[This article was written by Jennifer Newman Sharpe, entertainment attorney and COO & Co-Founder of Sparkplug, the sharing economy marketplace where musicians rent their instruments, gear, and space to and from other musicians.]
If you’re anything like me, as soon as January rolls around, the last thing you want to do every day is leave the house and venture into the cold, wet winter. And for being the shortest month, February often feels like it drags on for years. Even if you’re lucky to live in a warm climate, I’m sure you have days where you’re happier sleeping in and doing work from your couch rather than facing the morning commute.
Whatever your motivation for staying in, here are five ways that musicians can make money without leaving the house:
1. Writing jingles – or really any freelance writing
Thanks to incredible advances in technology (and some good old foam padding), you can create professional sounding recordings from a small, home studio. This makes freelance writing and recording even easier because you don’t have to rent a studio space to record your works. Plus, it’s become much easier to transfer large digital files over the web, so no more delivering hard drives.
Of course, there is some legwork leading up the actually writing/recording stage. You have to get the jobs in the first place. The best leads often come from within your network, so meeting and forming relationships with producers, music supervisors, and other composers can be very helpful.
From home, you may create these connections through organizations like The Recording Academy, Women in Music, and various MeetUp and Facebook groups that bring together the musical community. While there are some websites that may let you apply for certain opportunities, be wary of any that require a fee for you to submit your material for consideration. You should be getting paid to write music, not paying someone to consider you for a job. There are also agents who deal only in jingles, so do some research and reach out, sending them your reel (which you can record from home!).
2. Voiceover Work
Remember that great home studio that you made? Well, there’s a lot you can do with it besides recording demos and writing jingles. You can also record vocals with it. Think beyond singing to traditional voiceover work. If you sing and perform, chances are you might have a great speaking voice and have control over your tone, energy, and interpretation when reading something.
Voiceover fees can range from $50 to $1000, which isn’t too shabby considering that you can often record not only your auditions but also the final voiceovers from home. You can audition for your own gigs directly through online casting services such as Voices.com and Voice 123. Often you’ll build your own relationship with a particular producer and continue to work together even outside of the casting services.
Best of all? Whenever you’re ready to make the jump to bigger, better gigs, agents will often want to see that you’ve been able to generate work on your own. So when Spring rolls around and you’re ready to pound the pavement heading to auditions and sessions, that time booking your own gigs from home will be well spent.
3. Rent out your gear
Odds are good that you’ve invested a lot of your resources into your music, which naturally includes getting some instruments and gear. While you’re on the couch having a lovely cup of tea and watching the snow fall, why not let your gear work for you?
Make some extra cash by renting it out to a fellow musician via Sparkplug (www.sparkplug.it). Like Airbnb, but for musicians and their gear, Sparkplug allows you to securely and safely rent out your instruments, gear, and space (think rehearsal and performances spaces and studios of all shapes and sizes) to other musicians in need. It’s free to sign up and list your gear, and you always approve a rental before it’s confirmed.
Yes, if you offer delivery as an option, you may need to leave the house, but it’s always optional.
A classic way to make money off of your musical talent – teach others. Music lessons go way beyond the violin lessons you were forced to endure from age 9 to 12. From rock songwriting to jazz singing to recording hip hop beats, people at all ages feel compelled to learn a new musical skill. You can have your students come to your home or, let them be homebodies too, and do the lessons over Skype or Google Hangouts.
Get students by posting an ad on Craigslist, on local school message boards, or within Facebook, LinkedIn, Google, or Yahoo groups. Include examples of your work and your qualifications (think outside of formal education and paid job experience – what truly shaped your musical ability). Maybe offer a free 15 or 30 minute intro class, or a package discount if they purchase multiple lessons at once. You also can teach multiple students at a time using Hangouts or Skype (or your living room), but this might take a bit more preparation and organization.
5. Create new content and invest in your career
Of course, one of the most rewarding ways to make money from music is to create and sell your own music. So take advantage of the desire to be indoors and invest that time in your career. Make some new videos and post to YouTube (which you can then monetize, if you want), write new music (whether for you to release or to pitch to other artists), plan your next tour and engage with your fans on social media to promote ticket sales, or design and sell new merch online.
Being a “working musician” definitely takes work – but that doesn’t mean you have to be on a stage or in a studio at all times. You can get a lot of it done from the comfort of pillow fort in your bedroom.
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[Home recording image from Shutterstock.]