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Making a living from music - or making music? Effects Pedals, Units & Accessories
Old 10th September 2012
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Making a living from music - or making music?

A question I am asking myself.

I have been making music over 18 years now. Got a name for myself a few years ago, possibly missed some opportunities, was busy trying to earn my living (doing web development) *and* working on music. Got distracted by other things life pulled me into, lost some momentum... Now I see guys I used to know headlining festivals etc, earning their crust, but also touring constantly. I ask myself, would I want to be touring so much to earn a living?

I am now working on starting a recording business. I want to work within sound and music, in something that at least compliments my music. I know its hard going but I love it, and I believe the only way to be truly successful in life is to love what you do and do what you love.

But the question has arisen, again - making a business out of something related to music, is not necessarily making music. There seem to be many people out there desperately trying to do something to do with music.

I was always told I needed to have a "Plan B". But plan B took over. In the words of Will Smith "There is no plan B!"

I'm interested in peoples thoughts on this. Do you make a living from your music? Do you provide a service to others that enables you to make music? Do you have a music related business that takes over from your own creative endeavours? Or do you have another job to pay the bills?
Old 10th September 2012
  #2
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skira's Avatar
 

I'm an amateur, playing for fun. But I know working pros, people very in demand for sessions, tours, and playing Letterman multiple times. They love what they're doing, but the incessant travel when you hit your 40s is a bummer. One guy just played festivals in Europe, then flew to the southeast US, then up to NYC for a few gigs. Nonstop travel for months, stress on personal relationships, getting yelled at by his accountant for not keeping receipts, not able to keep a dog. It's a choice with serious tradeoffs, in a business where the main way to be profitable as a working musician is by being on the road. Tradeoffs.
Old 10th September 2012
  #3
or, to put it another way... making stuff and making money...

Making Stuff and Making Money - The Cynical Musician
Old 10th September 2012
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by adamski View Post
Do you make a living from your music? Do you provide a service to others that enables you to make music? Do you have a music related business that takes over from your own creative endeavours?
A bit of everything.
With the new reality, it's a rare bird that can do one thing and survive.
All my income is music related, but twenty years ago I only did one thing, play my instrument. Now all the music business people i know are doing multiple music related jobs.
Old 10th September 2012
  #5
Gear Maniac
 

I think open a yuotube comedy channel like guitarguy mystry man
Old 11th September 2012
  #6
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skira's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by adamski View Post
I have been making music over 18 years now. Got a name for myself a few years ago, possibly missed some opportunities
Is your brother a regular on the SonicState podcast?
Old 11th September 2012
  #7
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Amber's Avatar
 

I grew up wanting to be in a big band and I'm glad I didn't put much effort into it. I compose for a living, I just get by and as I've got older (well late 20s!) I'm glad I'm not spending half my life on a bus with some smelly dudes playing the same songs over and over again. Then again, I've always been a one man band type of guy who wants to control everything so I think I would have driven other band members away anyway.
Old 12th September 2012
  #8
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nuthinupmysleeve's Avatar
 

Interesting that hobby musicians are derided here, but lots of people here don't seem to be full time musicians. Their "job" might be related to making music but isn't making music. If you do software as your main living (for example) but do occasional gigs as a musician are you a hobby musician? I don't see a lot of difference.
Old 12th September 2012
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by nuthinupmysleeve View Post
Interesting that hobby musicians are derided here
Actually, they are not.
Old 12th September 2012
  #10
Quote:
Originally Posted by nuthinupmysleeve View Post
If you do software as your main living (for example) but do occasional gigs as a musician are you a hobby musician? I don't see a lot of difference.
except that you don't support yourself as a musician if you do software for a living. not that it's anyway bad, it's just not the same as actually being a working professional musician, as in that's how you support yourself and that's what you put on your tax return.

there's s nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, and making music should be celebrated on all levels.

the problem arises when the hobbyists tell the professional how they should be doing their business... because the hobbyist has no financial stake in music as a full time profession. for example many hobbyists are happy to give their music away, happy to have an audience of any size, whereas professionals tend to want to get paid for their work.
Old 12th September 2012
  #11
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nuthinupmysleeve's Avatar
 

For the guy who asked the question. If you can't make enough money with your music, doesn't seem to matter whether your paycheck is from the music industry or not, as long a you have the time and energy for your music. Pick something that leaves you with the time and creative energy you need. I don't think you'd be much better off doing live sound, running a label, doing music software, or even writing stock music tracks. A job is a job at that point, at least to me. In some ways it is worse.
Old 12th September 2012
  #12
Gear Head
 

doing what you love can be a short term happiness. Potentially many trade-offs when you need to earn real money, which might cause you to lose sight of what it was that you loved about it in the 1st place.

loving what you do is a necessity imo. If this box isn't ticked I'd do something about it.

