The Seven Deadly Sins of the “Wannabe”Musician

“If you live to play…Then play damn it.”

1)Thinking that you have to make your money “touring”. Where is it written that you have to live by the breadcrumbs the bars and clubs of this world are willing to give you in some town you have never heard of?

This is bad thinking champ. And bad thinking leads to bad business.

You have no following in Bumblestream Ohio- so how then do you do you expect a club owner there to pay you and your band enough money to get there, feed all of you along the way, and get you to your next stop?

By promising him you will promote on the local college radio show which noone except the dj´s three stoned buddies listen to?

Ok, I´m the bar owner…what guarentee can you give me besides the lie I hear from every single band from out of town… the “we- are- huge- in- all- but- three- Eastern Block countries” lie?

Think again champ.

Promote your butt off but don´t expect immediate payoff…most tours fail…expect poverty and the all too often accoutrements of said situation: over indulgence, infighting, crappy food, and no sleep…been there…no thanks..

2)Thinking business is evil..The patent stupidity of this view shocks me.

That is like a fish saying they don´t like water.

Even if your vaunted dreams do come true and you are able to make a living on the road, or, more likely- teaching little Johnny how to play “Stairway to Heaven” for 20 bills an hour(when his mommy actually doesn´t forget to drop him off) what are you making? Money.

So what does this mean?

It means you are in business big guy!

In terms of the music business I like the advice of my old wise Jewish grandfather who was able to make a good life for his family through the great depression.

He said to me… “You like music? Great…play all the music you want…but it´s a whores business… make your money somewhere else…”

MySpace, YouTube, Blogs…ever decaying copywright protection.

People want their music good and free.

Deal with it.

For me, a business is a great way to not only make all the money I need, but to also then have the free time to play anywhere in the world with great musicians and do the real work of realizing my artistic vision…

But this does not come without the economic freedom to do so..

You want to know what I don´t like about business?

When it mixes with my art.

That is when you start to do things artistically you don´t really want to do.

Yes the dreaded “cover band syndrome”…That horrible disease that keeps the free exchange of authentic artistic expression subservient to the drunken desires of childen of all ages who want to hear nothing more than the last thing they just heard on the most outdated of all formats- FM radio.. that very day…and they want to hear it again, and again and again. Can anyone say Hotel California? Good, now play it or get out and I will find someone who will.

3) Thinking there is nobility in poverty. And its rejoinder that there is only great art from poverty..Crap.

Maybe it´s like that.

But I sure know a lot of really poor people who suck.

Being poor in and of itself does not make you a good artist.

Work on your craft, hours upon hours upon hours of playing and writing and listening is a much surer way to becoming a good musician or songwriter or what-have- you

A quick question…who has more time and energy to dedicate to his pursuit of artist expression…a guy who works two hours a day(from anywhere in the world) makes great money doing it and has the rest of the day to practice, record, and jam?

Or the dish dog(one year of grease pit hell was enough to cure me) whose hands are so cut up he doesn´t want to play and even if he did he has another 8 hour shift of nonsense to deal with to make his 80 bucks for the day….

Oh yeah, and by the way, if we are talking about “touring” our dish dog then has to quit his job and start a new one…going nowhere….building nothing financially…and wasting time that could be spent actually “doing” art. The work of art..The war of art? Think hard.

4)Thinking musicians and artists are above economics and the game of money. Here again, this is worse than childish wrongheaded hooey this is dangerous childish wrongheaded hooey.

It´s so naïve as to border on the absurd.

You spend money don´t you?

You spend it every day don´t you?

So what makes you so special as to think that you are not involved in a business endeavour?

This money comes from somewhere does it not?

Where does it come from genius?

Business, free people exchanging goods and services for perceived mutual benefit. You are playing this game. Live with it. Embrace it. As Cheri Huber, the Zen teacher likes to say…”When you are falling….dive”.

Learn to make the game work for you.

Learn to make the game serve your art instead of whining about how life isn´t fair.

Here is a hint.

Life isn´t fair.

Free people are free to make deathdefyingly stupid decisions. Don´t be one of them. Take your art and your vision seriously enough to realize it. And yes that requires work.
If you decide to promote and people buy it great. But Van Gogh died poor. He didn´t sell out..he didn´t compromise his vision for money. Are you playing what your heart tells you to play or what you think will sell and get you laid? Only you and the morning glance in the mirror will tell the truth. If it hurts. Stop and start the battle of creating what you were born to create.

5)That we play music for money. Some people play for money.

Some people who are much better than me play for money.

But I do not.

If people want to pay me money to play music and I like the deal that they are offering me to play then I will play and take the money.

But I don´t need it. And that does not mean that my daddie has some trust vault with my name on it. It means that I struggled for 10 years of debt and misery to get to a place where I have what they call in the business “f you money”.

I play when I want how I want and with who I want…

If clubs won´t have me I go to Churches, if Churches won´t have me I go to Hospitals, if Hospitals won´t have me then it is my home studio baby.

But playing is what gives me the most tangible evidence that there is something out there that is bigger than me.

I picked up the guitar 18 years ago because I loved the way it sounded, still do.
The whole making money with it is an addendum.

Extra, scrap metal to be burned away.

The gold is a well written song.

If people don´t want to hear the ones I write fine.

But I continue writing.

I am compelled.

I imagine you are as well. What does this compulsion to create have to do with money? All money gets me is the freedom to pursue the joy I get from music. Period. End of sentence.

6)Thinking Blue hair and vaginal piecing makes you good. Anyone can dye their hair blue big guy…Hate to spit on your parade. But to improvise like Coltrane, to compose like Bach, to play and transmit like Bob Marley or Bob Dylan or whoever gets you off this takes more than blue hair.

7)Thinking there is no way out. Not true. Defeatist. BS

crzy…is a songwriter, traveller, freelance writer, and entrepreneur whoes freedomclimber program is the sherpa for wanderers and artists of all types to the top of mountain of economic freedom. A place where there is actually enough time and energy to create, think, explore, tour and travel. To access his story and program visit http://www.thecrazyexpat.com for a free gander at what economic freedom can look like for creative wandering souls

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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