Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Posts 1 to 50 of 115
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    I'm a sophomore majoring in Jazz Studies, and I don't want to fall back on a day job when I graduate. Ideally, I'd like to get gigs and teach private lessons right off the bat. I know some people who just gig and teach lessons, and they're able to afford decent one bedroom apartments. But I know other people who have day jobs in offices or banks, and only get one gig a week. I live in the Ann Arbor/Detroit area, and it's a great scene for Jazz.

    Those of you who pay your rent by just gigging and teaching lessons, how do you do it? How many lessons do you teach and how many gigs do you get a week in order to get by?

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    Girlfriends.

    Seriously, I don't know too many young musicians having their own one bedrooms in NYC. Maybe a bass player or two... Mostly you would have to live with roommates.

    As far as how many gigs- as much as possible, and mostly events, not restaurants or clubs. Only events pay decent, at least that's New York experience. I don't know what type of jazz you play, but you better be ready and able to play good time variety, no one wants to hear nerdy bebop at parties.

    I'm lucky to have 2 days a week job teaching guitar and bands in school, it covers my rent, the rest I hassle. That's it! Still beats 9-5 though... not that anybody would hire me for anything like that

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    hah!! hep exactly...girlfriends!

    bless'em all..haha

    ah youth!

    cheers

    ps- to the op...who's serious- no matter what you do in life keep your/a guitar close by....there are no individual answers..but a guitar can see you through the toughest of times...and accompany your best...luck

    cheers
    Last edited by neatomic; 02-06-2018 at 12:31 AM. Reason: ps-

  5. #4

    User Info Menu




    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevebol View Post
    Thank you. Finally the truth.
    It has little to do with chops. Actually nothing. I was the king of the R&B underground and then I wasn't. I realized I was a complete dumb-ass with women. I had a 'friend with benefits' in CA in the 80's and she wanted to beat up all these women I met in Japan while being a gigolo for 6 months.
    In order to prevent violence I bailed.
    If you want to make a living in music at some point you might be broke. Then you're screwed.
    You might as well get a job at Micky Dee's.
    Nice guys really do finish last.
    Well, you better have some chops, if you suck the girlfriend might kick you out! lol. I know I have to wait till she's outta the door to start practicing banjo, there is not much tolerance for that

  7. #6
    Seriously, I don't know too many young musicians having their own one bedrooms in NYC. Maybe a bass player or two... Mostly you would have to live with roommates.
    New York is too expensive. I'd rather stay in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area. There are quite a few Jazz venues around here, and I know Jazz majors fresh out of school who have their own apartments.
    But the people I know who find the most work are bassists and drummers and not guitarists.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    Well, you better have some chops, if you suck the girlfriend might kick you out! lol. I know I have to wait till she's outta the door to start practicing banjo, there is not much tolerance for that
    hahaha!

    (that cracked me up!)




    cheers

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by BGulecki313 View Post
    But the people I know who find the most work are bassists and drummers and not guitarists.
    This.

    Simple truth is there's no market for jazz. A "successful" jazz record sells hundreds of copies, maybe a thousand. Even less market for jazz guitar unless you are really good, then there is a tiny market. Not enough to make a living for more than a handful.

    If someone wants gigs, play bass or drums. Jazz guitarists are like sax players- on every damn corner. A dime a dozen and more supply than demand. Most of them are practically indistinguishable from each other. But a good upright bassist or jazz drummer is always in demand- everybody needs 'em. They are the foundation of jazz.

    And: sorry to say, to really teach jazz (versus the notion of jazz) the teacher needs to go gig for ten years and learn how it really works, not the stuff they teach you in school. They need to find many situations where they are the least player on the bandstand and get their musical butts kicked. It takes many, many gigs to work it out even if you already know the scales and modes and chords. You need to acquire and become fluent in the language- the patois and slang- and the tradition, not just the grammar.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by BGulecki313 View Post
    New York is too expensive. I'd rather stay in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area. There are quite a few Jazz venues around here, and I know Jazz majors fresh out of school who have their own apartments.
    But the people I know who find the most work are bassists and drummers and not guitarists.
    For sure, stay where you are and know people and have connections. Sounds like a good place to be a jazz musician in Detroit area.

