“A guitar is like an old friend that is there with me.” - B B King
It can be difficult to start earning money for your guitar playing. If you’re set on going pro, you’re going to have to work hard to earn a decent salary and live off your passion for the guitar. A lot of professional musicians also work another job to pay the bills. Fortunately, when it comes to music, you can earn extra money elsewhere.
Here are the different ways guitarists can earn money and how much they can expect to earn.
Playing Guitar in an Orchestra
If you’ve played guitar in conservatoires your whole life, you’ll probably have opportunities to join orchestras. Of course, you’ll have to work hard.
Some music schools even allow very young students to study music and guitar. Children as young as six months of age can start learning about music in a conservatoire before moving onto to choosing an instrument to play like the guitar, piano, violin, clarinet, flute, or trumpet, for example.
Generally, students will want to get as much one-on-one tuition as they can. This allows them to enjoy learning about music theory, guitar technique, and different musical genres.
After many years of study, by the time they’re adults, they’ll be accomplished guitarists and familiar with their instrument and performance.
To play guitar in a national orchestra, for example, you’ll want to be familiar with performing in groups and have orchestra (or similar) experience. Generally, orchestra musicians in the UK are on a wage of around £30k per year which is quite low in comparison to orchestras in other countries.
On the plus side, you’ll have a regular wage rather being paid per performance like you would in a band.
Find out more about being a professional guitarist.
Playing Guitar Professionally as a Guitar Teacher
Not everyone can play guitar in an orchestra but then again, not everyone wants to, either. If you prefer playing jazz, blues, rock, or funk, you probably won’t have that much fun in an orchestra. You can always become a teacher!
Depending on the type of teaching you opt for, you can always share your passion for the guitar with aspiring guitarists.
In State Schools
If you’re looking for job security and a decent wage, teaching music in state schools is probably a good idea.
Of course, you’ll need music qualifications and qualified teacher status (QTS). That said, it’s not all fun and games and you won’t get to spend that much time playing your guitar. You’ll be expected to teach students about music, music theory, and different types of music.
Music teachers outside of London start on £24k and those in inner London start on £30k. These wages can rise to £70k in London if you become a leading practitioner.
However, the upper pay ranges for teachers in schools is £40k outside of London and £49k in inner London. That said, you don’t necessarily have to teach in state schools and private schools usually offer higher wages.
The only problem with teaching a music lesson in a state school is that not every one of your students will be interested in your music instruction.
If you want to teach in a conservatoire, there are several factors that will affect your wages.
For example, lecturers at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland are paid an average of £35 per hour whilst tutors are paid an average of £23 per hour.
Generally, those in conservatoires are paid better than teachers in state schools but the requirements for the jobs are also much higher.
Of course, no two teaching jobs are alike and while there might seem like a huge gap between certain teaching jobs, it’s hard to compare given how different workloads and targets can be.
In Private Music Schools
Outside of state schools and conservatoires, you could also ply your trade in a private music school. You may have the option to put together an end-of-year show with your students.
The wages will generally depend on the school. Private music schools will offer classes and tuition and the going rates will be usually determined by supply and demand. If there’s low demand, you mightn’t get as many teaching hours and if you’re on an hourly wage, this means that you’ll get paid less. Have a look around at the teaching jobs available to see how much a music teacher could earn.
As a Private Music Tutor
You could always teach private music tutorials. If you do this alongside any other teaching job, ensure that your employer is fine with it and that there’s no conflict of interest.
If you’re teaching part-time elsewhere, you can make up the hours as a private tutor. Similarly, you can usually charge a higher hourly rate for private lessons than music lessons in a conservatory or a school of music.
The rates you can charge will depend on where you teach, the level you teach, and your teaching experience and qualifications. It’s tricky to outline a monthly wage as it’ll depend on your rates and the number of tutorials you schedule. For example, the average hourly rate for guitar tutors in London is £27 per hour.
There are so many people who want music education or learn how to play a musical instrument. No matter what type of music classes you teach, there'll be people who want to learn to play guitar, how to read music, or guitar lessons.
You'd be surprised at the level of interest in private music lessons. After all, a private lesson offers tailored private instruction and means that music students can learn exactly what they want and what they need to. In a private lesson, they'll be the only person in attendance and the tutor's focus will be fully on them.
Find out more about how to become a professional guitarist.
How Much Do Buskers Earn?
For certain parts of the country, you’ll need a busking licence. Generally, there’s a trick to maximising your earnings as a busker and when done right, you can earn a decent amount of money.
Again, it’s very difficult to work out exactly how much money buskers earn as there are too many factors to consider.
Similarly, you can’t just constantly play the guitar for hours on end. Your fingers will get sore, especially if it’s cold outside. Conversely, you don’t want to play for ages on really hot days, either.
Some days you might earn a couple of quid and other days you could earn a living wage. Generally, you want to be around when it’s busy as people are commuting to and from work and around during sporting events (like matchday on a Saturday, for example). That said, don’t expect to regularly earn a living just by busking.
How Much Do Professional Guitarists Earn during Concerts?
Do you play in a band? Do you regularly perform shows and concerts?
You should be getting paid for them.
How much you’ll get paid will depend on a number of factors:
- Where you play: small towns don’t tend to pay as well as big cities.
- How many musicians there are: you’ll have to split the money between band members.
- The venue: you’ll earn less in a small bar than at a festival.
- The type of music you play: there’s a higher demand for certain genres.
You could earn anywhere from a few quid per gig to the hundreds depending on where and when you’re playing. You need to be business-savvy to be a successful musician.
Depending on the performance opportunities available, you could earn a decent amount of money as a guitarist performing at gigs. If you play in a symphony orchestra, for example, you could earn a regular wage.
Where Do Guitarists Earn the Most Money?
You need to be very lucky to be among the highest-earning guitarists in the world. U2, Coldplay, and Ed Sheeran were among the highest earners in 2019. Similarly, Guns n’ Roses, the Eagles, Depeche Mode, Paul McCartney, Metallica, and The Rolling Stones all earned a good amount. Their earnings are in the millions!
It’s unlikely that you’ll be earning anywhere near that amount.
So how would you like to earn money as a guitarist?
Whether you teach guitar, saxophone, keyboard, cello, french horn, or trombone, you should consider sharing your skills to private students as a tutor on Superprof.
If you need more help with your guitar playing, get in touch with a tutor. There are three main types of tutorials: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Each has its pros and cons so you'll need to choose which works for you.
Face-to-face tutorials are between you and your tutor and you'll enjoy lessons that are tailored to you and what you want to learn. While these tend to be the costliest type of tutorials, they're also very cost-effective as every minute is spent helping you to improve your playing.
If you can't find any tutors near you, there's always the option to learn how to play the guitar with online private tutorials. Thanks to video conferencing software, you can now be taught by tutors all over the world. Online tutorials tend to be cheaper than face-to-face tutorials.
Finally, if you're looking to save money, group tutorials are usually the cheapest per student per hour as you're all paying for the tutor's time. However, you won't get the personalised service you would expect from the other types of tutorials.