Gigs cancelled due to COVID-19? Here’s our guide to side-gigging some extra work as an independent music artist.
Written by Leni - February 19, 2021
The financial reality of being an independent artist is… not awesome. One of the most common misconceptions in the ~ Instagram age ~ — where artists constantly need to position themselves like they are killing it, playing festivals, travelling, and partnering with brands — is that music artists make it work without day jobs.
“I know pretty much half of the musicians in existence have a side job of some sort,” indie singer-songwriter Cass McComb told Vulture in an interview. The truth is, most independent artists rely on multiple sources of side-gig income outside of their music career to pay their bills. Add cancelled gigs (thanks Covid) to the mix and it’s become really, really hard.
From music coaching, to production and mastering, here’s our guide to making extra cash as an independent music artist.
If you’re an independent artist yourself, chances are you’ve spent years building up a tonne of music skills — like production, songwriting, or playing an instrument. If you’re looking to pick up some extra cash while gigs aren’t happening, consider offering coaching services to the music community. The best kind of side gigs for artists are those that don’t steal you away from your passion — music.
In person coaching: IRL lessons could be a bit tough to navigate in 2021, but many countries are still allowing small groups of people to gather inside a home or music studio. You could offer one-on-one lessons, or invite people to join an intimate class group. Remember to check your local restrictions and recommendations.
Online lessons: IRL lessons are great, but they can also be limiting depending on restrictions to in-person gatherings and your location. To expand your music coaching hustle, you can offer lessons online (with previously recorded videos) or via live stream. You can use free services like Facetime or Google Hangout, or level up and go pro with a service like Circle, which helps you create a dedicated home for your music students, letting them connect with each other, and interact directly with you, while taking care of things like payments and subscriptions. You can also sell your knowledge on online learning platforms like Skillshare, Udemy, or Sellfy.
Rather than offering a one-off music lesson, think about how you can package up your coaching into a bigger offering, with a longer duration and a higher price tag. Are there any bonus options a student can pay to add on to their course, like a one-on-one workshop, a private performance for them and their mates, or a weekly video call with you? You’d be surprised what your fans are willing to pay for.
Music Production & Mastering Services
This one is kind of a no brainer. You’ve got the skills. Other artists need them. See where we’re going? Another way to make money as an independent music producer is by selling services like mixing, mastering, recording, editing or composing. There’s tons of producers, singers and other artists who need the help of other artists — you’ve just got to find them.
First, register your services on an online marketplace like Fiverr, Upwork or SoundBetter (a marketplace specifically for mixing and mastering engineers, producers and performers, and part of the Spotify fam). Then, spread the word about your new freelance services through your social media channels, industry contacts or directly in an email to studios and music production companies.
Sell Your Beats
Selling your beats, loops, drumkits, and samples online is a great form of passive income – you create them once, then sell them over and over again. You can sell your beats separately or package them together in a kit or sound library.
Wondering how to price them? Generally, beat prices range from around $20 USD and up, depending on things like the quality of the beat, it’s uniqueness, or the producer (and personal brand) behind them. Check out beat libraries to get an idea of what other producers in your lane are pricing them at.
There are a few digital production marketplaces like Sellfy, Beatstars and Airbit that can help you sell your beats, but some will take a share of your profit or charge you a monthly subscription fee. So do your research before signing up.
Once you’ve got your beats online, it’s time to market them. Share your products on social media, in forums (like Reddit or Clubhouse), send an email to your email list, or invest in paid ads.
You don’t need to be a good singer to get a voiceover side hustle. Whether it’s voicing a film character, recording training or education sessions, reading out audiobooks or doing a voiceover for a television commercial, you can record and sell your voice from anywhere (assuming it’s quiet and has an internet connection, obvs).
If you want to take this side gig seriously, a voice over home studio is essential to enabling you to produce high-quality work for your clients (that you can charge a premium for). If you’re interested in building a recording studio in your home, read our guide to building a DIY music studio at home and our tips for recording pro-level vocals.
With the right strategies and tactics, every artist (major label support or not) can get their music in front of the right people. Want more tips? Check out our guide to promoting your music on a budget.
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