Still possible to supplement retirement income as a musician?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by NBS2005, Jan 23, 2020.

  1. NBS2005

    NBS2005 TDPRI Member

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    One of those days; early retirement is looking good right now.....

    The Question; is it possible to make 30K CAD (about 22K US) as a full time musician (gigs, teaching, etc.)? I live in the Golden Horseshoe in ON Canada. I'm less than an hour's drive to over 7 million people. Is anyone doing this? Can you share your stories? Or am I crazy (would not be the first time).

    Probably better to work the 5 more years I am planning. But some days....

    Thanks,

    Jeff
     
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  2. Skub

    Skub Friend of Leo's

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    I don't know what the demand is like in your area of Canada,so all I can tell you is,it's possible in Ireland where I live. Especially if you'll play in formal band/wedding outfits,that's where the real money lives. I knocked it on the head about 4 years ago,but some of my old bandmates are earning well above the figures you quote. All cash in hand. Most of them employ a 'creative' accountant. The others are more nervous.

    If you have been playing regularly and are a known quantity to those who hire your services,things move a lot faster,but I don't see you immediately stepping into an existing well paid role when no one knows who you are.
     
  3. teletail

    teletail Tele-Meister

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    Break it down. $22k - $425 a week. How much do you make per gig? Around here it’s about $100 per gig so that would be 4 gigs a week 52 weeks a year - not realistic.

    Add teaching - unless you have a really good reputation you’re probably stuck with teaching in a music store. What do they pay, like $10 an hour? How many students could you attract?

    It’s just simple math. Where I’m from, in my circles, I only know one person doing it and he’s a killer guitarist that can play all styles and has been doing it since the 70’s so he has a tremendous number of contacts. Joe Lunchbuckets like me? Nope.
     
  4. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    no.
     
  5. markeyd123

    markeyd123 Tele-Meister

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    In New York teachers will get up to $35 - $60 (USD) an hour for private tutoring . . . if you are good and have a good reputation. Some of that is supply and demand. If you can get 6+ students a week paying on the higher end, and a couple gigs a month then you can make that it seems. Would probably take quite a while to get there though until you build up a reputation, and I am not sure if this is realistic in your area or what your teaching ability is, etc.
     
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  6. fretWalkr

    fretWalkr Tele-Meister

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    Absolutely, it's possible. Some guys I used to gig with are still doing it. They are awesome singers and musicians who have a lot of contacts and name recognition locally.

    I don't know your abilities but generally I would say don't bet the farm on a music career, especially a late life career. But if you do go into it, do it with your eyes open and recognize it will not be steady income stream. You may get one that gig pays really well but there may be days to weeks until the next one. You have to be good at hustling to get the next one and supplement your income. I would not recommend relying on music to be a necessary income stream.

    Good luck!
     
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  7. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    I don't think there are enough clubs where I live to get 4 gigs a month, considering a club probably won't want you every month.
     
  8. teletail

    teletail Tele-Meister

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    I agree. Chances of making regular money at music are very, very small. Some wedding/event bands do well, but there aren’t many and the competition is stiff.
     
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  9. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    You will definitely need to hustle. Teletail is on the right track-- do some math, write up a business plan. Remember to account for your expenses.
    I think if you do the math you'll find that a regular part-time job working for the man is much more likely to earn you what you're looking for, with anything
    you net out from music stuff on the side being gravy.

    I don't know what your current job is, but maybe there would be opportunities to monetize that in a different way-- consulting, etc. Or teaching at a community
    college about your profession. If you're really good at your profession then you could be in high demand. If you're the best at what you do, chances are you can make
    money at it in a different ways. I know a guy who is a water quality scientist, but he actually makes most of his money by being an expert witness in trials.

    Similarly, if you are really a top caliber musician with a brilliant resume then chances are high at making money. But if you're just a good guitar player, which are dime-a-dozen,
    then it might make more sense to look at all of your marketable skills, including what you're getting a paycheck for right now.

    In my case I suspect I could make way more money tutoring junior high and high school kids on basic subjects like math, science, writing, etc., than I could earn
    as a guitar teacher. There is big demand for tutors that can help kids break through their learning barriers. It's less about knowing the subject matter and more about knowing
    how to connect with kids, give them some tools, and build their confidence. The math is pretty simple-- for every 100 kids there's probably 20 that are having trouble in
    a subject or two in school. Of those, maybe 20% have parents that are willing and can afford a tutor. (And my area's got a lot of rich people). So that's 4% of all the
    junior high and high school kids in my area. That's a pretty big market-- way bigger than the guitar student market, for which the demand is already being adequately met by
    the existing teachers in the area. At the end of the day you can't make money unless there's demand for your services and you can successfully out-hustle your competition.

