In 2021, how people make money in music has changed. It’s most likely now, that people will have to have multiple income streams, or portfolio careers.
I’m a retired military musician, teacher and now freelancer. I’ve had the honor of having several top students in my state who went on to college for careers in music. I approach it differently now, as it is harder to make a full living off one job. I encourage students to double degrees, or minor, or get certified in other areas – as much as possible. This is some of what I try to get future music professionals to consider for income streams (given that they all want to be performers):
- A degree in education is a great addition to a performing degree. Teaching salaries with benefits are very attractive and many of those teachers still perform a lot. This is an excellent choice for an additional degree, or at least a minor. Part-time opportunities exist in teaching, substituting for example. I did a double degree program like this, and when I retired from the military, I walked into 2 excellent teaching opportunities I would not have otherwise had.
- Video and audio editing: I feel like there is some great opportunity in this area for someone that has expertise in Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, iMovie, Davinci Pro, to name a few of the popular editing programs. Many people like to record at home these days for their social media channels, and many people want videos to go along with the music but lack expertise. There is additional opportunity in editing people’s weddings, graduations, parties etc. People can charge quite a bit of money if they can edit. I am always working on learning to edit my own videos. In between times that performance opportunities are available, I do remote videos with my friends and use the internet as my audience.
- Social media is a way many people want to make money – as artists, teachers and reviewers. To do this, a channel such as YouTube has analytics that determine when you can monetize. Other channels have their own analytics. Example: On YouTube, you need a minimum of 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours (people watching your channel) to monetize. I am not sure how much money people make. There are extra opportunities for the people who do Live shows. The audience (followers) participate by sending in Super Chat or Super Stickers, in any dollar amount. The host receives those on the spot. They easily make $300-1000 per Live, if they have a popular channel. Some channels use Patreon or CashApp for people to make contributions. There is also the possibility of one-on-one consultations at $50-100 an hour or more. I’ve seen some musicians get popular with weekly or multiple-days Live shows, that became online teaching opportunities.
- Private-instruction businesses in person or online, are popular. This is a good way to make supplemental income, but it is very difficult to make full time money this way. I also find that the results are not as good as in-person. I do both online and in person teaching. One can make a pretty good hourly wage this way. Getting known by the local band directors who appreciate the work I do with their students has also gotten me opportunities to judge district and regional events, or run woodwind sectionals, or be the woodwind instructor for the marching band season.
- Another online income stream I saw emerge in the last year was music therapy, injury-prevention or recovery channels. They can charge a good amount of money if you buy into a month-long treatment regimen. Music therapy is a possible additional degree or certification.
- Lisa’s Clarinet Shop’s Woodwind Master Repair Tech Training is one of the most promising additions to one’s music career, that I have seen lately. If I was younger, I would do this myself. I recommend this now to every student that is college bound, and I have sent the information to former students that are getting ready to graduate college, but don’t have job leads yet. I can’t say how important this service is. Every community needs this service and there are either few qualified to do a good job, or they are so overworked that it takes forever to get your horn done. As a clarinetist, I am very dependent on my repair tech and good keywork. This can make or break a player.
There are opportunities to work with some of the local music shops, or own one’s own repair business, with the additional bonus of referrals to retailers and manufacturers for rentals or purchases.