The music industry is so much more than just recording hit songs and playing sold-out shows. There are plenty of famous musicians who started out in different facets of the music industry, from former producer Kanye West to hit-engineering writer Meghan Trainor.
Here are five ways that you can make a living with your music without a record deal.
1. Hit the road as a touring musician.
Before she was sharing the spotlight with her sisters, Danielle Haim was playing with acts such as Julian Casablancas. She was a touring musician, playing guitar for several different artists before hitting the stage with HAIM.
If your dream is to be on the road, then consider offering your services to other aspiring artists. Being a touring musician will allow you to travel and play music as part of a group.
2. Set up shop in the studio as a producer.
Before Kanye West was Kanye West, he was a superstar music producer helping other rappers manufacture hits. He singlehandedly turned Jay-Z’s career around with his work on the album The Blueprint.
To become a music producer, start by learning the basics of sound engineering. You can begin by working with local musicians to build up your skills set and credibility.
3. Start out songwriting.
Meghan Trainor worked as a songwriter-for-hire before she made waves with “All About That Bass.” She traveled between New York, Los Angeles, and Nashville, writing hits for both country and pop artists. She even earned royalties from songs she wrote for Danish and Italian artists.
When you start out as a songwriter, you’ll learn how to craft a hit while making valuable connections in the music industry.
4. Lend your vocals to demos for other artists.
Meghan Trainor also recorded demos and background vocals for many of the songs that she wrote. This helped her market her lyrics to other artists and perfect her own singing abilities.
Not every singer starts out singing lead. By singing background vocals or demo recordings, you can get studio time early on in your career.
5. Share your skills as a studio musician.
Like a background vocalist, a studio musician does some of the work on another artist’s song. It’s also similar to working as a touring musician, only you’d be spending your time in the studio rather than a tour bus.
Working as a studio musician also helps you make meaningful industry connections and allows you to play with all kinds of different artists.
You don’t have to be a recording artist to start making a name for yourself in the music industry. Try your hand at one of these careers instead.
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Kristen Harris enjoys listening to a wide range of music, from Taylor Swift to, on occasion, Celtic instrumental. She also spends her time writing, reading, and baking.