How Musicians Can Prepare For An Upcoming Recession

How Musicians Can Prepare for A Recession

We are in the midst of a global recession. With rising cost of gas, groceries, and other living essentials, a situation where decline in work and rising inflation can really effect the music economy. In today's video, I will talk about how musicians of all genres can prepare for a recession. 

What is a recession?

- A recession is when the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fall for two consecutive quarters.

This was bound to happen due to supply chain issues. Because of supply chain, there isn't enough people to go back to work to fill up the demand from before the pandemic. Then, at the same time, the cost of making a product and the cost of material has gone up

From a musician's perspective, have you noticed the cost of strings going up?

All of this can be overwhelming. I want you to take a deep breathe, and tell you that everything is going to be fine. 

I have some tips and suggestions how musicians can prepare for a recession:

Be a part of a community

When I first started my YouTube channel, my goal was to provide content for people who needed help with their violin playing. 

Little did I know that I would form a community of all levels of violin playing talking about various music topics. With a recession on the horizon, it's important to have people in your corner to get through a stormy season. I invited you to be a part of this community by subscribing to the channel. 

Income Diversification 

When I was in my Bachelor's program, I was training to become an orchestral musician. but then I realized towards the end of my degree that I didn't want to pursue that career track because I would be limited to only one income stream. Also, around that time many orchestras were going on strike and I thought that the typical orchestra job may provide a "sense" of security, but that security like that is an illusion. 

That's why I want you to think about other ways to diversify your income if there was a recession. Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Teaching
  • Part Time Service Orchestra
  • Wedding Duos/Trios/Quartets
  • Organize chamber music concerts in your community
  • Work in a public school music program
  • Host a workshop in your community
  • Grants
  • Sell Music

Keep Spending to a Minimum

Living on a less than you make is sound financial advice from any wise advisor. As I mentioned before, the cost of painting our instruments have gone up. The rates for gigs are going up, but they're slow to catch up. 

Be mindful of your spending habits in your music business. If you're low on a cash, then you might consider purchasing a lower level string set rather than a $100 set you're used to getting. Maybe it's getting a cheaper re-hair at another shop that the shop you usually go to. 

Another thing you might want to consider the time it takes to drive and perform a gig. 

Here's an example:

Let's say a local orchestra manager calls you and offers you to perform in their cycle for $450. The cycle is 5 services plus a one hour dress rehearsal. Each rehearsal is about 2.5 hours long with a 15 minute break in between. 

The total cost per service would be $90, or $36/hour. 

But, the gig is about 40 mile drive away and you would drive close to an hour. A roundtrip would result in an 80 mile roundtrip and a total of two hours of driving per gig day. 

This means that your $36/hour gig drops if you include the time to travel and from the gig to $20 per hour! That's a $16/hour difference in your take home pay. And we haven't even considered the cost of gas right now in the current economy. 

Hypothetically, let's assume a gallon of gas in your area costs $4.50. For round numbers, you have a car that carries a 10 gallon tank and your gig mobile gives you 40 to the gallon. 

For this gig alone, you will be driving 400 miles (200 each way). You would have spent close to $50 for gas in a real life condition including traffic, stop lights, etc. 

All of a sudden, your gig went from $450 to $400. 

Also, let's not forget that many of these performances are usually self employed income and you have to take out money out of that paycheck for your quarterly taxes (these are numbers are just an exercise and would be best to consult with your tax person).

Normally you would put aside 25% to 30% of your income to pay for self employed taxes. 

So this let's do the math:

$450 x .30 (30%) = $135 that you have to put aside for taxes

$450 - $135 = $315 

$315 - $50 = $265 profit

That $265 profit doesn't look so sweet anymore compared to the $450 that you could have gotten. 

The point of this exercise is to show you that you need to be smart with how you use your time, your energy, and your money when there is a recession looming. A $450 gig may look attractive, but it may not be worth it in this context. 

Be smart with your work. During a recession you want to have many options open to you. Mom musicians are freelancers and are in the gig economy so having flexibility will be a major plus. 

All in all, be wise with your financial decisions in relation to your musical business. 

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