I’m A Starving Artist! What Do You Mean Pay You?

Working as an independent artist, I’ve learned that a positive attitude is mandatory in order to stay sane and motivated to keep going. Too many times, the phrase “It takes money to make money” has been thrown around in this industry. I’m tired of hearing it, but I must admit it’s true.

Aspiring full-time artists everywhere are faced with the harsh reality of having to spend money on photo shoots, video shoots, clothes for performances, recording studio time, CD duplication and packaging, and other promotional materials. All of these things are necessary to place ourselves in a position to be recognized by someone who can actually help us take our careers to the next level.

It’s not as easy as walking into a record executive’s office and singing to get a record deal anymore. Most of us are independent artists by default. Now, we have to do a lot on our own before anyone else is willing to help. Entertainment managers want artists to “have something to manage” before they take them on, but what does that really mean? Brand managers are willing to work with an artist from the ground up, but the artist has to be ready to pay out of pocket before that happens. Venues want artists to have a lot of experience and a following before they will book them, but how can you gain those things, if you can’t gain those things until you already have them? (Does that make sense?)

So, where does the money come from to pay for all of these things?

As much as we hate to hear it, it is necessary to get an in-the-meantime job to sustain our everyday living expenses and our careers in music. These jobs can get extremely boring and drain you if you allow them to though. Instead, find something that is in line with your creative needs. Believe it or not, the majority of the artists I know have worked in education.

How do we pay for living expenses and all of the expenses that come with furthering our careers in music?

I’m still trying to figure this one out, but I’ve definitely been blessed. The numbers have never added up for everything to work out, but things have been working out, and there’s only one reason for that. Thank you Lord!

How do we gain experience?

When you’re serious about what you do, other people will notice and they will be more likely to want to work with you. Network with other musicians. Attend open mic events and show your stuff. People who have never heard of you will finally hear you and decide if they would be willing to pay to hear you again.

MusISHans, what struggles have you dealt with in your business endeavors? How did you overcome those struggles?

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