50 Bands Speak Out – Side Jobs For Musicians
If you have time between band practice, shows, a job, social media, and your significant other, maybe you’ll find time to read this. With this article I wanted to build awareness about jobs for musicians that fit your lifestyle. As a result of reaching out to over fifty bands, I discovered there is a great attitude about working to support your passion. While a job is necessary to make money, work is something entirely different. Your work is not your job. Your work is the art you create and the impact you make on the world.
Key Findings About Side Jobs for Musicians
Before we get into examples of musicians grinding it out, I wanted to share some findings uncovered while putting this together.
- Jobs for musicians that kill two birds with one stone seem to be the best way to go. For example; Studio work, design, video, printing, tattoo artist, screen printing, label, promoter, marketing, branding, etc. Music and any other creative professions compliment each other naturally.
- Working these jobs teaches you something about your band business. Jobs only suck, if you don’t learn something from them. Besides, the struggle of a shitty job will often be the motivation you need to do something great with music.
- We’ve got at least fifteen audio engineers in this group of bands. That’s quite a list of possible engineers to work with. Eventually I would like to build in a resource here for networking with other creative musicians for their photography, video, and design services. Meanwhile hit each other up.
- Having a skill in a trade is invaluable. Construction and factory work have early hours which free up evenings and give you weekends off for shows. Teaching private lessons is a good way to put your skills to work.
- Food jobs are flexible, forgiving, and by far the most popular choice for a side job
- Side Hustles and Passive Income. Chris Kilbourn, serial entrepreneur and the former guitarist of Chelsea Grin has a lot to say on the subject over at Nick Loper’s podcast Side Hustle Nation. Nick is the preeminent voice on making money on the side.
- Seasonal Jobs are a great fit for the touring lifestyle.
Most Popular Categories
Food Jobs / Serving / Bartending
This industry is used to high turnover, flexible, and forgiving. By far the most popular with this group of bands.
Skilled Trades / Labor / Manufacturing
Typically these jobs start early so it frees up time to practice in the evenings, and usually you get weekends off. Once you learn a trade, you have that skill for life. I can see why it is one of the best jobs for musicians. While I was a touring musician I worked in a print shop for 4 years and learned to be a press operator. Knowing that I could always fall back on that skill made me take more risks and chances with my music career.
What a great combo and something that will serve you well your entire music career. I was happy to see so many of the contributors running their own studios or doing live sound.
This was expected. Art and music are a great combination.
Video hasn’t peaked yet. Not even close. YouTube is still growing, Facebook video and other video platforms are on fire. There is a growing demand from all industries to create more video content. Every company knows they need to increase their video content, so it’s a good time to get in.
Though this doesn’t fit the touring musician lifestyle well, if you have trust and a great relationship with your manager, you can make it work.
It’s great because you can listen to music at work, usually set your own hours, and you meet a ton of people. I drove a cab for a year and it was one of my all time favorite jobs. There was no Uber then, but I definitely would have been in on Uber, Lyft, or one of the other new driving services. To keep my cab license and job, I just had to drive once every 60 days. So I could work June 1st, tour for two months, and then have a job waiting for me when I got home.
Check Out These Other Side Jobs For Musicians
Other jobs that this group of bands are doing. After you check out this list, here what all the bands had to say about jobs for musicians.
- Music Store (Guitar Center has gig leave)
- Music Lessons
- Show Promoter / Venue
- Printing / Screen Printing
- Tattoo Artist
- Marketing / Branding
- Social Media Marketing
- Website Development
- IT Customer Support / Call Center
- Side Hustles / UpWork / Fiverr
- eBay / buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook
- Teaching / Substitute Teaching / Child Care / Caretaking
- Retail Sales
- Warehouse Jobs
- Call Center
- Grocery Store
- Convenience Stores / Gas Station
- Bar Tender
- Run A Record Label
- many more below…
If you have other good side jobs for musicians, please leave it in a comment below.
