Can You Actually Make Money Playing Guitar Well? Anybody Here Plays For A Living?

Discussion in 'The Backstage' started by jayce1219, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. johnfv

    johnfv Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
    5,633
    Likes Received:
    4,198
    Location:
    Austin TX
    Yeah, that sums it up pretty well. Sadly, having a secure retirement is hard for most people these days, not just musicians. I've made reasonable money in bands (most of the money in cover bands) and in the studio as an engineer but long ago I decided the software industry was a better path for paying my bills. YMMV... props to anyone that can pull off a full time music career.
     
    Vinsanitizer likes this.
  2. Woods

    Woods Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2015
    Messages:
    709
    Likes Received:
    98
    Location:
    Seattle
    Throw a rock and hit a guitarist. Pick up a bass and drums and keys. Cast that wide net thing..
     
  3. saxon68

    saxon68 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2013
    Messages:
    2,059
    Likes Received:
    2,189
    Location:
    West Virginia
    This. The difference between those who make it and those who don't is the ones who made it never gave up. There's more involved, but that's the main thing.
     
  4. Vinsanitizer

    Vinsanitizer . Double Platinum Supporting Member VIP Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    Messages:
    29,026
    Likes Received:
    24,373
    For every one who "made it" there are literally thousands who "never gave up" and are now too old to make a change. Fortunately for me I wised up to that by the time I was about 32. I finally got some education in Computer IT and it's been a decent career for me. I can screw around here all day on and off, and still get my work done because I don't operate the way some jobs do. If I'd stuck with music and production, I'd be screwed right now. I don't know, everyone's mileage varies. I had the "dream" and my father practically hired people to talk me out of it, but I'd have none of that. But I think eventually you have to weigh your odds and if you're still driving a rusty car and living in a studio apartment in your late 20's, and you feel like the world is passing you by, guess what... it probably ain't gonna get any better for you unless you make some changes.

    To answer the "never gave up" statement - yeah, that absolutely worked for me during some harder times in my life, career, relationships, even a hobby or two. Perseverance can carry you a long way. But the secret is in knowing when to persevere and when to give up and make necessary changes. (In my opinion of course.)
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2016
    Boink! and Woods like this.
  5. jack daniels

    jack daniels Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2010
    Messages:
    6,697
    Likes Received:
    2,432
    Location:
    OKC, OK
    It would seem that's the direction that musicians presently are moving towards (cover bands). I've met and talked with Mark Benson (John Lennon) of the band "1964 The Tribute" and they do make good money although many musicians desire to be their own person and to play their own tunes.
     
  6. tone seaker

    tone seaker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Messages:
    3,099
    Likes Received:
    3,459
    Location:
    Where the Rock Rolls Hard and the Blues Rains Down
    I have done it for years and its quantity not quality to do it
     
    Biddlin likes this.
  7. flyinguitars

    flyinguitars Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2012
    Messages:
    3,008
    Likes Received:
    5,204
    Location:
    nj
    Oh and if you can sing, you edge out other guitarist who don't sing most of the time. Even if it's not lead vocals.....harmonys/backing vocals are a big plus. I'm not a lead sIngersoll bit I have great pitch and can sing backup/harmony. Lead singers love me...lol
     
  8. blues_n_cues

    blues_n_cues Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2010
    Messages:
    22,226
    Likes Received:
    20,114
    Location:
    Dixie Hollow
    did somebody mention talent? LMAO
    [​IMG]
     
    flyinguitars likes this.
  9. saxon68

    saxon68 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2013
    Messages:
    2,059
    Likes Received:
    2,189
    Location:
    West Virginia
    You're absolutely right there Vin. You've gotta know when to call it if you're not getting there. I meant, for the young ones, they've gotta press hard for what they're doing if they want a chance to "make it". It's rough, once you make a comfortable living doing something else and get into relationships or have kids you lose that "drive". That's why its hard to make it in an area like where I grew up, the ones who made it moved to an area where there was a thriving music scene. For example, Poison, had they stayed in Pennsylvania they wouldn't have made it. They moved to LA, their lead guitarist became frustrated and went back and they got CC, then they made it. Had that other guy stuck it out, he'd have made it..... then again would he? It's a crapshoot. I also heard Tracii Guns left Guns N Roses because his G/F at the time was frustrated with his commute to rehearsals and time away from her, he decided to make her a priority, left the band , and they blew up big. He was lucky, he got a second chance, B list band, but still more than many of us.

    I personally stopped gigging at about age 25, a combination of many things, band breaking up, getting serious about a G/F who I eventually married that was totally against me playing, but I was also getting into computers as a hobby. I was making decent money working in a factory, and to paraphrase a well known band :
    "And Harry doesn't mind if he doesn't make the scene, He's got a daytime job, he's doing alright"

    Fast forward 25 years or so, I move to VA, sell all my gear to finance that move, get a job in IT, buy some music gear again, and now getting to work on gigging again. I don't plan to make it rich, but it would be nice to be able to justify my purchases.

    Long story short, if you want to "make it" you've gotta press hard, make yourself sellable, and be in a good place to get noticed while you're young. Oh and one important thing....... write good songs. Write bad songs and keep working till they're good. Just because you can string some chords together doesn't mean people wanna hear it or buy it.
     
