10 Reasons Why Being a Musician Isn’t Such a Bad Thing

Hey everyone! Welcome to the latest episode of Teen Jazz Radio! I’m Shannon Kennedy, your host and I’d like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen to our show and to the fantastic young artists we feature as part of each episode.

On today’s episode of Teen Jazz Radio I’m going to talk about why a career in music isn’t such a bad thing. We’ve all seen the recent viral posts circling Facebook and other online content aggregators about how terrible it is to be a professional musician in today’s global economy. There is truth to some of what is out there, while some of it is exaggerated, and while it’s tough to find work (and work that pays well), it isn’t all that bad.

Also in this episode, I’m also going to feature the music of Greg Adams, Jack Prybylski, Jim Stubblefield, Keiko Matsui, Tobi, and yours truly, Shannon Kennedy.

As I mention at the beginning of each episode, I know that many of you are listening to this podcast for different reasons – some of you may be here for the advice offered as part of this episode and some of you may be listening to check out the music we feature as part of the show. So, as I mentioned in the last episode, I’m going to try and space the music and the advice out evenly throughout the podcast so that there’s a little something for everyone.

Our first set of music for today’s show is going to feature Greg Adams and Jack Prybylski. The first song you’ll hear is Loco Motive by Greg Adams from the album Firefly and second I’m going to feature Down to It by Jack Prybylski from Out of the Box.

Once again, that was Greg Adams with Loco Motive and after that was Jack Prybylski with Out of the Box. You can find more information about Greg Adams at gregadamsmusic.com or in our interview with him at TeenJazz.com (I’ll include a link with the transcription of today’s episode) and Jack Prybylski is at jackprybylski.com.

Why being a musician isn’t such a bad thing

Okay, before I dive into the benefits of a career in music, I’d like to talk about some of the posts, well one of the posts, that I brought up at the start of the article. One of the things I’ve seen floating around on social media was a Craigslist ad from a restaurant requesting musicians to come play for free in exchange for “exposure” and the chance to sell their cds.

To start, I want to let you know that I have done this sort of gig, but I had reasons I wanted to do them. I did gigs like this for the experience that I did not yet have at the time that I did them. I did them for opportunities that would later come up and would be paying opportunities. I did them because the people who asked me to do them were friends and I wanted to help them out. I did them because I had nothing better to do that evening and the was nothing wrong with getting a few more hours of experience on my instrument.

On the other hand, musicians in general have to be careful with this because it can create expectations that we will play for free or in exchange for “exposure.” Yes, we can and should sometimes do this, but it also depends on the scenario. In the case of the Craigslist ad, it probably wouldn’t be the best idea to accept the venue’s proposal because it would most likely would not ever turn into a paying opportunity.

What it really comes down to is whether you consider yourself a hobby musician or a career musician. If you think of yourself as the first, by all means, take whatever opportunities you like. As a hobbyist, you do music purely for the enjoyment and maybe because it adds a little to your income on occasion, but it’s not your primary means of survival whereas a career musician relies on their music as their sole source of income and should be more wary of “free” opportunities and never do them without a good reason. Some musicians may find that they go through dry spells or perhaps have a varied income each month so having a second source of income is a good idea. Perhaps investing in air nz stock or having a side hustle can ensure there’s enough income each month to survive on. Investing is a great way to make an extra income because it doesn’t require too much maintenance. This is especially true when investing in new currencies like Bitcoin since you can invest mit Bitcoin Profit or a similar app that will automatically manage the investment, allowing a musician to get on with what they’re truly passionate about.

Regardless of why you’re doing music or the posts like this Craiglist ad that are circling around the internet, a career in music isn’t as bad as it sometimes is made out to be. Yes, it’s hard. Most creative careers are. The work isn’t consistent, it relies on constantly changing trends and interests, it doesn’t always pay well and it’s highly competitive. You also have to be really good at motivating yourself because it’s all up to you and on days things aren’t going well, this can be nearly impossible, but you have to do it anyway.

1. For starters, we get to do what we love.

And yes, sometimes when what you love is work, it sucks, but as musicians, we have a huge chance most people only ever get to dream of. Think on it.

Do you really think that the majority of people dream of working long hours in a cubicle for xyz company? There are other people that have passions as great as yours for music for things like photography, writing, art, acting, and so on that never get the chance to pursue it full time because they have to make ends meet.

Some of you may also have day jobs, but the fact that your passion is a part of your life is a wondrous thing because many people never have the time nor the opportunity to do what they love, so be grateful for what you have.

2. Even though it’s changing, there is work out there.

Yes, we may have to send out dozens of emails with only a small return on our time investment, but despite this, there are people who say yes and there are opportunities that are available to us. It’s a matter of getting your foot in the door and having a positive attitude.

But don’t assume that opportunities will come knocking at your door. You still have to go out and look for them. It may not be how you envision your music career, but it is the reality. If you’re willing to spend the time required to find the work, your calendar will always be full. There are plenty of opportunities out there, sometimes you just need to be a bit creative to find them.

It takes time and at some point, we all learn to balance the creative and business aspects of our careers. As much as we would like to focus 100% on the craft, if we choose music as a career, it is a business, so we also need to spend time on the administrative aspects of it all. Our episode from last week details finding that balance, so we’ll include a link with the transcription of today’s post on TeenJazz.com if you’re interested in learning more.

3. The Opportunity for Personal Expression

Music, as a creative art, provides you with a vehicle for self-expression. On a daily basis we get to be creative, collaborate, write and communicate with our music and with others who share our passion. It’s really a wonderful thing when you sit down and give it a bit of thought.

Our second set of music for today’s show is going to feature Keiko Matsui and Jim Stubblefield. The first song you’ll hear is One Quiet Night by Jim Stubblefield from the album Guitarra Exotica and second I’m going to feature Black Lion by Keiko Matsui from Soul Quest.

Once again, that was Keiko Matsui with Black Lion and before that was Jim Stubblefield with One Quiet Night. You can find more information about Jim Stubblefield at jimstubblefield.com and Keiko Matsui is at keikomatsui.com.

Continuing on with the benefits of a career in music.

4. Variety

As a musician, your schedule constantly changes and you get to experience a lot of variety in your work and daily schedule. This can help you stay motivated because you aren’t doing the same thing day in and day out from 9-5. You get a change in scenery each gig. Sometimes you get to work from home, other times you get to work in your local area and then you’ll also get to travel.

Music and other arts are often distinguished by variety. No two days, weeks or months are alike. No two gigs at the same venue are alike. The audience changes, the performance changes, your experience is different. You get new opportunities each and every day to connect and build relationships with new people.

5. The Travel

I don’t know about you, but for me, travel is a huge incentive and one of the things I love most about being a musician (other than the music itself, of course). For some jobs and gigs, I have even found myself looking at a private jet charter cost estimator and other calculators online in order to travel to my next location in fashion, this is definitely one benefit of being a successful musician. There are so many places to choose from and many websites offer advice on where to go if you love music and want an opportunity to immerse yourself in that culture’s musical experience. I love to travel and music gives me the opportunity to do it fairly often. I get to see new places, travel to new countries, try new foods, see new things and it’s amazing.

6. The Hours are Flexible

When you have a 9-5 desk job you often have to request days off in advance and they’re limited. As a musician, as long as your managing to pay your bills, you can take days off to whatever you please whenever you wish. If you decide to go on a trip or have a day to relax, you can do it whenever you like. That’s a freedom that most don’t have and it’s a fantastic one that we often forget we have.

At the same time, however, music is a 24/7 job and there’s no set time when we stop working. There are easily days where we start early in the morning only to end the day with a gig that is over at 2am. But that isn’t everyday. It’s important to schedule some time away. Even if you’re struggling, it’s important to take a bit of time off to re-energize.

7. You’re Challenged on a Regular Basis

As I mentioned before, music is constantly changing and so the types of opportunities you have will change. This is great because you’re constantly challenged and that can be motivating in itself.

A challenge drives us to continue to improve, to continue to grow and to keep working hard at what we do. Even though they may be frustrating or difficult at the time, they’re what keep us moving forward.

