30 Side Hustles For Musicians [2021 UPDATED]
If there's one thing that 2020 has taught us, it's that keeping all our eggs in one basket when it comes to our income streams just isn't feasible.
We've created a comprehensive list of 30 side hustles for musicians that you can work on to bring in some much-needed cash.
1: YouTube Videos
A simple and incredibly low-cost way to build both an audience and some income is to find a niche on YouTube and work on it when you have time. Ideally, you want to be able to commit to at least one video per week. YouTube isn't an overnight side-hustle either. It requires nurturing and consistency, and can be great for you in the medium-to-long term!
The goal for creating a YouTube channel is to first identify whether you want to vlog or create videos within a certain niche. Finding niches early on can be an amazing way to quickly scale your channel and monetize your videos quickly.
Niches can include Toy videos for kids, kids songs, movie/song reviews, vlog challenges, minimalism videos, productivity videos, study guide videos, etc. Think of something you can stick to and commit to it!
Note: You don't "have" to be in the videos you make. If you don't want to ruin your artist brand, try making "slide-type" videos where you talk about things like "Top 10 'x'", etc.
Also: you need at least 1,000 subscribers to monetize your YouTube channel, and you get paid per 1,000 views. This is something that’ll take time to build.
The Podcast world has exploded over the past few years, with celebrities like Joe Rogan and Joe Budden receiving considerable amounts of money for the rights to their shows. The primary way podcasters earn money is through sponsorships.
Once you gain even as little as 100 monthly downloads of your podcast, you can begin selling sponsorship slots to advertisers.
Pro Tip: Negotiate a monthly sponsorship fee that grows as your listener-base grows!
3: Producing Beats / Writing Songs
Producing or writing for others is a great way to start generating some side-income, both through one-off payments as well as royalty/ownership interest in the songs you help create.
To begin with this side-hustle, we advise creating a completely random brand (that doesn't affect your artist brand), then promoting this "mystery producer" through your main artist page.
For example, you could release a new song and then add "produced by: [Your new brand name here]. Artist friends who enjoy your new song can then hit up this mystery producer (you), allowing you to then charge them a fee + a % of royalties on tracks you make for them.
4: Cover Art design
Design ideas for cover arts are constantly evolving each year. As of writing this article, artists are loving minimal/vintage cover arts. The great news is that cover arts aren't super hard to create.
This side-hustle does however require a small upfront investment (in Photoshop) which will run you about $15/month. In the wider scope of things, $15 is absolutely nothing when you think about how much you could make from charging $15-40 for a single cover art.
Tip: Always do some free work to build up your portfolio, then begin charging and providing a great service to musicians you work with. Eventually, your brand will begin to pick up some traction (assuming your work is of good enough quality).
5: Start A Meme Page
We bet you didn't see this one coming right? A quick and easy way to start building up your cash stock-pile is by starting a meme page and building young, highly engaged followers (high-school/college folk). This audience demographic is always on the lookout for the next funniest memes to share with their friends.
As you begin to build a solid following, you can charge companies to promote their products either on your stories or as paid/sponsored meme posts.
- Keep sponsored posts as organic as possible (in the form of memes).
- Create a follow strategy where you follow between 100-200 people per day who love memes. Search other meme pages and follow their followers.
6: Stock Dividends
Okay, this one might not earn you money to begin with (you have to invest in it), but hear us out! If you're not familiar with stocks and shares, essentially what it means is owning "shares" or "ownership" in well-established businesses around the world. Whenever someone says they own shares, they're simply letting you know that they own a percentage of a company.
The awesome part about owning shares is that some businesses (not all) pay what's called a "dividend". A dividend is a percentage of a companies profits that they pay out to their shareholders either every three months (quarterly), monthly, or yearly. The amount you're paid per share you own depends greatly on the company and their current financial situation. Some companies pay $1 per share you own quarterly, and others pay $3+.
As your ownership in dividend-paying companies grows, so too do your quarterly payments. Eventually, you could build a nice four, five, or six-figure dividend payment every year for simply owning some shares.
