10 Side Hustles for Audio Engineers: Turning Decibals into Dollars

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Hey there, audio aficionados and sound gurus. As an audio engineer constantly tinkering with the latest gear, it’s probably something you’re passionate about. And you've got the skills.

But even the most talented audio engineers can use a little extra cash to amplify their lifestyle.

When it comes to side hustles for audio engineers, there are many creative ways you can leverage your unique expertise and remix your talents to create a more harmonious financial situation.  

In this article, I'll go over 10 potential side hustles specifically designed for audio engineers, whether you're into passive income (like creating courses or sound libraries) or hands-on work with clients (like installer services).

But first, let's set the stage with a few reasons why an industry-specific side hustle might be music to your ears.

Benefits of Side Hustles for Audio Engineers

  • Expand your network of music industry contacts, leading to new opportunities and collaborations.
  • Generate additional income streams that can fuel your passion projects or help you level up your audio gear.
  • Learn new skills and gain experience in different areas of the audio world, making you an even more versatile and valuable engineer.
  • Challenge yourself by working on a diverse range of projects, keeping your creativity fresh and your ears finely tuned.

These are just a few perks that come with being an audio engineer moonlighting as a side hustler. And who knows, maybe you'll discover a new passion project or find your next full-time gig along the way.

As we crank up the volume and dive into the world of sound, I’ll drop some tips, resources, and insights to help you hit the ground running.

Please note that the starting budgets and any income potential mentions provided in this article are only rough estimates and can vary significantly depending on various factors. These factors may include but are not limited to your location, experience level, competition, target market, marketing strategy, and overall economic conditions. The figures mentioned are not guaranteed and should be used for informational purposes only.
We encourage you to conduct thorough research and consult with professionals in your field to gain a better understanding of the costs and potential earnings associated with your chosen side hustle. For additional information on income potential, you may refer to resources such as the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Glassdoor, and PayScale, which provide salary and income data for various professions and industries.

Side Hustles for Audio Engineers

1. Podcast and Video Editing

Podcast editing is a perfect side hustle for audio engineers. The pay-to-hours-worked ratio is usually in your favor because you’re leveraging what you already know and are good at. Something that might take an inexperienced podcaster several hours, you can finish in a fraction of the time.

Or you can challenge yourself and go a step further with audio and video editing.  

Many podcasters, YouTubers, and TikTok and Instagram influencers outsource editing because it’s often the most time-consuming part of the process, especially for those who don’t do it professionally.  

You can refine raw recordings, remove errors, enhance sound quality, add effects, and bring creativity to your work. If they like it, and you can match it to their brand’s style, this can become a full-time gig.

At first, you’ll likely charge per episode, but as you get more work and build a roster of regular clients, you might consider offering package deals for multiple episodes or providing additional services like show notes creation or audio branding.

Begin by learning about podcast and video-specific editing techniques, and then offer your services on freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr.

Starting Cost Estimate: $300 – $1000. This includes the cost of audio and video editing software. Some, like Adobe Audition and Premiere Pro, are available for a monthly subscription fee, but others, like Audacity, are free. You'll also need a decent computer, especially if you’re editing 4K video.

Resources: Upwork, Fiverr, Audacity

2. Audio Restoration

Audio restoration is a relatively narrow niche but a great side hustle for audio engineers nonetheless. Individuals and businesses need old or poor-quality audio recordings cleaned up, and as you probably know, it’s a meticulous and time-consuming process.

Some old recordings may be degraded to the point that full restoration isn't possible, but the satisfaction of bringing old recordings back to life for your clients to enjoy can be rewarding.

And we’re living in a new era for audio restoration. New AI audio tools, like Meta’s Voicebox, can do much of the heavy lifting for you.

There is obviously some controversy around AI and AI tools. On one hand, they empower the average unskilled person to do what once required professional expertise. In this case, clean up audio.

However, there will still be many who don’t know these tools exist. And many of those that do know they exist, don’t know how to use them and don’t care to learn. They just want someone to do it for them.

That makes this a great side hustle. People just want the result, and they often don’t care how it’s done. So, AI allows you to do the gig without the tedious work. At least for now.

Monetize by charging per hour of audio restored, or for businesses, you might offer package deals for multiple recordings or provide additional services like digitization or audio enhancement.

This is another side hustle to offer on freelance platforms (like Upwork and Fiverr, as mentioned earlier), but you can also advertise locally and tap into industry contacts if you have them.

Starting Cost Estimate: $500 – $2000. This includes the cost of restoration software and possibly some hardware like a good-quality audio interface. Some high-end restoration software, like CEDAR Studio, can get pricey.

