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Second Shift: A babysitter's club of musicians

Find out how musicians make a living in New York City.

Amy Birnbaum

Our Second Shift series features people working more than one job to make ends meet, because the rent is too damn high. This week, meet Amy, a musician with a mission to help her music-making peers. Want to be featured? Email emily.laurence@metro.us.

Name: Amy Birnbaum
Age: 33
Residency: Upper West Side, New York
Lives: Alone
Number of jobs: 2

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How did you get into music publishing?

My passion in music helped me land this job.I have a background in music and Broadway production and had just come off the road co-managing the Broadway show "FELA!"What I do is help bring new artists to our company, all the social media and marketing, work with branding and help plan our events. I wear a lot of different hats.

Are you a musician yourself?

I am. I went to college for music and I was on a record label; I still sing [at gigs]. But living in New York City, it's so hard to make a living as a performer. I knew I couldn't give it up, so instead I started singing on the side and working in music publishing. Being a musician is often a difficult lifestyle for paying bills orhaving health insurance.

What is your other job?

I run a babysitting agency. When I was a musician, I used to [make ends meet] by babysitting and families would ask me if I knew of other sitters. I started recommending other musicians I knew to these families. Then, I started this little business that catered to my peers who are in the arts. The families love them because they can tutor and teach dance or singing to the kids.And the musicians love it because they are helping children while being able to pay their bills.

How do you make money from it?

I honestly make very little money from it. It's more of a way for me to help other musicians. Families pay me a very small one-time fee to match them with a sitter. The money that I do make I use to put on productions, and all the money from those productions goes to pay the musicians who take part and is also donated to a charity I support, HopeNorth Uganda. I do a few shows a year that raise thousands of dollars for HopeNorth Uganda.

The work you do isn't about money; it's about helping other people.

Definitely. I'm so happy doing what I love. If someone offered me a rather banal job with an amazing salary, I wouldn't take it. I need to work in music. It's everything that runs through me.

Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence

 
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