Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
sventvkg

What Do Musicians do When they Get Older?

Recommended Posts

Richard, the Songwriting process can be frustrating but admittedly, the process gets easier the more you do, and the better you get. For instance, in the past week and a 1/2 I wrote 7 new tunes that I like :) I'm DEADLY serious and focused about it and my desire for playing and writing music is only getting stronger.

 

As far as finding other shit to do if it all goes to shit, I'm sure there are things out there but i'm too obsessed with making music to be able to think much about it. I get on that trip for an hour or so but it usually fades. At 40 years old and very wordly I haven't found much else that can keep my attention much less something I would want to do day in and day out besides music. I guess it's good to think about what I would do but honestly it's has to stay in the back of my mind if i'm going to succeed here. Right now, i'm getting to know hit songwriters, co-writing and I feel confident I have what it takes. So does everyone else around here. It's just a matter of staying the course and time :)

 

The more I think about it the more i'm convinced you have to be Crazy and obsessed in this business to even be in it for anything other than fun.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good for you, man. Keep at it. My one hope for you is that when you're 60 years old you say "Well, I might not have earned a ton of cash, but I wrote some damn good songs and I had a great time doing it. And I'm going to go write one right now." Life is about being happy - screw everything else. If you're happy, that's all that matters. You've got way more drive at 40 than I did, that's for damn sure, and if I had that kind of drive I'd be a much better songwriter, for sure. If anything this thread has made me realize that not only am I not a serious songwriter, I probably don't have the drive to be one. YOU are a serious songwriter. I think that's really cool. I hope you can continue on the track you're on and keep paying the bills. It's f'ing impressive to keep the drive going that long.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks man, and my hope for EVERYONE including you on these forums is that whatever form music takes, it takes the form of making you happy. Nothing else matters. My hope for me when i'm 60 is that I've written enough hit songs that I don't have to think about retirement $$ issues :) Working on a new album now and will link to it for a few of you when it's finished :) All my songwriting demo's are just quick and dirty words and music acoustic demos at the moment because I write a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

For jazz musicians, the ideal setup seems to be to get professorships. Joe Negri (jazz guitarist seen on Mr Rogers Neighborhood among other things) and Eric Kloss (great 70s saxophonist) both taught at Pittsburgh universities. Most of the guys I know who try to do music full time at least give private lessons. I know they don't always enjoy it, but it's at least a steady income stream and "job experience" that will probably remain relevant later in their lives.

 

The other thing I've seen several people try to do is to transition into operating studios and doing audio production. That always seems to strike me as a mistake. It's just too hard of a business to make money at because the overhead is too high, and the competition is too fierce.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To sum it up, I think it's very important to be satisfied with your 9-to-5. I did something similar to richardmac, in that I provided support/solutions to a school, but it was a college. Now, I develop training for adult learners. I don't mind it. It's not something I would do if I had a million dollars anyway, and my enthusiasm usually stays curbed. But there's many aspects to it that I find satisfying, and would not want another profession.

 

When I was wrapping up undergrad, my dad was putting the pressure on me to "do much better than he did" and "go for the gold." He's a blue-collar man who spent much of his life hating his work. So I figured if I became a lawyer, I would impress him. I tried to get into law school, and was accepted into my fall-back school. But right before getting my BA, I decided it would not please me, and I went another route. I don't need the most prestigious position, but I do need a good amount of stability for certain things:

 

- I would like to own a home in a rural area. I have been renting for years, and I am not a big fan of having a lot of neighbors. I like solitude, and would like a good 3 - 5 acres of privacy, to ride my mountain bike around, play music loud with no complaints, and enjoy the Pennsylvania countryside I grew up with. I have just started to save, and it will take a good while to rack up a down payment alone.

- Music, as we all know, is an expensive endeavor. It would be nice to save up for a 3,000 dollar Yamaha keyboard, and then have savings left over. I was brought up to purchase top of the line equipment. It makes for more professionalism and less headaches.

- Other hobbies, such as Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu training and biking can be a toll on the wallet, as well.

 

I live below my means, and working to me is functional. I opted out of the rat race to "keep up with the Joneses." So, I choose not to waste money on Rolexes, countless Starbucks trips, ultra-fancy cars, unnecessary gadgets, etc.. My expenses go to things that have soul to them, and transcend material value. I have a friend who works his white-collar 9-5 in I.T., plays in his band at night, and uses his income to live in a big house with a soundproofed rehearsal/recording studio. It seems like an OK way to go about life.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think having some sort of a plan is good. Put aside $ early on, invest, work on attaining various income streams though your music etc. All pretty basic but lots of fellow musicians I know I play with don't have a clue(that or just don't care really). I also know some musicians who are well onto their 70s & 80s who still play. Several of these guys are in fine financial shape because they took the time to take care of some gen life biz early on. However some of these elderly gents have never owned a house, drive beat up cars and don't have too much. Kinda sad really

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I feel like I'm in therapy. Hello, my name is Richard, and I'm a reformed musician.

 

You have said some great stuff in this thread Richard. And you have found a way to lead an artistic life that works for you. And that is awesome. An artistic life takes many forms and with each form goes a certain confluence of personal human elements and honesty. But there seems to be a bit of a "why are you taking it all so seriously?" vibe in your posts. As though the folks that chose to do it full time have brought it on themselves.....

 

...and you'd be right. But no more than someone who worked for 30 years at a casket factory and never made it off the production floor, and then got dumped by the company when he got hurt (happened to my neighbor).

 

I'm a full timer. And I have been the sole provider for my family. Only recently has my wife started to work part time (my youngest is a junior in HS.) And it is just too damn bad that I am not good at something else other than what I do. Because if I was as good at say, industrial flooring engineering management as I am at being a musician, I'd be in the lower 6 figures with a nice health plan etc. But I'm not. It is not what my skill is. I am tied to music, because it is the thing that I am good at.

 

My biggest worry is just like my neighbor. 'Cept I can't be fired, I just won't make any money while I'm not working. And we have, sad to say, just enough money for us to get by for about 2 or 3 months. And that is it. And a teeny tiny retirement investment. And I do mean teeny tiny.

 

And I have a degree in a non music field. If I go back into it, I'd be at the entry level. Hell, I'd be at the entry level of what ever non music field I chose, and it would take maybe 5-7 years to get to where I am now income wise. And hell, who wants an old worn out musician? Shit, MUSICIANS don't even want old worn out musicians!:lol:

 

Therefore, I am kinda STUCK with music as a profession. There are options as I grow older, I just need to always be vigilant and aware of WHERE I am at in the biz, and WHAT the next step needs to be.

 

Plus, I rekon I am not that worn out....I still got some stuff to say musicaly. In my mind, I feel that I won't make that change until I have said what I had to. Until I have left behind a body of work I am proud of.....THEN I'll do the next thing. If of course I am still healthy enough to work.:eek:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

get creative online. Build a name via Youtube and social networking which will take working it all day everyday for anything from months to a couple years. Start doing UStream live shows streamed live over the web. Just get creative and don't use the fact that you are in Urban as a crutch. CREAT a gig for yourself!

 

I would love to do these very things.

 

The problem is, the things you mentioned require work ethnic. I myself have no problem with this, it's the artists lack the work ethic required to make these things a reality.

 

I was thinking of DJ'ing an internet radio show and then asking for artists that way. Remember you're dealing with 21 year old urban artists that see stars and feel they're worth a million dollars. You think they are going to perform for free over the internet in some guys basement? Heck no. It's too bad because the internet shows are probably the only thing we can get and if 700 people show up to view, then technically, that is a show. Also the mxitapes and youtube ontop of that would be great.

 

Or we can all just sit around and do nothing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And to reply to the OP, well most stop playing for a living and do something else. Sometimes it is music related like working as a manufacturer's rep or getting into repair, but many just leave the music biz altogether and start over.

