It can be difficult to be in charge of your musical career. Only you can hold yourself accountable. Pursuing tasks that take time to build value can be daunting. It is wise to dedicate yourself to your musical career and do what you love, but don’t completely discredit “day jobs”.
Do the grind. Make some money. Expand your opportunity.
A construction/desk job during the day may be just what you need to support your musical career and personal lifestyle. Mind you, it is important to consider if you are able to balance your full time job with your musical career.
As you start booking more shows, going on tour, and needing more time off will your day job allow you to reduce your availability? If your current job requires a set schedule, you may have trouble balancing this lifestyle and transitioning to a place where you can focus all of your attention on your real passion. Music.
Consider the potential growth you may achieve by taking a part-time job teaching music lessons at a studio. Even if the money is not as great, you may have access to a team of musicians that can help you with your career. Your co-workers may be able to help you make more money in the music industry - saving you from eating up valuable time at a job you are not passionate about.
Part-time or contract employment may be just what you need. Part-time jobs free up more time each week to dedicate to your craft. Working on contract gives you the opportunity to take time off between contracts to go on tour, or work on your projects. Of course there are various other side jobs you could take on. Ideally the skills of your side job should also help your musical career - Photography, song writing, digital media arts, etc.
Get offline. Enter the real world. Create a buzz.
While online sales can be great, it can be difficult to promote, and “walk-in traffic” may be significantly lower. The way people end up on your page is either if they already know about you or by sheer accident while searching for something else (and your page is so amazing they stay to check it out). Of course, some people are fortunate enough to afford paid advertisement and even that involves research.
In real life people have routines: In a week they go grocery shopping, to their favourite restaurants, perhaps to the mall (you get the point). When they are out and about they may see your product and become intrigued by something out of the ordinary existing in their daily routine. It may be harder in the suburbs to get shop owners to advertise for you, but think about all of the colorful cards and flyers on the counters of many shops in Vancouver. As a teenager, I collected them just because they looked badass.
Consult your networks. If you know any shop owners, ask them if they would be willing to hang your show posters somewhere in their store. Try to offer an incentive to the shop owner as well. If you are a regular customer they may be more than willing to help, or perhaps you could offer to write about how great their store is on your Facebook or on a review site.
Good attitude. Great work ethic. Make yourself Stand Out.
Whatever you do make sure you are offering value to whoever you are working with. There are a lot of people trying to make it in the music industry. Set yourself apart by having a good attitude and great work ethic.
If another artist invites you to play a show with them show your appreciation!
- Always show up on time
- In a good mood.
We all know shit happens and sometimes it isn’t always possible, but make your best effort! Even if the other group isn’t acting professionally, make sure you do. Don’t show up to set half baked or drunk. Having a beer and socializing prior to your set is ok, but leave the partying until after you’ve played. Just make sure to keep it under control - you may have fans approach you after you play and you certainly don’t want to make a bad impression by being belligerent.
If you are doing small shows or open mics at coffee shops and bars invite your friends to come see you and have a coffee or a beer. The shop owner will appreciate that you are bringing in customers and generating revenue for their business. The better your relationship is with the shop owner the more likely they will be willing to help you out by giving you prime playing times or by promoting your gigs.
Do what works. Be yourself. Walk your own path.
There are lots of creative ways to make money that can further your career. Try writing down what works now, what you want and need now, and what will work in the future. If what works now is making $20 an hour doing construction or desk work full-time so you can afford to buy equipment and go to all the events and shows you want that’s great. If in the future, you want to be dedicated to your music career perhaps that won’t work so well anymore.