Can a Freelancer Take a Sabbatical?

The other day a musician friend asked me this question – 

Can a freelancer take a sabbatical? 

I absolutely LOVED hearing this question and I have a lot of thoughts to share on this. 

My first question, though, is about the question itself. What makes you feel that you need permission or a special circumstance to do this? 


Have you heard this one before? 

Musicians never take a day off. 

Sure, some musicians have the philosophy that you never go a day without practicing music because your skills will immediately deteriorate. 

Some of the best musicians I’ve ever encountered take lots of time away from their work. 

  • Symphony musicians that take a month or two off in the summer and work their way back to playing before the season starts. 
  • Singers that are very careful about incorporating vocal rest into their routines. 
  • Musicians of all kinds that step away from the studio to live life to the fullest so that they have more to say with their music when they return. 

As a freelance musician, there are even more concerns about taking an extended period away from music. 

  • Can I afford this time without pay? 
  • If I turn down this job offer, will they ever ask me again? 
  • If I stop posting on social media, will everyone forget I’m a musician for hire? 

So how can you take a sabbatical? We’ll look at the nuts and bolts below but first…


You can take a sabbatical for any reason you feel is right! 

Here are a few signs that you might benefit from this time away from freelancing. 

  • You’re burnt out. You feel overworked and overwhelmed. You’re tired and need to refresh over a longer period of time than a vacation. 
  • You’re bored. Work just isn’t interesting in the way it used to be. You feel like you’re doing the same things in the same ways. 
  • You can’t access your creativity. Music is a creative career but for a long time, you’ve been feeling like you’re in an endless slog. 
  • You have a project, a new field, or a new adventure that’s calling to you and you’d like to try it out for a while. 


A sabbatical has the potential to be so much more powerful than a vacation. 

During this extended time, you have the opportunity to delve into a project, learn a new skill, try out a different kind of work, or find your own inspiration. 

The possibilities are truly endless but here are a few examples of sabbaticals that have been life-changing for the musicians that took them. 

  • Traveling to a new country and learning a unique musical tradition from indigenous musicians. 
  • Taking an internship at a booking agency to learn everything that goes into booking and contracting concerts. 
  • Renting a cabin in the woods and writing a book that is helpful for both colleagues and students. 

All of the examples above can broaden and enhance your music career, make you more marketable, and potentially transform your future.  


This all sounds fantastic but how can you do this as a freelancer? After all, there is no college paying your salary for your semester off! 

One of the hardest parts about being a freelancer is the dreaded slow season. 

Wherever you are, there is probably a time of year when work dries up and you spend a lot of time hoping for a call to come in. 

If you can predict this time of year, now is the perfect time to plan ahead for a sabbatical during this month or months. 

Gear up your work and double down during the busy season when you can to save up for future time off. 

You can also find ways to make a sabbatical low cost or even pay you! 

A sabbatical can mean stepping away from your daily routine and learning something new or trying out something different. Can you work for hire in a new way while you learn and explore? 

Jump right in and help out while you’re learning! Maybe you write your book in the mornings and try out that dream of working in a village store in the country in the afternoons. Become the summer intern for that booking agency or film composer. 

Most of us take a sabbatical to get in touch with our creativity. Put that adventurous spirit and feeling of creativity into funding this important time! 


Here is the heart of the issue I think my friend was truly asking when they asked, can a freelancer take a sabbatical? 

Is it safe to step away from my music business for a period of time? 

I’ll say this, taking a sabbatical as a freelance musician takes courage. 

Yes, you might miss a great opportunity or an unexpected windfall. You might end up as the second call on that list to someone who is available right now. It might take some time to gear up your marketing and remind your clients you are available. 

The question that only you can answer is, is it worth it to me? 

Do I see so much potential in this new direction, this expanded skill, in refreshing and renewing my zest for music and life, that I want to take that leap? 


Did you get excited reading this article thinking about the sabbatical you’d like to take? 

If you’re thinking about taking the time to set your career in a new direction, launching a project, or trying something new, you don’t have to go it alone. We can help! 

Find all the support and educational resources you need to make that music career expansion with us at the iCadenza Insider’s Club. Want to learn more? Drop us a line at We’d love to hear about the new adventure you have in mind!

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