Posted on | December 10, 2008 | No CommentsThe music business is filled with dreamers. That’s part of its charm. At some level, anything is possible. But too often people aren’t clear about what they want from the music business. All they know is that they want to be a “star” or a “success” or “a respected artist”.
But what do all these words mean to you? That’s the real question. Obviously, their meanings will differ from person to person and from context to context (see Why Indie Why Not above). But if your definition of stardom, success, or respect includes selling lots of music and making loads of money, take a minute to consider what that is about. Don’t just focus on the dream and the fantasy of endless fun. Think about the reality of doing this work. For it is work, much harder work than most people imagine. The hours are long. The travel becomes very unpleasant. If you have a family or loved ones, you are separated from them for long stretches of time.
Until you’ve done this work yourself or you have known people who have done it, it’s impossible to understand all the levels of sacrifice people make to pursue this particular career. But once you’ve seen it up close, you start to realize that there are much easier ways to earn a comfortable living. No matter how successful you become, the drill of the traveling musician doesn’t change very much. And at a certain point, the people who keep doing it don’t just do it because they want to. They do it because they have to. Otherwise, they go broke (or worse insane).
So try to be honest with yourself about who you are. Different people have different temperaments. Not everyone has the right temperament to front a rock band. In fact, most people don’t have the right temperament. And most people aren’t cut out to be on the road all the time as a touring musician. The sooner you get clarity about whether you have the temperament for this sort of stuff, the sooner you’ll save yourself a lot of difficulty and unpleasantness.
Nevertheless, if you’re like a lot of people, you’ll have to play the touring musician/rock star game for a while to get this clarity. But if it turns out you don’t have the temperament for it don’t despair. It doesn’t mean you can’t still make music seriously. Indeed, it doesn’t even mean that you can’t make a living from music. It just means you’ll have to change the way you look at the game.