Life is changing and we’re all coming up with ways to do things a little differently. So how can you still bring in an income from afar and work as a remote musician?
The music industry has been increasingly moving online. While live events will always play a vital part, there’s much you can do from home. Learn how to work as a remote musician and you can increase your scope, as well as staying productive during a lockdown.
In this article, we’ll be giving you tips and advice on furthering your career through the virtual world.
How to work as a remote musician
It is possible for every musician to work remotely, on some level. How often, whether you’ll be paid, and what that remuneration is, will depend on a number of factors. There are several questions to ask yourself at this stage, to help identify which remote route you should pursue.
So if your open mics have been cancelled, or you’ve had to move to a location that makes it impossible to network, jam and gig, don’t despair. The doors are not closed. In fact, more doors may now open.
- Do you create music yourself – if not, do you think you could?
- Have you got a YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud or similar account? If so, do you have content to promote or upload on there?
- Do you have a decent recording setup at home? If not, could you put one together?
- Can you teach music to others?
- If you work for a studio or music publishing company, can you ask to work remotely? If so, what equipment might you need to make it possible?
- Could you arrange an online collab with one or more other musicians?
- Would you be willing to offer your services to individuals via a freelancing site?
- Can you mix or engineer tracks? If so, do you have the equipment to do this at home?
Remote music jobs
You may have noticed that there are lots of online music collaborations popping up at the moment. This is accessible to all. Musicians from every genre are getting together via video conferencing and producing astounding results. Here, an entire West End theatre orchestra performed a number to spine chilling effect.
As a result, there’s more of a call for online collabs like this. Thanks to modern technology, you don’t all have to be in the same room. And in some cases, unknown musicians are suddenly going viral, with creative and unique pieces. This isn’t paid work. But not only could it lead to apid work further down the line. If you can garner enough of a following, you can earn money through YouTube advertising. There are more people online now than ever before. This is a great time to experiment and get your content out there.
Remote music companies
Perhaps you’re not great with videos but can compose or write music. If this is the case, you could sell your loops, samples, beats, toplines or full-on songs. The work won’t usually fall into your lap, so you’ll need to either get an agent or approach remote music companies yourself. As studios are at the forefront of music production, this is usually a good place to start.
They sometimes hire musicians for freelance or ad hoc work, as well as having staff. Contact smaller studios, rather than the huge labels. And there are agencies and companies who sell your music on your behalf. It pays to do a little research and beware of anything that seems too good to be true – it probably is. But as a starter, here are some you might like to consider:
You might have to swallow your pride a little here. You may want to put out music with a message or become a serious musician. But few artists are above doing the odd cheesy job for cash where necessary. And things like jingles can be a great little earner. Try to keep a lighthearted approach with it
Virtual music industry jobs
Teaching is another viable route. This is something lots of musicians rely on to bring in a steady income, offsetting the less regular income of performing. And teaching music online works brilliantly.
And if you’re a music engineer, producer, or A&R, you should be able to apply for jobs more freely than say, an instrumentalist. Keep an eye on job sites like:
Online music collaborations
You have a global network of musicians at your fingertips. This can help you create videos, record songs, and some vocalists will be seeking collaborators to write backing tracks or beats for them. If you don’t already have a network, how do you find one? Here are some of the places to look:
- Facebook groups. Don’t just search on your geographical area, look for groups focussing on musical genre or specifically searching for collab opportunities.
- LinkedIn. While this tends to be more business-centric, there are also lots of musicians on there, and the platform allows you to message strangers safely.
- Streaming services. Find and connect with emerging artists whose work you love via these platforms. Most of these websites will provide suggestions of songs/musicians you may like, a helpful shortcut for you.
- YouTube. As with streaming services, you can hunt for potential collaborators. It helps to send them some of your work when getting in touch, so they can ascertain if it would be of interest to them too. Follow the artists you like and show an interest.
- Instagram. Use hashtags to find artists you may be interested in and again, drop them a DM with your details.
- Quora. This is a forum providing online community spaces for those with shared interests. Introduce yourself, start a thread and chat with others.
If you can offer a service for which others will likely pay, advertise it. Set up a website and social media sites and let people know what you can do and for how much.
Remote recording software
Long-distance recording projects have become more common thanks to remote recording software. If you’re a creator or writer, this is a sound investment. It means you can work with anyone anywhere. Check out Sound on Sound for some recommendations and the tech spec of popular software providers.
Don’t forget, if you’ve been a freelancer since before the previous tax year, you’ll be entitled to support from the government. In June (or possibly sooner) you’ll be paid 80% off your average monthly profit for a three month period.
And of course, it’s not just about finding the work, although that is a big part of it. If you’re used to going out and about you’ll have some considerable adjusting to do.
Here are some final practical tips for making it work:
- Take breaks as you would in a studio, or at a venue
- Warm-up and down
- Drink plenty of water
- Try to keep to a routine where possible, even if it’s a vague one
- Know when to stop. It can be tempting to work till late at night and right through the weekend. Take care not to burn out.
- Have a peer support network. Working alone can get lonely, so have people you check in with and video call from time to time to share your experiences.
- If you can, set up space away from your living area. A spare room, study or conservatory is ideal. If this isn’t possible, carve out a corner of your bedroom or living room as your ‘office’. If and when they’re open, you can also work from cafes and hot-desking locations.
You never know, you may find out you much prefer working remotely than you did face to face!
- How can I work from home as a musician?
Set yourself up with the software or equipment you’ll need and invest in a superfast broadband connection, smartphone and decent computer. Make sure you also have a good chair if you’re sitting for longe periods and consider your posture and ergonomics – or you’ll end up with back trouble.
- What qualifications do you need to be in the music industry?
It depends on which sector of the industry you’re aiming for, but a general rule is that passion, commitment and talent count for more than qualifications in performance roles. But courses can help you prepare for your career and provide contacts. Some music teachers will need a degree or similar.
- How do you become a session vocalist?
This isn’t an option for remote working, but it offers super career prospects and often frequent work. The usual route in is to sign up with a session vocalist or session musician agency. But you can find out more in this article.
Do you work as a remote musician? Have you videos or tracks you’d like to share, that you’ve created via remote means? We’d love to see them in the comments below