Middle Class Musicians Raw Survey Results

These are the full responses to our survey of Middle Class Musicians. Here's the key to the questions:

Typical Day: What's your typical day like?
The Economy: How has the economic downturn affected you?
Growing or Shrinking?: Would you say the ranks of musicians able to earn a decent living are growing or shrinking?
Like Most: What do you like most about your job?
Internet: How do you use the internet, and how does the internet affect you as a working musician?
Success Is: How do you define success as a musician?

Names will link to their websites, if provided.
Charlie R
I run a self-business which provides quality bagpipers for regional events, myself included. These events consist of funerals, weddings, private and public events, and the occasional full-on concert. Although I'm on CD, have a couple license agreements, belong to ASCAP, & own plenty of copyrights; live performance gigs constitute 99% of the business' income.
Philly

Typical Day: There is no such thing as a typical day. Since"we" primarily service the funeral industry, we might have nothing on the books for the whole week, and within 48 hrs have an overload. Other weeks, maybe only one family will need pipes. Weekends are yet another story: Wedding, corporate and public clients tend to book their events weeks, often months in advance. We schedule and assign pipers as needed over a 10 county area for both pre-planned and immediate needs. Plus, there's contracts to be written, ads, paperwork, scheduling, promotional material, web design & updating, equipment maintenance, and familial responsibility.
The Economy: Although we (as in my musicians and I) contracted about the same number of gigs in 2011, clients consistently chose the less expensive options. Innovations that we intended to promote and open up new markets flatlined. We dropped prices to keep the product out there and in peoples minds. Meanwhile, the cost of doing business has skyrocketed. Venues have become much more...persnickety about what goes on regarding musicians gigging on their sites. In particular, the insurance they now all seem to require is far in excess of what is affordable. We have had to change our service offerings to find loopholes that satisfy both our clients and their chosen venues.
Growing or Shrinking?: Absolutely shrinking. We've been lucky in finding and holding onto our niche market, mainly through customer service and keeping the product quality high and the costs low. It's tricky! IF Sony & Universal open up their gates and start doing real A&R with promotion and generous contracts again; and IF venues begin to actually pay musicians AFM scale every time they want live bands; and IF the Foundation/ Grant sector decides to fund actual music-makers instead of only 501c3 non profits for their own tax deduction purposes; ONLY THEN we can say that being a musician will remain a viable way to earn a decent honest living.
Like Most: There's much to like: the fact that I work in a different location every time, the camaraderie between my musicians and our regular clients, and of course actually taking the audience to that peak moment when performing.
Internet: In 20 years of running my business I have seen operations migrate almost 100% to the internet. It's got its plusses + minuses for sure. Some things are easier, some things are more difficult.
Success Is: I've been wrestling with this question for ever, it seems. and I dont have a decent answer yet. Mastery of the craft is one component, recognition among peers is another, acceptance by the audience yet another, financial security certainly, legacy still another part...no, still cant define it.


Dan Gillogly
We produce live music for corporate events and private parties. I am a singing piano player. I work solo and I do a bunch of dueling pianos shows. Sometimes I book them myself. Sometimes I work for other agents. I play in piano bars, senior communities and supermarkets. I take any gig anywhere at anytime. I also write and record music. Sometimes I sell a few. I have done commercials, industrials and a whole bunch of theater. I have produced and released 3 CDs of original music, numerous musicals and I've scored about 20 short films.
Chicago, IL

Typical Day: There is no such thing as a typical day.
The Economy: Our corporate gigs are down by about 35% as of this date. Our rates have dropped overall about 50%. Our sales cycle has expanded. It takes about 9 touches to get a new client. It used to take only 3 to 5.
Growing or Shrinking?: As far as I can see. It's difficult to earn a living wage working in bars or restaurants. That's why we do corporate and private parties.
Like Most: It's different every day and on every gig. Also, people REALLY need good music. They don't even know how much they need it. I love watching people 'get it'. Music brings people together in very large unseen ways. I like connecting with people through music. It is truly a powerful gift to give people - for a fee of course.
Internet: The net is like the wild wild west must have been. There's no rules and once you learn the rules they change. I'd say consistency is the key. Be active in viable forums and be active on social media. But most of all communicate with your fans and customers -- in an entertaining way. We are entertainers after all.
Success Is: Everybody's definition of success is different. Mine is making $10K a month. It's also writing a new groove or a song then seeing how it connects with people. I also LOVE firing off a recording session, bringing musicians together and watching what comes out of it. That right there is what i live for -- recording and producing great recordings.


Miami Dan Yoe
singer/songwriter
North Myrtle Beach, SC

Typical Day: retired from my regular job in July. a typical day now is to spend time with my dogs, try to make it to the beach at least once a day, try to work on a new song or a demo at least 2 days a week, and get to the studio with my band often enough to finish up our new album in time for a summer release.
The Economy: not at all
Growing or Shrinking?: At present I think it's probably shrinking because of the miserable economy being foisted upon us by our left wing government. Although it hasn't affected me personally, it has unfortunately affected enough people in our country to significantly reduce the amount of money most fans are willing to spend on entertainment.
Like Most: the fact that it's not really a job in that there's nothing to hate about it.
Internet: I use Facebook to try to reach new fans as well as other websites such as reverbnation. I also use websites such as cdbaby.com and amazon.com in addition to our website, www.miamidan.com, to market our music. We have also gotten a lot of exposure from internet radio stations such as scrubradio.com, hamilton radio and the redeye radio network.
Success Is: simply seeing the smile on someone's face when one of my tunes has connected with him/her.


Mark Campbell
Play gigs, promote original music CDs and downloads.
Austin, Texas

Typical Day: I make generally the same money but it's harder to get booked sometimes because businesses keep closing down.
Like Most: People appreciate fun.
Internet: it helps connect with other people, and some gigs come that way.
Success Is: Being able to play, tier one, being able to play for others, tier two.


Wayne Longtin Sr.
Perform as a singer/songwriter. Play gigs as a Bass Guitarist with 4 bands.
LeMars, Iowa

Typical Day: Write songs from 9am to 1pm everyday. (inspired or not) I have a circuit of nursing homes I perform at to make money, usually on a Wed., Thursday or Friday afternoons. If no gigs at night I spend at least 3 hours on the internet promoting myself.
The Economy: Prices for gas make it hard to come out ahead. Also, People have stopped buying as many CD's at live shows so CD sales are down. Nightclubs can't afford to pay for live music anymore so it has increased competition for the better paying gigs.
Growing or Shrinking?: Definitely shrinking or no opportunities at all. Being a musician is a part time job these days.
Like Most: I've been a full-time musician for over 40 years, there must be something!
Internet: I have a website and I am on every music related website there is! I am a member somewhere. Just type my name in any search engine. Have a good fan base because of this but nobody has any money!
Success Is: Being able to change with the times and be willing to do anything. Success means you are judged by your peers as a great musician as well as the public.


Dana Merry
I am a part time musician, largely because I cannot afford to be a full time one. I play guitar and sing for an old school metal/hard rock band in Gainesville, FL called Nanerpus (search nanerpusband). As a band we play local gigs a couple times a month with occasional forays into neighboring cities. I (along with the other members of the band), write our own songs (music and lyrics) and have recorded an EP with six songs. (Available on CD Baby!)
Gainesville, FL

Typical Day: I get up (about 7am), go to work (construction) come home, eat dinner, go to band practice (twice a week) or practice at home, spend some time on the internet, watch a little TV, and go to bed (about 11pm).
The Economy: The hardest thing is that the venues are having a hard time promoting live music, and as a result are paying door percentages (above a certain minimum) to the bands they book. So it makes it hard to record new music and virtually impossible to not have a 'real' job.
Growing or Shrinking?: Definitely shrinking. I personally don't know anyone who can afford to do it anymore. Everyone has some kind of job that doesn't involve their music.
Internet: The internet is both the best and worst thing that has happened to music. On the one hand it opens up vast heretofore untappable markets for the DIY musician, but on the other hand it is killing live music. Why go out and pay money to see local music in your town when you can watch studio quality performances for free on your 40" flat-screen with surround sound? I use social media site to promote our music and create event hubs for shows (Facebook in particular) as well as networking with other bands and promoters. We are currently working on a music video that we hope will get us more exposure onYouTube
Success Is: I think success as a musician is two fold. First you get to play a full arena, secondly (and more realistically) I'd like to quit my day job.


JJ Engel
I'm a singer in a band from Wichita, KS called Midnight Success. I write all the lyrics and the rest of my guys (saxist/keyboardist, 2 guitarists, bassist and drummer) write the music collectively. During the day I'm a chef at a seafood restaurant called Newport Grill. It's a casual-fancy fine dining establishment.
Wichita, KS

Typical Day: I sleep in and bs around on the internet in the morning before I get ready and head off to work, which is mostly nights, typically from 4-10. If it's nice out I might go disc golf before work. My work is cool about giving me the days off for shows we have and for rehearsal time.
The Economy: I work in the food industry at one of the most expensive restaurants in Wichita. Business is slow sometimes. But i believe we're staying afloat. People need to eat and pretend to be rich. I get full time hours and a decent wage for a cook with my (lack-there-of) experience.
Growing or Shrinking?: For us it seems we will have to quit our jobs in order to fulfill our goals and ambitions with our band. Luckily 2 of us don't have jobs... Personally I believe I have secured a good spot to where I can leave for weeks on end and come back home and have a job for me.
Like Most: The freedom. How they respect me as an employee and a musician. In other words I get support from my job for my other"job" Therefore I/we can pursue our dreams. Also freedom in cooking. I'm not confined to the same ol' stuff everyday. We have routines and such but I get to create my own specials like daily ceviche, soup, entree, and desert specials. And everyone there is friendly and cool. Best job I've had, but I will quit if we become successful musicians.
Internet: I use the internet for everything (TV, Movies, Music, Social Facebook crap, Advertising). I live with 2 other band members so we need the internet at home to do pretty much all of our"band stuff". It's become essential for us via the viral media and instant contacts. We wouldn't have a clue how to book a show out of town without reverberation, indie on the move, and other vital websites.
Success Is: Being able to quit your day job! If we can make an income with our band and continue to make the music WE want and play how WE want. And not working for"the man." Then yea I'd say that's success.


