How To Make a Living In Music

I first ran across “How To Make a Living Making Music” when Jason Parker tweeted the link to it some years ago. I blogged it then, but I lost that blog when I updated my website. I never forgot the post, however, and long story short, I’ve decided to rerun that article.

Danny gives such excellent, folksy, common sense advice that you’ll smack your forehead and wonder why you didn’t think of it first. But that’s just it; Danny isn’t telling you anything you probably didn’t already realize. It’s just that perhaps you glossed over the reality while you were planning that quantum leap in your music career. And that’s the appeal of this article. You can tell that it’s heartfelt advice, no sugar-coating, delivered from one musician to another. “Just live within your means,” Barnes says, “and you can avoid so many hassles. Hassles interrupt your practice routine.”

Other gems include the following:

  • Get good at your music before trying to promote it.
  • Keep your overhead low. You’ll make more money that way.
  • Used gear will usually do just fine. Most of the gear in my studio is pre-owned.
  • Don’t be afraid to take different jobs while working on your music career. Bills have to be paid.
  • Don’t expect to get paid more than you can bring in. Know the difference between your value and worth.
  • Learn how to work in different contexts. Do other music jobs besides performance, such as sessions, teaching, recording others, running sound, et cetera.
  • Don’t waste a CD on someone you think won’t listen to it.

I seem to recall Jason suggesting all musicians reread this article once a year. I heartily agree with him.


One thought on “How To Make a Living In Music

  1. My feelings about the whole thing have shifted so dramatically over the last decade – as my own kids reach the career-decision age. Honestly and straight from the heart, I wouldn’t have done things any differently myself, but I encourage them to consider better-paying careers and enjoy music as a hobby – or at least to pursue with vigor one of the options you mentioned – that of working in different contexts. I think I’ve reached an age where I’m just tired of the struggle.

    Feel free to delete this comment if you’d rather not have a negative perspective after such a good post!

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