General Question

niki's avatar

How does musicians (& artists) cope with Reality or real life?

Asked by niki (714points) February 28th, 2010

for musicians (and/or artists) here,
how do you guys cope or deal with real life?
for example, if you’re somewhat “born” as a musician, you’ll probably easily know what i mean when i said that MUSIC is basically 80% things that you kept thinking about, almost every time, every day. Music occupies 80% of your mind.

But then, especially when you’re in the mid 20’s, Reality seems to want to stop you from becoming your true, full, best of yourself, that is: being a musician!
“Reality” (or “Real-life”) would seemingly often tell me that I won’t be able to make it as a succesful musician, or it’s not a “real job”, or that I better get a real job, high-paying job, because that’s HOW Life (or Reality) is supposed to be, you can’t be all that warm & fuzzy, or imaginative person, because it’s not “real” bla bla bla bla.
Sadly, of all the positive & negative opinions, I admit that I tend to listen to those so-called “pragmatist, cynical” opinions about the difficulties and the “unrealistic” things about want to become a FULL-time musician!
which often makes me so afraid, scared, but also at the same time, jaded & confused, as to what then I should REALLY be doing in my **** life????
Get a “real job” ???
but what if I really LOVE music sooo much???
am I really not allowed, or simply can’t and will NEVER able to make Music as being a full-time job?? and again, because it’s “not real” job???
Here I am, almost 28 yrs old now, but already ***** wasting like 6–7 doing very little to almost nothing with my music talent & passion, because I simply feel scared, jaded, & confused!

and in addition, many many people already told me that i’d be very stupid to waste my “rare” musical talents, and deep passion in music!
but I just don’t know why I kept listening to those d*mn pragmatist, “realistic”, cynical bitter negative opinions!

for those musicians (or artists) out there,
have you ever got torn like i do here, between Reality .vs. Passion? what do you do to solve this hair-tearing problem then?
what should i do?...
please help!
thank you.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

33 Answers

Zen_Again's avatar

How ”do” they cope?

ucme's avatar

I imagine they conduct themselves by orchestrating their lives accordingly.

Cruiser's avatar

You seem to lack the resolve and commitment to your art so get a real job and play gigs at night and on the weekends like most starving artists.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Some of my favorite musicians used drugs to deal.
Some of my favorite musicians died far too young.

Don’t quit your day job.
That’s what’s going to pay for your hobby.
Then when you get good enough you can quit the day job. Or if your hobby job doesn’t pan out the way you hope, at least your bills are still getting paid.

Jewel's avatar

If your desire is strong, go for it! You will be able to find enough work to keep yourself fed until you get the big break you will be looking for. If you can’t bring yourself to toss 100% into this pursuit, find other jobs that involve music. Teaching, orchestra, band, building & repairing musical instruments, etc. Don’t give up your dreams.

marinelife's avatar

Why are you listening to others instead of doing what you love and believe in?

If you love and believe in it, why aren’t you out there pursuing it?

What are you doing whining on Fluther about it? Get out and make music.

The_Idler's avatar

If music is 80% of who you are, you won’t care if you have a shit job and no money, so long as you can make beautiful music.

nebule's avatar

I was a musician for a long time and gave it up because I realised I didn’t choose it… it chose me and I was tired of it.

judochop's avatar

I am an artist and a musician. That is how I cope with real life.

amt1's avatar

Ok, you need to pursue your dream as far as you can. And until you do that you’ll always doubt yourself. And the time is now. 28? You need to get things going in the next year. No one listens to 35 year olds. And it could take you 5 years before you see any progress. So.. here’s what you do.

Step 1: Move to a city where you’ll have tons of opportunities to play shows, network with people and other musicians. To a city where there is a great music “scene” depending on what genre of music you want to play.

Step 2: If you can, get a job(cause you still need to make money to live while you’re not making money with music) that will put you in a position to work with or around music, or to network with people that are around music. If you can’t find a job like that then get a job and work the least amount of hours that will pay your bills and help you survive.

