Even workaholics need to take a break. Most people have fun hobbies that they do outside of their day job, and creative types are no different. However, there's rarely enough time to push a music career while simultaneously pursuing a hobby.
Thankfully, you can kill two birds with one stone while cultivating certain hobbies that can be used to directly benefit your music career. There are plenty of stories out there about the weird and quirky hobbies held by some famous rockstars. If you have a cool, creative hobby such as the ones I've outlined below, you could be an even bigger asset to your band and career.
1. Visual art
As creative types, it's only natural for musicians to channel other kinds of creative hobbies in their lives. Many musicians gravitate to visual art, whether it's just doodling on your charts, all the way up to somebody like Joni Mitchell who generates additional income by selling her paintings.
Visual art is an awesome hobby for musicians for a variety of reasons. The most obvious benefit would be the ability to do your own graphic design, whether that be in the form of logos and fonts or album artwork. Getting high-quality graphics and artwork can be pretty expensive, so developing your skills in visual art can be a lifesaver for your band/solo career.
Perhaps you have a feeling or experience that you draw or paint about, and that in turn inspires a song to be written! Or maybe you make an art piece for each song on your album, and release it as special liner notes for people who buy the whole record. There are plenty of ways to use your talents in visual art to help your music career, and it's definitely something to explore if you have talent in that field.
Being able to write articulately and professionally is huge. Do you have somebody in the band who happens to be a great writer? Put them to work! If you're the good writer in your band, you can use those skills to your advantage in a number of ways.
First of all, you can take to being the professional "face" of your band, and handle all of the group's email communication. If you're doing your own press, having a press release that is well-written, is constructed well grammatically, and is able to engage the reader is the only way to really get attention. The same is true if you're writing your own band bios or your own copy on your band website. Having skill with writing is a great way to add value to yourself as a player and be an asset to any bands that you play in.
Reading certainly makes you smarter, but you can also use your casual reading time to benefit you and your band.
These days, there are hundreds of online articles, books, and other resources written by experts regarding all aspects of navigating and finding success in the music industry. Many of these are awesome reads, and going through them can help you figure out the next step for your group and to see what you aren't doing, or aren't doing enough of.
There are plenty of other written resources that you can dive into to help you or your band with your music. Guides on various types of equipment can help you and the band make better decisions about gear purchases, and might even allow you to make a little money as a consultant. There's also plenty of music theory and music history resources that you can peruse to help inform your musicianship.
Of course, you don't have to make music the only thing that you read about, but you can certainly make it an option. Doing so will allow you to gain valuable knowledge that will help you and your band find success.
Like art and graphic design, photographers can use their skill set to help their music career immensely.
A great photographer is expensive but can help shape one of your band's most important features: your image. A great photographer knows just how, when, and where to shoot a group in order to bring their visions to life – and who understands your band's image and vision better than you do?
Other than helping to shape your band's image, you can also use your photography skills as a networking tool. Are you playing a show with multiple bands? Get a few shots of each band, and tell them after the set that you'll send the shots their way. All bands need live photos, and they will likely be greatly appreciative, regardless of how well the pictures turn out.
I've been in a couple of bands with people who love to cook, and let me tell you, those were probably my favorite groups! If you like to cook, you can be a huge asset to the group morale by having everybody chip in some ingredients and let you whip something up.
Additionally, having a little skill and creativity in cooking can be a huge asset when touring. Going out to eat for every meal every day gets very expensive, very quickly. If you've got enough skill to work out something palatable with some non-perishable ingredients, your band is going to be able to save a ton of money on the road by hitting up grocery stores instead of fast food joints.
Dylan Welsh is a freelance musician and music journalist, based in Seattle, WA. He currently plays in multiple Seattle bands, interns at Mirror Sound Studio, and writes for the Sonicbids blog. Visit his website for more information.