8. Financial Benefits

Yes, making money in music is hard and we all go through phases where we struggle financially, this is just part of a creative career. And it isn’t unique to our generation, if you look back in history to some of the renowned artists and composers today, many of them lived in absolute poverty until their deaths. Unfortunate, but it was their reality. You have to work hard to make a living at music, but if it’s what you love, you’ll regret little.

The good news, financially, is that all the money you spend on developing your music is tax deductible. That new set of speakers you bought? Deductible. The clothes you bought for your gig? Deductible. Any lessons or seminars you go to? Deductible. Reeds, strings, or drum sticks? Deductible.

One of the great things about being a musicians is that our hobby parallels our career (not to say that we don’t have other hobbies), so most of the money you spend to expand or develop your hobby is also expanding or developing your business, so a lot of the money you spend is deductible. It’s one of the few ways spending money saves you money.

9. The People You Meet

As a musician you get to work with people who share your interests in passion. In an office, this is not often the case. People are at different jobs for different reasons, but musicians are musicians because they love music.

Yes, many musicians can be cynical or negative, but despite this, they continue doing music because they love it otherwise they would have quit and moved on to something else somewhere along the line. In music, you have the unique opportunity of working with people who love what they do as much as you do and a lot of great collaboration opportunities come out of this and those turn into great experiences.

10. We’re Recognized for What We Do

This may not always seem like a big deal because sometimes this recognition comes in discreet forms – a tip from a patron at a restaurant where you play, a brief thank you as someone walks by at the end of a set, or a fan launching into their past foray in music and their regrets for no longer doing it. All of this is recognition for what you do. It’s fans and other artists recognizing what you do and appreciating it.

Even though you may not give these things much thought, you should truly make an effort to appreciate them. When you work for a company, your salary may be the only recognition you get for doing what you do. As a musician, you receive compliments, interaction, and more as part of your job and you should always thank others for going out of their way to share their appreciation.

Being recognized and appreciated for what you do can be extremely motivating, and so, it’s definitely important to allow yourself to be fully aware of it when it happens. Don’t blow anyone off when they want to take a minute to thank you or meet you.

So there you have, ten reasons being a musician isn’t such a bad thing. If you’re a musician, what keeps you going and keeps you motivated? What are some of the things that you enjoy most about what you do?

Come visit us at TeenJazz.com and let us know in the comments! We look forward to chatting with you!

Our last set of music for today’s show is going to feature Tobi and one of my recent releases. I normally try not to include my own music as an artist in the episodes (although I’ve included a few from a group I’m in called Nivo Deux in the past), but I recently released a single and I’m excited and I’d like to share it with you. So, the first song you’ll hear is Halfway There by Tobi from the album Spirit In Me and second I’m going to feature Rolling in the Deep by me, Shannon Kennedy.

Once again, that was Shannon Kennedy with Rolling in the Deep and before that was Tobi with Halfway There. You can find more information about me at shannon-kennedy.com and Tobi is at tobiofficial.com.

Before I close out the show, I’d like to invite you all to check out Teen Jazz if you’re interested in learning more about me, Shannon Kennedy or the community. As I just mentioned it’s TeenJazz.com.

Or if you just would like to say hello, come and say hi at our Facebook page – that’s facebook.com/teenjazz. I promise to say hello back!

All the links that I’ve mentioned as part of the show will be up on Teen Jazz and Teen Jazz Radio, so if you’re interested in learning more about these talented artists, please stop on by – I know they’ll appreciate the love! You can leave comments on any of our posts at TeenJazzRadio.com.

A very special thanks to Jazz and Bossa Radio for featuring Teen Jazz Radio on their web radio station. We recently partnered with them at the beginning of this month to share our artists with a wider audience and we are excited to have joined the Jazz and Bossa Radio family. You can visit them at jazzandbossaradio.com. All of our Teen Jazz Radio podcasts are featured over at Jazz and Bossa Radio on Sundays at 3pm EST and on Wednesdays at 5pm EST.

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Thank you again for tuning in the Teen Jazz Radio podcast from TeenJazzRadio.com.

In this week’s episode, you heard the music of:

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.