky part.

 

 

I bet there's a hundred people learning computer network stuff for every ONE that's taking piano lessons.

Just sayin'

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Teach guitar in the evenings and gig at night. Winning

 

 

But please, if you do teach....learn something about the art of teaching. Take teaching seriously and do a little research on the HOW's of teaching Remember all the good teachers you have had over the years (in school or whatever) and all the lousy ones. You can do some damage if you don't take it seriously. At the very least, show the art of teaching some respect.

 

People will be paying good money to put their kid or themselves in a room with you, and if you are a guitar "show-er" and not a guitar "teach-er"....well you won't last long. If you can't read music, you won't have a very long client list, either. And if you aren't well versed in a lot of styles, you won't have a very long list either.

 

Teaching can be really rewarding....watching the light bulb go off is pretty cool.....I recently played a gig with a former student of mine and he just SMOKED! That was a good feeling to know that you had a part in that....and it can pay pretty well if you know what you are doing.

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Most definitely man. I pride myself in being a good teacher. Ive put a lot of work into my guitar lesson business, making sure my students receive the best musical education possible is my number one concern. I have had too many bad music teachers over the years to ever subject a student to that. Like you were saying, it feels amazing when someone you taught from the very beginning finally "gets" it. Ya know when practicing becomes an addiction instead of a chore haha.

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I agree that the OP's chances get way better if he can adapt himself to any style or genre- jazz/blues/country/classical/Latin as well as rock- and especially if he can play solo gigs, with or without assistance from technology. Being able to read charts is a huge plus, too, for a professional musician.

 

Sometimes it seems that the specialists- players who only play one instrument but max out their ability on that one- do better, and sometimes it seems that the "jack-of-all's" - average singers, who may double on 2 instruments well enough to do a basic bar band gig (but don't stand out)- get more work. Any thoughts on this?

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I can read music to an extent (I gotta brush up on my skills a bit. I'm terrible at sight-reading), have a little theory background, and can adapt myself somewhat to jazz and blues at least (I know absolutely nothing when it comes to country, I'm a complete hack at classical stuff)...I do suck at explaining things to people, though. I could definitely use some tips if I went the teaching guitar lessons route.

 

I COULD double up on vocals if need be for a band. I don't have the greatest voice in the world, but I have a decent amount of range at least, so I could at the very least do harmonies/backups. I suppose that'd up my stock a bit.

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