General Question

niki's avatar

If career as musician is really hard to make money, then why so many people still want to be a musician?

Asked by niki (714points) April 13th, 2009

I’ve just talked with a friend of mine, he had just started to pursue a Solo carer , because he loves music very much, just like me, but unfortunately, and rather sadly, just this afternoon, he poured all his heart that , as I quoted from him, “being musician in indonesia is just f*ckin hard & doesn’t make sense! it’s just so dirty often, and hard to get recognized, and with piracy running rampant, greedy labels, very low purchasing-power from still-poor people in the mainstream, etc etc” , and he’s even thinking of just concentrating in the business-aspect , not the artistic-side anymore in the music “industry”. He’s planning to just start a label & draw new artists,....instead of following his TRUE passion to become a full-time musician!

so then, i start asking myself this: if career as musician is really hard to make money, then why so many people still want to be a musician ??
why? what do you think?
do you think these people (musicians) are probably just ‘naive’ people who don’t know that it’s a cruel cruel world in a music, no, actually, music-business world. ‘cuz often there’re more to it than only making good & creative tunes. this i’ve unfortunately & pitifully learned at least in my corrupt country, Indonesia, where sadly, music is just another corrupt tool. and that’s why no wonder a lot of musicians/bands are just poor, & even some really great/talented ones is lacking so much appreciations from mainstream people, instead, many people generally only prefer for ‘stupid’ songs/music as long with good looks, and many other artificial/fake things!
and i’m sure the situation is no different even in advanced countries like U.S, Europe, Japan, etc. many people are just plain stupid, don’t understand ‘good music’ from ‘bad music’ , and most big-players in the so-called “music-business” are all crooked and greedy, all they think is only money, not enhancing/supporting their artists/bands!!

with all of these sad things above, i’ve recently often wondered & kept wondering, is there still any point for any person, no matter how talented or even multi-talented or passionate he/she is at music, to pursue career as a musician (and espcially, FULL-time musician) ?
are they just out of their mind?
but the Reality seems to speak differently: there are surprisingly an increasing amount of musicians (ie: bands, usually “indie” bands)!
why is this? what is the reasons for they kept wanting to be a musician?

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19 Answers

DeanV's avatar

Because being in a band is fun. I don’t necessarily think that it’s all about money, but those that don’t make the money necessary to support themselves, can just get another job. If they make it, and many do, good for them!

Poser's avatar

To get laid. It’s why every dude first picks up a guitar.

tigran's avatar

its just intuition. I find it interesting that you mention he is willing to focus on the business part, which is sadly not the best thing to do if you wanna become a musician, but maybe for him its better than working at any other job.

DeanV's avatar

That too, poser

Horus515's avatar


You beat me to it!

Darwin's avatar

If you love music and you have a talent as a musician, you want to make music. The fact that some people make a good living as musicians leaves the door open for others to do the same, and any given musician may hope that they will be the next one through that door.

If you happen to be one of those musicians who can’t make a living at music, then choosing a related field can be a way to stay in the industry. Other musicians who can’t make it monetarily choose completely different ways to make a living but still play music as often as they can.

The thing about being a musician is that if you really are a musician you will make music whether you get paid to do that or not. It is what you do, along with breathing.

Some examples:

Johhny Depp, famous as an actor, still considers himself primarily a musician. His original band did moderately well in a regional way but couldn’t make it when faced with the national competition. He makes his living as an actor, but he still plays music whenever and with whoever he can.

A local group of lawyers in our town have a band, Carl Lewis and the Deadbeats. They all wanted to be musicians at one time but couldn’t make it financially. They are now successful attorneys (and a judge) but they still play as a band every weekend for free.

My brother, who also went to law school, has had a band of one sort or another ever since he was seven years old. Sometimes he made money, sometimes he didn’t. However, he has indeed made a living as an adult musician for the past twenty years in a touring band. It is a different lifestyle in that he is on the road a lot but one he and his family enjoys. He also makes extra money as a producer of other musicians work.

