im 17, ive been playing guitar for 4 years. my dream is to have a music career. unlike alot of people i dont care about how famouse i am, i just want to do what i enjoy the most and get paid for it. my family seems to think i dream to much, but is a music career really dreaming too big? in this economy is it really realistic to strive for just a music career. what music careers are there that isnt extremely hard to get to.
if you really want to do it, you'll have to work for it. work hard. very hard. it's not easy to make a living from just music.

careers? teacher, session musician, writer, composer, producer, engineer, live sound, roadie, maybe getting into the business side of it.
The thing to remember is that, psychology is the biggest hurdle when it comes to being a musician. Writing music that people will pay for is something that for a lot of people depends on big sacrifices, if you want it enough then you will make the right decisions when they come.

I see myself in that paragraph you wrote, strange as it sounds. Living in west london, I'm 20, and I have yet to figure out whether it's remotely possible for me to commit to it enough and still survive financially. But, in my view, though I'm trying not to be theatrical here and stay as realistic as possible, I don't see any value in a life where I give up songwriting and performing for anything else, but I do see value in giving up everything else for it.

To a certain extent.

Keep your ego within your sights, and you'll make the right choices.

Progress in your songwriting as much as you can, keep putting yourself in environments where the music is, surround yourself with musicians if you can, and keep yourself available when the opportunities arise, however small or seemingly insignificant.

Long post, I apologize, I just have no idea how to simplify the answers to this question

Edit: Also, to be more relevant, I would add that many musicians can make a fair living out of doing gigs without being famous. It's just an odd thing to believe, cause we have no idea who the hell they are
Last edited by voodoochild23 at May 29, 2010,
Cool, man and I have to say that it isn't an unreacheable dream. Many people (mostly parents, lol) think that being a musician is to play in front of thousands of people, be famous and be freaking rich, that way it sounds pretty hard to get, but even that happens.

I wanna be a musician too. I've talked with real musicians, and they told me about their life and I felt very comfortable, beacuse, if you have a REAL musical education, there's a lot of jobs you can get, and get paid very good as well. Obviously, it's a lot more difficult to get in a band and make the big bucks, the big deal is the classical music or jazz (belive me, if you like classical music and have been to a concert, you'll get impressed by the lots of people that pay a reasonable ammount of cash for it), anyway, the more variety you can play, the more jobs you can get.

This guy I talked with is a trumpeter, and told me, as I said, he has a lot of jobs playing in churchs, events and so on, and many call him to play, so he doesn't have to look for the jobs all the time, cool huh?

In my case I'll study classical guitar, beacuse with that you obtain a total mastery of the instrument, as well as a solid muscial theory education, so I can work as a studio musician and maybe get my own gigs too (with a thrash metal band!! lol).

So, keep practicing and get a good school, with recognition. Never give up! if your family does not understand, don't care too much, it's pretty common if that happens, in my case they even like the idea, but if it's not your, just be pacient

By the way, read this post, you'll find it very helpful.


Good luck!
If you do pursue such a path, make sure you have a backup you can fall back on. I'd say going to college or university is still very important, there are lots of opportunities to still be surrounded by music, or doing what you love, and still make a decent living.
Man, music is a decent living, if you take the right decisions, you can live entirely of music, so don't worry about, at first yeah, you will need a back up, i disagree with many guys in here ¬¬
Here's a response I gave a while back to a very similar thread....

this from a 39-year old who was in your same shoes back many moons ago....

About being a musician:

I think if you have hopes of making a career in music, you'd best make that your plan. If you get a big fat record deal and get famous, then awesome. If not, you're still following the course you've planned for - to be a professional musician.

First: You have no pretenses of being a rock star. That's fine. Do you know what it's like to be a full-time musician? I mean... *really* know?

There can be really decent money in playing gigs. It's a tough road, though, full of balancing business with pleasure. Weddings and corporate gigs pay really well. You'll walk out of there with a few hundred in your pocket for only a few hours work. Problem is.... how many hours do you work in a week? Solution = hustle, hustle, hustle.... you've got to be out there pounding away to get those gigs.

