#1
Hi there!

I have arrived in a point in live where I have to decide what my job will be in the future. I'm dreaming about becoming a professional musician and do this for a living. It's a dream I pursue since I'm a little kid. I really want to do that for a living. I know it's a very insecure career. But hey I like adventures.

I have the opportunity to do whatever I want when it comes to education right know and I am thinking about studying my instrument at collage. There are a few promising possibilities in my are but I'm also open to move to the US in case I want to study there. You don't have to tell me that I need a certain skill level to study it. In my opinion and the opinion of a teacher at one of my local music collages I could start. I still have a year of school until I'm finished.

Probably there is someone here to give me some advice when it comes to a career in music. Any professional musicians who could tell me what they have done with their lives? How did you manage to become a professional musician? What about Berklee?

I'd be really glad if somebody would answer.

Cheers.
#2
This is your future as a musician. "Hi welcome to Wal-Mart" seriously just keep it as a hobby.
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#3
Best jobs in music for the average person is a teacher in some capacity. I have some friends with varying levels of sucess and none can support themselves from gigs alone. It's a grind. plus guitar is a dime a dozen instrument.
song stuck in my head today


#4
Quote by lbc_sublime
Best jobs in music for the average person is a teacher in some capacity. I have some friends with varying levels of sucess and none can support themselves from gigs alone.
Me too. My friends in that category include some amazingly skilled and experienced pro jazz musicians.
Of course, the clue is in that word... "jazz"

At least one of them is a composer, has several CDs out, and earns a little extra from library music. But even putting the royalties together with CD sales, teaching and gigs, he just manages to support himself and his family (although his wife also works part time).
A few years back he even got depressed about his "career" and was half considering trying to get back to his original degree qualification in law (!). Thankfully he didn't go through with that....

Personally, I scrape a living, just, from part-time guitar teaching, augmented by the odd gig (some very odd), and an occasional commission from my other (previous) career - illustration. (I've been a pro musician for around 12 years, having been amateur for nearly 40 before that.)
Quote by lbc_sublime
It's a grind. plus guitar is a dime a dozen instrument.
Also true.
Another string to one's bow is always a good idea. If not teaching, then maybe something else vaguely musical, such as production or audio engineering.

Having said all that... if you love adventure, and can actually enjoy the "grind", have enough enthusiasm and commitment, enough bloody-minded obsession, combined with open-minded curiosity and plenty of people skills...and can maintain that attitude for enough years.... you will do well.
Don't be put off by embittered elderly failures.....
Last edited by jongtr at Mar 4, 2016,
#5
Thanks guys. Yeah a second foot in the door is always good. I do the production for my band and some other people right now. Just to learn at the moment, so no payment. It's quite fun. I also play bass and since bass is reasonably "rare" chances are I'll play that too. What do you think?
#6
Quote by lbc_sublime
It's a grind. plus guitar is a dime a dozen instrument.

True, but you're not supposed to compete with other musicians. It doesn't matter if the guitar is played by a lot of people. Just focus on making great music and you can gain a fanbase. All people care about is good music
Last edited by J23L at Mar 4, 2016,
#7
There could be money in production. I really don't know that aspect. Doing free work is fine as long as you have something tangible to show for it. A progression in skill with no cost to you is always a good thing.

I would highly recommend whatever aspect you want to do as a paying job to research and not just jump in. There are many questions you need to answer to yourself I rec to write this stuff down.

suggestions to think about are:

What is your goal? What do you think you need to accomplish this goal, IE what equipment do you need? How much does it cost? Do I need to rent space? Does this space need to be sound proofed? Do I need to register a business or work for a company? Should I incorporate if I open a business (I suggest itif you open a business you get less liability and can invest in the stock market) do you need employees?

Learn how to make a business plan if you plan on opening one, you will need one if you require loans.
song stuck in my head today


#8
Quote by J23L
True, but you're not supposed to compete with other musicians. It doesn't matter if the guitar is played by a lot of people. Just focus on making great music and you can gain a fanbase. All people care about is good music


You're absolutely supposed to compete with other musicians if you are doing music professionally.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#9
Quote by theogonia777
You're absolutely supposed to compete with other musicians if you are doing music professionally.

