Raise your hand if you feel like you’ve been f***ing up your career as an artist.
Maybe it’s on occasion, maybe it’s constantly (like me), but something I’ve noticed across the board for us musicians and artists and creative types – we constantly feel like we’re not reaching our full potential and therefore screwing it all up.
The notoriety, the accolades, the prestigious placement at the school of our dreams, the career we thought we’d have vs the career we’re currently “stuck with until we can figure it out”, the lack of commissions we’d hope we’d have by now, the sheer confusion of networking in a pandemic-stricken world…
It’s a lot to process.
And as if all of that wasn’t quite enough, I’m going to take it a step further and argue – we were destined to fail from the start.
1.) Career Services
For anyone that’s pursued a degree in a college of performing arts – music, art, dance, etc – what were your career fairs like?
You may be laughing as you read this thinking, “what career fairs?? Lol”
And that’s how it was for me.
I value the musical education I received at my university but they didn’t do sh*t as far as helping me prep to be a musician in the real world. Every career fair was for every other college within the university system. I naively checked for music opportunities at every single one but it was always a huge no.
At most I received a hearty laugh from booths at the job fairs when I told them my degree, “Well when you wanna get serious about your life, look us up, lol.”
On the converse, my peers in the sciences, and world of health and finance had ample help and opportunity from the university to get a job – and many had interviews at the university with prospect companies before they even graduated.
And you may be thinking, well duh, what career opportunities does a music composer even have? Of course there wasn’t a career fair for musicians! Get a life you liberal snowflake!
But also, what the hell? Why is it that we look at artists in a different light? As if we don’t consume the radio, music, concerts shows, magazines, news, and entertainment around us. I don’t blame the U of M in particular for the lack of help they give to musicians. I blame the view of the arts in general by western society. I blame the mindset of, “f*** you if you want to be an artist. Go figure out your own damn path. Make your own damn way.”
So (1) you probably feel like your failing because your peers had more opportunities available than you, and you didn’t just know instinctively how to go out and make your own way. How dare you not know what you don’t know.
2.) Rent money
When I was 23 I noticed my first gray hair. I was trying to figure out how to gain quality employment and pay for my rent. And groceries. And my cell phone bill. And clothes when they started getting holes in them. And a little fun here and there.
I had a f*** of a time trying to find work when I graduated college. I ended up working multiple part time jobs because full time opportunities were hard to come by – especially since I was overqualified with a bachelors degree.
The age old adage of “go to school for a good job and good life” is no longer a universal standard. In many cases,
Education = (debt + possible opportunity) x (high cost of living)*
*I’ll let you do the research on the notion that millennials are the first generation to be poorer than their parents…
And for artists who enter the workforce with a bachelors degree or higher, it becomes damn near impossible to find work that pays you well enough to pay back your loans, afford a place to live, buy yourself the necessities and dare to have a little fun every now and then.
So (2) we further feel like we’ve f***ed things up because we struggle with finding the opportunities or jobs we thought we would – and our student loans were much higher than previous generations could fathom.
Oh and also, have you ever tried to pay rent with a minimum wage job? I wasn’t kidding when I said I got my first gray hair at age 23.
3.) Art = Hobby
On top of selecting the “wrong” path for a stable career and falling short of the expectation that we’d get a decent job right out of college, we had the audacity to want to make a career out of being creative…..
In the eyes of where I grew up – Western American Society – art and music are really just considered hobbies.
Anything outside the box is a failure, and you deserve what you get for not having a high paying job.
Ok maybe it’s not that explicit, but when you’re 26 with a masters degree and you’ve been turned down by your 28th job application for an entry level admin assistant position because you’re now over qualified- you sure as sh*t feel like a damn failure for wanting to be a music composer and have a life too.
So this brings me to my 3rd point – you’re f***ing it all up because you didn’t conform, and a failure for not seeing flawless success within the system constantly screaming at you to ‘just get a job’.
(How dare you aspire for more!!)
4.) Music Composer Smackdown
Ok now I’m just having fun with these headers.
On top of all of this, one of the only ways I knew of (back in the day) to earn money and network as a music composer was to apply for composition competitions and hope that I’d win.
Not only did I feel like a pile of garbage because I was struggling with everything else I mentioned, I felt that if I didn’t apply for competitions I was f***ing up my chance to “get noticed” and build my portfolio as an artist.
When I could afford to, I’d shell out $50 I didn’t have to enter a competition that I likely wouldn’t win.
And each time applied and got rejected, I felt like an even bigger failure.
So point number 4, you’re f***ing it all up because you’re not winning accolades and prizes from music competitions. (Why did you chose to do this music thing again?)
It’s all a wild journey
Lastly, I just want to tell you that you’re not fucking it all up. You’re not.
You’re hella courageous for following your dreams, and even daring to have them. The world needs more artists, and America needs to normalize the artist’s journey. It starts with you, me, us, talking about it and changing it for the next generation.
Because even though I’ve lived through each and every one of these mind sets, my dream to be a music composer refuses to die. I don’t see it as a race against time or a competition against my friends. This is my own funky, wild, weird journey – and I’m here for every second of it. I will make this dream work in the only way I know how: figuring it out one piece at a time.
That said, I supremely enjoy ‘failing’ in every sense of the word. I have too many hobbies to count, and I love this insane journey I’m on.
I’m here to help you push past these feelings of failure too. If you can relate to any one of these and are feeling that sh*tty “stuck” feeling, hit me up for a free consult call. I’d love to see if I could help you live your best life on your own wild journey.