Of course, weddings are generally only on weekends. If you're really, really, really lucky you can round out your week with corporate events. Problem#2 is..... you want to play Disturbed, not Neil Diamond. Solution = suck it up. Don't bite the hand that feeds. You know what side your bread is buttered on. Some people call it selling out. Professional musicians call it making a living. Smile and sing along.... "Sweeee-eeet Car-o-liiiine.... ba DA-ba-ba...." Sure, don't laugh all the way to the bank, but at least all the way to the grocery store. Geez.... that's still only a few gigs a week. Sounds sweet as a teenager, but eventually you have to take on the real world. "when you're an adult, it's no cliche.... it's the truth..." (go ahead... identify that quote... )

So how do you round it out....well.... If you go to school for music and get a classical background, you can open yourself up for solo/duo gigs outside of your wedding band for other functions, corporate events, etc. People will hire a classical guitarist for whatever. Since there's nobody to share the money with, you do okay. Of course.... still no Disturbed. You're still sucking it up playing some version of Hotel California 'by request' (or even not....) right along side your Sor, Tarrega, Dowland, etc. That gives you a couple more shows.... but you still need a 'real job' as an adult - that is, one that pays for rent/mortgage, food, car, etc.

The poverty line for a family of four in the USA (I'm not American either, but they provide a handy bench mark) is $21, 200. For an individual, it is $10 400. That's about a thousand a month... just to live above the poverty line. Another point of comparison... take an average city.... Cleveland Ohio. Rent for an average apartment seems to be about $600. Then food, phone, insurance, gas, hydro, internet, spending, etc. Yikes.

So wadda ya do? Well... you can rent yourself out to bands as a hired guy. Need a guitarist? I'm your guy! I'll do it for $XXX. Artistic freedom? Nope. Now you're totally selling your soul. More Sweet Caroline. Maybe some Shania Twain or Dwight Yokum. Maybe some Bob Seger and Tom Petty. Who knows, really? Of course, you have to be able to sit down and learn these tunes on very short notice, and know them well enough to gig on them with one rehearsal if you're lucky.

Of course, you can't always count on those. Take on a few students (remember that hustle thing?) to help round things out. So, now you're above the poverty line. You've got sporadic hours that seem to pretty reliably fill up your evenings and weekends, and see you working quite late. At least you get to sleep in. Or not. Because tomorrow you have to learn some Green Day and Blink 182 and U2 for a cover band on Friday, and you don't have all day because some kid is coming over at 4:30 for his lesson and another at 5:30, and then you have to eat and start getting ready to head out for your gigs. And then at some point, you have your OWN kids and family to work into that crazy schedule!! (of course, with the screwed up hours you keep, you may wind up being single for the rest of your natural life... "Wanna go on a date? How's Tuesday afternoon for you?"..... another career hazard!)

Still sound like fun? If it does, you have what it takes to be a professional musician. If it sounds pretty crappy, then..... keep music as a hobby. Or incorporate it into some other career path. (that's what I did....)

One thing I'll add here is that, here is what happens with pursuing a career "to fall back on" via the college route:

You meet tons of girls. You meet a girl that you like best out of all of them. (for me, it was a couple years after university, but whatevs) You finish school. Inevitably, you find yourself with a girl, a job ticket into a career, and a girl who wants to get married.... and so do you. And you have the means to make money and start enjoying things. So you take that job that you've worked hard to get.

Music really does become something that you do in your spare time. You still have to make it a priority, or else you will have no spare time in which to justify making music, and then it gets forgotten. If you make it a priority (and make sure your partner is supportive of your music), then you can make it work. Because you're not always going to have very much spare time - especially when kids come... unless you make time to do it.

I know all this seems light-years away, but it comes a heck of a lot faster than you think it will. Trust me.... I spent a few years laughing about someone who said, when I was 23, that "30 is just around the corner." And after what seemed like only a couple of years, it became eerily UNfunny.

Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
I personally have been inspired by the massive a mount of teachers I've had. Good and bad.

The ones I really wanna be like are the ones that gig every now and then (at least weekly), get to write their own pieces and have them performed, and the rest of the time teach people who really want to learn.

My ideal career would include performing at like jazz bar or recording as a session musician 3 nights week, writing my own scores for short film or advertising or just for performance, private guitar and music theory teaching, and during maybe 4 or 5 days a week, teaching at multiple schools (theory and guitar).

I myself think it'll be super hard, but I'll love it and I think it is realistically achievable for me. I've already got a heap of contacts, already started teaching, and already written many pieces that have been performed.