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Is the music enough?

nutty 21 Jun 08 - 06:05 AM
Jack Blandiver 21 Jun 08 - 06:46 AM
Acorn4 21 Jun 08 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,Jon 21 Jun 08 - 06:47 AM
The Sandman 21 Jun 08 - 06:58 AM
George Papavgeris 21 Jun 08 - 07:31 AM
Amos 21 Jun 08 - 08:53 AM
George Papavgeris 21 Jun 08 - 09:10 AM
Leadfingers 21 Jun 08 - 09:56 AM
Stringsinger 21 Jun 08 - 06:00 PM
Big Al Whittle 21 Jun 08 - 09:59 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 21 Jun 08 - 10:16 PM
Barbara 22 Jun 08 - 02:28 AM
M.Ted 22 Jun 08 - 03:50 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Jun 08 - 03:50 AM
Stringsinger 22 Jun 08 - 01:22 PM
Gene Burton 22 Jun 08 - 02:51 PM
greg stephens 22 Jun 08 - 03:17 PM
Jane of 'ull 22 Jun 08 - 04:18 PM
Spleen Cringe 22 Jun 08 - 05:34 PM
Hamish 23 Jun 08 - 04:59 AM
GUEST 23 Jun 08 - 06:03 AM
Banjiman 23 Jun 08 - 06:37 AM
GUEST,TJ 23 Jun 08 - 11:50 AM
Def Shepard 23 Jun 08 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,A Hen's Tooth 23 Jun 08 - 12:13 PM
Def Shepard 23 Jun 08 - 12:31 PM
Acorn4 23 Jun 08 - 01:14 PM
lefthanded guitar 23 Jun 08 - 02:14 PM
Def Shepard 23 Jun 08 - 02:34 PM
GUEST,wordy 23 Jun 08 - 02:40 PM
Alan Day 23 Jun 08 - 05:36 PM
GUEST,wordy 23 Jun 08 - 06:43 PM
Suegorgeous 23 Jun 08 - 08:05 PM
Big Al Whittle 24 Jun 08 - 03:06 AM
Alan Day 24 Jun 08 - 04:10 AM
The Sandman 24 Jun 08 - 04:20 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Jun 08 - 04:44 AM
Piers Plowman 24 Jun 08 - 04:48 AM
Big Al Whittle 24 Jun 08 - 05:09 AM
Piers Plowman 24 Jun 08 - 05:24 AM
Bryn Pugh 24 Jun 08 - 05:24 AM
Hamish 24 Jun 08 - 07:17 AM
semi-submersible 24 Jun 08 - 02:21 PM
Piers Plowman 25 Jun 08 - 02:42 AM
Piers Plowman 25 Jun 08 - 02:48 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jun 08 - 04:06 AM
Piers Plowman 25 Jun 08 - 11:12 AM
Grab 25 Jun 08 - 12:51 PM
GUEST 25 Jun 08 - 01:59 PM
GUEST 25 Jun 08 - 02:19 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Jun 08 - 08:11 PM
Piers Plowman 26 Jun 08 - 02:55 AM
GUEST,guest baz parkes 26 Jun 08 - 03:20 AM
GUEST,Guest - "At Work" LowdenJamesWright 26 Jun 08 - 08:00 AM
Jim Carroll 27 Jun 08 - 02:00 AM
Lowden Jameswright 27 Jun 08 - 03:16 PM
Piers Plowman 26 Jul 08 - 08:36 AM
Big Al Whittle 26 Jul 08 - 08:49 AM
Piers Plowman 27 Jul 08 - 03:23 PM
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Subject: Is the music enough?
From: nutty
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 06:05 AM

I have often envied professional folk singers for being able to spend their whole lives doing something they clearly love but is it enough?

When the bills have to be payed and the kids want new shoes, does the satisfaction the job brings compensate for the hassle brought on by everyday living?

I would like to hear comments, particularly,from anyone who has thought about it and decided against or anyone who has tried and failed to make a living and also anyone who has succeeded.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Jack Blandiver
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 06:46 AM

Folk is about life, the everyday stuff, like making a living, invariably by doing something else. A lot has been said about this on Muscat, and no doubt will be again, but I get my folk in folk clubs, singarounds, field-recordings & other documentary / archive / experimental sources, and seldom, if ever, from professionals, though as a sort-of professional myself (albeit a storyteller) I am of course appreciative. When you hear that Peter Bellamy couldn't make a living in England as a folk singer then you realise something was, and probably still is, seriously amiss somewhere. With Bellamy's death, something changed, though I feel if only he'd hung on he'd be a national icon by now, held as he is high esteem by a new generation who would only be too willing to appreciate his genius.

The best of it resists commodification, it's just there in all its communal & empirical immediacy, functional to a collective catharsis providing essential release from the daily grind as it has done for thousands of years.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Acorn4
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 06:47 AM

I have toyed with the idea occasionally and was seriously thinking about it when desperately trying to escape from teaching.

