Updated: April 16, 2017
It’s no surprise that it’s difficult to be an artist. In a world that values science and technology more than anything, artists are often brushed to the side.
Musicians have much less job security than other professionals, typically have a lower income, and don’t have the same pensions and benefit opportunities. With all this being said, being a musician is extremely rewarding and there are ways to gain economic success in the music industry.
When I pursued this career, I expected to simply share my music with other people. Instead, I quickly learned that there was a business component to my chosen career path, and I would need to educate myself in order to make it in this tough industry.
I’ve now learned what it takes to live comfortably, and maybe even prosper, as a musician. Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you do the same.
If you’re not already an assertive person, you’re going to need to become one to make it in this industry. There’s a common misconception that assertive people tend to be domineering or controlling, but in reality, these are just people who like to set themselves up for success.
If you want to be successful and financially stable in the music industry, you’re going to need to reach out and make yourself feel uncomfortable. When you feel uncomfortable, it’s usually because you’re trying something new.
I used to struggle with the performance for many years and I would experience crippling stage fright, but I knew I’d have to overcome my shyness if I really wanted to make it as a musician.
I began to take initiative, and I contacted numerous venues to set up performance opportunities. The more I performed, the more I built a reputation as a musician. I soon realized that the more popular I was, the more I was able to charge for performances.
Start Saving Early
Like I already mentioned, musicians often get the short end of the stick when it comes to pensions and benefits. This means you’ll need to have a lot of foresight when it comes to saving for your future.
I’d recommend starting to save shortly after you start producing an income. Yes, you may have a big break right around the corner, but the reality is that we can’t predict the future, so we need to prepare for all possibilities.
Economic success in the music industry is never guaranteed, so stay realistic and start saving.
The amount you’ll need to save will depend on the country you live in. While some countries have universal health care, other countries will require you to pay for each doctor’s visit.
As we age, we need to prepare for increases in visits to the doctor. In my opinion, you should try to put a small monetary sum into a savings account every time you receive a pay cheque.
Become Your Own Accountant
You’ll also need to learn to save money by keeping track of your taxes. The music industry is also a business industry, so you’ll be able to deduct business expenses.
This means you can reduce your taxes by claiming legitimate costs needed for your business. I’ve taught music lessons privately for many years to support myself financially, so I know first-hand how expensive teaching materials can be.
A good example for music instructors is the cost of sheet music. For performing musicians on tour, hotel expenses are a valid claim that can reduce your taxes.
After I started keeping track of how much teaching materials were costing me, I was shocked at the percentage of my income that was basically going out the window.
Another great way to establish your career in the music industry is to use your skills for freelance work. Freelancers often work for themselves, or for a variety of different employers at once, rather than sticking to a single 9:00-5:00 job.
While there’s nothing wrong with the latter option, I’ve found that freelance work often complements the lives of musicians. By establishing yourself as a freelancer, you’ll be able to complete projects at times that work for you.
I often tutor music theory when I have some extra time and know I’ll be in one place for a while. When I begin tutoring, I let my students know when I’ll be leaving the city again to tour to ensure they know about my schedule ahead of time.
You’ll find that many students who need tutoring help are comfortable with the in-and-out schedules of musicians, making this a great way to earn some extra income.
If you’re interested in teaching guitar on the side and aren’t sure how much to charge, check out this article.
Hopefully, this article helped you identify the necessary steps for economic success in the music industry. The most important lesson I’ve learned from my time as a musician is that being business savvy will open up a world of financial comfort, and even prosperity.
If you’re hoping to become more economically aware in order to move forward as a musician, be assertive, save early, and become your own accountant.
About the writer:
I’m Natalie. I work as a professional musician, session guitarist, and guitar teacher, and would like to use my blog, MusicalAdvisors.com, as a personal outlet to share my six-string knowledge with the world. You may contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org