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Musicians Have Options for Income During COVID

by vaughn skow October 24, 2021 4 min read

Howdy Guitar gang!  Soooo, we can all agree that the world has been a crazy place to live the last year or so, but since my buddy Elon hasn't got Mars in 100% move-in condition yet, I guess we all gotta call this planet home for the foreseeable future.  But for many of us guitar-slingers, the landscape is almost unrecognizable from that of glorious 2019, when we all had the freedom to travel around the world, publicly assemble, and even play music in packed hole-in-the-wall bars if we felt like it; I guess our forefathers would have deemed it "Life Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness".  But we sure as heck can't persue happiness in all the ways we used to be able to.  So just exactly WHAT do we do then?  I mean we haven't quite had a full-on socialist takeover yet ... so in theory we still should have at least SOME options to pay the bills and still more-or-less do what we love, right?

I've already done a blog or two about how to be a musician during all this Covid insanity and not go insane yourself, but I never really discussed ways to actually pay the bills and keep the internet and electricty on.  And so I've asked fellow blogger Penny Martin to take the wheel and steer this ship into port pay the bills :-)

Penny is a certified dog lover, just like me, so be sure to check her site out:  I'm hoping that soon we can get Penny to give us some useful info on how us musicians can both play band gigs AND take proper care of a pet all at the same time.  Since my wife left me last Christmas with four furry friends (and one awesome 10-year old daughter) to take care of alone, I honestly have no idea how I'd ever go back on the road again ... even for a short stint.  I'm sure many of you single pet owners have face this dilemma, how do i take a road gig and keep my pup?  But that's a question for another day, for now let's talk finances.  Take it away Penny!

Musicians Have Options for Income During COVID

Although many music venues have finally opened up at full capacity, others have not. Further, fueled by fears of a virus resurgence, many music-loving individuals are still opting to stay home instead of braving crowds. This has left musicians struggling to make ends meet. If this sounds like you, keep reading for insight into how to keep your income moving upward until the world goes back to normal. I'll share a few tips on how to make ends meet as a pandemic-era musician.

Take Care of Practical Matters First

As a musician, you are used to the hustle. But now, it’s a different type of grind. Before you start looking for innovative ways to earn money, there are a few things you should do, particularly if you plan to full-on go into business for yourself. These include performing market research, creating a marketing plan, and establishing your business structure.

Depending on what you plan to do, your marketing research might include steps, such as posting on social media to find out what your fans want. You can also take a look at YouTube videos and live streaming concerts from similar musicians to see what type of viewership they received. You’ll then want to decide on how you plan to monetize your online efforts. This might be through affiliate links on your website or within your videos, or it could be charging an “admission” or membership fee for fans to access exclusive content.

No matter what type of business you launch, even if you don’t consider it a true business, you want to look into launching as an LLC and getting your employer identification numbers squared away. ZenBusiness explains there are many benefits to having an EIN, including opening a business-specific bank account and separating your personal from your business finances, which is important, whether you file annually or pay your taxes quarterly. Your EIN can also help protect you from identity theft, which is a messy situation that can put your earnings (and your reputation) at risk.

Money-Making Opportunities

Still not sure how to earn money? Here are a few tips for musicians.

  • Live stream.Live streaming your music is another way to earn money. Keep in mind here that it can cost you $6500 or more to broadcast a single production. However, when you are getting started, you may be able to do it yourself with your current gear and an iPhone or HD camera.

  • Play at local venues.Even as large stadiums and concert halls shuttered their doors or reduced capacity for social distancing, some local venues may remain open. Don’t be shy about reaching out to see if there’s an opportunity for you to play, even if you have to do so for tips alone.

  • Network.Networking is crucial when you work in the music industry. Take steps to keep in touch with other musicians. And if the pressure of the pandemic is getting to you, even come together with others struggling with mental health and other issues.

  • Use your other talents. Lastly, don’t forget about your other talents. You are likely a creative at heart, and you may be able to paint murals or teach young, aspiring musicians the tricks of the trade.

We don’t know when indoor concerts will be considered safe again. What we do know is that people continue to love music, and there will always be a market for the melodies in your head. But sometimes, we have to look for other ways to make our musical mark or, at the very least, to earn an income until our stages of choice are open once again.

-Penny Martin-

Guitar guy making money during covid

Image via Pexels

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