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Experiments In Remote Survival

How to make a living as a musician in a global pandemic

This article was written on April 13, 2020, on behalf of but was never used due to similar contributors touching on the subject. What I would like to offer here is my own perspectives and what I have been doing to generate musical income prior to as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic.


I had moved out of New Jersey after 8 years as a full time music instructor and part time session musician to clear my head, get some perspective and figure out what my next step would be.

Little did I know that my next step would be decided for me in the form of a global pandemic

Here are some ideas I’m exploring and experimenting with amidst our current situation with the coronavirus.


1. Have a Soundcloud Page: Yes I realize this seems like a no brainer but I felt it necessary to include on here seeing as a good deal of the opportunities I’ve encountered on Airgigs were due to my music catalog on Soundcloud. For example, I developed a relationship with the amazing people over at Korora audio due to a stoner rock style riff I wrote and had up for years on my soundcloud. This led to a collaboration where I composed 3 different clips showcasing their SPIRA filter modulation pedal for some promotional videos.

On top of all of that, Walt from Korora Audio was kind enough to give me a free SPIRA pedal. This relationship later led to me joining forces with them once again writing music and demonstrating their 2nd pedal in their series called the MERLO (Korora’s take on a harmonic tremolo) at Summer NAMM in 2019.

Obviously it doesn’t HAVE to be soundcloud specifically. The more sites you can make your music readily available for potential clients to stream, the better but the point is to have a catalog. If you don’t have one, start making one NOW!.

2. Remote recording and songwriting services: For some time now, I have been experimenting with creating content centered around being a remote session musician which I feel like I don’t see much of. I started with behind the scenes type stuff for anyone who was interested in knowing “how the sausage gets made” as an artist. I’m also experimenting with making my own video commercials to promote my services. It may not be a quick fix, but it’s evergreen content that works for you 24 hours a day. If it’s a youtube video, then it can also serve as a home to all my various artist pages and service links. In addition to the aforementioned, I have been conducting a weekly discipline on Instagram where I would create a new riff, film it, transcribe it and give it away for free to anyone interested. The idea was to encourage players to take the music and do their own thing with it. I always ask that if they do, to upload a video of them playing their version of the idea and tag me so we can get a dialog going.

3. Hosting Live Streaming Music Lessons: Currently, I teach guitar and voice at School of Rock in Louisville, Kentucky and we’ve just recently moved to a remote lessons only program in addition to some online “Master Classes” in where we teach basically anything we want that we know like the back of our hand. It’s been very liberating actually to teach so freely outside the normal curriculum of the school. My masterclass was an hour long deep dive into understanding the concept of diatonic harmony as it pertains to songwriting. I had so much fun with it that I decided to continue the live stream lessons on my own at home via instagram. What’s great is that instagram allows for up to 60 minutes per live stream so there’s built in pressure to stay on topic and deliver the information in a concise way. So far, the amount of people showing up has been a handful but I’m hearing wonderful feedback from those who stuck with me the entire hour. If they do, I lead them to download a free PDF of all the notes on the subject I’m talking about which will opt them into a mailing list for my online music educational site called Faster Music Creation.

4. Diversify (Create an Online Course): Like I said, I have another online business dedicated to music education and songwriting called Faster Music Creation. It’s in its infancy but I have been doing my research and experimenting with content marketing to get a better understanding of how I can serve my little niche which is aspiring songwriters ages 14-40. During all of this, I have been in the process of working on what will be a series of online courses breaking down various concepts of songwriting. What’s been great is that the live stream lessons is that it’s allowed me to refine my approach and become more comfortable in front of the camera. So far, I’ve done 3 live streams and fortunately, I was able to organize all the information to film what looks to be a 1 to 2 hour course that I will sell directly to my mailing list members who’s trust I’ve earned during these live streams as well as the weekly piece of content I put out on my Faster Music Creation Youtube channel.

5. Live Streaming Music Performances: I haven’t delved into this too deeply quite yet but to cheer up a friend, I was asked to sing to her so I quickly threw together this cover song video. American Head Charge "Loyalty" Vocal Cover.

These are pretty quick and easy to do and once again, it’s just another bit of content to add to your channel.

6. Affiliate Programs: I work a lot with a plugin company called Ugritone who make drum samplers, guitar cabinet IR loaders and other effects plugins. Thus far, I’ve done everything from free songwriting work to paid voiceover work and it’s been a great working relationship. What’s really cool about them is that they have an affiliate program on their website that generates a coupon code for you to share with others that will receive a discount on any of their products. If that happens, you get a percentage so this is PERFECT for imbedding into let’s say, a playthrough video promoting the company? Here’s an example.

7. Accept Donations: As I write this today, I received a notification from soundcloud saying that musicians now have the option to add a “support” link in their profile. This can take the form of a link where musicians can accept donations or it can be a direct link to your bandcamp or other online store. All the more reason to have a soundcloud presence right? I think it’s awesome. I’m also experimenting with the idea of adding my link for anyone to tip me if they like my “performance.” during the live stream music lessons.

So that’s what I’ve been doing these days. I hope you can find something to take away from this that works for you and above all, try to stay focused on the brighter side if you can. It’s a crazy time right now but there is so much opportunity out there if you know where to look.

If you prefer your content spoken to you, you're welcome to check out this video where I break it all down.

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