This is a quote I saw on legendary Bass player and sessionist, Nathan East’s facebook page:
“Musicians are some of the most driven, courageous people on the face of the earth. They deal with more day-to-day rejection in one year than most people do in a lifetime. Every day, they face the financial challenge of living a freelance lifestyle, the disrespect of people who think they should get real jobs, and their own fear that they’ll never work again. Every day, they have to ignore the possibility that the vision they have dedicated their lives to is a pipe dream. With every note, they stretch themselves, emotionally and physically, risking criticism and judgment. With every passing year, many of them watch as the other people their age achieve the predictable milestones of normal life – the car, the family, the house, the nest egg. Why? Because musicians are willing to give their entire lives to a moment – to that melody, that lyric, that chord, or that interpretation that will stir the audience’s soul. Musicians are beings who have tasted life’s nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another’s heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.” -David Ackert, LA Times.
I can totally relate to the quote, but I do think that these issues are faced by anybody with freelance careers. I guess, however, that Music is not considered a real job by a lot of people. I, on the other hand, have always seen Music as a form of community service. When you dedicate your life to this service, it becomes a career. In order to sustain a career, you need to have an income from your work but the reason for why you got into the career in the first place should not be tainted by greed.
This is a simple statement that I’m in no position to find fault with, and especially in music, I still feel like a beginner, in both skill, and more so, in my curiosity to find out more about the mechanics of making music.
I ask myself from time to time the question that if I ever leave the music scene, will I lose the passion to discover music I’ve never heard before and trace the roots of those musics? I’m 30 now and despite the highs and lows I’ve experienced being in the music scene for almost 6 years now, I still feel like the 10 year old kid who got excited listening to the entire discographies (up to that point) of some of the greatest bands in the world such as Grand Funk, The Beatles, and Tower of Power. I still feel like that 10 year old kid who was curious to learn more about music from different parts of the world. Is this a clear indication that if I still have this fervour for music now, I will certainly be in it for the long haul?
There’s this thing called the 3 to 5 year rule in assessing the longevity of a career or a relationship. If you stick with something/someone for that long, it’s bound to work. In reality, it can’t be ascertained, so I’ll just leave it as that. I’ll enjoy doing music as a career for as long as it lasts and be prepared for the day to activate plans B, C, D and so on, if necessary.
No matter which stage I’m at in my career, I’d like to be that diligent, hardworking, ever-seeking apprentice. When I lose that, I lose my reason to carry on as a musician.