I’ve been accused in the past of being verbose. For the non-English literature folks, that means I’m wordy. Wordy, wordy, wordy. I like words and I use them. Too many of them for some people. But whatev. This is my blog and I’m gone go ahead and piss all over it with as many words as I deem necessary to express my sometimes all too consuming point.


Except for today. Today will by my exercise in tersity. Okay that’s not a word. I will be terse. I will be concise. Because I’m pressed for time right now. I leave in a few days for London to do some very respectable goofing off with my fabulous best friend and jazz singer, Eve, and I’m a tad behind on the prep. So here’s my story/anecdote for the week:

I had about a bazillion gigs this past weekend. On one day, three in a day. It was tight, but fun and I met a lot of great people. Many of them who asked me very earnestly, “So, what do you do for a living?”

To which I always replied, “This.” And they were shocked. And there was light. And it was good.

I know that everyone expects that musicians have other jobs, and in all fairness, most do, and I did for a long time doing original music in Los Angeles. But I’m grateful that I don’t any longer. I make my living by playing, teaching, writing about music and equipment, and producing song demos. It’s a wonderful life. Not always as easy as people might think, but nonetheless wonderful. I don’t make a fortune. I make enough for me to be happy. Funny thing is before when I was trying to make more than to be happy, I really wasn’t making that much more even though I was trading off a whole lot of other things for it.

Oh yeah…terse, Andrea. Keep it together.

Yes, so there was shock. And then sometimes we’d get into the conversation about how that works. And they ask me, “Well…do you play with a lot of different bands or just this one?” And of course, I’d have to answer, “A lot. I’m a whore. A total musical whore.”

So there. I said it. And you know what…I’m proud of it, too.

I figured out a really long time ago that no matter what job you have, the money you are trying to make is not yours. It’s attached to someone, who usually has the badass title of “client.” And they get to rule your world. This is true of every job – whether you’re a cop, accountant or web designer or yes – musician.

It is ultimately not your money. It’s theirs.

You can, of course, go through life believing that you get to decide everything about your world and that “clients” don’t really matter. And chances are, you will die not only poor, but struggling to accept the reality that you were wrong. Because the world revolves on this one glowing and undeniable principle:

“He who pays. Says.”

I have adapted this to music by accepting that I can either be a working musician who does a lot of things that other people like, or be a musician who does only what I like and slog in another job to make the money. I no longer believe that to be a happy musician, I must only play music that “I like.” I have learned that all music is my playground and that the more of it I do, the more I like playing in its sandbox. And the more money I make at it. It’s kind of genius in its own way.

So, for the musical divas – the ones who say, “Well…I don’t want to play that.” Or “That’s just not what I do.” My advice is to really get used to your day job. Embrace it. And enjoy it.

Because the fact that it’s not your money is not going to work to your benefit as a musician unless you can always say yes to people when they ask for something. If you CAN say yes as a musician – adapt to the job at hand  – then you are likely going to be able to find a really comfortable niche being a real working musician.

Go ahead. Call me a whore. I’m cool with it. Because I’m not really so interested in starving and slaving in a job that I totally detest, while my musical skills waste away and my real talent gets shoved in a drawer.

Instead…I’ve got my eyes on other people’s money.

I know in my heart, that they really really really want to give it to me.

Originally posted 2010-10-08 05:09:39.