No, you're not. This isn't some huge guitar battle. Stop focusing on what other people do and focus only on making good music. Stop thinking this is some competition. The general public doesn't care about how technical you can play. I know some bands that have very simple guitar players and i also know some bands who have guitar players who are very close to EVH yet the band with the simple guitar players are much more popular. This is not a competition to see who's the best. The only thing people care about is if the music is good or not.
#10
Marry well, then you can pursue music as a profession while still eating regularly.

Several of my friends are professional musicians. Some worked touring bands for 20 + years, some did the live/ studio/tv/film score thing locally in LA, some got involved in artist management after touring. The ones with the best combination of income and creative freedom teach at HS or University level and pursue music also as a hobby.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#11
Quote by J23L
No, you're not. This isn't some huge guitar battle.


You know that jobs aren't some Oprah type deal where everyone that shows up gets one, right?
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#12
It's an extremely competitive business. I played full time on and off for about 15 years. I was not able to make it work as a full time job so during that 15 years I nearly always had to have a part time job. The problem is it's hard getting any part time job when they know being a musician is your primary job you may become unavailable at any time and you can never commit to a solid schedule. With that criteria getting a second job that pays any decent money is difficult. It took me 15 years to finally reverse my thinking and got a steady job as my main job and play music as a second job.

As sad as this sounds it really wasn't. As a full time musician I had to accept any job playing from clubs bands to wedding bands and anything else that came up as long as it paid me. I wasn't enjoying the music and I lived with the constant pressure of trying to pay the rent and put gas in the car. Once I had a normal 9-5 job that paid my bills I got to choose what I wanted to play and I could pass on jobs that I knew I would not enjoy. I don't regret any of it. It was a great experience. I expanded my playing abilities tremendously playing different types of music, I worked with some awesome players, made great connections and friends and traveled all across the US several times doing months of continuous road gigs. I have no regrets but I can only warn others that if you are not flexible in playing style and cannot or will not play anything other than rock or metal, if you are not willing to rough it on the road (and I mean rough) and if you still harbor "teen dreams" of becoming a rock star without putting in the years of sacrifice and hard work needed, reconsider the "full time" musician job. Get an education, get a good job and play because you love it.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Mar 4, 2016,
#13
Go for it! You're in for quite an adventure and LOTS of ups and downs though. From what I am understanding you are still in high school, so at that age (unless you have super tough parents) you really haven't been hit hard by life yet, but be prepared to face some tough circumstances.

I'm on my journey to becoming a pro musician, and it is quite the struggle I won't lie. But i will let you know there's much more to it than writing great songs and hoping your album will make millions of sales. You truly have to become business savvy to succeed as a musician.

As far as college, I've been there and done that. Nothing special about it, unless a super top-notch professional is a professor there, then that is something you could take advantage of. However, it is extremely tough to start off your music career in $80K-$100K+ in debt after graduating college. You're better off finding a mentor who is an expert in the music industry (and still living the dream) who is willing to guide you for a super small fraction of the price.

Why? Because in college they don't care about helping you out. They just want your dough. On top of that, college is only meant for training employees. Musicians are NOT employees. We are independent. (unless of course you are signed to a record label, which is not as bad as it seems once you understand the perspective you're supposed to view them from).

This is only the tip of the iceberg. This conversation could go WAY, WAY, WAY longer than this, but I hope I was able to help open your mind a bit.
#15
Quote by Jeremy.R5544998
Musicians are NOT employees.


Professional musicians certainly are.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#16
Quote by J23L
No, you're not. This isn't some huge guitar battle. Stop focusing on what other people do and focus only on making good music. Stop thinking this is some competition. The general public doesn't care about how technical you can play. I know some bands that have very simple guitar players and i also know some bands who have guitar players who are very close to EVH yet the band with the simple guitar players are much more popular. This is not a competition to see who's the best. The only thing people care about is if the music is good or not.


