#1
How sturdy is music at an occupational standpoint? I'm talking about doing gigs around town or even becoming a music teacher or something? I'm just curious as to how you could make money off it if you don't make it "big" per se.
Thanks!
#2
There are harder things to get into. But many things are easier.

If you want a job playing lots of gigs, teaching, doing some session work you need to be good. really, really, good.

Being able to sight-read is a HUGE bonus. Less and less people are learning how these days and it's a very applicable skill. I don't mean sight-read as in, "Here's the music, the gigs next week so have it ready by then." I mean sight-reading as in sitting in on a gig and never having seen the music before and playing it live.

You must have good rhythm. Most players don't know how bad there rhythm is. Record yourself playing a song you know (by yourself, no backing track or metronome) and when you listen to it count out the rhythm, I guarantee you'll be surprised. Especially in songs with swung feels.

Be reliable. Be early for everything. Be easy to get along with.
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#3
Quote by Doodleface
There are harder things to get into. But many things are easier.

If you want a job playing lots of gigs, teaching, doing some session work you need to be good. really, really, good.

Being able to sight-read is a HUGE bonus. Less and less people are learning how these days and it's a very applicable skill. I don't mean sight-read as in, "Here's the music, the gigs next week so have it ready by then." I mean sight-reading as in sitting in on a gig and never having seen the music before and playing it live.

You must have good rhythm. Most players don't know how bad there rhythm is. Record yourself playing a song you know (by yourself, no backing track or metronome) and when you listen to it count out the rhythm, I guarantee you'll be surprised. Especially in songs with swung feels.

Be reliable. Be early for everything. Be easy to get along with.


that's just the answer i was looking for! thanks!
#4
Here's a response I gave a while back to a very similar thread....

this from a 41-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.

CT
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.
#5
Quote by kfeild
... or even becoming a music teacher or something? .


For the love of God, and for the sake of the sanity of your family, your friends, your students, me, and even yourself, if you do not feel "called" to teach..... DON'T DO IT!! If you learn one thing about teaching in your entire life, let it be this: If you feel "called" to do it, then do whatever it takes to get there. If you are going into it for the wrong reasons, go do something easier that you will actually enjoy. Dig ditches. Slave away in a cubicle for the man. Anything but teach.

I am a teacher. I consider myself one of the lucky minority among us who goes to work every day and says "I love my job." Those who go into it thinking along the lines of, "I'm going to get this so-easy job and make a ton of money... I'll work six hours a day and get summers off, blah, blah, blah...." get chewed up and spit out the other end within the first two years if they're lucky. If they're not lucky, they get chewed up and chewed up and chewed up day after day after endless day after year after year after endless miserable effing year.

It is a hugely demanding job. With huge government pressure to increase standardized test scores, dwindling budgets, and all sorts of other blah, blah, blah, it can really wear on you - unless you are sure it is something you really want to do. Fourteen years into the profession and I'm still lucky to find time to use the bathroom many days, never mind actually sit down and eat a lunch.

Money is good, but it doesn't start off that great. Given that your first years are the hardest (you have to find your rhythm, if you will), and you are making not any more money than your friends who work on a no-name assembly line, where you take home hours of work and they don't, where you are accountable to a whole host of interested parties and they mostly don't have to give a crap about anything so long as they show up and insert widget A into widget B, it can be disheartening.

Holidays are good, but I know people who work in media or who work on assembly lines or whatever who still get 8-10 weeks holidays. Difference is, they get to choose when they take theirs and I don't. People forget that.

You want a *very* real perspective on all that free time you will have to do your own music in the evenings and in the summer time, while you "just work during the day to support doing your own thing" for the rest of the time? Watch Mr. Holland's Opus. VERY real. Life happens, and teaching becomes a HUGE part of your life, for the person who cares enough about it to do a good job. If you haven't seen it, Mr. Holland has a family and teaches and tries to work on this symphony that he wants to finish. He finally finishes it around the time he retires.

