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Thread: Confused about mixed feelings about music career

  1. #1
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    Confused about mixed feelings about music career

    I'm a 37 year old female who loves music more than anything in the world. It has been my favorite thing since I was probably 7 or 8 years old. I have been to about 120 concerts, traveled across the country to see my favorite bands, and all my favorite memories were of something musical-related.

    The problem is...naturally, I want to get into music for a career, but so far everything I've tried has felt wrong to me. And this has left me extremely confused and depressed.

    I played violin when I was about 9 or 10. I don't remember enjoying it as much as I should have, and only did it for one year.

    I took piano and voice lessons a few years ago, but was too shy to sing in front of my teacher, and I could not learn sheet music for the life of me. I tried on my own before this too (using lessons from the internet) and both times it just didn't sink in. I hated practicing but I loved to play, on my own. I could play a song on a cd player and play along with it and learn the damn thing in sometimes as little as 5 minutes but yet I could not bring myself to learn sheet music, and I eventually quit the lessons.

    I volunteered at a recording studio for a few months, but that was a disaster. The guys there barely talked to me and acted like I shouldn't have been there. And what's even stranger, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would. I sat in on a few recording sessions, and the music was bad so I wasn't that interested in it and the guys barely talked to me and I didn't have a clue how to help and it was just really awkward, so I just quit going. I felt like a fish out of water which confused the hell out of me since I've always dreamed about being in a recording studio helping a band record an album.

    I started my own music website, and I had it going for almost 2 years, but the more I did it, the more I lost interest in it. My site was about rock music and I wanted to have a page for every rock band out there. It was a bit daunting, but I was determined. Well, towards the end I did not have the motivation to keep going, I was only 1/4 of the way done and I just didn't care anymore. My writing had lost it's spark, because I found that you can only describe music in so many ways before you start repeating youself. It started to feel like a chore. So, I got rid of my site.

    I really can't figure out why every time I try to advance myself musically, it backfires. I love music more than anything so I can't figure out why it always turns out wrong.

    I really wanted to be a music journalist, I LOVED Almost Famous, but I am not good with speaking and I get shy and nervous around bands so I could never interview them.

    I think I love the concert aspect of it the best, and would love to work on tour, and I've asked bands before if they wanted any more roadies, but of course nobody wants me because I don't have any experience!

    What is wrong with me!? Why can't I make this work? I have been looking into other completely different careers that I have an interest in but I keep coming back to music and wondering why this doesn't work when it's still the most important thing to me!? I feel like my life will be wasted if I don't do something in music! I can't afford music school either (I'm currently unemployed for the most part so I can barely afford my bills).

    Does anyone have any advice for me?

  2. #2
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Not that I am in any way exemplary: I believe that whatever you do for a living is, by deffinition, hard work. To balance work, you always need play. I'd rather keep my playtime in music and my work elsewhere. Otherwise I would have to make my playtime non-musical which sounds terrible to me.

    That doesn't make me feel like I am wasting my life, rather the opposite.

    Anyway, I'm sorry to hear of your frustrations. Best of luck!
    "Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar"

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    I've thought of that, that maybe I should just enjoy music on my own time, I could still enjoy it every day for hours if I wanted to. Somehow though that just doesn't seem right. Everywhere you look, someone is saying "follow your dream!" or "do what you love!" and then I think maybe I'm just settling. I want to be involved, not just a passive fan. When I go to concerts, I feel like it isn't good enough to be a face in the crowd. I want to be a part of creating the experience, either the music or the show itself. I want to have the respect of musicians and other people in the industry. I feel like I am above that crowd mentality, I don't want to be seen as just another forgettable fan who just loves music, I want to be seen as equal to the musicians, someone who is a part of the scene. Music is where I belong, so I want to belong in music.

