The Broke Artist

By Vincent


Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 10.27.24 AMWhat do you think of the broke artist?

That’s a common label slapped onto musicians. At least, the ones that try to make money out of it. Making money out of music and pursuing a professional career in music nowadays is, to put it mildly, difficult. 

Earning a living being an artist has been harder than ever. With the advent of streaming, it’s making it harder for musicians to draw money from the bank. Spotify only dishes out 0.006 to 0.0084 USD per stream. The money earned could also be split between other parties, such as record label holders, producers, and songwriters. 

I guess that’s why people swimming in six digits are laughing so hard.

But the outlook society has on careers is one that we should be paying our attention to. Not the check. 

There’s a certain disdain I carry for this painful attitude of treating musicians as crazy people. Rockstar wannabes. Rainbow chasers. “Irrational career choosers”. 

If you would like to become a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer, there is a set path for that. You go through high school preparing for the required subjects to study the related course in university. You take the course at university. You graduate. You apply for a job. You get the job. You make money. You put food on the table, until you retire.

When you’re a musician, there’s nothing like that. There is no map. There is no yes or no flowchart. There is no teacher telling you how to make it in music. There’s no spiritual guru to guide you. Music is an interpersonal relationship between you and the progress with the craft. The full-time musician is one of a select few. It takes determination, grit, and dedication.

I am a musician myself. It is my hope that I can pursue a career out of it. I’m not someone who tells this to many people. Since so often there are ones who can’t help but say: “Are you sure though?”

“Yeah, I am.”

“You should get a real job. Turning a passion into a career will stress you out and make it unenjoyable.” 

I mean, I get that sentiment. Honestly. We all have something that we love to do. But this could apply to any job in particular. I just so happen to be interested in something that doesn’t fall into the definition of “a real job”. What does that even mean anyway? Does a real job constitute sitting in an office chair? Doing more something more “intellectual”?

Granted, everyone is pursuing music nowadays. It has never been easier to start a career up, thanks to the fact that all it takes now is a laptop. But the fact still remains: Not everyone gets into the heavenly gates of stardom and disposable Benjamin Franklins. 

It is my hope that people can recognize this fact, and instead of looking at promising musicians as delusional, we could appreciate the path they chose, and appreciate the art that comes out of it.


Works Cited:

Sehgal, Kabir “Spotify and Apple Music should become record labels so musicians can make a fair living” CNBC, NBCUniversal Broadcast, Cable, Sports and News. Date Accessed: April 24, 2019