If the Covid-19 pandemic has made anything clear, it’s that in the end the most important thing in the world is toilet paper. (Get it? In the end? Like rear end?)
But if it’s made anything else clear, it’s that adaptability is important, especially when it comes to our livelihoods.
Performers of all stripes are having an especially hard time right now. After all, who wants to hire live entertainment when public gatherings are a no-no?
The message is clear: make sure you have other options in case your main income source suddenly dries up. Here are four ways musicians can make money from home.
1. Sell digital music downloads
This is probably the most obvious avenue. You’re a musician. You make music. So, sell it. If you write and play your own original material (either solo or with a band), chances are you already do this, at least a little.
If not, now might be the time to get some home recording equipment and put together that four-hour concept album about cavemen fighting lizard-aliens that you’ve been dreaming about. Or, y’know, maybe just some catchy tunes you can sell as singles.
These days, gear is inexpensive and easier to use than ever, and there’s certainly no shortage of websites and apps that make sharing and selling your music a breeze.
From iTunes and Amazon to CDBaby and BandCamp, you can use one platform or you can use many. With social media making self-promotion a cinch, the entire internet is your audience.
2. Give music lessons online
Just because you can’t leave the house doesn’t mean you can’t still give Little Timmy his weekly piano lessons. Services like Skype and Zoom enable you to turn your computer desk into a virtual classroom.
All you need is a decent microphone, working speakers, a good connection, and some basic time management skills. I myself am still struggling with that last one.
Give it a try even if you’ve never taught music before. You don’t need a license. All you need is experience and patience.
Not only is this a good way to bring in some much-needed cash, teaching someone else the things you already know can strengthen your own understanding and help you hone your skills. Also, did I mention the cash?
3. Shift your focus to composing
If you can play music you can create music. That’s true even if you’ve only ever played covers your whole life. If you understand the fundamentals of music, you have at least the bare minimum of experience needed to begin writing original material.
You can then record your new creations yourself and sell them digitally (refer back to tip no.1). Or you can sell your compositions to other musicians, as well as anyone else who might need it.
Even well-established live musicians often write songs for others. Fellow musicians aren’t your only potential customers, either.
Filmmakers, TV producers, and companies that make commercials for radio, television, and web videos, they all have one thing in common. They need someone to write original scores, theme songs, and jingles.
Being the person behind “I’m a Pepper” may not carry the same prestige as being the one behind “Smoke on the Water,” but it still pays the bills.
4. Try writing about music
Believe it or not, your music education (whether formal or self-taught) has given you more than just enough knowledge to play music.
It’s also given you the knowledge to write about it. And I don’t just mean ranting about how bad Nickelback is on your blog. Although, heck, why not?
No, I’m serious. Start a blog or create a YouTube Channel to share album reviews. You can make good money just selling ads. Or you can write an ebook and sell it on Amazon all on your own, no editor or publisher needed.
Turn your lyric ideas into poems, share your wildest tour stories, or put together a how-to guide for DIY recording.
You can even write online articles to help other musicians, listicles with titles like “4 Ways Musicians Can Make Money from Home.” Trust me, I know a thing or two about this.