  4. #4
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockchick26 View Post
    Everywhere you look, someone is saying "follow your dream!" or "do what you love!" and then I think maybe I'm just settling.
    Well, why do you think they are right? Would you offer this same advice to derranged murderers (i.e. do what you love!). People sprout all kinds of platitudes without thinking twice about the actual meaning. You can't live your life by platitudes (especially those of others).
    Quote Originally Posted by Rockchick26 View Post
    I want to be a part of creating the experience, either the music or the show itself.
    Quite understandeable! Why can't you do those things without having to do it for a living? I have played in many bands, tallied hundreds of live gigs. Practice hours every night. Write lots of material. Market my bands. I live music. Still have time to live a life and earn enough money (not to mention post crap on here)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockchick26 View Post
    I feel like I am above that crowd mentality, I don't want to be seen as just another forgettable fan who just loves music, I want to be seen as equal to the musicians, someone who is a part of the scene.
    This comment shows a blatant disregard for all music lovers everywhere. If you feel like music is for some sort of elite you misunderstand the beauty of music. Fans are no more forgeteable than any other human being. Likewise, idolising musicians misses the point of music. They are not superhuman. If you believe they are you have instantly prevented yourself from putting in the hard work required to become one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rockchick26 View Post
    Music is where I belong, so I want to belong in music.
    I simply don't understand what this means. If you are saying you want to spend most/all of your time involved in music then thats great! As you are currently unemployed, it seems to me that this is a very real possibility (I unfortunately cannot spend most/all of my time playing music). However don't expect significant financial rewards (if any). Music is a notoriously unpleasant and difficult industry to scrape a living in (let alone gain noteriety and adoration).

    All of this is well beyond my remit of music theory and guitar playing of course. I am just blabbing for no good reason, so take it all with a pinch of salt.
    Last edited by bluesking; 06-28-2010 at 11:08 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bluesking View Post
    Well, why do you think they are right? Would you offer this same advice to derranged murderers (i.e. do what you love!). People sprout all kinds of platitudes without thinking twice about the actual meaning. You can't live your life by platitudes (especially those of others).
    Well I thought it was pretty obvious those types of sayings aren't talking about commiting acts of violence, they're about your purpose in life, a career, what you are here for! And I think they're right just because, well, it's just obvious, why wouldn't it be right? I would never tell someone to do something for any other reason than because it's where their heart lies. But even murderers don't dream of becoming a murderer from the age of 5, that's not the same thing at all.

    Quite understandeable! Why can't you do those things without having to do it for a living? I have played in many bands, tallied hundreds of live gigs. Practice hours every night. Write lots of material. Market my bands. I live music. Still have time to live a life and earn enough money (not to mention post crap on here)
    I don't necessarily have to do it for a living, but I want to DO it, not just be a spectator. But every time I try to get involved, it ends up backfiring on me and it doesn't work out. It isn't that I don't have the time. I can't figure out what the problem is.

    This comment shows a blatant disregard for all music lovers everywhere. If you feel like music is for some sort of elite you misunderstand the beauty of music. Fans are no more forgeteable than any other human being. Likewise, idolising musicians misses the point of music. They are not superhuman. If you believe they are you have instantly prevented yourself from putting in the hard work required to become one.
    You misunderstood me. I am not saying music is elite and fans aren't good enough. Of course fans are important, I've been one my whole life, to disrespect them is to disrespect myself. What I'm saying is that I want to be more involved than that. Musicians don't remember their fans, I met one band 7 times and they never remembered me even the last time. I don't like the seperation between fans and the artists. I want to become more involved in the whole thing, the whole experience. I want to become an important part of it, not just a bystander.

    I simply don't understand what this means. If you are saying you want to spend most/all of your time involved in music then thats great! As you are currently unemployed, it seems to me that this is a very real possibility (I unfortunately cannot spend most/all of my time playing music). However don't expect significant financial rewards (if any). Music is a notoriously unpleasant and difficult industry to scrape a living in (let alone gain noteriety and adoration).
    What I meant by that statement was, music is the biggest part of my life, so I want to be a big part of it, in return. Sure I go to concerts and buy cd's, but I want to be more than just a consumer. I want to help with the process of it.

    As for being unemployed, I don't have the money anymore to enjoy music as much as I used to, I haven't been to a concert in 7 months, which is killing me, and I can't buy cd's anymore, I have to just listen to music on Myspace or YouTube.

    I understand the music industry isn't easy to make a lot of money in, unless you're in one of the top bands out there, but that isn't my goal. I would be perfectly happy earning my money somewhere else and just volunteering in music. I just can't find my niche, I can't figure out why every time I try something, it ends up feeling wrong.