So you're saying people have unlimited spending power on buying music, record labels have unlimited signing power, gigs have unlimited amount of slots and so on? Even in your example, the simple band beat out its competition by being more popular. If you're trying to live off of music, then it's a competition. Demand is limited and supply is in excess. If you want to succeed, you're gonna have to beat out your competition to stay out of the 'excess' group.

And saying all that matters is whether or not the music is good is extremely naive. Sure, it's a nice picture but reality isn't so nice. Unless you don't need your music career to feed you or you're extremely lucky, you're gonna have to think much more than just your music. The entertainment market is finicky is that 'good' is subjective and even objectively 'good' products can be a complete bust.

There's nothing wrong with being encouraging but if you're gonna give career advice, you gotta lay it on realistically. That said, it all boils down to what you really want to do. So listen to what everyone else said and all the different experiences and whether or not you're willing to go down that path.
#17
Most of my professional musician friends ar indeed employees. A few are independent contractors but most work for someone else.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
Last edited by Cajundaddy at Mar 6, 2016,
#18
Quote by Rickholly74
As a full time musician I had to accept any job playing from clubs bands to wedding bands and anything else that came up as long as it paid me. I wasn't enjoying the music and I lived with the constant pressure of trying to pay the rent and put gas in the car. Once I had a normal 9-5 job that paid my bills I got to choose what I wanted to play and I could pass on jobs that I knew I would not enjoy. I don't regret any of it. It was a great experience. I expanded my playing abilities tremendously playing different types of music, I worked with some awesome players, made great connections and friends and traveled all across the US several times doing months of continuous road gigs. I have no regrets but I can only warn others that if you are not flexible in playing style and cannot or will not play anything other than rock or metal, if you are not willing to rough it on the road (and I mean rough) and if you still harbor "teen dreams" of becoming a rock star without putting in the years of sacrifice and hard work needed, reconsider the "full time" musician job. Get an education, get a good job and play because you love it.


This came up today in another forum - a 28yo who planned on giving up banking to learn guitar. My thoughts were exactly what you have described here. - If you want to play for pleasure, you could well be better off doing as a hobby, not as a career. My daughter is a well-qualified performing arts pro, but she has gone back to uni this year at age 24 to study business management along with dance. - It ain't easy earning a decent living doing artistic stuff in the arts world, you need a plan B, as she has realised. It is very competitive, and financially rewarding opportunities are few.
#19
Quote by Tony Done
This came up today in another forum - a 28yo who planned on giving up banking to learn


That was definitely in this forum.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#20
Quote by Arron_Zacx
So you're saying people have unlimited spending power on buying music, record labels have unlimited signing power, gigs have unlimited amount of slots and so on? Even in your example, the simple band beat out its competition by being more popular. If you're trying to live off of music, then it's a competition. Demand is limited and supply is in excess. If you want to succeed, you're gonna have to beat out your competition to stay out of the 'excess' group.

And saying all that matters is whether or not the music is good is extremely naive. Sure, it's a nice picture but reality isn't so nice. Unless you don't need your music career to feed you or you're extremely lucky, you're gonna have to think much more than just your music. The entertainment market is finicky is that 'good' is subjective and even objectively 'good' products can be a complete bust.

There's nothing wrong with being encouraging but if you're gonna give career advice, you gotta lay it on realistically. That said, it all boils down to what you really want to do. So listen to what everyone else said and all the different experiences and whether or not you're willing to go down that path.

Im not naive at all and I've seen it happen. I don't know how old you are but times have certainly changed since the 80's and 90s. I've seen numerous bands get somewhere solely through having good music and building it over the internet. I honestly think the only thing you need to build a fanbase is relatable music that will resonate with people. This isn't about beating out any other band or trying to outdo somebody else. It's about making music that people can relate to and become emotionally invested in. The general public doesn't care about how technical you can play. Nobody gives a fuck about how fast you can solo or how good you can sweep pick, the only thing that matters is how good your songs are. We are looking at this from an entirely different perspective. I guess we'll have to agree to disagree
#21
Quote by J23L
I honestly think the only thing you need to build a fanbase is relatable music that will resonate with people.


