The Day Jobs of a Musician: The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Embarrassing

tax-red-sign-webNo musician wants to get a day job.

The idea of working in some random job that takes time away from what you really want to be doing is a bummer for anyone.

Also, I think many people don’t want to get a day job because that almost feels like admitting failure that you aren’t making all of your income from music

We all have friends that, according to their social feeds, appear to have “made it” as musicians.

It doesn’t matter if you are teaching, freelancing, preparing for an audition, or something else.

The truth is that getting a day job can be tremendously valuable to just about anyone.

Outside of the obvious income it provides, every experience you have is an opportunity to learn something new and you can take those lessons and apply them elsewhere.

I have had my fair share of jobs over the years and even though it might not have seemed like it at the time, I learned something really valuable from every single one of them.

The following are some of the various jobs I have had over the years that had nothing to do with my musical skill set.

Waver for Liberty Tax Service

This was the kind of job that you don’t want anyone to know about.

You know those people you see on the side of the road during tax season dressed as the Statue of Liberty?

Well, I did that for a few months in college.

It was really embarrassing, but at the time I was a really poor college student with literally no income.

As ridiculous as it was, the job paid the bills and even paid for my trip home for spring break.

While this might not seem like the type of job that you could learn something from, I actually learned something very valuable while standing on the street corner dressed as the statue of liberty in a rough neighborhood of North Philadelphia.

People aren’t paying nearly as much attention to you as you might think

It’s so easy to think that everyone is watching and judging you all of the time and I can tell you from experience that it’s really not true at all.

Recital Monitor

This was the first job in the that was a related to the music business and it was also the first time that I ever realized just how difficult getting people to show up to performances can be.

It counted as a work study job and gave me a little spending money, but the most valuable thing was that it taught me how to keep a calendar and stay organized.

There’s nothing quite like forgetting you were supposed to be at work that day to force you into learning to keep track of your schedule.

If you are reading this and don’t keep a calendar, stop reading this and start setting one up right now.

Your memory probably isn’t as good as you might think so don’t rely on it when it comes to keeping track of your schedule.

Merchandise Associate/Lead at an amusement park

Ah yes…the memories of summer jobs.

I can still smell the cotton candy and hear the music playlist ten years later.

This was the first job that I ever worked at where I made a ton of friends from work.

Having the opportunity to expand your social circle and meet new people is always a good thing and this job provided that for me.

In addition to getting to meet new people from different backgrounds, working in an amusement park was amazing experience in learning how to deal with people.

You see people from all over that could be having an awesome day or an awful one.

Learning to interact with people and provide a great experience for customers is something that everyone should be exposed to.

Telemarketer for the Pennsylvania Ballet

This was probably the most challenging job I have ever had.

Selling subscriptions and doing fundraising over the phone is no joke.

When I was working at this job, I was rushing out of rehearsals and immediately riding my bike to work where I stayed for four hours at a time to make hundreds of call each night.

The idea of getting rejected is uncomfortable for anyone, but it definitely gets a lot easier when you get turned down repeatedly hundreds of times every night.

Most musicians hate the idea of selling, but I have found that is one of the most valuable skills that any musician can develop.

The classical music industry is oversaturated with people that have a skill set and great ideas but aren’t able to effectively communicate and execute them.

While there will always hundreds of musicians that can play the same gig, there will never be too many of them that are able to come up with ideas and actually make them happen.

Selling is all about communicating the value of something to others and if I hadn’t worked in that call room, I may have never learned how to do it.


This was the most unlikely place that I would have thought opportunities and life lessons would come from.

My entire senior year of college was spent working weekend shifts and even overnight shifts every week for the Ritz Carlton hotel and the Union League of Philadelphia.

Working in places like this gave me a fascinating look at the lives of other people that I would’ve never had if I wasn’t parking their cars.

Even working as a valet gave me the opportunity to meet and observe people that some of the best in the world at what they do.

Service jobs are very popular among musicians because they often provide a little flexibility and the chance to make some decent money.

I think they’re great for someone that just needs to work a few days each week to get by and they also have the added benefit of being a great place to meet people.

In fact, my very first “real job” in marketing came through someone that I met while working in the parking garage.

If you are a musician that is struggling to make ends meet and has been avoiding the idea of getting a job to pay the bills I think it is a great idea.

This is the kind of thing that nobody ever talks about among musicians.

Having a job during the day to help pay the bills doesn’t make you any less of a musician and it can it provide you experiences that you might not have had otherwise.