Many of the topics I’ve covered here on MoneyPantry are things which everybody can do, for example getting paid to listening to music. But today I’d like to talk about a way to make money with your passion, specifically, a way to make money singing.
Though it seems like a bit of a dream, I assure you that is indeed possible to make money singing.
Like most methods of money-making, it just requires the right ideas and the will to make it happen.
So How Do I Make Money Singing?
Let’s get it perfectly clear– you can make money singing. It won’t always be easy, but sometimes it will.
There are a lot of ways to come at it. For some people, getting paid to sing is a life-long goal. Plenty of people out there are going to school for many years to ensure a long term career in singing.
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Other people are hobbyists, people who sing on the side. They still have normal jobs along with singing.
At the very least, I would have to recommend that you take some vocal lessons first. There is a reason that I say this, and the answer isn’t “so you can sing better!”
The main reason I’d recommend that you take some vocal lessons is so that you have the technique to avoid hurting yourself. Injuring the voice is very easy. Perhaps easier to hurt than any other part of your body. And once you’ve hurt your voice too much, the path to recovery is very painful and difficult.
Don’t let that happen to you!
Your voice is precious and you’ll need it even when you aren’t singing. Good technique is key. Don’t sing on a sore throat, ever, if you have help it.
Now on to the methods:
1. Be a Vocal Coach
Also called being a “singing teacher,” vocal coaching is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of getting paid to sing.
With this job, it’s as much about getting other people to sing as doing the singing yourself. But you will need to have a proper knowledge of technique in order to instruct someone else (so prior vocal lessons will help here too.)
The pay scale on vocal coaching is definitely in the “supplementary” range. However, coaching people usually is done on a per-session basis, so you’ll only need to set aside 1 or 2 hours at a time. This system makes it easier to organize your schedule.
You can find students on Craigslist, you can advertise on Facebook, you can teach your friends’ kids. Some music stores will be glad to let you put up fliers, too. This is a word-of-mouth style to make money singing.
2. Play Coffee Shops and Local Businesses
This is the classic option for aspiring musicians. It might be a coffee shop, it might be a bar, it might be a restaurant. But all across the world, you are guaranteed to find musicians playing in these places.
A lot of musicians will do this work pro-bono, or in other words, they’re willing to do it for free. If you have music as a long-term goal, you might consider doing it for free, too. This method is about exposure.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t get paid to do it. Bars, in particular, often offer small compensations to performers.
Personally, I’ve seen a singer who works the high-end restaurants in town. He sings lounge covers of popular songs in return for tips. It’s a good show, and from what I can tell, he gets paid pretty well. The ability to play an instrument while you sing is a big plus.
If you want to do this, the key is to approach as many businesses as you can. Many of them will be willing to talk about it, and they might direct you to someone who is looking for performers.
You can also check Craigslist. My local Craigslist has listings looking for talent right now. You can check the “gigs” section.
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3. Record and Sell Jingles
We’re all familiar with advertising jingles, which I touched on a while ago. There are good ones, and there are bad ones. But even the bad ones have a habit of getting stuck in your head.
If you have the skills to do it, there is definitely money to be made writing jingles. In fact, some people make it a full-time career.
Jingles are a little bit different than the other options on this list. They require promotion. You are entering a competitive field, writing jingles. You need to make good stuff and get your name known.
Again, it helps if you can play multiple instruments. In this case, it is the most useful if you can play a keyboard. Synthesizers are very common in jingles.
Once you’ve recorded a few demos, try to shop them around. Perhaps do one or two for free for a local business. Exposure is good, especially if you’re just getting started.
I recommend that you get an agent if you’re taking the jingle thing seriously, because you’ll officially be breaching into the entertainment industry! If you want to learn more, Disc Makers has a great post about it here.
4. Street Performing
I’ve saved (what I consider) to be the best for last: busking, or street performing.
While some people view street performing as a relative of “panhandling,” that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In fact, successful street performers have been known to make several thousand in a single night!
There is an art to it. Like most of the options on this list, it helps if you can play an instrument, too. Even if you can’t, you might want to get a guitarist to come join you.
The secret to making money busking is to play covers of pop songs or rock classics. You’ll get much more money if you change the genre of the cover. Say, doing a funk version of “Stairway to Heaven,” or even a slow ballad of “Anaconda!”
People want to hear music they know, so you won’t make as much money playing original music. There are exceptions to it, but in general, you’re better off playing fewer originals than covers.
If you really want to make money, go to the area of your town with a lot of bars. When people have had a few drinks and they see you playing your music, they might start really heaping on the money!
Any Final Advice?
I must reiterate my point from before: be absolutely careful not to hurt your voice! This is the most common mistake of singers and it is very difficult to overcome. It has ended more than one career.
But if that’s not a concern for you, my final parting advice is just to get yourself exposed as much as you can.
Making money with music is all about exposure. If you’re going to do any of the things I mentioned in this article, make sure you do it consistently!
There is no money to be made if you don’t give it a serious try.
You can also check out the “Street Performing” entry (#28) on my post here.