    Vinsanitizer likes this.
  10. Vinsanitizer

    Vinsanitizer . Double Platinum Supporting Member VIP Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2012
    Messages:
    29,026
    Likes Received:
    24,373
    You can become exceedingly rich and famous making music. I should have just said it from
    Oh man that was such an awesome post! :yesway:
     
  11. saxon68

    saxon68 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2013
    Messages:
    2,059
    Likes Received:
    2,189
    Location:
    West Virginia
    Yeah, I work IT for a school district now. I could make more in the private sector, but the stability and benefits are great. And it's pretty cushy honestly. Plus I'm not traveling anymore for work. Cant play in a band when you're traveling on short notice.
     
  12. Dogs of Doom

    Dogs of Doom Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2012
    Messages:
    23,560
    Likes Received:
    27,630
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    I've mentioned this before (in other threads). I think one thing people overlook is having representation. Once you're making enough money to afford it, you should have management &/or a legal representative. Many musicians think they can do it all, then get sorely disappointed at their own failures.

    Being a great guitar player does not make you a good:

    lawyer
    manager
    producer
    engineer
    etc., etc.

    but, many think it does & that's where they fall flat. Surrounding yourself w/ the right team is more important than learning how to play guitar...
     
  13. AAHIHaveNoIdeaWhatImDoing

    AAHIHaveNoIdeaWhatImDoing Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2014
    Messages:
    828
    Likes Received:
    335
    to you guys who did ten million different things to make a living playing music...were you HAPPY? were you having fun? thats whole point of all this right? would you rather have had a easier regular job where you could do what you wanted musically in your off time rather than hustle and sacrifice to be full time at music?

    and no im not trying to do that...its flattering when my comedy rock band doing original music takes home $30 at some bar. its SOMETHING. its validation. once we won $400 for being second place in a small local battle of the bands. that was pretty badass. i wouldnt mind a few more of those. i could go for making $100 a night a few times a month in an 80s/90s cover band in addition. beyond that? who knows. i dont eat/sleep/breathe music---once it starts feeling like a chore /work and stops being fun/a rush, i think i'd not enjoy it anymore.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2016
  14. Hogie34

    Hogie34 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2014
    Messages:
    561
    Likes Received:
    459
    What these guys said. For me, I've been making what I call "gear money" for the last 20 some odd years and guess what kind of s**t music I record guitar tracks for...RAP!!! I hate most of the stuff, fortunately the guys I've worked with have paid well and treated me very well .

    I definitely wouldn't try living off the money but it has afforded me the opportunity to network with some good producers and own some cool stuff . I think now it's easier to be heard but way harder to make money or meaningful money (if you're trying to make a living) . Bands are constantly breaking up these days cause the extensive touring to income ratio isn't there like it was in the 80's early 90's . The days of the multi millionaire rock star are over unless you're a label produced/manufactured musician or already established from the previous eras .

    Making a living at playing music can still be done but you're going to work for it. Big houses, multiple cars etc? No. Paying your mortgage/rent and car payment...yeah .
     
    tce63 likes this.
  15. EndGame00

    EndGame00 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2013
    Messages:
    5,314
    Likes Received:
    3,525
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    I quit gigging because I needed a steady income... If the band isn't generating any buzz even in the local scene, better call it a day... That was the situation we faced in the very late 80's to mid 90's... We missed the bus.. We were doing 80's cover songs while the Grunge era was in rage.... We were booked at least once or twice a month, but more often times we werent getting any at all... We were losing money on logistics alone... I just got married and needed a bigger place, so an 8-5 job was much more important to me than anything else...
     
    tce63 likes this.
  16. OliveFox

    OliveFox New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2020
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    4
    Playing well is not enough to make money. You have to be a virtuoso to make enough for a living. I learned how to play guitar when I was 14 years old. Truthfully, I practiced every day, and after graduation, I took my guitar to college. When I needed cash, I tried to play in local cafes and some clubs, but it wasn’t enough. I had to rely on the money I received from my parents for living or on my part-time job. I also play games for real money sometimes, when I need some extra cash. I’m glad that I didn’t play guitar for a living and have chosen another pathway for my future career. Still, we had so many wonderful evenings with friends, and everyone asked me to play their favorite songs.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2021
    tce63 and Sapient like this.
  17. Sapient

    Sapient   Silver Supporting Member Platinum Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2020
    Messages:
    2,373
    Likes Received:
    4,571
    Location:
    Yes
    Sure can. It's called a mirror gig. You play in front of your hallway mirror then the guy in the mirror pays you whatever you want. It's really quite amazing and lucrative for some. Can be a bitter/sweet career though.

    Hi @OliveFox. Are you new?? Welcome.
     
  18. Alter

    Alter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2019
    Messages:
    162
    Likes Received:
    316
    Lets wait to see how the virus plays out.. :) right now live music is bye bye i'm afraid!
     
  19. ido1957

    ido1957 Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2015
    Messages:
    163
    Likes Received:
    206
    Not too many around here ever made it past the bar scene back in the day. Today nobody even makes rent playing in a cover band. Some die hards are still going (well not during Covid) but they have sugar mammas
     
  20. Sapient

    Sapient   Silver Supporting Member Platinum Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2020
    Messages:
    2,373
    Likes Received:
    4,571
    Location:
    Yes
    Who ever aspired to be a "musician" though? I wanted anything and everything in being a Rock Star, and to be a great guitar player while doing it. "Musician" is a consolation term that came from the plummeting status quo. We would have laughed at that word in the day. A musician's musician I'll never understand.

    For me, making a living as a general "Musician" would be utterly painful.
    [​IMG]

    :2c:
     
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2020
    ibmorjamn likes this.

Share This Page