 

I know a guy who is somewhat of a guitar legend around Nashville, who played on a TON of hit country records in the 70's and toured as a sideman in the 70's and 80's for the biggest acts in Nashville country, and as work dwindled in the 90's (he was in his late 50's) he got sick (cancer then broke his hip). He now works for $8 an hour at a rural convienence store. Lives in a trailer. Still a motherfucker on guitar. Plays at the V couple of weekends a month. Frail physically, yet sharp as a tack mentally, and completely aware of what got him to this point.

 

And you'd think he'd blame music. But he doesn't. He blames his inability to live within his means and save money during his peak earning years. His 2nd wife passed about 7 years ago. When I am in that neck of the woods, I drop in and see him. Pick with him sometimes if it ain't too busy. But he is getting older and I am waiting for the day when I stop by the store and they give me the news......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And to reply to the OP, well most stop playing for a living and do something else. Sometimes it is music related like working as a manufacturer's rep or getting into repair, but many just leave the music biz altogether and start over.


I know a guy who is somewhat of a guitar legend around Nashville, who played on a TON of hit country records in the 70's and toured as a sideman in the 70's and 80's for the biggest acts in Nashville country, and as work dwindled in the 90's (he was in his late 50's) he got sick (cancer then broke his hip). He now works for $8 an hour at a rural convienence store. Lives in a trailer. Still a motherfucker on guitar. Plays at the V couple of weekends a month. Frail physically, yet sharp as a tack mentally, and completely aware of what got him to this point.


And you'd think he'd blame music. But he doesn't. He blames his inability to live within his means and save money during his peak earning years. His 2nd wife passed about 7 years ago. When I am in that neck of the woods, I drop in and see him. Pick with him sometimes if it ain't too busy. But he is getting older and I am waiting for the day when I stop by the store and they give me the news......

 

Sadly I fear this is going to be the fate for the majority of full timers...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Really?


OK... I see Sean already responded to this, and I'll read his after I type mine. To see how similar/different our answers are.


I want many, many things out of this big wonderful life. I have many, many goals. Some of my goals might be similar to other people, some might be seen as shallow, self-centered, or vain. It's OK because I don't give a rat's ass what other people think of my goals. And my goals are not other people's goals. Here's an ever so brief list:


• I want a steady stable job with benefits and retirements so that I never have to worry (much) about money. X

• I want to find a wonderful beautiful sweet woman who will love me even though I'm not perfect. X

• With that goes sex. X

• I want to end up in a job where I go to work each day looking forward to the day's challenges and I have fun AND I do something important for society. X

• I want to have a couple of great kids that I can kid around with, be there for, laugh at Bugs Bunny cartoons with, teach, and enjoy. X

• I want to go to football games, concerts, take vacations, have fun with my family and friends. X

• I want to live someplace where it doesn't snow, where the weather kicks ass, where I can go to a beach or pool any time I want. X

• I want to exercise and be able to run on any given day a 5k in less than 30 minutes (so I will live longer.) X

• I want to eat right but enjoy what I eat (so I will live longer.) X

• I want to write and release educational software. X

• I want to be able to afford, within reason, whatever music gear I feel I need to make music. X

• I want to record and release my own CD's and do whatever the hell I want on them with no one telling me what to do. X

• I want to develop a small but loyal following to my music and have at least 100 people (not counting relatives) who will care when I release new music. (no check)

• I want to write a book. (no check)


I hate doing this exercise because it sounds like bragging, but you have NO idea how hard I worked to get to this point in my life. I'm REALLY happy. As you can see, music is one little unchecked box on my list. Life should be about way more than just music. Doesn't mean music isn't important. It's all important. Anyway, if I were in a cover band, I would not consider myself successful because it doesn't meet my first and fourth bullet points. But for someone else, their bullet points are different, and performing in a cover band is exactly what they want to do. We're not put on this earth to judge other people's bullet lists. Each must make his own list and follow his own path.


This sort of also explains why I'm not killing myself to get those 100 fans. Hmm. If it were more important to me I guess I'd work harder at it. I might have to think about that.

 

Here's the thing, and I TOTALLY respect your take on things and it's completely valid given what you have chosen. Do music on the side, have a day job and a host of other stuff you are into. However the question I was asking was what happens to full timers. People who have gone "all in" and done the music thing only and then hit that time when gigs start drying up, health problems etc..What the hell do they do based on people we know, or have heard about that fit that description.

 

I know a lot of part timers think people who go and do music full time were making poor choices but in reality musicians were doing what they wanted and a part timer can't put themselves in a Full timer's shoes because if he could he would have not chosen the day gig, Ya dig? For some people, a job isn't an option. They have to write, practice, and perform music to a level that it takes up too much time to waste working a regular job. I'm one of them so I understand. It's just a bummer when i see older cats end up with no gigs and no options just because they get older. I guess that's the life they chose though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3shiftgtr gave you the answer. And that's probably a big percentage of people who do it and don't have a good solid plan. Fail to plan = plan to fail and all that. By the way, 3shiftgtr, you are right about me... I do have a flippant attitude about all of this. And I should keep my mouth shut, because it's not my place to judge other people. It's just hard to keep my mouth shut because I've seen both sides of it, AND because I'm a parent. I would not let my kids pursue something so risky with such bad odds. I'd want to protect them. I want them to have a plan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a lot of very intelligent discussion going on in this thread.

 

I, too, am one of those part-time musicians who has a 6-figure income day job. So, to me, music is more of a hobby that pays for itself, rather than being an income generator.

 

That doesn't mean I didn't think about making it a full-time career when I was a young man. But, for whatever reasons, it never happened. Luckily, I found a job that I really enjoy and that pays me a decent amount with lots of perqs. I'm planning on retiring in two years and then I can devote even more time to the music side of my life. I'll be 60, but healthwise I'm doing OK and I have no problems playing in cover bands at the local Moose lodge. Heck, it's what I'm doing now and I really enjoy it.

 

I know a lot of local musicians who devoted themselves full-time to music exclusively and, except for a very select few, most of them are miserable most of the time. The only time they perk up is when they're performing onstage as part of a pick-up band or at a jam session. Other than that they lead very sad lives, subsisting from day-to-day, relying on the charity of others.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great thread.

 

But the old full timers you are talking about are from the old industry. Its much worse now, and it will only get worse. Those poor dudes, I pity them. They could'nt let go of the dream (the dream is an ILLUSION).

 

Get a day job, and do music on the side. Or try to change the world...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's a lot of very intelligent discussion going on in this thread.


I, too, am one of those part-time musicians who has a 6-figure income day job. So, to me, music is more of a hobby that pays for itself, rather than being an income generator.


That doesn't mean I didn't think about making it a full-time career when I was a young man. But, for whatever reasons, it never happened. Luckily, I found a job that I really enjoy and that pays me a decent amount with lots of perqs. I'm planning on retiring in two years and then I can devote even more time to the music side of my life. I'll be 60, but healthwise I'm doing OK and I have no problems playing in cover bands at the local Moose lodge. Heck, it's what I'm doing now and I really enjoy it.


I know a lot of local musicians who devoted themselves full-time to music exclusively and, except for a very select few, most of them are miserable most of the time. The only time they perk up is when they're performing onstage as part of a pick-up band or at a jam session. Other than that they lead very sad lives, subsisting from day-to-day, relying on the charity of others.

 

LOL! My wife and I make six figures combined! I'm not making six figures - I work in public education. There are 8,000 employees in my school district and less than 20 of them make six figures. :) So you got it good! :)

 

I'm with you, though. When I retire, I could totally see myself playing down at the local watering hole with a bunch of other older guys playing classic rock or whatever. Our retirement will not allow us to vacation in France, but it will be enough to pay the bills. Not much else. My music money will probably end up paying for beer. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would love to do these very things.


The problem is, the things you mentioned require work ethnic. I myself have no problem with this, it's the artists lack the work ethic required to make these things a reality.


