Making Money As A Musician Without Touring

FFor many artists, touring is simply not an option. There are thousands of reasons for this, including other employment, not wanting to leave their families, health challenges etc. Whatever the reason, the good news is that it is still possible to make a decent income without going on the road.

Here are some ideas:

  • Of course you can start with traditional local venues such as nightclubs, restaurants etc. You might even seek out a house gig.
  • Most private clubs such as AA clubs, to fraternity organizations (Elks Club, Moose Club etc) hire music for dances and private parties on a regular basis.
  • You can make money by recording and posting YouTube videos and then selling the songs themselves on iTunes. One way is to record your own unique cover versions of popular tunes. When someone searches for that song, your version will show up near the original version. Many people will check out your version as well, and then buy it if they like it.
  • You can write and produce songs specifically for films and TV. Study how to write for and pitch to these mediums. If you are prolific, you may even build your own music library specifically for this.
  • Don’t forget providing music for corporate films and documentaries. Contact the communications departments of larger companies, as well as video production companies.
  • Writing jingles can be an excellent source of income. Contact advertising agencies, video production companies, web designers and recording studios. Also listen tot the radio and watch TV, taking notice of advertisers who don’t have a jingle. Write and record short jingles for them, then pitch them directly to them.
  • You can generate great income as the entertainment for house parties. Teach your fans how to host these for you!
  • Form an a capella group that can perform any time, anywhere. You can be hired for daytime/lunchtime events and never have to carry a boatload of equipment.
  • Form specialty groups that play hard-to-find or in-demand kinds of music, such as vaudeville, Christmas carols (see, Dixieland, 50’s and 50’s etc. You’ll be hired for all kinds of events where the buyers don’t want ‘the usual’.
  • Many nursing homes have entertainment budgets. You may even be able to get a ‘house gig’ at one.
  • You can write and then perform and/or record custom songs for weddings, anniversaries and other special occasions.
  • You can create niche CDs and market them, such as ‘military songs’, ‘baseball songs’, ‘motorcycle songs’ etc. These can be original songs of covers.
  • Playing at a house party

  • Singing telegrams may be corny, but you can make a great additional income doing this. Do something different and unique that might put you in demand.
  • Playing weddings and other private parties (anniversaries, retirement etc.) can be very lucrative. Don’t forget the ceremony and the rehearsal dinner.
  • Country clubs, boating clubs, golf clubs etc. all hire entertainment for in-house and catered events.
  • Playing corporate events can generate substantial income.
  • Performing for all grades at local schools can create daytime income. You can do this by putting together educational programs. You may be able to get grants to do this.
  • You can get work as a local studio musician or singer. Be sure every studio in town has your demo. You may volunteer to do a session for free just to showcase your talent.
  • Modern technology makes it possible for you to sing or play on recordings be made anywhere in the world. You can do this in your home studio, or find a local studio that you can book inexpensively.
  • Many trained singers teach voice lessons, and instrumentalists teach music lessons.
  • You can teach lesser-known skills such as performance, songwriting, music marketing etc.
  • Your local fairs, any and all festivals and even sporting events all use entertainment.
  • Learn enough ethnic songs to perform ethnic events. One example is playing Irish music for Irish weddings, anniversaries, family reunions and funerals, as well as St. Patrick’s Day. Another is German music for Oktoberfests, polka dances and German private parties.
  • Churches and other spiritual institutions often hire music or all kinds, not just ‘religious’ music. For example, many hire music for their bookstores/cafes.
  • Find singers who get gigs but need accompaniment, or musicians who get gigs but need a singer.
  • Make it known that you are available for free-lance gigs. Many band leaders and booking agents get gigs and then put bands together to play them.
  • You can get paid to host karaoke nights and sing throughout the night. You can also do this for private parties.
  • Find a venue that will pay you to host jam sessions. You can get paid to be moderator, invite the musicians and market the event.
  • Play music from specific eras, such as the 60’s, and play class reunions. Every high school and college has them! Contact the alumni via Facebook groups.
  • If you can book your own acts, you can do the same for another similar act. You already have the connections and the trust of a number of venues. Turn those relationships into additional cash!

Vinny Ribas is the founder and CEO of Indie Connect, a global business club for serious independent artists, songwriters, musicians and music professionals. Indie Connect helps its members increase their chances of success by providing practical career direction and education, combined with live and online industry networking opportunities. During his 40+ year career, Vinny has been a full time musician, an artist manager, a booking agent, songwriter and the Entertainment Director for the NV State Fair. He is a published author and popular speaker at music industry conferences. The article was originally published on at this location.