It consternates me to no end to admit that my parents are still always right, even after all these years.
My dad always advised me to keep a day job, distinct and separate from my music, even though music is my passion and vision in life. That has always been good advice, and I hope I am someday as wise as him.
I had to “fire” my last employer because HIS activities were jeopardizing my personal life, and thus my art. But I didn’t terminate HIM so that I could make a living at MUSIC. My profession is WRITING, and I gladly prostitute myself to the highest bidder in that domain. I’m damn good at it.
My music is pure art, not my living. I do exploit some secondary music-related talents for money. I built my own home recording studio, for example, and since I do not use it 24/7, I make it available to local musicians to record demos and stuff. Why not? It doesn’t impact my art, songwriting. It is just a tool that helps me produce my songs into tangible form. May as well pay off all that high tech gear at the expense of other people’s ART.
Sure, art has monetary value, but it is also PRICELESS. Money is not the intent of art, and art’s value changes arbitrarily based on many factors.
I am currently self-employed with multiple “profit centers,” some of which are music related in some way. I play bass in a bunch of different live bands. I just look at it as getting paid by THE MAN to practice my bass in front of a live audience.
My true ART, my song writing and original music performances, are not the core of my current livelihood. I don’t rely on those for money. I keep my art free and autonomous and THE MAN has no power over it. I don’t book my band, GUPPY EFFECT, very many shows unless they are of a high quality that will allow me to share my art the way it should be shared. No dive bars with unappreciative rednecks for GUPPY EFFECT.
For a while, I wasn’t always clear on why art and livelihood should be separate. In Hugh McLeod’s book “Ignore Everybody” he agrees with my dad, in the chapter entitled “Keep Your Day Job.”
It’s not because you suck at your art and shouldn’t pursue it. It’s because your survival should not depend on your art. When it does, the art is compromised. Then it is no longer autonomous and free. It is commercial and prostituted. THE MAN wins.
All of my songs are essentially FREE. To download some of them costs a buck, the standard “value” put on them by the gatekeepers of digital music. But that is not to make a living on them. It’s more to keep the naysayers at bay and only get my music to the people who care and appreciate it.