50 Hard Working Bands and What They Do to Fund Their Passion
And now, let’s hear directly from the bands. I want to thank every one of them for contributing. It’s my hope that by sharing our experiences it will spark an idea and help somebody find a better job.
click the band name to visit their FB pages.
Brock (Vocals) is a tattoo apprentice and they support his musicianship 100%. He does almost all our merch designs too. Rob (Guitar) also studied graphic design and does a lot of our flyers and does some design work too. So those two definitely make that aspect a lot more convenient and affordable. Jayden’s employers are also really supportive of his passion. I work in a call centre so I’m the only one that slightly struggles being full time.
Overall we are in a pretty good situation with our working lives in that we still have flexibility to tour when we want. It’s awesome to have supportive people in our lives that enable us to do the stuff that makes us happiest. – Nick – Stepson
We all definitely still work jobs at home. Jordan is a producer and studio engineer. This is extremely helpful as he can do our tracks, and we have a studio to write and demo. Brandon works for a company that employs almost all touring musicians. Even his managers used to tour in bands. This makes it extremely easy to ask off for shows, but still have a job when he comes home. Josh does freelance touring work for several bands in addition to owning a woodworking business which also allows a very flexible schedule.
We are lucky to have these jobs and careers as it allows us to be able to pursue music while still retaining income when we are home. All of us made a point to choose these paths so that we’d have the flexibility needed for the band. If you want something badly enough, then you’ll figure out a way. – Josh, Brandon, Jordan – Glasslands
We’ve all worked tons of side jobs to make the band a possibility. We’ve done everything from fast food to retail, to flipping rare video games, and everything in between. Right now our guitarist Nathan records, mixes, and masters bands. Our drummer Paul shoots and edits video with our other guitarist Codi. Learning a skill that you can use to earn freelance money with is at least as important as practicing your instrument for hours every week in the modern music industry. Ideally, you should be working towards generating passive income streams in different industries so that you eventually earn money while you sleep. This is a massive topic, but read The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss if you would like to learn more about how to earn passive income.
More often than not, skills that you have learned in order to help your own band (i.e. video editing, photoshop, mixing/mastering, etc) are super marketable to other people. Freelance hubs such as UpWork and Fiverr are great places to take your skills and find clients who need your expertise. These sites pay more than a delivery job or a fast food on an hourly basis because you’re doing highly specialized work. The work is enjoyable and completely on your own time/terms. – Chester – The Wise Man’s Fear
In order for us to stay close to the music industry, and creativity in general, many of us have taken up hobbies turned side-jobs such as photography. One of the biggest things about this is recognizing that the two fields – music and any other creative profession – both stem from the same grind. Once we learned how we can hustle any given creative “product,” the situation becomes less about what we can do, and more about what business decisions or moves we can make in order to make that turn into profit. It helps us to constantly stay up with niche markets and marketing, keeping us fresh in knowing how to maximize our time value, and the money value that we put into products we release. Our guitarist Daniel Guerra is a testament to amazing photography, where as our producer Adrien Clay has been producing in the Albuquerque scene for many years. – Painting Promises
I actually work for Postmates as my part time job in between music. It’s not my favorite job, but it does allow for me to have wiggle room to play shows, write and record music and work on the business side of music. I also am currently booking tours for myself and a few other artists to stay busy and engaged. Tyson – Crooked Teeth
We are all tradesmen (welders, carpenter and a plumber) that work casually in the construction and power industry. This means we can take time off when we need for recording and shows etc. – Tyson – Mirrors (AUS)
I also run an independent label and with how advanced technology is nowadays, I am able to do 80% of the work on the go. – Dylan – 5 Year Plan & Wilhelm Records
Something as flexible as possible. Something where you can still pursue your passions and work around a tour schedule or shows. We like to do photography, videos, and some branding on the side which is also great experience for our own material. – Here From The Start