  6. #6
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockchick26 View Post
    I've thought of that, that maybe I should just enjoy music on my own time, I could still enjoy it every day for hours if I wanted to. Somehow though that just doesn't seem right. Everywhere you look, someone is saying "follow your dream!" or "do what you love!" and then I think maybe I'm just settling. I want to be involved, not just a passive fan. When I go to concerts, I feel like it isn't good enough to be a face in the crowd. I want to be a part of creating the experience, either the music or the show itself. I want to have the respect of musicians and other people in the industry. I feel like I am above that crowd mentality, I don't want to be seen as just another forgettable fan who just loves music, I want to be seen as equal to the musicians, someone who is a part of the scene. Music is where I belong, so I want to belong in music.
    You have to ask yourself where your music skills lie. What do you have to offer (that no one else does)?

    You mentioned taking lessons (violin, piano, voice): which - if any - of those do you feel you have most aptitude for?
    Or it sounds like you enjoy writing. Do you write songs (lyrics or music)?
    What skills do you have that could be applied within the music industry? (Recording studios, etc, need admin staff with enthusiasm...)

    Do you have any friends or acquaintances who are musicians, or in any way associated with the business? They would be the best people to advise you, as we have no idea what you can do, or how good you might be.

    It's important to remember you don't have to be born musical - but you do have to work at it, at whatever specific skill you want to focus on. You certainly need to conquer your shyness. Even if you were highly talented, shyness would kill your dreams; and if you're not talented, confidence and self-belief can take you a long way!
    "Follow your dream", yes. But that can take an incredible amount of hard work, single-mindedness and devotion. And still, very few will "make it". Most will be disappointed. (Although that depends on what kind of goals you set yourself. If you just do it to enjoy yourself, that's the best aim.)

    I sympathise in many ways. When I was a teenager, I too wanted to be up there on stage, not a passive audience member. I had no idea why, as I wasn't talented, and was extremely shy. (In fact, it's quite possible that the dream was because of my shyness: IOW, perhaps - subconsciously - it looked like a way to communicate, from a position of power, when I couldn't communicate in normal life, feeling powerless.)
    I was lucky, because my friends were musicians (amateur of course) and invited me into their band. I taught myself guitar well enough to strum along, and got steadily better - good enough to gig in folk clubs within a year.

    Still, I never became professional. I was in amateur and semi-pro bands (having a lot of fun) for decades. Only in the last 10 years or so (having played for over 30 before that) did I decide my other career was falling apart, and my music might be enough to carry me - as long as I could teach as well as gig, which I can. (I took a course in music teaching, but have never had music lessons otherwise.)

    In short, making it in the music business is more about luck, who you know, being in the right place at the right time, being confident, friendly and reliable - than it is about being "talented".
    Sorry I can't be more help.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    You have to ask yourself where your music skills lie. What do you have to offer (that no one else does)?

    You mentioned taking lessons (violin, piano, voice): which - if any - of those do you feel you have most aptitude for?
    Or it sounds like you enjoy writing. Do you write songs (lyrics or music)?
    What skills do you have that could be applied within the music industry? (Recording studios, etc, need admin staff with enthusiasm...)
    I am not great at any of those, sometimes I think I sing awesome but then sometimes I really suck. I don't want to be in a band though, I just want to be a part of something, not necessarily the band itself. I don't even want to be famous. I love working "behind the scenes". I am good at organizing and creating, so I should probably try to find something that utilizes both of those.

    Do you have any friends or acquaintances who are musicians, or in any way associated with the business? They would be the best people to advise you, as we have no idea what you can do, or how good you might be.
    Unfortunately, no. If I did,you're right, they would be the best people to talk to! I don't have a lot of friends and I don't make friends easily, and I feel awkward when talking to bands, so, chances are slim I'll ever make friends with any musicians. I was never "cool" enough, I guess.

    I sympathise in many ways. When I was a teenager, I too wanted to be up there on stage, not a passive audience member. I had no idea why, as I wasn't talented, and was extremely shy. (In fact, it's quite possible that the dream was because of my shyness: IOW, perhaps - subconsciously - it looked like a way to communicate, from a position of power, when I couldn't communicate in normal life, feeling powerless.)
    I was lucky, because my friends were musicians (amateur of course) and invited me into their band. I taught myself guitar well enough to strum along, and got steadily better - good enough to gig in folk clubs within a year.
    This is one of the things that attracts me to music so much too, the expression part of it, the communication through art. I can't communicate correctly normally so that's why I'm drawn to art because it's how I would express myself and I am drawn to others who are like that too.

    In short, making it in the music business is more about luck, who you know, being in the right place at the right time, being confident, friendly and reliable - than it is about being "talented".
    Sorry I can't be more help.
    Oh you were enough help, don't worry! I understand its more about all those things than being talented, so I still feel like there is hope for me since I'm not very talented!

  8. #8
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockchick26 View Post
    This is one of the things that attracts me to music so much too, the expression part of it, the communication through art. I can't communicate correctly normally so that's why I'm drawn to art because it's how I would express myself and I am drawn to others who are like that too.
    I quit guitar at 15, but I was involved as a fanatical listener and collector of music ever since. At 35 I've got this incredible urge to start playing again and composing my own stuff. I didn't have any goals, just doing it was reward itself. I've posted some of the stuff I made on the net and got scouted by an indie label. A few days shy of my 40th birthday my CD was released, to the astonishment of myself and everybody else...

    The income of CD sales is less than my annual pick&strings expense, LOL. And if this is the highlight/pinnacle of my musical career, so be it. I am satisfying my urge to create and express my feelings and will continue to do so, in every moment of time I can spare for this.
    I have no illusion that I can live from my music, so I will remain scientist working in a lab, earning money for my picks, , then break some strings in the evening.

    I have become 'part of it' in a way that currenty works for me. So if I come to the advice:
    You may ask yourself if 'all or nothing' approach works for you? You wan't to express yourself through art? Just do it. (it might not be associated with making a living ).
    take care

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    This is helping me narrow down what I want, this is good. You said you create music on your own time and that is enough for you. I don't get the same enjoyment out of playing as I do out of going to concerts and checking out new bands, etc. so, i'm thinking the actual creating music isn't the part I was meant to do. I do like to play piano, but I don't want to do it other than in the privacy of my home. It's the concert scene that excites me the most, that's what I want to be a part of, being around the actual bands and the energy and the excitement. I feel like playing music alone is not the same thing as being involved, or being a part of something, that's too much of an "alone" thing for me. I think it definately has to be something concert-related, tour-related.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockchick26 View Post
    This is helping me narrow down what I want, this is good. You said you create music on your own time and that is enough for you. I don't get the same enjoyment out of playing as I do out of going to concerts and checking out new bands, etc. so, i'm thinking the actual creating music isn't the part I was meant to do. I do like to play piano, but I don't want to do it other than in the privacy of my home. It's the concert scene that excites me the most, that's what I want to be a part of, being around the actual bands and the energy and the excitement. I feel like playing music alone is not the same thing as being involved, or being a part of something, that's too much of an "alone" thing for me. I think it definately has to be something concert-related, tour-related.
    OK, but that's not a job or a skill, is it?

    Just wanting to be around famous musicians at a big concert, or wanting to get involved with them in some way, is not a marketable skill, and not likely to be something that the musicians themselves will put much value on.

    The hard bit is learning to actually play well. And that most definitely IS a marketable skill that all bands, composers, publishers want.

    Of course there are jobs in music for non-musicians, but those roles are generally less well defined. Which means that career opportunities are far more vague and tenuous if you are not directly in the role of creating music through your own individual ability as a musician (meaning most directly as a player, but also possibly as a composer or sound engineer).

    If you learn to play an instrument well (eg you mentioned piano, and that's certainly easier than guitar) then with a lot of hard work you will also open up the possibility of composing via that instrument. Even if you don't want to perform yourself, you might be able to get other musicians interested in playing your compositions ... and that may be a direct route into more involvement with the wider music scene that you are aiming for.

    Ian.

  11. #11
    Bedroom metalurgist LaughingSkull's Avatar
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    Perhaps you could be a music journalist, tour manager or ..... .... groupie.

    (hope you are not offended by my sense (or lack of it) of humor).
    Last edited by LaughingSkull; 07-01-2010 at 10:02 AM. Reason: was just inspired

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    Like Laughgskull, perhaps I should say that my post above is not meant to be discouraging or in any way dismissive of ideas about getting involved in the music scene in the general way Rockchick described above.

    What I'm trying to do is narrow the ideas down a bit, to focus on some specific plan that might lead more directly into the areas you want.

    Of course some people do get themselves hired as "roadies" or other "support staff". But my impression is that those people are often very self confident OTT characters who refuse to take "No" for answer (to the point of being a complete nuisance lol), and even then those jobs may be very fleeting and short-lived.

    If your that keen, then I think my approach would be to sign up for some high level music studies/qualifications. A study course which involves playing and composing. You might need to do part-time work to support that, so it won't be easy ... but I think music is rarely a smooth easy path as a viable financial career.

