We musicians are a unique breed of human. Whereas happiness to you is settling down with a family in the ‘burbs, happiness to us is an excellent monitor mix. We’re easy to please. Within reason.
If you ever wondered what makes us tick, here are 10 idiosyncrasies that will hopefully help you understand why we chose this elusive and unstable profession.
1) We Aren’t In Music To Get Laid
Well, most of us got into music for that reason. I know I picked up the guitar in high school because my girlfriend swooned a little too hard for my best friend when he serenaded the party on his guitar. But those of us who have stuck it out past the infatuation stage and have settled on making this our career are actually very serious about our art.
2) Not Being Famous Is Actually Ok For Us
There are many more reasons to be in music than money and fame. Like, doing something we love for a living. Fame may come as an occupational hazard, but it’s not the end game or the goal. Musicians whose goal is to be famous have all the wrong intentions and will fail.
3) We Are Artists. Artists Are Weird
Ever wonder why we’re the only ones at Thanksgiving with weird hairdos, ‘scary’ tattoos and wearing clothes that seem a couple sizes too small for your tastes? It’s because we are artists and like to express ourselves creatively in every aspect of our beings. Hair style and clothing are just a couple of those ways. Want to know some others? Be careful what you wish for.
4) Music Isn’t A Dream. It’s A Way Of Life
The “dream” of music was, sure, a dream for us when we were adolescents, just like being an astronaut was for you. But, for us, it’s not a dream anymore. It’s a reality.
5) Just Because You Haven’t Heard Of Us Doesn’t Mean We Aren’t Successful
Don’t ask “So are you trying to be a musician?” or “When am I going to hear you on the radio.” It’s insulting. It belittles what we are accomplishing. Success for us is the same as it is for you: making a living, supporting the lifestyle we want.
6) Don’t Hate Us Because We Do Something We Love
That’s the only reason we’re in music. Because we felt we deserved to be happy. And we’d rather spend 10 years struggling doing something we love than 40 years financially comfortable doing something we hate.
7) Keeping Time Means Something Very Different To Us
We’re awesome at counting to 4. Even 6. Sometimes, we can get all the way up to 12. But let’s not push it. We’re great at keeping time with our music. However when it comes to appointments, keeping time is as hard for us as listening to Nickelback. I don’t condone this. And I’ve fought it my whole career. But for some reason, musicians, more-so than any other profession, have a hell of a time showing up on time.
8) There Are Many More Levels Of Musician Than “Starving Artist” and “Chart Topping Superstar.”
American Idol has given the world a skewed view of what it takes to be a professional musician. The average Joes and Sallys believe that everyone goes from barista to superstar thanks to The Voice and American Idol’s backstory montages. Believe it or not, there are thousands of musicians around the world with very substantial fan bases touring packed clubs who aren’t superstars and aren’t starving.
9) “Listening To Music” Means Something Very Different To Us
You know why you never see musicians “listening” to music through laptop speakers, or gasp!, iPhone speakers? It’s because that hurts our soul. We know what went into the production of creating that piece of art and want to appreciate, respect and enjoy it through our headphones or immaculate (car) stereo system – when we can afford that. Some people go to church to get spiritual, musicians put on headphones.
10) You Can Take A Musician Out Of Music But You Can’t Take The Music Out Of A Musician
Wonder why your kid’s school principal has been trying to keep the staff band together for the past 17 years? Or why your co-worker Angela wants to go to Karaoke every Tuesday? Sober. It’s because life events forced them out of their true calling. They may not be pursuing music professionally anymore, but they will never cease to be musicians. Ever.
Photo is by BeenThereDoneThath from Flickr used with the Creative Commons license
Ari Herstand is the author of How To Make It in the New Music Business, a Los Angeles based singer/songwriter and the creator of the music biz advice blog, Ari’s Take. Follow him on Twitter: @aristake