So here I am in NYC. I am living my dream. I have played seven shows since I moved here, and one in Albany. I have even earned a few dollars doing this.
But at its current level of output/income, music as a profession is not sustainable. Most of the gigs I have are compensated by tips alone.
I have a bit of time, due to some wonderful and (also non-sustainable) circumstances. In this time, I plan to record an album, and start planning for a tour. These are the next steps of my dream that I visioned back in the spring, and I see them happening.
But how does a music career become sustainable? Or any dream? How do you fund it? Isn't this what it always comes back to? We spend our lives on this hamster wheel of paying the price tag of our own existence at the expense of what we actually wanted to do with our days. How do we break the cycle? Is it just a matter of jumping off of the hamster wheel and hoping what's underneath is firm enough to support us?
It seems that by and large, musicians fund their lives and careers by an artful patchwork of circumstances which range from full fledged non-music career (i.e., lawyer at prestigious law firm) to child care to waitressing to teaching music lessons to whatever gigs they can get, often piecing together multiple types of employment that hopefully help rather than hinder their musical undertakings...and then there are those who sell millions of albums and fly private jets around the world for high paid gigs that people pay hundreds of dollars to get into on StubHub because no one can even get real tickets anymore...
I am actually just assuming all of these things, based on the little I know of anyone and their financial realities, because no one actually talks about it. At least, not the folks I talk to, or at least not much. There are some mentions and grumbles here and there. One of my favorite songwriters I have met here actually does sing about overdraft fees and money struggles in one of his songs. It's an amazing song; he is an amazing songwriter. But he rarely plays it, and I know it is hard for him to play it, because of the honest subject matter (being broke, drug use, depression, etc.)
We call ourselves musicians and update our websites and promote our albums and facebook pages and play our hearts out because it feeds our souls and makes us feel alive and we can't stop doing it even though we have tried...but we don't talk about how we put roofs over our heads and eat. We just keep going and doing and hoping, I guess. Hoping that somehow it all works out.
But it all works out, right?
Yes. It totally does.