Skip College, Become a Singer (Your Collegiate Gap Year Plan)

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I’m sure you don’t believe that it’s possible to make liveable money as a singer. Your mom sure doesn’t think so. Your grandma really doesn’t think so.

It’s an exciting prospect: skipping the college debt and starting a singing career instead.

Back when I decided to become an *engineering major* instead of pursuing my musical theatre dreams, I told myself this lie: once I make $80,000/year on salary, I’ll have the time / success / happiness to be comfortable sharing my singing voice with the world.

What a load of bologna! College was THE MOST expensive dating service imaginable. Yes, I met my lovely husband. Yes, Texas A&M was a fun campus to live on.

BUT humor me for one second. What if instead of enrolling in school there I had moved to College Station and began performing for a living?

I propose to you . . .

The Collegiate Gap Year: Singer Edition

Wouldn’t that be the best of both worlds?

1. A bunch of young men and Christian campus ministries to broaden my friend groups / find the love of my life / expand my worldviews / whatever other stuff colleges do for you socially

2. Not only NOT starting my 20s in $50,000 debt but also MAKING MONEY doing what I love to do: singing!

Without further ado, allow me to supply an example income/expenses breakdown for a singer doing something similar:

Expenses for a 20-something-year-old$
Apartment rent775 (simple one bedroom)-1300 (luxury)
Apartment utilities80
Phone & wifi120
Gas & auto insurance150
Hobbies, eating out, misc230
Total Expenses1,630-2,180
Income for a 20-something-year-old singer$
3 weddings750-1500
4 restaurant gigs500
4 times busking (if area permits)600
4 Sundays singing at a church200
Total Expenses2,050-2,800

There it is, folks! Proof that it is actually possible to cover your expenses as a musician.

Your Singing Career’s Success Depends on You

Expenses depend, of course, on your ability to budget and cut costs. For instance, living with a roommate and not in a downtown area will bring your rent to a much more manageable level.

To be completely honest, the income you make as a singer depends entirely on the amount of time and effort you are willing to put in.

In the above example, the hours you would actually be singing are pretty much part-time.

Chances are, you would want to find other ways of bringing in money on weekdays other than busking such as:

  • teaching voice lessons
  • running live sound for sorority/fraternity/on-campus events
  • getting an on-campus job (more networking with the university without actually being enrolled!)
  • the classic: waitressing or becoming a barista

And there are also TONS of other singing opportunities not mentioned in the income table above:

  • bars, nightclubs
  • fancy hotels (seriously, College Station now has 2 super cool jazz lounges and a BOUJEE rich folks hotel)
  • frat or sorority parties (putting a band together makes this easier)
  • student projects (see if you can join any on-campus singing, performance, theatre, or film clubs)
  • singing local schools’ national anthem
  • start a Disney Princess party business
  • music direct at a local community theatre

Those are the ones I thought of off the top of my head. The key is to BE CREATIVE and GET YOURSELF OUT THERE.

Becoming a professional singer is entrepreneurial, after all. In those first months of searching for gigs, the venues are not going to flock to your doorstep. So starting with a part-time job couldn’t hurt!

Success in your singing career is largely up to your work ethic, rejection tolerance, and musical talent.

Now that I’ve fully convinced you that the collegiate gap year for singers is a fabulous plan, go out and tell others about it. They might think you’re crazy–or that you’re a genius.

Let me help you get started!

If you want to try your hand at a singing career, but aren’t quite confident if you should, please reach out to me! I’ll teach you everything my husband and I have learned from booking gigs in cities across the country.

Howdy, I’m Grace! I'm a Catholic music educator and voice teacher in Fort Worth, TX. Every week I share a podcast teaching Catholic kids sacred music--want to learn more? Try Sing With Grace for free today!