Many of our members work in the food industry. Pretty much our work ethic is when we aren’t on tour we bust our ass at our jobs to the point where they don’t mind if we take two-three weeks off work because they know when we get back they’ll have a highly trained professional employee. One of our members works for Pedicab in Savannah which is pretty much a bicycle taxi service in downtown. They make their own schedules so it’s very convenient for him. – Clark – Second Death
For the last five years I have been working for my Dad’s business. I’m lucky enough to have the most supportive parents on the planet, so they allow me maximum time off. The other boys in the band work in childcare and hospitality. Sometimes they find It hard with getting time off. But for the most part they are looked after. – Jay – Bayharbour
For us, we found luck with some crudy part time jobs. Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot from my fast food jobs, but working at Long John Silvers was miserable. However most fast food joints hire young, busy students and are willing to give you days off as long as you’re willing to work the other days. We also found success working for Dollar/convenience stores. In my opinion, if you’re a solid worker that shows dedication and respect, your boss should be willing to work with you and your passions. Another small job to do that helps as a touring musician is buying and selling things from buy/sell/trade groups on Facebook. I have found older people selling their grandchild’s video games clueless to the fact that this Mario Double Dash is worth 50-60 bucks on eBay. When purchased for 4 bucks, you’re looking at a return on investment at over 1000%. – Adam Alfano – Drop The Act
Some jobs that have done well while we pursue music are driving for Lyft, recording other bands, and teaching kids how to roller skate. Two of our members (Vinnie on drums and Tom on guitar) have also been in the military this whole time. – Stephen – Elmyra
Finding jobs with flexibility is a must for being in a band. For our group Sam works at a grocery store, Steve is a server and used to drive for Uber and Phil refs soccer games. Being able to utilize a job that is flexible and will work with you while still giving you hours when you come back from show runs and tours is super useful. – Steve – Skylines
Our drummer is currently studying at University and that’s cool for him because he can focus on studying and playing too. Our guitarist Davide is a Management Developer. I (Luca) work as a nurse. Stefano (our bassist) just finished school and our singer Pietro works as a receptionist in a Hotel here in Bologna. We try to play gigs over the weekend and when we play live during the week we try to book gigs not to far from home so we can go back after the show and go to work the next day. It’s very hard but playing is what we love to do, so we always try to do our best to make shows, recording new songs and tour. We’re now booking a tour for October / November and we’ll take few days off from our jobs in order to make the tour. Being in a band and playing shows is never so easy and it takes a lot of sacrifices and hard work but at the end of the day, f that’s what you love to do, you just do it, no matter what it takes. – Luca – Prospective
We’re currently full-time students at Berklee College of Music. That keeps us super busy and also works well for us as a band. I’ve been doing a lot of graphic design work for my fellow Berklee peers, and John-Marc has been teaching music part-time at another school. – Roopam – The Surrealist
Some side jobs would be A sound stage tech. Many places hire at good hours and workable pay and you get insight into the industry. Or like many of us you could just work any job that will let you take weeks off at a time for tour like a local restaurant or family owned business. – Sam – Sam Screams
Most of our guys work their day jobs, while my drummer toys between that and doing video work for bands in the area. I personally run a studio and work full time doing that (in conjunction with the band) so I can be my own boss. Generally we don’t get too bent out of shape about getting fired from our jobs, because we strongly believe it will be worth it once we break into our music careers as a full time thing. For most of us, we can always get back from a long tour and get another job somewhere. – Nick Thornton – Stories Through Storms
Side jobs are a must when you’re home. Everyone in ARSONWAVE has a skill or trade that keep us busy during downtime. The best advice I can give is to find a trade. Whatever it may be, there is always a demand for skilled workers. – Adam McFall – ARSONWAVE
Some great side jobs are construction and moving jobs because the are seasonal. Warehouse jobs too. – Jonathan – Hjärna Waves
I’m fortunate enough to have an on call job as a substitute teacher that gives me the option to decide what shift I want to take. – Nick Tatosky – Ghost Heart