The only problem is what would happen if something you enjoy suddenly became your job.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 06:47 AM

Believe it or not I thought about it once around 1986 when I seemed to be picking things up quickly and was enjoying doing floor spots. I had a pretty reasonable job at that time too.

It only took a few seconds to reach my decision which was simply that I wanted to keep music a hobby and I didn't want anything that might make it a chore.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 06:58 AM

It can be difficult at times,but the satisfaction that one gets from creativity is immeasurable.
for example yesterday I practised and played for nearly four hours.1 halfhour concertina, 45 minutes banjo,4o minutes fiddle,1 hour guitar,if I wasnt professional I wouldnt get this time.
it is my job and 90 per cent of the time I enjoy it.,it is also the only trade /skill I have.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 07:31 AM

I think for most performers to say that "the music is enough" it has to be a case of no dependents, or when the partner has a paying job or money in the bank, or (rare as hen's teeth) the partner is willing to forego normal comforts and live a life of uncertainty.

The few I know who can say that, like Vin Garbutt, are successful enough to be able to make a go of it. But go and count Vin's gig rate prior to his heart operation - I did: 180 per year. That's what it takes, and at Vin's rates too, to raise a family and put them through college, and hats off to Vin for managing it. But 180 gigs a year, what a punishment to body and soul! Snatching holidays as best one can, not seeing each other for days and weeks on end, travelling constantly, practicing in other people's front rooms...

But how many performers command Vin's rates, consistently year after year, AND have a Pat to hold the fort back home while she does all the necessary administration and marketing, unpaid, at the same time? In folk, the UK number is less than a dozen, I believe.

I considered it seriously for myself in 2005-2006, and that's when I did all the research and the sums. I worked it out that at best I could net £12,000-15,000 a year after travelling costs and tax. With a hefty mortgage still to pay (at the time) and a daughter about to go to university it would have been selfish of me to insist. Both Nessie and Aliki (my daughter), bless them both, were willing to try, if I wanted to. But I could not look them on the face if I did that.

And so Mammon claimed me.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Amos
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 08:53 AM

A manly decision, George; many of us has he claimed. :D But survival is its own reward. :D


A


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 09:10 AM

From the pen of Billy Joel: "I found that just surviving was a noble fight..."


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 09:56 AM

I 'gave up the day job' in 1976 , when I was offered a six month Gig in Bermuda ! Who wouldnt ?? I lasted three years , working mostly overseas until I got ripped off by a bar owner in Hong Kong , and went back to a day Job and semi pro !
Eventually . the gigs mounted up , and the Day Job went High Pressure
without a sensible pay rate so i took the 'Early' option !
With a Company pension to cover day to day expenses , and Gigs to provide the extras , I have been a 'Full Pro ever since - But I DONT have dependants , so its a LOT easier for me !


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 06:00 PM

My friend Adam Miller makes a good living as a folksinger. http://folksinging.org/recordings.html
http://folksinging.org/index.html

Trouble is today gas prices in US can put you out of business.
Everything is going up, food, lodging, plane fare etc.

Many people ask how to do it and when they get the information,
they don't follow it. Everyone has their own idea and is an "authority".


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 09:59 PM

The truth is that you have to do whatever will make it work for you. There is no one way. You just have to apply your ingenuity to the situation.

I think also, we all have different strengths and our god given talents take many forms. What might work for me, might not work for you and vice versa.

I think its wrong to look at an artist like Vin Garbut or Martin Carthy, or Derek Brimstone - and say I can't do that!

Maybe not, but if you genuinely want to do it - maybe you can do something - perhaps something Martin or Vin or Derek could not do, but you can.

Anyway that's what I think. But I warn you - it may change your slant on what constitutes folk music. Once it steps out of the library and the record collection, and it becomes what you do - you invest it with your reality. And the tradition is now walking down another lane.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 21 Jun 08 - 10:16 PM

I used to teach music -- folk styles on guitar, banjo, mandolin, whatever I could play, and it was ... okay, but not great. I played in bands and all, but didn't get many gigs to speak of.

It was getting to be a drag, and I told myself, "If I wasn't teaching music, I'd go crazy."

Then one day, having my days free, I started being a substitute teacher. What a revelation! It turns out that what kept me going was that I was teaching, and once I could teach something else and play music for the playing, the music became lots more fun.

So when it's your job, it's a job, and that makes it work. When it doesn't have to be work, it's play. And they call it "playing music," so it wasn't meant to be a job, right?

Bob


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Barbara
Date: 22 Jun 08 - 02:28 AM

Stringsinger, didn't Adam give up the wife and family to go with the music?
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: M.Ted
Date: 22 Jun 08 - 03:50 AM

A lot of it depends on what you think being a "folksinger" means--if you want to play only traditional songs, in a certain sort of style and only in the right sort of folk club, you'll be hard pressed to survive--but if you broaden your repertoire enough to play better paying gigs in with the more aesthetically satisfying ones, a good to great living can probably be achieved.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Jun 08 - 03:50 AM

Songster Bob - I can identify with what you're saying.

