5 Ways to Make Money Playing Guitar
For those of us who are lucky enough to call ourselves guitar players, here is a quick list of a few things you can do to make a living with your music. To make a living playing guitar, you must become self-motivated, and make sure your material is “up to snuff.” You must also be able to promote your services like crazy, since most gigs won’t just fall in your lap. Take out ads, hand out fliers, play some free gigs, and build name recognition.
Stay focused and be persistent. Some of these things may not coincide with the style of music you like to play the most, but it is probably better to play a bit of music that you may not particularly love in order to be better suited to selling your services. The following is a list of ways for guitarists to make money:
1. Play Solo Gigs. If you can play and sing, you can offer your services to restaurants, bars, events, corporate functions, parties, etc. You could try busking, but make sure to check with any local laws surrounding buskers and suitable locations. Make sure your music is appropriate for each situation, and it is recommended that you learn many popular songs since solo acts tend to get many requests. You can even throw in your originals and sell CDs on the side if it is appropriate to do so.
2. Start a Band. I’m sure everyone has a dream of starting a great band, signing a record deal, touring the world and getting rich. Well, this is not the type of band I am talking about. Why not make a few bucks playing gigs at parties or bars? Get a few good musicians to join your band, learn a few sets of popular Top 40 style hits and start marketing your services as a bar band. Or, start an acoustic duo and market yourselves to bars and restaurants with patios. Once you build recognition as solid performers, you will be able to make a decent night’s wage for sitting around playing simple guitar songs all night.
3. Play at Weddings. Most people cringe when this is recommended, but wedding gigs are some of the highest paying gigs for the least amount of work. You must make sure your music is polished, or risk a bad reputation, but you get bonus points if you can make the attendants cry! It is easy to make a few hundred dollars for about 2 hour’s work, and you usually only play one hour’s worth of material! Learn hymns and love songs for solo finger-style or classical guitar, partner up with a singer or violinist, or get another guitarist to play the melody, while you play the chords (or vice versa).
4. Play at Funerals. Most people hate funerals and funeral homes, so this niche is quite open for musicians. If you are the type that can handle the atmosphere, perhaps this is and area worth investigating. Mourners are looking for sentimental music to lift their spirits or create an atmosphere for the funeral, so make sure your music is appropriate and, once again, perfected.
5. Teach Lessons. This is a quite obvious one, but it is surprising how few people take this seriously. Music lessons are a great way to make a steady income, taught either at your home or at a local music shop/school. Put ads out in the local newspaper or online and try to spread the word as much as you can. Run your lessons as a business, taking payments up front and making sure your lessons studio looks professional. Teach students what you know, answer questions, and try to keep them interested.
Some of you guitarists out there may be thinking that playing hymns at funerals, or love songs at weddings, or even top-40 music at bars, is like selling out since it isn’t the style of music you like. Well, even though you may not particularly have a passion for Ave Maria, Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring or Sweet Caroline, it is probably safe to say that playing guitar as a job, ANY style of guitar, is much more fulfilling and enjoyable than working a 9-5 job doing something else. Ask yourself this question: “Would I rather make my wages working 40 hours at a job I hate, or make the same amount, or more, playing guitar for a few hours a week?” Which one did you choose?