Resources: Freelancer, Voicebox

3. Create Audio Equipment and Software Reviews, Tutorials, Guides, Etc.

Become a content creator and do audio equipment and software reviews, tutorials, guides, etc. You can do this with written content and images on a blog/website. Or you can do it on YouTube.

This side hustle is a great way for audio engineers with real-world experience to share in-depth knowledge and insights about the tools of their trade. You can review and create tutorials for audio hardware like mics, speakers, and headphones and dive into the deep pool of audio software.

Tools like Audacity and Sound Forge probably have enough depth and features that you could create a blog or YouTube Channel on each one alone.

But of course, you don’t have to limit yourself.

The point is there are endless content opportunities. Building an audience will take some time unless you have an established following online already.

You'll need to stay updated with the latest audio hardware and software as well, which is a challenge for all tech YouTubers and website owners.

But there are also many perks. You can work from anywhere and anytime, and content creation leads to passive income, or at least what I call semi-passive income.

For example, as a content creator, I can often coast for a few months without doing much work, and it doesn’t affect my income. But it does catch up to you, so it’s not entirely passive. Content needs to be updated, and new products come out, so you can’t coast indefinitely.

Anyway, you can monetize your platform through display ad revenue, affiliate marketing, sponsored content, or selling your own products such as online courses, merchandise, etc.

You can also offer premium content or personalized consulting services.

To get started, decide if you’ll be creating content for a website, YouTube, or both. Once set up, you can review equipment and software you already own and are familiar with.

Diving deeper, you’ll want to learn about SEO (search engine optimization) and content creation strategies that attract viewers and convert readers/viewers into customers. Remember, your unique insights and expertise are what will set you apart.

Starting Cost Estimate: $0 to $2000. If you already own the equipment and software, your starting costs might be minimal. However, you might need to invest in a good camera and mic for recording your reviews and tutorials and possibly a website to host your content.

As you review more products, you may need to buy more products. Ideally, you can borrow or rent equipment to review. And as you gain a following, companies will reach out to you to review their products.

Resources: Wealthy Affiliate, YouTube.com (Starting a YouTube Channel)

4. Create Music for Mood and Cognitive Improvement

Creating music that improves mood and cognitive function is a unique and helpful side hustle. It can include music with neural modulation effects that help people relax, focus, or energize. It can also be atmospheric music or soundscapes that imitate environments like a café or train.  

It's a competitive side hustle, especially with paid services like Brain.fm. New channels continue popping up on YouTube, and you can find music with binaural beats on Spotify.

But this is also a relatively new side hustle growing in popularity, especially for remote workers.

The easiest way to monetize is with YouTube videos once you’ve reached a certain number of subscribers and views (it changes periodically, so check YouTube’s monetization policy whenever you’re reading this).

You can also sell your music on platforms like Spotify or Apple Music, create a subscription-based service for exclusive content if you’re ambitious, or license your music for use in meditation apps.

Starting Cost Estimate: $500 – $2000. You may need professional audio editing software and some additional sound libraries or plugins for creating music with neural effects.

Resources: Brain.fm, Instructables (Make Binaural Beats with Audacity), Tunecore

5. Djing

Djing is probably something you’ve already considered. It may be the reason you became an audio engineer in the first place.

If that’s the case, it’s the perfect side hustle.

Well, maybe not perfect. You’ll need to invest in DJ equipment, and finding gigs can be challenging, but this is a great way to earn money for the right person.

In addition to charging per gig, you can provide additional services like sound system setup, creating and selling your own mixes online if you’re chasing fame, or putting your music on YouTube for additional publicity and ad revenue.

Starting Cost Estimate: $1,000 – $3,000. Djing is not cheap. If you have some equipment and/or you’re starting out with small gigs, you may be able to get away with inexpensive equipment.

However, as you do bigger gigs, you’ll need better equipment, and things like DJ controllers can range from $100’s to $3,000 – $4,000 thousand. Studio speakers can cost several thousand.

With that said, I put $3,000 as a starting estimate because many companies offer monthly payment options, but you’ll want to have some gigs lined up before you get yourself on the hook for $10K or more in equipment.

You’ll also need DJ software, high-quality headphones, and possibly a truck/van to haul your equipment.

Resources: How to Market Your Side Hustle, Sweetwater, Musicradar

6. Audio Post-Production Freelance Work for Video

Another way to make money with your audio mastery is with audio post-production for video. This is another gig that you might specialize in already, and it involves editing, adding sound effects, foley work, mixing, and mastering audio tracks for video producers and creators.

If this is currently your day gig, you may not be your first choice. Or maybe there are conflicts with your employer.

However, if this is what you already do on a daily basis, you’re probably good at it. Your ability to produce high-quality work fast and efficiently can set you apart on freelance platforms. Of course, those can also be competitive, but setting up a profile and posting your services doesn't hurt.