As a band, it can be very hard to tour knowing the outcome that when you return you may or may not have a job. For me, I’ve strictly held myself back from any sort of full-time, or strong committed job. If you know the right people, or are able to openly talk to your boss about your long-term future, it is nice to let them know ahead of time about your situation. Currently, I am working in sales for a local firework store. Nothing important, or something that if I were to leave it won’t be there when I return. – Jake — For The Better
Being in the music industry and service industry, there is one thing that they both have in common. Business. Working in a band takes a lot of hard work and dedication to get your name out there and deliver to your fans. It is just like having a job. Working as a server at a restaurant, I have to deliver to my customers to make them satisfied. It is a great job to work off tour and apply the skills that I use in the music industry to the service industry. – Craig – For The Better
Being able to work retail at a fireworks store because it is a seasonal job and I can work when I am off tour. – Adam – For The Better
It really just comes down to your priorities. I myself work a full-time job but at the end of the day my band is my priority, therefore I make time for that band. I knew a bassist that was going to college and working at a restaurant. At one point he was was working two jobs (still in school) and he was still able to make time to practice twice a week with the band and play shows. It really comes down to dedication. Ideally, if you can find a job that offers vacation days, that will help a lot for short tours. Also, work in the morning so you have nights off. – Daniel – Mirrors
Most of our guys work some sort of food job which is easy to trade shifts for and are usually alright with allowing time off. While I do have a “day job” right now, in the past I did graphic design and created lyric videos for a living which allowed me to make my own schedule and take on projects that worked with my availability. – Shaun – Crazy Love Hawk
We’ve found that there aren’t many full-time jobs that will allow you to take off the amount of time required to be in a full-time touring band. Most of us work these kinds of jobs currently to support ourselves, and it is still hard to get time off just for shows, recording, music videos, etc… Once we start touring, we’ll all have to quit. There is no way around it. However, a bunch of us have side jobs that will hopefully help us make some money once we are consistently on the road. Our singer, Sean, just recently launched his studio, so he has been recording a bunch of other bands lately. Our drummer, Parker, works at our local music venue (The Webster). And our bassist, Sean, does a lot of photography in his spare time. Being in a band and having any kind of job will almost always cause some sort of conflict, but we believe that if you work hard enough and want it bad enough, you will find a way to make it work. – Half Hearted
We all do jobs that make us available to tour, and take holidays to play shows. One of us works an office job, another works in the metal industry, and another is finishing his studies at university. – Alfredo – Amoena Patrivm
I have worked for Target for a while and when I’m there I put 100% of myself into it. Due to this they are very flexible with my schedule. I’ve heard that Uber and pizza delivery are great options for off tour musicians. Our singer Alex paints and found a job where he can essentially come and go as he pleases. There is always the option of trying to find work within the industry as well, whether that be recording, songwriting, live sound, printing merch etc. – Alex – Dead Eyes
Thankfully everyone in On Letting Go has jobs that push to promote and establish relationships that can better our career in the long run. Our vocalist, Daniel, and I both work at coffee shops (Foxtail and Starbucks). These shops attract all different crowds and we meet people who work in the industry. One person who Daniel created a relationship with through his job iis the head of entertainment marketing for Journey’s. Our drummer Jonny, who works at Guitar Center, meets new musicians every day that range from upcoming bands to professional touring acts. All together, we are very thankful for the jobs we have and appreciate the relationships that have been created through them. – Imran – On Letting Go
As for side jobs, it’s pretty hard to balance work life and tour life. I myself have been an independent producer for a long time. I make my living recording bands, which exposes me to the community I am a part of and also allows me to keep my schedule flexible. If you’re not self employed, the next best thing is to get a job in food service. A lot of food service jobs are low key and have managers that are willing to work with you if you give advanced notice. Your mileage may vary, but you’re not going to find many employment opportunities that allow you to disappear a week or two at a time, multiple times a year. – Adrian – Hollow Words
A carpenter, a factory worker, a electrician, a chef and a sales man. You can always make the band work if you love playing music and are into it for the right reasons. – Bits Between
