Sounding off – why make music when you won’t ever be paid for it?

In this months edition of Sound on Sound the ‘Sounding Off’ article on the last page of the magazine discusses the fact that, in reality, today’s musicians spend a great deal of money, time and effort on making music in full knowledge that they will never be paid for doing so. Effectively the vast majority of today’s musicians are effectively hobbyists no matter how polished or ‘professional’ their technical skills are or how satisfying the end product is. The article goes on to justify why people armed with this knowledge still devote a great deal of time and money to create music and then attempt to sell it in some way. The article’s author’s justification for this is that the thrill of making and listening to music still remains.

As a committed ‘hobbyist’ (see above) I agree with his conclusion to an extent. The love of music still remains for me. The passion I had when I was younger to seek out and purchase exciting new music in vast quantities has to an extent left me. I see this partly as an age thing but the main reason I feel is because I’ve spent so much time actually making music in the studio that to then spend what free time I have to listen to a lot more music would be extremely fatiguing. That’s not to say that I can’t take a break from the studio to enjoy other music. Putting together the first podcast was fun and I’ll be putting together another in the near future (and hopefully another after that time permitting (hence the reason why it’s the first in an occasional series of podcasts)).

My qualification to his argument is the perception that given by the traditional media, well all media I guess, is that the people that are releasing records and, on occasion either touring or playing dj dates, do so as their only source of income. That the myth of the carrot of a professional career is still pushed into the enthusiasts consciousness. I have no idea what take home income a middle ranking artist receives but I can believe it’s not great. I’d be really interested to find out just how people who are marketed as professional electronic musicians really make their living. Money is of course one thing and soul is another but still.

Do I believe that a viable system will be stumbled upon the monetise the sale of music? With present day consumer electronics this dream is unlikely but who knows what’s coming in the future. It’s clear that the success of music is linked to the platform by which it’s consumed.

I should also say that like the author of the article in sound on sound I am thousands of pounds down in respect of the amount of money I have spent on musical equipment, music, music lessons etc set against the amount of money I have actually made from music…


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