Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bUztue

Why Would Anyone Want to be a Musician Today?

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bUztue

Photo credit: http://bit.ly/1bUztue

“Why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment?”

I wake up every day fascinated by this question. There are plenty of articles written by people looking into the music industry from the outside proclaiming the end of an era and the doom of indie musicians. Many ask this question and simply cannot comprehend why anyone would want to spend so much time and creative energy on something that may never bring in any real money. And who can blame them given the industry’s overall decline.

Within the business however, some musicians have a completely different outlook. For them, music is just what they do. It’s not about making a ton of money, or trying to impress anyone – its just a way of life, a dream to live.  It’s like breathing.  These people believe that they have the privilege to create. Almost the obligation to do so.

The question these musicians ask  is “How could I not be a musician?”

As we talk about in the New Artist Model course, the love of music is a prerequisite to a life as a successful musician. If people went into the arts to with a sole purpose to make money – there would be no magic – and that creative spark and passion that drives so many people to create would not be present. Music goes beyond money and economics, and isn’t that why it’s so powerful?

Some people are musicians because they just have to be.  The truly great ones.  So there’s my answer.   Are you one of those people?

I’d love to know what you think.

I posted the question “Why Would Anyone Want to be a Musician in this Environment?” to Twitter and this is what I got in the first hour.

-

musicadium@davekusek I would want to be a musician no matter what environment we were in. The desire to create would override, methinks.

andreakremer@davekusek Isn’t that like asking why anyone would want to play tennis? Do people who play tennis give up because they can’t make a profit?

timothyeric@davekusek fascinated that people still want to be musicians or by the environment and its challenges?

kmsolorio@davekusek passion is the only reason I could come up with. btw, very interested in learning more about your tools for musicians.

marjae@davekusek I am a musician because I love music and, more importantly, sharing it with people. This sharing gives a high unlike any other.

marjae@davekusek Great question! It would be great if you could share some of your replies with us. . . the questions certainly made me think!

Lars_Christian@davekusek I think that if “he environment is a factor on whether you become a musician or not, you probably won’t “make it” either way.

tigerpop@davekusek it’s not always about want.

Pattyoboe@davekusek Being a musician is just who I am … no matter the environment. Maybe like I was still a mom when my kids acted up, I guess ..?

gah650@davekusek it’s an inexorable artistic need to create; thank God.

melbahead@davekusek If being a musician is anything like being a visual artist then it doesn’t matter what one wants. It’s a compulsion, a calling

_willthompson@davekusek it’s extremely hard and counterintuitive to hold back from doing something you have natural predisposition for.

kimpwitmanRT @davekusek: why would anyone want to be a musician in this environment? can someone tell me? i wake up every day fascinated by this.

manishamusic@davekusek Being a musician is not particularly easy in any market-based economy. Something deep inside steers the wheels. Is it insanity?

PtbTrees@davekusek perhaps the love of music is enough to make it worth it. at least thats how I feel

atomicdacia@davekusek because its like a drug. Once its in you you just can’t get enough

Kalajdame@davekusek it seems like an easy way to make money i guess..i do it cuz i love to make music and if i could get paid for it ..u kno the rest

You can love what you do and be successful.

Tell us what drives you.

 

Great Comments

great comments

32 replies
  1. Pete Smith says:

    Being a songwriter and a musician isn’t always something you WANT to do rather something you HAVE to do

    sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse
    I could be digging ditches,it could be worse.

    See what I mean?

  2. Suzanne Lainson says:

    Many people want to create music. It’s a form of self-expression and community. Music will always be with us. Making a living at music is another matter. It’s hard to make a living in any creative field (writing, the arts, drama, music), so anyone who hopes to do that must be prepared to make the necessary sacrifices. In fact, having a day job and then doing music on the side may the more liberating option because you don’t need to do music for money.