Travis Vega
I am Career Musician, who's specialty is playing instrumental compositions with the guitar as the lead (I'm a guitarist). Along with performing virtually every week (1-3x's per), I teach privately at my Community Arts Center and I compose commercial base music for T.V./Film.
Lodi, CA

Typical Day: My typical day is making sure my kids are taken care of first and then its going to check email and I do get enough mail that needs attention from clients. There are phone calls usually every other day, consisting from parents of students, the office of where I teach and clients calling, those are always pressing matters and need attention ASAP. Around lunch time I update my web site and social media sites as to where I'm playing, blogs, calendar dates, etc. Practice daily, and then off to give my private lessons; repeat till the weekend when its gig time.
The Economy: It's not just one aspect that it has affected me, my performance schedule has gone up, however my prices have to be competitive to match the clients budget. Which has actually sharpened up my business skills and forced me to become a much better Musician.
Growing or Shrinking?: Great question, I think its neither. Its a buyers market out there and my clients know that, however they also know that quality is of up most importance. Quality of music, business, attributes and a healthy balance of marketing for their specific needs is what I am noticing. When a business see's an opportunity for advancing their brand (sort of speak) they'll use it and usually it works; the example (simple example) Wine maker has a new release of wines that have a unique spanish flare, he/she is throwing a release party consisting of wine club members, local business leaders and corporate distributors. Wine maker needs to make a huge impact, this includes venue, cater, DJ, and live musical entertainment, who will get the job? Someone who is proficient across the board, period will get the job. Doesn't mean the best player, but someone who can offer the client with the upmost to make their event a success. These times have produced makeshift musicians, folks who got laid off their day to day and think the transition from office to stage is easy, its not, in some cases its harder, you have no boss telling you what to do next. And my clients know this as well and see through this.
Like Most: Everything!!! Being my own boss, being part of my community, working closely with business leaders, providing a service that is both professional and enjoyable. But the most important thing I love about my job is being able to provide for my family.
Internet: Internet is huge, and with all the social site, we as Career Musicians can be more selective to which site allows us to reach more opportunities. Other sites like CD Baby gives us access to worldwide distribution which is great, but its an even better marketing tool when gaining new clients. Web site and personal email is still tops, its more directly professional for clients to see that you have this and not just a fun social site/page. Internet has changed the world!
Success Is: One who echoes being a Career Musicians. Offering a services that very few can do, mastering your skills and providing a wonderful, pure business that both the client and audience can enjoy. Its the ground work for being successful.


Kelly
Keyboard player for a church
Mt. Vernon, NY

Typical Day: practice, rehearsals, time with my god children
The Economy: Hasn't effected me at all. Got 3 different church gigs in the last year, each making more money than the last.
Growing or Shrinking?: growing
Like Most: That it doesn't feel like a job. Its me doing what I love and actually paying my bills doing it.
Internet: Craigslist is great for finding new gigs.
Success Is: Being able to support myself and a family from music income


Draven Grey
I coach rock bands in building a successful career. I also do a little freelance recording engineering now and then, as well as co-own a music-focused graphic design firm.
Denver, CO

Typical Day: I get up, check the news, and answer emails and social media for a couple of hours. Then after lunch I write lessons for a few hours and read books that help me grow as a person and in my business. In the evening, I work on my own band and songs. Then I spend a couple of hours winding down with a good story, either book or video.
The Economy: Business has gotten better.
Growing or Shrinking?: Growing for those that are getting creative and not just following the traditional, more"local mindset" that many musicians seem to fall into.
Like Most: I really love to help people truly articulate their dreams and then pursue them with everything in them with the right mindset, tactics, and personalization that can ensure their success.
Internet: I blog, talk with people on Facebook, and use eMail quite a lot. Sometimes I run ad campaigns for my band, but most of my marketing efforts for my business are by writing articles that give real value. I think the internet has opened up completely new worlds to musician sin general. A little creativity combined with the world-wide access of the internet, and you can much more easily make a living off your music. Think of Pomplamoose, who are extremely successful and don't play live. They focus on entertaining videos instead. Like Trent Reznor, do all you can to connect with your fans and add value, and they will support you. The internet has massively expanded your options and availability to connect with others. It also makes collaboration and long-distance bands much easier to do.
Success Is: Being able to focus all your efforts on your passion of music and not worrying about how the bills will get paid. To me that means freedom of time, money, and location. It also means everything I'm doing to help bring in money MUST be directly related and focused on the same goals I have as a musician.


Daniel Eboli
Producer, composer, arrabger, instrumentist, working now majorly on covers.
Brazil

Typical Day: lots of hours in front of the computer recording, mixing, arranging, etc
The Economy: A lot, I lost a dream job because of it, working for universal USA (im brazilian)
Growing or Shrinking?: Growing if you're very good, shrinking if you suck
Like Most: the music of course
Internet: Its my main function to release, almost daily, songs via cdbaby
Success Is: be happy with what you're doing and enough money to pay the bills


Peter Evans
Write & publish songs, play out as a solo act and with groups, sing in community chorus, arrange for voices, produce others in the studio. I also act for commercials and do print work. I keep the home fires burning for our family of 3 boys.
Philly area

Typical Day: After I get the boys off to school I center on my most active creative place, either a song idea that is just hatching, or a mix that I was working on that would benefit from fresh ears. I check the news, answer e-mail, drop in on Facebook, work out or do something physical. I either practice for an upcoming gig or go at the hard bits of songwriting- melody construction or lyric writing. This is usually 30 to 40 minute bursts, interspersed with starting out the window, showering, changing the laundry, or getting my kid off the bus after school. Different days of the week are set aside for different aspects of my work, too.
The Economy: Discretionary spending is down everywhere, and CD sales and concert tickets are no exception. Digital sales have made up some of the slack, but we're a long way from the levels we saw in the first half of '08. It is harder to get together with other players, since they have to rely on sources of income other than music or they're just so damn busy.
Growing or Shrinking?: Growing.
Like Most: Nobody understands what I do, but people appreciate the end product.
Internet: I organize rehearsals and gigs via e-mail and dropbox. I book gigs by internet. I keep in touch with my fan base via social media and direct e-mail. I share mixes with engineers over the internet. I skype with co-writers. I like up studio sessions with players, I book studio time. I use Rhyme zone, I read stories that inspire songs, I purchase and listen to music, I connect with DJs and read reviews and blogs.
Success Is: applause, written responses, interesting conversations, new and old friendships, notoriety- probably in that order.


Saro Tribastone
I produce instrumental music to sell on the web, to listen on subscription based sites, to be part of music libraries for licensing uses, to be streamed on various websites. I play live gigs locally, mainly of folk-root music, collaborating with other musicians in various live projects, both mine or not. I record instrumental parts for collaborations with other artists over the web, which then they publish. I give my recorded tracks, or record them ad hoc, to video makers or video producers, for using as soundtracks in documentaries.
Sicily, Italy

Typical Day: Check the web, (email, twitter, facebook; my website statistics; selling statistics from CDBaby, Bandcamp, thesixtyone). Half day usually a day job (I work as psychologist at school with children aged from 3 to 10). Then browsing the web for opportunities, promoting or organising a live gig, we rehearse few
The Economy: I played more, because my main gig, which is based on root music, cost much less then calling an established name, which has higher fees (at least three times more) and travel/accomodation expenses. I usually make gigs in an area of 100_150 km from my home, so I come home to sleep, no hotel and low transportation expenses. This mean I have to play in different projects, about 3-5. so I can perform in the same places more then once. In 2011 I made around 70 gigs with a fee usually around 80-90 euros, sometimes 50, sometimes 150. In media sometimes gigs have had a slightly lower fee then usual.
Growing or Shrinking?: Growing... The most of them in Italy need to pair a day job, like me, or to add music lessons or music teaching at public school.
Like Most: I like to establish connections with people from all over the world, through my instrumental music and have some feedback from them through various channels on the web. I like to compose, record and play music live. I like to be able to have the music as my second job, wishing it would be in the future the only job I have.
Internet: I use my website, twitter, a facebook page, youtube, linkedin, to promote my music directly to fans and establish connection with them and networking, mainly with other musicians or videomakers. I have a 300 members mailing list, but honestly I use it a few. I distribute music through CDBaby (with most selling from itunes, cdbaby site, amazon), my website on Bandzoogle, thesixtyone. I don't give music for free, but all my tracks are available for streaming entirely on a few places. I regularly search for new opportunities about licensing my music and new websites to use to promote/sell it like onesheet.com, viinyl.com, jux.com, soundcloud.com, artistdata.com.
Success Is: Success for a musician is establishing emotional connections with some people, even a few hundreds, it could be translated in having fans, (both listeners of music, viewers of video or buyers) and being able to produce and perform music his own music,


Normandie Wilson
I am a singer, pianist, and composer. I have done vocal coaching for groups and musicals and for individuals. I have been an accompanist for a long time, and I have played weddings and events. I gig playing my own music and jazz standards, and I often make money providing background piano music for events, etc. I will be scoring my first film this year.
San Diego