Step 3: In you spare time work on nothing but music, nothing else! This means practicing, playing shows, writing music, recording music, making connections. You don’t have to be a pro to record music. Buy some essential recording equipment and start experimenting. It might not be perfect but it allows you to build your songs and play with arrangements. And to learn! Write, write, write music! Write all the time. Keep some sort of recording device on you for when inspiration hits. Play covers. Play those classic songs that are timeless and everyone loves. Who doesn’t love Hey Jude? Listen to them, read the lyrics and understand what makes them great songs, because it’s them that you want to end up being like right?

Step 4: Play shows! Tons! Even if it’s at some small coffee shop that 5 people will be at, play that. Obviously you should take better shows if there available, but if you have nothing in your schedule, do it! If your meant to do music, and your talented, you’ll impress a few people, maybe even make a fan. And those people will tell their friends. And your new fans will bring friends to your next show. The more and more you play, the more recognition you’ll gain. Don’t limit yourself to just venues, play on college campuses, playing on a busy street (busking), play charity events. Get with a group of musicians who are you’re style and create your own “scene”. Support each other, help each other. The best example of this is the Ten out of Tenn. Check them out here.

Step 5: Patience. Give it time. It’s not gonna happen in a few weeks, month, maybe not even a few years. You have to plant the seeds and wait till it bears any kind of fruit. You need to get your roots going first, and get a good foundation. And if you give it the time and the effort, you’ll see the results.

After you do all those things, that’s all you can do. And if you make it you make it, if you don’t at least you know you tried your hardest, and you won’t regret it. Now that’s not to say you can’t have music in your life anymore. You can still play shows and maybe write and record music on a part time basis. Music never has to be something you give up. Hell, if you’re single you could probably do it as long as you want. But if you want a family, at some point you need to put the dream aside (not entirely) and provide for them.

Music is a “real job”. It’s just really hard to make any money with it. I hope this helps!


cookieman's avatar

@amt1: Great answer.

I’m not a musician, but I’m an artist and that’s basically the route I took.

Here’s a diagram:

year 1

year 2
JOB JOB art art

year 3
JOB art art ART

year 4
job art ART ART

year 5

Patience and a shit ton of hard work and an ample amount of luck and it just might work out.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I do just fine working as an artist and it’s not all filled with drama.Find a way to make money at it.

judochop's avatar

No one listens to 35 year olds? What are you talking about? It was not until I was in my 30’s that anyone even took me seriously.

babaji's avatar

Being an Artist or a Musician is as real as it gets.
sometimes you might have do side jobs in the beginning to support you in doing your craft, but it’s part of the honing process in developing your art,
it gives you that experience to express through your art.
yeah well ok, i have felt your exact things before as well, when
my Club closed down, and i had to step out behind 5 years of songs that i had written but never performed on stage…....
i remember putting a band together and putting out an Album.
i got an honorable mention with one of my songs in a Nashville Song Contest,
but then couldn’t find a distributor for the Album, and in short i couldn’t sell myself.
so instead of stepping out on the road, since i couldn’t pick up a Distributor, i figured i wasn’t any good and changed directions completely.
My advice, if you feel something in your heart, go for it no matter what the obstacles seem to be, or you will regret it the rest of your life.

stardust's avatar

I’ve a tendancy to agree with what @Cruiser said. If you had raw passion for music, you probably wouldn’t be asking this question. I don’t want to sound offensive in saying that. Anyway, maybe a job that holds your interest & pays the bills is a good idea. Maybe music in your free time then?
If that truly horrifies you, jump on the @amt1 bandwagon. It makes a lot of sense to me.

PacificRimjob's avatar

At least one ear has been cut off.

cookieman's avatar

Thank you @MrsDufresne.

(why do I feel like I’m in kindergarten?)

amt1's avatar

@judochop I’m not talking about being and adult. I was referring to the fact that not a lot of people start their music career at the age of 35. Do you know of any? I’d say you don’t have as many opportunities as a 25 year old.

