Over the weekend I attended my wife's work Christmas party and had a great conversation with one of her colleagues - a designer who also has a history as a musician. As we traded 'war' stories about various gigs we'd played, the trials and tribulations of loading in gear before soundcheck and loading it back out 7 hours later once the show had been played, and the dream of walking on to a stage to play without any setup required, we reflected on what music had given back to us in the worst possible metric - money.
It's a cruel truth that it's incredibly difficult to earn a living as a performing original musician. There are plenty of reasons why, for example:
There is good news.
It is absolutely possible to earn a living playing music if that's what you would like to do. And the way to do it is simple - work hard and be versatile. I have a few friends in Brisbane who play two or three shows a week - one show might be a solo set doing covers on an afternoon at a bar, one show might be a blues jam for a few hours at a different bar that night, the next day might be a show with a different covers band, while also playing the occasional show promoting their own original songs with their own band. It usually means lots of late nights and lots of weekend work, but if you love it, you love it.
That versatility is key. To be able to comfortably slot in to multiple genres and situations and feel comfortable makes you far more employable as a musician than someone who can only do one thing.
If your dream is to earn a living making music or performing music, I'll be happy to have an honest chat with you about the career opportunities that there are, and how best to prepare for those, whether as a performer, educator, recording technician, repairer, retailer or promoter. I'm not going to give you false promises, just the cold hard facts.
If you want it, you'll have to work hard for it.
And for those of you who simply love playing music as a hobby - congratulations, it's a wonderful hobby to have, and I'm very happy to have you learning from me.
Things I've been watching/listening to this week: