#1
What does it take to make a decent living on music? It's just about the only thing I could imagine doing for a living and enjoying it. Of course, anyone I ask around will scoff at the idea.

I know it's not impossible-- obviously-- but what will it take? In depth details would be nice.


(Btw, I was thinking of doing some electrician work on the side of music. I could fix other people's stuff and also repair and tweak equipment myself. And I'm sorry if this is the wrong part of the forum.)
#2
There was a thread on this earlier that might help. They mentioned a mentor program that sounds really cool.

Basically from what I took from that is that you have to know the business side of music, and network yourself. Stuff like that. Search "How do I make money with music" or something.

I'm seriously thinking about this option as well.
#3
It's very difficult, especially more obscure music styles like death metal. Cannibal Corpse, obviously one of the most successful extreme metal bands ever, just barely make enough money to not have to have jobs. I'm not saying that you play death metal (because I don't know what you play), it's just an example.
Quote by dudetheman
So what? I wasted like 5 minutes watching DaddyTwoFoot's avatar.


Metalheads are the worst thing that ever happened to metal.
#4
What I got from that earlier thread (https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=683782&highlight=money+music) was that you should try to establish multiple streams of income.

Teaching, repairing gear is a good idea, gigs, CD's etc.

This will help to remove the financial risk associated with music.


Edit: I would say that you should be prepared to work very hard/long for not much money, but you certainly can make a living. (I assume, I have no experience of course)
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
Last edited by Ænimus Prime at Oct 19, 2007,
#5
I have had two notable teachers, both being college professors(currently or in the past), that have lived solely on musician income.

They are both very different people and have taken different musical paths. Both live beyond "comfortably," in fact both of them could be considered quite wealthy. The first teacher of mine, a jazz pianist and guitarist, has recorded on many cds, teaches at the local university, gives private lessons at $40(for an unalloted amount of time, I've had 2 hour long lessons before), has written a ton of music for radio and television, writes for jazz symphonies, and tours periodically and works session.

My 2nd teacher is a classical piano teacher and works full time, sun up to sundown as a music teacher. She has a doctorate in Music Pedadogy and a Major in performance. She also plays in her church every sunday. She charges $160 a month for weekly lessons, and you must pay extra money for theory lessons. She does not tour.

We can learn somethings by comparing these two people. First of all, living on music is very possible. Secondly, it is clear that if one wants to be a touring musician, that one does not "strictly" tour and that it is probably a good idea to establish a steady means of income (through teaching or royalties, either by recording or composing.) It is also apprant that if one wants to settle down, rather than travel abroad, that one should find a solid job in teaching.

Also, as a side note, my jazz teacher told me that jobs are found in accompaniment; that being able to accompany appropriately and solidly will land you a job much quicker than your ability to improvise an amazing solo.
#6
Hrm, yeah id love to do this, im only 16, and still in school, year 11. I started playing guitar almost a year ago, and since its been the only thing i want to do, every day at school i do whatever i can to pass time so i can get home and play, i never get bored of it, and im decent at it too, and im quickly progressing. My only setback is that i have no money and job yet so i have a crappy 10 watt practice amp so no band for me. I do have my sisters old mexican strat which is a very nice $1500 guitar. Once i do join a band though im not sure where i would go from there. I mean sure theres the obvious make a demo, play gigs, hope to get signed release records and tour and be big time, but untill you are touring and making buckets of cash from each show, it wouldnt be enough to earn you a steady income. Being a teacher sorta seems like it would be a good part time thing however.
#7
Quote by Arycama
I do have my sisters old mexican strat which is a very nice $1500 guitar.


Your Sister's Mexican Stratocaster = $1500.
New Mexican Stratocaster = $399.

I think you have a large misunderstanding.
#8
A mexican strat in Australia costs $850 to $1100. You're both wrong.
My name is Andy
Quote by MudMartin
Only looking at music as math and theory, is like only looking at the love of your life as flesh and bone.

Swinging to the rhythm of the New World Order,
Counting bodies like sheep to the rhythm of the war drums
#9
You would have to decide if you're someone who would rather do what they love and not always have a comfortable lifestyle or do something boring for a big paycheck. Since you sound more like the former I would suggest setting up multiple musical methods of income. Since everyone knows your chances of making enough money just off of being in a band is slim, try using your musical knowledge for various things like teaching, recording and mixing, fixing equipment, being a guitar salesman, etc.
you got soul, or so you say. hey, i say you don't!

Quote by Sol9989
#10
You realize you can play music... AND have a real job, right?

And you can have your 'real job' in music, as well.

I mean, hell, the guy who plays the lead in Spring Awakening on Broadway has a band who plays shows, (not so often, now, obviously, because he has a performance pretty much everyday...) that shows it's possible.
#11
Off-topic, the guy talking about Cannibal Corse is completely wrong.

Don't make up **** you don't know about.