    In NYC playing in any venue you have to bring people to get paid, jazz or not jazz. You can't make a living playing only jazz venues, unless people want to come to see you and pack the joint. If you have horses for that then you don't need to ask, you'll be fine. Btw, trad jazz scene has an edge in this regard because of the dancers who follow those gigs.

    There's no magic shortcuts really, and no magic advice either if you think about it...

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Jazz is a priceless treasure, but it's far from a bankable one. The people don't listen to it, and jazz lovers don't support it.
    There ARE of course many jobs you may be qualified to do, I have friends who work at UPS (one of the reasons I know not to send guitars by UPS by the way) and Charles Mingus worked as postal worker, Carla Bley a cigarette girl in a night club, Denny Zeitlin was a psychiatrist, the list goes on. Be imaginative. Uber driver? Service industry? Have you worked in a music store?
    As far as using the knowledge you paid for in school, do you have a tux? Wedding season will be upon us and you should be taking bookings now to work in the summer.

    What does this have to do with jazz? Everything. It's called paying your dues.

    David
    Last edited by TruthHertz; 02-06-2018 at 07:55 AM.

  12. #11
    That's a good question. Now a question for you? Why are you in jazz? It's like someone moving to India during the monsoon season and saying "Is there something that I can do so I don't get wet?".
    There was a time when jazz was supportable by being good enough to be good. Not so anymore. Really. I have a friend in NY, top guitarist, played with Bowie, is on everyone's Top Dog list and he can work anywhere in Europe. But he can't work a little club for 30 people in Greenwich Village without his wife getting thrown out of the club before he gets his $75 for the night. This is not the world it was 20 years ago.
    Here in Detroit I see the good players get paid $100 - $150 a gig at clubs and restaurants. The younger guys get $75 - $100 at clubs and restaurants. Sometimes they have a good crowd, sometimes there's two people. But usually from what I've seen, even people who don't have any musical experience recognize that they're seeing good players and they're pleased. I remember I went to see my buddy and his piano trio, and they got done playing Green Dolphin Street. An older couple walked up to them and said "That was the greatest music we've ever heard. We're coming back here next week."

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    Play jazz but get good at old swing or funk. Work with singers every chance you get. Learn to sing and play even if it's just harmonies. Play bass even if it's just electric.
    Find a friend with benefits. You can go live with her after your girlfriend kicks you out of the apartment.

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by BGulecki313 View Post
    Here in Detroit I see the good players get paid $100 - $150 a gig at clubs and restaurants. The younger guys get $75 - $100 at clubs and restaurants. Sometimes they have a good crowd, sometimes there's two people. But usually from what I've seen, even people who don't have any musical experience recognize that they're seeing good players and they're pleased. I remember I went to see my buddy and his piano trio, and they got done playing Green Dolphin Street. An older couple walked up to them and said "That was the greatest music we've ever heard. We're coming back here next week."
    $75-100 for a restaurant gig is standard here too. $150 if you're very lucky. Problem is, you can't predict the reliability of these gigs. You have it this week, next it' s gone.

    I was having pretty much steady twice a week $150 restaurant gig last year. This year I don't have them anymore, the restaurant manager said we didn't see a surplus since we hired you guys, goodbye and good luck. And yes, we had people come to us all the time and saying all the nice things how much they enjoyed it and leaving us tips. It wasn't my gig btw, I just got the calls.

    I still have my steady brunch gig, and a club gig, but you never know how long it's gonna last.

    Sounds better and better your Detroit... Think you have a place for one more?

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Jazz, jazz. jazz??? Really now, tell me absolutely any kind of music you might do that guarantees not having to take a day job, if you pursue a real grown up existence like supporting a wife and child. I can't think of any. You can't remain a boy your whole life. Jazz...jazz?? Bwaa-haaa!!!

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    who like jazz?

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    A really great question. My short abridged answer...

    Are there any jazz musicians earning enough to buy a car and a house, and support a family? A very tiny minority maybe.

    I floated around the music business for a while, decided I didn’t like the business or most of the people in it. So I did a degree in a completely different subject, a master’s in another completely different subject. Made a lot of money and got much more satisfaction than I got from the music business. (Still love the music though.)

    Charlie Parker, when asked by Paul Desmond “Why did you get into music?” replied “There wasn’t much else for us to do”.

    African American choices were very limited in those days. White people in the US and Europe have always had more choices. (For the record, I’m white and I hope I haven’t offended anyone.)

    Chose wisely :-)
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    There is the old truism that a Jazz Guitar player drives his $8000 guitar in his $2000 car to the $100 gig...

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Even the best players teach. If Kenny Burrell and Frank Vignola have teaching jobs, there is no shame in teaching.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Short answer: you need a day job.
    Great Deals with Great Folks: max52 (Guild-Benedetto Artist Award); prickards (Ribbecke GC Halfling); Cincy2 (Comins Concert)

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Doublea A View Post
    Even the best players teach. If Kenny Burrell and Frank Vignola have teaching jobs, there is no shame in teaching.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    And I contend that the good player should teach. The question remains regarding the damage that a student just out of school can cause. It's not a matter of why you should teach, but what and in a larger sense, if you should.
    Just because you have credentials to fulfill the criteria of mechanics and proficiency, is that going to give a graduate the ability to make value judgements about the knowledge base when it comes to a music like jazz?
    Well there's a lot you can teach besides jazz. For that, go for it.

    David

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    That's a good question. Now a question for you? Why are you in jazz? It's like someone moving to India during the monsoon season and saying "Is there something that I can do so I don't get wet?".
    There was a time when jazz was supportable by being good enough to be good. Not so anymore. Really. I have a friend in NY, top guitarist, played with Bowie, is on everyone's Top Dog list and he can work anywhere in Europe. But he can't work a little club for 30 people in Greenwich Village without his wife getting thrown out of the club before he gets his $75 for the night. This is not the world it was 20 years ago.
    I think I know who that is... I was listening to him last night on the way back from my teaching gig.

    So here I am at university teaching bright eyed young'uns who want to be professionals. I have literally no idea what the world will be like in another 20 years, so careers advice is difficult. I don't think my path (10 years of umming and ahing after a degree in a different subject) would work now... Or even the career paths of the genuinely successful musicians I know.

    The world is harsher for them. I think they are best off looking at Adam Neely and people like that, who are carving out their own career path through the web.

    I do know that if I am going to be doing the same gigs I am doing in 10 years, I will feel a bit depressed, and while there are a few London gigs to tick off the list, there's not much more to do here on the playing circuit. My peers and friends are the London jazz scene right now (i.e. Ronnie's, the 606 etc) and they are largely 25-35.

    It's a sobering realisation talking to someone who is a bit more of a vet that many great players are no longer 'on the scene' - the reason is simple... They can't afford to be. They have mortgages, kids and so on. They teach and play well paid continental jazz festivals etc. Or session work. There are a few warriors who still go out on the road of course...

    While NYC is obviously jazz centre of the universe, it sounds similar in many ways. Once you've done Smalls, 55 bar etc... What then? Tour Europe. Get a professorship in a distant country. But you'd always miss the level of the music in NYC wouldn't you?

    I'm guessing the Big Pop Tour won't materialise at my age now (I would probably hate it anyway) and I see so many talented young players coming up ready to be the new jazz scene in 5-10 years. I'm thinking education might be the future for me.

    Truth of the thing is, nobody really makes a living from jazz. Show guys play shows and session guys play sessions with a bit of jazz on the side. Well known jazzers teach (sometimes).... Pure jazzers are either rich, or have a rich other half.

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    I went to see the musical 42nd Street recently in London and they had a great alto sax player, Jamie Talbot, in the pit band. I haven't seen him for years and years, he used to be a regular at Ronnies.

    This is probably a nice gig for him as the music for the show is very jazzy and nicely orchestrated, I don't suppose show gigs with as much jazz content come along too often.

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    @TruthHertz. John McLaughlin’s “Follow Your Heart” was very influential on me, both as a piece of music, and as a philosophy. But after 5 years of following my heart, I realized I had to follow my head.

    My view is that Jazz was created by African Americans earning a living (yes, I know most of the guitarists were/are white). Now it seems to be populated by white boys from privileged backgrounds whose parents have deep enough pockets to support their children's whims (yes, I know this is an overgeneralization).

    @Christian. The gigs you are playing now won’t be around in 10 years’ time, so you may not have the chance to be unhappy about being on the same circuit.

    Yes teaching is great, if it’s in the vein of a master passing on experience, like Kenny, or Pat Martino, or John McLaughlin. But just teaching at a school or uni wouldn’t appeal to me at all.

    One of my peers has played with all the UK top jazzers, and many of the visiting legends from the states. I haven’t seen him for years and years, but I occasionally look him up online, even for him gigs are drying up, have been for a long time.

    But ultimately it was the lifestyle, I absolutely loathed it. Still love the music though!

    And there are so many much more interesting ways to earn a much better living.

    The problem with being a hobby guitarist is that to get to a satisfactory level (all relative of course) takes almost as much time as getting to a decent pro level (not talking major artist level here).
    Last edited by sunnysideup; 02-06-2018 at 09:31 AM.
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    To be able to play jazz is a reward and privilege. To be able to make any money at it is extra. When I got out of school, the older cats would warn me that the scene isn’t what it used to be, and I took their advice and barreled through it. And the scene now sure is not what it used to be! But don’t let that stop you, but be aware. Nowadays, you have to have way more skills than music to be successful. I made my living playing a lot more music other than jazz. Some of these gigs opened doors to other musical opportunities I would have never expected. And the girlfriend/wife who is there for you helps! Life can be a lot like jazz sometimes.

  26. #25
    I have never tried to live only from gigging. Reason is just a very few examples - friends who actually do that. Sometimes they're pretty rich compared to my poor teacher arse... but way too often they can be in financial trouble for months. I couldn't live like that

    The good news with teaching is, if being smart and not waste money too much, 2 days job and 5 free is absolutely fine to be happy. Well, unless there's kids'n'wife..

  27. #26

    User Info Menu

    Further along the life...Bankruptcies in the US population are mostly due to medical expenses even when people have (some) health insurance. All of us (even if we stay single :-) will get old and will eventually need expensive health care. This makes even people with well-paying jobs scared of their future. It would be wise not to be overspecialized in one area of life and not be able to adapt to changes in circumstances. Marrying rich or other types of fully funded relationships would work too.
    -----------------------------------

    "The instrument keeps me humble. Sometimes I pick it up and it seems to say, "No, you can't play today." I keep at it anyway, though." Jim Hall

  28. #27

    User Info Menu

    Isn't teaching guitar a day job? It can be a lot of work to do well, including time put in to prepare for the lesson. There are a lot of other day jobs that take less effort and are much more financialy reliable. Then be a musician in the evenings and and on your days off.

    Nurses for example can have 12 hour shifts, 4 days a week. That's an honorable job that could work well with being a musician.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  29. #28

    User Info Menu

    This is why I was shocked to find out that you could major in "jazz guitar" at some universities. I honestly had no idea before I joined this forum. To me that is like majoring in "impressionist landscapes". To the extent that university is preparing you for a career and is not just a place to park 18-22 years olds without having their parents shoot them, offering a degree in "jazz guitar" seems down right immoral.

    I've worked as an attorney for 20 plus years, much of it in the entertainment industry. I can say that "entertainment" isn't a career. You don't choose to be an NBA forward. You are a freak of nature that, if you work REALLY hard and get REALLY lucky, you might make it. Your odds are close to the Powerball Lottery. Your rewards are similar --huge fortunes or you are out a $20, nothing in between. Music is not much more forgiving. There are some freaks of nature who, combined with hard work and lots of luck, might make a career out of paying an instrument. Most successful pop musicians just happen to be at the right place and the right time to get the glare of the industry spotlight on them. The pop musician to the left of them and the right were equally talented (or banal) and are never going to have a shot. Did you see the half time show at the Superbowl? That should be proof enough that making it in music has nothing to do with talent or hard work.

    If by age 20 (I assume that is the OP's age) there isn't a buzz around your playing and gigs lining up there is probably no chance you will have paying career playing your instrument.

    That said, DON'T STOP playing your instrument. It will be a source of happiness and pleasure very few people have. I don't understand how other people live without playing music. Alcohol, I suppose. And get as much out of your university as you can. It is a unique time in your life where literally hundreds of millions of dollars in capital and resources are devoted to whatever you have an interest in learning. You are never again going to have so many talented musicians paid to help you learn and improve. I would give nearly anything to be able to spend four years exploring music, history, political science, etc. Just keep in mind that when it is done, you are going to have to get a job. You would do best taking some steps preparing for that now WHILE you devote yourself to jazz guitar.

  30. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    Isn't teaching guitar a day job? It can be a lot of work to do well, including time put in to prepare for the lesson. There are a lot of other day jobs that take less effort and are much more financialy reliable. Then be a musician in the evenings and and on your days off.

