We’ve had some excellent comments from readers to Bill Harrison’s ‘Making a Living’ blog post last week. I have yet to craft my own response to Bill’s question, but I’m working on it. Here are a few comments from this post in response to Bill’s question:
What do you do for a living?
Feel free to visit his original post and add your own experiences!
Brian Roessler writes:
I live in fear of that question! At parties I’m always sure to ask others what they do first, and then ask a lot of questions about their answer. The hope is to keep them from getting around to asking me. There just something so overwhelming about trying to explain what I do, and why I’m playing Menopause: The Musical this weekend, and why it sucks, and how that fits in with the other (“serious”) things I do and… anyway, thanks for the post. Good to be reminded I’m not alone.
Jacque Harper writes:
For a long time, I worked temp jobs through an agency during the day. That was a pretty consistent way to have some steady income while gigging. Then, the summer after my daughter was born, the temp jobs dried up for a number of weeks, and what would have been a flush time–since I had landed six weeks playing “Sideshow” in Skokie–turned into scraping by on just the income from the show.
It wasn’t too much longer until the demand for health insurance drove me to accept a full-time, permanent day job, and not too long after that I couldn’t keep gigging, especially not the drive to Rockford and back five or six nights in a row, or the week camping in some stranger’s home in South Bend.
My name is now off every contractor’s list, I don’t do casuals, nobody asks me downtown to CRC to record commercials. Every now and then since I’ve gotten a show for six to ten weeks (Bill and I have subbed for each other to make those work) or a call to play in Elgin or with CJP.
This is a long response to a simple question. How do I respond when people ask? I always say that I’m a musician. And that I work at Cars.com as User Experience Manager. And I trust that (and work hard to insure that) one day I’ll have enough success with Chicago Bass Ensemble to leave the land of the normally employed and be a musician again. In the meantime, I am lucky that I do enjoy my day job, and I am determined to make my own opportunities artistically.
You can picture me with a sort of grim and determined look at this point: not in a perfect place, but damnit, I’m going to work to enjoy it and improve it.
John Grillo writes:
Musicians have no value in our modern society. People get paid for the value they bring to the marketplace. The question is: Why should musicians get paid? We don’t make anybody any money. Our good or service is worthless in the eyes of the modern marketplace. Goverment and religious organizations used to set policy in the world, now it is the Global Market Economy. Thats why I think the Arts suffer and will continue to do so. However, I think our value comes from a spiritual perspective. When we play a concert and somebody in the audience has tears in there eyes and has been touched deeply in their soul, there is no monetary equivalent to that. Best of luck to all musicians out there!!
Keep the Faith
Have some thoughts of your own? Share them at Bill’s post here.
Bill also contributed a great video over the weekend documenting how to utilize chord substitutions over the popular “I Got Rhythm” chord changes.