Typical Day: It really depends on whether I'm touring or not. I spend a lot of time rehearsing, and I try to go to local shows when I can. Lately I've been super stressed out and sort of in hermit mode. I'm working on making my"typical day" a bit more typical because I've noticed that helps me create.
The Economy: It's affected me a lot! I find people are going out to shows less, so less money for me from shows, less tips in my tip jar. Also, a lot of the events that I normally provide music for are more reluctant to shell out cash. But the main area where it has affected me is giving lessons and selling things. I don't blame people for being more reluctant to spend money when things are so uncertain. But during the boom times of 2005-2007, it seemed like everyone had a bit of extra cash to do the things they've always wanted to do, and voice and piano lessons are often part of that. They're often the first things people cut back on when funds are tight.
Growing or Shrinking?: Honestly, I think it's growing. It's just that more musicians are earning $40-$50k per year instead of having the super-rich rock star existence. Also, I feel like a lot of musicians who make a decent living are not the musicians people are writing about. We all know that Pitchfork doesn't care about the musician who makes a decent living writing theme songs for video game music, nor does the LA times really care about a specific niche musician like a successful kids' artist who produces CDs for their market. It can seem like you're not succeeding if you're not getting press in the right places, but honestly - press in the right places might not get you paid, and if you're getting paid well, you might not end up on the list of the cool kids.
Like Most: I like being able to provide entertainment. Whether it's when I'm front and center and people are paying attention to my original music, or whether it's playing jazz standards and instrumentals for people to experience as background music, I enjoy knowing that I am enhancing people's experience. I love when people tell me I'm adding value to their day, or their event. I love when my music is used for a film and people say that the music added something to the film that was missing before. If I had to define my life's purpose, it would be to add value, and music is a very easy way for me to do that.
Internet: I would say the main thing the internet does for me as a working musician is provide me with information. If there's a song I need to learn for an event, I can either look up the chords and lyrics online, or go to YouTube to learn it myself. That's extremely helpful. The bad effects of the internet are when there's too much at once. Since musicians were the people who made MySpace famous, I feel like we're often the first target market of new services, new sites, new everything. After a while it gets overwhelming! I try to limit new sites, and I'm very wary of new sites until I know that they're actually useful. A perfect example of this is ArtistData. I didn't want to start using it, because updating a calendar is a major challenge of a musician's life. But once I discovered that through ArtistData, I could submit my show listings directly to local media, I was sold! On the other hand, there's a bunch of musician services I've signed up for that haven't been worth it. After a couple hundred times of typing in the same information about your band, where you're from, what your style is like.. it gets overwhelming.
Success Is: I think success is different for each musician. The original meaning of the word"musician," is actually just someone who enjoys music. So, in a sense, I think we're all musicians, because music is a central part of the human experience. My definition of success is going to be a lot different than Hilary Hahn's or Lady Gaga's. It's different for everyone. For me, I want my music to make it possible for me to pay my band, my bills, and buy my friends a round at the pub. I want people to get my songs stuck in their heads. I want to know that lyrics I poured my heart into, or songs I wrote when I was brokenhearted are making a difference to another human being. I want to know that a creation of mine is helping another fellow human being make it through another day on Earth, just like the music of the musicians I enjoy has done for me. I want my songs to be played at someone's wedding, I want a patron of an art exhibit where I'm providing background music to say,"Wow, that music was really relaxing." I want to make a casual music listener happy, and I want to make a music nerd freak out. Mostly, I want to be creating music until the day I die. I live my entire life, from what I eat to how I take care of my body, with the idea in mind that when I'm 70, 80, 90, I will still be making music. I will still be on stage. I will still be creating until they lay me in the ground. I want to end my time on this earth with a massive body of work that evolved and grew and changed over time, and I want to stay linked to my friends and colleagues as they do the same. That's my definition of success.


Dennis Gwizdala
Christian music singer, saxophonist, songwriter & speaker...I've been doing my music for over 10 years and full-time going into my 6th year. I still reside in Bay City,Michigan, but I record in Nashville,TN and perform an average of 150 concerts per year, from Alaska, to Florida and everywhere in between. I minister through my music in mostly church venues, but also perform in amphi-theatres, fairs, outdoor concerts and trade shows and cruise ships.
Bay City, Michigan

Typical Day: Mondays are usually my day off(since I'm usually playing Fridays,Saturdays and for sure Sundays(two concerts usually on Sunday). Tuesdays through Friday morning, I'm making phone calls to promoters/churches to book concerts for the following year... I book one year in advance(2012 is totally booked up)..this allows me breathing room so I'm not frantically trying to find a last-minute booking. Since this is my FULL TIME job, I need to ensure my schedule is always full,booked and busy. Other than booking concerts for the next year, my days consist of songwriting, advertising, newsletters, facebook posts about my music, product ordering, filling out internet orders, etc.
The Economy: Since I"usually" don't ask for a flat or specific amount, I rely on the giving of the church(if it's a church service) or I will tell a concert promoter the minimum amount I need to perform and always not matter the location or venue, ask that my travel expenses including lodging be paid for... the area of downturn appears to be in my product sales, but also I've had churches say that they're tightening their belts and if they can't truly take care of me financially, they would rather not bring me in at all at this point in time....I'm still very busy, but whereas some churches have brought me in every year, they are now booking me perhaps every other year instead.
Growing or Shrinking?: I believe shrinking...due to the economy, promoters are tightening their belts regarding booking musicians. Also, physical media and product(CD's/DVD's) are diminishing due to iTunes and other digital download technology reducing the money to be made through CD sales. In my genre of music, my demographics still purchase my music in the physical realm, but I foresee that will diminish as well in the next 5 years or so.
Like Most: I get to play music for a living, get to see the country and get see old friends and make new friends and fans each week.
Internet: Facebook promotion of my music,Twitter and my own website are the tools I use via the internet. I send out a weekly email-newsletter to all of my fans who have subscribed...this helps 1)filling the seats in my concerts, 2)selling my product and 3)letting fans feel"connected" to me.
Success Is: Being happy doing what you do and being happy in the very place you are in your musical career...Not winning Grammy Awards or signing a multi-million dollar recording contract doesn't mean you can't feel successful...as I look back in my 10+ year musical career in Christian music(although I've been playing professionally since the age of 14,,I'm 56 now) I see that the goals I had for me back in 2001 that I attained proved to me back then that I was successful...if I only met those same goals in 2012, I wouldn't view myself as being a success TODAY....I'm always striving to get better, busier, better concert dates/venues, etc etc.


Simon Tam
Manage and play bass in all-Asian American dance rock band, The Slants. We tour, we publish, we license, we endorse products, we hold workshops. We perform and are invited as guests to anime conventions. We work with high schools and colleges to not only perform, but speak about current issues affecting the Asian American community as well as other communities of color. In addition, I offer consulting services to other artists and write music blogs (through laststopbooking.com), as well as book tours for about a dozen other bands.
Portland, OR

Typical Day: Starting the day at 6:30am, I spend 8-10 hours online (answering emails, social media management writing blogs/articles, doing interviews, booking tours or seeking sponsorship, etc.). In the evening, I spend about 30-60 minutes per day practicing my instrument and doing vocal exercises. After that, I spend another hour or two songwriting and/or following up on additional emails. Of course, if I'm on tour some of this changes - rather than songwriting, we're performing in the evening and working in the morning/day (thanks to tethered internet).
The Economy: The economy slightly lowered the amount of sponsorship dollars received as well as some merchandise sales. However, by becoming even more sharp in targeting our audience and offering additional revenue streams, we've been able to get by.
Growing or Shrinking?: I believe that there are more opportunities out there than ever before for musicians who are able to gain general business management and marketing skills. There's more competition but there are also so many more niche markets that artists can target to succeed.
Like Most: I love being able to empower audiences through the arts. I love making the world a better place to live in because of great music and the arts. I enjoy being able to inspire future artists and help up and coming artists.
Internet: I'm constantly connected. I rely on the internet to network, market, do booking, collaborate on projects, manage our entire online presence, etc. The internet has provided me with a near unlimited of resources and tools to use. For some other members of the band, it's also provided additional sources of income while we're on the road (for example, web design or other"work from home" type of businesses).
Success Is: Success is a journey, not a destination. If you're enjoying what you do and it's sustainable, what more could you ask for?


Travis Singleton
For 3 years, I have gigged the south/southeast full time, while picking up side work to help maintain steady income. For 7 years in total, I've been traveling, performing my original music.
knoxville TN

Typical Day: The typical day for ANY independent artist should involve CONTACT & COMMUNICATION. This is the only way to 'stay ahead'. So my day always consists of reaching out in some form or fashion to venues/media/fellow artists/etc... It's essential to balance in time for writing songs and practicing setlists. You have to perfect the craft. When I'm not traveling, I'll pick up part time work where/when I can.
The Economy: With gas prices on a steady upward swing, the planning of when & where to tour has become even more of a tedious task. Coupled with the fact that people.are spending less on entertainment, the economy certainly plays a role in my career.
Growing or Shrinking?: I believe there's a plateau currently... the economy is one reason. The overall number of artists / acts pursuing a career full time is increasing, so the 'success stories' I believe are fewer and far between.
Like Most: I get to do what I LOVE and what I'm PASSIONATE about... and get paid to do it. To me, that is priceless. Not many people, in ANY field, can say that. I love writing something that a listener can relate to. I love getting a person's interpretation of my songs.
Internet: Without social networking and ReverbNation, specifically, indie artists would be LOST. You have to find that healthy balance, though. You can't just spam the hell out of your online fan base. I'm always trying to find ways to keep things from mundane and obnoxious. And EPKs are essential for communicating with venues/talent bookers. The need to embrace online working is undeniable.
Success Is: Gaining recognition, no matter the scale, for writing/performing original music. Someone saying that your work made an impact in some way. 'Success' is a vague term, I believe. If an artist can wake up each morning and go to bed each night with a feeling of"I love doing this"... THAT is success.


M Janet Mars
I'm a musician, producer and label owner.
Santiago, Chile

Typical Day: I do some label work, do artwork for new releases, contact musicians, work on my own music and such.
The Economy: In no way, really.
Growing or Shrinking?: I don't really know for sure. Here in Chile there's not much of a real music industry, and things probably will stay this way for a long time. On the internet, well, we're slowly getting attention from our desired audiences, but still, not much happening.
Like Most: Everything. Just being able to do this is a blessing, compared to most of my other musician and artist friends that haven't had such luck.
Internet: I only have a real career on the internet, and so, everything I do is related to it. My work right now is trying to reach new audiences and contact new musicians.
Success Is: Attaining a loyal audience and a support group of great artists to help you and collaborate.


Keith Mullins
I made a out of career of playing drums/percussion for people for about ten years then within the past few years starting to make a career out of songwriting. I also do about 50-75 workshops per year in schools teaching/performing for schools of any age in drumming and/or songwriting. I record, and run my career which includes booking, social media, getting publicity, hunting for publishing and/or new opportunities, grant writing etc. I have 35 gigs this month. Mostly schools, but also solo/shared shows in venues. Also I play percussion with a bunch of guys from Cuba this month. I have a wife, two kids, two cars, a house/mortgage, and we are also farmers......but 80% of our income is through music and 20% the farm.
Coldstream, NS

Typical Day: pretty insane....I have two kids so I don't sleep much. I usually like to spend 3 hours in the middle of the night to get my work done, uninterrupted. It really varies a lot, bookings, deals, grants, publicity, gigs.
The Economy: I think it has forced me to diversify into playing my songs for people even though I knew it was the best thing for me and was probably coming anyway. I am more successful financially than I ever have been. My original school show was just a one hour drumming presentation ten years ago. Now it has blossomed into a full day workshop, a Cuban music workshop, and a songwriting workshop......and I play my original music in all of these which I offers listeners a chance to buy into what they're hearing. And because I am able to play a bar/venue solo, just me and a guitar, I don't have to rely on anyone else. I don't have to sit at home and wait for the phone to ring.
Growing or Shrinking?: I think about this a lot. I think for bands that were close to getting a record deal, they're in the most trouble, with their dreams down the tubes. Labels are not signing bands like they used to. Also bands that were under a label seem to struggling more...I think you have to be willing to work harder for it and you have to think outside the box. And having a record deal doesn't necessarily mean that you make a lot of money. There will always be a demand for music, but the delivery is changing. We must adapt to the world or do something else. I will continue to make a living and prosper from playing music. I have people that work for me.....agents, managers, publicists....but I hire them for a short period of time, or they are friends/advisors and/or I barter with them for musical services or vegetables from the farm. I will only take on a full time manager when it comes time that I can afford to.
Like Most: I love music, it's what I know best. I've played since I was a kid, and I love to share it with others. If I could just be playing music I would be. But the fact is it takes a lot more than playing in order to play. I'm ambitious, self-motivated and I'm willing to do what it takes to work for myself and for my family.
Internet: I live in the woods, an hour away from Halifax, NS so the internet is key to my success. Emails, social media.....everything I do regarding a gig/deal/work uses the internet.
Success Is: Success to me means that I'm continuing to work and provide for my family. Whatever it takes to do more of that, is what I will do.


Pedro el Poeta
I am a Hip-Hop/Spoken Word performing and recording artist. I record, publish, release, perform, market and sell all of my own original songs and albums, minus the music. Different producers I know, provide the beats that I use in my albums. I was also able to link up with a multi-platinum producer that allows me to record for free, so my cost is significantly lower than most recording artists.
Saint Petersburg, FL

Typical Day: I'm a stay at home dad, so all my duties for the early part of the day revolve around diapers, messes, spills, stressful feeding sessions, and walks to the park with my two kids and our pitbull. During nap-time (2-3 hrs), I spend my time on the computer trying to gain exposure, climb up different charts, update profiles, write songs, make music videos, set up gigs, rehearse for gigs, check correspondence, etc... The world of a musician these days revolves around online exposure. At the end of the work day, my wife gets home, I go off to Jiu-Jitsu, train, return home and relax with the family before the kids go off to bed. Then it's back to the computer, or off to a gig. Good times.
The Economy: Before summer of 2008 I had a successful career as a teacher/performing artist. I taught at risk kids ages 10-18 Poetry, Hip-Hop, Spoken Word and Language Arts at different rec. centers, schools, detention centers, etc. I was also booking a lot more gigs, given the fact that there were more venues in the area willing to support independent acts. In 2008, the High school I taught at shut down due to government funding, a lot of venues shut down, and my wife became pregnant with our first child. It was then that we moved out of the country and I began a very promising, and rapidly developing career as a rapper/Hip-Hop artist out of San Juan del Sur Nicaragua. A year and a half later, I returned to the U.S. with a longer musical resume behind me, more experience, confidence, eagerness, and hunger than ever before. I had tasted success. Ever since, I have been reestablishing myself as a rapper/Hip-Hop artist in St. Pete Florida, where the economy has not quite recovered, and the opportunities are more online than on the scene, it seems.
Growing or Shrinking?: I think it's doing both simultaneously, sort of like a water balloon being squeezed at one end; that end shrinks, the other one swells up. I think the focus is just shifting. Artists are more in charge than ever of our own careers, but that's a double-edge sword. There are too many independent artists these days for scouts and promoters to come out looking for the best of the best at your local venues. They're not listening to demos we're mailing in, or to promo packs we leave other artists at shows. They're online waiting for the next big thing to find them. Awareness and self-promotion is key.
Like Most: I get to do what I love doing, what I'm passionate about, and what I've been working my whole life on being good at. That is a lot of fulfillment. Reaching people, making them feel, or simply connecting with others through my art is priceless.
Internet: Knowing what sites to be on to get the most exposure, and being an involved member of different social networks like Facebook, Myspace, ReverbNation, Broadjam, etc., is the only way to really increase your fan base. This leads to more people at your shows, more CD sales, more gigs, and better opportunities. I spend an incredible amount of time online.
Success Is: Success to me is a combination of the response I get to my music, the amount of people I reach with my words, and the amount of money I make doing what I enjoy doing. By these standards, I can always strive to be more successful.


Aaron Gayden
I play in two cover bands as well as my own Jazz, Gospel, R&B, worship and cover band. I also work for two churches part time. I also do commercials. I am a songwriter (BMI), singer, arranger, bassist, keyboardist and drum programmer.
Auburn, Ca

Typical Day: I wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy... Wait, that's not me. I PLAN to get breakfast and work out and read my bible. What REALLY happens is I get up check email and get sucked into THE VORTEX. I check CD Baby, ReverbNation, Facebook etc. and try to manage my accounts and try to market my music. If something grabs my attention on Facebook or just my own sick mind I will blog. (Shameless plug: neitherwegian.blogspot.com) Eventually, I work out etc and head to the studio. On a good day I will be working on a project for a client (production, lead sheet or vocal chart, commercial, etc). On a great day I will write, record or mix my own music. On a perfect day I will do both the above and have a good paying gig. On a better than perfect day the gig will be with my band doing a benefit for a worthy cause like Courage House (c2bu.org) or support for Haiti.
The Economy: Last year was absolutely horrible for live bookings! The bands I play with all had awful years. This year is already looking up in terms of quality and quantity of gigs.
Growing or Shrinking?: I think it's getting harder and harder to be a full-time musician. And I am very blessed to be one, as tenuous as it is each month. I think the ranks are most likely shrinking. I have know guys much more deserving than me having the 9-5 to make ends meet...
Like Most: I get to do what I was created to do: Make music, help others make or realize their music, get people to a happier/funner place and get people connected to God.
Internet: The internet makes me my own marketing person. I don't relish this job because I hate self promotion and it does take away from the creative time. But I hope that it will pay larger dividends and keep the family fed and add a little more on top of just getting by. I am really just starting to use the internet on a larger and smarter basis this year.
Success Is: Being able to bring some joy and meaning to people's lives or give them a voice is a huge part of success. Being able to express and create is a success in itself. Being able to get paid (hopefully, but not necessarily) enough to feed your family. Be able to do what you love. Being respected by your fellow musicians. Occasionally doing something that your kids aren't annoyed by musically.


Brent Edmondson
Teach lessons, perform in orchestras, perform smaller gigs (though this is relatively infrequent), transcribe music for colleagues
Philadelphia

Typical Day: I work a 9-5 day job to pay my bills (student loans that is), and generally play with an orchestra about one week a month, though some months like December are more abundant in work opportunities than, say, July. I am developing a teaching studio so I plan to transition to teaching from my current occupation which is completely unrelated to music, but I need enough students to comfortably remove my primary income stream.
The Economy: My career is being established at a time when getting orchestral work without a salaried position is fairly difficult, but I do not have much comparison besides the level of gigging I did while earning my degrees - I suppose I play less than when I was in school, but I have moved away from the city I did my masters in, so I think there is more at play than economics in my employment level.
Growing or Shrinking?: I think that the traditional avenues of earning a living are vanishing rapidly, with orchestral budgets shrinking and donors feeling quite shy about giving. On the other hand, with groups like Time for Three, the Punch Brothers, etc. who are learning how to blend immense skill with business savvy and mass appeal, I think that musicians are able to earn money through innovative and clever approaches. The definition of decent living is in flux as well, so I wonder if perhaps musicians may be headed towards settling for an even less lucrative career than we have traditionally experienced, but being more on par with the rest of the population in terms of household income.
Like Most: I enjoy the satisfaction of surpassing my own limitations musically, whether that be learning a piece on short notice and executing it well, or delivering a performance that pleases my colleagues and myself. It mainly comes down to a personal sense of accomplishment, not the accolades of an audience, or the amount of money I am making from it.
Internet: I am connected to many many colleagues through Facebook and twitter, and have frequently been hired for gigs on Facebook. I believe that the crux of musical careers is networking, and this certainly facilitated by Facebook. It is not a stand-in for meeting people face-to-face,but after that initial meeting, you can of course raise your visibility by displaying yourself prominently in your own internet space, and maintain contacts that would otherwise be very difficult to sustain.
Success Is: My personal guidelines for success involve finding satisfaction in any endeavor I pursue. More specifically, I feel most satisfied by creating a musical opportunity for myself and carrying it to fruition. That has included winning auditions in the past, it also includes my administrative work for two music festivals, and my part in creating a chamber orchestra partnered with community service organizations to better serve disadvantaged Philadelphians and bring great music to new audiences. These sorts of accomplishments represent a greater level of success than an excellent performance.


