Wednesday, February 3, 2010

10 Tips For Making A Living Playing Music


Danny Barnes has a nice post on his blog about making a living playing music. It's long and little difficult to read because of the layout, but the information is really good. Let me select some points of his that I consider important, but I'll put them into my own words.

1) Keep your expenses low. Most musicians do this already except they spend their excess funds on gear (I know, who can resist?). The idea is to be able to keep a roof over your head, pay your taxes, have health insurance, and even put a little away for a rainy day. If you make a bunch of dough, you'll know how to deal with it already, and if you don't, you still won't have to be selling your gear to make a car payment.

2) You must build your infrastructure. Your infrastructure consists of a lawyer, bookkeeper, CPA, doctor, mechanic, instrument repair guy, and a web guy, plus a backup for each one. If you're an artist, also include a manager and an agent. Having someone around who will always tell you the truth no matter how much it hurts is also a good idea.

3) Keep 2 things in mind when making a deal. No matter whether it's with another person, club owner, manager or company: a) make sure any arrangement is always win/win, and b) make sure that either of you can walk away at any time and it'll be cool.

4) Don't be afraid to do other things to make money in the short term. You need money to live, you need it to feel good about yourself, and you need it to advance your career. Stop mooching off your family or girlfriend.

5) Keep working on your art. Keep studying, rehearsing, practicing and learning. You can never learn enough and you're never as good as you think you are.

6) Keep your art your main focus. Remember a phrase that has always kept me going and kept everything in perspective: "Art is something you do for yourself. A craft is something you do for everyone else." A musician needs to maintain his art to feel good about himself. Don't give yourself completely away to the craft side of music or you'll begin to hate it.

7) Do everything you can to build an audience. If you have an audience, gigs, managers, agents and just about everything else you need to work in the music business will come looking for you.

8) Be wary of musicians that tell you how great they are, or only talk about gear. If you truly are great you won't have to tell anyone, they'll tell you. If you only talk about gear, it means that you're avoiding what could amount to a meaningful or helpful relationship.

9) Learn to write songs. Not only is writing fulfilling, but it gives you many options to make money beyond just being an artist. Publishing is one of the few areas of the music business that is still actually doing well and will probably continue to do so. It also helps you maintain your "art."

10) Don't give a CD, or send music or a press kit to someone unless they ask for it. The chances are almost 100% they won't listen to it or read it anyway, and you'll probably ruin any chance of them asking for it in the future.

Danny has a lot more points that you might like to read about. He's speaking from experience, which is always the ultimate teacher.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, it is very informative!

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