JeffVader's avatar

Mostly drugs & bouts of depression.

stratman37's avatar

That BS idiom of “Do what you love and the money will follow” bugs the wizz outta me.

Just make music because you LOVE to, not for money (unless you wanna sell out and be just another cookie cutter pop artist) but for YOU.

judochop's avatar

@amt1 Oh, yeah I agree with you there.

niki's avatar

@babaji see, this is what sometimes makes me somewhat ‘fearful’ & a bit unsure:
deep down inside, i do know & have a deep confidence that my music will going to ‘make it’, in a sense that I’m sure there will be many people who’d love my music, touch & inspire many hearts.
but what i’m still scared is, as always, the UNKNOWN parts, especially the “business” parts like “although sure people like my music, but will i be able to get a Distributor interested in my music??” , or basically, any ‘big guys’ such as labels, media, etc…“what if these guys don’t like, or don’t even want to help promote my music, while i really really need their help??...will i be doomed? will my dreams get squashed?”

also, you mentioned about “follow your heart, or you’ll regret”,
but where exactly is the line, or the difference, between following my heart to KNOW to “change direction completly” like you do , and giving up TOO SOON/early??
in other words, where is the main difference between “knowing the Reality” and follow it, and that you’re just giving up too early ?

what “follow ur heart” really mean, when confronted with the ‘harsh’ Reality?

Jewel's avatar

@niki You are looking for guarantees where there are none.
The things you express fear about are the same things we all wrestle with all of our lives. Some are brave (or foolhardy), and then some are cautious (or afraid). You get to figure out as you go along, whether your choices were good or bad. And you get to decide whether to continue on this path, or turn back. It isn’t easy, but it is exciting! And it is how the game is rigged kiddo. No easy answers. No safe way to proceed. It is all an adventure, so jump in, or sit on the shore. The choice is all yours.

amt1's avatar

@niki STOP making excuses and just do it. Don’t worry about that stuff right now, if you let it bother you now you won’t even begin to try. Just start already. Then when those hurdles come up you can face them head on.

Get off of fluther and stop asking questions for complete strangers to convince you of what you should do. Just go do it.

stratman37's avatar

@Jewel @amt1 – very sound advice. Lurve ya both!

The_Idler's avatar

Anyone, who seriously advises another to “do what you love and the money will follow” is either very young, or very lucky & blissfully naive.

niki's avatar

@Jewel @amt1 those are both great answers! I’m glad actually that I’ve posted this question on fluther!
@Jewel I love how you put all these things as an “adventure” perspective, rather than a “limiting” self-belief in how the world operates! it might seem simple, but it surely has shifted my perspective somewhat. thank you for mentioning that!
@amt1 just like what @Cruiser & many others here said very well: if I truly am passionate and love music very much until it practically becomes my life (and everything revolves around it), then it’s true that I need to stop asking hundreds of people, and simply JUST DO IT, and face the challenges head-on and GROW!
‘cuz otherwise, i’ll just sit my a$$ here and only dreaming about it,....and dreams will exactly remains just that: a dream! and i’ll probably regret it very much! BINGO! I suddenly got all this enlightment because of all these wonderful replies!

thank you very much for all the great unexpected answers,
you guys rock!

stardust's avatar

@niki I love that you’ve rekindled your excitement

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,
remember that.” J K Rowling
and another..
“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must
write if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What
one can be, one must be.” Abraham Maslow

niki's avatar

@stardust thanks a lot for the beautiful quotes! :)

stardust's avatar

@niki You’re very welcome :)

28lorelei's avatar

Well if you wanted to pursue music full-time, I would invest all my energy in becoming as good a musician as possible. This could involve meeting people, making connections, going to an audio engineering school or even a conservatory, depending on what exactly you want to do with music in the end. I’m currently a composition student at a conservatory, so music is my reality (apart from those everyday things we all have to do like laundry, shopping for food, etc.)

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther