They say go all-in.
They say quit your job and don’t give yourself a safety net, or else you won’t succeed in music.
But is that actually true? Should musicians have a backup plan?
Let’s talk about this idea of backup plans, diversifying your music career, and creating long-term goals.
Let’s Define “Backup Plan”
First, let me explain what I really mean by the term “backup plan.”
Backup plan = diversifying your music career.
Instead of just writing, recording, and performing songs, you need something else too.
What if performances dry up, as we’re seeing with the COVID-19 pandemic?
What if your recording equipment breaks?
Or what if being a musician is just taking a long time to get going?
If you had another source of income to help lighten the load and lessen the pressure, you could potentially pour more creative energy into the work you care about most.
Don’t get me wrong — having no music career backup plan works for some people. A lot of artists just go for it. They empty their savings, quit their job, and hit the road.
And some of them make it work.
But forming a backup plan — aka diversifying — is safer, smarter, and works more often. Especially for musicians with careers, families, or other life responsibilities that they can’t just quit.
Plus, most millionaires have at least three streams of revenue. So diversifying is clearly a smart move.
Other Musicians With Backup Plans
To show you that having a backup/diversification plan works, I’d like to talk about a few artists who do this.
The first is Gregory Alan Isakov. He’s a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter who’s released several studio albums. And he also continues to run his farm.
Ari Herstand is a touring musician, best-selling author, blogger, and teacher. His music has been played on All Things Considered and Forbes has praised him for his work helping other musicians.
And Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull has had several salmon farms and he runs multiple companies.
The point is, if these successful musicians created many revenue streams for themselves, why would we think we’re above doing that too?
Diversify Your Music Career
So how do you create a backup plan? How do you diversify your music career?
The first step is to figure out what kind of musician you want to be. Figure out what you truly love and how to make money from it.
This will be the central part of your game plan.
Second, think about what else you’re good at. Then turn those things into supplemental income. The key here is to find skills that will serve your music career.
Just to get you started, here are some skills that can easily be music-related:
- Writing: do freelance writing for music websites
- Teaching: give instrument lessons and/or launch an online course
- Presenting: start a YouTube channel and entertain, inform, and educate people
- Managing others: offer artist management services to musicians
- Organization: become a virtual assistant for someone in the music industry
- Photography: do photoshoots for artists or take concert pictures for online publications
- Web design/coding: offer site layout-and-design services to your fellow musicians and music industry folk
- Math: many artists are not into math, budgeting, or finances in general, so offer financial management services
On top of writing, recording, and licensing my music, I do freelance writing. So I get paid to write for Bandzoogle, Sonicbids, and Soundfly, among others.
This requires research and sharing what I already know. So it keeps my music knowledge current.
I offer coaching calls. These help me understand the real problems of my fellow musicians, allowing me to create more helpful content.
I also edit audio for clients, like podcasts. Those projects help keep my audio editing skills sharp.
As long as my income sources are music-related, they feed my music endeavors in some way.
And you can do this too. Turn whatever you’re good at into a money-making, music-supporting stream of income.
How To Create A (Backup) Plan For Your Music
In order to diversify your music career, you need a plan. You need to know what your main objectives are and how to get there. Then you can figure out ways to diversify.
So here’s a simplified process for creating a plan:
- Decide what your ideal picture of success is
- Come up with goals that will move you toward your picture of success
- Breakdown those goals into daily tasks
- Download the One-Thing-A-Day chart for FREE and complete it
- Start making money from what you love doing and what you’re good at
If you have a backup plan, that doesn’t mean you’re not all-in as a musician. That just means you’re being smart.
To diversify your music career is to innovate with the times.