  3. Kelly Carvin says:

    the environment of the world? i think that is WHY we are musicians.. because we are influenced by the environment. i love music – i would be crazy w/o it. i am happy in this life style and feel i NEED to do it. I need to write! I never felt like i was riding on a wave that was the ‘right’ wave until i started playing music.. love it

  4. Hesketh Pearson says:

    Personally, I make music for the excitement of what’s potentially just around the corner – be it a great song or a great concert, the possibility of travel and meeting new people, having new experiences, etc. Music is my vehicle.
    At the same time, I’d be a liar if I said ego didn’t come into it. Of course, we all want people to think we’re talented, special, not just “anyone.” Once you’ve had a taste of that, it’s hard to let go and slink back into “civvy life.”

    But it’s getting harder and harder to make money from music, for sure. All the conventional models are collapsing, much down to the internet but this has inspired anyone connected to music to think of new angles of approach, which can only be a good thing. I’m as excited by finding new ways to operate as a musician as I am by that next song just around the corner.

  5. pete whitfield says:

    Dave, relax! It’s a great time to be a musician as long as you adapt and exploit your niche. Music is still being made a-plenty, even if the money flows through different streams, it’s still there. I may have to eat my words in a couple of months, but for this jobbing musician I’m still making a living!

  6. the grassy knoll says:

    I think it’s an exciting time for young musicians. Having a record deal was a real slap in the face for me. A jolt of reality between business and art. Labels look at you as a commodity and not as an artist (dont ever fool yourself). My advice is to take charge of your art. We have all of these amazing tools now to help you get your music out there. There is an audience and it’s just a blog or two away. Be Relentless!!!

  7. Jeff Smith says:

    True artists are compelled to create and express themselves, regardless of the outside compensation. It is part of who you are, and choice has little to do with it. Industries have built themselves around the knowledge that artists will be driven to create, regardless of the environment. So, there will always be a steady stream of artists or art that is available to exploit by whoever finds a way to capitalize on it.

  8. Bobo Bubalisky says:

    Dave

    How is this environment worse than that of 10 years ago. I was under the impression that this was the best time EVER to be a musician. The worldwideweb is your oyster, ya gotsta just apply the pressure to get to that pearl.

    XXOO

    Bobo

  9. mandythompson says:

    If the motivation of musicians is to make money, we won’t want to be in this environment…

    But if our motivation is to freely create music, then we will be thankful that we have more resources at our poor fingertips than any other generation.

  10. Christian Young says:

    As previously stated, it’s an artform. Even with a crumbling economy, few opportunities, and an ever-growing pool breeding competition, those aren’t reasons enough to stop playing music. For me, there is nothing in the known universe to compare with playing, it can take you to unimaginable places; soaring highs when all you feel is at your absolute low. It can bolster feelings and help to release mental maladies that would otherwise have no outlet. It can bring people together, or explain what went wrong. There is just so much power in sound that anyone who has ever played a single note on any instrument ever would know exactly why they would want to be a musician. Nothing else is as intrinsically rich and rewarding. Simply nothing compares.

  11. Luis Reyes says:

    Music for me is a form of expression. We can Express our feelings in a way that we can reach other people.Something that we cannot achieve through normal communication. Also music is a form of therapy. How may times have you felt so bad that you go through your music collection in order to find some inspiration or some kind of relief?!!! I done that plenty of times.

  12. Seth Tehan says:

    Eight years ago I wanted to be a musician because I loved the music, wanted women, and wanted to be rich and famous. Anymore it’s because I just love the music and I have to do this. It would be nice to be able to support myself by being a musician however, it is my outlet for stress relief and my love. If I don’t get my music down I get depressed and angry.

  13. M.MALLOY says:

    BECAUSE EVERYONE ONE OF US HAS A STORY TO TELL,
    AND THIS IS THE WAY TO COMMUNICATE ON A UNIVERSAL LEVEL.
    ITS LIKE THE LYRICS FROM THIS MILTON NASCIMENTO SONG,
    “SOUL GOES BEYOND WHAT WE DARE TO PERCIEVE” VIBRATIONS ARE HEAVY.,

  14. Arnell Carmichael says:

    Creative thinking is everything you want it to be and everything you need to stay sane. Being a musician is showing your have skills of musical discipline to communicate your vibe. Jamming is one thing. Professionally being a musician is being a great super hero to a soul.

  15. Karen says:

    All of my life I have loved music and now I have the opportunity to play piano…something I never dreamed I could do! I have always sung and still would like to be on “an older version of American Idol”! There are quite a few over 40s/50′s who still can hit a few notes and thensome!