I actually work at a Taco Bell as a shift manager. The store manager is all about supporting me in my band so I’ve never had a problem with scheduling. – Timmy – Arm The Witness
We all have careers. But I have seen others work at Guitar Center, pizza delivery, bartenders, waiters, Uber, and other odd jobs. If you wanna be able to follow your passion you are going to need to make a sacrifice. Follow a career in the business world or try to make a career out of music. Either way it’s going to require sacrifice. It can take 10 years to become an overnight success. – Worthy Of The Crown
One thing that I have fallen in love with the last year has been making live videos for bands to help them promote their music. I started out doing it for fun and then eventually bands started to really like the videos I was making and started asking me to go to their shows to shoot them. They donate whatever they can. I don’t like charging people but for some reason when you don’t charge people they seem to give you more out of the kindness of their hearts. – Alex – Common Grounds
Pizza delivery, retail, grocery, driving jobs, and freelance stuff such as graphic design, online IT work and recording. When I’m home I try to hustle as much as I can. I work at Wegmans which is a grocery store that is based out of New York, and is continuing to expand to other states. They have flexible hours and will let me tour. I also record bands on the side and clean houses for friends and family. The other guys work in factories and are supervisors for department stores. You just have to look around for jobs that will accommodate the lifestyle you want to have. – Brandon – Life Barrier
I myself have been really lucky, and worked part time in retail for years in order to tour. Some other great viable options are the food industry (especially mom and pop local places) that have high turn around and can be flexible with your schedule. Uber has been huge for some of my friends in bands. However you need to beware of some of the pitfalls with being an independent contractor. – Jordan Stevens – Our Shadows
Well, I’m a construction worker. That’s actually been an extreme eye opener, and surprisingly works out really well. You get your full 40 hour week most times, and the payout is livable with some to spare depending on your situation. You get weekends off, and you rarely work nights, but the con is your days are long. Another job I’ve seen put to the test is working at a call center/customer service. A couple previous band members have tried it. If you don’t care about full time, or making a solid living, but need something to support a tour life, that’s perfect. The turnover is high, it’s part time, and they tend to let you take off and/or quit and come back with ease. Plus, it teaches you in that position to be a salesmen, and that’s what bands who are DIY desperately need. – Niko – Powerhouse
Some jobs our members have worked in are caretaking, McDonalds, glass fabrication. Really anything that you can schedule the band around and what can help pay the bills and keep your gear up to date works. – Antonio – Discord Curse
I am a graphic designer. It’s easy to do work on the road so I don’t really need to take time off. Our drummer (Sean) works in a greenhouse that gives him whatever time off he needs. Our bassist and guitarist are lucky to have found normal jobs that give them time off. – Aric – Letting Go
Our vocalist Sean has worked in the restaurant industry for many years now. He also offers recording services for local and online musicians to help record their music and other services. Our drummer Jordan works at a local winery. He works on the line bottling wine, boxing and other various jobs. Brad Tiessen our guitarist works in the deli of a local grocery store. He butchers meats, cashiers, and does other jobs as well. Lastly, Jacob our bassist works at a local food company that does packing and third party logistics. He works with processing foods, packing them and other various jobs on his line. All these jobs have been pretty flexible for us while we have been a band and playing shows. We’ve been able to get the time we need for the band and we have been able to progress at a good pace for ourselves as musicians. Look into the business or company that you are interested in and figure out how much you’ll be working and if they are flexible with time off requests. – Within Shadows
Most pizza places (or food in general) are always very forgiving especially with tours. Personally I use my graphic design in multiple medias as a side hustle to get extra income which hasn’t done too well, but you can always find work if you’re dedicated. – Braden – Searching For Nostalgia
Some side jobs we do are: Tour booking and instrument lessons. At the moment we are also looking into a screen printing setup. We are always trying to make ourselves as independent as we can. We currently all work full time, and use all of our vacation for touring. What makes that work is planning everything in advance. – Matt – As Shadows Collapse
