A Brutal Week,…And Then There’s The Money Thing

turtleHello, good morning, and welcome to the Saturday Morning News Post!

Readers, let me level with you, this hasn’t been my best week. It’s been a pretty goddamn shitty week in fact. It’s a number of things really, but the proverbial cherry on top of it all is a lagging anxiety concerning money, or a lack thereof.

Of course, who hasn’t had money concerns in the last year or two, right?

And yes, it’s all relative, for a jazz clarinetist a lucrative year could simply mean being able to afford to go out for drinks a few nights a week and pay the rent!,… awesome!

Many a professional jazz musician have heard the question after a gig: “Wow, you sound fantastic! So what do you really do? You know, to make a living? (That actually happened to me once on a first date,… after we had met at one of my shows!cheque please?!)

Yes, it’s an insulting question to ask but not all that surprising, I guess. So, if you’ve ever wondered the same thing, then here’s your answer:

Unless said jazz clarinetist has some sort of day-job (which could be anything from working retail, to teaching music, to being a sound engineer, to being a doctor) then they’re probably skirting the poverty line on a daily basis.

Enter moi, skirting the line is what I do, that’s been my home for a long time now, cheap IKEA desk and futon set up and everything, right there,… on that goddamn line.

A little puzzling for you? How that’s possible, and… why let it continue? you ask?

Think of it a little like snorkeling and let’s assume that water line = poverty line and that you just love to snorkel. Okay, so you’re happily treading water at the surface with your stupid goggles and plastic air tube, but every so often you gotta dive down and blow invest some money on something like, oh, I don’t know, a CD, or voice lessons, or a new instrument. It’s fun to dive down below the line now and again, things get kind of interesting down there with your “investments” floating about you like colourful fishes, but you don’t want to stay under for too long, now do you?

Following this analogy you could say that I’m floating idiot still, pretty close to the bottom, near to a credit card ledge that goes even further down. Those colourful investments I mentioned earlier have now become translucent bottom dwellers, and deep sea turtles swim by, shaking their heads, saying “Dude, what the fuck are doing?”

This is part of what happens when you move to a new city, costs increase, income dissolves from little to nothing. Then tack on a career plan with more holes than a sea sponge and production costs for an electro-acoustic album et voila! Somehow, for all my advice on planning I keep coming up the poster boy of what not to do. So here’s another lesson for any up-and-coming jazz musicians out there: Don’t move to a new city, and then start thinking of how you’re going to pay the bills.

OK, I’m done. So endeth the rant.

I’m going to tap out of this SMNP by thanking everyone for their comments on the podcast idea of last week. Lots of enthusiastic responses as well as some valuable pointers. I will most likely dive into it headlong in January, try it out for a few months, and then figure out how to do it properly, or fail…. that seems to be my way of going about things in general after all. Oops… okay, rant finished.

Thanks for reading and may you all have a fantastic week!

  • Grande

    If you didn’t struggle to get by you wouldn’t be much of an artist. There is a reason people always say that…I think.

  • http://www.johndoheny.com John Doheny

    Sorry, I have to disagree. I ‘struggled’ plenty as a derelict, disenfranchised and occasionally homeless addict/alcoholic in my 20s/30s, and I don’t think it helped my playing one bit. My new system (adopted over the last 18 years or so) of diligent practise with no chemical distractions seems to be working out pretty good, and I play a lot better with a roof over my head and food in my belly.

    Just dealing with the music is struggle enough. Being broke is a needless obstacle.

  • Grande

    I was joking around a little bit. But for the record I don’t think you need to suffer through addictions or mental pain to be an artist; I was referring to the fact that society doesn’t place art high of the compensation ladder in reference to Danderfer’s woes above.

  • http://www.amptoons.com/blog/archives/2009/04/23/supreme-court-seems-poised-to-okay-schools-strip-searching-13-year-old-for-ibuprofen-also-stephen-breyer-needs-to-stop-rewatching-that-scene-in-porkys/ HEEL LIFTS

    Fantastic work. You have gained a new fan. I hope you can keep up the good work and I look forward to more of the excellent posts.