Editor’s Note: This post was written by Christie Templeton, a freelance writer in Los Angeles California who also dabbles in music production and singing. Christie enjoys writing for the music industry when she is not busy writing copy and technical writing for her clients in the software development industry.
Many musicians must work an unrelated job to make ends meet until their music begins to become profitable enough to survive from. Jobs like bartending, waiting tables or retail work inside guitar stores are typical work resources used by a lot of musicians to supplement their income. While these can jobs be flexible to a degree, they usually require a lot of hard work that isn’t really related to the overall dream of being a musician and, in the long run, aren’t contributing towards building credibility in the community as a talented and knowledgeable performer.
Working as a part-time freelance writer as opposed to other alternative job options can be much more rewarding in the long run, not only by offering a more flexible schedule and higher pay, but also by bringing popularity to your website and your name over time. Here are a few reasons that writing for magazines and other publications might be a better option for extra cash as you work towards making your business as a musician more profitable.
No Extra Degree or Training Necessary
The best thing about starting as a freelance writer is that you don’t need to go to college and get an English degree or undergo any sort of training if you have some basic skills in place already. If you can type and have the ability to spell and grammar check your work then you can start your career today as a writer for the music industry. The majority of clients that accept freelance writers don’t care if you have a degree, they only care that you can write factual compelling content that will bring their readers back for more.
No New Equipment Needed
There is little investment to become a writer, if any at all to start. All you need to begin is a computer with a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Mac Pages, a free email account, a phone, and an internet connection. Since you can work in your pajamas you don’t need a uniform or other accessories to get started.
Inexpensive to Operate
Starting out as a writer your basic monthly costs will be the expense of an internet connection and electricity for your office. Later you will want to invest in business cards and other marketing material, but items like these aren’t absolutely necessary in the beginning and aren’t expensive to purchase once you are ready for them. You can save gas money by conducting interviews and research right from your home office, and you can visit your local public library.
Work Around the Band Schedule
While you will have deadlines to adhere to as a writer you will have a greater degree of flexibility to craft your schedule around the bands schedule depending on your deadlines. The further out your deadlines are the easier you can break up your time to perform research, write and edit your articles to fit your performance schedule. Another benefit freelance writing has above service work is that writing is much less physically stressful, and can definitely be less mental taxing too, that is if you don’t take on too hard of writing assignments.
Build Authoritative Backlinks to Your Website
This is one of the bigger bonuses you can’t get from working as a bartender or salesperson at a guitar store which is getting authority backlinks to your site. Most content publishers will allow you to add a link to your site in your author bio and sometimes within the article itself. If you are versed in SEO you will know that having backlinks to your website from other higher authority sites will allow your website to show higher in search results on Google and other search engines.
Build Credibility in the Music Community as an Industry Expert
Writing for trade magazines and other music industry publications over time will build your credibility in the music community and will contribute to your name becoming known as a knowledgeable professional in the music industry. In the long run this can bring business to you and your band far beyond what local networking can.
Who to Write For
There are a wealth of publications that pay freelance writers to contribute. You probably already read several of them and didn’t realize they were a potential paycheck along with being an informative resource.
Music Industry Trade Magazines
Trade magazines are free publications typically read by retailers and other industry professionals, these are not magazines written for consumers. Their subject matter is geared towards helping the reader’s organization make more profits. Here’s a few that take freelance writers:
- Pro Sound News
- The Absolute Sound
- Canadian Music Trade
- The Music Trades
You can find more by looking at trade publication directories like Webwire & Tradepub. Additionally you can try searching Google for keywords like “trade magazine” AND “musician” OR “audio.”
Consumer magazines of course are geared towards retail customers who purchase guitars, keyboard, DJ gear and other pro audio equipment for both personal and professional use. You have likely read one or two from the following list. These publishers pay well and getting published in one of them will bring a lot of credibility to you as a music industry expert.
- Guitar Magazine
- Bass Player Magazine
- Keyboard Magazine
- Electronic Musician
You can find more musician and pro audio related consumer magazines with a few different resources detailed in a previous blog article published here by Jodee Redmond titled 17 Places Where Freelance Writers Can Find Magazine Markets.
Music industry organizations and unions publish material for their members in mini-magazines, online publications and other marketing material. These custom publications are often passed out at private and public events or printed and snail-mailed to their members. Some music professional organizations create such custom magazines include:
- Colleges & Universities
You can also make money writing content for websites. Start out by brainstorming a great story idea and then query the idea to a website or blog as a guest author. Here’s a few musician related websites that pay writers:
Lesson Plans for Schools
Music lesson centers and academies need lesson plans designed for their group and private classes. Additionally these businesses, as well as private teachers, at times hire writers to design web content as well as printed content to attract students to their websites.
Types of Topics to Cover
Before you start to query magazines and websites for writing jobs you are going to need some topic ideas to get you started. Here’s a quick list to get your brain to strum up some ideas.
- Memoirs of past performances, both bad and good
- Product reviews & comparisons including software, instruments, pro audio & dj equipment
- Instrument lessons
- DJing lessons
- Vocal lessons
- Audio recording, mixing and mastering tutorials
- Top 10 lists of favorite equipment, producers, artists, etc.
- Interviews with music professionals
- Journalistic style news reports of tradeshows, conferences and concerts
Photo Credits: Christie Templeton for both images
I am going to pass this on to my husband who is a drummer. Have you ever written this type of post towards nurses? I have been a labor and delivery nurse for 10 years and love to write.
Thanks Christine! I’m a guitarist in the Los Angeles area, and I’ve been considering freelance writing as an option–to pay the bills! So far, music hasn’t come up as a possibility, so it’s good to know there are musicians who are out there writing. Sure beats waiting tables.