CT
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.
#6
This thread has been done many, many times. I'll just state my standpoint and say "music sure is fun, but this doesn't mean it's all you have to do". Most people will ask this music career question when they are still in school, living with their parents and no expenses to talk of whatsoever. The advice given to me by my parents was "keep your options open". You have no idea what you want to do, so make sure that by the time you end school you are open to any opportunity that may come your way.

For me, I really, really enjoyed playing guitar through school. But I really loved maths and problem solving too. And I thought English/Literature was crap, but enjoyed making creative arguments just to get a rise out of the teacher and fellow students.

It became pretty clear to me though as I ended school that music was something I never wanted to take seriously, not as a career anyway. Music to me is, and always has been, an escape from "real work". It's my playtime, it's a reward for working. For that reason I never actually applied to any music university, instead I was offered every course you could think of, ranging from astrophysics and forensic chemistry to medicine and law. As most people on this forum know, I ended up choosing law.

So fast forward a couple of years and I'm waiting in my office which has a massive desk and a fridge. Pay is good, I have no problem paying rent and buying random stuff off the internet when I want.

But the question is, "did I miss out on anything musically?". Well I'd like to argue "I don't think so". I currently gig once every 1-2 weeks, which is just fine by me. I play guitar in four bands currently, and regularly turn down work from other bands due to clashes. I'm starting to be known as a go-to guitar guy in my area. I own a Mesa - Boogie amp, which I surely couldn't afford if I only used the money from my music career - it would take 70 weeks with no expenses to afford it, as opposed to 5-7 in my day job.

But did I miss out on anything? Well, I did miss out on the opportunity to get signed. That's about it. If getting signed is something that you feel you "need" to do, and can realistically get it given your current skill level and band experience, I say "go for it". Just make sure there's a back-up plan in place in case it doesn't work out, and make sure that you "end the dream" at some point so you're not left struggling towards it for the rest of your life.

This actually reminds me of a recent client who came in to see me. She had this boyfriend that she complained about a lot. He just lay around in their house doing nothing a lot, claiming that he was working and chasing up leads. What was his profession? Well he was a professional dancer, he just hadn't been given a job for 8 months. I guess at 27 you'd better be well ingrained in the industry to get performance work as a dancer on a regular basis. I don't see why it would be any different for a musician. Perhaps if he had some other job he could do other stuff in the meantime, and his girlfriend wouldn't complain so much.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#7
I think I'm in this conundrum right about now. Heading off to college next year with my best friend and fellow guitarist and we have been writing songs these past few months. Obviously I'm going to get my degree and so will he, but I still have this feeling like I was meant for something more and possibly have the talent to do something big with music. Guitar will always be a part of my life, but I want it to play a bigger role. The music industry just doesnt seem like a viable career choice (obviously) so I don't know what to do about it. I think the only thing to do is continue with your normal, boring life, and work on writing music in your free time. After a while, you will have an album, and if it is good/popular you can take that path. If not, you can continue with your regular life, still perfecting your music.
#8
Wow, so much great advice. I just started gigging a couple times a week while still working full time thinking that someday I might be able to quit my day job. After reading this I realized that currently my skill level is novice at best and I am fortunate to be getting paid at all. lol . I won't be quitting my job anytime soon but I will hold on to my dream of making music for a living because it is something I love. I realize I have to be realistic though. Which is something everyone needs to be, optimistic, but realistic, does that make sense? Hope so, take care guys and good luck!
#9
Quote by kfeild
How sturdy is music at an occupational standpoint?

It's not at all sturdy.

Quote by kfeild

I'm talking about doing gigs around town or even becoming a music teacher or something? I'm just curious as to how you could make money off it if you don't make it "big" per se.
Thanks!


people do it, you can to if it's what you want.

quality of life?? various, but often pretty bad, especially as you get older.


I know guys that make their real money at a day job, and then enjoy playing their gigs for fun. You may consider this a preferable option.

it really depends on how important stability is to you VS how important it is to you to be a musician as your main gig. At a certain age, just being a musician seems attractive...... then you get older. Things like health insurance and being able to afford a home become important.

btw Im talking about being a performing musician, not a band teacher...... there IS stability there. Alot of people end up choosing that option. A friend of mine is now a band teacher and really loves it!

teaching guitar at a music store...... pretty good money on the surface. Same boat as a performing musician though in terms of stability or making enough to really make a decent living.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Apr 12, 2011,
#10
+1 to everything Axemanchris and AlanHB have said!

