The most difficult decision is to choose to be something (you love and is your passion) for the rest of your life regardless of anything else and hold that position; or at least it was for me when I decided to be a musician and take it as my profession. Every decision represent a great challenge and a great sacrifice; for good or bad you always cedes something but at the same time wins something.
When I took this decision I was only 17 and I was finishing high school, I had no idea at all what it was to be a musician and if I remember correctly, all I wanted was to play bass and learn everything I could . I had that feeling of wanting to take the world ahead, a thirst for learning and being influenced by all the new music that reached my ears. At my 32 years old I am very grateful of feel the same way that in my teens, although I must admit that after several years (18) transiting the musicians world and countless situations, the picture I had when I started has been widened incredibly.
Sometimes the family situation is very encouraging, if your parents, grandparents, uncles or brothers are musicians or devoted to music and art, learning can be sucked from birth or early age and thus the vocational decision can to be much more friendly to make. In my case, I come from a family of professionals but none focused on music or art; and think I took the decision as a Kamikaze (LOL!). Honestly, I had no idea what I was doing but my heart told me it was right and I would do it again if I were in the same situation.
The great uncertainty of being a Musician is truly what you can do and be in this beautiful profession. The idea of being a rock star and playing concert for thousands of people is not a bad idea but it is not the only reality of what such a broad profession can embrace and achieve and is precisely for that reason, I am writing these lines. If you are reading and not yet made your decision, no matter how old are you, you will always be on time, and perhaps the following situations and descriptions encourage you to be who you really love and you are passionate.
Most times one wonders or your relatives ask you: and how you will earn money? … Being a musician can take you into the following work situations, from the ones that remain undescribed because each experience is unique:
1) Play Live Music: The most common situations and you will never stop doing that until the end of your days, whether you do it for 10,000 people, 10 people or only one. Includes from National and International Tours to the Club in the corner of your house. You never know.
2) Teacher: teach your knowledge and experience never gets old. In many cases you can help people and convey your passion for learning and teaching. I recommend being patient (Patience is a muscle that is exercised daily!).
3) Sideman: you can be the Musician in which all trust and call you for a recording session, playing concerts and tours worldwide. Being versatile and having no musical prejudices is very useful in this case.
4) Composer: there still are music in the air waiting to be written. The vast palette of genres (from classical music to new popular genres) need new songs, new compositions, new melodies that captivate and excite the living beings. Please be aware of all legal issues on Copyrights, I do not think you want someone to steal your work and become a millionaire (Yes, it happened, and several times!).
5) Arranger: a variation of the composer; is responsible for embellish and sometimes “deform” the compositions of other authors for special situations such as recording an album, among others.
6) Orchestrator / Copyist: transcribe music from other composers to generate a ful score and select according to your musical judgment and experience or the order of the composer, the appropriate instrumentation for each musical passage. Generate scores and individual parts for each of the instrumentalists. In many situations the budget allows more than one person, but often commonly happen that the same person is responsible for both jobs. Even in the technological age in which we live, making individual parts correctly for instrumentalists takes time. Know musical notation, sight reading and the vast amount of instruments available is truly required.
7) Producer / Musical Director: is that person that much of the time is hated by most musicians as it ensures you know the mistakes you’re making and in various situations, make tough decisions as to fire you if you are doing a bad job; but at the same time in a finished work situation, everybody thanks him for having done an excellent job and have sounded incredibly well. This person must work hard to have great mental ability and ear training to anticipate the outcome of a production. Above all be a person who can deal with pressures of all kinds, including being able to speak correctly in the time indicated and with the indicated character (not many make it, but all try it).
8) Author / Publisher: a variation of teaching, which transmits through written books, e-books, etc … and sometimes can create his own publishing business. Not all authors create their own editorial; and of course, not all editors write their own books.
9) Luthier: it is very possible that your love for musical instruments leads you wants to create it, or at least in my case, wanting to fix and modify them constantly. Important: learn what you want to do or create before doing it can save you from many disappointments and fatal errors (for your instruments of course).
10) Label / Distributor: ???? mmmm I will think it 2 and more than 10 times. In the digital era we live online sales are everything and even an independent musician can have a E-Store through a website and achieve better results than a label which cares little or nothing about your work.
11) All of the above situations together and of course, you can create your own work situations according to your interests!
Being musician connects you to a very special reality, a way of seeing life and living it in a completely different way, and not to live from air. If your doubt is economic stability, I guarantee that you can live perfectly without extra day jobs. It’s not an easy life, demands perseverance, constant study and practice, focus, discipline and above all patience. The fruits of your labor are seen over time and there are no shortcuts. The greatest achievements: the universe touches you through music! (Mystic? Yeah, but realistic!).
Follow your instincts. Be Musician.