Richard
I am a professional trombone player, playing jazz, classical, funk, rock on tenor and bass trombone. I also arrange, compose, do copywork and teach privately. I recently began an adjunct teaching position at IUPUI (Indiana University/Purdue University at Indianapolis).
Indianapolis, Indiana

Typical Day: I wake up, post on SM sites (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc) read emails, respond to emails, then I begin practicing. I alternate practicing and reading/preparing for classes throughout the day. I teach and/or gig each day.
The Economy: I have lost 2 weekly gigs due to the downturn. However, due to my versatility I have been able to still made ends meet.
Growing or Shrinking?: I think the definition of 'decent living' is changing and that people are willing to live on less. To answer the question, I think that people making a living ONLY in the music industry is shrinking rapidly.
Like Most: I love the fact that everyday is different. I love the night life and I love being around musicians. I love making music and getting paid for it.
Internet: I use the internet each day. I constantly try to gather more fans and engage/connect with them so that when I do have live performances they know about it and are more willing to come out and support live music.
Success Is: Success for me is simple: Play enough and make enough money to live comfortably (without getting taken advantage of) all the while educating the general population as to why what I do (and the arts in general) are important and should be supported.


John
Gig; Songwriter; Producer
Eastern Colorado

Typical Day: I work full time in radio and spend as much time in the recording or rehearsal studio as I can.
The Economy: Fewer shows to be had.
Growing or Shrinking?: I would guess shrinking, but I am not sure.
Like Most: It provides me flexibility & insight into the music business.
Internet: Website, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, ReverbNation, CD Baby, Amazon.com, iTunes...we promote anywhere & everywhere we can.
Success Is: For me, it would be to have my songs recorded by others and make a living from it.


Richard Murray
Everything I can... I teach privately and in schools/music shops, I play recording sessions, I play contracts with bands at home and abroad for months at a time (hotels, cruise ships, nightclubs etc) I licence my own material and sell my CDs. I co-write with others and help to produce their albums.
Northern Ireland

Typical Day: Im not sure if there is a typical day for musicians, its not like a office job or a job in a store. If Im working on a contract I usually have the day time to myself and it can be spent rehearsing or visiting some of the great places in the countries where I work. At gig time Im usually backstage early writing sets and making sure my equipment is all working, I never EVER trust gear. If Im doing one nighters then obviously theres a lot of driving and hauling gear around. There are many factors to consider in the daily life of a musician, one important one being how much was drunk at the previous nights gig.
The Economy: I depends where Im playing obviously. I was in Greece playing for 5 months during their harshest time, wages weren't great but it was still busy with tourists. I havent notices much of a change otherwise.
Growing or Shrinking?: I would say different groups of musicians will get more work as trends change, and some will get less. Just as horn players suffered when synth horns and backing tracks became better, Drummers suffer with new volume laws in venues, again backing tracks are easier to control volume wise (and easier the turn off between songs than real drummers!) Solo acts and one-person tribute shows are doing very well, always a lot of work available around the world. I've played in supposedly live venues in some countries with a band and the audience couldn't understand the concept and didn't like it because they were so used to hearing bands with backing tracks. But more venues now can host music that perhaps couldn't before due to high quality backing tracks, which is good for those musicians who dont mind playing with them. Its a tricky one, it is shrinking in some areas and growing in others.
Like Most: The travel, the feeling of improving with each passing show, the people I meet, the attention, the free drinks and food.
Internet: Its very important. I use it to promote my music and sell my album. I also use it to promote myself as a working musician. If you can separate the good quality websites that can achieve results for you from the ocean of fly-by-night sites that never come up with the goods, then it will affect you workload measurably.
Success Is: Just being a musician, and nothing else, and surviving is a success.


Jefferson Montoya
I perform regularly with two types of show. I do original showcases and cover shows. From house parties to casinos I do it all. In my time between writing and performing I teach guitar and performance.
Las Vegas, NV

Typical Day: I wake early and, after my son is off to school, I begin booking gigs and promoting album sales on line and by phone. It seems much harder now to advance book repeat shows. U do this until about 2pm when I begin skype lessons for guitar. After 4pm I can receive students in my home until 6, maybe 8 on a late night, before packing the boy off to the sitter and heading to whatever show I have locally. This is different on weekends when I travel to perform.
The Economy: The downturn had two major affects and a minor one. 1) venues stopped booking live acts in Las Vegas First because the business licenses are cheaper without live music and second because bands here are seen as a way to provide butts at the video poker machines and not as entertainment provided for the venue's patrons. 2) cash payments, under the table pay, has all but vanished. Now, in order to save every possible tax dollar, even the smallest venue pays by check to independent contractor. This has cut one of the biggest benefits of playing very small spaces for small pay. Stated Income is a bad word now. Getting something financed, a car/gear/short tours, is much more difficult now. It wasn't so bad before the housing market tanked but now being stated income is pretty much akin to being unemployed.
Growing or Shrinking?: I'd say it is shrinking. My last album was released 5 years ago and sold 11,340 copies. My current album is no where near that pace. People do not buy the way they did even a short while ago. Venues pay less. Shows like American Idol really seem to narrow hat is viewed as"good music" while simultaneously giving every person the desire to be a star. So, indie music that isn't pop/r&b suffers and starves for attention while karaoke draws larger and larger crowds. Quality of entertainment is replaced by quantity and it is much cheaper for venues overall. So, less music sold + more people selling music - performance opportunities = less money for working musicians.
Like Most: I can't not make music. So the best part about my job is that I'm not at some other job, as I was for years, being unhappy with my career choice. This line of work is far more difficult than corporate life and many of the things one thinks would be perks aren't. Not having a boss means you must be self motivated, always. You do not get to wear whatever you want. You still dress a part. You don't set your own hours. You go where the gigs are when they are. But: You don't wonder"what if". You meet new people. If you get lucky you touch someone with a song. And you know that the same set doesn't equal the same show.
Internet: This newest album is digital download only. It has forced me to be much more reliant upon social media. But the primary thing I use the Internet for is to get venue information and quickly make my music available to venues as auditions to play. Directories always seem to be outdated and inaccurate. I've found the best way to book a gig is to call venues that hve hosted like artists an go from there. Day by day.
Success Is: As long as bills get paid and children are kept I'm good. I don't want more than most Americans in their jobs. Gold records and accolades would be nice but success is performing your best getting a check and doing it again. Because, let's face it, though there are thousands of musicians better than I, very few of us can live off what we make on stage or in the studio.


Bonez
I'm a songwriter/poet/emcee 1st & foremost. A performer of my music. I do my own beats when I need to. I record, mix, master, etc. my own music. Do my own websites & promo w/help from CDbaby & other great tools & people. I play drums for fun but wouldn't call myself a drummer.
Alexandria, VA

Typical Day: I have no typical day. But I'd say family 1st, health & wellness 2nd, full time job teaching kids 3rd, music & sleep 4th. That's how I distribute my time. With regard to music, currently I'm promoting a new album. It's tough because it takes so much time & $ sometimes.
The Economy: It's hard because it takes money to produce product & travel.
Growing or Shrinking?: I'd say it's growing only because our population is. But people are so much tighter with how they spend money, with good reason, these days. People spend $10 on nonsense everyday, but not on my CD.
Like Most: I LOVE what I do is what I"like" most about my job.
Internet: In every way possible to promote my music, express my thoughts & beliefs, keep in touch w/friends & fam, and learn new things. It's a tool that affects my music greatly as it connects me with people in a way traveling & face-to-face could never do.
Success Is: Earning a living & getting the bills paid doing what you love to do with a little $$ left over for things like vacations & christmas presents for the fam.


Jorge Arroyo
I'm a musician and sound technician. I've worked both doing gigs and other events and post producing sound for TV. As a musician I've played in different bands, singing, playing guitar and trumpet.
Madrid, Spain

Typical Day: Right now I mostly take care of my kids and try to get time to write and rehearse my own music. From time to time I play live concerts either with my band or alone in an acoustic format.
The Economy: It's getting harder to find jobs as a sound technician all the time. Getting a steady job seems impossible now, and small jobs don't come very often. As a musician I see how venues pay less and book less live acts. Where I live in Spain I've also seen how people go to less concerts now. I've been at amazing gigs seeing people from all over the world with as few as 5-10 people in the audience.
Growing or Shrinking?: I'd say shrinking, especially if you write your own stuff. I guess there's still a good chance to earn a living playing or recording for other people...
Like Most: I do love working with sound in a creative way. I like to make sound pieces using different sources and try to get something that sounds totally different than the bits I used. As a musician I like to play live most of all. There's something special you can't get anywhere else....
Internet: It's one of the best tools to get my music out there. It gives me a chance to expose my music to people and places it would have been impossible years ago...
Success Is: To me success comes from inside. If you're happy with what you're doing the that's success. I guess I do want people to hear what I do, but I'm most happy when I write a song I love....