    I was reading about how there's a shortage of long-haul truckers, partly because the pay has gone down and it isn't at all as good as it used to be. Plus people can see the writing
    on the wall and are worried that these jobs will disappear once self-driving technology is developed a little bit further. I was joking with my wife
    how I could do that as a retirement job, and how she would be happy to have me out of the house for most of the time. Joking aside, there are lots of jobs out there
    that really make sense for a retiree to take on to supplement their retirement income. Maybe it's no longer a good way to support a household and raise a family, but still good enough
    as a retirement supplement. In any new job, at first it would be novel and interesting, and hopefully the sheen of something different wouldn't wear off too fast.

    I know a guy who makes some nice $$ just making really short, musical blurbs that are used in podcasts and other broadcasting. He does it on a workstation-- just a few layered
    tracks of synth, bass, drums, etc., all done quickly- little 5 second sound-bites. But he has a good connection to some producers and so they gobble up his stuff and use it all the time. If you can
    land a gig like that it's a great gravy train, but for every opportunity like that there's probably 1,000 guys that could do it, so it's really all about having the network connection.
     
  10. schmee

    schmee Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    NOPE is what I say for 99% of us. $22k USD would be about $1800 a month, $450 a week. If you are one of the most in demand, in a good populated area, you might get $200-300 a week I suppose as a hired gun. Some more, a lot of people less. But most hobbiest's maybe a couple hundred a month. Music seems to be disappearing a lot lately.
    Now if you add teaching and work at it you could do it. But it's frustrating at times. 8 year olds, dont practice last weeks lesson much etc etc.
     
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  11. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Well, though I am not retired, I am retirement age and retirement “worn”.
    I make OK money.
    I play with lots of guys (and gals) that are retired, and play for fun and profit.
    I’d say “yes”!
    You have to be versatile, cooperative, and willing to give your audience(s) what they want from you.
    You have to entertain, (perhaps) be danceable, and engaging.
    It’s easy if you realize it IS your job to give your audience a good/great experience.
    Luckily, I still love it as much as when I started, in 1973.
     
  12. NBS2005

    NBS2005 TDPRI Member

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    Thanks all for the feedback. The day ended better so for now I won't be sacrificing my amateur status ;). Nice to know that you can do it if you're good enough. I'm definitely not; but I'm writing songs and performing (non paid) as much as I can. There's still time to get a Juno nomination.......

    Cheers,

    Jeff
     
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  13. rickthescot

    rickthescot Tele-Holic

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    Better off with a BB gun and a ski mask.....
     
  14. Rustbucket

    Rustbucket Poster Extraordinaire

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    I hope to retire so I can play more music...not play more music so i can retire. ;)

    Good luck in whatever you chose to do.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2020
  15. aeyeq

    aeyeq TDPRI Member

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    Win the lottery and keep gigging until the money runs out.
     
  16. cblguy

    cblguy Tele-Meister

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    Well not doable where I live....at least at my age (75) ..
    I am in a ol man band and we do quite well avg. 400-500/ mo. I also do a duo act 2 times a month with my bassman...Honestly, that's enough for me....and it pays for my toys, and that suits me fine.
     
  17. cblguy

    cblguy Tele-Meister

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    Well said..
     
  18. Dan German

    Dan German Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Hahahahaha!!! Retirement income!

    Oh, you kill me. ROFLMAO!
     
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  19. Milspec

    Milspec Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Just like in real estate, it is all about location, location, location.

    If you don't mind being an instructor or band/choir leader at a church, you sure can in most metro areas. At $50 / hr. for instruction, guys around here do pretty good actually.
     
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  20. BobbyZ

    BobbyZ Doctor of Teleocity

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    If there's one thing that hasn't kept up with inflation it's being in a small time band! Back in high school, early '80s, I was in a really bad band band of teenagers. We giggled a lot and always managed to have money left over after we paid for the gas and beer.
    Today if you're lucky enough to even get a paying gig you'd be lucky to pay your bar tab and gas. Of course that really depends on were you live! Around here the bar gigs are few and far between and you better keep it down.
    I don't know anyone locally really doing it for money. Used to know guys that made a living doing dive bars here. I would've done that too but I got married at 19. STUPID STUPID STUPID!
     
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