Been thinking about this lately.
Musicians spend hours practicing and learning. If they are serious, this caries on until the day they die. If Malcolm Gladwell is to be believed, it takes 10 000 hours to be good at what you do. We have our work cut out for us just trying to be competent never mind virtuosos!
So why then do we have to spend so much time dealing with all kinds of other non-musical stuff? Because we have to eat. And some of us want to do more than just eat. We’d like a car and a house, and possibly a family to fill the car and house. A vacation once in a while could be nice too.
So over the years I’ve had to learn about:
- Tax (OK that's still a bit of a mystery to me)
- Dealing with drunk, slobbering people at gigs.
- Getting money out of unscrupulous club owners/promoters
- Marketing, selling & distributing CDs (one of my most time-consuming and difficult pursuits!)
- Dealing with ridiculous requests: Guitar and vocal duo playing jazz at a cocktail party being asked to play “dance music”. I still get offered work and am told “it doesn’t pay, but it will be great exposure” or “I can’t pay you, but it will be lots of fun!” (try telling that to your doctor or lawyer).
- Dealing with insults: “You’re not bad, but have you heard (insert name here)?” “You guys sound great, but if you really want to make it you should play some John Denver”. “I love your music, you sound just like (insert any crap artist here)”. Being mistaken for a waiter by someone who has spent the whole night dancing 1 meter from the stage….
- Managing money (I’m still working on this one). My life gravitates from being paid badly for a nice gig, to being paid obscenely well for an awful gig. Then there are the quiet periods where I think how I should have saved some money from the obscenely well-paid gig.
- Spending many long, painful days working on ideas for a jingle, only to be told on submission that the brief has changed.
- Wearing ridiculous costumes on stage.
- Doing gigs under bad working conditions or in strange places (see last post) – I’ve played on heaving ships, behind salad bars, outside in freezing cold conditions (whilst everyone is indoors), next to a parrot who squawked louder than my guitar amp, in the lingerie department of a large store….
Practice? What? When?
But then again I wouldn’t change my career for anything. As a result of music I have travelled, met amazing people and worked with some fantastic musicians. So I’ll carry on trying to learn how to deal with unmusical things things and try and find the time to practice!