So, Money is a Thing For Musicians…
Do you like this picture that Logan drew for me after he overhead me talking about my finances? Its' a giant, golden, life saving Michael Jackson raining down money on me! Yay!
I had a bit of mental break down this week. If I’m totally honest I have these sorts of break downs probably a few times a year.
It’s not because I am depressed, I’m actually not depressed. I have been depressed before, I know what it is like and this is not that. It’s just that life gets very complicated and difficult sometimes, for everyone.
This was the kind of melt down that is a normal reaction to being overloaded with things.
I think that being a creative person is a bit of a double-edged sword. Now I know that you can be creative in basically any field you work in; I mean I think “creative accounting” is a thing, isn’t it?
But if you are a person who is just naturally good at making things, like painting or sculpting or writing songs, finding your place in society can be seriously hard!
This is because of money, mother fuckers.
You can’t just be super awesome at doing the thing you naturally are good at if it’s a creative art. You have to become your own business, pitch, do your taxes, network, research things you have no interest in at all like “how to resister GST to your ABN and submit your BAS with your PAYG statement” (the funnest shit ever).
Sometimes I wish I was born gifted with numbers and maths equations so I could have just gone off to UNI, gotten an accounting degree and BAM! Income, baby. No worries.
But, I’m not like that, I’m good at writing songs. I can write you a song about anything and make it fucking awesome, funny, rhyme, make you cry, whatever.
I can rhyme words off the top of my head like a burst pipe. I can write songs in my head from start to finish and know pretty much what they will sound like before I’ve even sung the first line.
I can tell you that there are not many jobs on the face of the earth that care that I have this skill.
This brings me to my point. I work mostly for myself. I have to do this because I don’t fit in anywhere else in society unless I work a job that I hate and suck at for the purpose of workplace psychopaths getting their abuse quotas filled.
I’ve done plenty of this in the past because I had to and surprise! Goodby mental health and self esteem.
Working a job that you aren’t particularly good at and don’t enjoy simply because there are no other options for you to make a living is a really shitty situation to be in.
There are soooooo maaaaaaaany musicians in this same boat.
Now it just so happens that I am also handy with words, which gives me another nice easy avenue for making a living, being a writer! (lol, just kidding, it’s awesome but it’s a serious business which = lots of work + risk).
And so, ladies and gentlemen, every now and then I get overwhelmed with what I have to do to get to the surface so that I can breathe and afford to be alive all at the same time.
The reason for this is that nobody wants to pay originals artists. All those streaming platforms like YouTube and Spotify pay musicians next to nothing if you’re lucky to ever see any money at all.
Venues are only interested in paying bands who can churn out the same covers all night. The originals music scene in Australia is full of incredibly talented, supportive and passionate people, but it is really hard to actually get a venue interested in supporting music that their punters don’t already listen to at work all day.
There are ways to make money in music as a songwriter, but those paths are long and hard and you don’t see an immediate return to pay your bills this week.
If you start trying to go down that path when you already have a lot of other commitments and need to be able to pay for ordinary life expenses…well this is why most people don’t go down that path regardless of how talented they are.
It’s a shame, I hope it changes. It’s sad that we live in a society that doesn’t value some of the most important aspects holding it together (music being just one).
I honestly don’t know if it’s worth having your music up on Spotify. I’d be interested to hear what you guys think, I’m kind of in two minds about it at the moment. One things for sure, when you stream music from there just know that you are getting it for free and the artist is getting nothing.
Maybe look them up, sign up to their email, actually take some action to start a relationship with that artist because it makes it worth it for us when people make that effort. Otherwise we almost always get nothing from those platforms.
I would like to write a more actionable blog about this soon, but for now I just wanted to bring it up and get you thinking about it. It’s lonely when you can’t just slot into society nice and easily, we need to talk more about it to break down the wall of isolation.
All my love to you, thanks for reading! Good luck to everyone in the creative trenches at the moment!