    Nurses for example can have 12 hour shifts, 4 days a week. That's an honorable job that could work well with being a musician.
    I said in my original post, by "day job" I mean working a job that isn't music related during the day, like being a mortgage officer or working at a bank. Teaching lessons is technically a day job, but it's music related and that's what I'm going to school for.
    I was asking if anybody else pays the rent by just teaching lessons during the day and getting gigs at night.

  31. #30

    User Info Menu

    My dad used to say, get an education in perspective area so you can hold a regular job that pays the bills and then you can play the music on the side all you want and enjoy the life. Win-win? Absolutely not! Do not fall into this trap!

    If you want to be musician, then be a musician, dedicate all of yourself to it, and pay the price sacrificing other things. Dont be a nurse or something, thats rediculous, thats whole different career. You cant hang out till 4am and then go to work at 8am, not in a long run.

    Teaching music is part of being musician, but if we are talking part time teaching. Full time school teacher is not what we are talking here, because thats super demanding job in itself leave you no time or energy to be a performer.

    No matter how tough it could be, to be in the game and have a shot at it you need to stay in the game. Half assed way is an illusion.

  32. #31

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Jabberwocky View Post
    Short answer: you need a day job.
    my day job is practising jazzguitar...:-)

  33. #32

    User Info Menu

    @sunnysideup I would certainly not say I am unhappy and don’t want to give the impression I’m moaning... it’s more that I’m acutely aware of the limitations of the jazz circuit. Most players are.

    In the longer term, everyone else is screwed too, not just the musos :-)

  34. #33

    User Info Menu

    Which is said half jokingly because I actually think we are on the cusp of golden age.... but there will be a lot of stress as society shifts in the wake of technology. As always.

  35. #34

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Which is said half jokingly because I actually think we are on the cusp of golden age.... but there will be a lot of stress as society shifts in the wake of technology. As always.
    I know a lot of musicians who are making it without a day job, although some of them do occasionally take day jobs.

    Several are full time, or close, school teachers, teaching music. Elementary, middle or high school.

    Several teach at local music schools in reasonably affluent communities. Some do around 30 hours a week combining after school and Saturdays.

    One teaches part time at a University.

    They all gig on the side, but it's hard to put together a decent living playing gigs around here. I do know a couple of guys who seem to do it, but I don't know their individual circumstances. And, even the most successful of these guys do play some gigs for almost nothing. That may have more to do with the nature of the music rather than financial desperation. Oh, I do know several guys who do union pit musician work for touring companies of Broadway shows -- they may make more of a living.

    Some of these guys live very frugally. Maybe most.

    For the most part, the guys making something approximating a living are truly great musicians.

    The guy I know who is doing best is a world class player held in awe by everyone -- and even he is looking for alternatives to performing, for example, composing/arranging music for the sorts of things that we binge watch.

    An aside. One of the Grammy nominees this year was Antonio Adolfo, who did an album of Wayne Shorter material. I wanted to buy the album, but I wanted to hear it first. I checked youtube, finding that the entire album was available. Who uploaded it? Antonio Adolfo.

    I don't know for certain that Sr. Adolfo actually posted it (it could have been a scam). But there it was. With this sort of thing happening, there can't be much money in selling recordings.

    Tough business.

  36. #35

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I don't know for certain that Sr. Adolfo actually posted it (it could have been a scam). But there it was. With this sort of thing happening, there can't be much money in selling recordings.
    I listened to an interview with Elvis Costello, and he opined that the window of time that you could make a living selling records has passed. No matter what anyone may think of his music, if Elvis Costello can't do it, little hope for the rest of us.

    The few musicians I know in the SF Bay that make a living as full time musicians live extremely frugally, hustle A LOT, and generally don't seem too happy about their situation. I don't know anyone that doesn't also teach in addition to playing gigs, and come to think of it, most NYC based musicians I know, teach as well. Having a partner with a good job is also quite common.

    To be fair, this is true of a lot of things, not just jazz or even music. A lot of professional boxers work day jobs, sometimes teaching boxing but sometimes complete different jobs. There's a ton of sports outside the most popular ones where elite level athletes are unable to earn a full time income from.

    I think there will be all sorts of new ways over the next decade to earn a living playing music, and I also suspect that those ways won't be anything like what has been done in the past.