7: Teach Facebook Ads To Musicians
A great way to build some extra side-income is to study how to create, launch, and scale Facebook ads. In an industry that's fighting for the audience's attention, it's more important than ever to find a way to break through the noise and create great quality adverts.
We recommend studying how to run great ads and then testing them with your own budget (keep it small). Once you've built up some credibility through your own ads, or free ads you've done for others, you can then reach out to musicians through your own new brand and sell your Facebook ad services to them.
8: Design for Local Venues
Local venues are always looking for ways to capture young audiences through awesome-looking flyers. Not only can designing flyers for venues be great for the venue, but it can also help you build a strong relationship with them should your career scale!
Tip: Reach out to venues and offer to design three flyers completely free. If they like them, request your set fee for any future work and get the ball rolling that way.
9: Twitter Profile Management For Brands
Although Twitter doesn't come to mind in today's climate, it's still a powerhouse of a social media platform that can drive a lot of business for new and existing brands.
A way to leverage this is by reaching out to start-ups or small businesses and offering to manage and grow their Twitter profiles for them. Of course, you want to offer some value upfront, so be sure to provide a 14-day free trial for them to see how you drive them some impressions, followers, and potentially some business.
Pro Tip: Use a Twitter Automation tool like Hypefury to schedule posts for brands you work with!
10: Start a blog like Starter-Story
Starter-Story is a blog focussed on sharing stories of entrepreneurs of all sizes from around the world. The aim of the blog is to share what businesses entrepreneurs have started, their struggles, how they market their products, their successes thus far, what technology they use, and so on.
Start-Story, at the time of writing this article, currently attracts 100k+ visitors a month. What people don't realize is that they're leveraging SEO to it's greatest potential. By interviewing founders, they're capturing a little piece of internet history that can be viewed by thousands down the line. Imagine interviewing the next Kanye West on your blog that drives thousands of impressions years from now!
Tip: As your blog begins to take off, you can sell ad slots or use Google Adsense to pay you for your website traffic! To create a blog, we suggest using a platform like Wordpress.com.
11: Create & Sell Digital Downloads
One thing we all have in common is that we have at least one hour a day to study something, whatever that may be. One great way to begin pulling in some monthly income is to create an E-book, template or digital download that can benefit other musicians (or someone in a niche industry).
To begin, you can provide value by offering free downloads in return for an email sign up on your newsletter. Then, as your newsletter grows, you can then monetize future products that artists won't be able to resist!
Tip: Use Gumroad.com to sell your digital products!
12: Video Editing For Musicians
With artists releasing more singles now than ever before, they're in need of great music videos to match the speed of their releases. A great way to earn some great side income is to learn how to use video editing software. Amongst the top-rated ones would be:
- Premiere Pro
- Adobe After Effects
- Sony Vegas
Learn how to use any of the above by watching YouTube videos on transitions, visual effects, and so on to ensure the service you're selling is up to par.
Tip: As always, provide value upfront by offering a free music video to upcoming artists as a way to showcase your skills. Over time, you'll build a network of artists who will want you to edit their content.
13: Make Songs For Kids
You read that correctly. One part of the YouTube ecosystem that's exploding right now is "YouTube Kids". YouTube Kids is a platform for content aimed at children.
A great way to leverage this growth in content genres is by creating songs for children, then monetizing your videos as your channel grows. The best part about such a young audience is that once kids are hooked on a catchy song, they'll always want to listen to it over and over again. You win by putting some side-income into your pockets, and the kids win by vibing out to their favorite songs any time they wish!
14: Start A Viral Video Licensing Agency
This side-hustle will definitely require a little more time than the others in this list, but if you're willing to fund your career and create both time and financial freedom, why not give it a shot?
The idea is to reach out to those who post videos of their pets or fails and to license to gain the exclusive rights to their video content. You can then upload it to YouTube or Facebook (run ads on them to promote them), then license them to TV shows should they reach out to you.
You can then split the payment made to you with the video owners. If a larger licensing agency wishes to purchase the rights, you then get a nice cheque.
