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A Side Hustle For Guitarists: Make Money Online

by | Feb 18, 2023

Unleash Your Guitar Skills and Make Money: A Lucrative Side Hustle for Guitarists

guitar transcriber side hustle for guitarists

Did you know that the online guitar education market is booming?

From digital guitar courses to e-books and PDF courses, a wealth of instructional content is available online to guitar students.

However, with the production of all this content comes a huge demand for transcribers.

Every guitar course creator needs someone to create tabs for their instructional material.

Guitar tablature, or tabs for short, is a form of musical notation that indicates where to place fingers on the guitar fretboard.

Every piece of instructional content for guitar learners comes with a transcription that includes standard music notation and tablature.

And let me tell you a secret: creators don’t like writing TABS, and some don’t even have the necessary software skills to create tabs.

As a guitarist and music teacher, you can jump on this opportunity to grow a profitable side hustle!

The Online Guitar Education Market is Booming: Here’s How You Can Benefit as a Transcriber

guitar transcriber writing tab

Here’s a little inside scoop on how online guitar education websites and creators operate.

For each playing example on the guitar, there has to be an accompanying guitar tab.

Every single exercise, chord, riff, or solo must be transcribed and notated in software so that students can learn it using tabs.

Let’s say it’s a digital guitar course on blues guitar.

The playing examples can be either in audio only or in video format.

Nowadays, the video format is more common.

Tabs are unique in that they represent what’s being played, exactly note-for-note. Tabs include the guitar fingering used in the instructional video or audio that’s being transcribed.

So if there’s a video of a blues guitar turnaround lick, the tablature needs to match not just the notes, but also where those notes are fingered on the fretboard and which fingers are being used to fret them down.

Additionally, tabs include many other details, like embellishments and other techniques used to perform the piece.

So it’s no surprise that many online guitar educators need someone to take on the responsibility of creating tabs.

Here’s a section of the standard business operating process of guitar content production, where there’s a space for you to make a profit:

  • The teacher records the course videos, backing tracks, and other content
  • Video and audio files with parts that need transcribing are sent to the transcriber (You!)
  • Transcriber creates notation in desired software and sends back finished transcription files in multiple formats
  • Content is put together into a digital course/e-book / online guitar instructional product
  • Content is published

As you can see in this process, many vital tasks in the business process for producing guitar instructional content rely on transcriptions to be delivered first.

Everything that follows, without the guitar tabs, is blocked, as tabs are often edited into videos, included on e-book pages, or programmed into learning software, etc.

Get Paid to Transcribe Guitar: The Huge Demand for Transcribers in Online Guitar Instruction

earn money transcribing guitar

There is a considerable demand for guitar transcribers that can provide accurate transcriptions, are quick and reliable, and, most importantly, offer fast turnaround times!

Take, for example, TrueFire.com – they publish tons of guitar courses. Just imagine the demand and scope of work the team of transcribers involved with them are taking on.

In most cases, guitar education websites and online businesses do not hire an in-house person to do guitar transcription. Instead, this work is outsourced for practical reasons and also to be able to handle massive workload with multiple transcribers.

Transcribing Guitar Music: How to Start and Succeed in the Online Market

guitar transcription side hustle

If you want to succeed in this side hustle as a guitarist, the first thing is to get good at transcribing guitar lines.

You need to have a good ear and knowledge of music theory.

Next, you need to learn everything about the software you will use to write tabs.

This step is crucial as you must be able to deliver to your clients and do it on tight deadlines.

Attention to detail is a must.

The guitar tabs you’ll be creating must be 100% accurate and reflect what is being played in the video (or audio).

This is common logic, but don’t be fooled that “no one will notice that one ghost note you didn’t get right”.

These tabs are used for education, and students will study them to learn guitar.

There is zero chance of getting away with a tab that’s not 100% accurate.

Students will report your mistakes, and the client will know it.

To succeed, make sure you provide top-notch tablature.

That’s the #1 reason most of the transcribers out there will simply fail.

You can find so many transcribers on Fiverr, Upwork, and other freelancing platforms – but only a select few a good!

If you can be among those few that guitar education businesses can rely upon, you’ll be surprised how quickly you can grow your side hustle to possibly a full-time online business.

From Guitar Teacher to Transcriber: How Your Music Theory Knowledge Can Help You Make Money

guitar teacher and transcriber

As I mentioned earlier, the devil is in the details.

As a guitar music teacher, you already have a huge advantage among the majority of your competitors out there:

You are a guitar teacher, and you have excellent music theory knowledge.

For example, you’ll realize that a lot of freelance transcribers out there offering services don’t actually know music theory that well, or can even read standard music notation.

This results in non-accurate, amateur transcriptions they create.

While the tab part might be accurate in relation to what is being played in the given guitar instructional video, there is a high chance that backing track chords might be wrong, that the key is not written correctly, and that the accidentals on notes in standard music notation are not right.