Although I'm not quite at their age, I still know enough (and enough people in the same position) to agree.

Especially with teaching- the same goes for teachers of any subject- if you're not the right sort of person you'll never survive more than about two years of it!

I also hope this doesn't put people off considering a musical career. Just know that it's not as easy as some people seem to think it is. I think people tend to see it as "when I get noticed, I'll get signed, and be sorted for life" and that's just not realistic for the majority of people.

My advice would be to seriously consider how passionate you are about music- not just the type of music YOU like to listen to, but all music. If you want to do it as a day-job, expect to be required to play every kind of music under the sun at some point...and it's a job, just like any other profession i.e. it has just as much potential to stress you out at times, and you're going to have bad days and be asked to do things you don't like as much- but you need to be the professional and (just as has been said) suck it up. It's your job.

I, personally, love music now more than ever and I'm glad I've taken it up as a career...but that doesn't mean it'll work for you.
#11
This is all I think about, honestly. As of now, I get good grades in High School, but I do absolutely no work outside of school, that all goes towards my music. I've written hundreds and hundreds of songs, with a whole ton of material that I could play live. In my last year of High School (Im a junior), I plan on trying to make it as big I can with music while I still have the freedom to do so. Once I go to college, Ill probably look into engineering, which I understand to be very difficult. My dream would be to have a decent job to provide money, but I would also like to be in a band. How possible is it to have a legitimate job and still be a full-time band member?
#12
@Mustard - well... full time band member as in what?

If you mean along the lines of playing every weekend in a cover band or something, then it will be like having a full time day job and a part-time evenings job. Depending on what your full time day job is, it will either just make you really busy, or will be too much of a demand to be realistic.

If you mean full-time musician as in getting signed and going on tour and living the life, then skip engineering for now, and forget about a full time day job. Finish high school, move to LA or New York, keep writing, and get connected.

Sure, it's a gamble. Odds are, you'll find yourself at 40 with very little resembling employability skills and being too old to play the young person's game. But maybe... just maybe... we'll see your smiling face on MTV.

"Today there's some kid somewhere, picking out his first guitar... mom and dad don't know it yet, but he's gonna be a star..." (bet you can't name THAT one!)

CT
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.
#13
Quote by Mean Mr Mustard
How possible is it to have a legitimate job and still be a full-time band member?


Yeah I'm with Axeman here, it's a bit confusing. Full-time implies that you're working at least 40 hour weeks on something. Perhaps full-time band member and part-time work? I dunno.

I think there's a lot of risks to take when trying to get signed. And when you get signed, there's an even smaller chance that your band will last more than a couple of years anyway, and that puts you back at square one. It would be a lot of fun though I imagine.

There's been bands in Canberra (where I live, who have become incredibly popular in the local area, regularly drawing 200-300 people per gig. Then they move to Sydney or Melbourne and fail to get the same sort of attention due to the massive amount of competition.

Or if you take a trip to Nashville and watch some of the local open mic nights, you'll see that every person is a professional, and would get a strong local following in any other place but due to the massive amount of competition in the area, they're simply regulated to open mic nights. A lot of the bands on the strip work for tips as well, which is crazy considering their standard.

Otherwise it sounds like you have a good head on your shoulders, just keep your options open.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#14
Thanks for the advice guys. I live in Richmond, Va, so theres a pretty good scene here, especially with what Im going for, but Im not enough of a wildcard to have no backup plan, as in no college education or anything. Im going to have to hope that my schedule wont be tight, because I just love playing music. With keeping my options open, Im definitely going to get a job, so I guess music will be a second.

I figured that instead of going to school (which takes up around 9 or 10 hours of my day), ill just be at a job instead, and so therefore, Id have around the same amount of time for music, which is more than enough (around 5 or 6 hours for me to do what I want with writing or playing if I needed it).