there's a distinct difference.
Old 12th September 2012
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
Kelly Cameron's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rack gear View Post
except that you don't support yourself as a musician if you do software for a living. not that it's anyway bad, it's just not the same as actually being a working professional musician, as in that's how you support yourself and that's what you put on your tax return.

there's s nothing wrong with being a hobbyist, and making music should be celebrated on all levels.

the problem arises when the hobbyists tell the professional how they should be doing their business... because the hobbyist has no financial stake in music as a full time profession. for example many hobbyists are happy to give their music away, happy to have an audience of any size, whereas professionals tend to want to get paid for their work.
Yes, but remember, the menu is not the meal. Its the end result that counts. Some of us choose the path of larger alternate income so we dont have to compromise on what gear we want/need to realise our personal artistic goals. Plus, playing club gigs pays f##k all and has for years. And studios with a qtr mil + in gear are struggling to get even $100 bucks an hour with an engineer these days...

as to the OP, a cat i knew who gave up a performing career to domesticate and teach, told me once: "its not where you ARE, its where your AT". Fame might be fun, but i say make music for music's sake, and be yourself with your originals; you'll be more fulfilled when the Reaper comes and probably live longer cuz the road is HARD, man.

Another cat i used to perform with, after i told him how happy i was closeted in my warm womb-room studio full of gear, said: "remember, you gotta take it live to the people once in a while".

I think they are both right.

Good luck!



Sent from my MB860
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Old 12th September 2012
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuthinupmysleeve View Post
Interesting that hobby musicians are derided here,
The trouble with the term "hobbyist" is that people tend to use it to imply that said person doesn't take music as seriously as a professional, or that they aren't as talented or as experienced.

Looking up hobby quickly, using wiki:

Engaging in a hobby can lead to acquiring substantial skill, knowledge and experience.

And of course being a "professional" at anything doesn't necessarily mean you are any good or you are worth it. It just means you figured out a way to get paid. I suppose, though, that if you were a pro, and are no longer getting paid, you aren't considered a hobbyist, you are now an unemployed musician, or a former musician.

None of that really matters much, though, does it.
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Old 12th September 2012
  #15
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nuthinupmysleeve's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Cameron View Post
I think they are both right.
Wow, I haven't been here all that long... but this is a great gearslutz post!
Old 12th September 2012
  #16
Lives for gear
 
nuthinupmysleeve's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
The trouble with the term "hobbyist" is that people tend to use it to imply that said person doesn't take music as seriously as a professional
As a long time lurker, I agree that is the sentiment here. I don't think that sentiment exists as much in the real world. Is it good work? Good!!

Serious is as serious does.
Old 12th September 2012
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kelly Cameron View Post
Yes, but remember, the menu is not the meal. Its the end result that counts. Some of us choose the path of larger alternate income so we dont have to compromise on what gear we want/need to realise our personal artistic goals. Plus, playing club gigs pays f##k all and has for years. And studios with a qtr mil + in gear are struggling to get even $100 bucks an hour with an engineer these days...

as to the OP, a cat i knew who gave up a performing career to domesticate and teach, told me once: "its not where you ARE, its where your AT". Fame might be fun, but i say make music for music's sake, and be yourself with your originals; you'll be more fulfilled when the Reaper comes and probably live longer cuz the road is HARD, man.

Another cat i used to perform with, after i told him how happy i was closeted in my warm womb-room studio full of gear, said: "remember, you gotta take it live to the people once in a while".

I think they are both right.

Good luck!

Sent from my MB860
yup, music is a tough gig and for many (if not most) and it's just easier to be a hobbyist and work a straight job. That's totally cool, until the hobbyist starts telling the pro that the pro shouldn't be paid for his work... and other such things that the hobbyist does not have to contemplate as such.
Old 12th September 2012
  #18
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
The trouble with the term "hobbyist" is that people tend to use it to imply that said person doesn't take music as seriously as a professional, or that they aren't as talented or as experienced.

Looking up hobby quickly, using wiki:

Engaging in a hobby can lead to acquiring substantial skill, knowledge and experience.

And of course being a "professional" at anything doesn't necessarily mean you are any good or you are worth it. It just means you figured out a way to get paid. I suppose, though, that if you were a pro, and are no longer getting paid, you aren't considered a hobbyist, you are now an unemployed musician, or a former musician.

None of that really matters much, though, does it.
professional musicians are the ones that list it as "occupation" on their tax return... hobbyists tend not to be concerned with the issues effecting professionals, for the obvious reason that hobbyists are not professionals.

it's really that simple. there is no judgement about musical ability, but just a clarification of career status.

