What jobs are out there for out there for Musicians?

tfarny

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Making a real living playing live music, around here, simply does not happen. Get a job that will pay the bills and allow you to work ideally 40 hrs or less than 40 hrs / week with plenty of vacation time and the ability to contribute to a 401k. I would avoid most white collar jobs like the plague. Nursing, electrical, or plumbing could all fit the bill. Nursing actually pays decently well and they usually work three 12 hr shifts per week, giving a lot of days off for practicing and writing.
But expecting to forge a bill-paying career out of the music biz is not something I would recommend. That sounds pretty Debbie-Downer ish but I know lots of good musicians who play out all the time, and literally none of them exists without some kind of actual job as well.
 

JL_LI

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that ironic, because some of the richest people in the world are musicians... plenty of work on the road for techs, that's what I did, but not a fun job

without the ability for a newer musician to sell a single or album and the support of a record label, it's tough if not impossible
Rich musicians are like rich football players. I don’t recall any of either from any schools I attended. I know plenty of engineers living in nice houses driving nice cars with secure retirements. The odds favor people who study hard for 4 to 10 years in a STEM field and play their guitars for fun.
 
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Telekarster

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I've been playing guitar for fifty-one years. I just celebrated forty years as a recording engineer/producer/sound designer. I saw early on that my best skills rotated around music and sound, but I also saw that none of my favorite musicians could keep a marriage together. I wanted a family, so, after earning a Bachelor's degree, a classic education, I looked for a track parallel to music, I settled on recording. I studied studio techniques, electronic music, and music composition at the Masters level. I was hired away from college to a TV network in 1981, where I started honing my chops.

I eventually settled into sound design for film and video, which kept me up to my ears in music recording and mixing. Somewhere along the way I was asked to play some guitar and synth sessions and to help compose some scores. That has led to a wonderfully integrated career involving playing and composing music and engineering. And eventually I worked my way into producing albums and soundtracks as well. Most recording engineers have the same professional life expectancy as recording artists: six years. But going at it from this direction, I've had the good fortune to stay employed for all this time.

And here's the thing: I've been blessed to do it with salary and benefits for my family, the whole career. It has been challenging but rewarding. I go home to my lovely wife, the wife of my youth, every night. It doesn't have the glamor of playing music, but is very rewarding. I'll be producing a young artist this morning at work.

Bob

Bob, this was great and very glad this all worked out for you. I bet you got some stories to tell LOL!! :lol::lol: Having been on the scene myself, as a musician back in the day, I know I do ;) BTW - I just spent some time on your website and found it very insightful! Auratone.... who knew! I may have to get a pair of these lil babies for our studio ;)
 

Jack Clayton

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I started this year as the keyboardist in a Paul McCartney tribute band. Not a cover band mind you, a tribute band. 2e have spent most of the year working up a two hour set list of songs that we are nailing note for note, beat for beat, to the original tracks.

You have to have really good ears, a high level of skill and be extremely meticulous. But at the end of that there are four and five thousand dollar shows.
 

telestratosonic

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I started this year as the keyboardist in a Paul McCartney tribute band. Not a cover band mind you, a tribute band. 2e have spent most of the year working up a two hour set list of songs that we are nailing note for note, beat for beat, to the original tracks.

You have to have really good ears, a high level of skill and be extremely meticulous. But at the end of that there are four and five thousand dollar shows.
"note for note, beat for beat" puts you (the band) in a class by itself. I remember a cover band back in the late 60s that could nail every note, nuance, et cetera in a Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Doors, Stones, et cetera song. The vocalist had the vocals down as well and could even sound exactly like Jim Morrison, Clapton, Jack Bruce and Jimi.

Not that I'm any kind of expert, mind you, but being a Beatles fan, I'd like to think that a Paul McCartney tribute band might provide the band with a living wage.

Good luck!
 

Jack Clayton

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"note for note, beat for beat" puts you (the band) in a class by itself. I remember a cover band back in the late 60s that could nail every note, nuance, et cetera in a Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Doors, Stones, et cetera song. The vocalist had the vocals down as well and could even sound exactly like Jim Morrison, Clapton, Jack Bruce and Jimi.

Not that I'm any kind of expert, mind you, but being a Beatles fan, I'd like to think that a Paul McCartney tribute band might provide the band with a living wage.

Good luck!
Time will tell. Our first show is in December. One thing I know is that McCartney is tough. The band I joined used to be an Eagles tribute. They switched to this because it's harder, and therefore less competitive. If you can execute songs like Uncle Albert and Live and Let Die, you're definitely on a short list of bands.
 

Jakedog

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I make the majority of my income playing music. I play guitar in bands, I play bass, I sing. I do a lot of gigging solo, just my voice and my acoustic. I sub for other bands when they need somebody. I do the occasional session. I play bars, I play clubs, I play restaurant patios, I play private shows at people’s houses. I guest host some pretty cool jams. I play cover music, and I play original music. I have a modest amount of original content across all the streaming platforms.

