There was a young kid that just wanted to play music, loved to perform and wanted nothing more than to play music for the rest of his life. He left school and went straight on the road touring with a band, studied a degree in music and taught music privately. He learnt how to play over 10 instruments and played 1000’s of gigs and was involved in everything music.
Then the elephant appeared. Your rent is due, you need to pay those bills and you need to pay for a new car. Kids came along and expenses went into overtime.
But it’s a $15 Billion industry…
So what did he do – blamed the music industry for not paying musicians enough. Blamed the venues, blamed the fans and generally thought that everyone was against him.
So he did what most musicians do when this happens, let the elephant squash the dream and move on to a career that is ‘stable’ and can provide a consistent income.
Most musicians avoid the issue of money except to say they don’t get paid enough. And to rub the elephant in a bit more, you have friends, relatives and more, hinting that “music is a hobby so make sure you have that backup plan”.
This is where it really starts to get interesting, the problem with the elephant in the room is that it doesn’t go away. It sits there being really obvious, telling you that you weren’t good enough to ‘make it’ in the industry. Telling you ‘those that can’t do, teach’. At least that will get you some money.
See the problem is not that musicians aren’t good enough or not talented enough or even that you can’t make money in the industry.
It boils down to a few issues. Two of these key issues are related to how we are educated.
Number one: Our education system is slightly flawed.
What do I mean by that?
When we are at school we are taught that failure means we are not good enough. You must get things right. We are not taught that making mistakes is the key to success. We are taught that we need to get high marks and “not make mistakes” to be successful at school. In reality, the successful people are the ones that have made mistakes and learnt from them. Kids in school are still scared to make mistakes out of embarrassment . Making mistakes should be looked at as an extremely positive experience.
This is a guarantee in the music industry. You will experience many, many failures. But in that will come the ability to learn how to handle these ‘rejections’ and use them as a positive experience. It’s essential to helping you become better!
Secondly: We are not taught how to manage our money. I don’t mean managing money as in a budget, getting a loan and buying a car. These are important, but I mean learning how to be a money maker, not a wage earner. We are taught how to spend money and how to earn money by getting a secure job. But not taught how to make money, how to make a job and how to develop an income. All of these attributes are required if you are going to make it in the music industry.
We have it ingrained in our brain that to play music is just a hobby and very few people make it in the music industry, yet the music industry is a $15 Billion plus industry. (http://www.ifpi.org/global-statistics.php). Physical music products are still over 50% of music sales. Yet as a musician we are conditioned to think that there isn’t enough income out there and so we have surrendered to the elephant in the room and have initiated our backup career.
Yes, it’s tough to make an income in the music industry, but it’s tough making money in lots of industries. In any other industry, if you want your business to grow, you get educated or surround yourself with people that are educated. The music industry is no different..
As mature, experienced musicians, we are the ones that have been through the changes in the industry, and we need to be the ones to educate the young, aspiring musicians. To not just develop as musicians, but develop as business people, as financially intelligent musicians that can have their cake and eat it too.
After 20 years of working with young artists in the rural Australian music industry, the number one desire I hear over and over is to be able to make a living from their music. From older people, I hear it over and over again, I wish I had more time to play music but my work doesn’t allow for me to spend the time on music anymore.
This is our opportunity as mature musicians to encourage, believe and give the younger generation the skills they need to face the issues and be confident that they can be a full time musician doing what they love and sharing their energy and love for music as a 100% full time experience.
Lets face the elephant in the music room, share our experiences and help out the next generation of aspiring musicians and singer songwriters..