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Becoming a Self-Employed Musician: Things You Need to Know

Last modified: 19 Jul 2017

Many people dream of becoming a musician who can earn a full-time wage from performing at various venues; however, this is simply not the case most of the time. Earning money from performing music in the first place can be very difficult, and earning enough money to pay all the bills is very nearly impossible. Becoming a self-employed musician takes patience, dedication and lots of trying if you are to succeed in the music world.

  1. People don’t want to pay a lot

Not everybody understands that you are trying to make a living. You might be surprised at first to learn how many people are unwilling to pay a decent amount for your performance. You’ll meet people who believe you should perform for free simply because you love your instrument or you love performing music for others. Whatever you do, don’t give in to the pressures of performing for less than what you are worth.

  1. You’ll work unsociable hours

Most of the gigs and events you’ll be asked to play at will be during the evenings and at the weekends. This means that you won’t always have time to hang out with your friends and family or do social activities that you enjoy, especially if you’re very busy and performing is taking up most of your time. Be prepared to give up your weekend and evening leisure time.

  1. There is paperwork and documents you need to have

It’s important that you register as a self-employed business and have all the necessary paperwork. You could be breaking the law if you don’t register and declare the money that you are earning from your performances. You will also need to have public liability insurance if you are performing in venues, which don’t already have it to cover their visiting performers. You can look up entertainers’ public liability insurance to get some quotes, but this is a must if you are organising your own events or travelling to locations, which don’t already have insurance. You can ask the venue beforehand if they have the necessary insurance, which will cover you in case anything goes wrong, or anybody is injured as a result of your equipment or performance.  Don’t forget to check income protection insurance for business owners here.

  1. There is plenty of competition

You’re not the only person trying to make money from performing, and you’ll meet and watch plenty of other musicians along the way. You might be intimidated by some of them, but try not to let it frighten you out of performing. There’s always room for improvement, and you should see other musicians as inspiration and try to inspire them in return.

  1. It’s highly rewarding

If you love music and you love to bring joy to others through music, you’ll love the life of a self-employed musician. It might take you a few months (or years) to build yourself a name and a reputation, but it will all pay off in the end. Try organising charity events or doing a few free gigs at the very beginning just to get your name out there and kickstart your performing career.


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