People mistakenly believe that either you “make it big”, or “it’s a hobby”. There’s a lot of grey area, though.

I decided a long time ago that being able to play music every day as my means of supporting myself, was more important to me than being famous. Don’t get me wrong, if it had happened, and it almost did a couple times, I’d have been fine with that. But it wasn’t why I decided to do this.

I’ve never had any interest in having any other job. I decided I was ok with living whatever lifestyle I needed to in order to play every day, and not really do anything else. I don’t want or need a lot. I’ve never been motivated by money or “stuff”. Outside of cool gear, I just don’t have a need for either one. I don’t need fancy car, Hyundais are awesome, reliable, and quite affordable. I don’t need a 5k SF house. My 1800 is more than enough room. Especially with one kid out and another one leaving in less than a year. Another few years and it’s just going to be my wife and I. How much room do we really need? We might even sell and go smaller.

Now there are things that doing what I do does not afford you. For one thing, you can forget about benefits like health insurance, or a 401k, or anything like that. It’ll most likely take every penny you make just to keep you fed and sheltered, and your gear in good shape. This is where I seriously lucked out in finding a great partner.

My wife holds two degrees and is a senior VP of her company. Her job provides our health coverage, and any chance we might have of future security/retirement. I’m very thankful for her, and our arrangement. We figured out more than twenty years ago that with my qualifications and education (zero, outside of performing), any day job I got would pretty much all be blown on daycare for the kid. It was pointless. It made more sense for me to just keep gigging at night, and be home in the daytime with the babies. That way we still had my income, and strangers weren’t raising our offspring.

In addition to getting to play for a living, I wouldn’t trade all the time I got to spend with my kids for any amount of money, stuff, or security. No way. I have so many friends that are at work so much they almost miss their kid’s childhood altogether. I got everything. First steps, first words, first dump on the pot, zoo trips, pillow forts, all of it. No way could I put a price tag on that.

Would I still be doing this if my wife weren’t in the picture, and I was just a single guy gigging in bars? Yes. Yes I would. It’s who I am. But I’m fully aware that I would be living an entirely different lifestyle. And if that’s the way it was, I’d be ok with that.

I do supplement my income these days by working part time (Sunday and Monday nights) as a night manager at my buddy’s little dive bar. I help book music and plan events there, too. I don’t have to do it, but it’s a couple hundred bucks a week, it’s fun, and he needed the help. I enjoy it. And I think that’s the key. All the money and stuff in the world would not make me feel better about doing anything I didn’t enjoy. I’m not preaching, or even advising. Some people are fine doing what they feel they have to, to have the things they want. And that’s perfectly ok. My philosophy has always been to just do whatever I feel like, and accept whatever that brings as enough. I’ll never be rich, but I’ve always been happy.

I once heard Steve Vai say “A musician never asks himself whether or not he should play music for a living, because that would imply there is another option, and for us, there just isn’t.”

I never had a choice. I did my first public gig at 14 years old, and it was over for me right then and there. I knew in that moment that I was never really going to do anything else.
 

OmegaWoods

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Lots of well-considered, tastefully-delivered snark in this thread...

My daughter-in-law dances professionally. Her story is much like @Jakedog 's. Ballet is her passion. She will dance until her legs fell off, then sit on the floor and teach the little ones. She'll never be rich or in the movies. She'll never dance as a regular with the NYC Ballet but she gets paid to dance and does dancing-related things to make some extra bucks. She is driven to dance professionally and has the fire and skills, acquired over a lifetime of practice, to do so. She has never considered doing anything else. She dances in a small-market ballet company and teaches.

If you're willing to prioritize your playing and networking, you can make a go professionally. If you aren't, it's still fun. If it's your "one thing" then don't compromise and make it happen. Pack your guitar and move to LA or Nashville. Sweep floors at the studio. Play, play, play. Start an Instagram and a YouTube channel.

I personally didn't have the guts to not follow the pre-determined path set out for me by my family and culture, which worked out great but I didn't follow my passion and chose a boring (but fulfilling) life. I chose my sacrifice. Now, you can chose yours but realize that life rarely rewards half-measures.
 
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Tyuk

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I'm reading the messages and a lot of them are good, I had to stop and respond... lol

This is complete BS, revenues from Music and albums sales were f***cking huge at one time... concert for name bands are huge

The problem is people don't pay for music, they just steal it or record companies release music for free. The big companies really screw the smaller musicians/bands

...I'm not attacking you personally and your advice is good, my problem is with record companies and free plays of music that should generate revenue for the musicians, not Youtube/Google.
100% agree with your statement. My point though is that a) most sustainable jobs for musicians are not music related and b) if they are, they have nothing to do with performing are concerts or selling albums.

IME, those who can make ends meet solely on performing or revenue from selling their music represent the exception to the rule.
 




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