"You can't do that with music:" Making money

If you've ever had someone tell you not to pursue music because it's not a "stable profession," then this post is for you.

 

Hiya, you beautiful reader, you. It's been a while since I last wrote to you, and I apologize for that. I really want to give you value whenever you read an entry of mine, so I took some time to think about how I could bring it to you!

Anywho, thanks for stopping by again! <3

Have you ever been asked something along the lines of "Why on Earth would you decide to be a musician? You're so smart. It's a shame for you to throw away all your potential."

Like: What the ACTUAL f%$# tho????

Here's the deal, people: you CAN be successful as a musician. In fact, today is literally the best time to try to make a career as a musician. We have incredible resources that can allow us to share our music ACROSS THE WORLD--all while sitting at our computer in our pajamas!!!

For me, what is most incredibly exciting bout music is its essence of meritocracy. In other words, the harder you work, the more likely you are to succeed. However, the definition of success means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Most of the time, I find that the perception of success in music is horribly flawed and doesn't reflect reality. When we think of successful musicians, we think of those that win DOPE-ass jobs like playing with the  LA or New York Philharmonic. Or, we think of musicians that go super-viral on YouTube, iTunes, or Spotify, or those that break out onto the Billboard 100 with worldwide tours, endorsements, record deals, and Super Bowl appearances. GUYS. WE NEED TO STOP THINKING THAT WAY.

I mean, there's nothing inherently wrong with achieving those things. In fact, I hope God smites me with the sickness of YouTube virility, Billboard-busting hits, Grammy Awards, and the like, and may I NEVER recover! Such a terrible fate--I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy! =3

All jokes aside, the vast majority of musicians will never achieve that level of success. I mean, they just can't. Everyone can't be a Grammy winner. Everyone can't win an audition for Principal Violist of the Tokyo Philharmonic. It's just not gonna happen, and I'm incredibly sorry about that. Hell, even I'll probably never really amount to much, but it won't be from a lack of trying!!!

The point is this: you don't need all that "ish" to be successful. So, let's define success. Dictionary.com defines success as "the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors; the accomplishment of one's goals." That sounds like an adequate description, though it's still up for interpretation.

For the sake of argument, let's amend that definition by using my personal philosophy:

Success, in my humble opinion, is achieving financial solvency by pursuing your passion while not having to work extra, unnecessary jobs. Just you, happy as a clam, doin' dat "ish" you LOVE.
Look at how f#*$&ing happy it is tho!!! O_O

Look at how f#*$&ing happy it is tho!!! O_O

 

Now, here's where I get annoyed. We venerate and glamorize entrepreneurs, but vilify and condemn musicians. Why is that? Whenever I tell people that I'm a musician, they always get this faraway, sad look on their face, like they're getting premonitions of me getting my next meal from a soup kitchen.

Awww, you're a musician too? You must have just graduated--bless your heart! <3

Awww, you're a musician too? You must have just graduated--bless your heart! <3

Although their fears are often assuaged when I tell them where I went to school, that also annoys me...but that's a story for another day (Shoddycast Fans anyone?). ;)

Bottom line, musicians have amazing potential for success. You don't even have to be that good!!! Really!!! If anything, musicians have an extremely profound potential for profit, and if you check out this video right here, I can quickly explain why.

 

Like entrepreneurs, we aren't given a clear job path after we graduate from school. No one is lining up with job offers, and there's a ridiculous amount of competition when it comes to auditioning for conventional orchestral jobs. Because of this, it is up to musicians to forge their own path and create their own destiny.

Now, does this mean you can't be successful as a musician? Without the "stability" of a steady job, are you doomed to die poor? Nope. Quite the contrary, actually.

So, lets' go back to my definition of success:

"...is achieving financial solvency by pursuing your passion while not having to work extra, unnecessary jobs."

Now, let's finally talk about money. Let's say to obtain a comfortable lifestyle (based on American standards), you would want to earn about $75,000 (conservatively) a year. Now, let's do the math: 

Let's say you have 5000 people that love what you do, from around the world. They love you so much that they feverishly want to support what you do. To earn the aforementioned comfortable living, they would have to be willing to donate $1.25/month--$15 A YEAR. 

Keep in mind that that's only .000068% of the world's population. THAT'S RIDICULOUS!!! People pay 6.4 times that amount for a yearly subscription to Netflix! Not to mention, the numbers only get better from there. People who are willing to donate are very likely to donate more than $1.

On the donation platform, Patreon, the average patron donates $7!!! If we take half of our 5000 people and have them donate that average $7, you can be making $247,000 every year. Passively.

Furthermore, you're a musician. You're likely to continue to gain more and more fans as you continue career!!

...okay, so that's ONE way to get paid. Musicians have the potential to earn money in MULTIPLE WAYS--and many of these are passive income. Even if you work your booty off for 10 years to achieve the above scenario, you will surpass the median income of some of the most celebrated and well-paid professions!!!

Compare that to other professions where you're only paid in one way, dollars for time:

Median Salaries for common jobs
School Teacher: $45,000
Paralegal: $51,840
Computer Systems Analyst: $82,710
Nurse Practitioner: $95,350
Software Developer: $95,510
Physical Therapist: $82,390
Orthodontist: $187,199
Psychiatrist: $181,880
IT Manager: $127,640

Do you see what I mean? We haven't even talked about playing shows, teaching lessons, selling merchandise, getting ad revenue from YouTube and any other websites/blogs that you may operate, royalties from recording sessions, and album sales and digital downloads.

GUYS, you can make money as a musician. You can create a very comfortable and fulfilling life doing music. You also don't have to be the best in order to achieve that.

The one thing you CAN'T do is sit around and wait for someone to hand you a job or do it for you. IT'S ALL UP TO YOU. But honestly, if you truly love music as much as you say you do, you're gonna get off your butt and JUST DO IT. 

Using a Shia LaBeouf gif would be too obvious =)

Using a Shia LaBeouf gif would be too obvious =)

Thanks for reading!!! This was just a quick thought experiment! Do you have a different perspective? Lemme know in the comments below!!

-TVK

Drew Forde4 Comments