There’s one secret that more and more people are discovering that people who are in the arts, especially in music, have known for a long time: that you need multiple income sources to make a decent to comfortable living.
With the outsourcing of many high paying jobs across oceans to countries with lower employee costs in the last 25-50 years, the remaining jobs often paying around minimum wage, heavy competition for many of those minimum wage jobs, and in certain types of business ventures (such as music teaching on popular instruments and selling real estate), heavy competition for clients, it seems that the only way to make a decent to comfortable living for most people is to have multiple sources of income. Including government benefits if you need them and qualify, because you need some money to make more money!
Between my husband and I, our sources include performing for social functions, performing in senior’s homes, subbing for church services, working as a real estate assistant, selling our compositions and arrangements online, teaching private lessons, selling non-sheet music related products, doing focus groups with multiple companies, academic tutoring, editing student papers, babysitting, accompanying students of other instruments, participating in online surveys to earn rewards, among other things. All that has helped us significantly, especially the last 1 1/2 years when my husband lost his church job through no fault of his own due to cutbacks, and just recently able to get a 2 month interim position, which hopefully leads to the permanent position there, which they said they really want him to stay beyond that time. In most months our extra income sources gave us a few hundred extra per month to live on, but occasionally it gave us up to $3000 extra to survive on for two or three months in addition to the government benefits we were receiving. Government benefits alone only give us about $1800 a month, with over half going to rent, then paying for utilities and our cellphones (which are on the lowest priced plans on a non smartphone that is suitable for us), leaves us about $500 for monthly living expenses (most going to groceries) with just government benefits. With current food costs, even for two people, it is challenging to live on that much a month. But the extra sources of income give us typically an extra 300-500 dollars a month to survive on, which we are usually okay, especially since we cut our cable and internet, and rarely turn on the TV, the main power usage being the radio and our energy efficient computers after the normal lighting, and we turn off lights we are not using to save on hydro.
However, many of these income sources have the chance that they could expand the amount of income they bring in, as in sales of sheet music could eventually bring in a few hundred a month, or a sudden influx of students. Or the real estate assistant job could get to the point that even working part time I’d bring in a few thousand per month and even be able to buy my first home.
Therefore, to survive and even thrive, it’s possible that people will need multiple sources of income to live on. The days of a single employer with a single paycheque may be going the way of the dodo, and could even disappear in two or three generations.