Ace In The Hole/Fallback
(The wrong "ace in the hole"/"fallback" day job
can create a lifetime of depression and misery for its victim.)
Prior to my graduating high school
and, particularly, when my family and friends realized that I was
going to attend college as a Music Education major and, subsequently,
make music my career, the eternal words of "be sure you have a real
job to fall back on" were forever etched in my mind. As a musician,
I am fairly sure you have heard similar words from well-meaning family
and friends. And, if you have not, you certainly will at some point.
The difference between most people who are in the literary arts,
whether music, writing, acting, art, etc. and people who are not
within these particular areas is that there tends to be a "spiritual
calling," if you will, to these vocations that begins very early
in one's life, culminating into an ever increasing passion over time.
And, this is an element that people who are not involved in the arts
cannot seem to understand.
However, in getting back to the "ace in the hole"/"fallback jobs" issue,
many artists desiring to respect the wishes of their well meaning
family and friends will either attend college and study an unrelated
course, i.e., accounting, engineering, or take jobs to satisfy others
in the interest of eliminating ridicule.
Also, artists who are not confident that they can earn a satisfactory
and consistent income from their chosen art will often opt for a "day
job" that appears more acceptable and as "secure."
The caveat emptor of doing so is that the artist often spends his
or her time in misery with the day job that "pays the bills," often
feeling like a sell-out since more time is often allocated to it
while sacrificing their preferred and desired profession.
As an example, the average performing musician who has a day job
works approximately eight hours (or more), then rushes home to rehearse
with the band for approximately two to four hours several times per
This particular musician often spends the time at his/her day job
desping (even hating) it while imagining how wonderful this day time
would be better spent rehearsing, planning and charting a music career.
Over time, this can become sheer misery.
One of my closest friends, who is an incredible music producer
and who was also a recording artist on RCA Records in the 1970s for
several years, is in a similar situation.
After his career with the label ended, he went to college and majored
in Accounting, becoming a Certified Public Accountant with the Internal
Revenue Service (I often refer to it as the *Inferno* Revenue Service
due to its innate ability to often and diligently issue third degree
burns to your bank account).
My friend has spent the past 20+ years or so working for the IRS,
often wishing he would have had the courage to go fulltime in the
Now, at age 56, he is counting down the last remaining days (897
on the date of this article) until his retirement while often having
relayed to me through the years his regret in having opted for falling
back on his own "ace in the hole" and allowing it to become his frontline
I suppose in having said all of this up to this point, my advice
is for musicians who find it exceedingly and increasingly difficult
to land enough well-paying gigs or to sell enough of their music
to support themselves is to find a "day job" that is still in the
Music industry that will, at least, be a day gig that you can live
with, so to speak, while not causing you major depression and, ultimately,
regret. As such, please consider the following areas that you may
* CD Cover Design (I have met a number of musicians and recording
artists who are also gifted artists and painters. If this describes
you, why not use your art skill to provide unique and original CD
cover designs for other artists?)
* Songwriter/Arranger (If you are a composer and songwriter, of
which many musicians naturally are, you could offer to write, arrange
for, or assign some of your songs to other recording artists. It
is my experience that many musicians often have a great number of
songs that they never intend to use, however, allow ego to supersede
beneficial common business sense. Therefore, why not put these particular
songs that you are likely to never use personally to good future
income-earning use by allowing other artists to get them out there
for you and produce royalty income?)
* Voice/Music Instructor (Are you a gifted, seasoned or professionally
trained singer or musician? If so, check out area high schools or
colleges to learn if they have artist residency programs that will
pay you to teach in their workshops? You could also contact community
colleges to request to become a part of their Continuing Education
programs to teach your skill. These tend to pay very decent salaries
* Equipment/Electronics Craftsman (Do you have equipment building
and/or electronics skills? If so, and you are also a musician, you
are likely somewhat of an expert in sound technology. So, why not
create your own side business while creating your own line of sound
* Equipment Rental/Repair (Many musicians have a lot of excess
sound or musical ' equipment that they no longer use. Why not put
this equipment to generating a side income by renting it out? Also,
if you are good at repairing music and sound equipment, this is yet
another great income that musicians would find useful, particularly,
if your rates are lower than other repair shops).
* Van/Truck Transport (If you own a van or truck, you can make
some good money transporting equipment back and forth to gigs for
* Your Own Studio As An Income Generator (If you have a studio
that has more "bells and whistles" than many or most in your area,
generate funds by offering its services to local recording artists
who do not have such. And, if you can also engineer, you can increase
your rates even more).
* Your Record Label (Obviously, with your own music, you likely
have established a label. So, why not turn it into an even greater
money-maker by signing other local artists who are not familiar with
how to operate a label on their own, or have no interest in doing
* Jingle/Ad Writer For Local Businesses (Contact local businesses
to learn if they would be interested in your creating unique/original
jingle advertisements for them that they can run on their local radio
or cable stations. Better yet, why not go ahead and create a customized
(maybe, humorous) jingle for a few local businesses, then give it
to them on CD for their review. You are likely to pick up a few accounts
this way for sure).
* Live Sound Engineer (Many bands do not have their own sound engineer.
Can you run good sound? If so, why not offer to do so for local bands?
You can even charge more if you use your own equipment. Also, you
can add even more income if you run stage lighting along with the
* Live Video Recording (As with the previously mentioned Artist/Painter,
I have also met a few recording artists who are filmmakers and film
producers. So, why not put this talent to use by offering local musicians
the chance to get some video footage from their gigs that they can
use in the future or produce their videos?)
* Band Manager (Do you run your own band? If so, why not consider
managing another band (or two) from your own local area for a fee?)
* Stage/Theatre (If you have local theatres in your area, another
income outlet can be generated by contacting local producers who
may welcome the opportunity to hire your band's musical services
as background/supporting music).
* Flea Markets (Why not start a sideline business by picking up
some used musical or sound equipment at repair shops, then re-selling
it at a higher price for a profit at local flea markets?)
* Music Gig Photographer (Are you good with a digital camera? Then,
for a profit, use your digicam to take live photos of local musicians'
performances that they can use on their websites and in their promotional
* Rehearsal Space Rental (If you own a decent size soundproofed
rehearsal space that you practice in, or you simply have a space
that is vacant, why not soundproof it and rent it out to other local
* Equipment Cases (Can you build customized equipment cases? If
so, this could be a great line of products as well).
* Recording Studio Player (If you are a creative or diversified
player, consider hiring out your services for recording artists who
cannot play or who are not as well trained).
* Studio Engineer (As with the Live Sound Engineer above, if you
are an exceptional engineer, offer your services to local bands in
order to help them get the best sounding product).
* Studio Producer (The studio producer, often interchangeable with
the studio engineer, is more of a project manager who makes sure
that all elements of the recording process are met and in a timely
Editor's Note: Kenny Love is
a veteran Music industry executive and is president of MuBiz.com,
a music business firm providing promotion, publicity and additional
administrative services for independent and unsigned musicians and