When ones talking about principle source of revenue - you simply have to think fluidly, and be prepared to find out things about yourself - your strengths and weaknesses that other men don't find. because they NEVER have to look that deeply within themselves - they never have to thnk what is this thing folkmusic, which is in my blood and which I must accommodate.

Also I think you must be prepared to do stuff that initially you wouldn't even countenance. You are literally a jobbing musician in a way. Like those old photos of black blues singers with a tin cup for dimes - you have to think on that level. What is going to make you stand out from all the other tin cup cases?

I tell you one thing. No one ever died thinking - I wish I'd used less of my talents.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Jun 08 - 01:22 PM

Dear Barbara, no, he did not. He has a solid and healthy relationship with a woman.
He gave up past relationships with a wife because it didn't work, not for the music.
He hasn't given up anything.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Gene Burton
Date: 22 Jun 08 - 02:51 PM

For me, it's more a question of music meaning too much for me to want to turn it into a job. Besides which, I tend to function better when I have routine & structure in my life.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 Jun 08 - 03:17 PM

I've always been a professional musician, I wouldn't know how to do anything else. But I am trained(by force of circumstances) to live on on a very very low income!
Being a professional musician has a lot of disadvantages, but at least you don't have to get up early in the morning five days a wek.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Jane of 'ull
Date: 22 Jun 08 - 04:18 PM

I've thought about it, because I've never really found a career that I love unlike some people who have a 'calling'. However I do think that to be a full time pro musician you have to be very driven and energetic, and I am far too lazy!

I've thought about teaching music, but I am crap at it! I just can't explain how I do things musically, plus I hate reading music and play mostly be ear.

As much as I hate the 9 to 5, it does give you structure and the money to do other things in life apart from play music!


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 22 Jun 08 - 05:34 PM

As a social worker...

No, I've said enough already.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Hamish
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 04:59 AM

{Name witheld just in case my memory is playing tricks} is my hero. Took early retirement and does a few tours and sporadic gigs and festivals per year. Great writer, performer and entertainer. But - if I remember our conversation correctly - he views the tours as a subsidised holiday. I think that's the model to follow for the vast majority of not-Kate-Rusby-or-Martin-Carthys amongst us.

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 06:03 AM

Now at 70, the kids doing well, I'm retired, no more day to day "have too", a few bucks to put bread on the table; the music is starting to flow again. Gig's are coming in. Life is good. Take heart young people. Take good care of today and plan for the future.

Lloyd70


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Banjiman
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 06:37 AM

As one who supports an aspiring singer I think we probably have the best of all worlds. I'm lucky that I have a reasonable job and Wendy is able to spend a fair amount of time pursuing her music. I'm more than happy to support this situation, I love what she does and I love to see the satisfaction that she gets from it. I get to play my banjo to an audience occasionally (which wouldn't happen if I was a solo "act") so I get a lot from it personally as well.

The music basically provides and pays for the majority of our social life (and a little more) but with the constraints of 2 young children is unlikely to do more than that any time soon. We have a lot of fun and the kids seem to love it when we pack up the car to head off (to use Hamish's term) on a subsidised holiday or to a festival.

So for us, yes, the music is enough.....but only because I have a real job!

Paul


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST,TJ
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 11:50 AM

Definition of work: "Anything you are doing when you would rather be doing something else."

If you love music, art or theater enough to be in the creative end, it is hard to give full attention to making a living at something unrelated. Yet, that is what many are compelled to do in order to pay the rent, or for groceries, doctors, school for the kids, etc. I was once on the horns of that dilemma, and never entirely resolved it until I retired. My son has had a band for nearly ten years, playing fairly regularly, but works full time to support his "music habit." Few are fortunate enough, talented enough and persistent enough to make a living with music, without some compromises along the way.

If you are a "starving artist," may God bless you and maybe help with the rent...


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Def Shepard
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 12:05 PM

I have a full time job, playing music isn't it.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST,A Hen's Tooth
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 12:13 PM

As one of the aforementioned rarities I think,for the musician I have loved for many years, there was no compromise, no alternative.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Def Shepard
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 12:31 PM

I don't see it as alternative or compromise. I see it in the practical sense of paying the bills, as I said, I have a full time job, music isn't it.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Acorn4
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 01:14 PM

John Tams, interviwed some time ago said:-

"You get the music free -you pay for the travelling"

Not sure how true that is!


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 02:14 PM

I'm sure many would disagree with me, but for a true artist, being creative is not a choice. It is a drive that propels you to pursue music, art, writing or whatever and wherever your muse is. I have heard that musicians and artists have an easier time of it in Europe, though this may just be an artist's fantasy.

There are every day 'working class artists' (John Lennon would have called them heroes) who work side jobs and pursue their art all their lives, never to be noticed. Some creative types are not cut out for the 9-5 world, to the woe and chagrin of their families and often themselves. (As the story of Vincent does attest)In the world of material acheivements, they don't amount to much.