A friend made her living in the U.S. military and is now retired. She is a musician also, but plays her instrument for free in churches and at open mic nights.

charliecompany34's avatar

music in a child’s life is enriching in that it exposes them to a culture some kids do not always have. it is an advantage and it is a risk. it may work for them in the long run or it may not. you have to be really good to rise to the top.

those who dont get that far end up singing in subways or end up on american idol or play for money at banquets. some are jazz musicians with nice gigs. some are music directors at church or artists for bands or score music for film.

it’s a risk, but in the end the musician or music artist always seems to have an edge on those who are not musically inclined. playing music is a gift.

i know, because i am a musician. ;)

cwilbur's avatar

Music is one of the basic human activities that all cultures share. The need for music is like the need for affection – it’s primal.

The current state of the “music industry” is unnatural. Music is something you do, not something you consume. It’s very reasonable to want to make music, and it’s not such a stretch to want to be good enough at it to do it as a career.

3or4monsters's avatar

People develop musical careers and become musicians because they believe in the music, and the dynamic involved in sharing it with others…not to get rich. The only way a person can “get into the music scene and make money” is if they willingly become a corporate snake for a record label, or they’re the one in a million to hit it big and are willing to take huge profit cuts and kowtow to a label.

Making big money in the music biz is what is ruining music. Ask anyone who’s had to fight with a record label. Musicians don’t make money, labels do, to the detriment of the people with actual talent.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

if you love music, and you love making music, why would you not at least try to make a career out of it? it’s not like you have to exsclusively play music without doing anything else. I go to school, have a job, and play at random bars here and there when I can, I love doing it, am I expecting to be the next big thing and become a millionare? not at all. But do I like it enough and am I good enough to keep doing it, I like to think so.

kenmc's avatar

@3or4monsters hit it right on the noggin. Lurve for your smarts.

NaturalMineralWater's avatar

Some people are willing to risk failure to do what they love. I’d call it admirable.

Poser's avatar

@bob_ Ha! Lurve to you!

flameboi's avatar

Love for the game maybe? I guess is super difficult to give up on your dreams…

mattbrowne's avatar

It’s their biggest dream. They could learn a second profession paying the bills and become part-time musicians.

wundayatta's avatar

Some of us don’t try. We have a day job and keep music as a love. We play locally, have friends and a good time. There are a lot of us who do that.

Strauss's avatar

Here’s my story:
When I was in school, I was in band and choirs, and was told (I believe correctly, not to boast) that I was highly talented in the music area. My brother, 3 years younger, was equally talented. When I graduated form high school in 1967, I joined the Navy so I wouldn’t get drafted. While I was gone, My brother graduated and went off to join a rock band. When I got out of the Navy, I went to visit my brother, who by then was a minor regional star. I went home, got a job, and eventually went to school to major in music. After a couple years (I didn’t finish my degree), I found myself broke and stranded in New Orleans. I had my guitar, and found I could make some money playing on the street. I eventually moved to Austin, and played and wrote for about 8 more years. I was single, so I did not mind going without some “nice” things, as long as I had the opportunity to spend my time developing my own style of performing and writing. Meanwhile, my brother had moved from Minneapolis to New York, and finally to the L. A. area, where he lives now, with his wife and daughter. He still plays. he had to stop for awhile after he had a heart attack about ten years ago. He now tours with international acts, playing for a local house band when he’s not on tour.
I stopped performing in 1988, the same year I got married. I could not justify asking my new wife to starve for my art. I have kept my chops up as far as singing and playing, and some writing, but have not had the “professional” success my brother had.

I think this illustrates how fickle the music industry can be, and how much luck is involved in getting a start, let alone finding success. I think it would be even harder in a country where the copyright laws are even less enforced.

I don’t think I was naive in the time I was working to support my music. I would agree with @tiffyandthewall. It is a matter of passion.

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