The gig that helps sustain the Gig that sustains the Spirit

A lot of great comments on my recent piece for TuneCore, but one in particular sort of got my wheel’s spinning.

Ken Shane and I got in a bit of back and forth about – generally – what constitutes success in this music business model.

In attempting to address Mr. Shane’s point I suggested that for virtually every other artistic endeavor aside from music there is little-to-no expectation that most people will make their living engaging solely in this activity.

For example, few people think, “I’m a fine art photographer, and I should be able to just take fine art photos.” The vast majority of fine art photographers I know subsidize their gig by doing non-fine-art work (weddings, photo-journalism) and/or work completely unrelated to photography (stock brokering, etc.).

Same is true, of course, for writers, actors, painters…mimes, et al.

None of these people (particularly mimes) feel that they are somehow deserved of the right to mime and mime only — they have some other non-mime gig to subsidize their mime-itude.

Musicians, for some odd reason (and, arguably, actors too) tend to feel doing non-music work is somehow beneath them/hinders their ability to create great art. They often seem taken aback when it’s suggested that perhaps they have to do some other job in addition to creating their art. (Yes, I’m generalizing, but, in my experience, only a little bit.)

In reality, of course, it’s not just a bifurcated life that artists must live — having multiple jobs.

Who doesn’t have several jobs? My wife is a full-time mom who also does educational consultation and teaches bellydance. Don’t even get me started on my crazy-ass schizophrenic activity. Frankly, most everyone I know is juggling several “jobs.”

And yet musicians want one job: musician.

In any case, the message here isn’t that musicians are solipsistic, but rather what I tried to convey in my response to Mr. Shane’s comment to my TuneCore post: that we all must have jobs that allow us the time/money/freedom to pursue the work that makes our life meaningful (our art).

In other words, we have to have: The gig (lowercase) that helps sustain the Gig (uppercase) that sustains the Spirit.

Of course, the old adage of “do what you love, and never work another day” isn’t necessarily wrong, it’s just reductive.

No one is so monochromatic as to have a single thing they love; we all have a variety of interests, and, thus, we all do many things.

Some things we do because they align with our values and purpose, and some things we do in a purely mercenary manner so we can do more of our purpose-driven things.

Such is life. Thank goodness.

  1. Oneida Swain’s avatar

    So accurately worded and insightful! Worth the read!!



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