Are You Only In It for The Money?
I want to take a second to address one of my biggest personal pet peeves, and that’s when someone asks me or accuses me if I am only in it for the money.
In fact, it actually really annoys me when people accuse other people that I don’t even know in the music industry of being in it for the money, and I want to start by addressing the folks that say that stuff, and then continue on to address my fellow artists and entertainers.
So, for the folks that say that stuff, first, know that it is extremely hurtful. It is one of the worst things a performing artist will ever hear, and performing artists tend to hear it a lot.
Second, understand that no one gets into music for the money. Every year, Forbes publishes a list of the most competitive jobs, and without fail, every year, clustered toward the top of that list are art and entertainment.
What that list doesn’t include is that the mean income in these jobs is also lower than most careers, which means that the music and performing arts professions are more highly competitive for less money.
This isn’t a secret. Everyone in these professions knows it.
Third, it’s an insult to those professions. Music is a lifelong pursuit, and painfully difficult to excel at. Even the artists you may deem talentless are probably talented in ways that you simply aren’t aware of.
You never hear anyone saying, “Oh, I’m pretty sure that police officer is just in it for the money,” or, “That doctor is just in it for the money,” because we’re tacitly aware of the value those jobs bring to society.
When you accuse a musician, or performer, or entertainer of being in it for the money, you are effectively implying the arts and entertainment aren’t really contributing to society.
So what I would challenge you to do before ever accusing anyone in the arts of being in it for the money; take a moment and picture what life would be like without entertainment in it.
No music, no movies, no TV besides like, the weather channel, no theater, no YouTube channels outside of journalism stuff, no posters, no painting, no sculpture, no pottery, none of that.
Ask yourself, is that a world you really want to live in?
Now, for the performers, artists, athletes, musicians, magicians, dancers, entertainers, everyone who hears this BS on a constant basis. Get paid.
Don’t ever believe for a moment that your professional contribution is worth any less than any other profession, and don’t ever believe that you don’t deserve to make money doing it.
Just by pursuing the arts as a profession, you are taking on risk.
The reality is that most people making a decent living in almost every art are actually a slight minority. Most people are not able to make ends meet, and eventually have to find another source of income.
If your talent, dedication, or even just stupid, dumb luck allows you to get over that hurdle and start making a decent living, your return is already justified simply by the risk you took on.
I will give you a personal example. I make more than the average person in the performing arts. Someone who doesn’t understand this field might look at what I do, and go, “You make that much money and all you do is play with other people’s music?”
But those folks are not aware of everything that surrounds my field.
First, it took me legitimately over a decade to get to this point. It took about 5 years to even start making a livable income at all, and I feel I actually got lucky, and was able to move along faster than most.
They also don’t know I’ve been working a sound board since I was ten years old. They also don’t consider that I have no benefits, no 401k, nor are they aware I have an astronomical overhead, and that by being self-employed, I take on costs most people aren’t even aware exist.
But most importantly, no one considers the lack of job security. I am 100% responsible for my own income, and there are no guarantees, and I am not even talking about just getting work, which is a rollercoaster all on its own. The reality is I could finish this video, leave the studio, get into a car accident, damage my hearing, and not only am I permanently out of this job that I spent 10 to 15 years building, I also don’t have any other options for employment, because I’ve dedicated every ounce of my development to becoming an audio engineer.
So the next time someone asks you if you are only in it for the money, my advice to you? Confidently reply, “I’m sorry, I don’t grant free interviews.”
So rock on, you badasses. Until next time.