Ah, travelling the world with a guitar strapped to your back. The life of a roaming minstrel seems such a romantic one… But it also seems totally out of the question these days. Travel is expensive; opportunities are few. So, what do you do if you’re not [yet] famous? Grab your funky folding guitar and read on, dear friends, read on…
6 ways your guitar could pay for you to travel
Any venue in possession of a live music license is always on the lookout for acts. Learn a few crowd-pleasers, or learn something unique; if you can play well, you’ll find work on your travels. Approach with politeness, be prepared to do a demo and play to the venue’s vibe. If they like you, you’ll probably be invited back for more during your stay in the area. If not, just try the pub further down the road.
So, this might seem improbable. If you want to make a living from teaching guitar you need to build up a client base, right? You need to have a fixed address and somewhere to hold your lessons. What you need are facilities. Well, yeah, if you want to do things the traditional way, but e-learning is becoming increasingly popular across a range of disciplines, making it possible to teach on the go. As long as you have a decent smart phone or laptop and can find a strong Wi-Fi signal, you can teach guitar – or music theory – anywhere. Skype and FaceTime have opened up a huge range of opportunities. And this means that not only can you teach from anywhere around the world, but you also have a potentially global client base.
Standing on a street corner with a hat sprinkled with pennies and the local authorities looming? OK, so may be busking isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be a big deal with a potentially huge revenue stream. And backpackers everywhere have been switching on to this. If you can play your guitar well enough to draw a crowd – and you have a guitar that will easily travel – then busking is a great way to fund your adventures, particularly in Asia. Not every country requires you to obtain a busking license, but check first.
If there is one thing you will never lack while travelling, it’s inspiration. If you’re the creative type, good at picking out your own tunes and handy with a lyric, then song writing can be lucrative. And there is always a market. With your travel guitar to hand, you can do it at any time – no plane, train or bus ride need ever be wasted again. And the work will always follow you.
For anyone with an ounce of cool, becoming a cruise liner entertainer is seen as the epitome of naff. But, but, BUT… If you want to travel the world and get paid for playing guitar, then it’s a solid gold solution. Cruises are no longer solely the domain of the moneyed geriatric. A lot of the companies are now appealing to the younger generations, which means that the entertainment remit has broadened. While we can’t guarantee that you won’t be spending your days playing the greatest his of Max Bygraves and Brotherhood of Man, it’s definitely not a given.
If you know your instrument well, you can sell your services as a sideman – a professional guitar player for hire. For most of the time, this might mean performing in churches and local events. If you’re lucky, it could mean being picked up as emergency back-up for a band, show, or some other kind of tour. That’s where the money really comes in.