  37. #36

    User Info Menu

    Hep, I admire your purity. And I do know full time musicians who do like you. But if you are anything like the ones I know, that purity comes with a price.

    I won’t put you on the spot by assuming anything about your situation, but I think it it fair to say few pro musicians can afford their own home or apartment. They have shared housing with roommates —even as full adults well into middle age. Few can support a family. Few have any form of health care. A sick child or a broken bone means bankruptcy and possible homelessness. Few have savings, have reliable transportation, or a credible plan for their old age.

    Even successful musicians can see their fortune change. I have a friend who had a major record label contract as a metal hair band in the eighties. He works as a bell hop in Las Vegas now, his 50th birthday staring him in the face.

    So if the OP feels the call to risk everything for music and can accept the risk, do it!!! But know what that kind of purity can cost you.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  38. #37

    User Info Menu

    I don't know any full time performers in the US. Some musicians would do a residency with a band in the far east and then stay there and freelance. They call pre-1987 simply 'the band days'. I found out about 4-5 years ago that they stopped hiring American bands after we were there.
    I think they just got sick of us. Remarkably, they didn't venture off into other kinds of vice and just stick to gambling. Gambling is bad enough.
    At this point I just want to jam once in while. I don't need to get paid. Play some blues.

  39. #38

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    Hep, I admire your purity. And I do know full time musicians who do like you. But if you are anything like the ones I know, that purity comes with a price.

    I won’t put you on the spot by assuming anything about your situation, but I think it it fair to say few pro musicians can afford their own home or apartment. They have shared housing with roommates —even as full adults well into middle age. Few can support a family. Few have any form of health care. A sick child or a broken bone means bankruptcy and possible homelessness. Few have savings, have reliable transportation, or a credible plan for their old age.

    Even successful musicians can see their fortune change. I have a friend who had a major record label contract as a metal hair band in the eighties. He works as a bell hop in Las Vegas now, his 50th birthday staring him in the face.

    So if the OP feels the call to risk everything for music and can accept the risk, do it!!! But know what that kind of purity can cost you.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    I live in Vegas and just hit 60. It was awesome. I celebrated by doing what I always do- gamble.
    Vegas Strong
    Send us your tired, your poor, and your shitty R&B bands from California.

  40. #39

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    Hep, I admire your purity. And I do know full time musicians who do like you. But if you are anything like the ones I know, that purity comes with a price.

    I won’t put you on the spot by assuming anything about your situation, but I think it it fair to say few pro musicians can afford their own home or apartment. They have shared housing with roommates —even as full adults well into middle age. Few can support a family. Few have any form of health care. A sick child or a broken bone means bankruptcy and possible homelessness. Few have savings, have reliable transportation, or a credible plan for their old age.

    Even successful musicians can see their fortune change. I have a friend who had a major record label contract as a metal hair band in the eighties. He works as a bell hop in Las Vegas now, his 50th birthday staring him in the face.

    So if the OP feels the call to risk everything for music and can accept the risk, do it!!! But know what that kind of purity can cost you.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    It's not a purity, I don't think, simply a career choice. Music is a career just like anything else. If you wanna be a doctor or a lawyer, you need to study and work hard for it. Why music should be different?

    Of course in reality, the rewards might be not the same. But one thing for sure, it's never gonna go anywhere if you don't give 100%.

    Yes, I don't own a house or apartment, I don't even have a car. But I don't think I'm unhappy because of that, I never care about those things. As long as I have my musical tools, clean shirts, and place to live, I'm fine. I'd be much more miserable having to wake up early every morning and go to work that I hate.

    Also, I'm in my mid 40's, and I barely had a full time job in my life, and not for the lack of trying either. I think the longest run was 3 month in a warehouse in midtown fabric factory, where in the end I got into a fight and had to quit. I did catering for a long time, but it was the same hassle to get work, and it was seasonal, so might as well hassle for music.

    Sometimes life sets you straight for a certain way of living, so music might as well just pick you, not the other way around. But everyone is different of course.

  41. #40

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    My dad used to say, get an education in perspective area so you can hold a regular job that pays the bills and then you can play the music on the side all you want and enjoy the life. Win-win? Absolutely not! Do not fall into this trap!

    If you want to be musician, then be a musician, dedicate all of yourself to it, and pay the price sacrificing other things. Dont be a nurse or something, thats rediculous, thats whole different career. You cant hang out till 4am and then go to work at 8am, not in a long run.