I was thinking of DJ'ing an internet radio show and then asking for artists that way. Remember you're dealing with 21 year old urban artists that see stars and feel they're worth a million dollars.

 

I notice you mention "urban" a couple of times as a noun - from that, it sounds like it is some sort of social network or tool ?

If so, and you are having problems finding people really focused or not interesting in taking the same path you are, maybe it's the wrong tool for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, here's my story briefly:

 

After playing music full-time for a number of years, I stopped playing covers in my late 20s to focus completely on doing originals with the rock band I was in during the 80s. So to support myself I took a job with Tower Records. After a few years of doing both and realizing the rock star dreams were never going to materialize, I decided I might have a better shot a something stable by sticking with Tower. So I quit music and concentrated on working for them full time. However, the corporate world turned out to not be for me so....

 

...I concentrated on being self employed. First by taking my Tower/retail experience and opening my own video rental store. Then when it was looking like THAT industry was dying, I became licensed as a real estate appraiser and have had my own small firm for the last several years. I also started playing music again after an about 7-year break as a "weekend warrior" about 10 years ago and have spent the last year or so trying to bump up my band into more of a wedding/corporate gig deal.

 

Got married to a great woman when I turned 39, had a kid about 3 years ago, and that's about that!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

3shiftgtr gave you the answer. And that's probably a big percentage of people who do it and don't have a good solid plan. Fail to plan = plan to fail and all that. By the way, 3shiftgtr, you are right about me... I do have a flippant attitude about all of this. And I should keep my mouth shut, because it's not my place to judge other people. It's just hard to keep my mouth shut because I've seen both sides of it, AND because I'm a parent. I would not let my kids pursue something so risky with such bad odds. I'd want to protect them. I want them to have a plan.

 

Thing is man I know some successful people now and NONE of them would have ever been here if they didn't go all in. If they hadn't quit being a lawyer, left college with 1 class to go, moved to LA on a whim with no money, quit a successful career in something else to go for a dream, etc etc, none of them would have been able to accomplish what they did. It just goes on and on and I could tell story after story and quote successful artist/musician after artist/musician but the point is..No risk No reward. In this game you have to go for it full hog with blinders or you ain't gonna make it. Kinda like Sports. Can't 1/2 ass this shit. Therein lies the conundrum!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thing is man I know some successful people now and NONE of them would have ever been here if they didn't go all in. If they hadn't quit being a lawyer, left college with 1 class to go, moved to LA on a whim with no money, quit a successful career in something else to go for a dream, etc etc, none of them would have been able to accomplish what they did. It just goes on and on and I could tell story after story and quote successful artist/musician after artist/musician but the point is..No risk No reward. In this game you have to go for it full hog with blinders or you ain't gonna make it. Kinda like Sports. Can't 1/2 ass this shit. Therein lies the conundrum!!!

 

 

And the point you make is why copyright law was brought into existence . Good old fashioned values held that a days work deserved it's reward ....

 

Of course the bigger risk you take the bigger the thud should things not pan out . Contingency's are pretty much in order in todays world of outsourcing and offshoring and technologies "progress" sometimes being the same as a bull in the china shop ....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The kids into sports do fall back, though. We had a quarterback at USF who went on to play very briefly for the Jets. He was good but he wasn't great, and you need to be great in the NFL. So what is this kid doing nowadays? He's a high school football coach. Another kid was the center on the Bucs Super Bowl team - he went to the high school my kids will end up going to. He had a few years in the NFL, but then the NFL was done with him. What does he do? He has his own air conditioning business. The real world doesn't give a sh*t about anyone's dreams, but it does respect hard work and hustle. The NFL is a better deal in a way than the music biz because once your time has passed, it's definitely over. There aren't any 45 year old guys still trying to make a roster for the first time in the NFL. If you don't make a team in your 20's, you aren't going to make one.

