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  1. #101

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    So true Stevebol.

    But here's another twist. It is possible to travel as a musician - tours.

    That's one of the things I enjoyed most about it.
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

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  3. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunnysideup View Post
    So true Stevebol.

    But here's another twist. It is possible to travel as a musician - tours.

    That's one of the things I enjoyed most about it.
    DIY tours?

    The Musician’s Guide To Touring Japan (and other Countries) | grassrootsy

    Japanese musicians claim club owners were throwing too much money at foreign bands. Probably true. I don't know where it stands now but they did clamp down fairly recently.
    no situation is perfect. I did a residency in the stone age but those are long gone. They were seedy. These days you can go with a band or go alone.
    There are other places in that region like Hong Kong, Singapore..

    I'd like to go back and just be a tourist.

  4. #103

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    That's a new one on me Steve.

    I never toured in the far East, but in Europe and the US.

    The tours were organized by a collaboration of record label managers, band managers, and local tour managers.

    Most of the logistics would be handled by the tour managers because of their local knowledge of venues and accommodation and transportation and stuff like that.

    I guess most workaday jazz pros or semi-pros wouldn’t have those luxuries. And doing it all yourself really wouldn’t be possible in most situations. For all sorts of reasons, not least of all there are several languages involved in European tours.

    It often seemed to me that their were several languages involved in the US too, even within the English-speaking community! That's a joke, don't take offence :-)
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

  5. #104

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1958Wes View Post

    2) Your wife has a killer job. This would be the most common solution. Most of the "cats" I know that "just play" have a wife toiling away at some 40 hour (or more) a week job earning $70k or more a year. This affords them their days to rehearse, hang out, practice, record shop, etc... and then they are free to gig every night and contribute what they can to the family finances.

    4) You must be exceptionally, talented. Like top .01% talented. Then you can tour the world and support yourself just playing "jazz". You MUST, in fact, tour the WORLD because the money is overseas. You might be careful what you wish for here, because 9-10 months or more of every year will be spent on the road. Mostly sitting in airports, on tarmacs, in customs, etc. So how does this model work if you have a family back home?
    This is a really excellent and accurate post. I have an acquaintance who's a famous jazz pianist, works with a well known singer that tours all over the world. One day I was talking with his wife, and I asked where he was, and she said he was flying to Indonesia to play TWO GIGS, and then coming back. something like 20 hours of flying each way for two gigs. This is probably an extreme example but this stuff does happen, all our favorite full-time top-shelf jazz musicians spend a significant amount of their lives in airports, planes and cars.

    Also there are tons of well known jazz musicians whose spouses have good gigs (doctors, lawyers, etc). This is kind of the only way to raise a family in a major metropolitan area like NYC. Not that everyone stays in NYC, plenty of people move out of town to an area with a lower cost of living once they are established. Bill Frisell moved to Seattle, Steve Coleman has lived in Allentown, PA for like at least 20 years, etc. I think Kevin Eubanks also lived in Allentown for a while.

  6. #105

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    Survival in NYC (where I live) is a complex puzzle to be solved for many and it is not only musicians
    for whom having a partner with a second income is an essential component.

  7. #106

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    Very true bako. So why chose a career that stacks the odds even further against you?

    Take the simple issue of loans - will a bank make a loan for a house or car to a jazz musician?

    Well yes if you're George Benson (who I'm sure doesn't need the loan anyway). But not 99% of jazz musicians. Not just because their income is too low, but because it's too unstable.
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

  8. #107

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    Unsubscribing from this BS, negative, counter-productive thread.

    Making music from anything creative is hitting a moving target. But, you know what? Technology is changing everything. Music is the thin end of the wedge. Your job will be replaced somewhere down the line. Unless you are a Silicon Valley tech mogul.

    9-5 is no longer a thing.

    You want to find out how people make a living in music? Ask musicians who are doing it. Ask Nigel Price. Ask Adam Neely. Or any of my friends and colleagues.

    There are a few people seeking to validate their own life options through argument. That's fine, but I'm not going to dignify it with the idea that it is some sort of sensible and helpful debate. They have no interest in finding out how or why, just perpetuating their own BS.

    See ya.

  9. #108

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    Depends what you mean by "making a living".

    Playing supermakets, weddings and funerals is just going to make pocket money. Which is fine if you're living in public housing or off mum and dad's beneficence, or a partner's income.

    But it's naive in the extreme to think that a workaday jazz pro or semi-pro is going to be self-supporting in anything like a real sense in a city like New York or London.

    It's also irresponsible to give that BS to youngsters.

    By the way, I've made a living in music and worked as a musician in London and New York and numerous other cities and countries.

    And IT is eroding the musician's business faster than anything else is.

    A degree in IT will get 99% of graduates a house and car, a degree in music more like 1%.

    I hope your life options work out for you. Good luck.
    Last edited by sunnysideup; 02-20-2018 at 09:21 AM.
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by sunnysideup View Post
    Depends what you mean by "making a living".

    Playing supermakets, weddings and funerals is just going to make pocket money. Which is fine if you're living in public housing or off mum and dad's beneficence, or a partner's income.

    But it's naive in the extreme to think that a workaday jazz pro or semi-pro is going to be self-supporting in anything like a real sense in a city like New York or London.

    It's also irresponsible to give that BS to youngsters.

    By the way, I've made a living in music and worked as a musician in London and New York and numerous other cities and countries.

    And IT is eroding the musician's business faster than anything else is.

    A degree in IT will get 99% of graduates a house and car, a degree in music more like 1%.