Eric Pratt
Gig mainly, I have a unique music situation, am lucky in that regard. Have given lessons, yes.
Rochester NY

Typical Day: Practice, possibly get together for rehearsals, book shows, confirm shows, DON'T confirm shows, talk to other"tech" folks (sound/lights), try and get traffic to your page(s), do whatever show/event is going on that day, start all over again.
The Economy: I think when the economy's bad, people turn to things like music, movies, etc. as a way to get together and go out and have some fun. I think the folks that should be more worried are festival organizers; with more and more folks trying to organize 3 day fests, people expect a little more"bang for their buck" these days. With ticket prices averaging b/t $40.00 & $70.00 for the weekend (may or may not include camping), people have to make decisions now that maybe a few years back they didn't have to. We've always been considered a"festival band", and if we're having to balance what's worth it to play at (just so we don't LOSE money, which is the case many times), we know fans are having to tighten their belts also.
Growing or Shrinking?: I'd say there's more musicians now, but the"decent living" idea has always been hard, and will always continue to be hard. I consider myself really lucky to have the situation I have, isn't a typical music situation, so I am able to eek it out, but is always a risky endeavor.
Like Most: After all the business is done, and you're FINALLY at the show, everyone's there, things are going smooth, and you can just play and let it fly.
Internet: Almost EVERYTHING happens online now - we're the only band I know of that has gone a little"old school", and have gotten a band hotline number that folks can call, check on shows, info, directions, all that kinda thing. Also is set uyp with voicemail for bookings - folks are far less likely to exaggerate a situation if they're talking to an actual person instead of just typing words. Again, that's an expense that alot of bands don't really care to take on, but whatever works for them, we just want to have all forms of info going to people, and that they can use also.
Success Is: There's alot of levels to that question. As a BEGINNING musician, just learning something you've been working on for a while that you finally get, that's success. At the MID level, finding people that have similar musical interests to play with can be pretty huge. And at this point, knowing that all the promo stuff (apart from the ACTUAL music), all the hours and hours to get to folks to shows, all that kind of thing, has been worth it.


christopher bright
play in several bands (original and cover) music director at a church teach privately (guitar, drums, bass, piano, vox, recording, etc.) compose and sell/publish music for relaxation (www.lifeismysoundtrack.com) occasional studio work (usually drums) publish/curate a music education blog (www.conceptsandapplication.com)
Costa Mesa, CA

Typical Day: up at 6, doing emails, random busywork, checking blogs and music related sites, finding and databasing leads for future use, emailing leads/doing promotion, practicing an instrument for a bit, lunch, working on writing/recording original compositions, teach in the afternoons to early evenings, occasionally a gig at night, and if not, family time. sleep, repeat. every day is always a bit different, and you never know where the day is going to go, but that's a fairly typical day.
The Economy: it hasn't. i've seen fairly steady growth since i went full-time in 2006. however, i live in orange county, ca, do a lot of work in the newport beach area, and orange county hasn't been hit as hard by the economic downturn.
Growing or Shrinking?: i'd say they are growing because the internet has opened up a world-wide market that was previously unavailable to us. however, no matter how you slice it, it's a very tough industry and the fact that it's possible to make a living here doesn't guarantee that you will. it requires the ability to get up every single time you get knocked down (which is sometimes on a daily basis), and also a lot of business and organizational skills. i've spent a lot of time learning how to use spreadsheets and reading books on marketing to help give me an edge and more of a fighting chance. there's only 24 hours in every day and i need to be as efficient with them as i possibly can, so i work hard on tightening things up and learning to be more efficient.
Like Most: i love music. it's my favorite thing. i love playing it, talking about it, listening to it. it's the thing that moves me and energizes me, and it makes all the hard parts about the job totally worth it. i feel so lucky that i've been able to spend my life here. it's where i want to be. i can't imagine retiring, even if i hit it big and had more $ than i knew what to do with.
Internet: i use it for promotion, communication, education, marketing, sales, etc. the internet is absolutely essential to what i do and i would say it's my greatest tool. but, it can also be a huge distraction and a negative thing for productivity if it's not used correctly. like all tools, it requires discipline and learning how to use it correctly. without the internet, being a working musician might now be possible.
Success Is: for me it's paying my bills, providing for my family, and not needing a day job. but that's my personal definition. i think the idea and terms of success would vary from person to person.


Hector Murrieta
I teach music lessons, play classical guitar concerts & record my own CD projects: Currently I have 2,"De Oriente a Occidente" &"Entre Senderos". Currently I'm about to release my 3rd, all baroque CD, with works by german composers, specifically JS Bach and A. Falckenhagen.
Mexico city

Typical Day: Practice, study, teach lessons, record stuff on my studio.
The Economy: It's been rough, but luckily I've managed to do ok.
Growing or Shrinking?: I'd say they have stayed the same.
Like Most: The pleasure to pursue my own interests, to learn other's people music and speak through my chosen instrument.
Internet: I use it for a variety of purposes, but in my working field it has become indispensable.
Success Is: To be able to support your interests, be them music or anything else, by doing something that you love.


Todd Oats Olsen
I own a tiny basement studio. Im a freelance producer as well as an artist and a small startup label.
Atlanta, GA USA

Typical Day: Usually recording at the studio, doing business on the phone and doing promo online at night after work.
The Economy: Usually the economy affects business very little but i have noticed people arent recording as much since the downturn.
Growing or Shrinking?: Id say its gotten much harder from two causes- the downturn hurt some but the thing that killed it was online music. Piracy was part of it but itunes really killed the record biz by only selling music by the song instead of by the album. Im grateful that cd baby sells by the album and more importantly that it gives the ARTIST the choice of how they want to sell and present their artwork.
Like Most: Im most happy when coming up with ideas and being creative so i like that aspect. Also, I dont do the same thing day to day which I like also.
Internet: I use it for promotions on social media etc but I think more significantly it has opened up opportunities to work with other artists that dont live nearby. Im currently working on a collaboration project between three of us- one person is in NY, one is in TN and Im in ATL.
Success Is: As an artist, success is making something good and breaking new ground in some way. As a musician, success is playing well. As a music biz person success to me is making a living doing music- even if its a meager one.


Erin
Graduate Teaching Assistant - getting my master's in horn performance Teach beginning college-level theory and ear training Teach private lessons Coach a high school horn section Sub in pit orchestras/local symphony
Las Vegas

Typical Day: Teach at the high school first period, teach theory/ear training at the college, go to rehearsal, class, then more rehearsals/practicing or subbing work at night. Gigs are not every week, I have something about once a month now.
The Economy: Shows in Las Vegas are closing, and there's more musicians and less freelance opportunities than there once was before I lived here.
Growing or Shrinking?: It depends on the person. You have to be more innovative in the way you create a living for yourself. It seems that it used to be you could get away with freelancing, but that work is much less than it once was. I wasn't working during that time, but it's what I've heard from more experienced players. People who are making it now have a multi-facted approach; publishing arrangements, teaching lessons, teaching at the university, playing with a chamber group for weddings/corporate gigs, etc. You can't get by just playing, whereas it seems you used to be able to do just that.
Like Most: I'm getting paid to go to school and get a degree that will earn me a higher salary when I apply for a university teaching job.
Internet: I have a website, I list myself on every private lessons site I can find, and I use facebook as a resource.
Success Is: The definition of success is personal to everyone, the guy who works as a sound tech and gets his tribute band a big casino gig feels just as successful as the symphony orchestra player who won a job. Success is bringing your career to the level you desire, and being happy with what you do.


Diana Stimmler Winkler
I am mainly a church musician. I use my music to promote domestic violence awareness to the churches in my community. I have also taught voice in the past. I am just starting writing songs this year. I will be recording my second album in June of this year called Break These Chains. It is a collection of songs that educate, empower, and encourage, using many styles of music, like blues, jazz, country, and flamenco.
Scottsdale, AZ

Typical Day: Practice with the choir and band in the early morning. Sing two services in the morning. Have lunch. Take a nap. Do some social networking. Update my blog. Work on a couple songs in the fire with lyrics. Practice the songs I'm recording soon. Dinner. Movie. Bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The Economy: It has taken me longer to reach my goals, but it hasn't stopped me.
Growing or Shrinking?: It is definately shrinking. Value has been taken away from music with the internet. everyone expects it for free or they can get music for free. Why pay for it? It takes a lot more hard work to make a living, so many of us have to work a day job too.
Like Most: Writing a song and having it completed so I can sing it before a crowd. It's almost like having a kid! lol
Internet: Internet is great for social networking, keeping up with blogs, reading articles, collaborating with other musicians around the world, updating your website, and buying equipment or music. It is hard to keep us with some of the networking, but you can't get around it these days if you want to be noticed.
Success Is: Getting to do what you love and getting paid for it. Not necessarily get rich, but have a solid fan base who loves your music.


Bill Floyd
Solo Acoustic Performer
Largo FL

Typical Day: Wake up, go through CL musician post looking for gigs.Practice guitar,memorizing lyrics Send epks to prospective venues. Drop off cds to venues. More practice
The Economy: Fewer venues.are.staying in business. Others players are lowballing,and getting the gigs,no matter how bad they are.
Growing or Shrinking?: Not sure
Like Most: Deciding how and when to start my day!
Internet: Use internet to email epks. Find prospective venues that have live music.
Success Is: Success to me is when I perform,that people are enjoying themselves singing and dancing along.


Simon Russell
I perform in about 10 different bands encompassing jazz, latin, folk, country and classical. I teach individual and group lessons in bass guitar, double bass and guitar.
brighton, UK

Typical Day: get up do all manner of other jobs to supplement my income, including decorating, plumbing etc. either gig or teach from 8pm
The Economy: not too badly though I have more pub gigs and less function gigs.
Growing or Shrinking?: probably shrinking
Like Most: making music
Internet: I engage positively in all social media to promote the groups I play with.
Success Is: having a personal roadie :)


Pip Taylor
Play guitar, sing and write in an unsigned hard rock band.
Buckinghamshire

Typical Day: Depends on what is happening with gigs and recording.
The Economy: It's made getting gigs more difficult, merchandising is more difficult and getting recording time and space very hard as a band.
Growing or Shrinking?: Probably shrinking at the moment, although it could be stabilising now. When things improve economically, there should be an improvement in everyone's fortunes, not just musicians.
Like Most: Being creative and being able to share the results with others.
Internet: Band website, Facebook page, emails to the public, blogging etc.
Success Is: Being able to produce music and record it and perform to fans.


Martha
I play with the Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Opera Orchestra and the Symphony of Northwest Arkansas. I also play the occasional gig-usually church jobs, sometimes weddings.
Tulsa, OK

Typical Day: I work in the Tulsa Symphony Office 10-5, but usually am in the office until 5:30pm at least. On days I have a service I typically bring my dinner to nuke in the microwave at the office, eat at the office and go to rehearsal afterwards. On days I have services I'm usually not home until 10pm. If it's a rehearsal in Arkansas I will probably not be home until midnight.
The Economy: I'm getting fewer wedding and church gigs. The opera has also cut back on the size of its orchestra for next year's productions, and for one of its productions this year they cut one rehearsal.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking
Like Most: I love playing wonderful repertoire like Jake Heggie's"Dead Man Walking," Richard Strauss'"Also Sprach Zarathustra" and the upcoming Mahler Symphony No. 3. I also enjoy being with other musicians.
Internet: I use the Internet for e-mail and keeping touch with friends and what's going on via social media websites. The Internet helps me get quicker notification of new/changed services.
Success Is: Being able to make a living playing the music you enjoy the most.


