Use your musical talent to pay for college

May 31, 2022

15 ways music pays the bills

To say “college is expensive” is putting it mildly. Tuition, housing, transportation, books, meal plans, sports tickets, and other fees pile up fast. The average overall cost of a bachelor’s degree is $30,000 per year! Most families don’t have that kind of money laying around, which is why student debt has become such a crisis

If you’re pursuing a college degree, it’s wise to pay for it as early as possible to minimize debt after graduation. Maybe delivering pizzas or stocking shelves is your preferred way to earn a paycheck. But if you’re curious about options, read on!

Not-so-obvious ways for musicians to pay for college

There’s no reason to put your creative life on hold during the school years. Tons of musicians are pursuing careers unrelated to music: mathematicians, biologists, fashion designers… But why not make the most of your passions by using your musical talent to pay for college?! 

You don't need to be a music major to get paid for your skills
  1. DJ. In every era, event planners are looking for DJs, whether that’s old school spinning or delivering a danceable digital playlist. 
  2. Private instructor. You’re a more capable teacher than you think! There are always students who want to learn what you’ve mastered.
  3. Music journalist. Anyone with an internet connection can write and publish a review. But a journalist with a distinct voice and musical knowledge can stand out from the crowd.
  4. Publicist. Performers need help getting exposure. This is a great role for musicians who enjoy marketing and communications. 
  5. Promoter. You heard about the last concert you attended thanks to the work of a promoter. Scout venues, connect with festivals, and other tasks to get a band on stage.
  6. Production intern. Producers understand the creative and commercial side of the music industry. You’ll learn to make an artist the best version of themselves.
  7. Instrument technician. Percussion, winds, strings…every instrument needs the occasional tune-up and repair. 
  8. Rehearsal accompanist. Stage plays, wedding performances, and high school musicals all require practice. Accompanists are often brought in just to get the musicians ready. 
  9. Music store staff. Customers come in expecting staff to have a level of musicianship. It’s a form of retail, but at least you’ll be surrounded by music! 
  10. Arranger. Clients across all genres need an arranger to modify music that’s already been written. It’s great for people with theory and composition skills.  
  11. Music photographer. Get in the front row, on stage, and behind the scenes. You don’t even need to travel because bands are coming to your town.
  12. Sound technician. Techs are working behind the scenes to make a performance sound great. Set up, operate, and maintain mics, mixers, speakers, and more.
  13. Video game composer. Writing music for live performances is an ancient art, consider the video game landscape. It’s especially intriguing if you play multiple instruments.
  14. Session musician. Many legendary performing artists started in house bands or playing backup for studio recordings. 
  15. Music scholarship. Don’t overlook financial aid that’s unrelated to your chosen major! In fact, this can help your primary career pursuit by demonstrating to others what makes you unique. 

Breaking into the music industry is hard work, but you don’t need to put all your income eggs in one basket. Try out some of these ways of earning money to pay off your college expenses.