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Music & Money Monday – Non-Music Cashflow, Part 5

“We’d like you to come play with us.”

As I hung up the phone, I told my wife that I had gotten the gig with Russ Taff, a gig that would take this newly married couple to Nashville and on to who knows what. It was fall of ’86 and we were soon driving from Dallas so I could rehearse with the band and start a six week tour with Russ. In early ’07, we packed everything we had and moved to Music City just in time to celebrate our 1 year anniversary by eating pieces of our wedding cake while sitting on boxes in our apartment.

In addition to touring with Russ, I began to get recording work playing on advertising jingles. The extra money was great, and having the chance to record taught me a lot that I needed to know. The big challenge, however, was that between the jingles and the touring, we were not making enough money to live. Russ, as a successful artist and songwriter, didn’t need to tour much to make a living, so there were often months where we would not play at all. I, on the other hand, needed to work all the time just to pay our bills.

The solution? Temp agencies.

Temp agencies, or Temporary Employment Services, are companies that find short term workers for businesses and organizations. Businesses need these workers for reasons ranging from employee illness or vacation, to assistance with short term projects and assignments. Others need the help regularly, but can’t afford people on the payroll all the time.
it’s the agency’s job to have a large group of people with a variety of skills and talents and flexible schedules to call from to fill these positions, which is where you come in.
I found work through a “general labor” agency. This company specialized in placing people to collate and send mailings, organize and file papers, work in warehouses, deliver and install equipment and perform other light duty labor jobs. This agency was perfect for me, because I had very little experience and no business skills whatsoever. What I DID have was a flexible schedule and a need to work.

Which is why temp agencies LOVE musicians:

  • First, we have flexible schedules. As a freelance touring and recording musician, I had days or weeks when I was working, and days/weeks/months when I was not. I simply called the agency when I was or wasn’t available and within a day or two I was working somewhere earning some money. They understood that music took precedence and that music work could come up at the last minute too, but that’s the real beauty of working for an agency – you can say NO too! But in general, I, and my fellow musicians, had schedules that meant we were often available to work.
  • Second, we’re dependable. Though this runs contrary to the reputation of “typical musicians”, the qualities that make us great musicians, make us great workers for temp agencies. Being a musician takes self-motivation, self-discipline, dedication, independence and a “can do” attitude. We’re also devoted to our career and view working for a temp agency as a means of sticking to our goals. Put all those together, and agencies know that when they send a musician to a job, the person will show up and finish the work.

If you’re in a position where you need extra cash, but cannot imagine getting a full time job, even with part time hours, look into temp agencies in your area. Start by asking around and looking on the web and yellow pages. You can also ask local businesses to find out who they use for their temporary needs. Interview with a few of them if you’d like – it’s even okay to be listed with several at a time, especially if you need work badly.

Temp Agencies are a great source of non-music cashflow. They allow you to maintain your independence and flexibility while putting money in your pocket when you need it. Best of luck.