And yet they create something that touches everyone's hearts,something true that is bigger than their lives.

Katzenzakis seems to propose that an artist can leave behind his(or her) muse and set sail, as if divorcing a demanding spouse. But if you are possessed by a creative spirit, there is no choice. You have to pursue your art above all else.

It is a gift, though not a monetary one. Alas.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Def Shepard
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 02:34 PM

First off, I take anything John Lennon has said with a grain of salt.
The rest is simply self - righteous nonsense.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 02:40 PM

I've been a full time pro since the 60's when there were 100's of clubs and not many artists. Today it's the reverse and I don't think the young aspiring pros will live the life my generation has when travel has been cheap. What prolonged our careers as the club scene began to fade was the advent of cds which we could make ourselves and carry to gigs followed by the expansion of the Internet which allowed us to have websites where we could market said cds worldwide without the middle men being involved. For the past few years I have had a bigger income from cd sales than gigs and now I do about 20% of the gigs I did in the 70's but my turnover is greater because of sales.
And believe me doing what you love as a job and not a hobby is far, far better than doing what you love as a hobby and not a job.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Alan Day
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 05:36 PM

I would never enjoy being a professional musician. An enjoyable hobby that mostly costs you more than you make out of it,suddenly becomes a job working for your living, your family and the Bank Manager.
The thought of travelling around the Folk Scene on a permanent basis to make money is initially tempting,but staying away from home for long periods,living many nights in Hotel accomodation is not as good as one would think.When I first started in sales staying in Hotels all expenses paid was wonderful for about a month,it then started to get a lonely existance,to the point of leaving on the light so at least it would be welcoming when I got back.The bloody boring people at the Hotel Bar,the rudeness of people because they are paying for a service. Then the Folk Festivals which, if you go with your partner it is great,if you go on your own the bits in between, when your not working, are also a very lonely experience.
Not for me,I will go to Folk Clubs when I want to,go to sessions when I want to,enjoy the odd gig with the band. Finally not worry about the Tax Man who wants most of everything I shall earn.
If you want a free booking ,then I am your man
Al


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST,wordy
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 06:43 PM

What's your day job Al? I work my own hours, where I choose, when I choose.I rarely stay in hotels, mostly with friends, although I generally drive back home. I meet fascinating people, make them happy and they pay me! It's been a deeply satisfying life that obviously wouldn't suit you. However,I don't know one of my fellow pros who would trade their life's work for any other.
The people who generally claim they would hate to earn money from their music are generally the people who couldn't.
After a lifetime on the folk scene I find the attitude that amateur is "clean" and pro is "tainted" which some espouse really is a case of repressed envy. I'm not saying this is so in your case, but over the years it seems that way to me. Anyway, I'm glad you've tried some of the experience and found it wanting, but I have to say I've never felt lonely as I've plied my trade, but I know I will when I don't.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Suegorgeous
Date: 23 Jun 08 - 08:05 PM

WLD - so, ummmm..... is it different for women then?

Sue


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 03:06 AM

I suppose not. Women - I'm sure have their own unique viewpoints. They're probably not as full of the anguished introspection bullshit as men. As a section of humanity - our egos permanently have manflu!

I seem to be unique amongst my fellow musicians in that I would never have chosen to be a pro musician.   however my wife got very badly disabled with rheumatoid arthritis when we were in our mid twenties. they were reluctant to do joint replacement ops for young people in those days as the artificial joints wore out - so for about fifteen years if my wife wanted to move as much as a couple of feet - there were periods when I was the one who moved her.

Remaining a teacher was right out of the question. You really are on your own in circumstances like that. No use telling the headmaster the reason you were late was you had to help your wife to the toilet - no use telling the sonofabitch I worked for, anyway! My union and social services were bloody useless. the union didn't want to know. The social servces wanted us to get off the property ladder that we'd sweated to stay on for five years and move into a council bungalow.

What we did was move to Nottingham in 1979, where we could buy this detached bungalow for 13 grand, and I set up shop as a pro musician. I'd been running folk clubs since forever anyway, and I was doing a few semi pro gigs - so it wasn't that much of a stretch.

I couldn't travel like most of my mates who were doing tours for the AnnDex agency in Scandinavia at the time. As I had to take my wife to gigs - folk clubs were out, as they were mainly upstairs, and she couldn't do stairs. And also by this time I was uncomfortable with 'traditional' music.

What sort of tradition is it that doesn't go back as far as your own parents and grandparents? I know it doesn't offend the intelligence of many in the folk world, but I tend to think that says more about the general level of intelligence than it does about the nature of folkmusic. I was determined that I was going to play music that at least my parents could relate to. Its not deep roots - but at least its my roots!

