#1
I have a question about my future. It has to do with music, so that's why I am posting it here.

Background - I have been playing bass going on two years and have noticed recently, I am getting better. I jam with my friend who is a straight blues man and it has helped my playing tremendously. I am going to a community college (first year done and second year coming up soon). I live at home and have a car, job, and a stable life. I have always wanted to live the college life of parties (not all the time, but enough to have fun), living away from my own, and meeting new people. However, after high school, I did not want to get into the massive debt my friends are in, so I chose a local community college ten minutes down the road. I do not feel like college is for me, but rather a chore. Right now, after I finish my second year, I will be done. I do not have a major and no clue what I want to do with my life except definitely have music be a big part in it. If there is one thing I learned in college it is if you do not enjoy something, then why put the energy and effort into it( thank you romantic period of American literature )

Option 1 - I can choose to move to a live-away school and further my education. With that comes a loss of band possibilities. I am in a pop-rock outfit and I have finally met a group of musicians that are serious as I about music. They have better than average recording equipment also and some local hook-ups. My friends say I will get band mates easily at college and could form one there, but during the summer, we'd be out of reach most likely and even after we graduate meaning nothing can really progress for me except my experience. I would also lose my weekly income from my job making it difficult to buy strings when needed and other things(I had to empty my bank account for a recent vehicle purchase).

Option 2 - I can stay local and try to get hook-ups. I could progress my current band further and maybe get somewhat locally big. I would only have an Associates as opposed to a Bachelors, but I have a job, car, and steady income. Basically everything stays simple and easy to manage while Option 1 kind of complicates everything.

To summarize : I feel if I go away, I will lose a two year jump start on any band I could pursue, but education is important even if I do not feel it is.

Sorry for the long post, but any advice would be appreciated.
#3
Get an education. It's really hard to get to a point where you're consistent making money by playing in a band. Do you think that you could support a family on your current income? There are countless bands out there that are have a lot of talent but don't make any money. You need to have a back up plan in case your band doesn't make it. I'm not saying don't pursue your ambitions, just don't bank your entire future on it. You need to have a back up plan in case your band doesn't make it.
Last edited by Goose Catcher at May 27, 2010,
#4
Why don't you study something related to music then? It doesn't have to be performance necessarily and you'll meet a lot of people that share your same interests. You could also take lessons privately on the side if your college offers them, even if they are only worth a couple of credits you'll be enjoying it and getting better at playing.

It's easier to lean on the second option since it's relatively the safest one, but what if that band falls apart for any reason sometime soon? Tons of bands come close but not all the way. You might luck out, but if you don't what's your backup for option 2? It was a smart move that at least you'll have the associate's so you won't be that bad off in case the worst happens.
#5
You have to keep in mind that there is literally a major for everything out there. Interested in 14th century feudalism? Post-war European poetry? Irrigating potatoes? No matter what you are interested in, you can study it and make a living in it. So my recommendation is to really think about what you like, and then go and study it. Don't do a major because you think it'll make money. That is the same logic that drives people into law school, and guess what? 50% of those who pass the bar exam are doing something else within 5 years.
I realize debt sucks. I will never get why American tuition is so ludicrously expensive (roughly ten to fifteen times more expensive than here in Canada, for an equivalent education). But you have to think about it as an investment that pays off over time. Unless, of course, you can study what you're interested in at the community college. That's what you'll have to look into.

Do not base a future on music, especially rock music.
#6
I was in your exact position 14 years ago. I decided to go to school to study music and found psychology and marketing instead. I still play damn near every day and also have a great career that affords me the ability to buy the equipment I want, record, gig, take time off, etc. Couldn't be happier.

I also credit my music studies (improvisation in particular) for giving me much of the intellectual edge I have while negotiating....
#7
I find it amusing that your choice not to go to college was the debt, and you didn't want to be broke, so you became a musician

You can work, play in bands and study at the same time. What you do forfeit by studying is the chance to make it massive, that's all.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#8
There are plenty of top musicians with degrees and even post graduate qualifications. You could even make a fair argument that the whole of rock music gestated in the English tertiary colleges of the sixties.

For a musician college involves being surrounded by thousands of intelligent, possibly creative people of your own age. Some of them will be musicians and most of them want to hear music.

You play bass and bass is always in demand so you are unlikely to be out of a berth for long and may get the opportunity to play in a variety of bands.

You also know in your heart of hearts that the chance of 'making it' is pretty low. Hard work and talent helps but luck is the biggest factor unless you want to be a session musician, in which case you need to be supremely talented and hardworking. There are so many successful bands out there with lazy, mediocre musicians and so many brilliant, dedicated ones working the pub scene that you have to realise you can't plan for success.

Don't use music as an excuse not to go to college, don't worry about the debt, you'll have a lifetime of extra earnings and choices in return.

Go to college, have fun, play music there. It isn't either/or.
#9
I am about to get an M.S. in Statistics. If I had to do it all over again, I would have definitely concentrated more on music. I pretty much gave it up throughout college for no real reason. I thought it would be impossible for me to ever join a real band and actually make money doing it, even though I played damn near all the time. I don't know why I thought that.

Now that I am older I realize how simple it is to make things happen. You just have to get out there and do it yourself and work hard. That's it. (Of course you have to work hard doing things that will get you closer to your goal, a concept lost on most people)

Please don't rely on anyone else, or "hook ups". People are unreliable, and only want what is best for themselves. I know that sounds cynical, but it is true. I have lost all faith in everyone except myself and a few very close friends.

But, times are changing quick. And if I were you I'd definitely have a back up plan of some sort. So I would go to school and learn something that you could get a steady job doing, and make decent money. In my opinion the music industry seems to be going down hill. The whole concept of an album is being lost on the masses, people just want to download singles, voices are autotuned, everything seems so over produced. I don't know if any of that is actually true on the whole, it just seems like it to me.

In summary: Go to college, keep playing music, if you ever decide what you are truly passionate about, go make it happen for yourself. Or you will be like me, 2 degrees and I have no idea what to do now. I just have a monster sized school debt load.
#10
Thanks everyone. I think I am going to go to school about an hour away. I'm going to live there and it's right outside of Boston.