If you are a keyboardist in this day and age, I’ve got good news for you. Keyboard players are a growing commodity as they are needed for a lot of different styles of music that happen to be popular. The purpose of this post is to highlight a few ways that you can make money as a keyboardist in the music world. I want you to leave this post with an idea of what to do next.
I have the opinion that the best ways to make money and grow as a keyboardist are to not limit yourself. For example, try to do many different things all at once. Don’t think just because you’re in one band that you can only do that. After all, you want to be able to make enough money to follow your dream. Some good ways to make money as a keyboardist are to: form a band, play in a cover band, co-write, do studio sessions, and record bands. I am going to talk about each of these below.
Now, you might be thinking that these are obvious, but there’s a good chance you’re not doing these already. I want to help you with ideas on how to make these things happen.
Table of Contents
Learn Your Craft
Learn your instrument in ways other people in your area don’t. If you’re not working to be as good as you can be, then you’re not doing everything you can be doing. If you’re not good at what you do, it is hard to be successful. The first step to this is learning your instrument inside and out.
I believe keyboardists have the advantage over all other instruments because most producers use keyboards. Songwriting is often done on keyboards too. I know you might be thinking, well I can play the keyboard, but I can’t write. No one can write without practice. Everyone starts somewhere as cliche as it sounds and you just have to be okay with that.
I believe being able to write helps you in all aspects of music. It creates opportunity and allows you to network with others a lot easier as well.
Learn how to play these. These are extremely popular and there is a lot of knowledge about them. Even if you play piano, you will want to get familiar with playing on MIDI controllers. There are a lot of VST’s that you will use if you plan on playing in a band.
Learn to play on these. These are usually smaller than normal keyboards and if you know how to play the piano you will know how to play a synthesizer. Now playing them and knowing what you’re doing are two different things. There are so many things with synths that you will need to learn.
You will want to know how to create different tones and what makes sense to play when playing a synthesizer. You can read more about these above.
Playing In A Band
Forming a band or playing in an original band is a thing I think all keyboardists should experience. It is fun, exciting, and challenging. You test yourself in ways performing that you don’t typically do outside of playing shows. Playing in a band is fun as you will learn how to create relationships and network as well as song-write.
When you play shows, network. Meet other bands and express interest in writing and producing with them. This only gets you better and them as well. A lot of bands think that they need to only work with the same band and I think in the long run this hurts them. Writing with other people helps you in ways you don’t realize as it is completely different and challenging.
You can make money by playing in bands if you’re releasing your music on Spotify and playing shows. Keep in mind that this is a very long process. It takes years to establish a fan base and a lot of songs. Put out good products and release pretty frequently.
This is a very underrated way to make money as a band, but super effective. A lot of cover bands make anywhere between $2,000-$5,000 per gig depending on how big they are. Doing this on the side of your main band is a smart way to make money to keep going. You will also meet a lot of people doing this as you play weddings and all sorts of events.
This is my favorite way to work as a musician. If you like songwriting, you can work with anyone that you have met and work on songs with them. If you write a song with them you get credit and this helps build your own name which is important. This is something that not everyone enjoys or knows how to do, but if you have a knack for writing, I suggest writing with as many people as you can.
If you do this, I recommend having a manager as they will help you with finding sync opportunities and other writers who want to work.
Studio session musicians are still relevant in this day and age. People are constantly wanting great players to accompany them on their track, whether it be writing a part or just playing what they have written already. Doing sessions is a great way to build a respectable name in the industry.
The best way to do this is network with bands. Get your name out there by going to shows and talking to bands. Let them know who you are and what you do and don’t be pushy. Try to target bands that may not have the instrument you play in their band. This makes you valuable to them as they don’t already have someone doing it. Maybe it’s an acoustic guitar player and you say could play piano on some tracks for them.
Learning how to produce your music is extremely beneficial. If you know how to do this well you can literally do this on the side and make a career out of it. A lot of bands are looking for places to record and if they know they can record with a keyboardist who is a producer, it’s a major plus.