So deprived of the folk clubs as a venue. I had to look elsewhere. Pubs, clubs, making records, writing songs, the Irish theme bars were for good for a while, giving guitar lessons, and in the last six years of my working life I discovered old peoples homes - and they were my favourite venue, and favourite audience.

You can make a living playing music. I can't recall a time where I wasn't working. In fact as kids drift away from playing the guitar and get more into video games and doing whatever kids do - the actual thing of being able to get up with your guitar and take a stab at entertaining a roomful of people is making our generation more of a rarity than we've ever been before or since. We're a dying breed.

Yes I do regret doing what I did with my life. I don't think society saw much value in what I did, and rewarded me accordingly.

I think maybe I could have done something more sensible. However the world didn't seem exactly bursting with wonderful opportunities at the time, and I felt I was doing what I could with difficult circumstances.

If being a musician ticks the boxes for you, go for it. there are a lot of pluses to the life. You are self employed. By and large you enjoy God's great gift of the daytime, when other men are at work.   You drive home at night when the roads are empty and foxes and other night creatures come out, and you see them as you drive home. there are no deep relationships - if you don't like somewhere - do your best to be polite - and then split, and you're over the hill and faraway.   Leave the poor bastards who occupy that dreadful region of the earth to their private misery.

Never be jealous of your contemporaries. Your music is your possession (something other people only share) - you wouldn't want to be anything other than the musician that you are. For whether you want or no, it is yourself that the music expresses.

Get an accountant. I did my own tax, til the Inland Revenue investigated me.

If that sounds like self righteous bullshit like the other guy did to you. I'm sorry. But that's the way it seemed to me.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Alan Day
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 04:10 AM

I moved on Wordy to start up my own company and left behind the travelling and the nights in hotels.The good thing about the job was that I could do my own planning of routes and areas and I made sure that a Folk Club was on in the evening when I stayed away.I made many friends at the clubs,one being Dave Ingledew of Bursledon Village Band who had a little caravan on the River Hamble and he and I would play tunes late afternoon ,to meet up again at Southampton for the Folk Club.
It was good times.
It is always time to move on and not look back with regret.We learn lessons from past mistakes and good times and take them into the future.
You did what you thought was right Little Drummer and at the time for you it probably was.
Al


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 04:20 AM

what gives me the most satisfaction is singing and playing,putting up a good version of a song /tune on you tube,is as satisfying as doing a good gig,of course it doesnt pay the bills.
at the present moment I am keeping my brain active by playing /learning new instruments,crane duet ,anglo concertina,of course now anad again I have to go off and do some gigs.,What a nuiscance.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 04:44 AM

absolutely - like the French say, everyone to his goat!


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 04:48 AM

lefthanded guitar wrote:
"I'm sure many would disagree with me, but for a true artist, being creative is not a choice. It is a drive that propels you to pursue music, art, writing or whatever and wherever your muse is. I have heard that musicians and artists have an easier time of it in Europe, though this may just be an artist's fantasy."

This hasn't been my experience as an American in Europe.

I may never be a professional musician. I just wasn't good enough in the past. I've gotten a lot better in recent years, but I was never in a band. The only times I've played on stage was in junior high school. I've performed in front of friends, but it's been a long time since I've done that. I would like to perform, but I would hate the travelling. I think that aspect of being a professional musician would be easier in Europe than in America, but it would still be difficult.

What I really wanted to do was to make animated films, which to me are art, literature, music and (sometimes) dance, all rolled into one. If I had known then what I know now about the animation business, I wouldn't have tried to get into it.

I post to another internet forum for people interested in animation and when people ask about producing animation and trying to sell it, I tell them "Take your money, tear it into little pieces and throw it out the window. You will achieve the same result, but it will be faster." From all I see and hear, the music business is just as tough and the financial rewards are usually not great, except for a few people.

Everything seems to be very regimented, and this seems to apply to the music business as well. As for the art business --- don't get me started!

It has been a real struggle for me during the past years. I have a job now and I got an offer yesterday for another one, so things are looking up. I play the guitar and draw in my spare time. I hope someday someone other than my neighbours will hear my music. Nowadays, one can record oneself or make animation with computer equipment that's easily available and not too expensive.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 05:09 AM

Like I say the travel isn't really a necessity. I live near the M1. I can be in Leicester, Lincoln, Sheffield, Derby, Nottingham, Derby, even Birmingham, Leeds, York and Northmapton at a stretch - in not much more than an hour. Manchester in an hour twenty five - and like I say coming home through empty roads is a breeze.

Where there's people - there's venues and agents.
In my early career I used to think a sucessful gig was being home for the midnight movie! Mind you, that was in the days before satellite TV.

i don't think its very regimented. In fact I always thought of myself as having a bit of a bohemian existence.

I used to do extra work - as a film extra on TV programmes. In fact lots of folksingers did at one time. I never much liked that. You met some very rum types on these location shoots.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 05:24 AM

weelittledrummer wrote:
"Like I say the travel isn't really a necessity.
[...]
i don't think its very regimented. In fact I always thought of myself as having a bit of a bohemian existence."

