One of the best ways to ensure that you have a steady stream of income is to diversify. You might be recording, selling and gigging original music but still have to work day jobs in order to supplement your music income. Here are eight ideas for generating a living solely as a musician. Some are more immediate and some require your time upfront in order to create a passive income for later.

Cover Gigs

This is a great way to make a good income from music and even better if you’re playing the songs you love. Playing regular cover gigs will keep you in good musical shape and help to hone your live performance skills. Don’t knock it, I see top end session guys playing in cover bands between tours as they know the benefits that you can gain from playing continuously, not to mention the regular flow of income.


Teaching is not for everyone but it can be a very easy way to earn a living. Not only do you get to share your knowledge with enthusiastic beginner musicians but it will also push you as a musician as you work to stay a few steps ahead of your students.

Session Work

This used to involve networking with your local recording studios so that you got called up whenever anyone was in need of a musician on their track. These days you can set up online using numerous platforms such as – record in your own home studio and send out .wav and .midi files to your clients.

Sample Packs

Music producers and songwriters use various tools to help with their creative process and sample packs are one of those tools. Put together a collection of chord sequences, riffs and textures that will help to inspire great song ideas and sell them as digital downloads via your website.

Music Licensing

If you already have a catalogue of music that you’ve created then you can earn a good income from licensing those tracks out. Think about how much music you hear daily on TV ads, podcasts, films, etc. Music of all genres is needed on a daily basis globally so start looking for opportunities for placing your own music.


If you’re a great sight reader then there’s plenty of work out there for accompanists. You’ll find quite a few vocalists looking for someone to join them at gigs. You can also accompany solo instrumentalists at performances or exams and may be able to find work playing for ballet classes at bigger dance companies.

Dep Work

Similar to the first although with this way of working you’re not committing yourself to one band and can accept gigs on an ad hoc basis. You need to be a pretty good player with a large repertoire of songs as sometimes gigs will be offered at short notice due to illness, etc. If you don’t know it already, take some time to learn the Nashville chord system as this will help if you need to transpose songs quickly when working with different vocalists.

Overseas Gigs

This is cover gigs with a higher level of committment. This is a great job when you’re younger and have the freedom to spend months at a time either on a cruise ship or in an overseas venue performing a residency. You’ll get to hang out with other musicians, explore new places and best of all, make your living from playing music. It is hard work though and again you’ll need a wide repertoire of songs since you’ll need to be prepared to perform four sets a night, six nights per week.