Q.1 We have been talking about being self-sufficient in your music making, how important do you think it is to find your own projects, especially in balancing what you want to do and what will earn you money?
- The challenge facing a lot of musicians or artists, generally, first and foremost is you’ve got to put a roof over your head and eat. And the way I was able to do that for probably the first eight years after leaving university and moving to Leeds was that I had a job. And I’d always have a job that didn’t interfere with the things that I wanted to do. I would make it explicit in interviews that I had other commitments.
- Unless you’re Coldplay(!) most people who are jobbing musicians tend to have a range of stuff that they do. I recommend it highly, it means your life is continually enriched by doing interesting things, and you don’t have to do the same job every day.
Q.2 There might be a few people listening who see a career in music as; you’re number one in the charts and that’s how you’re making your millions. But for the working musician, what are the realities and what else can you do to get along?
- My average working week includes: Music from the Attic, Hope and Social, I have fallen into a Graceland Tribute band which one of our musicians has developed, lecturing at universities and colleges, music conferences and youth consultancy. I have been very lucky to have these opportunities, and I’ve developed this from saying yes to as many opportunities which came my way as possible, and now I can choose which ones I want to do and shape my working life around that.
- Like much of the work I have happened upon, I’ve happened upon by accident!
Q.3 If you had any advice, for those starting out and experiencing that feeling of ‘I’m not going anywhere’ what advice would you give? And what would you want them to know when going in to this life?
- In terms of sacrifice, things to expect are that it will be very challenging, you will work a lot more for a lot less money. Especially in relation to others such as an accountant who have regular pay and income relative to their work.
- You will have a work life balance issue at times. As a freelancer you don’t get paid your holidays, you don’t have a set income, I don’t have a pension, and you have to do your own finance each year. When pay fluctuates that is difficult.
- If you are happy with music as something you do as an additional then just do the stuff that is fun and live by other means, that is sustainable.
- However, if you want your musical career to become your main income I would suggest start small, do things with other people, collaborate, learn from others, surround yourself with people who are more interesting and brilliant than you are, and that will pull you along.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for money either.
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