Musicians are primarily gig workers. They string together numerous gigs to create a full-time income. When something like the recent coronavirus outbreak threatens musicians’ livelihood (i.e. live performances being cancelled), it’s wise to have other ways to earn income.

Having a diverse set of income streams as a professional musician is a way to recession-proof, and potentially even pandemic-proof your music career.

Regardless, of any sort of economic downturn or pandemic, the following are ways to diversify your income beyond performing live.


Bring a concert to your fans online.

Set up yourself to play a live concert from your home to stream on Facebook live for your followers and email list. If you can’t be in-person, create a live event online and promote the sale of your online merchandise and virtual tip jar similar to what you would do at a live in-person show.


Give music lessons online.

You likely play an instrument or can sing, or use DJ equipment. Give 1 on 1 lessons via Zoom or Skype for a half-hour or hourly rate.  You could even record a series of lessons on a particular topic and package the group of videos for sale as an online course. You can use sites like Udemy and Teachable to market, distribute, and manage sales transactions for such online courses.


Online video and podcasting

Do you have a YouTube channel that you post regular vlogs to? How about a podcast that you produce on a regular basis?  Perhaps you can interview people in your genre who are doing interesting things and offering some slots for area businesses to advertise as sponsor of your channel in exchange for some money.


Make sure your songs are registered with your PRO (BMI, ASCAP, etc.) and SoundExchange. Use an admin publisher like Songtrust to help as needed. While getting your songs registered to collect royalties may not make you much money, you can’t earn much of anything from your recorded music (streaming or otherwise) without your songs being registered.


Freelance skills you’ve learned as a musician

As an entrepreneurial musician you’ve likely learned a few things about marketing and promotion as a result of having to book and promote your own shows. Many of those skills you may have picked up are transferable into other realms that other businesses would pay you for. Here are a few of those skills:

  •         Social Media Marketing services
  •         Graphic Design services
  •         Marketing/content writing services
  •         Website development services

You can start easily freelancing your services on a platform like Fiverr.


What are some things you can think of doing to diversify your music income?