"I just want to write my songs" or "I just want to do what I do.." are some of the 'most often made" comments I hear from young and newer songwriters or artists that are trying to find their way into the music business. They just want to "be who they are" and be paid for it. Nice work if you can get it, but MOST PEOPLE CAN'T.
You see there is this disconnect between new (and not so new) wanna be's and REALITY in that you have to have someone to PAY YOU for what you do, download your songs (and pay for them), go to shows ,make the venues, promoters, musicians, vendors, publishers, labels, produces, etc. money AS WELL AS YOU!!!! You have to EARN your way to be paid.
And in this new era of music, (the MOSTLY FREE ERA) we are all having to adjust and adapt to what there is. That old adage, "NEVER GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB" has never been more true. Most artists and writers, even many with hits, still have other forms of income.
One of my favorite new adages in music is "You know you're in Nashville when your UBER or LYFT driver had "Song of the Year" two years ago." And it's not far from the truth.
This is particularly for you young en's and parents of people trying to get into all this. You have a long way to go before you get to where people are paying you for "BEING YOU." There are years of sacrifice, building talent and fan base, AND WORKING OTHER JOBS while you are doing it.
One of the biggest eye openings for me was after moving to Nashville in 1988. I started writing with hit writers pretty quickly. Would be invited to those big MUSIC ROW offices, with the receptionists, and huge gates, be shown in the writers room by some secretary, sit in an office facing HUGE GOLD AND PLATINUM RECORDS ON THE WALLS, and be faced down by someone whose music I had literally grown up with on the radio. Trying to get past the intimidation, and actually write some songs.
And on MANY occassions, the writing session being stopped when they had to go to their "other job," most often some other business they owned. Going to show a house for their reality business. Deliver plumbing or electrical supplies for their plumbing or construction business. I once had a plumber working on my toilet WHILE one of his three number one songs was playing on the radio!
Down here at the FRANK BROWN SONGWRITERS FESTIVAL, you see a lot of us. We do music, and yes, at times we are paid for it, but we develop other skills and crafts as well. Riley Yielding, is a very good writer and singer but his main craft is HANDMAKING GUITARS.; And he makes some goodies. He is down here every year performing and displaying his wares. Wish he'd make a lefty, lol!!!
Johnny Holland, makes very cool decorative "Over sized GUITAR PICK GUITAR HOLDERS" that are really great. He is also a damn good writer/artist.
There are people who work in other businesses, while building their skills and some never quit those businesses. Some people like electricians, might sub contract their business out but keep a hand in.
Some develop SIDE businesses around music. Session musicians, studio owners, side men, touring people, booking, publishers, producers, etc. And of course, a lot of us, like myself, started doing workshops, education, web sites, consulting, education, services. Some pair up with Colleges, or some, again like me, work through NASHVILLE SONGWRITER'S ASSOCIATION (NSAI) SONGWRITER'S GUILD, etc. And developed things like MUSIC STARTS HERE or other educational entities.
And of course the outside businesses, driving for UBER, LYFT, computer services, delivery services, designing web sites, making T-shirts, Lowes, Home Depot, etc. Whatever you can make work, make it work. BUT EXPECT TO GET A JOB!!!! And expect to keep working it until YOU'RE SECOND JOB TAKES OVER YOUR FIRST JOB!!!!!
So, young folks, (and parents), if you want to know about all this, ATTEND THE FESTIVALS, show up, support others and TALK to people that do this. I am always around for conversations, and of course, if people want to really go the NEXT level, book me for a tour or consultation. Can show you a lot of things to do and A LOT OF THINGS NOT TO DO!!!!
Take care and TRY NOT TO SUCK!!!!!!!