Matt Hammer
Gigs, lessons, singer/songwriter,
Anchorage, AK

Typical Day: Online communication and coffee. Practice songwriting, practice flute. next lunch. A nap and then get up for the gig.
The Economy: Less work and same pay as 20 years ago.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking.
Like Most: Writing and performing.
Internet: Communation with fans. Promotion of on line products.
Success Is: Gigs should get easier to find.


Chris Walker
Guitar/Vocals, lessons, record, write, promote, manage...pretty much anything and everything that can be done in the business. I needed cool photos and flyers - I learned graphic design. I needed a website - I learned java and html. I needed to learn how to play some country - well...., let's not go THAT far.
Lakeland FL

Typical Day: I'm a full time father, but when I'm not actively raising my daughter - I am working on furthering my career as a musician. I spend the morning/afternoon networking through email, phone, and social networking. Late afternoon is spent in preparation for the evening gig (repairs, supplies, gas up the van, confirm the show/musicians). At night I play the show - blow some minds, then get home quick so I can wake up early and start the process over. I usually play 4-7 shows a week.
The Economy: People don't come out like they used too. I would typically see the same faces at the venues, plus my crowd - now it seems there is just less of both. People download a concert, watch it stream live, or drink alone at home instead of go out for a memorable night.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking - competition increases as technology allows literally ANYONE to make a CD. Some of the people that don't take music as seriously as myself and my musical peers, clog up the system and make it more difficult for the working musicians to be taken seriously. I would never tell someone to quit something they enjoy, I'd like to make that clear - but the people I'm referring to don't care if they hit a wrong note, or show up late.
Like Most: People and places. It's never boring for me - music and the business always excites me.
Internet: It's just about the best tool to use in this crazy business we are in, besides your instrument.
Success Is: Success as a musician for me means that my music means something to someone somewhere. Beyond that, a comfortable life - and pre-paying for my child's college education would make this musician pretty happy.


Medl4
I make beats
Sacramento

Typical Day: Since I am recently unemployed, I wake up, make coffee & than bullshit till I get to working on a beat. The nightime is open game.
The Economy: it has made things harder of course,but I havent let it effect my drive for making music.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking drastically, but it also weeds out the folks that are only in it for financial gain or false stardom.
Like Most: I cant call it a"job" as its not yet a constant source of income, but my passion is making music & when money comes along its an added bonus. We all want to be able to sustain ourselves doing what we love, but that will happen when the time is right.
Internet: The internet is a valuable tool for sharing my music, most of the buisness Ive done as a producer was by meeting clients online. But its a major time waster if you let it be.
Success Is: Living up to & surpassing your own expectations for yourself. Oh and groupies. (jk)


Alexandria Davis
I perform as a solo bagpiper for gigs.
Savannah, GA

Typical Day: I practice for about two hours and spend the rest of the day marketing or performing.
The Economy: I have noticed people aren't as willing to hire live musicians for their events and instead turn to recordings.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking for sure
Like Most: I love making people happy with my music. I am totally visually impaired, so I found that music is a great way I can serve my community and country and just give back to society.
Internet: I think the internet makes it much easier to get gigs because people search for information more online these days than in phone books, so if you know how to market yourself, you can get a lot of work.
Success Is: I think success is being happy with what you do and not really about making money as long as you can live.


Damien McCarron
Ah, what I do is sing, play, book, promote, manage my own band(s). Fourteen years in, our"Celtic/Irish"original song making unit, The Indulgers plays anywhere asked, mainly in the west and gets the occasional gig at a national festival to build tours around. We record and release our own CD's and basically work outside the defined lines of the music industry.
Golden, Colorado

Typical Day: Rise and shine, do the panic, deadline stuff first thing in the morning, filter thru the online sites, read research, muck about for the newest messages until I get serious with the post office parcels and other stuff at noon, off then to the post office/bank/errands/lunch/chiropractor (my musical scars) by 2pm, back at 4pm. Hang around the house till 7pm and then off for the gig or the studio or rehearsal space till 10pm or 3am, depending on what's going on. If I don't go out to the music life at 7pm, I might go out to a network event or local meeting of sorts, or write at home. Generally speaking the music is created in the studio but the lyrical story is written at the house listening back to the track(s). There is no down time, fending for the band, getting gigs setup, new clients, the politics of festival work in our genre, the net and all it's new frontiers. When I catch myself thinking about the business of my life, I tend to get fairly annoyed with myself and all the faults of human beings that don't understand my logic to making it happen.
The Economy: In many ways we can't control, festival budgets and concert series fees have been frozen for sometime and I have a tougher time balancing cost vs income. As a regular gigging Vegas band up until the downturn, the loss of the Vegas gigs (18 a year) has hurt but I'll managed to fill many of the open dates locally/regionally in Colorado this past four years. We also toured Ireland with 40 fans on a bus for a week to create a new source of opportunity just before the downturn. This was a great success but needs an upturn to fill seats if I try it again. Another aspect was forming an acoustic trio from the main band, to take engagements at smaller venues. The last three years survival has been done by the trio supplying a new stream of gigs.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking I'd imagine, it's not easier to keep afloat that's for certain.
Like Most: It's my job, I invented it, it controls me, surprises me and gives me access to the adrenaline of life. It's also a curse and my worst nightmare, but there's no telling what another job would do for me.
Internet: The Internet uses me, it sucks me up and spits me out, especially when I'm not aware of it. On one level, the amount of hobby musicians has grown thru the use of the net, it's likely empowered people to express themselves more, not just online as that carries forward into real life too. The ability to learn the ropes of anything quickly means more music has been released and even more lost in the rush. I'm imagine the music making public is much bigger and the pond has expanded. On another level, it's an amazing tool. I just wish someone else was doing most of the work s far as updating calenders and so on, so I could write and play without the distraction.
Success Is: People with Les Paul's, ?, they might be just borrowing it. Success, no idea at all, for me it's survival through the irony.


Chris Brooks
Gig, teach, sell CDs, mentor musicians and other creative types.
Sydney, Australia

Typical Day: Answering emails and social media promoting in the morning, fill any CD orders and mail them, go teach for anything from a few to several hours, pack up for the night's gig and see you at 2am!
The Economy: It has in terms of album sales, but I credit this in no small part to the rapid decline in the valuing of music in society. In tough times we need music to get us through, but it's position on the financial priority scale has fallen. There's no alternative to buying your groceries, but there is an alternative to buying music and as society becomes more about the individual's pursuit to avoid getting swallowed by the economy, the dog-eat-dog mentality often results in an attitude of getting what you can for free. And it isn't getting better with the next generation, because we're teaching our kids that only idiots pay for music. People say the music industry needs a new model. I say morality does.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking, because even live music venues expect musicians to have a big-drinking rent-a-crowd for every gig. Venues have it all wrong, and they expect us to treat our bread and butter as a promotional opportunity.
Like Most: I have the best boss in the world - me.
Internet: In the positive it allows me to connect directly with fans, but it also allows my competition to do the same and sometimes create a level playing field where perhaps there shouldn't be one. It's easy for talented musicians to get lost in the mix because every kid with an out of tune guitar and garageband has the same audience.
Success Is: It's a pride thing. I need to support my family with this, because I can't put torrent downloads in the bank. I make music for love, but I feel no shame in saying I release music because I want to eat from it.


Sara Klotz de Aguilar
Gig
Oakland, CA

Typical Day: Day job. Fitting in gig pursuit on breaks and if lucky, playing a gig on top of the day job. And I have been playing pro for over 20 years. SF Bay Area is thIck with competition.
The Economy: About 50% less corporate gigs. Privates about 25% less. Public stuff like restaurants and bars down by 75%.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking!
Like Most: Playing!
Internet: I get more than half my work from 2 bookIng sites I pay for, Gigmasters and Gigsalad. Highly recommended!
Success Is: Playing the kind of music that makes me happy. Getting paid a respectable rate per gig.


Brandon Reese
I release albums of my own original music, teach guitar lessons locally and record sessions for any artist needing a guitarist on their recordings.
Los Angeles County

Typical Day: Trying to get the next session gig and promote my music on the internet. Writing music of course everyday as well.
The Economy: It is extremely difficult to promote and sell albums. And even make enough money to eat, or maintenance on my instruments.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking. Because of money,trends, and not to mention if you don't play pop/radio music its hard to sell.
Like Most: Playing Music,Emotion,Expression People's enjoyment.
Internet: I advertise on Youtube, Facebook and word of mouth. The internet has definitely broadened my horizons, and made my music more accessible. It has gotten me gigs also.
Success Is: Being able to have people see the music, and be able to make a moderate amount of money. And get recording gigs easier.


