#1
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?
#2
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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#3
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.
#4
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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#5
Quote 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.
Gear

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Celestial Wish on Youtube
#6
Yes anyone can. You just need Whiskey, Peanut butter, and Potatoes.

You'll live, and be free.

Be free buddy.

Be free.
Just another Sheep in the design of the Almighty Machine.


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#7
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.
#8
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..

wolf
#9
Quote 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.
#10
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.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#11
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!
#12
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.
#13
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!
#14
Quote 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.
#15
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.
#16
Quote 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.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#17
Quote by dalton.sala
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.
#18
Quote by dalton.sala
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.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#20
If you are any good, there's probably more money in teaching than gigging.
#21
Quote by WilhelmTGFRyan
On topic but off; I want to major in music composition, am I stupid for doing so
there are currently 1758 jobs on the unemployment database here, and 0 of them require music composition.
#22
Quote by AlanHB
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.


This is probably the best post in this topic. I think a lot of musicians have this idea of what's acceptable to do, this idea that you can 'sell out' by doing certain jobs. Speaking of pop musicians who are reviled by this forum, I dare say that if you were approached by Justin Bieber's agent, asking you to play guitar for him and the pay for the tour would be minimum 200,000, you wouldn't turn it down, and you'd be thick if you did. I would say a musician playing for a famous artist and being on massive stages each night has more integrity than a guy playing the local pubs with a band that all of 300 people have heard of.
Gear

Mesa Dual Rectifier
TC Electronic Polytune
T Rex MAB Overdrive
Boss NS-2
ESP Horizon NT See Thru Black (D Standard)

Celestial Wish on Youtube
#23
I was recently in exactly the same boat as you being a 16 year old wanting to make a living with guitar. Im now 21 working as a guitar teacher (over a year now) with a music diploma and gigging in a few bands. I am upgrading some high school courses to get into Engineering next year. Here are my thoughts;


1) If you want to earn a living with music, be prepared to teach and be prepared not to make much doing it (at first at least). Teaching is not easy, the students you get can and will test your patience. Good students are fairly rare at first. When they come be thankful and put your effort there. Be prepared to learn and teach a lot of stuff you do not care for.

Teaching can burn you out if your not careful. Its ironic but after having a guitar in your hand all day, you will find that you barely have time to practice sometimes.

The pay can be good but you dont always have 40hrs/week of students. There are a LOT of guitar teachers and not enough students for all of them so, unless your lucky, you will need to round out your schedule with gigs and most likely another job to make ends meet which brings me to my next point...

2) Do not pursue a degree in Music unless you want to teach as your primary source of income. Its not that a Degree is a bad thing, the experience is awesome Im sure, the problem is that it doesn't pay off very well as an investment 95% of the time (especially compared to other degrees)

You need to keep in mind you have to make a living somehow and those cities you want to move to are very expensive. You will not have fun making it on a few hours of teaching and a minimum wage job. Get a degree that you will actually be able to pay off and will make you some extra money. Or get a Diploma or a trade. Make more than minimum wage. As Hail said, you need money for food, gear, rent, car, etc. Also, getting a degree unrelated to music does not mean you will not have a successful music career. Its all about getting out there are playing and doing your homework in the woodshed (practice).

BTW If you think you will get a teaching position at a University (this was my plan for a while), I will be the first to say good luck. There are literally 1000's of struggling musicians with 20yrs of experience on you and a PhD in music performance wanting those jobs. Competition is fierce and is constantly growing and there are only so many job openings. You also need at least a Masters degree to be a candidate.

I'd recommend getting private lessons from one or several really good (best in your area) guitar teacher instead of spending money on a music degree personally.


3) Get out there and play. Seriously, and have fun doing it. I waited too long to do this and it was a mistake. Experience and contacts are key in the business and as long as you can play decently, you can start getting those things by forming bands and playing gigs. Also, don't give up if your first few bands are a disaster and goes nowhere. Almost everyone has been through that.


4) If you want to make your living 100% of playing music, then be prepared to play music you do not like (and learn to read as well as you can). Say yes to every gig that comes your way, regardless of style. Axeman Chris does a great post about making a living in music. It is not as glorious as you would think, sometimes you barely have time to play the music your passionate about. It is also difficult to do, you will have a lot of different jobs (teaching, church gigs, bar gigs, wedding gigs) and you may not make a lot of $$$ but it can be done.


Here are a few articles about this.


For writers but applies to musicians as well.
Don't quit your day job.
Eye opening story.
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Last edited by British_Steal at Jun 25, 2013,
#24
anyone can do this thing, but you need to have a commited group for this thing and also a band to perform and get popular
#25
I personally know plenty of people who are career musicians, even straight out of school. They are insanely talented, prolific, and personable. It's hard to make a good living if you aren't all 3.

I'm not at that level yet but I'm not in a hurry either. Money's rolling in purty gud.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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