We use our holidays and weekends for touring mainly because we almost all are still in apprenticeships. We just opened a recording studio and are constantly working on our music business careers. Our employers have been helpful most of the time. – Arnold – NIOR
With PROS\PECT we have a different approach than the typical bands. Everyone in the band graduated and has a full time job in their area of expertise. For example project management, process improvement, graphic design, communication and multimedia design. This allows us to afford a house, apartment, car, etc. The downside is obviously that we have to accept a slower progress and pace when it comes to PROS\PECT. However we are very ambitious when it comes to the band. So we are pushing and working hard to work on our next steps. The key is to balance it with our working lives and make some tough choices from time to time. In our opinion it is the new take of being in a band in the changed music business, were the income is unfortunately not that high. – Roel – PROS\PECT
The band is a serious time consuming commitment, that mentally and physically exhausts you on a daily basis. This includes financial strains too. That can prove challenging at times as it’s not cheap to run a band. It’s all the small costs that add up quickly such as rehearsal fees, advertising, fuel costs, instrument maintenance and then large costs like recording, merchandise and travelling between areas to play. I’m lucky enough to have a full time job as a Senior Systems Engineer which helps, but when we have to travel with the band I have to make sure I can get that time off. Patrick is still studying Aviation at University and works a casual job which makes it harder for him in terms of money. Same goes for Caleb, studying Commerce at University too and working a casual job, including teaching drums. Ashton has full-time work as a refrigerator mechanic and Dan works as a Radio-Chemist. As we move on, we expect there may be some changes in order for all of us to be able to travel around on a regular basis. – Topher – Nautical Mile
Our band works different kinds of jobs doing live sound, teaching, mechanical work, and advertising work. Having steady work helps fuel the music. – Chris – A Mirror Hollow
I’m a substitute teacher, which is a great situation for a touring musician. I have no set schedule, so I basically work when I’m able. Our bassist currently works at a screen printing shop. Last summer on tour, he was between jobs, if I remember correctly. Our drummer is a car salesmen, but is very enthusiastic about touring. So, it seems that he won’t have trouble getting time off at the dealership he works at. – Scott Cole – Uncle Spudd
We try to utilize any chance we can to make money, Chris teaches guitar online, and at a local music school, graphic designs, and ghost writes for other musicians. Tony works with a family business that is pretty understandable with the situation. Caelin finds part time jobs, and records for artists on the side. Whereas Joel just works full time and does whatever he can to make sure we’re held together. It’s not easy, nor will it ever be until you can sustain yourself well, and even then, It’s still better to create other forms of residual income as a band. Especially as an individual, if you want to make music your life, don’t rely solely on your music to support you, everyone goes through rough times, and if financial needs tie in with your music, the ability to pour your heart out and perform at your peak will diminish. If we had the resources we’d probably make merch for ourselves and other bands, there is plenty of ways to make money while staying true to a musician lifestyle it’s all about finding the right one that works for you, your schedule, and interests. – Chris – Odissia
I worked at a pizza shop for about five years while I toured and promoted. It was a good experience. – Tim Coleman – Home 276/423
I’m a graphic designer at a signage company, as well as freelance which helps with the designs and artwork for our band. But the other dudes work in the food industry, which does help make money for the band. – Jeff – A Stranger To Remorse
We all have factory jobs so most of us are out of work early and that allows for weekday practices, leaving weekends open for shows. – Thomas – Error Of Existence
Guitar Center actually has “Gig Leave” if you can deal with working at Guitar Center 🙂 – Josh Matotek – Oakhaven
I do graphic design and stream videos for bands at the moment. Our guitarist Mikey works for an appliance store, where he lifts heavy things and brings them to people’s houses. He also does mixing and mastering on the side! – Jerry – It Gets Worse
Above all, this is meant to be a resource and open discussion between musicians to help each other achieve their goals. Please share with your band mates and all the musicians and bands you know. Also, let’s not ignore making money with your music. For more on that read my post 35 Great Ways To Make Money With Your Music .