Ask Fan Landers: Will My Band Always Be Broke?

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Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her -- confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.


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I am in a small, struggling band. We have been together for two months and we want to get our music out there and try to start booking local shows. The major problem is that we are all being kicked out of our houses soon, but we want to prove to our parents that we can make some money off of being in a band. How can we make some money off of playing and doing what we love? Any suggestions?
Stereo Type

See also: Ask Fan Landers Britt Daniel of Spoon: How Do I Get A Big Name Producer For My No Name Band?

Stereo Type,
Being in a band to prove anything to your parents beyond that you are capable of forming a band is a really bad idea. Period.

Even the coolest parents are worried about their kids in bands because music is a pursuit where the frustrations are many and the rewards can be slow-coming. Maybe they're pissed because they expected you would do something other than music. Maybe they read that Grizzly Bear article about how it has become increasingly more difficult for musicians to make a living and they are concerned that your band being a full-time pursuit will mean that you are going to live in their house forever--as they should be.

I am not telling you the following to discourage you, but rather to keep you from fighting with your parents or pursuing a dream simply because you have some bad information: in 2013, it is extremely difficult to make a living as a musician, regardless of what kind of music you make or how good you are.

It is super hard to make money as a local band, let alone enough for an entire band to live off of. Two months is way, way too soon to even be considering how you might make money off your band. You may not get a show that pays more than $20 in your first year of regular gigging, even if your band is fronted by someone who is super hot and/or you can get more than 12 friends to come see you play. It is very unlikely, even if your band is the second coming of Grimes, that once you divide your pay between band members that you could buy two gallons of gas AND a Happy Meal and not have to dip into your own funds to pay for them.


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1 comments
PanurgeATL
PanurgeATL

If I had to do it all over again, I would've practiced until I could get a job with another band.  All my friends eventually fell out of it, and I wasn't actually on the same page as them musically (we thought we were close enough, but no).  Becoming a careerist (for a while, anyway) can get you admission to a larger community of local musicians; that way you might be more likely to find your real musical soulmates (or at least colleagues).  


But I've made an utter hash of what would've been my life as a musician; I can only tell you not to do what I've done.  So don't listen to me too hard regarding what you <i>should</i> do.  Just always make time for your own music.  Use your music-for-money as your training, both as a musician and as a performer.  Then, when the time comes to step out on your own, you'll be ready.

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