Career Advice for Those Considering the Artistic Life
Over the weekend, my band played at a charity gala. Afterward, we ventured out into the sunny afternoon and decided we should go play some music on the street (we are a marching band; it’s what we do). Because we live in a small, depressed, post-industrial city, we were hard-pressed to find a public location with many people on a Sunday at 4 p.m., but after a little while, we managed to gather a small audience who whooped and cheered enthusiastically and urged us to play more songs. After fifteen minutes, we passed the hat and came up with $15 – a respectable rate of $60 an hour, until you consider that there were 12 of us, bringing the take down to $5 an hour. Our most lucrative gig ever was last month, when we earned $400 plus meals and drinks for an hour of work. Figuring in the rather significant amount of alcohol we consumed, that amounts to about $50 an hour for each of the 15 musicians who showed up, which would be amazing if we could secure 30 hours of such engagements every week and if we never had to practice, repair our instruments, sew our costumes, pay taxes, or have health insurance.
All of which is to say, don’t quit your day job, or if you do, don’t join a 20-person brass band.
Photo by the author.