If the Internet is working for Musicians, Why aren’t more Musicians Working Professionally? | The Trichordist
Old 12th September 2012
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rack gear View Post
yup, music is a tough gig and for many (if not most) and it's just easier to be a hobbyist and work a straight job. That's totally cool, until the hobbyist starts telling the pro that the pro shouldn't be paid for his work... and other such things that the hobbyist does not have to contemplate as such.
I would think a "pro" would, or should, rise above any of that, and not feel so upset or insecure. Especially with the internet, everyone is free to share their opinion on everything from politics to celebrities to music to you name it. And, as has been pointed out, there are gray areas between hobbyist and pro. On top of that, a young hobbyist is the future of music and business. An old pro is generally not.
Old 12th September 2012
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rack gear View Post
it's really that simple. there is no judgement about musical ability, but just a clarification of career status.
Yeah, it's that simple, but as has been pointed out, people tend to use it in a judgmental way, especially here. I've seen you do it, in fact.
Old 12th September 2012
  #21
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nuthinupmysleeve's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
I would think a "pro" would, or should, rise above any of that, and not feel so upset or insecure
Seriously.
Old 12th September 2012
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
Yeah, it's that simple, but as has been pointed out, people tend to use it in a judgmental way, especially here. I've seen you do it, in fact.
only when the hobbyist is compelled to dictate to the professional, how the professional should handle their business.
Old 12th September 2012
  #23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
I would think a "pro" would, or should, rise above any of that, and not feel so upset or insecure. Especially with the internet, everyone is free to share their opinion on everything from politics to celebrities to music to you name it. And, as has been pointed out, there are gray areas between hobbyist and pro. On top of that, a young hobbyist is the future of music and business. An old pro is generally not.
Old 12th September 2012
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rack gear View Post
only when the hobbyist is compelled to dictate to the professional, how the professional should handle their business.
As I said, I think if an adult and/or professional can't handle someone sharing their opinions, and has to resort to deriding them for being a "hobbyist", well, that doesn't seem very professional. Seems sort of pathetic.

Also, I don't see how a hobbyist can "dictate" anything to a professional, any more than a professional can "dictate" anything to a hobbyist.
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Old 12th September 2012
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
As I said, I think if an adult and/or professional can't handle someone sharing their opinions, and has to resort to deriding them for being a "hobbyist", well, that doesn't seem very professional. Seems sort of pathetic.

Also, I don't see how a hobbyist can "dictate" anything to a professional, any more than a professional can "dictate" anything to a hobbyist.
Old 12th September 2012
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rack gear View Post
Old 12th September 2012
  #27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Murray View Post
As I said, I think if an adult and/or professional can't handle someone sharing their opinions
Back at ya mate.
Several days now, just banging on about being supposedly derided.
I just disagree with many of your posts.
I have absolutely no idea whether you are part time, full time, or no time in music. Maybe you should 'rise above it' and learn how to handle me and others 'sharing our opinions'.
Because you aren't following your own advice. Get a thicker skin, or don't post your opinions.
Old 12th September 2012
  #28
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by nuthinupmysleeve View Post
For the guy who asked the question. If you can't make enough money with your music, doesn't seem to matter whether your paycheck is from the music industry or not, as long a you have the time and energy for your music. Pick something that leaves you with the time and creative energy you need. I don't think you'd be much better off doing live sound, running a label, doing music software, or even writing stock music tracks. A job is a job at that point, at least to me. In some ways it is worse.
This is a question that arose a looong time ago when I was at school. I loved music and music tech. I almost went to an arts school to do music. I did some work experience at a studio in Holloway Road (London). One of the engineers there whom I had a lot of respect for, after a painful session I sat in on with some cheesy boy-band, told me: don't work as an engineer, if you want to make music, just get a job and make music on the side. (BTW that studio is long gone now)

On top of that my parents told me I should get a good career and not rely on music for a living. So I went into software and web dev. Started a label, got gigs, vinyl releases, album etc all while earning my crust doing something I didnt really enjoy. As I saw some of my peers who put 100% into music start to do really well, I started to get jealous. However, I think this is also "grass is greener" syndrome.

I think what it comes down to is not feeling fulfilled in the work I've been doing. Which, for me at least means feeling good about what I do, feeling like I am contributing positively to humanity, challenging myself in a good way. Music is not the only way to do that.
Old 12th September 2012
  #29
You don't have to be one dimensional in music either.
You can make the music you love, and earn money in music doing stuff you don't love quite as much. Like writing for tv, or teaching, or doing studio work for other artists.
Old 12th September 2012
  #30
Gear Maniac
 
stixman's Avatar
 

A musician is a musician! Pro does not come into it! I have been playing drums for 30 years but I have a proper job! Nothing to do with music! Some people have an inflated view of themselves! Remember the roots, music has a tradition going back to beginning of time! Before paperwork asking tax returns etc! Music was/is based in the community that existed, people worked in the day as carpenters,doctors,gardeners,child minders,cooks,warriors/soldiers etc then after work one together to play music celebrate etc so get over this elitist Pro musician crap, it makes my blood boil! Ask yourself what you do for your community not what it states on your tax return....
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