Jump to content

Do you make a full time living from the music ?


guitar Dan

Recommended Posts

  • Members

Hi Folks

i just wondered how many of you folks make a full time living from your music ?

 

the reason i ask is that my 17 year old plays guitar and fronts a nice little cover band,but i insist that he carries on with his studys and then goes on to UNI :cop thus he spends more time with his head in books than he does doing what he realy whants to do ie playing guitar.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 79
  • Created
  • Last Reply
  • Members

While we did have music as our only job back in the 80's it was too hard to keep the pay consistent enough to pay the bills. There are cover bands in the area that make great money (in the $100,000s each) but that is rare. They are a full blown Beatles tribute band and they rake in the cash. There are a few others where the members are making $30k to $50k but they put in more hours than any 9 to 5 job requires. Personally, if they are making enough money to survive and their prospects are growing, I would encourage my son to keep playing and start treating it like a business. Once that blows over he can always go back to school. That is one of those "what ifs" that can haunt him for the rest of his life if he is forced to give it up. With any luck, he will recognize how hard it is to sustain oneself in the music business and he will go to school. Maybe he could study electrical engineering or marketing or management or even music business and stick with what he loves and keeps it within the music realm.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

There are a few others where the members are making $30k to $50k but they put in more hours than any 9 to 5 job requires.

 

 

Yep.

 

At 28, after doing this for 4-5 years as a full time job, it's certainly doable, but it's a hell of a hard job to do, and you'll have to deal with a lot of inconsistencies and stupidness that is TOTALLY outside your control.

 

 

If he asked me for advice... it would be to do what you love. I don't know that going to college and having a ton of loans to pay off in an economy that isn't hiring is good.. but then, I don't know that relying on playing cover songs in bars (where people are spending "extra" money and not "necessity money") is all that great of plan either. I would absolutely tell him to finish high school first though.. especially if he's almost there.

 

In the economy we're in.. I'd say do as many different things as you can to make money, and if one of them is obviously making more money than the others, that is the way to go!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Unless he's already CURRENTLY making his living off of music, I'd suggest the advice he follows is to keep up with both school and music for the time being, until he's got an realistic shot at making his living off of the music.

 

For the time being, it sounds like maybe his band is doing ok, but not that it's paying the bills...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

To be honest ,if i seid to him right kid your 17,you choose he would play the guitar 10 hours a day ,but what i have advised him ,is that if he gets to UNI and does a 5 year law degre ,he can do the music on a weekend wich he seems happy with then if he gets a degre he can do the law bit part time leaving him time for the music ,his only concern then was having to have his hair cut ,if he gets a job as a lawyer :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

We have three guys in my band using band income as semi primary income. But they landed in this band after we were already pulling in great money. Our drummer at 42 left his factory job to gig three four nights a week. He owns an apartment building and has income from rentals and he's also pulling in $400-600 a weekend gigging. Still I wouldn't want to sustain myself if I had the choice. He has no health insurance and no real safety net if he's ever injured. Our guitarist is 23 and he's living the dream... going to college full time during the day and gigging in a popular band at night. Our DJ is in the same situation. In fact we may lose him this summer because he has some semi-permenant gigs in NYC. He should make some terrific loot. The remaining 5 of us all have full jobs that are flexible.

 

I agree with Jason... if I was 17-30 and I had a problem finding a job in this economy I'd certainly turn toward my blessings and gig as often as I could. There are a few on this board that have the chops, connections and mindset to make a living full time as a musician. Many I'm sure teach or give lessons privately to give themselves a base. After all a gig can always cancel. ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

To be honest ,if i seid to him right kid your 17,you choose he would play the guitar 10 hours a day ,but what i have advised him ,is that if he gets to UNI and does a 5 year law degre ,he can do the music on a weekend wich he seems happy with then if he gets a degre he can do the law bit part time leaving him time for the music ,his only concern then was having to have his hair cut ,if he gets a job as a lawyer
:)

 

Appearently he ever heard of Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer!

 

5iq3.jpg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I agree with Jason... if I was 17-30 and I had a problem finding a job in this economy I'd certainly turn toward my blessings and gig as often as I could. There are a few on this board that have the chops, connections and mindset to make a living full time as a musician.

 

Having no health benefits by being a full-time musician is not an ideal situation, so that's why I work a boring factory job during the day to pay for the boring day-to-day bills.

 

I did the full-time thing a couple of times in my life: when I was 19 and when I was 35-36. The first time was because I left college and found I could make a lot more as a musician than I could working data entry. The second time was based more on necessity. It seemed like people weren't hiring for all the stuff I was applying for, so I decided to join a country-rock band, then joined another and finally went with the 2nd one (played casinos, street dances, basically a lot more money). At the time, I was single and had few expenses, so I made out okay. Couldn't really save much, though. It was pretty much living from gig to gig. Once I found my wife-to-be, I decided I needed more of a stable job to support both of us, so I re-entered the workforce.

