15 Ways to Earn Money as a Guitar Player Today

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By Guitar Pick Reviews

Many dream of a music career, I know. I used to dream about it, too. More often than not, when a kid or a teenager decides they want to play the guitar, it’s not because they are committed to putting in tens of thousands of hours of practice but because they want to tour with an awesome band and fill stadiums around the world.

That being said, most of us never get to tour, and even if we do, it usually stays in the realms of small and medium venues. The reality hits, and we figure out that it’s not that easy, and to earn money as a guitar player is more challenging than we thought. Or is it?

Over the years, I found a few ways you can earn good money as a guitar player (some even as soon as today). And that’s precisely what I’m going to show you today.

How to Make Money from Playing Guitar

There are a few options you can and should check out. Not every option will fit you, but you’re sure to find some great ideas here (and I saved the best for last).

Broadcast Your Music

This is not a thing that will drastically change your financial status, but if you have an audience, why not upload your music to Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming platforms?

If you are a signed artist, your label takes care of these, but if not, you can use one of a few services that do this or post your songs on Spotify by yourself.

Some services (such as CD Baby, for example) charge per song, and some (like DistroKid) charge a fixed yearly fee.

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Teach Guitar or Music Theory

This is quite obvious, but sometimes we dismiss the most obvious things that stare at us.

Even if you learned the guitar by yourself, if you know basic theory and your way around the fretboard, you can teach guitar at least at a basic level.

You might also say that teaching is beneath you, and to that, I reply that if it was good enough for Joe Satriani, one of the best guitarists of all time, it’s probably good enough for you, too.

A guitar teacher instructing a kid
A guitar teacher instructing a kid

Take a Job at a Guitar or a Music Store

This is another obvious one, yet it is still an often overlooked option.

Use your years of guitars and gear experience to help beginners make better purchasing decisions, and have fun (and some money) doing it!

Play on the Street – Busking

Playing on the street (or ‘busking’) got a bad reputation for no good reason. It gives you a lot of experience in performance, It helps you reach audiences you’d never reach otherwise, it can be an excellent source for footage you can stream or upload to YouTube, and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun.

Some cities have amazing scenes of street performances, so look around.

A guitar player busking in the subway
A guitar player busking in the subway

Start a YouTube Channel

There are so many great things you can talk about on YouTube: gear reviews, tutorials, music theory, guitar-related news, and whatnot.

If you think this is a saturated market, you are right, but just like in music – no one is better than you at being you. Each of us has a unique way of playing, composing, and talking about the things we love, and you will be the only one on YouTube that speaks the way you do, and this is awesome.

Start a Guitar Blog

Speaking from experience, you’ll probably not become rich just by blogging. That being said, the income from ads paid for gear I otherwise couldn’t have bought. I pay for products I review mainly from the revenue I get from ads.

Another cool thing about having a blog is that sometimes companies approach me to review a product. Sometimes I use it for a few weeks and send it back, and sometimes I get to keep it.

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Just make sure you stay honest. You can choose not to review a product you didn’t like, and you should never recommend a bad product.

Write Music for Commercial Purposes

This is a cool one, so bear with me. Every day there are TV or movie producers, commercial producers, and even video games that require a specific type of song – this is called Placements.

Companies (like Taxi, for example) share the descriptions they get with the musicians that signed up, and once you see a description that matches one of your songs, you submit it.

Start a Wedding Band

Playing at weddings is a great way of making some cash. The first couple of times are pretty hard because you’ll have to write the arrangements and transcribe everything, but after that, it should be smooth sailing.

I just hope you are cool with playing “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by Elvis Presley every night.

A band playing at a wedding party
A band playing at a wedding party

Become a Hired Guitarist in Other Bands

Not every member of every band is available for every gig. When a guitar player is sick or unavailable, the band is looking for a ‘sub’.

This is a great opportunity to learn new styles and make more connections in the music scene around you.

To sub for another player, they need to know you (this is not the type of role you get by applying). So get out there, and make some connections.

Become a Session Guitarist

Many studios and producers work with singers that don’t have a band. More often than not (at least not on very cheap productions), they hire guitarists, drummers, pianists, and so on. Contact a few studios in your city and ask if they need a guitar player. You might get surprised by the responses you get.

Take a Shot at Music Production

If you’ve already taken part in some recording sessions, and especially if you have some arrangements under your belt, why not try music production?

Producing a song from start to finish is one of the most satisfying things I’ve done as a musician, and I’d highly recommend it to anyone.

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Make a Sample Pack

If you produced a song or two, you know how hard it is to find a good sample pack of guitars. Not every singer or band has the budget to hire a guitar player for every song, and many electronic producers just need a couple of chords or notes for an entire track.

You can create an entire pack or upload single recordings to services such as Splice, Modern Producer, and many other platforms.

Become a Freelance Transcriber

If you know your way around standard notation and already developed an ear, this might be a real game changer for you.

I’ve only done that a couple of times, but it forced me to step up my game, and fast. Just like other ideas in this list, you won’t make millions doing it, but it can definitely help you sustain yourself together with another idea or two mentioned here.

Don’t believe me? See for yourself. Music transcribing gigs on Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer.com, and PeoplePerHour.

Become a Guitar Tech

This is a profession occupied almost exclusively by guitar players. You can start a guitar maintenance and repair tech career if you know your way around the technical aspects of it. If you know guitar setup, wiring, simple guitar upgrades, and other guitar maintenance procedures, this may be the one for you.

A guitar tech earns money from setting up a guitar
A guitar tech earns money from setting up a guitar

Make Guitar Accessories

I saved the best for last. Guitar accessories, including boutique picks, handmade hi-end straps, and custom pickguards, are in high demand. The best thing is that they are made almost exclusively by guitar players.

In fact, almost any guitar accessory or gadget is made by guitar players.

So if you’re good with your hands, take a look at some boutique guitar picks, try out some materials and shapes, and give it a go.

If you’re more of a visual artist, why not design custom pickguards or even straps?

There’s a growing market for these, and if you’re good, you can reserve your spot in this industry.

Finishing Thoughts

If you read through the entire article, you must’ve found a couple of ideas that fit you and you haven’t thought about before. Give it a shot before you come up with excuses for not doing it.

People have already opened successful businesses that allowed them to quit their job and make a living from music, even if it’s not the way you initially intended to when you just picked up a guitar for the first time.

If you have ideas not written here, let me know in the comments below, and I will see you next time!

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