They're very rich.
Have you know understanding of their situation?

Anyway, thanks.

Cheers -
Daisy
Gore AND Core; unite!
#12
Don't know about you since everybody is different, but I'd go crazy if I had to play guitar for a living. I love playing guitar as its my escape from everything and it loses that quality when you bring in various obligations and responsibilities.

Cannibal Corpse and such are at the very top as far a death metal goes
I'm pretty sure the majority of rock/metal musicians who are playing for a living are barely doing gigs for beer :-/
#13
Quote by Daisy_Ramirez_
Off-topic, the guy talking about Cannibal Corse is completely wrong.

Don't make up **** you don't know about.

They're very rich.
Have you know understanding of their situation?

Anyway, thanks.

Cheers -
Daisy


They are not very rich. They have money, but very rich is a total overstatement. I recognize that they make a good bit of money off of merch sales, but very rich is a gross exaggeration.

The members with the most money would be Alex Webster and Paul Mazurkiewicz, since they're original members, but I still don't know if you'd call them rich.
Quote by dudetheman
So what? I wasted like 5 minutes watching DaddyTwoFoot's avatar.


Metalheads are the worst thing that ever happened to metal.
#14
since the original question was, "what does it take to make a decent living" with music, I think its worthwhile to ask this:

Does anyone that visits this forum make a decent living with music?
#15
Let's see... what can you do with a music degree?

Recording Industry
- Artist and repertoire coordinator
- Art administrator
- Promotion staffer
- Staff publicist
- Artist relations representative
- Marketing representative
- Consumer researcher
- Advertising account executive
- Regional sales manager
- Salesperson
- Field merchandiser
- Intern
- Campus representative
- Arranger
- Record producer
- Recording engineer
- Recording studio set-up worker
- Orchestrator
- Copyist

Radio
- Music director
- Disc jockey

On the Road
- Tour coordinator
- Road manager
- Tour publicist
- Sound technician
- Advance person

Retail
- Music store manager
- Music store salesperson
- Record store manager
- Record store clerk
- Instrument sales representative
- Rack jobber

Business
- Personal manager
- Booking agent
- Concert promoter
- Music publisher
- Professional manager
- Business manager

Instruments
- Instrument builder/designer
- Instrument repair specialist
- Piano tuner-technician
- Bow restorer

Publicity
- Public relations counselor
- Publicist

Symphonies and Orchestras
- Conductor
- Section leader
- Section member
- Managing director
- Orchestra manager
- Business manager
- Director of development
- Director of PR
- Subscriptions/Ticket service director
- Director of educational activities
- Personnel director
- Music librarian

Facilities
- Concert hall manager
- Stage manager
- Resident sound technician
- Nightclub manager

Education
- Music supervisor
- College or conservatory educator
- Secondary school music teacher
- Elementary school music teacher
- Private instrument teacher
- Music therapist

Talent and Writing
- Recording group
- Floor show band
- Dance band
- Session musician
- Background vocalist
- Songwriter

Church Music
- Choir director
- Cantor
- Organist

Other
- Music journalist
- Music critic

As you can see, there are a lot of possibilities with a good music education. You could grab a job that offers a good salary and security, but play nights with a band to earn some more cash.
Quote by Godzilla1969
I love you, Muphin. You have great taste in music.

Quote by Pacifica112J
Muphin > You

The Cooperation
#16
Quote by Muphin
Let's see... what can you do with a music degree?

Recording Industry
- Artist and repertoire coordinator
- Art administrator
- Promotion staffer
- Staff publicist
- Artist relations representative
- Marketing representative
- Consumer researcher
- Advertising account executive
- Regional sales manager
- Salesperson
- Field merchandiser
- Intern
- Campus representative
- Arranger
- Record producer
- Recording engineer
- Recording studio set-up worker
- Orchestrator
- Copyist

Radio
- Music director
- Disc jockey

On the Road
- Tour coordinator
- Road manager
- Tour publicist
- Sound technician
- Advance person

Retail
- Music store manager
- Music store salesperson
- Record store manager
- Record store clerk
- Instrument sales representative
- Rack jobber

Business
- Personal manager
- Booking agent
- Concert promoter
- Music publisher
- Professional manager
- Business manager

Instruments
- Instrument builder/designer
- Instrument repair specialist
- Piano tuner-technician
- Bow restorer

Publicity
- Public relations counselor
- Publicist

Symphonies and Orchestras
- Conductor
- Section leader
- Section member
- Managing director
- Orchestra manager
- Business manager
- Director of development
- Director of PR
- Subscriptions/Ticket service director
- Director of educational activities
- Personnel director
- Music librarian

Facilities
- Concert hall manager
- Stage manager
- Resident sound technician
- Nightclub manager

Education
- Music supervisor
- College or conservatory educator
- Secondary school music teacher
- Elementary school music teacher
- Private instrument teacher
- Music therapist

Talent and Writing
- Recording group
- Floor show band
- Dance band
- Session musician
- Background vocalist
- Songwriter

Church Music
- Choir director
- Cantor
- Organist

Other
- Music journalist
- Music critic

As you can see, there are a lot of possibilities with a good music education. You could grab a job that offers a good salary and security, but play nights with a band to earn some more cash.


which one of those careers do you have currently, and how much do you make?
#17
Quote by GuitarMunky
which one of those careers do you have currently, and how much do you make?


