Not everybody can afford to quit their day job to be a full-time musician, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. There are fields and gigs that can actually benefit your music career – or at least generously accommodate it.
I asked musicians in my Facebook network what they do to earn money besides playing music, and the responses were incredibly varied and, even more surprisingly, very few viewed their jobs negatively. Sure, a lot of them would rather play music for a living than not, but that want is somewhat assuaged by having found work that's either fulfilling, helps their DIY band efforts in some way, allows for time off for touring, or all of the above.
Whatever your employment siutation may be, the way you perceive it can change its effect on your music-making. Instead of calling it a day job, Atlanta musician Ruby Velle opts to call non-musical employment a "bridge job." We like that.
Here's how 14 different actively touring musicians make ends meet:
- "My Indian parents always a stressed the backup plan (which is really a continuous ongoing side plan I call a bridge job) but I do graphic design, web and interface design, and some user-experience design if it's available and as a freelancer. It's a win-win for the band, because we rarely have to find someone to design CDs, posters, etc. It's been a great as a freelancer and doable as a full-time office thing, but that can get a bit more tricky. Obviously, I'm wanting to not have to juggle both, but at this point, it's a reality for all types of musicians. Don't quit your bridge jobs. No shame in making money to pay the bills!" – Ruby Velle of Ruby Velle and the Soulphonics
- "I work Monday through Friday at Alternative Apparel's headquarters in sales. I use my PTO for time off to play shows out of town/tour. I also bar-back at [Atlanta bar and venue] Star Bar a few nights a week and DJ for some extra money at [Atlanta bar and restaurant] Elmyr." – Chad LeBlanc of Zoners and Skin Jobs
- "Barista at a local coffee shop! I've been in the biz for a little over six years. Recently got a BA in history and contemplating going to grad school for library science to get into the archiving world. But I really just wanna rock!" – Carrie Hodge of Love Letter
- "St. Mark's Comics, Blockbuster, GameStop, DirecTV." – Zuania Colón Torres of Los Pepiniyoz
- "I'm an 'art handler'...I put together art expos to pay my NY rent." – Julio Vera aka E.A. Flow
- "I bartend at a dive bar called the Cave that does a lot of rock 'n' roll shows and work for a catering company. Both of 'em let me take time off as much as I need, and I always have shifts waiting for me. Hell, after one Paint Fumes tour, I came back to an extra shift a week. Both of my bosses are or have been pretty heavily involved with music, so they don't think twice about it." – Ben Carr of Paint Fumes and Natural Causes
- "Owner and swimming instructor of Artemarina Swimmers." – José Iván Lebrón Moreira of Moreira
- "I work as an admission officer at a local college. Office job, pays the bills." – Weslie J. Negrón Pagán of Zafakon
- "I edit Harlequin romance audiobooks." – Justin Hughes of Glen Iris and Rock*A*Teens
- "I work as a college professor." – Enrique Olivares of Los Manglers
- "I work at a creperie, a yoga studio, I do music supervision as well as write music for film and TV, I produce other bands, I DJ, and I work for an entertainment production company." – Matthew Schwartz of Pacifico
- "I'm a producer and audio engineer." – Héctor Hernández of StoneTape
- "Audio engineer, producer, and all-around problem solver." – Jota Vigilante of Los Vigilantes
- "I do the graveyard shift in a boutique hotel in Old San Juan. Concierge and night watch (voyeuristic extraordinaire from security cameras, ha!)." – Fofe Abreu of Circo and Fofe y Los Fetiches
What's your day job or "bridge job"? Share it with us in the comments below!
Jhoni Jackson is an Atlanta-bred music journalist currently based in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she juggles owning a venue called Club 77, freelance writing and, of course, going to the beach as often as possible.