Monday, August 29, 2011
In The Business
Making a living playing music over the long haul is difficult. You have to please a bunch of monkeys who are easily bored and always looking for something new. Meanwhile you are getting older and the music business is all about youth and fresh sounds. And young people generally want music that separates them from their parents, not music played by their parents.
I don't make a living from music. I never have and almost certainly never will. But if I did, I would be nervous as middle aged performer. If you can manage to connect in a big way to your generation while you are all still young, this can help you as time goes by, because some of them will still remember you and show up to shows when you are past your prime. But if you never hit it big and make your living off of relatively small shows or by playing in several bands or by playing covers or dance music, I would think that would be more nerve-wracking as time went on.
When I opened for America at Britt in June, their guitar tech told me that they generally draw about 1,200 people per show. And this was AMERICA, who's sold over 100,000,000 records. After the show, when they were signing CD's and talking with people (bonding with those all important fans) this one guy brought up a poster with the three of them playing for a packed Anaheim Stadium crowd of probably 65,000+. They love playing music and continue to do so, but I doubt there are many new fans at their shows these days. If you never hit it with your generation in a big way when you were young, it's even harder to make that money as you get older.
I'm glad I don't have to depend on music to pay my bills. I play music because I love playing music. It does supplement my main income as a T'ai-Chi teacher but I don't expect to be able to do it forever. It's rare enough for find people willing to listen to an older guy in his mid-50's playing my kind of music now, I can't imagine it getting any easier down the road. But I'll continue to play music as long as it feels right. When people lose interest totally in what I do, I'll miss being able to do it more than I'll miss the money. I'm in this for love.