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Old 06-19-2013, 04:59 PM   #1
jamesklinger1
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Can You Make a living on being a musician?

My question is simply, Is it possible to make a living being a small musician?
Im 16, and whenever my parents ask me what i want to do with my life, they just laugh at me. But in reality, all i really want to do, and all im good at is playing music. My plan was moving to a bigger city, such as nyc, atlanta, or chicago and play around at small venues, either with a band or solo. Do any of you do this/ is i possible for me?
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:06 PM   #2
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yes

but don't do it as your primary career. go to a good school and pursue something you're interested in that can actually make you some money. making music professionally isn't cheap, and more likely than not you're going to spend more than you make for quite a while.

start off doing it for fun, and if it takes off as a career, great, but don't go around expecting it to just "happen". living is more expensive than ever, especially in big towns, and adding in getting a solid rig and building your skill level up to a pro level before you're "old" you'll be glad you aren't delivering pizzas to make ends meet, especially if you find out music isn't for you and/or want to start a family at some point.
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:19 PM   #3
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I don't really think so. I was listening to NPR the other day and a cellist from the Emerson Quartet (a very popular quartet) said he had to work 8 jobs to make a living. Most of them are probably music oriented but that doesn't mean you still aren't working 8 mother****ing jobs.
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Old 06-19-2013, 05:43 PM   #4
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Yeah, do as Hail said. If your band gets famous, good, but you need to have a backup plan. It's fun to play music so just play it for fun. It's very unlikely that you're going to make a living with it but it's possible. So just don't worry about it too much. Just have fun with your band. It happens if it happens.
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Old 06-19-2013, 06:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesklinger1
My question is simply, Is it possible to make a living being a small musician?
Im 16, and whenever my parents ask me what i want to do with my life, they just laugh at me. But in reality, all i really want to do, and all im good at is playing music. My plan was moving to a bigger city, such as nyc, atlanta, or chicago and play around at small venues, either with a band or solo. Do any of you do this/ is i possible for me?


Most likely, no. Even people in famous bands (unless they're extremely famous) have day jobs, so if you just want to perform for a living, you haven't got a hope in hell. However, if you open your horizons and look into composing (not for everyone), teaching, orchestra work, session work, cover bands, etc, you will be able to make a living. If your dream is to just strap a guitar to your back, wander over to New York and earn money, then you're gonna have a lot of trouble, a lot of disappointment, and, above all, a lot of regrets.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:13 PM   #6
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Yes anyone can. You just need Whiskey, Peanut butter, and Potatoes.

You'll live, and be free.

Be free buddy.

Be free.
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Old 06-19-2013, 08:32 PM   #7
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generally speaking, most people who make their living exclusively as a musician do it through several smaller jobs, as opposed to just playing in a band

its usually a mix of playing in a band, teaching, church musician, playing weddings, cruiseliners, etc etc.
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:50 AM   #8
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so ya wanna be a rock & roll star eh...if your serious..stay in school..get a degree if possible..(even Brian May of Queen got his Phd.) as far as "dreaming" going to NYC...and do what ?? play in the subways with 900 other "buskers"...its not "how good" you play..i know a lot of very good musicians who are broke..its being realistic...forget the "ill be discovered" yeah right..keeping a band together with out a steady cash flow is very difficult..if not impossible .. doing solo gigs at small clubs.."open mike" will not cover the rent..

not to discourage you..but being a PRO musician is ALOT of work...in my past there were a lot of restaurant jobs and odds & ends to pay the rent..and I was doing studio work on and off for 12 yrs..yeah one week $700 the next $75..

get other views from musicians..i don't think you will find too many "all you need is desire" story lines..

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Old 06-20-2013, 11:41 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fallenoath
Yes anyone can. You just need Whiskey, Peanut butter, and Potatoes.

You'll live, and be free.

Be free buddy.

Be free.


Enjoy your protein and micronutrient deficiencies.
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:04 PM   #10
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Can you make a living? Sure can!

It's not particularly easy however. I kinda prefer my own position - professional qualifications, professional wage, no real pressure to fork out for music expenses. Let's just say that my music career didn't pay for my Mesa-Boogie or my Taylor. However it brings in about $200-$300/week for me personally so that ain't bad when paired with my real job.

But if I was just living on that $200/week my life would be not fun. And this is what many musos opt to do for a while until they get over it.
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:46 PM   #11
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I hope so!

I'm trying to do this just now...
I could start a blog on how is going or something, but I'm sure no one would read it!
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Old 06-20-2013, 12:56 PM   #12
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The so-called musicians who do well are people like Pink and Bruno Mars. Look at the top tabs on UG. I consider them entertainers for the tone deaf. So unless you want to do pop & have some luck, then the peope I have seen who enjoy music as a career is working for a cruise line or session musician.
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:21 PM   #13
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Take it one step at a time, right now making a full living off of your music is a lot to ask for, but simply forming a band and writing some tunes should be easy for you to do. Do that, then get some stuff recorded and work on building a fan base.

If you have an established band with recordings and fans, making some money and touring will seem like the obvious thing to do- but there is no way in hell you will make money without making fans and music first!
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Old 06-20-2013, 01:48 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Erc
I don't really think so. I was listening to NPR the other day and a cellist from the Emerson Quartet (a very popular quartet) said he had to work 8 jobs to make a living. Most of them are probably music oriented but that doesn't mean you still aren't working 8 mother****ing jobs.



If you have eight jobs and they're all music related, then you are making a living off of music. Having eight jobs isn't unheard of for most freelance occupations, and it is absolutely true for freelance music work as well.
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Old 06-20-2013, 08:50 PM   #15
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Yes, but even if you're the best guitarist ever, that doesn't mean you'll make a living off of it. You have to appeal to the mainstream public if you're looking to be famous or something.
But it's your choice really. Keep in mind you can never be a truly great musician if you're playing music for other people though.
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Old 06-20-2013, 09:51 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by sweetdude3000
The so-called musicians who do well are people like Pink and Bruno Mars. Look at the top tabs on UG. I consider them entertainers for the tone deaf.


Once you manage to listen to these guys objectively, both Pink and Bruno are top notch singers, songwriters and entertainers.
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Old 06-20-2013, 10:57 PM   #17
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Keep in mind you can never be a truly great musician if you're playing music for other people though.


Yes, because you're only a good musician if you play things that people hate.
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Old 06-21-2013, 12:54 AM   #18
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Keep in mind you can never be a truly great musician if you're playing music for other people though.


Wow this thread sure is attracting a lot of poor advice.

This reminds me of an interview with a muso I read recently where he commented that so many musicians forfeit opportunities on the basis of some nonsense integrity that they think they have. In the end basically if you refuse work you will build a rep as someone who refuses work, and people won't offer you work. So your "integrity" stays, but you end up broke. Perhaps musician "integrity" is being nothing more than a music snob.
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:04 AM   #19
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On topic but off; I want to major in music composition, am I stupid for doing so
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Old 06-21-2013, 03:07 AM   #20
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If you are any good, there's probably more money in teaching than gigging.
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