Right now I live with my parents and go to high school I'm studying to become a professional pianist with a post-secondary degree.

I plan on becoming a recording engineer/producer since I love the technology behind recorded music as much as the music itself. I'd also do some odd jobs like scoring local independent films, playing in a band/solo, and a bit of teaching on the side.
Quote by Godzilla1969
I love you, Muphin. You have great taste in music.

Quote by Pacifica112J
Muphin > You

The Cooperation
#18
Quote by Muphin
Right now I live with my parents and go to high school I'm studying to become a professional pianist with a post-secondary degree.

I plan on becoming a recording engineer/producer since I love the technology behind recorded music as much as the music itself. I'd also do some odd jobs like scoring local independent films, playing in a band/solo, and a bit of teaching on the side.


some nice goals for sure.
#19
Quote by Muphin
Let's see... what can you do with a music degree?


you don't need a music degree for half of those
#20
well first you need to sell out and then maybe you can be as good as FOB!!!!

but seriously just go out there have fun and as you start getting better known you can start getting bigger venues and therefore bigger $$$
and just have fun!!
#21
Quote by seljer
you don't need a music degree for half of those


You can still do those things with a music degree... What's your point?
Quote by Godzilla1969
I love you, Muphin. You have great taste in music.

Quote by Pacifica112J
Muphin > You

The Cooperation
#22
Quote by DaddyTwoFoot
They are not very rich. They have money, but very rich is a total overstatement. I recognize that they make a good bit of money off of merch sales, but very rich is a gross exaggeration.

The members with the most money would be Alex Webster and Paul Mazurkiewicz, since they're original members, but I still don't know if you'd call them rich.


Depends on what you consider "very rich", and compare it to.

I compare it to myself.
Sorry I reacted badly, I was in a bad mood.

But yeah, I'd say George "CorpseGrinder" Fisher would be the richest, given his later work and such.

Thanks dude, and thanks for not reacting badly to my bitchy response!

Cheers -
Daisy
Gore AND Core; unite!
#23
There has been some great advice so far. One thing I want to add to the discussion that hasn't been addressed is location. Sure NYC, LA, and Nashville may be the music centers of the US; but you would be surprised at how much you can make in your local areas if you are smart about it. Look at what's in need. Is there really a need for instrument repair in your town? I will say that one thing I found that helped a lot is know what's happening with local music businesses in your area. Last year, a very well known music store in my area decided to stop private instruction in the store. What did that mean for local private instructors? A flood of extra students! If I was available to give lessons at the time that happened, I would have placed ads in the paper that week and also visited the store to see if I could rub some elbows with employees, you may even run into some students or parents there.

There is a resort beach town in my area that has a few million visitors a year. In the 10 mile or so stretch of the town.. there are about 140 bars. Acoustic duos that play some of these tiki bars and smaller venues often get the most work. I know of some guys that have 7-13 gigs a WEEK during the summer. You never have to worry about a crowd being there in a resort town because there are always tourist coming in who don't know you and don't get sick of the same boring covers. Now at 7-13.. let's just say they took in $300 that night (they are probably getting more) $2,100 a week... roughly $10,000 for the month.

Another important concept I believe in is that as long as you are making money in music... it's a start. I don't care if you make $1 a week with music.. it will still get you started on your path and make you start thinking more professional.

I'm usually full of creative ideas on how to make money in music. Definately buy the Field book "Career Oppurtunities in the Music Industry" Doesn't matter if you get an older edition on amazon for like $7, it will carry the same great info on how to get started.

As for "what it takes".. here's my sort list:

1. Drive: You HAVE to be persistent... a lot of doors will slam in your face

2. Networking: Start networking with EVERYONE you can at this point

3. Knowledge: Know what you are doing before you persue something. The exceptions would be for jobs that require a lot of training or work experience. Basics are required though. Here's an example:

The nightclub where I work, which is known for having one of the best stages on the East Coast, was notorious for having a very high change over in sound guys.. which led to them hiring people who had a minimal background in music/sound. The he point is... if a new guy came in knowing the basics of sound and music.. we could train him to become better.. however that job would less likely go to someone who "wanted to learn" how to be a live sound enginner and wouldn't know what to do if I asked them to get a 57 or take some 6.3 out of a monitor.
I was once heavily prominent on these forums from 2004-2007, let's see how long I can stay now that I'm back.