I posted before I'd read all of the postings on this thread. I then read the rest (I think), including your long posting, which I found very interesting.

I come from the Chicago area and I was thinking about what have been, if I had discovered a more portable instrument earlier and had practiced as a teenager the way I practice now. There are lots of venues around Chicago where one could play, I suppose, but to get anywhere else you have to drive forever. I lived on the South Side for a few years, and it was a fairly major undertaking to get to the northern suburb where I came from. In Germany, one could theoretically take the trains, but they've gotten worse. From what I hear on the news, privatization in Britain was an absolute debacle.

What I meant about "regimented" is that one just doesn't get without the "right" qualifications from the "right" schools. There are classes and contests for everything nowadays. You hear someone doing cabaret on the radio and they've studied it in school and won some prize.

It's similar with animation. The people with the money don't seem to be looking for creativity and originality. Frankly, I don't think they would recognize them if they came up and bit them on the leg.

I caught the tail end of the great "folk revival" of the 1960s. There were people strumming guitars at school and religious school and summer camp. We sang "Kumbaya" and "Blowin' in the Wind" and "We Shall Overcome". I think maybe it had gone on too long. Being able to play the guitar would have been a social skill in high school or college, but I just didn't learn fast enough and was never satisfied with just strumming.

It was interesting for me to read what you wrote about "tradition". This is a subject I think about quite a lot (and on which I can Bore for England, given half a chance).


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 05:24 AM

I can't remember who it was who said "You can make a million as a musician, provided you start off with two million".

I toyed with the idea in the mid to late 1960s, but settled for 'security' (and, in those days but not today, boredom). I admire most of those who did have the balls to 'go pro'.

No regrets, though. I am as happy as a pig in shit, lawywering to pay the bills and playing music for pleasure.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Hamish
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 07:17 AM

Acorn4 quoted John Tams "You get the music free - you pay for the travelling".

That's probably true. Given that the gig lasts for a couple of hours, but it's often a full day's work to get there and back - maybe the next day - even what seems on the face of it to be a generous fee often works out to be a pathetic hourly average.

He could have added "You also get the practising, rehearsal, inspiration, etc. free". They also dilute the generosity of the gig fee.

And that's why you only do it if you're really driven. You do it cos you have to.

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: semi-submersible
Date: 24 Jun 08 - 02:21 PM

I heard an interviewer ask a successful sceenwriter, "What advice would you give young people wanting to become professional writers?"

He answered, more or less: "Don't. If there's anything, any amount of rejection or failure that can discourage you, then quit now and save yourself a lot of hard knocks." I gather, as A Hen's Tooth and lefthanded guitar suggested, some people create because there's art inside them clawing to get out. Others without a "calling" may choose more freely what part of their life their arts will take.

Lefthanded Guitar said of driven artists, "yet they create something that touches everyone's hearts." But it doesn't always touch others, does it? Some unfashionable artists get honoured by later generations, but most unappreciated art gets lost, which can be hard on the artist too. If music isn't feeding you enough to live, but you can't leave it and live without it...


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:42 AM

semi-submersible wrote:
'He answered, more or less: "Don't. If there's anything, any amount of rejection or failure that can discourage you, then quit now and save yourself a lot of hard knocks."'

I would discourage anyone from going into the entertainment business because it stinks. I always say that art and animation are great hobbies, but terrible ways to make a living, except for a few people. I believe the same applies to music, though there are differences and there is the possibility of finding venues to play. I'm glad people here have careers doing what they love and I wish them well. It seems like the opportunities have gotten fewer in the field of entertainment.

I made huge problems for myself by trying to get into it (and failing). To be honest, I think I could have been ten times better and still failed. It's like the old Starkist tuna commercial: "Starkist doesn't want tuna with good taste; Starkist wants tuna that taste good!"


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:48 AM

I remember when I had friends in high school who were in bands. There were some talented jazz musicians and they were getting gigs. One topic of discussion was getting a union card, which, if I understood correctly, wasn't so easy. I was discouraged from trying to go into a trade (which I would have liked to have done) because of the same problem. I have very mixed feelings about unions. At times, they have helped me, although I have never been a member of a union, but part of what they do is keep people out. I don't know why a high school or college kid can't just play a coffee house or a bar without hindrances. Maybe they could, I don't know. I wasn't in the position to find out.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 04:06 AM

You paint a very bleak picture Piers. Not entirely without reason.

There are is a lot rejection inherent in these professions. Its true. Often by people who should know better. Sometmes even by people taking wages from the public purse(like BBC dj's) whose job it is to show of the talent of the people of these islands - they're sometimes the very worst ofenders - doing nothing but promtethe wealthy cartels in our industry.

However - it must be said. theres a hell of a lot of luck involved. I didn't know about you. i was looking desperately for an animator about ten years ago.

