I think the general perception of musicians is that we are lazy and poor, but entertaining. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can say that the musicians I work with are incredibly hard workers. Music is not their only job, but it certainly could be. Believe it or not, musicians can make money gigging. Whether they are in a cover band, or they have written all original material. It doesn’t matter. If you can deliver the music, and manage yourself well, then you can succeed with it.
At some point, I toy with the idea of dropping everything and committing solely to music. Now if my parents are reading this, they are probably saying to themselves, “Good God, Greg! Don’t you dare.” But I could be wrong.
Mullets And Hair Bands
Long ago (all the way back to high school) I was taking a family trip to see my grandparents in Indiana. We stopped at a Burger King along the way to grab a quick bite. At the time, I was very much into the electric guitar. I had very long hair, and embraced my musician persona at a time when hair bands were at their all time high. We all sat down and ate. Next to our table, another family sat. The woman at the table kept glancing our direction. Her facial expression was that of cynicism and disapproval. She whispered several times to her husband, who never returned a glance. He was focusing on his Whopper as if it were a valid distraction to pay no attention to her. Her judgmental gossip was something that he likely dealt with every day. He was controlled and defeated by his wife. Deep inside, I believe he just wanted to tell her to just shut up.
When we got up to leave, she raised the level of her whisper so that it was clearly audible to myself and my family. She said, “How could any parents let their kid grow his hair out like that?” Myself, I could have cared less what the woman had to say, but this was clearly an attack on the parenting, and my Dad took offense. However, instead of blowing up (which he had been known to do on occasion) he instead replied very calmly to her, “The kind of parent whose son is making over $100,000 a year in a rock band.” And with that, her jaw dropped. Her husband took a short expressionless pause, and went back to eating. Nothing else was said, and we all walked out as if nothing had happened. Years later we’d talk about that day, and the victorious moment of putting that woman in her place.
Many times people ask me, “So, is this what you do?” It’s usually an uncomfortable question for both of us. The person asking, seems embarrassed as if they are suggesting that it is not enough. And I, in turn, then feel embarrassed as if they are suggesting it is not enough.
I usually reply about how I have another job, which is true. However, I rarely say what I’d like to. I would like to say, “Yes, and it’s been working out very well.” Because in fact, it has been working out very well, and it is getting better all the time.
So I have come to this personal commitment – the next time somebody asks me if “this” is what I do. I am going to reply with “Absolutely!” and I’ll leave it at that.
No, it doesn’t come with a high salary, but why should there be any shame at finding success with something you love doing?