Professional creators that make a living from teaching guitar online can’t make compromises.

If you can be the one that can provide professional, highly accurate tabs that are sound in music theory and all the little things that matter a lot – then you can be among the top %10 of those who make the most profit from this side hustle!

When you get your first client, you’ll get a lot more recurring work if you deliver high-quality transcriptions and do it quickly.

Guitar Pro, Transcribe!, Sibelius and Finale: The Best Software for Transcribing Guitar Music

best guitar transcription software

When starting out, you should learn one software at a time.

Become proficient at writing tabs in the software you choose to master before moving on to learn others.

You need to become an expert in software usage and features and become highly productive in writing the actual tabs on the computer.

Let’s check out the popular options:

Guitar Pro

This is the most popular guitar tabs software out there.

Many clients will require you to use Guitar Pro software for transcribing.

One of the advantages of Guitar Pro is its ease of use.

It has a user-friendly interface and a wide range of functions, making it an excellent choice for beginners and advanced users.

Additionally, Guitar Pro has a large community of users, which means plenty of resources are available for learning and troubleshooting.

Using this software, you can create accurate and good-looking guitar tabs and export them in various formats, such as PNG, PDF, XML, etc.

One significant benefit of specializing in Guitar Pro tablature software is its compatibility with many other tools online guitar education businesses might utilize, such as SoundSlice.


Sibelius is a widely used music notation software that can also be used for writing guitar tablature.

Unlike Guitar Pro software, which is focused on guitar tablature, Sibelius is a popular choice for music professionals due to its ability to create complex orchestration arrangements and use virtual instruments to create high-quality audio recordings.

One of the advantages of Sibelius is its versatility – it can be used to notate music for a wide range of instruments.

However, one downside of Sibelius is that it can have a steep learning curve, particularly for those new to music notation software.

Be prepared that some of your clients might ask you to use this software for producing guitar tabs.

The output files look very professional, which is highly regarded software for transcribing music.

In the end, it all depends on what the client asks for.

You should learn this software to get higher-paying gigs, as this software is more expensive – it indicates that clients will be ready to pay higher commissions for expert guitar transcribers that use Sibelius.


This software is probably the least popular among clients, but some might prefer you to use this software for creating guitar tabs.

It is a versatile software that can handle various music notation needs and produce high-quality sheet music and guitar tablature.

Additionally, Finale is known for its flexibility and customization options, allowing users to adjust the software to fit their needs.

As with Sibelius, proficiently using this tool has a steep learning curve.

Must Use Tool For Guitar Transcription: Transcribe!

Here we have a multi-tool every guitar transcriber should have in their toolbox.

You will use this software extensively.

It allows you to slow down, loop, and analyze audio recordings, making it easier to transcribe the music accurately.

Additionally, Transcribe! has a range of tools that make it easy to isolate specific recording sections, such as a guitar solo or riff, and loop them until you have transcribed them accurately.

When you have trouble identifying the note pitch, there’s a built-in frequency spectrum analysis tool to help identify notes and chords.

This is a must-have tool in your software library as it will help you speed up the process of transcribing guitar parts.

Every Guitar Course Creator Needs a Good Transcriber (And Why You Should Be The One!)

side hustle for guitarist transcription tabs

Digital courses are blowing up in the market of online guitar education, and you can use this opportunity to start a new side hustle.

Eventually, as you get good reviews and a reputation from working with clients, you can expand this venture to a full-time business if you want to.

The most difficult is to get started and get that first client.

But, as you prove yourself reliable, deliver high-quality work every time, and respect deadlines, it will become easier to attract new clients.

You’ll be getting a lot of repeat customers in this type of online service-based business.

Here’s a quick idea of how to get your first clients: 

Make a list of 10 clients producing guitar instructional content regularly, and get in touch with them via email.

Send them more details about you, and you can offer a free demo transcription.

That way, they don’t have any risk associated with trying you out.

Out of those ten clients you get in touch with, there’s a chance at least one will respond to you.

Remember that with this kind of side hustle for guitarists, the quality of work is the most important.

You need to be professional and deliver excellent and accurate transcription files.

Make yourself stand out from all the noise on the internet, and become the go-to person for guitar transcriptions.

As this side hustle for guitarists picks up, consider growing it into a full-blown online business for musicians.

I’ve written a comprehensive guide where I share my story and different ways you can make money online as a music teacher. Get it below – it’s Free to download and you can read it on your phone:


Click the button below to get instant access to this printable +70 page guide and transform your teaching NOW!

Alright – I hope you’ll find this side hustle idea for guitarists something work looking into if you want to setup a new income source as a side hustle.

It’s always the simple ideas that work the best.

Question for you: Do you have experience transcribing music? If not, why?

Post in the comments.

All the best,


Founder, MusicTeachingBiz.com