I couldn't get a record release. But a publisher had paid for one of my songs to appear on a compilation cd. As a result the song appeared the Euro Country Airplay charts.   Now this is a definite foothold in the industry.

The only animator I knew, were some New York people who had done about ten years before that a low tech animated version of James Joyce's Ulysses - which I loved. I approached them, but they weren't interested.

However i really needed a video for my song. I never got it. Just on website it could have made both our reputations!

The song was Buster the Line Lancing Dog. Here is the page with it on. It was the Jack Hudson version which charted. I do a live version. But the Hudson version (called the Yank version on the webpage) had real commercial potential - who knows - perhaps it still does!

http://bigalwhittle.co.uk/id19.html


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 11:12 AM

Thanks for the link, weelittledrummer. There's no sound on this computer, but I'll listen to your song as soon as I get a chance.

Do you know the definition of animation? It's a hole in your TV screen that you throw money into. It is the most time-consuming way of making a film. People talk about "cheap cartoons" but there's no such thing. A lot of the money that can be made in the animation business comes from merchandising, which is why so many cartoons are more-or-less thinly disguised advertisements for toys.

I tried to get work at an animation studio (over 600 applications) as an artist and a computer programmer. I am the author of a free software package for 3D graphics which has been published in a fairly prominent place (the GNU Project of the Free Software Foundation). I thought this package and my portfolio of drawings might get me a job. I also have a degree in art, and that and 1.50 euros will buy you a cup of coffee. I've done a couple of experiments, so I'm sure I could animate, but I don't expect anyone to believe me without proof.

I can't afford to buy the minimal equipment I would need for cartoon animation. I have nearly everything I would need for stop-motion puppet animation but I don't have room to work. I used to have a studio and I still have lots of woodworking equipment and other supplies, but it's all been packed up in boxes for the last ten years. That's why I've mostly drawn and painted using materials that don't make much of a mess or smell too much in recent years. I haven't drawn in months, but I've written a huge number of verse parodies and practiced the guitar a lot. Both of these things would be useful for animation.

I prefer traditional animation with real drawings or objects and I'm not really that interested in computer animation. However, no sane person would do a perspective drawing by hand if he or she could use a computer to do it. That's one of the main reasons I wrote my program: so there would be a free package for technical drawing in 3D. A few people have used it over the years, but at present, I don't think anyone's using it.

Nowadays you could probably find someone to make an animated video for you, in Flash if nothing else, if you would be willing to pay the price, which might shock you. On the other hand, it's a tough line of work and there are a lot of people hustling for business.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Grab
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 12:51 PM

However,I don't know one of my fellow pros who would trade their life's work for any other.

Naturally. If anyone else could receive a living income from their music, they'd happily join you and your fellow pros! :-)

Thing is, as far as I can see there are two sets of musicians around, and whether you can make a living depends on which group you're in.

The first set are so monstrously technically talented that they will always stand out. They might not necessarily choose to go pro (even then, the money might not compare to what they can get elsewhere), but they have the technical ability to step into any band anywhere. Even if they can't find a band, they can always get a fair income as session musicians or music teachers. For this group, music as a career is a serious possibility.

The second set aren't in the "Premier League" talent-wise. Sure, they'll work on it and they'll be pretty good, but they're never going to be in the top flight technically, so their contribution is more likely to be by songwriting and arranging. If they can make a name for themselves in this (most likely as part of a band) then they might make the jump to being pro, but most won't. This group *need* full-time practise to keep their skills up to scratch and get the songs written, so if they want to play music full-time they either need to make it big before they get families so that recognition will keep them going, or else they need a spouse who'll work and support them, or else they need to wait until they've retired and have a pension to back them up. I'll freely admit to being somewhere down the bottom of the league table in this second set, myself - I'm waiting for my pension so I can go touring (in about 35 years time ;-)

Pro and amateur aren't "tainted" or "clean" for me, Wordy. However, I'm sure other people share my ambiguous feelings towards other people in that second group who are stood up on stage when they don't necessarily have anything outstanding to offer. Sure, they're better than most of the audience, but if they're not better than (or different from) you then you might not be as interested.

And yes, there *is* an element of envy in that too - added to the technical aspect, there's also the knowledge that if you happened to have a partner who could work to support you then you too could jack in the day-job, spend all day practising and start playing the clubs. Or if it's someone who's not that good but had some luck to make it big early on, then even more so - think of Dido for example, who doesn't write particularly good songs or have a great voice, but whose song happened to be chosen by Eminem as the backing for one of his hits and so found her way into the big-time when many better artists haven't.

And re the jacking it all in to do what you love, music isn't the only place where this is an issue. IIRC, James Cracknell (British Olympic rower) had to be drafted into Steve Redgrave's four at fairly short notice, and because he wasn't in the top squad he wasn't rowing full-time. He was noticeably slower than the other three initially, but the full-time training pulled him up to the same standard as the others fairly quickly. If he'd had that level of training before, clearly he could have been competing seriously for a place in that squad on his own terms, instead of only getting there through "dead men's shoes".