Anyways, thanks again guys, I realize this is a pretty big decision and will probably affect my whole life, Ill have to see how next year goes.
#15
Being able to sight-read is a HUGE REQUIREMENT. Less and less people are learning how these days and it's a very applicable skill. I don't mean sight-read as in, "Here's the music, the gigs next week so have it ready by then." I mean sight-reading as in sitting in on a gig and never having seen the music before and playing it live.

fixed.
all the best.
(insert self-aggrandizing quote here)
#16
It depends on what you are doing. If you're doing orchestral stuff and theatre stuff and that sort of thing, yes.

If you're playing rock/pop/whatever like that, then it's really not a requirement at all. Honestly, in my 25 years of playing in bands, I have *never* been given sheet music on the spot to read (maybe even never at all.... not for that, anyway), and the only thing I have ever provided anyone else with is a rough sketch of chord changes.

Most rock musicians don't know squat about notation. At least that's my experience. You can't ask someone to communicate in Chinese when you can't speak it yourself.

CT
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.
#17
That Day Gonna Come - Helix

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV7AiW2xln4

I like this kinda thread, puts stuff into perspective.
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#18
Quote by Hydra150
That Day Gonna Come - Helix

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LV7AiW2xln4



WIN!!

Now, did you actually know that, or did you get some help from your friends at Google?

CT
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.
#19
... Google

Im all for (re)discovering 80s hard rock bands though so Ill give them a proper listen
But boys will be boys and girls have those eyes
that'll cut you to ribbons, sometimes
and all you can do is just wait by the moon
and bleed if it's what she says you ought to do
#21
Quote by openedmind
i personally think people always ask the wrong questions to some extent. you only get one life, i would say just try to enjoy it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FY50vvMjX_o


...i wish i had listened to this a long time ago lol


Word. Alan Watts knows his shit.
I play guitar in a funky death metal band called Lobotomizer. Listen to our demo here.
I also slap the bass and I'm learning how to tame the sax.
I go to school at Ex'pression College for Digital Arts. Any questions about it? Ask me.
#22
You don't choose music as a career for stability. You choose it because you love music so much there isn't anything else you want to do. The reality of the business is it doesn't really pay well in comparison with a lot of other jobs, even when you get a major gig. It's hard for most musicians to afford health care. You have to hussle all of the time even when yo get a sweet gig. It always goes in cycles. If you're good you'll always find work with maybe some little dry spells. It's a lot of networking. Location also makes a difference. If you don't want to play cover tunes for your income you'll have to move to a city that has a lot of songwriters. I'm in NYC, there are a lot of songwriters here and new ones always arriving. There are rally only a few places in the country like that... NYC, LA, Nashvile, Austin.... So you also have to ask yourself what kind of musician do you want to be... For me I wanted to be creative.. Work with artists on new music. Some of these paths don't cross much atleast here in NYC. For instance there aren't a lot of wedding or cover musicians on the session or showcase scene.

Again, the major point is if you're looking at it like "is a smart career decision", I'm not sure you're ready for it. It's a trade of love.

--m
www.knobtwiddler.net
#23
I would consider Sight-reading a bonus but not a requirement. I have a lot of respect for sight-reading. Playing, blues, rock, pop, country, it does not help as much as being able to play creative leads and being able to make an arrangement from a piano, harmonica, steel guitar, fiddle and play it on a guitar. As far as making money, I like what axeman said about sucking it up. Most people say they LOVE music, until they have to play something they don't like(me included). There is a local band that makes crazy good money playing weddings and corporate events mostly. They also gig at clubs etc. The guitar player was telling me that he does this full time and has no other job. His playing was very inspiring because it showed me how you can still incorporate your favorite licks and styles into songs that you aren't so crazy about. He played with a lot of technical ability that most people wouldn't recognize because it wasn't the "hey look how fast I can play" type stuff.
MARTY FRIEDMAN--"It’s a lot easier to be technical than it is stylized; it really is... But I think it’s a lot more rare to have someone who’s really got their own sound because that’s something you can’t practice."