    That would also get you over any shyness about public performing, because you'd have to do that regularly as part of most study course. And you'd also meet loads of other people with similar aspirations. There'd be lots of other students interested in talking with you ("networking") about how to get into the music industry.

    Ian.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossroads View Post
    OK, but that's not a job or a skill, is it?

    Just wanting to be around famous musicians at a big concert, or wanting to get involved with them in some way, is not a marketable skill, and not likely to be something that the musicians themselves will put much value on.

    The hard bit is learning to actually play well. And that most definitely IS a marketable skill that all bands, composers, publishers want.

    Of course there are jobs in music for non-musicians, but those roles are generally less well defined. Which means that career opportunities are far more vague and tenuous if you are not directly in the role of creating music through your own individual ability as a musician (meaning most directly as a player, but also possibly as a composer or sound engineer).

    If you learn to play an instrument well (eg you mentioned piano, and that's certainly easier than guitar) then with a lot of hard work you will also open up the possibility of composing via that instrument. Even if you don't want to perform yourself, you might be able to get other musicians interested in playing your compositions ... and that may be a direct route into more involvement with the wider music scene that you are aiming for.

    Ian.
    I understand what you're saying, I know it isn't good to try to break into music without actually knowing how to play something. The thing is I've tried so many times that I can't help but think I am not meant to play. Violin fizzled out, I did try guitar when I was in high school and I only was able to learn one song, a very very simple short song. Then I lost interest. It was like I just wanted to know what it was like but I didn't need to become an expert. Same with piano. And I cannot write music, I tried, everything I came up with sounded just like something else or so simple it was pathetic. But it didn't bother me, like I said, the times I feel most alive regarding music is when I'm at a concert. Do all people who help out at concerts know how to play music? Surely all the people involved can't all be musicians.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LaughingSkull View Post
    Perhaps you could be a music journalist, tour manager or ..... .... groupie.

    (hope you are not offended by my sense (or lack of it) of humor).
    I'm too shy to be a groupie, when I meet bands I pretty much just say hi, great show, and ask for a picture or autograph. (I've said before I suck at communicating, well, talking to be exact!)

    I do want to be a music journalist to some extent but with being so shy I don't know how I would be able to interview bands. I love to write and that's why I started that website but that grew old quickly too. It's like I can't stay involved in anything I start and that's why I'm so confused because if music is my favorite thing in the world, why would I lose interest in the things I am trying to do?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossroads View Post
    Like Laughgskull, perhaps I should say that my post above is not meant to be discouraging or in any way dismissive of ideas about getting involved in the music scene in the general way Rockchick described above.

    What I'm trying to do is narrow the ideas down a bit, to focus on some specific plan that might lead more directly into the areas you want.

    Of course some people do get themselves hired as "roadies" or other "support staff". But my impression is that those people are often very self confident OTT characters who refuse to take "No" for answer (to the point of being a complete nuisance lol), and even then those jobs may be very fleeting and short-lived.

    If your that keen, then I think my approach would be to sign up for some high level music studies/qualifications. A study course which involves playing and composing. You might need to do part-time work to support that, so it won't be easy ... but I think music is rarely a smooth easy path as a viable financial career.

    That would also get you over any shyness about public performing, because you'd have to do that regularly as part of most study course. And you'd also meet loads of other people with similar aspirations. There'd be lots of other students interested in talking with you ("networking") about how to get into the music industry.

    Ian.
    I've thought about music school, but I was just discouraged by the fact that every time I've tried to do something music-related, I end up losing interest. I didn't want to go into debt $30,000 for something I would most likely lose interest in. I already wasted at least $500 on that website that I couldn't make a go of. Not a very smart idea for someone who is unemployed for the most part.

    I have tried on my own to learn music theory at least, but I didn't do very well in high school and even worse in math so I just felt like I wasn't smart enough or something. I lose interest and feel overwhelmed after only a few days. Even after 3 months of piano lessons I could barely read simple sheet music.

    I had a crazy idea a few months ago to buy an RV and travel around the country following bands around, picking up fans along the way and charging them for a ride and a bed to sleep in, I thought that would be a really lucrative business since there are tons of fans who road trip for shows or who want to but don't have transportation. But, buying an RV would most likely take me many years, especially since I don't even have a full time job right now.

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