Just because you think it doesn't mean that it's true.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#22
Quote by theogonia777
Just because you think it doesn't mean that it's true.

Everyone will have their own opinion on this matter, but i think too many people on this site make this much more complicated than it really is. Music is an artform and the purpose of all forms of art is to evoke emotion. If you aren't making music to extract and enhance some type of emotion out of the listener then what is the goal of the music? To show off how fast you can solo? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion on this subject, but i honestly don't see the point of any type of art without emotion
#23
This isn't a discussion about art though.
There's no such thing; there never was. Where I am going you cannot follow me now.
#24
Quote by theogonia777
This isn't a discussion about art though.

Well, everything i stated on this thread was very well related to music as an art form and what makes people attracted to it. Music and art are one in the same
#25
Quote by J23L
Well, everything i stated on this thread was very well related to music as an art form and what makes people attracted to it. Music and art are one in the same

So you're telling me that every single successful musician you've known are those that simply focus on good music and every musician that focus on good music is successful? Hrmm....

Look, I'm all for people wanting to make good music and prioritising it, but like I said, saying that that's all that matter is living in a dream world. It's not even an opinion but the harsh reality of the world. Sure, it's been done before but for every success story are numerous amount of failure and mediocre stories. Yes it's an art but it's also a business.

And you seem to bee thinking that competition can only invoke technical ability. No, competition is in every facet of music business, competing who can make better music, competing for airplay, competing for record deals for some, competing for concert slots. The key thing here is if you want to be FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL through music, then it's absolutely a competition.

Let me ask you a simple question, let's say you've written the greatest sounding album ever. Something on the level of the Beatles or Led Zeppelin or whatever you think is great. Now what? Your music is gonna grow wings and fly to people's ears? No, you gotta get it out there. How? If you're doing it through the internet, there's no guarantee people are gonna listen or even stumble upon it. If you're gonna release through a record label, how do you get the record label to listen to you in the first place and how do you get them to sign you over other musicians?

Good music should absolutely be at the centre of a music career but if you want to maximise your chances of success, you better think about the other aspects as well.
#26
'professional' musician is NOT just writing that hit and getting played on the radio, there are lots of ways to make money as a professional musician.

teaching can be a part, tech work can be a part, dealing in sales can be another (even with flipping), so can audio engineering, recording engineering, in addition to gigging.

food for thought.
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#27
I agree with the above. The original thread was about creating a career in music, at least that's the way I understood it. There are limited opportunities to make a living in the music field and the chances of sustaining a living wage are small. The discussion of music as art really is important in this discussion only to point out that if you want to make a living doing something in the music world you need to have a professional attitude, an understanding of the music business world and a very broad and open attitude to all types of music.

When it comes to making a living wage and rent money, buying food and new guitar strings, your opinion on what is good music and what is bad music or what is art and what isn't won't pay the bills.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Mar 6, 2016,
#28
Thanks so much for the info und your points of view. That was some helpful insight!
#29
I played in bands all threw high school and college, and graduated with a Marketing degree. I graduated five years ago, and have yet to find a professional level job. Music ended up being my Plan B. I never planned on it being a profession. I've found it to quazi work if you have 4 or 5 revenue streams. Currently I play in two original bands, one cover band, and an acoustic duo. I play a combination of festivals, bar gigs, restaurant gigs, and private parties. The most frustrating thing is how varied payment gets. There are definite slow times of the year like January and parts of the summer. Currently looking for a part time job to help with that. Might end up giving lessons or something. My student loans are one of the main things holding me back as well.
#30
The position GratefulD86 is in is fairly typical for full time musicians. Sounds like me years ago when I attempted to make it a full time job. I ended up playing in three bands simultaneously like he is doing. One was a rock bar band that was trying go original. I made the least amount of money in this band $50-100 a night. One band was a private wedding type band (tuxedo required) but it paid pretty well usually $200-250 per player. The one that paid the best was (believe it or not) a polka band! They only played once or twice a month but they did big festivals, shows and outdoor gigs in the summer. I got $300 plus on one of their gigs. They charged big money. A few years later it was a series of road gigs that went out for months at a time and a series of summer residencies at beach hotels backing lounge singers 6 nights a week and all kinds of gigs.