 

Many I'm sure teach or give lessons privately to give themselves a base. After all a gig can always cancel.
;)

Apparently, you haven't taught before. :D Students and parents cancel all the time. Thankfully, I don't count on lessons as a primary source of income. It's money to add to the 'entertainment' fund.

 

In fact, I am going to cut back on my lessons to Tuesday and Thursday nights only so that I don't feel like my entire evening is taken up by them. I need to spend more quality time with my wife, so cutting back makes sense. I may increase the amount of gigs to make up for the loss of income, but either one is unpredictable. That's where a decent 40 hour week job comes in very handy. When things are slow (like they kind of are right now at work), I still come to work and I still get paid anyway. If I only worked for myself, if there is no work, there is no money.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Personally, when I was going to college, I could have also gigged full time as a musician. Lord knows I probably would have done better in school gigging 3-4 days a week instead of drinking 3-4 days a week. So I'd say do both.

 

I'd think that going to school in LA or NYC (or Nashville if he's into country) would be the best option to pursue a music career but keep the college thing as a backup.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Im 21. Im a full time uni student, i play 3 to 5 shows a week, and teach 20 guitar students. i am makin more money than any of my friends workin full time jobs and im becoming a great musician at a young age. he can easily do both

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Im 21. Im a full time uni student, i play 3 to 5 shows a week, and teach 20 guitar students. i am makin more money than any of my friends workin full time jobs and im becoming a great musician at a young age. he can easily do both

 

 

Also keep in mind that you are 21 and you likely have no firm idea of how long you'll be able to maintain that current level of income. If you'd been doing what you're doing for 10, or even 5 years AFTER college, I'd put more weight on it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Hi Folks

i just wondered how many of you folks make a full time living from your music ?


the reason i ask is that my 17 year old plays guitar and fronts a nice little cover band,but i insist that he carries on with his studys and then goes on to UNI :cop thus he spends more time with his head in books than he does doing what he realy whants to do ie playing guitar.

 

 

I do it full time and have been for basically, 20 years. I committed to being a 'full time pro' around 92. At the age of 28. I feel that I basically wasted my 20's doing something I was good at, but didn't want to do. Everything was music and always has been.

 

But then once I got started....along came mama and marriage and babies in my early 30's and it wasn't too long after that where I had to decide on a career in the big time, or the small time...I was playing as a sideman for signed artists out of Nashville and doing studio dates, and playing master sessions, and working with writers, the whole bit....the doors were opening up and I was being invited in and I needed to move to Nashville....so I had the discussion with wifey.....and I opted to stay home with my family....so I removed myself from the thing I was doing and got off the road, and built a teaching business, a buy out music business, local gigs, and a bunch of other music related {censored}....all the while keeping my toe in with my fav musos from the 'ville....

 

So I often think...what if I had gone to music school like I wanted...not gone to a school on a football scholarship....then got out and approached it like a business...and got after it...when the doors opened up for me, I would have walked thru em cuz I would be early 20's, young and unencumbered. Instead, when the doors opened up I was in my early 30's with a family to support. Different criteria for making a decision, knowhatimsayin'?

 

So there is the idea that DO IT NOW WHILE YOU ARE YOUNG......

 

And just to confirm, I have NO regrets.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I've been fulltime here in Nashville for quite a while now. Some of my gigs have been credible artist gigs and some of them regional cover bands. I am one of the few that doesn't wear multiple hats (EG : guitar player, teacher, graphic artist, live PA, booking, session whore, yadayadayada).

 

All the responses here seem to have a similar thread. Go for it while you can. BUT most everyone here seems to have it right.Make your career something else. That way it empowers you to make the music YOU want to make....you'll also have the choice to be around for the weddings,funerals, barbques,graduations,births, family,friends,community....ad infinitum.None of that means dick when you're 19~but all of that is the important stuff and will mean more when you're (he's) older.

Music is only music.

Yes youth is an important commodity~ but the market value he'll lose by being in college until he's 22 (or 23) is almost nothing.....

which leads to the next conversation which is :

A) does he want to be a rockstar

or

B) does he want to be a musican

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Thanks folks for all the replys,my veiw is that if he can get an education first,then im not bothered if he sits under an olive tree all day playing as long as he makes enough to be happy,were in southern spain ,had we have been in the US he may have had more openings but in saying that were only 2 hours flight from the UK so maybe he can try there as well in his early 20,s :thu:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Making a living from ONLY playing on a cover band is very very hard. If not almost impossible.

 

I teach guitar, have a small music instruments shop (and music school), I do guitar and bass setups and small repairs, play as a session musician and I have some cover bands...

 

I don't make money for a luxury life. I just get by with no major worries... But I work my ass of! It's much harder then a "normal" 9 to 5 office job.

 

The way I see it is:

 

Option 1: Work in a well paid job that you hate and spend all the money on the weekend on hobbies to keep your sanity intact!

 

Option 2: Work hard as hell in something you love and don't get payed that much. But your day to day life is much happier and you don't really need lots of money because you don't need expensive hobbies or holidays do keep your sanity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Dan, I am a 20 year old-3rd year university student. I went to school originally for Psychology, and I have never been a very good student honestly, Music has always been #1. I'm in a somewhat active band but have things picking up really fast. I changed my major a couple times however, I couldn't stand Psychology, pre-law, business, or administration. I knew I would be miserable if I did any of those, I knew it had to do something in music, so I changed this year to Electronic Media Production, which essentially deals with live sounds and recording production. Honestly, I can make more money renting out/setting up my PA than I can make playing gigs, so I do both.

 

I also work in my campuses library as well as a local technology/office store. So truth is I could no way make a living as of now as a musician, but I'm willing to work 2-3 jobs on top of school in order to one day be able to take a leap and try.

 

School is important but if music is that important to him, he will make it work, just make sure he goes to school for something HE LOVES not what others think will be successful. My best friend (and bands bassist) and I were just talking about how we would rather live in a small apartment playing music our whole life because that is what we love, than make a 6 figure income...easy for him to say though since he is in law school.....

 

hell I'll just have him pay my bills and when my debt to him gets too high just OD on heroin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Not anymore. The idea of driving across the country in a smelly van was more appealing when I was 28 than 48. The cost of living in my area skyrocketed too. Thankfully I took on a decent day job ten years ago before the first kidney stones hit and I had insurance to cover treatment.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I am not 100 % fully supporting myself playing music - I have other business activities and investments.

 

Life is more complex than just playing guitar in a bar for $ 50 a night.

 

The musician business does not have to be one single activity. A performing musician might own a building. The building is used as a rehearsal studio. Part of the building might be rented out to other performers for rehearsal. The musician receives rental income. The musician might make recordings. The recordings are sold. There is income from the sale of recordings. The musician might record in his/her own recording studio. The studio might be rented to other artists. There is income from the recording studio. Spare equipment might be rented to other performers. There is equipment rental income. The musician might make music videos. Video production services can be sold, equipment rented - that's another source of income. There might be equipment repair services, website design, trucking, t-shirt printing, fan magazines, all kinds of income streams that are associated with the musician's performance.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

Three of the four people in my band (not me) make their living doing this. The singer and guitar player do a couple acoustic gigs during the week to supplement full band shows on the weekend. The singer who is a local legend, and really IS the band also sells merch and sang some jingles and studio stuff. The guitar player teaches and lives frugally. The bass player has a wife who makes bank and therefore is fine with what we pull in on the weekends. Singer and bass player are on their spouses' insurance and guitar player has a relative who is a doctor, so health insurance is a non factor for all of them. I'm the drummer, so no acoustic gigs. My second wife makes good bread but not enough for me to cruise, cause I still pay the ex-wife, so day gig here I am! I need the health insurance too. The three or four hundred bucks every weekend comes in handy though. You can make a living at it; certain life circumstances just add into the equation making it easier or hard or impossible to do as you get older.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

 

Probably the worst advice I've ever seen offered on this board.

 

 

I concur. Plenty of people with useless degress with studies in Liberal Arts, Pottery, Music History, etc. Unless you want to be a school teacher (and most people don't), those degrees are pretty much a waste of time (and especially money).

 

The medical field is always looking for people and with more people than ever getting older, getting sick, dying, etc., it's only going to get busier. With the economy in the USA the way it is right now, going for a field you "love" is just plain idiotic. How will you pay off those student loans if you can't even find a job?

 

If I were 20 years younger, I'd go into the medical field.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Members

I am a part-time weekend warrior. Make anywhere from $200-400 a weekend (when we work). Even at $1600/month after taxes is pretty darn low.

 

science and technology fields. I'm in Biotech and while I don't necessarily LOVE my job, I like it more days than not and I'm pretty good at what I do. Toot Toot.

 

My advice whenever this topic comes up is to find something you can TOLERATE. Get into an industry that won't go through huge swings in unemployment (not construction, engineering or the industry d'jores) and excel. You don't have to love every minute you are at work, but if you can tolerate it 3/4 of the time you are doing it right. If you excel, the money is usually right there. Remember you're doing this for 40+ years, better make sure it's not something you hate, but it doesn't have to be something you love either.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.


×
×
  • Create New...