When you are starting out as a musician, or even when you’ve been at it for a long time, there are questions that are specific to independent musicians.
Some of these questions may be related to making a living as a musician, or they may be about how to become a better or more successful musician.
You may be wondering how much money you might eventually make, or what your lifestyle will be like. Do you need a back-up plan? How do you make the connections to get the gigs you want?
If you already an established musician, whether locally, regionally, or nationally, you may find yourself being interviewed and asked questions about what it’s like to be a musician.
Here, from an article on grassrootsy.com, are a few of the questions and answers.
What skills/personal attributes are most important to being successful?
Most importantly, you need to be a good business person. There are so many talented artists out there, but not very many of them know how to make a living off of their talent.
So the most important aspect of being an musician – an independent one – is knowing how to book shows, capitalize on opportunities, be assertive, and ascribe value to your work, so much so that people want to invest in what you have to offer.
You also need to be extremely flexible and have an easy time engaging with different groups and types of people.
It’s common for musicians to be out of work for long periods of time. How can you supplement this time without work? How can you transition out of this period as quickly as possible?
I think when you’re first starting out, you might not have as many performances. It will take a while for people to get to know who you are. But eventually it shouldn’t be hard too find work. People are always in need of entertainment for their events.
The real question is, are these good jobs that can help you pay your bills? Sometimes they are. Sometimes they’re not. When you’re out of music work, it’s extremely important to fall back on your other skills.
This is why I highly recommend going to college and having another skill. I have many friends who are graphic designers, photographers, and videographers. They do other flexible types of jobs to help them subsidize their music career. And these are all great skills for a musician to have.
What are typical mistakes people make when trying to pursue this career?
They are selfish. They only look out for themselves and what they want. The more you get to meet, share, and collaborate with others, the better your experience will be.
For the person who just wants to “get ahead”, they can often feel threatened when others come into the picture as “competition”. But I think if we could operate off of a framework where one artist helps another, then everyone would succeed.
They compare: I strongly feel like more artists need to spend less time looking at what others are doing.
Stop acting like we’re in a competition. If you set your own trajectory then you will be right on schedule. Stop comparing and just do what you do.