Why Every Artist Should Consider Becoming A Resident Musician

Being a resident musician means playing the same venue on a schedule. Residency used to be just a way to have some small steady income and exposure before making it big. Alternatively, it meant an artist had already peaked: that they were on the downswing, playing weeknights in Vegas to keep cashing in on their near-forgotten-fame. There is a new era, though, of musicians on the up and up deciding to play residency because there are some undeniable perks.

Here’s why some of today’s top artists have decided to become resident musicians.

1. Having a residency is easier than touring.

Bands like The Rolling Stones or Steel Panther tour for decades and never seem to get tired of it, but for the average musician, constantly touring is a drag. Having a bed that isn’t on a tour bus and being able to raise a family are a couple perks of staying in one place.

If a musician wants to stay in one place and keep making money doing what they love, finding a place to play one night a week is a great way to do that.

2. It doesn’t mean playing cafes and casinos anymore.

Sure, when thinking of being a resident, the small coffee shop stage comes to mind, or maybe a piano in a fancy restaurant. This is no longer the case, and in fact, it’s way cooler to break the mold and try something unexpected.

Questlove from The Roots plays Thursday nights at a bowling alley in Brooklyn. If that’s not the coolest thing ever, what is?

3. It’s easy to find an opportunity.

Some venues will pay their residents, and that means applying and competing for a spot. Playing for tips means musicians get to pretty much pick their spot. Thinking outside of the box and picking a spot that isn’t an obvious place to see music might be easier than trying to get a time at the local theater.

People will go out of their way to see a rock band at a mini-golf course or an arcade because there’s no downside. They get to come see a musician while they have fun doing their own thing, and the musician can say they are convincing more people to come out. It’s a win-win, so it’s easy to sell.

Getting a residency means a steady income while working in one place. Musicians with notable residencies still get tons of exposure and add a little exclusivity to whatever space they work in. Getting a residency is certainly worth considering when trying to make it as a musician.

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Gabriel Dufurrena is a mathematician, writer, and educator living in Oakland, CA. When he’s not watching YouTube videos or teaching math, he’s bumping music from his car stereo.

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