    I hope your life options work out for you. Good luck.
    It sure is.
    it is possible to start on Youtube and build some interest. Then you have to hit the road.
    Trying to make a living in jazz is no different than any other music. It may not be very popular but there's a network of support surrounding it.
    I don't have any words of wisdom for young musicians. I got where I wanted to be but the circumstances were unusual. As someone pointed out the money was overseas.
    Arranged marriages don't seem to be a thing in jazz but they are in R&B. I hit a roadblock.

    I don't know if music should be 'free' but a lot of people think it should be these days.

  11. #110

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    Wasn't it 'free love' in the 60's? How did that work out in the long run?
    Now it's 'free music'.

    I'm not a child of the 60's but I believe in doing your own thing. I also believe love is all you need.

    OP, do you own thing.

  12. #111

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Unsubscribing from this BS, negative, counter-productive thread.

    Making music from anything creative is hitting a moving target. But, you know what? Technology is changing everything. Music is the thin end of the wedge. Your job will be replaced somewhere down the line. Unless you are a Silicon Valley tech mogul.

    9-5 is no longer a thing.

    You want to find out how people make a living in music? Ask musicians who are doing it. Ask Nigel Price. Ask Adam Neely. Or any of my friends and colleagues.

    There are a few people seeking to validate their own life options through argument. That's fine, but I'm not going to dignify it with the idea that it is some sort of sensible and helpful debate. They have no interest in finding out how or why, just perpetuating their own BS.

    See ya.
    Right on! It wasn't supposed to be a debate about a career choice in the first place. The OP just asked those who do make a living from music how they do it.

    It mostly turned into lecturing on why music shouldn't be your career. And some commenters don't even qualify for the job to begin with!

    If you hate the idea someone is actually living or preparing to live the life of a working musician, maybe you're not that happy with yours and maybe a bit jealous you don't have the guts? Otherwise why do you even bother?

    Let me tell you, the absolute majority of musician I know are the happiest human beings I ever met, even if they are poor as dirt. OTOH, I know more than a few who are miserable with all their good paying jobs and mortgages.

    Your choice is your choice, but just a reminder, the OP didn't seem to need your validation, just experience of those who are actually doing it.

  13. #112
    after all these years, Keith Jarrett 's words describe it pretty accurately for me. Something along the lines of "if you want to become a musician don't do it, cause it's a hard profession, but if you have to become a musician, it's the greatest job in the world"

  14. #113

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    Money is no replacement for self-worth.

    Living frugally and simply is generally better for the planet and, often, for yourself.

    Professional musicianship is a calling, not a choice, especially in the non-commercial fields like jazz and classical music.

    Some posters here have had some bad experiences, and have become bitter and negative, while some are actually engaged in full-time performing and are making a "living" without sacrificing the time and focus needed for mastery of their instrument and style.

    Playing music for people is rewarding in many ways, and can be rewarding financially, but no drone day job will ever be as rewarding as playing music for people if you're really a musician, and no well-paying day job will allow you the time and focus to achieve your potential.

    Nobody gets out alive.

  15. #114

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    I know a lot of highly skilled musicians who scrape by. Usually, it's a combination of gigs and teaching.

    The jazz musicians I know who can actually make a living at it are very few in number, mostly musical geniuses and even they teach. You can be an exceptional jazz guitarist and still not be good enough.

    I know some musicians who have made a middle class living with steady union work, e.g. road shows of Broadway productions, some of whom were previously successful in NYC.

    When I was a high school senior, I thought about being a pro musician. I didn't think I had a good enough ear. Decades later, I still think it.

  16. #115

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    Hey,

    even though I did not read every single answer so far in this thread, I write my own short story as a working musician.

    I have to say, I like the english name "working musician", because this is, what I am and how I feel. I am neither a well known guitarist nor do I have my own great successfull band with many fans, I even would go so far to say, I'm not super good in any special music style.
    For me, playing the guitar is my passion. I started kind of early, learning classical guitar with 7 yrs, winning some competitions, soon adding (! not replace) the electric guitar, becoming in my school and home village "the guitarist", having my first bands (I just recently looked it up, with 14 years, I played about 1-2 gigs per week) playing more and more, earning some money, being asked by people in the audience if I could show them some things (that's how I started teaching).... So I just slipped into this whole scene.
    My roots are the british blues guitarists, but I always was open to everything. Up to today, I play, whatever is requiered, often jobs as as sub for different bands, no matter if it is blues or rock or funk or country or pop or musical or classic or jazz... With every job I learn something new. I am always well prepared for the next gig. Sometimes that means, that I have to practice a lot, sometimes I just show up (with my small duo "Gramm Art Project", we play e.g. mostly corporate events, jazzy tunes as backround music. But for fun, we started with "Silentmovie with livemusic", where we play live while showing old, german silentmovies (e.g. F.W. Murnau, L. Reiniger)). I have some students, they pay me directly when we meet each other, so if I'm on tour somewhere, I don't have to cancel stuff or find new dates for them. But being as musician is work. And it requires good organisation, you have to pay your tax, you have to talk to venues, manage all the different gigs and rehearsals for all those bands, you need to update your website, check your gear... and take care of your family (if you want to keep them)! Often I don't get too much sleep. It is nice to hang out with your music friends after the gig and drink some beers, but if there is a rehearsal the next morning, then you better be prepared and not too tired to concentrate. It is a job, a nice job, but being a musician requires much more than any university degree.
    Yeah. Maybe a little bit chaotic, but that's about my story .