Holding Down More Than One Job

Alternative Income

When you start out as a composer, you may find it difficult to live off of the earnings from your composing work alone. This means that you will need to find additional sources of income. Many composers have a second job throughout their career, as instrumental teachers, university lecturers, arts administrators, performing musicians, or in a non-arts environment.

The big advantage of having an alternative source of income is that it takes the pressure off of you financially. Your earnings as a composer will fluctuate considerably, so any additional income will cushion you when there is a lull in your composing income. The downside to holding down more than one job is that your focus can easily be diverted from your main interest – composing – to your secondary or even tertiary job. Being rigorously aware of how much time and energy you spend on each of your jobs will make it easier to prioritise different parts of your workload.

Whatever your additional jobs are, try to ensure that you keep your different working identities separate. For example, if you are a composer who also writes programming software, make sure that you have separate and distinct websites – one for information on your composing activities and one for software programming work. It might seem time and cost saving to have just one website for both activities, but this could confuse the people interested in your programming work just as much as the people interested in your composing work, therefore making the site counterproductive.

Portfolio Careers

‘Portfolio Career’ is a current catchphrase used to describe the work of musicians who combine composing, performing, curating, teaching, and recording, thereby attempting to cross-fertilise the different areas of their artistic work. While it might seem enticing to be a modern day Renaissance man (or woman), the drawback is the same as with any multiple job situation – you will have to juggle a myriad of tasks and might lose focus on what is most important to you. Also, while several roles enable you to have your fingers in several pies, a portfolio career does not necessarily translate into higher earnings. On the upside, if you are very organised and comfortable wearing different hats for different jobs, a portfolio career will help you get to know a wider range of people which might then result in new opportunities for your work as a composer.

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