Ways to make money as a musician

I don’t like tops very much, so this will not be an article a la “100 Ways to Make Money as a Musician”. But I really like to share my experience and help young musicians, so in this article I will talk about “where to go?” and about what awaits you in each of these areas.

Corporate Tourists

Often, the first refuge of a musician looking for some kind of income is corporate travel. Weddings, high-profile parties and corporate parties, birthdays (to be honest, and funerals) – there are so many reasons to drink and listen to live music with a glass of good fuel.

Almost everyone can try themselves in this business. There are no clear formats here, and therefore you can play both by yourself and with a group. The running repertoire (pop hits and rock hits) basically does not require any super skills from the musician.

With regards to earnings, then your wallet will have to be a little nervous. How much and how often you will receive money depends on two factors: the number of hires and the exit price you set. Here are some tips to help your work find you more often:

  • Remember: your profile is your face in the eyes of the employer. Treat its compilation with all responsibility. Make a photoset, record some videos with examples of how you play, because no one will take a pig in a poke. If you have a budget, I advise you to shoot a promotional video.
  • The amount of work depends on what you play. Go to karaoke for a week, listen to what people sing – so you will roughly understand what they want to hear from you in the first place. Be extremely careful with foreign hits, because people like not only to listen, but also to sing along.
  • You must have at least 2 playlists: one is pop, the other is rock. Do not stand still, constantly update your repertoire and adapt to the market. Watch the charts, because the top songs are best perceived by the public.
  • Don’t cheap! Get acquainted with the prices of competitors and at first keep the bar not lower than average. Attract an employer, for example, offer a 20-30% discount for the second performance.
  • Come up with an image. Outrageous groups, which are pleasant to look at first of all, disrupt a good half of the orders. Be a discovery for the public, let everyone have a desire to shoot you and take pictures – this is the best advertisement.

Among the advantages, we highlight:

  • public relations experience
  • unstable but good income
  • the opportunity to play as a team and make many useful acquaintances.

Let’s not forget about the cons:

  • fastidious public, where alcohol is always a place for problems
  • frequent bargaining tenants
  • lack of a single place for performances, constant hassle with equipment.

It is recommended to create a tech rider (full list of required equipment, down to specific manufacturer and model names). So you will fully sound in any environment.

Luxury gatherings: a game in cafes and restaurants

“Here you are not here!” says a smartly dressed pianist, playing light jazz in a cozy restaurant. He is well provided for, the work is not dusty and the food is good. A sophisticated rich audience, sticking out their little fingers, raises a toast to a talented musician, the curtain falls. It seems to be a utopia.

If you look at things objectively, then, in part, this is how it happens. The level of salaries in Ukraine averages 12 -15 000 UAH. per month ($440 – $550) and, of course, this is far from the limit. The more solid the institution, the higher the salary, the maximum amount that I met was 20,000 ($740). But!

Let’s start with the fact that (let’s say) 15,000 UAH. per month is a kind of strict salary for music. It doesn’t matter if you play alone or there are five of you, no one will pay more than these 15,000, and therefore you will have to repeat the division in a column. The conclusion suggests itself – being a restaurant musician makes sense only when you play alone, in extreme cases, a duet.

But if you want to play in restaurants, then you must have not only a good, but an excellent level of instrumental skills. Not a kettle, but a worn samovar! In restaurants, only jazz and classical music is quoted, which requires not only a good technical base, but also a theoretical one. 8 hour shift (sometimes 10) and all this provided that every day you can’t play the same thing, no director will allow such hack work. Now it becomes clear why such salaries, right? They pay well for good work and you really have to work here, proving every day that you are sitting in this place for a reason.


Good and stable income
Permanent “workplace”
The opportunity to hone your skills and increase your level of improvisation
Pleasant audience, high chance of being noticed by the one you need


  • High level of requirements
  • In some restaurants, the cost of renting musical equipment is deducted from the salary
  • Difficulty getting fired, you will play until you find a worthy replacement
  • Strict schedule, no sick leave.
  • The system of fines for days off, you have to work even with a temperature\


In the future, very good source of income, initially requiring sufficient qualifications. It is desirable to have a musical education and a high-quality portfolio. Well, apart from a musical instrument and time, you are unlikely to need anything.

Being a tutor is especially difficult at first. Real earnings begin only when the number of students exceeds 10-15, and try to scrape them together! I can tell you about some of the subtleties of such work based on my own experience.

I was lucky to be among the lucky ones that the students found themselves. Sometimes friends can tell more about you than your certificates and diplomas, every now and then bringing people who want to learn this craft to you by the hand. But do not forget about the traditional methods of attraction: actively use Internet resources (social networks, forums, ad sites), record videos and fill out questionnaires. Show yourself from the best side, do not be too lazy to make a normal photoset.

Be interested in the tastes of students – you will achieve much faster results if they play what they like mixed with the main program. Record them on video every month, fix the progress – in the future it will be possible to make cuts from such videos, which will also become a very powerful advertisement for you.

If you do everything conscientiously, then over time, in addition to finances, you will have authority in your environment. Did you know that Joe Satriani became popular in many ways due to the fact that his students included such giants as Steve Vai and Kirk Hammett (Metallica guitarist)? So that!


A good and stable income with a sufficient number of students (20,000 UAH ($ 740. per month, quite realistic!)
You are your own boss, which is important
Ability to customize your schedule
Minimum time, maximum benefit: 3-4 students per day, 6 hours of work and an average of 600-800 UAH/day ($22-30)


Dependence on the presence of students
Monotonous work that requires moral stability
The question of self-development fades into the background