Charge per project, or by the hour when starting out, or offer package deals for clients with multiple videos requiring work. You can also provide additional services like audio branding and consulting to help them improve their on-site audio.

Starting Cost Estimate: $500 – $2000. This includes the cost of an editing-capable computer (if you don’t already have one), and professional audio and video editing software.

Resources: Upwork, Fiverr

7. Field and Event Recording

Field and event recording is a diverse side hustle for audio engineers. While capturing nature sounds like rivers, birds, or city ambiance isn’t as quick to monetize, recording live events like weddings, corporate gatherings, and fundraisers can bring in some quick cash.

You may need to invest in high-quality portable recording equipment. And for live events, it could be challenging to get work when starting.

One way to get traction is to offer discounted services to build up a client base and attract referrals.

You can also contact event and wedding planners and find out if they provide in-house audio services or if they outsource. And if they outsource, ask them if they’d be willing to throw you some work. This can be effective, especially if you’re discounting your rates.

While it may take time to get this side hustle off the ground, it can be incredibly rewarding. Once you’ve established a good reputation, you may find you’ve got more work than you know what to do with.  

As far as field recording, you can monetize by selling your recordings on platforms like Pond5.

Starting Cost Estimate: $500 – $2000. This includes the cost of a high-quality portable recorder and microphones.

Resources: SoundGuys, Pond5

8. Freelance AV Installation and Consulting

Another great side hustle that utilizes your audio engineering expertise to its fullest (if this isn’t already your full-time job) is installing sound and theatre systems into homes, businesses, educational and medical facilities, etc., as well as providing consulting services.

It is also a great way to get out of your chair (if that’s where you spend your days) and do some physical work. I suppose that could be good or bad, depending on your situation.

Either way, it’s an opportunity to get paid for playing with high-end audio and video equipment, and who knows… maybe you’ll make a friend or two who invite you to watch a game or movie in their home theatre.

It can happen. Maybe…

Anyway, you’ll generally charge a flat rate per project or hourly, but you can also offer maintenance and upgrade packages, as well as consulting services.

Starting Cost Estimate: $1000 – $5000. This includes the cost of tools and possibly some audio equipment for demonstration purposes. You might also need to invest in a vehicle if you don't already have one.

Resources: THX, AVIXA

9. Audio Educator (Tutoring, Workshops, Online Course Sales, Etc.)

Getting paid to teach others about audio engineering and inspiring the next generation of sound wizards and audiophiles is a win-win. It may require patience and a brush-up on your communication skills, but the opportunity to share your passion with others and get paid for it is worth it.

There are several ways you can monetize this side hustle. You can reach out to local high schools and colleges for part-time work or guest lecturing work. High schools often look for speakers who can provide career guidance in a particular area.

You can create and sell online courses with platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and Teachable, or tutor locally and online with tutoring platforms.

Another way to increase your household income as an audio educator is to earn money with a website or blog. You can publish tutorials and guides and monetize with affiliate marketing, sponsored content, lead generation, display ads, online course sales, etc.

The same strategy would work on YouTube, and you can offer exclusive content and one-on-one session through Patreon.

Of course, consulting would also fall under the umbrella of an audio educator. Identify the topics you are most knowledgeable and passionate about, and start offering classes locally or on online platforms like Udemy or Coursera.

Starting Cost Estimate: $0 to $1,000. If you're teaching online, your starting costs might be minimal. However, you might need to invest in a good microphone for recording your lessons and possibly a webcam if you're doing video lessons. If you're creating online courses, there might be some hosting and outsources fees as well.

Resources: Udemy, Coursera

10. Freelance Sound Design

Many of these side hustles can blend together and work in combination with one another. For example, if you’re putting field recordings on Pond5, you can combine that with ambient soundscapes on YouTube that help people relax.

And if you’re doing that, you can also off freelance sound design.

This is tougher to break into because “the money” is in larger production companies that make movies, games, and produce theatre performances.

However, there may be a space opening for freelance sound designers between the cracks of big production companies and self-produced media.

Artificial Intelligence is bringing consumers studio-level audio, video, and coding capabilities. Therefore, there’s a strong possibility that we’ll see much smaller independent productions making movies, video games, and other multi-media experiences where freelance work is in higher demand.

Again, this is something you can explore in addition to some other side hustles on this list.  

Starting Cost Estimate: $500 – $2000. This includes the cost of a decent computer (if you don’t already have one), professional audio editing software like Pro Tool (which can cost between $100 – $600 for an annual license), and possibly some additional sound libraries.

Resources: Splice, Avid Pro Tools

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