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Music School Side Hustles That Earn You Money and Build Your Brand

Yes, you're a busy music student. But you're a busy music student who wouldn't mind earning a little side cash. If you're going to invest your time and energy to earn some extra money, find a side hustle that will help you build your professional portfolio too.

You can always go with the traditional school part-time job. Working at a music store, instrument store, or instrument repair shop are respectable options. These are good choices if your post-music school aspirations are to DJ or become a luthier.

If your goals as a music professional lie elsewhere, here are a few options. Each one will expand your network. They'll also help you build a personal brand online that will provide some social proof to future employers or clients.

Write or talk about music

It seems everyone today is a "content creator." Why not you? If you feel like you have a perspective and voice to share on some aspect of music, share it! Do you want to cover your town's local music scene? Maybe you want to dive into some really esoteric explorations of music theory? Or perhaps you're also a film nut or gamer who can geek out while discussing soundtracks?

When you know what it is you want to talk about, then you need to find a primary platform. If immediate money is your priority, look for existing blogs or music sites that hire freelance writers. If you don't mind taking a long-haul approach, start your own blog, podcast, or YouTube channel. There are numerous ways to monetize these platforms. Your income will grow as your audience grows.

Note: these aren't mutually exclusive paths. Starting with one option will likely generate opportunities for you to cross-over into the other option as well.

Help other musicians or music organizations build their online presence

If you have some digital skills, you can:

1. Build their website

WordPress is one of the Internet's most well-developed platforms. With the plethora of musician templates and frameworks available, you can quickly master one to use as the foundation for all your website work. If you're a good writer, you can package and bill for the entire website. If you're not interested in writing, partner up with another student who is.

2. Become their social media manager

This work will broaden your network and increase your own online visibility. Best of all, you'll get paid for earning social media marketing experience you can use for your online brand too.

3. Are you familiar with audio editing and mixing technology?

If so, you can offer production services. Get some quick experience helping a couple fellow music or drama students create amazing demo reels or videos. Then start advertising for paid work. You can target musicians and performing arts organizations.

If you have some composition skills…

Demand for stock music has never been higher. All those content creators need music for their videos and podcasts. Many of them need affordable music. They can't afford the royalties to put well-known music in their own content. They aren't looking for full symphonies, a sonata, or a top 10 hit. Don't worry. If you can write short compositions, you have content to license.

You can promote and license your compositions through online platforms like AudioJungle and Pond5. These are just two of the sites available. They all have different terms, such as whether you can list a specific composition on multiple sites or if they want exclusive right to license it. They also have different licensing and payment terms. Do your research to find out which of the stock music marketplaces makes the most sense for you.

If you go this route, don't forget to sign up your songs with a performing rights organization (PRO) to make sure you capture all the revenue possible whenever your compositions get performed publicly.

Don't overlook performance gigs

Gigging takes a lot of effort but could be your most effective option for building a professional foundation.

Do you have some friends to create a trio or quartet? Put yourselves out there for weddings, corporate, and charity events. Group Muse is trying to recreate the origins of chamber music by matching performers with small events held at people's homes. This site is a great place to start.

Are you open to busking? Find a good location and you can turn to busking whenever your pockets feel a bit light.

How have you been earning some extra cash during school? Are you out of school, but still have a music-related side hustle? Share your best ideas with us below.

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