Note: You will have to find a way to keep track of the content you have the rights to, as well as how to pay people you license your videos from, so keep this in mind (slightly technical).
15: Make intro Soundtracks for YouTuber's
With sonic branding taking the world by storm since 2019, there's no doubt that a catchy jingle or exclusive theme track for a YouTube intro is useful for YouTuber's.
Many YouTuber's have taken advantage of custom intro songs or jingles in an effort to ensure their fans know what sounds belong to which YouTuber's.
To make money doing this, start by reaching out to YouTuber's and offering a free 15-second intro soundtrack for them for free. Once you build up a little portfolio, set up a product on Gumroad.com and sell your 15-second intros to YouTuber's as they begin requesting them from you - or - as you begin reaching out to sell them.
16: Sell Music-related services on Fiverr.com
Fiverr is an awesome place for people to buy virtually any digital service, whether that's animations for products, translating word documents to various languages, logo design, and more.
A great way for you as a musician to take advantage of such a vast marketplace is to offer music-related services for a competitive price.
Offer services like; Songwriting, ghost-writing, mixing and mastering, Copyright Registration help, production, and more. As your seller rating improves, your profile begins to rank higher and higher, thus allowing you to make even more money from your side-hustle over time.
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17: Create A Tutorial Hub
People are always looking for tutorials, whether it's for a new piece of software like a Photoshop Update, or how to change a light bulb. This idea requires you to create a YouTube channel dedicated solely to tutorials on virtually anything you can think of.
A good tip here is to identify new trending products and services, then make a bunch of tutorials for it. For example, if we were in the height of the hoverboard craze, it would be a good idea to make tutorials on how to charge the hoverboard, how to fix basic errors, and so on. Your videos could surface at the top of search engines and build you quite a large audience very quickly.
Once you monetize your videos, you can then begin earning money from advertisements place within and beside them!
18: Start A Music Marketing Page
As the founder of Musicspace, I got my start in the industry when I began to research music marketing tips and posted short, informational images onto Instagram. Over a period of a few short months, I was able to create E-books that I then sold.
At one point, I was able to make over $1,000 in a single day selling E-books to musicians of all sizes. Eventually I sold the very first music marketing page I created to a distribution for a cool sum.
19: Lend Money
LendingClub is a peer-to-peer lending service that you can invest in. If you have some extra cash and you're looking to put it to use, you can leverage this platform to invest in businesses from a wide range of industries. Risk is cacluated for you using algorithms, and the more risk in an investment, the more potential for reward.
The idea is as follows: You essentially "loan" money you have to businesses and people who then pay you back with interest!
20: Create your own No-code app
Have you ever had an awesome idea for an app yet had no idea how to create it or didn't have thousands of dollars to invest in it?
Thankfully, with the speed in which technology has advanced, you can now join a platform like Makerpad.com and begin making cool apps and businesses with no coding knowledge whatsoever. Better yet, you can learn how to launch several products at once that could pull in some valuable side-income throughout the year(s)!.
21: Selling Free/Cheap Products For Profit
As a kid I remember going to the 99p store (similar to the dollar store in the U.S) and buying a big bag of Haribo Candies. Each big bag had five smaller bags of candy in it. I'd then sell each of the five smaller bags for £2 each, bringing me £9 profit every time I sold my stock.
As you can imagine, I loved the feeling of having some financial independence and began hiring two other people to sell candy for me. At the height of my candy selling career in highschool I was raking in close to £400/month.... As a 15-year-old.
One way you can leverage something close to what I did is by getting items for free (or cheap) and reselling them for profit. For example, you can visit sites like Craigslist (U.S) and Gumtree (UK) and search for the "free" section where people are literally getting rid of their products they no longer use.
Your task is to simply collect the items, then relist them elsewhere for whatever amount you wish. Remember, since the items you're getting are FREE, anything above $0 is pure profit for you. Go crazy! :D
22: Become a Field Agent (U.S Only)
Field Agent is a free smartphone app that pays you to complete small tasks in your neighborhood, like photographing the inside of a store.