  16. dkusek says:

    Thank you all for your comments and inspiration. I was just looking to see how other people felt about the current situation. Of course we need to make music and of course it is challenging at any time. I wanted to see the tenor of people’s replies as things are certainly more difficult today while at the same time the opportunities are more exciting than ever. More to come on the subject…

    Dave

  17. Josh Taddeo says:

    As musicians we are all creators. In this violent environment where the music business seems to be failing and the money seems to be all but disappearing, we should be the ones to see the opportunity. WE are the creators! Just create new business models and move forward. The music business is failing not because of the lack of music, but rather the lack of forward thinking in business. NOW is the time for musicians to take back the music business! Good luck everyone.

    P.S. I am a new kid on the scene so the website is still being built!

  18. Lynn Harrison says:

    I believe that music satisfies a hunger that is universal: for peace, for harmony and for order. It seems to me unsurprising that more people are making music (and creating art) today despite the economic challenges; in fact I think people make music BECAUSE of them. Music is powerful medicine for all that does not make sense in the world today…and engagement with music either as sender or receiver (or more likely now, both) is as human an experience as breathing. Whether we elect to connect it to our economic lives…that’s another choice entirely, and it may have no bearing on whether or not we make music, or whether our music makes a difference.

    Thank you for your thought-provoking question and for the resources on your site!

    Lynn

  19. Lynn Harrison says:

    I believe that music satisfies a hunger that is universal: for peace, for harmony and for order. It seems to me unsurprising that more people are making music (and creating art) today despite the economic challenges; in fact I think people make music BECAUSE of them. Music is powerful medicine for all that does not make sense in the world today…and engagement with music either as sender or receiver (or more likely now, both) is as human an experience as breathing. Whether we elect to connect it to our economic lives…that’s another choice entirely, and it may have no bearing on whether or not we make music, or whether our music makes a difference.

    Thank you for your thought-provoking question and for the resources on your site!

    Lynn

  20. Spiv says:

    Hey! Spiv here, longtime Chicago rock and Roller. Write, record, tour, elation, depression, success, failure – you name it. I have been through the grinder.

    I am STILL a musician at 41. Still making records, still doing some touring, gigging etc.

    Why? I love it. It is my passion. I want my kids to rock.

    I make a living at it – small as it may be, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

    I grew up rocking pre-computers. So I have seen the glory of what technology brings to the table, as well as the downside and demise of the Wal-Marting of every facet of the music industry from the tools we use to the music that is pumped into the mainstream. So be it. The Godzillas of the music industry will always experience the inevitable rise and fall until the next new Godzilla takes form. For me, it’s always been an independent thing, an internal passion and I hope to have this passion till I die.

    Being a rocker at 41 isn’t the easiest, however – seeing all the young bands everywhere, and feeling like the old man – but fuck it. My bands throw fire that can only be thrown when you have lived, breathed and slept rock and roll for a large part of your life.

    All hail those who continue to carry the torch.

    Rock on!
    Spiv
    http://www.kentlandrecords.com

  21. Spiv says:

    Hey! Spiv here, longtime Chicago rock and Roller. Write, record, tour, elation, depression, success, failure – you name it. I have been through the grinder.

    I am STILL a musician at 41. Still making records, still doing some touring, gigging etc.

    Why? I love it. It is my passion. I want my kids to rock.

    I make a living at it – small as it may be, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

    I grew up rocking pre-computers. So I have seen the glory of what technology brings to the table, as well as the downside and demise of the Wal-Marting of every facet of the music industry from the tools we use to the music that is pumped into the mainstream. So be it. The Godzillas of the music industry will always experience the inevitable rise and fall until the next new Godzilla takes form. For me, it’s always been an independent thing, an internal passion and I hope to have this passion till I die.

    Being a rocker at 41 isn’t the easiest, however – seeing all the young bands everywhere, and feeling like the old man – but fuck it. My bands throw fire that can only be thrown when you have lived, breathed and slept rock and roll for a large part of your life.

    All hail those who continue to carry the torch.

    Rock on!
    Spiv
    http://www.kentlandrecords.com

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