chuck berry

*When you’re working hard to making your dreams come true as a musician, it’s hard to think about doing anything that will divert your time and focus. But as you well know, especially in the early years, while you’re getting rich in experience, that’s the only part of you getting rich.

There’s no shame in taking a side gig while you’re working your way up — Chuck Berry (pictured above) was a beautician, Kanye worked at the Gap, Tyler, The Creator spent two and a half years as a barista at Starbucks. Having some change in your pocket from a side hustle can actually help you be more strategic about how you structure your music career.

Look for something flexible so that you’ll be able to rehearse and take gigs when you need to, and for something that won’t suck your creativity, but instead might bolster it. Here are four jobs that will save you from starving while you’re out there being an artist.

1. Apartment Manager

Apartment managers are responsible for making sure the building or complex they manage is well-maintained. While you won’t necessarily be responsible for the heavy repairs, you would most likely need to arrange for the right repair person, as well as collect rent, interview potential tenants, show the property, answer complaints and generally be the point person between the tenants and owners. In exchange for this work, the apartment manager will get free rent and possibly a small salary, depending on the extent of the duties. One downside for traveling musicians is that you’d need to have someone provide coverage for the apartment while you are away.

2. Entrepreneur

While starting your own business from scratch might take too much time away from your burgeoning music career, there are companies that will give you the framework for a business, while letting you be your own boss. With Amway, for example, you can become an Independent Business Operator (IBO) and sell Amway products, but you still have the resources and support of a big company to guide you in best practices. And since you are working for yourself, you will have the flexibility and freedom to take the gigs you want to take. An upside to this type of work is that you can take many of the skills you learn building your business — like marketing and social media, and apply them to your music career.

3. Private Music Teacher

This may feel like a cop out for a professional musician, but there is no truth in the old saying “those who can’t do, teach.” The saying should be “those who can, get paid lots of money by parents to teach their kids to play.” This is a perfect gig for a working musician because not only are you keeping your skills fresh (not to mention inspiring young musical minds), but you can set your own schedule. The setting is flexible, too. You can teach from your home, go to students’ homes or rent a rehearsal space.

4. Dog Walker

If you live in a big city, dog walkers are not only in demand but they can make a lot of money. If you love animals and have the time and ingenuity, start your own dog walking business. Once you build up a client base, you’ll be making as much money as you have time to walk. Dog walking is great for musicians because you can make your own schedule, get plenty of exercise and it isn’t going to drain your creative juice.