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BUSINESS OF MUSIC

Making a Living as a Guitar Player

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Here are some ways I’ve paid the bills as a musician:

Working in a Record Store
Working in a Guitar Store
Running Sound at a Nightclub
Teaching Private Lessons
Teaching Clinics

Teaching a Class at USC
Guitar Coaching Actors
Copy Work (doing charts) – You’ll need¬†Finale 2011
Playing Jazz Gigs
Playing Top 40 Gigs
Playing Classical Music at a Restaurant
Playing Weddings (classical guitar)
Playing Rock Gigs
Playing in Cover Bands
Playing in Original Bands
Playing in a Pit Band (for plays/musicals)
Playing in Worship Bands
Leading Worship
Writing Worship Songs
Writing Rock Songs
Writing Classical Songs
Writing Pop Songs
Writing Music for Television
Writing Music for Film
Being a Music Director
Being a Contractor
Playing on Records/CD’s
Playing on Movies
Playing on TV Shows
Playing on Jingles
Sidelining in TV Shows (on camera appearances)*
Producing Records
Developing Artists

All of these things I got paid to do. ¬†Music is a great career for those who like variety. The opportunities up and down the music biz food chain are probably why you don’t see a lot of musicians waiting tables.


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With the exception of my second job at a Mexican restaurant right out of high school and a job working for a jewelry manufacturer, all of the jobs I’ve held have had something to do with music and/or playing guitar. It’s not a career for the easily discouraged or for someone who likes or needs job security. But it is a field that rewards creativity. And chance takers. And those confident and skilled.

The musicians who continue to hone their craft and develop the skills employed by those further up the ladder employing them will see their career continue to grow, along with their sphere of influence. I’ve seen it happen all around me as well as in my own career.

Making a Living as a Guitar Player

By Tom Strahle

Guitarist, songwriter, composer, recording artist.


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