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 01:59 PM

I've been at it full time for almost a decade now. It's hard as hell to make it work. If you stop to catch your breath the world flies past you ... It's hard as hell to get anyone who doesn't know you to even consider you ... and the business side of music just plain sucks.

BUT having said all that; the music IS enough. The music does carry me through the other frustrations. The music is the magic that keeps me going. I love it and wouldn't give it up for all the successes of other careers.

But if you're thinking about trying it, just remember that you'll probably give up more then you bargained for. There's nothing fair or kind about the competitive life of a musician ... you can bring fairness into it but don't expect it, even in return. If you can accept that, then roll up your sleeves, shine up your motivation and jump in!


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 02:19 PM

I notice that I've lost my cookie ... and so while I'm somewhat anonymous, I'll add to these thoughts.

I've been on both sides of the pro and semi-pro, working musician world. As I said above, I've been at it full-time professionally for almost 10 years. After I had worked at a couple of years full-time, I noticed that there is much bigger divide between the two levels then I had noticed before. I hope people don't find this offensive, but when you work at it full-time, you are probably taking every single gig that comes along. Your musician and performer skills get honed to an amazing level.

Again, at the risk of sounding immodest - I know that as a semi-pro player I was a good musician and other players had great respect for my skills, but after a few years as a pro I was running rings around where I'd been before. The same holds true for my skills as a performer. Just knowing what to play, to whom, under what circumstances - sharpening the stories and intros - considering every aspect of music presentation. All of these skills are sharpened as well, when you're doing it full time.
Today I still work with and play with both pro and semi pro players - and I have great respect for so many of their skills in both ranks. BUT there is always a difference in the musical chops. Maybe this is just common sense, and maybe it doesn't need to be said - but it is something I was simply not all that conscious of before.

Jump in the deep end and sink or swim as a full time pro and your music skills will soar. Maybe that will only be important to you - but maybe that's where it counts the most.

anyway - I'm beginning to ramble.

... and I hope this is not offensive. I mean it as an incentive.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Jun 08 - 08:11 PM

Is the music enough?

A thousand times no!
there must also be sausages.....and plastic forks.....


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 02:55 AM

It sounds perfectly plausible to me that being a professional would lead to a great increase in technical skill. I've got the problem right now that the pain in my left thumb hasn't gone away. I've been trying to play the guitar without using any barre chords, but that doesn't seem to be helping. If I depended on playing the guitar to make a living, I'd be in big trouble.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST,guest baz parkes
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 03:20 AM

Quoting wee little drummer
there must alsobe sausages and plastic forks

And the microwaved Ginsters Spicy Chicken slice at 3;00 am at the motorway services....

Baz


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: GUEST,Guest - "At Work" LowdenJamesWright
Date: 26 Jun 08 - 08:00 AM

11 years ago after a gig (local only - then and now) a friend came up to me and said he thought it was time for me to make a choice - "You should take the show on the road and turn pro"

My reply - "You must be ***** joking - two teenagers to get through Uni mate!"

I enjoy the music (and freedom within it) too much to put myself through all that - and I place too high a value on married life - but bloody good luck to them that do


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 02:00 AM

I would guess that something like 99.9% of the people I have known involved in folk music did it for love alone and would never have it any other way.
Professionalism leads to greater technical skill..... hmmmm, that's a new picture to hang on the wall!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 27 Jun 08 - 03:16 PM

... but there are any number of "Professionals" who have only limited "technical skill" - and there are many who have considerable technical skill, but will never achieve professionalism... more pictures for the wall


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 08:36 AM

I wrote:
"Thanks for the link, weelittledrummer. There's no sound on this computer, but I'll listen to your song as soon as I get a chance."

Well, it's taken a long time, but I finally was able to do so. Thanks again; I enjoyed your song. I tried to listen to the others that you posted on YouTube (I take it, that's you), but for some reason I'm not getting any sound from YouTube videos on this machine. I'll have a go some other time on some other machine.


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 08:49 AM

I'll pm ya!


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Subject: RE: Is the music enough?
From: Piers Plowman
Date: 27 Jul 08 - 03:23 PM

weelittledrummer, it occurred to me later that you had posted the link because I'd brought up animation. I really don't think this song requires animation or that animation would add much too it, since the song tells the whole story.

A good rule of thumb with animation is "never use animation unless it's the only way of getting what you want". It is the slowest and most difficult way of making a film or video, because it must be made frame-by-frame.

I could imagine a video with a short sequence of Buster line-dancing, intercut with live action. Live-action mixed with animation has always been quite popular for one simple reason: live-action is dirt cheap compared to animation. The problem is, they don't usually mix very well.

I really think the song stands by itself and that animation wouldn't add anything to it.

It just occurred to me that a dog puppet would be just as good. Good puppetry requires a lot of skill, but a minute of puppetry is still a minute of film, whereas a minute of animation is 1440 frames (at 24 frames per second).


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