Being a musician is expensive, especially as a beginner who isn’t getting any money back. There’s no way to be a musician without putting money into it, however there are ways to minimise your spending before you’re famous and raking in all the cash.
1) Loan anything you can
You’d be surprised how many different ways there are to get access to equipment without buying it, but loaning is the easiest way. Sometimes it will still cost you a small fee but no where near the price of buying equipment in full, it will be a fraction of the price and in most cases, the more custom you give the business, the more discount you will receive. However, if you’re privileged enough to be at a university or school, most music programmes loan equipment for free for a small amount of time, so if you’re wanting equipment for a recording or a gig, this is your best bet.
2)Second hand is your best friend
An experienced musician is no stranger to beat up and second hand equipment, if it makes sound then it works. Bar a couple of exceptions, most instruments, production equipment, amps etc can be used hundreds of times before giving up,especially if used and looked after properly, and if there’s one thing you can count on with musicians, is treating their products like their children. Gumtree & Facebook marketplace are some of the most respected sites for secondhand music apparatus and can, very often, get your something for less than half the original price.
3)Become a Jack of all trades
A lot of money spent by musicians is on things that isn’t the music itself. For example, music videos, promo, photography. However, learning to do these things yourself means saving hiring professionals and therefore saving a lot of money. Unfortunately you’re not going to be able to learn in a few days what experts in this field learn in years of practise. However as a musician your main attribute is the music and all the other things are extra, they don’t need to be perfect. There are plenty of apps like Canva or Photoshop, along with plenty of online courses that will teach you the basics of what you need to know.
4) Do your own promotions, and be smart about it
Self promotion is a controversial topic in any creative field. Some think that if you’re ought to be noticed, it will happen. However, in the modern world of today, there are millions of people trying to make it and it’s easy to be drowned out in the voices of amateur musicians, no matter how talented you are. Promotion is your best chance at getting a following and a fan base, and if you want to save money you’re best doing this yourself. You can do this online, for example Instagram promotions charges a small fee for your ads to be shown on a number of feeds. Or, sharing your own posts and asking others too is a completely free alternative. Depending on what your niche is, real world promotion is also still extremely relevant, you don’t need a big billboard to be seen, posters, signs etc work just as well for not even a fraction of the price. Specifically for musicians, busking is a great way to get your name out there too, it creates exposure without people even realising that they’re exposed to it.
5)Charge for your services
This is one for more experienced musicians, but once you feel confident enough to perform in front of people and feel your talent is solid, don’t give away your experience or time for free. You wouldn’t see shops giving away products, so don’t give away yours. They don’t sound the same but they’re extremely similar. No matter how many of these tips you take on or how much budgeting you do, if money isn’t coming in you’re going to end up at zero. Whether this is charging for tickets for gigs, or being hired for weddings & events, you need to charge for your services. It will never feel like the right time so just do it.