 

For every one story about someone who went all in and succeeded, there are probably 1,000 people who tried the same thing and failed. If it was easy, everyone would do it. I don't have a problem with someone taking a gamble and putting all their eggs in one basket - because it's their eggs. They can do what they want. It's like the lottery. Someone WILL win. If you go all in, do you increase your chances? Hell yes. Are your chances good? Hell no. To each his own. But anyone going into it had better know the odds they're up against, and of course I think everyone here does.

 

But it ain't impossible. That's for damn sure.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Since you brought up the lottery;

 

My old math teacher once said that the chances of getting hit by lightning were something along the lines of 750,000 to 1 . By that fact he reckoned that he wasn't going to play the lottery unless he got hit by lightning twice.......

 

 

Sports is one analogy , but the higher levels are a pure meritocracy . I'm not sure what the hell music is these days !!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know, that might be one of the reasons why I love football so much. Aside from the fact that people are taking illegal substances left and right (is that the equivalent of autotune?), your measurables are there for all to see. If you are 6 ft 2 and you can run a 4.4 40 and catch the ball, that's great. If you have great stats on the field against good competition AND you have good measurables, you're going to get signed to a team. Once you're signed, if you can't produce, they're going to get rid of you after a certain amount of time. In music, we get stuck with these talentless hacks for freaking years, it seems... whatever the labels decide to shove down our throats. It'd be like the Bucs starting a big fat slow middle aged guy at wide receiving and telling us he's great, while we see him drop the ball time and time again. Except the labels are no longer telling us what we like, because we don't listen to them any more.

 

But other than that, the analogy breaks down and doesn't make any sense. Closest thing we have is American Idol, where a singer who can't stay on pitch will likely be discarded from the show sooner rather than later, and I'd rather have the dry heaves than watch American Idol. My wife watches it and she tells me the singers on it are getting younger and younger, which certainly reflects what's selling nowadays.

 

Despite their drug abuse, that's one thing that makes sports so much more pure. There are probably at least 30 women who live within 20 miles of my house who are better looking than Lady Gaga and can sing better. There are probably ZERO guys who live within 20 miles of my house who can catch the ball and run routes better than Mike Williams (Bucs.) And anyone who thinks she writes those hit songs all by herself needs to talk to me about buying a bridge in NYC.

 

On the other hand, I'd be willing to bet there are zero guys within 20 miles of my house that can write as well as Lyle Lovett. Or Steve Earle. Or any number of other great writers. Music is a weird, weird business. The hacks can make more money than the true talents, and half the business is made up of lies and bullshit. But there is nothing like a great song - a great song is something you can enjoy over the course of your entire life and not get sick of.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is my take on the music industry and how to deal with it. First, start off with a qualified private instructor and if you want to have a career as a musician, get a degree in music with teaching credentials first and maybe another degree in something else that can be applied towards some other form of work. maybe a business, engineering, etc. degree. The reason is that if you haven't made the big leagues with a serious recording contract or in demand as a studio player by the time you are 30, chances are pretty slim that you can make a decent living playing in clubs, concerts, weddings, private parties to be able to afford to retire, have nice equipment, etc., unless you inherit a lot of money somehow. there are plenty of great players that can't get decent pay in the music industry during their entire lifetime. The reality is that we all dream of being a rock star, famous musician, etc., but the reality is there is no guarantee. I find that if you have the talent, and have a real day job, you can still play music, have fun, make a little money as long as you are healthy. but get involved with playing music that you enjoy and can play in your later years. rock/pop music is usually for the youngsters, jazz/classical/world can be for any age. be well versed in many styles and take music as it is. It is for enjoyment for the performer and the listener and work with honest people. Lots of dishonest people out there. Unfortunately, the pay scale for local bars hasn't really changed. i remember playing local bar bands getting paid $100 decades ago and that still hasn't changed much unless you are with a show band, or real deal recording artist. the local independant scene is still unstructured to make a decent living. the players that have a music degree usually take private students, teach in high schools, junior colleges, etc., and they can make a decent, not great living, juggling students, classes, weekend gigs, and sessions, but it usually takes a music degree, talent, and some money managment to do it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...