When you decide to be a full time musician you usually have to take whatever comes along. I don't regret any of it.
Yes I am guitarded also, nice to meet you.
Last edited by Rickholly74 at Mar 8, 2016,
#31
I'm not a professional, but I gigged for a while and know many working musicians.

The sad truth is that unless you skyrocket quickly into the more commercial stratosphere of the industry ( i.e. mid level festivals, some tv exposure etc. ) you are likely slugging it in bars and doing pretty random types of shows, such as weddings, or events, for very little pay. The more capable musicians can do gigs like playing on cruise ships, which pays decently but takes it toll given the large amounts of time you need to stay there ( 3 to 6 months).

Nearly every musician that I know that makes a living from music is making most of their revenue from covers with random projects that aren't creative at all. So, the prog guitarist makes his money from his traditional folk act, which pays the bills, etc.

The financial reality of the music industry is terrible. Even large successful acts, like Slayer, don't earn much ( about 60k each per year, taken with a grain of salt).

We have a largely successful band here in Canada - the Sheepdogs- that made the cover of Rolling Stone and play large festivals etc. and their guitarist quit last year to open a bar.... I'm guessing he didn't do that because of all the mad cash he was making. The telling thing is that most commercially successful bands in Canada still need government grants just to record albums - so that gives you an idea.

making a living as a musician is possible, but very difficult and it will require talent, hard work, and endless networking to do it full time.
#32
Quote by maxxxkolo
Hi there!

I have arrived in a point in live where I have to decide what my job will be in the future. I'm dreaming about becoming a professional musician and do this for a living. It's a dream I pursue since I'm a little kid. I really want to do that for a living. I know it's a very insecure career. But hey I like adventures.

I have the opportunity to do whatever I want when it comes to education right know and I am thinking about studying my instrument at collage. There are a few promising possibilities in my are but I'm also open to move to the US in case I want to study there. You don't have to tell me that I need a certain skill level to study it. In my opinion and the opinion of a teacher at one of my local music collages I could start. I still have a year of school until I'm finished.

Probably there is someone here to give me some advice when it comes to a career in music. Any professional musicians who could tell me what they have done with their lives? How did you manage to become a professional musician? What about Berklee?

I'd be really glad if somebody would answer.

Cheers.



What are you hoping to earn? I suppose I make my living in music. I'm a full time guitar teacher, and I have an online guitar school. But I wouldn't classify my career path as intetional or typical. I just found myself here in this life, as a result of some discoveries that I made, that really took off when I taught them to others.

I'll never be rich, doing this, but I'm fortunate to have been able to do work I love. If not for this particular twist of fate/destiny I'd probably have a day job. I've never made a living full time as a performer, and I don't see that as a viable thing.

For you to get there, you'd probably do fine through Berklee, because of the networking potential, although even that, from what I understand is so thick, as to be oversaturated, thus....even if you made it that far, you'd probably need to establish yourself and rise to top dog within a network of top dogs and work your way through the ranks, which might take you years, if at all.

Wherever there are places to make money in music, you're probably going to find yourself standing at the back of a very long line of suitors just as qualified or even more qualified than you that have been there long before you even knew there was a line.

This goes for major music cities where you MIGHT find a place that pays, like L.A., Hollywood, NYC, Nashville, Austin etc.

Best,

Sean
#33
Quote by J23L
True, but you're not supposed to compete with other musicians. It doesn't matter if the guitar is played by a lot of people. Just focus on making great music and you can gain a fanbase. All people care about is good music



Where is your "fanbase"?

Best,

Sean