Their goal is to gather data for marketing services and data analysis purposes. There's no limit to how much you can make, too!
23: AirbnbHosting or Co-Hosting
Do you own your own home? Why not try renting a room or portion of your property on Airbnb? Airbnb allows homeowners to rent their homes for a daily fee (that you command).
Airbnb has grown in popularity over the years as a cheaper, more homely alternative to hotels and motels. The best part is that you don't have to rent your entire home, either. If you only own one property, you can rent a single room or a shared space.
If you don't own your own property, you can enter into an agreement with a friend or family and rent a room in their home on Airbnb.
In addition to a small portfolio of her own short-term rental properties, Zeona McIntyre has built a side business in “co-hosting” other Airbnbs.
She essentially acts as the property manager, coordinating guest check-ins, maintenance, and cleaning, in exchange for 20% of the rent — with none of the risk.
24: Rent Your Car
If you don't "need" to use your car all days of the week, why not rent it to someone and make some money on the side?
Since forever, people have wondered how to make liabilities profitable. Now, thanks to companies like Turo and Get Around, now you can put your car(s) to work while you relax at home working on your music career.
25: Create & Sell Niche T-shirts
Now, thanks to the wonders of Facebook advertising, you're able to target people with more precision than ever. Thanks to Facebook's abundance of user data, you can reach people down to the income they make per year, or reach those who have their wedding anniversaries in the next 30-days.
With such targeting ability, now is the best time to work on merchandise that people would go crazy for!
To get started, you'll need two things: an understanding of how to run good facebook ads, a well-designed image for your t-shirts, and an online store (preferably print-on-demand) like TeeSpring.
Once you have the above sorted, you can then begin targeting people who are interested in your niche, for example: German Shepard owners, Trump/Biden campaign followers, etc.
Think super niche and target those who go crazy for the things they love!
26: Write Copy for brands
Copy - or "writing" - is one of the most profitable ways to earn income, especially as the digital service market continues to scale like no other. But what do we mean by "copy" or "writing".
Whenever you land on a website, all the text you see is referred to as copy. Brands often hire "copywriters" who study psychology and persuasion hacks to conver people from potential shoppers to actual buyers.
If you can study copywriting, either through a paid online course or through YouTube videos, you can command a solid fee for new start-ups who require your newfound skills.
Tip: Start off by doing free copywriting for new start-ups to build up your portfolio. Additionally, ensure that you track conversation rates somehow to ensure your copy actually does convert more people for businesses.
iWriter allows businesses (like us) to buy article/blog content for a competitive fee. Once a business submits a project they need created, our proposal then gets in front of thousands of blog writers who can then accept and work on my project for me.
As a writer for iWriter, you earn up to 80% of each project submitted. For example, if a brand needs a 500-word blog post written, and pays $11, you will earn $8.80.
Payments are paid via PayPal every Tuesday!
Other Articles You May Enjoy:
- How to build focus as a musician
- 4 Ways to optimize your YouTube videos
- How to treat your career like a business
- How to sell merch like a boss
28: EPK Creation
One thing many artists just don't have is an EPK, or Electronic Press Kit. An EPK can be useful should blogs, music supervisors, labels or any other potential business-related company require more information about you and your brand.
A great way to make some side income is to reach out to artists and create affordable EPK's for them to use over the years.
You can create visually appealing EPK's using a free site like Canva.com!
29: Craigslist Gigs
When you visit Craigslist.com, there's a section dedicated to gigs. Gigs can refer to people simply needing help moving from their old homes to new ones, or for help with large events in some form.
30: Smartphone Photography
One of the greatest perks of technology today is how fast camera phones have evolved. We've seen HUGE improvements in camera quality across the hundreds of smartphones on the market right now.
What this means is that you don't need a $5,000 set up in order to build a reputable photography side-hustle.
To get started with this side hustle, reach out to your artist friends and snap some great quality pics of them to post onto Instagram + other social channels.
Start by doing a bunch of snaps for free to build your portfolio, then scale your pricing as demand grows.
We highly recommend checking out YouTube tutorials on how to take the best photos with your phone!
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