    Teaching music is part of being musician, but if we are talking part time teaching. Full time school teacher is not what we are talking here, because thats super demanding job in itself leave you no time or energy to be a performer.

    No matter how tough it could be, to be in the game and have a shot at it you need to stay in the game. Half assed way is an illusion.
    " Half assed way is an illusion."

    Your "Half assed......" statement might not be the only elusion in your post.

    I supported myself for 20 years as a full time musician but when I reached your age I went back to school, finished a couple of degrees and got a day job. Now I have few financial problems, own a house, cars, have health insurance, can travel around the world and have a lot more free time to play the music I like than I had when playing music for a living. (Besides, I don't have to show up for the gig when I'm sick and can't really give my best performance)

    I did what your dad suggested and don't regret a thing.

    But then again, YMMV and we all get to make our own choices.

    Best of luck.

  42. #41

    User Info Menu

    I had to pick this up from sunnyside, I should of course, know better:

    Yes teaching is great, if it’s in the vein of a master passing on experience, like Kenny, or Pat Martino, or John McLaughlin.
    If you are lucky enough to have one-on-one regular contact with musicians of that fame and calibre, that's terrific. This is probably not going to happen if you are not in New York... Even then, I think there's a lot of gates to pass through to get to that point.

    However, the celebrity doing a masterclass, or getting a one off lesson while great, is a fantastic thing, and I'm a big fan.

    OTOH do you have the type of relationship with the player in question for them to patiently work with you on weak areas of your playing and so on?

    I think this type of week in week out 'grunt' teaching is undervalued, very important, and the sort of thing I aspire to as a tutor... The ideal is to get people to the point where you can pass them down the line to the next thing, and a good teacher will suggest pathways and opportunities for their student that will benefit them. I want my students to outgrow my teaching.

    Outside the very creme de la creme of the music schools, even at undergrad level, players often have massive areas they need to work on before they are really ready to go on to the next stage, whatever that is.

    It's not the sort of thing you can can get from a book, a masterclass, Skype lesson with a celebrity player, or distance learning course, cool though those things are.
    Last edited by christianm77; 02-07-2018 at 12:26 PM.

  43. #42

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett View Post
    This is why I was shocked to find out that you could major in "jazz guitar" at some universities. I honestly had no idea before I joined this forum. To me that is like majoring in "impressionist landscapes". To the extent that university is preparing you for a career and is not just a place to park 18-22 years olds without having their parents shoot them, offering a degree in "jazz guitar" seems down right immoral.

    I've worked as an attorney for 20 plus years, much of it in the entertainment industry. I can say that "entertainment" isn't a career. You don't choose to be an NBA forward. You are a freak of nature that, if you work REALLY hard and get REALLY lucky, you might make it. Your odds are close to the Powerball Lottery. Your rewards are similar --huge fortunes or you are out a $20, nothing in between. Music is not much more forgiving. There are some freaks of nature who, combined with hard work and lots of luck, might make a career out of paying an instrument. Most successful pop musicians just happen to be at the right place and the right time to get the glare of the industry spotlight on them. The pop musician to the left of them and the right were equally talented (or banal) and are never going to have a shot. Did you see the half time show at the Superbowl? That should be proof enough that making it in music has nothing to do with talent or hard work.

    If by age 20 (I assume that is the OP's age) there isn't a buzz around your playing and gigs lining up there is probably no chance you will have paying career playing your instrument.

    That said, DON'T STOP playing your instrument. It will be a source of happiness and pleasure very few people have. I don't understand how other people live without playing music. Alcohol, I suppose. And get as much out of your university as you can. It is a unique time in your life where literally hundreds of millions of dollars in capital and resources are devoted to whatever you have an interest in learning. You are never again going to have so many talented musicians paid to help you learn and improve. I would give nearly anything to be able to spend four years exploring music, history, political science, etc. Just keep in mind that when it is done, you are going to have to get a job. You would do best taking some steps preparing for that now WHILE you devote yourself to jazz guitar.
    This is, in my opinion, a very excellent post.

  44. #43

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Gramps View Post
    " Half assed way is an illusion."

    Your "Half assed......" statement might not be the only elusion in your post.

