Joni Dylan (not her real name) always dreamed of becoming a folk singer – but then came marriage, a mortgage and her kids. So once her children hit high school, Joni grabbed her guitar and became a licensed busker in Toronto subway stations. It’s not quite show biz, but it’s Joni’s way of expressing her love of music and staying in touch with a dream.
Today’s music lovers are lucky. To flex their creative muscles, they can choose from a growing variety of “side hustles” that allow them to both practice their art and make some extra income. While these side hustles may not be as fulfilling as soloing at a concert hall, here are seven fun ways to help turn your musical talent into toonies.
Become a busker
Many cities encourage street musicians, through busker festivals or programs. Those selected may get great exposure and may field requests to play private gigs or offer music lessons.
Record your own songs
Today’s all-digital music business empowers artists who write and record their own music. You can sell self-recorded and produced CDs, promote yourself through websites and social media, and upload your MP3s to multiple music platforms. Most platforms only offer exposure but some will pay you – typically negligible amounts – based on the size of the audience your work attracts.
Produce music lessons
Online video sharing and streaming services are a popular platform for promoting both your songs and your skills. Offering a few beginners’ lessons online may win you clients who want to learn directly from you based on your talent and personality. Remember to smile!
Look for chances to perform at “House Concerts”
Almost anyone can sing at an open-mic night in a bar but private house parties offer a setting that’s intimate, exclusive and attentive. The host hires you and invites their extended friends and family, who generally pay a “voluntary contribution” to attend. Artists normally receive the net proceeds after the hosts recoup their expenses.
Try your hand at writing songs
Many competitions come and go, so conduct regular online searches to find local contests.
Break into the jingles market
To write music for radio and TV commercials, get to know people at local ad agencies, music studios and production companies. They are often asked to provide original music on short notice. If you have any prior commercial music experience, don’t hesitate to offer your services as a freelancer.
Be a willing understudy
Let other musicians know that you are available if their band needs a musician to fill in for sick or absent band members. The pay may not be great but you’ll gain exposure and new contacts.
You need to pay your bills and save for the future but that doesn’t mean you have to give up your passions. Music can be in your life forever if you're willing to work hard and play harder.