Incentives of turning music into a career

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Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by BandofWolves »

So something dawned on me and I've been wanting to hear some other opinions.

If I try to make music as a professional and have a career from music, I will inevitably on some level be making music for the money. I know that sounds kind of weird because I know that I make music because I love creating music.

I feel like I need to focus on making money from other places outside of music while I'm building my music career. They always say it takes 10 years to become an overnight success, right? So I figured I'd start at a job for easy income, build up a little side hustle, etc.

That way when I'm focusing on my music, there's no incentives interfering with my creativity. I know some people say money doesn't play a role in creativity but I see a lot of my musician friends compromising to catch trends & appease labels all the time.

Are there any courses for musicians about being more financially educated or "business savvy"? Has anyone tried anything like that?
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by Arpangel »

I think it depends on what type of musician you intend to be, I personally believe that you should immerse yourself in the music "world" or business, if that’s what you want to call it, there’s no time for other activities, Brian Eno said that being on the dole was a government grant for artists, you have devote your entire time to what you are doing.
The members of my band, their day jobs were playing studio sessions, orchestra pit work, at the weekends they played what they really loved, in my free-improv band.
We all have to make money to live, of course, but money shouldn’t be the focus, it’s the icing on the cake, as I said, it depends what you want to do, "conventional" musicians, trained ones, stand a better chance of making money doing what they like, rather than having to work in an office, or a factory.
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by RichardT »

Ari Herstand has written a book that might help you,

https://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Make-Ne ... &sr=8-1

At the most basic level, he says if you want to make it, you need to spend the same amount of time on promotion / management as you do on creating music.
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by The Elf »

If you need to make money you do what is required. There's music I work on that I absolutely cannot stand, but when the energy bills come in I will be glad I did it.

If you want to follow your creative muse then you will need another way to pay the bills, at least until the world sees things your way.

Don't mistake one for the other.
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by Arpangel »

The Elf wrote: Sat Jan 22, 2022 10:07 am If you need to make money you do what is required. There's music I work on that I absolutely cannot stand, but when the energy bills come in I will be glad I did it.

If you want to follow your creative muse then you will need another way to pay the bills, at least until the world sees things your way.

Don't mistake one for the other.

Elf is correct, but he says "there’s music I work on" as I said, it’s better than driving a cab or working in Tescos, even music you don’t like is good experience. If I had my life over, I’d make sure I had a marketable skill, as a trained musician, you can do anything you want and make money at the same time, doing something that is at least related to what you like.
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by Sam Spoons »

Same opinion as Arpy and The Elf (disclaimer, both of them have been there and done it while I have always had a day job) almost all the professional musicians I know make their money by sessions, teaching, pit work, orchestral playing. Even the ones who gain an income from their own music do other things to supplement that income.
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by Humf »

Self-employed musician here. I agree with all that has been said already. Spreading myself quite widely is the only way I can make it work. Each little bit I do adds up to equal a living wage. Not huge £ but all very rewarding. Of course I’d love to be sat in the studio everyday writing film scores but that’s not where the secure £ is right now to pay the bills. But I don’t lose that passion (somewhat distracted from it maybe!). It’s hard work on the admin front, spinning lots of plates, but I’d say it’s being versatile which has kept me going. This inevitably means I’m learning new skills all the time. A good example being the past 2 years with video becoming just as important as audio. But underpinning all of the new stuff are my solid skills, quals and experience in performance and to a lesser extent, audio production. I’d say it’s been vital to stay within music in some capacity, no matter how minor the role, mainly because you are meeting people who are likely at some point in the future to reappear. This happens all the time. I’d like to think it’s because I did my best to work hard at each stage of my career and left positive impressions. Also, you can learn a great deal from doing something outside your ideal musical goal, and this will make you better equipped to deal with whatever comes your way in the future. Teaching is a good example of that, both in terms of musical knowledge and experience but perhaps more so in working with people.

So in summary I’d say do something associated in preference to something entirely unrelated simply for the £.

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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by MOF »

Donald S Passman’s book ‘All You Need to Know about the Music Business’ is a good starting point.
Then I would advise setting up your own website, YouTube channel etc so that you can sell to and communicate with your audience.
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by blinddrew »

I have a few full-time musician friends, but as with most of the experiences shared above, 'full-time musician' means teacher, performer-of-covers, promoter, manager, recorder of karaoke songs, videographer, recording and mixing engineer, and, occasionally, writer and producer of original music.
You could probably add 'professional driver' in there as well when you factor that in.

One angle I would suggest is to look at roles where there might be the possibility for some hybrid work. For example, I've worked my day job in financial services for the last 20 years. But I now work in a communications team, where at least some of my time is spent producing company podcasts and videos. There's even the occasional bit of music creation for events or video background stuff.
Is it as fun as working on my music for a living? Of course not. But does it beat filling in spreadsheets and writing reports? Damn straight. It also pays better than most music industry jobs.

So have a think about what other transferrable (or non-music) skills you have and have a dig around to see if there's some cross-over opportunities around.
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by Albatross »

I'm beginning to wonder if music is far too important to be left in the hands of middlemen, gatekeepers and robots to decide what we hear... might be better to look at using it in healing and similar ways.

There's a series on the iPlayer by Prof Robert Winston that really started to make me think that perhaps we all took a wrong turn somewhere in our motivations...

Anyway, ignore me but that series is really worth a listen. Its here...
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by Sam Spoons »

A different profession but still valid. Mrs S teaches kids to dance, quite a number of her ex pupils have gone on into the profession (including #1 son) and many have made a good living at it. They all have to make a decision at around GCSE level what they want to do as a career and Mrs S tells them that it's not enough to want to be a dancer, they need to need to be a dancer with every fibre of their being or they'll be much better off doing their A levels and going on to uni or WHY. Same applies to musicians, wanting to be a musician is not enough, it has to be much more than that if you hope to be successful at it.
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Re: Incentives of turning music into a career

Post by Albatross »

Indeed. If you have to ask you're in the wrong game. You'll soon be trampled , chewed up and spat out by those who never gave it a second thought.
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