If you have found your way to this blog, you are likely wondering if anyone has ever made a living playing the ukulele. Perhaps you are looking to find ukulele jobs, and make a career out of your love of music and the ukulele. But, you don’t know where to start or if it is even possible to do.
Well, dear reader, let me reassure you that it *is* indeed possible to build a career as a ukulele player, and that ukulele jobs are a thing – even if you have to be creative to create and find them. Many others have come before you, and many others will come after you. You may not become famous, but there are certainly ways you can build a career through playing the instrument. Read on to find out!
Let’s start with the perhaps the most common of ukulele jobs, and the simplest way to make money playing the ukulele – teach! The ukulele has increased in popularity in recent years, and thus the demand for lessons has increased as well. Additionally, because of the global pandemic, many children are learning from home and needing and wanting music lessons.
This means your potential student base isn’t limited to those in your own geographical region. You could teach students from all across the world! You do not have to be a professional musician, or spend years in music school to do this. You just have to be able to play and have something to offer those less experienced than you. As a bonus, you will improve as a musician while you are teaching.
You don’t have to just teach private lessons, however! Many older adults are learning ukulele at senior centers or at libraries across the country. You could start a ukulele playing class for adults at your local community center or library. Many times, it is more fun to learn things as a group and having the opportunity to socialize while learning a new skill can really draw in a crowd.
Plus, a bonus of teaching group classes is that you can charge less than you would for private lessons but potentially make more. Teaching 10 people at the cost of $5 per class for a thirty-minute class brings in more money for your time than charging $35 for a private lesson one-on-one. Group classes can also bring in people who otherwise can’t afford the cost of private lessons!
Play Gigs at Coffee Shops and Other Small Venues
This may be something that can’t happen in the early months of 2021 due to COVID-19, but coffee shops are tried and true places to start getting your feet wet with gigging. While often you will not be paid for these gigs, at least not at first, you can frequently make tips, and it will bring you exposure and could open up the opportunity for paid gigs in the future.
If you think none of the coffee shops around you are open to live music because you never see it advertised, don’t let that deter you. You can approach them and offer to schedule a time to come and play a set; perhaps for a 30 minute to one hour chunk of time.
This is a great low pressure environment for beginning giggers, because the focus isn’t on you. People come to enjoy their coffee and hear some good music in the background. Try it, at least when it is safe to do so, and you’ll start to gain that much needed experience and will be playing larger venues soon!
Join a Band
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I have mentioned before that the ukulele has increased in popularity in recent years. The ukulele is being used in many modern songs by artists such as Jack Johnson, Train, and Taylor Swift. Capitalize on this and join (or start!) a band of your own. Then as a band you can seek out different venues to play coffee shops again being a good option, but also bars and clubs and places more suitable to a full band than an individual ukulele player.
Become a Songwriter
Whether you write songs for yourself or for others, songwriting will definitely expand your career because you won’t be reliant on others for new music. Many professional artists today got their start while writing for other people. Here’s a tutorial on how to get started:
If you can write songs that other people find appealing, you can sell the songs, make money, and build name recognition that could eventually lead to a performance career, if that is your desire. You may find that you are happy to remain behind the scenes and write or produce, and that is perfectly fine, as well, of course!
This blog is not intended to be an exhaustive list of things you can do to find and make ukulele jobs, or to build a career out of ukulele playing. But it is my hope, dear reader, that it has provided you with some ideas for how you can start! Do you consider yourself a career ukulele player? What do you do? Leave your comments below!