So you’ve booked your first tour, and you’re hitting the road to play a bunch of dates for not a lot of money. Things are going to be really tight, but you’re getting to build a fan base. How do you maintain your sanity while earning enough to put gas in the tank? Here are 5 things you can do to earn cash without being tethered to home:
1. Give online music lessons.
What student wouldn’t want to be taught by a real touring musician? If you have an internet connection, Skype, and a quiet space like a hotel room, you can make $30+ per hour coaching students. If you don’t feel comfortable setting them up yourself, check out www.takelessons.com and they’ll help set you up with students.
2. Sell digital products.
If you have any additional skills in anything tech, think about figuring out a way to leverage it for a bit of cash on the road. If you can find the right idea, it could literally pay for your entire tour.
For instance, I sell a small piece of software coding for MainStage called patches. Buyers can purchase my packs through my web host Squarespace, and receive an automatic download link to the file.
3. Create interesting videos, then monetize them.
If you can get really good at creating interesting youtube videos, you can actually make enough money that the ad revenue can be significant. A few years ago I had a youtube video that took me about 10 minutes to create generate almost $100 for me in ad revenue. While you can’t count on it, making videos can really help add a little pocket change each month.
4. Sell stuff via Amazon.
If you’re ready to bring out the big guns and invest some time setting it up, it’s possible to make a full-time living selling products on Amazon. For a really great guide on how to do this, check out Tim Ferriss’ book “The 4 Hour Work Week”.
5. Pick up odd jobs in the cities you’re touring.
There are lots of great small jobs that are easy to pick up, no matter what part of the country you’re in. You could always check out craigslist ads, or you could use a service like Fiverr.com to find interesting things to do. If you can stack enough of these little money makers together, you can probably earn enough for a tank of gas or even a hotel room.
6. Do remote recording.
If you have skills in the studio, there’s a chance you could make money while traveling. I carry a small keyboard and my laptop, and will often produce people’s music during downtime. I know a vocalist who has supplemented his income while on tour by bringing along a quality microphone and doing background vocal work for hire in his hotel room.
There’s a lot of great ways to get started with this, but a service like fiverr or www.thatsmygig.com can help you connect with clients.
7. Uber it.
Yes, this option would require that you unload the car, but you can make some serious cash driving Uber if you have a good chunk of time before the gig. To top it off, you’ll get to know the town you’re in and meet a lot of cool people.