Can You Make Any Money Playing Jazz Bass–And If So, How Much?

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Can You Make Any Money Playing Jazz Bass–And If So, How Much?: A blog about earning income from playing jazz bass.

If you’re a jazz bassist and you have any ambition to turn your love of music into a career, you probably want to know how much money you can make. There’s lots of data out there on what the average musician earns, but it’s not specific enough to really be useful. For example, if the average income for all musicians is $35,000/year but the average gig pays $200 (and I’ve seen figures that indicate that this is about right), then it’s probably unrealistic to expect that you’ll make $35k playing jazz bass. In fact, it’s a pretty safe bet that most jazz bassists don’t make anywhere near that much. But how much do they make? Well, let’s take a look…

The Median Income for All Musicians Is $23k Per Year

For the sake of comparison and context, here are some numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook: Median Annual Wage 2010:


Projected Job Change 2010-2020: +6%**

This doesn’t distinguish between different types

I have a day job. I have one because I have to have one. Can You Make Any Money Playing Jazz Bass–And If So, How Much? is my blog about the money side of being a jazz bass player.

My first rule for living as a jazz bassist is this: don’t quit your day job. My second rule is: don’t quit your day job yet.

Can You Make Any Money Playing Jazz Bass–And If So, How Much?

This is the question I am most frequently asked about playing jazz bass. The answer, of course, is “Yes.” But determining how much money you can make playing jazz bass is a multi-faceted topic.

You see, money doesn’t come from just one place. It comes from a variety of sources. And it all depends on what you are willing to do to earn it. This article will discuss the various income streams available to jazz bass players and how they differ in terms of earnings potential and how much time you need to invest in them.

Some of these income streams include:

Playing “gigs” (paying gigs) with bands or artists

Teaching private lessons

Selling instructional products online

Selling your original compositions

Giving clinics at schools or music stores

Working as a band director at a school

Recording and selling your own CDs

Performing on other people’s CDs and getting paid royalties

Writing articles for magazines or websites

Making money as a freelance musician is challenging. But if you can find ways to combine some of these income streams into your life, you can easily earn enough money to live comfortably as a professional

If you’ve ever wondered whether it’s possible to make a living as a jazz bassist, I’m here to share with you the good news: I’ve earned money playing jazz bass, and so have many other people. Not all of us are making a ton of money from it — but some are. And even if you don’t routinely earn thousands of dollars from every gig you take, there are ways to use your jazz bass skills in ways that pay the bills.

In this blog I’ll share articles about different techniques for earning income from playing jazz bass. I’ll share tips and tricks and ideas for how you can make money with your music.

So, you want to make money playing jazz bass (or any other instrument for that matter) but you’re not sure if it’s possible, or if so, how much you can actually make. Well, I’m here to tell you that yes, it is possible, and yes, it can be quite lucrative.

Before we get started though, let me say that making money with your talent is a journey and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and patience to build the skillset required to earn a living from music. And even when you do have the skills and experience, you still have to have a plan in order to make any money.

So let’s start at the beginning . . .

I’m so often asked, “Can you really make money playing jazz bass?” I always reply with an emphatic, “Yes!”

In order to play jazz bass professionally and make a living at it, one must be able to make a certain amount of money every month. If you’re making a certain amount of money every month, you can expect to pay your bills and put food on the table.

Since this website focuses on making money from playing jazz bass, I’ve created a formula for how much income one must earn in order to survive financially–and it’s not that much!

Jazz bass players will usually play a set that lasts about three hours. Some jazz clubs pay the bassist $50-75 per night, per set. Some clubs pay more, especially if you are in a band that draws good crowds.

Other jazz gigs (such as weddings and corporate events) can pay even better, but they vary widely and often require booking through an agency.

In addition to club gigs, jazz bassists can make money by teaching private lessons. I have several students that come to me for weekly lessons, and I charge $30 per half hour. With five students per week at half hour sessions each, I bring in $750 per week from teaching alone!

Of course, there are many expenses that go into earning your income as a bassist: you’ll need to buy a decent instrument and amplifier, keep your car gassed up and maintained, buy strings and other accessories for your bass, etc. But even with these costs factored in, it is definitely possible to make a living playing jazz bass!

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