    I supported myself for 20 years as a full time musician but when I reached your age I went back to school, finished a couple of degrees and got a day job. Now I have few financial problems, own a house, cars, have health insurance, can travel around the world and have a lot more free time to play the music I like than I had when playing music for a living. (Besides, I don't have to show up for the gig when I'm sick and can't really give my best performance)

    I did what your dad suggested and don't regret a thing.

    But then again, YMMV and we all get to make our own choices.

    Best of luck.
    Good for you!

  45. #44

    User Info Menu

    Things like food and a place to crash are often considered "expenses" you have to take extra work to acquire.
    One thing you can do is play music in a place that feeds you. Get well known and be a familar face so the staff knows you. Then when you're not working, you can come in, live like a king on the portions that wasteful patrons leave behind. They leave a half eaten portion of spagetti and meatballs on the plate, time it so the moment they're out the door, slide into the chair, WOOF that baby down, smile and viola! Life is good!
    Food taking a bite out of your budget? Bite back!

    David

  46. #45

    User Info Menu

    I think our educational system fails young people by intentionally not teaching them about personal finance and economics.

    "How you make it work" applies to everybody, from attorney to zoologist. Make a budget. Add up what it costs for food, apartment, car, gas, insurance, clothes, etc. Then figure out how much you might make at gigs & teaching- say $100 bucks a gig, $20-40 a student (whatever the rate is in your area, for your level). You might make more if you go out on the road with a band, or play weddings & such. Like others have joked, the math will probably tell you you need a girlfriend with a car and an apartment!

    The vast majority of musicians I know (not just jazz musicians) DIDN'T make it work, or tried and gave up.

    I've known a few, though, who've had long careers. One guitarist friend from my college days went on to get a Master's, and became a guitar professor at a midwestern state college, and just recently retired (and he's still doing gigs). A friend of mine was Harry Allen's roommate at Rutgers- Harry is a great tenor player, widely recorded and travels all the time. Another old friend is a bass player, plays all over NY/NJ and internationally, too (and has a family). Jimmy Leahey (son of the legendary Harry Leahey) is a friend of my guitar teacher- great rock guitarist, does stadium gigs with big-name bands, but still does cover-band bar gigs.

    If you really want it, you'll have to pay your dues, maybe for a long time, and only you can decide if it's worth it.

  47. #46

    User Info Menu

    The more successful you are, the more people will pounce on you the second you're broke.

  48. #47

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by JGinNJ View Post
    say $100 bucks a gig
    So.... don't play jazz?

  49. #48

    User Info Menu

    To the OP's question...No, I am not supporting myself as a musician. However, my brother has and continues to do so. How? He hasn't limited himself to only playing his main instrument, piano. Fortunately, God gave him much more talent (than me), so he gets gigs playing keys, guitar, bass, drums and vocals. He also taught himself how to engineer and produce music. Even with all of this going for him, life has been tough, especially after marriage and two kids. His now ex-wife was a talented vocalist and they both worked for a church in the music department as their 'day job'. Now he's re-married and still working as a full time musician, producer, etc.,...PLUS driving for Uber to make ends meet.

    Back in the day a few of my friends did music full time...and a couple if them even 'made it big'...for a while...recording, touring and eventually being produced by Quincy Jones. Then after the bubble burst, and the record companies kicked them to the curb, they had a hell of a time earning a living. Did someone already invoke the "girl friend" support system? That worked for a while and some even got married. But music still proved to be the fickle mistress, with no benefits, and definitely no 401k.

    Bottom line? Music is a very tough job if that's all you do. Even if you teach, produce, etc., it still is very hard to make a decent living for most. If you are currently a sophomore in college, be sure to take a few business and law courses to round yourself out so you know how money is made and how to keep it once you get it. Work full or part time in another industry for a while to get a feel for 'normal' life outside of music. Have a back up career that pays the bills if your music career gets short-circuited. Music is very seductive, and those with the talent to take it to the pro level, making a living at it are truly blessed...and very, very lucky.

  50. #49

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz View Post
    Jazz is a priceless treasure, but it's far from a bankable one.

    David
    Best quote of the day.

  51. #50

    User Info Menu

    It must have been great to be a jazz musician back in the day, but c'mon guys times have changed.

    Being a jazz musician these days is a bit like being a designer of steam trains or a Jacobean actor, no longer relevant but a fun hobby maybe.

    And poverty is never fun.
    "Really welding was my talent, I think, but I sort of swished it aside." Wes