Many people believe that it’s impossible to make money as a musician unless you’re a famous performer or a teacher in a school. While these are the two most common routes most music students take after graduation, they’re certainly not the only paths!
Teaching music lessons online is a great way to make money as a musician. Whether you’re a brass player, guitar player, singer, or even a ukulele player, anyone who knows how to teach their instrument of choice to someone else has a serious shot at a unique and fulfilling career – or, at least, a profitable side business.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can begin setting yourself up to teach music lessons online and make money as a musician!
If you want to teach music lessons online, the easiest way to get started is simply to start recording yourself and posting teaser videos on YouTube. This shows your expertise, skill, and allows you to even give some “freebie” content to your fans. Younger musicians who love your playing style will not only see that you have a following, but they’ll be more willing to take lessons from someone who isn’t afraid to record themselves on YouTube.
On each video that you post to YouTube, you should have some kind of link that leads your viewers to contact you in some way. Whether this is your direct email, a link to a personal website, or simply a link to your Facebook page, YouTube is a great way to enter the online teaching community.
Create A Membership Website
Many musicians who have experience with singing or playing an instrument don’t even consider one of the most popular ways to make money online…
…creating a membership website!
Think about this: if you had a website that required a monthly subscription to access pre-recorded lessons, that’s one easy way to make money as a musician. After you set up your membership website, your members can request to “upgrade” to a higher membership status to get “free” scheduled lessons each month.
With the average lesson cost being $50.00 per hour, you could easily offer an upgrade to this amount each month that not only includes the pre-recorded lessons, but members would also receive access to sheet music, play-along soundtracks, and much more.
Make no mistake, however – getting a membership website off the ground takes quite a bit of time. It’s recommended that you start with a following on YouTube first, and in the meantime work on crafting your personally-branded website.
Find A Video Conferencing Platform
Just like businesses who use professional video tools to host remote meetings, you too as a virtual online music teacher will need to find a platform to have digital lessons with your students.
There are many options to choose from, but we’ve listed some of the most popular options below that offer 44.1kHz sound quality (or close to it, anyway):
…and many more. In fact, these days you could even just use your mobile device to host lessons, although it’s usually viewed as an unprofessional method (and the audio usually isn’t as good anyway).
Set Up Your Lesson Space
If you’ve ever taught private lessons in your home, then you know that having an ideal space is incredibly important. It needs to be a private, quiet area where neither you or your students will be disturbed during their lessons.
If you live in a house, then this is a pretty simple task – most musicians already have a dedicated space for teaching and/or practicing.
If you reside in an apartment or duplex, then it might be easier said than done, especially if you play a loud instrument such as the trumpet or saxophone! Make sure that you talk to your neighbors before you start honking away for hours at a time and clear it with them, especially if your lesson times will run late during the evening.
Get The Proper Equipment
It’s not enough just to plug in your phone to a charger and give lessons for hours at a time. Most smartphones (yes, even iPhones) have a small microphone that isn’t able to control the gain input (the amount of sound pressure entering the microphone).
So guess what? You need to purchase a microphone to use with your computer!
There are many, many different microphone options to choose from. You have two options when choosing your setup: you can purchase a USB microphone, or you can purchase an Audio Interface (AI) and connect an XLR or ¼” jack microphone for your lessons.
It’s recommended that you as the teacher have the best setup so your students can clearly hear you, especially if you have an instrument that requires lessons on properly producing tone. Nothing beats playing in person, of course, but when you’re teaching music lessons online you don’t always have that option.
Also, make sure that you have a computer that can handle video streaming easily – generally, 8GB of RAM and an updated audio card will do the trick.
This leads us into the next piece of equipment: your webcam. There are many different types of webcams, but products like the Logitech Pro C922X by Dell are a good example. Embedded computer webcams don’t have good lighting or sound control, so it’s best to keep both your microphone and webcam as separate pieces of equipment feeding into your computer.
Invest in your success!
Marketing Yourself As A Private Teacher
It used to be that you could go to Craigslist.com and create free postings, but after quite a bit of…adult activity…they started charging $5 per listing. This immediately stopped all heinous activity (and helps Craiglist.com make a few bucks in the process).
It’s too bad – it was a great way to find students for free! Still, there are plenty of options for teachers like you to get connected to students around the world.
If you’re a classical musician, you may want to consider iClassical-Academy.com. They are a growing online resource for classical musicians around the world, and last time we checked they were developing a platform to teach private lessons to classical musician students anywhere in the world.
However, if you just want to teach other genres, or just the instrument itself, Udemy.com is probably your best bet.
One of the best ways to market yourself and make money as an online music teacher is to simply reach out via Facebook and LinkedIn. There are many groups on Facebook – think college students, high schools, private schools, you name it and it probably exists. Join these groups and pages, talk to the members, and start asking if anyone needs lessons.
Also, don’t be afraid to reach out to friends and family. Some of your first students will most likely come from these sources!
Becoming a virtual music teacher isn’t easy, but the more you do it, the faster you’ll find that students will start coming to you directly and be referred from their peers. To make money as a musician, it’s incredibly important that you start as soon as you can and find the students to pass your knowledge to!