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As a touring musician, it's nice to have the financial stability that a day job can provide. Finding a job flexible enough to allow you to leave for several weeks or months at a time is crucial while you develop your career as a successful musician. The following five jobs are some of the best options for touring musicians based on their scheduling flexibility and regular hiring availability.
Starbucks is always hiring, and when you're on the road, you can use your discount to caffeinate the band. A local, indie coffee shop is also a great option as it may offer even more flexibility since it doesn't have to go through red tape from corporate. The only downside to this position is that you may have to wake up earlier than any musician should. Other than that, your tattoos, unique hair style, and creative spirit when writing names on cups is saluted. In fact, your boss may even let you play your band’s music in the shop. As long as you work hard when you're on the job and let your manager know the dates you'll be gone in advance, you'll always have a job when you return home.
2. Freelance blogger/graphic designer
Many musicians have so much creativity that it oozes out into other mediums. If you're an artist or writer, consider freelancing or working under contract. There are several websites that cater to freelancers such as elance.com, guru.com, and fiverr.com. You can do the work right from home and on your own schedule. And depending on the project, you may be able to take some of the work on the road with you. Now you'll have something productive to do on those long van rides!
3. Music tutor
You can either do this by being hired by a music store or get clients on your own by posting on Craigslist or on community boards in your neighborhood. Whether you play the guitar, drums, keyboard, or sing, there are plenty of students craving your expertise and willing to pay you good money. As a bonus, your students will think you are the coolest person they've ever met.
4. Sound tech for another band
If you have experience in sound or tech work, using your skills could benefit another band and your wallet. It also helps that as a touring musician, you're probably very familiar with many local and national venues. As long as your touring schedule doesn’t conflict with the band you're working for, those jobs could work out well, too.
5. Merch guy or girl
Selling merch is a great gig, and in many cases, you don't have to tour with a band. Contact your local venue and see if they need an in-house merch person. Many bands travel without a merch person and rely on venues to supply their own. You will usually get a flat rate plus a percentage of the sales if you sell over a certain amount. Bonus: You'll get into most shows free even if you aren't selling that night.
6. Dog walker or pet sitter
Unless you have a reliable roommate or significant other, being a touring musician means you probably aren't able to have a pet of your own. As a dog walker and/or pet sitter, you'll get plenty of wet doggie kisses and exercise while making money on your own schedule. Join a site such as rover.com and set up some jobs during your down time. Carry some band stickers or posters with you, and this job can double as an opportunity to market your band!
Although your passion is music, and you may think a side job will distract you from your goals, you may actually find your creative juices flow even stronger when you're outside the studio. When you're teaching a fourth grader a new song or walking Fido, you could surprise yourself with all the new ideas that come to you. Not to mention that feeling comfortable will reduce financial anxieties and actually let you focus on your music! Plus, the more money you have, the more you can do with your band. From new equipment to marketing materials, you'll benefit from the extra cash. And perhaps best of all, it'll get your parents and other naysayers off your back.
Amanda Caswell has spent many years in the music industry, from personal assistant to Carly Simon, to merch girl for four years at the Paradise Rock Club, to wardrobe assistant for Justin Timberlake. Now she makes her living as a freelance copywriter and blogger.