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The Heat Beat: The music of Phoenix Radio and beyond: What does it mean for an artist to have a side job?

by Jess Szabo’, Arts Writer

Fans of the music of Phoenix Radio…and beyond…know that the music they love is brought to them by members of their own community. Even the most well known music is presented by a program host or DJ. On some shows, they may even hear the work of local musicians. Other local artists may be featured on a favorite Phoenix Radio talk show, or in the accompanying newspaper, The Utica Phoenix. And whether you hear about it on the radio or in the paper, or you just hear about it when you meet your favorites from the local music scene around town, they may talk about having a side job, also called a side gig or side hustle. But what does the term mean? And if you are a musician or DJ yourself, and considering a side job, how do you determine if the opportunities you find are a good fit? 

Side jobs may be related to your main work, but they can’t be equally or more important. 

One of the main criticisms of “hustle culture,” the belief that we should be out there working for ourselves, trying to make as much money as possible all the time, is that people become consumed with bringing in cash, and with the work that was supposed to only supplement their income. 

If the work is in your field, and  you would be expected to devote large chunks of your time, invest significant amounts of money, or strongly tie your professional identity to a project or a job, it is not a side job. It is a part of your career, and you will wind up doing the same amount of work that you do in any other part of your career. If the work is outside of your field, but has similar requirements, it is not a “side job.” You have a day job….or another day job. 

Side jobs/side gigs will be work, but they shouldn’t make you miserable.

Any opportunity that promises money will roll in with no effort on your part is a scam. Your side job is going to be a job. You will have to do some work. Even if you decide to run a little side business for yourself, you will make no income if you’re not out there promoting your services to the people who would be interested in those services. But the work should not be making you miserable. The side job is not a good fit for you if it is increasing your stress level, upsetting or nerve-wracking to do, dangerous, or so time consuming that you find yourself neglecting your career or a day job you need to pay your bills. Those who intentionally work on something on the side, with the goal of gradually moving away from their current work and into this new thing are not doing side work. They are building a business. 

Contrary to what you may hear from “side hustle” content creators, a side job is not simply doing what you love in your spare time, and hoping to make money from it someday. 

If you are doing something that is not part of your career in music, and is not a function of your day job, but is just something you enjoy doing in your spare time, you do not have a side job or side gig. You have a hobby. The one and only reason to start a side job is to make extra money. If what you’re doing isn’t something you’re called to do, or something you’ve already been hired to do, and it isn’t making you money, it isn’t a side job or side hustle. 

Asking yourself what you enjoy doing in your spare time is a terrible way to determine the best side job for you. 

This is another claim that’s immensely popular online, in both “side hustle” videos and blog posts, and in groups for people who take on side jobs. But it rarely leads to work that brings in extra income. For a side job to be worthwhile, it needs to be something you either enjoy doing, or at least wouldn’t mind doing, but that also brings in enough income to make doing the work worth your time and effort. 

Remember that not everybody needs a side job.

The plethora of groups, videos, blogs, and other online content devoted to bringing in additional money makes it seem like anyone who does not continue to work outside of their normally scheduled work hours is lazy or unfocused. This is far from true. If the current work of your career and/or your career plus a day job is bringing in enough money to meet your financial needs and wants, you do not need to start a side job. 

Doing extra work on the side can be a great way to bring in extra funds. Just make sure to choose work that enhances and improves your life, rather than work that only creates additional problems. 

Jess Szabo’ is a writing teacher, novelist, and arts writer from Utica. Visit her website for more writing for and about local artists. 


Jess Szabo
Jess Szabo
Jess Szabo' is a novelist, writing teacher, and content writer for Utica area artists. Her online workspace can be found at

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