Stuart Newman
Record and self publish albums as Underclass UK, for FREE on the internet.
London, England

Typical Day: 9-6 work, 6-12 play, 12-6 sleep.
The Economy: It hasn't - we give our music away for FREE!! The way music is supposed to be!
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking. Kids have computer games and internet as their No.1 pastime, not music, especially live music, like years gone by. It's a new era!
Like Most: It doesn't involve carrying heavy objects around or working outside in the cold!! And I get to use the studio for personal projects too!!
Internet: Underclass UK release all their music free on the net and use social networking to gain an audience. We have nearly 6,000 friends on Facebook. We'd never get 6,000 addresses on a mailing list in the old days without being a Top 40 band!! The Internet is your oyster - unless you're money motivated!
Success Is: Being happy!! Having full artistic lisence on your recordings and getting to as wide an audience as you can. You have to happy within yourself before you can be happy as anything else, and the false old 'success' = happiness is total bullshit! Although it is better to be unhappy with a couple of $mill in the bank than not!! lol


Geoffrey Armes
I play dance classes, compose, produce.
Berlin

Typical Day: In NYC when playing dance classes I would be out relatively early, and then laying anything from 2 to 6 hours on a given day. I'm in Berlin now, and apart from the occasional workshop this isn't happening, so I am either writing and recording my own music or doing some arranging or recording of others in my home studio.
The Economy: Sources that ordinarily would be calling me for work are now not.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking. Recorded music has morphed into something analagous to tap water -- a perceived as free commodity available on demand, on a whim. With regard to live music I've heard it described as 'sentient MTV' meaning the audience is often not attentive feeling they can drop in and out of attention -- turn the music off and on -- at will. This last is apparent even at 'bigger' gigs where the audience seems to be more involved in itself than the performers i.e. taking pictures of self on iphone, ostentatiously dancing in a 'look at me' manner etc. Not that this is all new:-)
Like Most: That I create music everyday and feel reasonably fulfilled as a creator -- and that I have a small audience that appreciates my offerings.
Internet: I exchange files with musicians and sound engineers etc around the world. I host my own music on my own web site and the net provides a sort of exposure -- at least I am able to make stuff available -- that was undreamed of prior (80s, 90s).
Success Is: For me, I've held on for decades creating music that is authentic to me and my aesthetic.


Alex MacDougall
I am a guitarist, writer, and producer of the Canadian band Groove Corporation.. (www.groovecorporation.com). It is an 8 piece horn band plus lead vocalist play congas.
Hamilton Ontario Canada

Typical Day: I get up at 6:30 am to go to my"day job" as an IT professional for a small non profit employment agency (was a professional guitarts for over 40 years studio and live), lunch at noon, done at 5 pm most nights. Rehease with the band every second Wednesday and play twice a month or so for roughly $80 per gig.
The Economy: I come from an era (the 60's, 70's, 80's) where you could make a full time living playing 6 nights a week plus a matinee on Saturday. I have played in Crowbar for 7 years (hit record"Oh what a Feeling, What a Rush") and played guitar with King Biscuit Boy for 7 years. I am now an IT guy after going back to collage and Groove Corporation is my part time band. I think greed by many (not all) club and venue managers on the working class level of musician makes it difficult for us all."An Open Letter From a Professional Musician" says it all. Club and other venues now want us to"pay" them to see if we are good enough to play their venue. Can't make a living in this anymore.
Growing or Shrinking?: Shrinking...this is because of a lack of apperciation for people who can play and a younger generation that thinks music should be"free" from paying a musician for his or her hard work and effort.
Like Most: When I play, it is the interaction of the members of the band. I am lucky to play in a band where everyone"comes to play and play hard" at every gig.
Internet: I don't use the Internet much because of being an IT guy but when I do I search out what I like and use ITunes, CDBaby, (Groove Corporation's CD is on both) and I purchase what I want. I have never illeagley downloaded anyone's music and never will. I also use the Internet to advertise gigs in my area along with our Groove Corp mailing list.
Success Is: Making music with your friends and sharing it with an audience.


Fred Gosbee
Play for private events and concerts, tour from Maine to Florida and back in the winter, do a bit of song writing and recording, have licensed some of our recordings for independent videos, still selling some CDs
Coastal Maine

Typical Day: On tour: wake up, eat, drive, perform, sleep, repeat. At home: wake up, eat, work the phone and internet for gigs, play some tunes, do some recording, more phone and internet, sleep, repeat.
The Economy: We're holding steady on performance fee income but the rising price of gasoline and the precipitous drop in CD sales has taken a bite from our bottom line
Growing or Shrinking?: Some would say that we (my wife and I) have never made a decent living. We have adjusted our lifestyle to spend less than most in order to make a go of it. We aren't suffering, we own our house, etc. but one illness or accident could change everything.
Like Most: Meeting new people and sharing our music.
Internet: We use the internet to find potential venues, to stay in contact with fans and venues. We use it on the road for that and also for Skype. We have done a couple of trans-Atlantic recordings as side musicians where we emailed our tracks to the studio in London.
Success Is: Creating new work, playing good shows and having it be enough to pay the bills.


Jef Knight
Currently, I compose, produce and perform. By the fall I will be vocal coaching. I also have several websites and a youtube channel devoted to both promoting my music and instruction on making better recordings, mixing and Cubase et al.
North of Toronto, Canada

Typical Day: 7am - Breakfast - Take care of all the online things, like correspondence, marketing and research. 9am - Down to the Studio 1pm - Lunch - reading 1:30pm - Workout 3:00pm - Down to the Studio 6pm - Make dinner for me and the missus 7pm - Down to the Studio 11pm - turn on a dvd and fall asleep within about 15min....lol Friday's are my day-to-myself. I usually get in some social time and come home to"let loose" on the electric guitar. There's often a 6-pack involved... ;) That's pretty typical, but there are plenty of opportunities to deviate and break up the routine. In the summer I write music on a lap top by the pool or just say screw it and play acoustic guitar on the patio for the afternoon. Then there's weeks like this week where I'm sitting upstairs in the sunny room writing web site code.
The Economy: Regardless of the current economic downturn, here in Cental Ontario, Canada the live playing biz has slowly, since the late 90's, morphed into a sea low quality, low paid gigs, most of which demand solo or duo acts. In 1982 you could get $600-800/night with a 3-piece. By 1992 it was $300-450. By 2002 it was $200-350 for that some 3-piece. Now, in 2012 it's $100 for a solo, $150 for a duo and forget about an actual rock band playing anywhere, no one wants to book that much noise. Sometimes you'll see one every now and again but they are getting $250 regardless of how many members are in the band. Mom was right, musicians need something to fall back on. That's why I make all of my money in the stock market, so I don't have to actually work, and can spend my time pressurelessly writing and recording music. Music that will ultimately make me more money via internet sales than any gigs I could play would make.
Growing or Shrinking?: The gigs that pay well are shrinking, but the number of people vying for these gigs is growing. Every guy who every played guitar in high school in the 60's and 70's is now retired and has a band or is doing solo shows. It's driving down the price and is murdering the quality of live music. And these cats are competing with all the navel gazing douche guitar guys from the 80's and 90's. It's a horrible sea of crappy acoustic guitar music and, sigh, blues. And they're all elbowing each other for that hundred bucks. The only guy I know making music"full time" plays tons of really shitty, low end gigs (like restaurants) and is financially assisted by a pension and giving guitar lessons. That's no way to live.
Like Most: The thing I like most is that I have the freedom to not have to submit to bar/venue owners arbitrary demands and still reach my fans. I have tons of fans online. I actually have tons of fans in the live playing world also, but because I do a fairly elaborate show, the venues are pretty scarce that'll book me. Still, I love being a music producer. I have produced dozens of people and over 700 songs. I just absolutely love being a recording artist, for what I do is surely art. Commerce is completely secondary in my philosophy. For that reason I can write music that no one else has the nerve to write. But that's what sets me apart and it's why my fans are so loyal.
Internet: I use the internet to market and distribute my music and videos. Although I have played around 600 shows so far, they are getting fewer and farther between so the internet is my new venue. And it's more lucrative and waaay more interesting that playing live to drunks and druggies ever was.
Success Is: To me musical success means that I heard it in my head and successfully got that noise out into the real world for all to enjoy. It means that I am happy with my music.


Jake Lawless - The Ungrateful Sons
I am a bass player, screamer, yeller, producer, writer, poet, and STOCK BOY. My bands The Ungrateful Sons and The Last Chance Boyz are based out of Michigan City, IN.
Michigan City, IN

Typical Day: God, I wake up at 3 in the afternoon on my days off [which are many]. Get happy... Jam a little bit of bass and screams after coffee. Update band websites and answer emailS and surveys.. Get happy again... Go to band practice, jam for 4 hours. Get happy again. We like to go to bars too, to make fun of hilljacks and get laid.
The Economy: Intensely. Working only a normal retail job during the week at $8.30 per hour, then only getting 16 hours a week really has limited my cash flow. Any shows that you can play around here will get you $50 - $100 max unless you are a cover band. There have been gigs where I was paid in PBR. You can't buy a car with PBR.
Growing or Shrinking?: There are less and less ''huge acts'' these days. With popular music being held hostage by about 25 pop artists. The rise of complete bull shit pop music, and the even worse pop-rock music from labels, has given way to more DIY bands, not focusing on getting signed. Bands today have to try harder to be recognised, setting up their own tours, websites, distro, ect. If you can do all of that stuff as a band without outside influence, say, from a manager or booking agent, more of the money you make goes back into the band. Which still isn't much. So, to answer your question, the ranks are the same as they have been since the begining of the music industry. There are just more ways to get your band out there, it just depends on if you are willing to put the work into using the tools that are given to you. You can make money, if you gig the shit out of your band and sell hella merch!
Like Most: Working retail - co-workers, and a little money. Playing a show - making people rock their faces off and a little money.
Internet: The internet is a bands best friend and work partner. You can do SO much to connect with new fans, sell your music and merch, and book shows. If you don't have any internet presence, you'll only go about as far as Leroy's on blues jam night.
Success Is: When I walk in a mall, and a group of kids walk out of a hot topic wearing my shirts ask me for an autograph and picture - then I will be successful. It's all about the teenage fan base. They will die for a band, spend all of their parents money on you, and come to every show. The key to success is connecting with the youth of America, and giving them a voice.


Barry Madison
I am a songwriter/recording artist/singer
Marfa, TX

Typical Day: Get Drunk
The Economy: No. I have never made much money in the first place
Growing or Shrinking?: Yes
Like Most: Accomplishing a spiritual thing with feeling. I dont know how to describe it.
Internet: It is exposure & interconectedness. It provides opportunities that would not have existed without it.
Success Is: Success is creating that certain sound, that certain vibration that makes you go numb & feel like your floating. Success as a musician is not about money. It is about the mystical magic of music & spirit.

May 28, 2012
Updated September 10, 2020 to remove dead links

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