ready to go past playing prescribed parts?

Financial Survival Guide for Musicians

I’ve reinvented my business many times in the past 26 years. I’ve coached many musicians to make money, save time, and do more of the work they love. Follow my tips on how to survive and thrive as a freelancer or entrepreneur via the video, audio, and/or article below.



You have two options:

  • watch and wait, or
  • make shit happen


 I will dig ditches, wash dishes, walk dogs, or do anything necessary to survive. Because I assume responsibility for the success or failure of my business. If you expect opportunities to fall in your lap, that’s the first thing you need to change.

What Kinds of Work Can You Do?

 Brainstorm a list of services you can provide. Write it down. Ask someone you trust for feedback on your list.


Offer “One Time Free”– I built my entire career on the “one time free” model. It’s a great way to generate repeat clients.


-If you offer a one-time Free lesson, make the lesson 20 minutes instead of 60.

  • Offer to do some kind of work for a new client as a “sample”. This might take 5-20 minutes of your time.
  • One free performance. One free consultation. One free edit of a paragraph of someone’s bio, Youtube thumbnails or social media design.
  • Make Free Youtube videos with call to action for people to hire you. I created more than 30 Free Play Along Lessons in ten days to showcase and offer my related services, many of which come with a free trial
  • Write Free emails (containing anything valuable) w calls to hire you
  • Post Free performances with links to hire you


List of Your Services :

Send people to a PDF or a google doc, or use something like the slider on this page.  Notice how:

1) It’s not “finished”

2) It promotes a range of offers from free to premium


Your list could include: “Hire me to walk your dog, edit your bio, create your cd cover art, teach you any softwares that I know”  AND  “watch my free performances, read these inspirational writings, see photos from my last tour, etc..”


How to Offer Your Services (1-1 or 1 to many):

Offer to be of service,  i.e.,  ” I’d like to offer to help you with your yard work (or “I’d like to help with anything you need done”). “Would you like help with your arrangements?”  If they answer “not now”, offer to followup: “Would you like me to follow up with you about it in the future?”

Ask for Advice: “I’m looking for work. Do you have any advice or suggestions for where or what..  Here are some things I do” (list of services) Do you have any suggestions?

Ask for Referrals: ” I’m offering these services. Do you know anyone you could refer me to who may benefit from these services”


Start with Your Warm Contacts

These could include people who have hired you, family, friends, church, neighborhood, school, past teachers, students, bandmates, etc…


For personal support from me related to making money 30-day free business coaching offers.

Private Teachers– How to take your private studio online while saving time, generating more income, and serving your students.

Also see How to Create & Monetize Your Content Online

If you struggle with offering your services, here is a deeper dive into how to overcome that reluctance:

Reach out to me at chris@christianhowes.com

You might also be interested in…

Creative Strings Academy – become a more creative and versatile musician with a library of downloads and online DIY trainings

Creative Strings Shop – find trainings, resources, and downloads for your level by Christian Howes


Many thanks to our sponsors



Creative Strings Podcast
Christian Howes presents the Creative Strings Podcast:
Exploring intersections between creativity, music education, string playing, DIY music business, and culture.

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Thanks so much to our sponsors for supporting the Creative Strings Podcast. Their support makes it possible to invest in the production of each episode and bring you great stories like this one.

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Please take a moment to visit Electric Violin Shop, your one-stop shop for electric instruments, amps, gear, accessories, and most of all, expertise. Use code CHOWES at checkout and take 5% off of your order. Call 866-900-8400 to get your questions answered on “all things electric strings.”

While you are talking to EVS, be sure to ask them about the Yamaha Electric Violin (you can check out my video review here). I’ve been a Yamaha performing artist for over 20 years and am very proud to be a part of the Yamaha family.

Are you a string player/teacher interested in exploring improvisation, contemporary styles, and related subjects?

Take a free introductory private Skype lesson (limited avails) Attend an upcoming workshop

If you enjoyed my interview with Andrea Whitt, check out these related posts:

Full Interview with Jazz Violinist Regina Carter Creative Practice Strategies for Violin, Viola, and Cello Full Interview with Jazz Violinist Jason Anick

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“Creative Strings” initiatives with the founding of Camille Catherine, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to the expansion and improvement of music education, with a focus on the development of curriculum and programs for classically trained string players and teachers to expand their skills as creative musicians.