CD Baby DIY Musician PodcastI’ve mentioned the CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast on my podcast before, namely on episode 18. They have a listener line where you can call in and leave messages. In December, I was compelled to leave a message regarding their 104th episode, and they used it on the 105th episode of their show.

If you do happen to go and listen to it, hopefully I didn’t come across as uninformed or overly stupid. 😛 Kevin made the argument that nobody wants to go from getting paid 1 million dollars in a year to 900,000 dollars in a year. I can see his point, but I thought I would explain myself a little further.

Personally, I’ve accepted the fact that as long as I am doing creative work, my income is subject to fluctuate. Sure, it will probably see some changes (I’m keeping faith that it will increase significantly in 2011), but if it stays the same, that’s usually an indicator that I’m doing something wrong. Either I didn’t try anything new (bad), or tried something new and failed magnificently (good).

For the last 7 years I’ve survived on 9 to 20k a year; not exactly a sum that most people would be happy with. As an artist, there are certain concessions you have to make. For one thing, it takes time to develop your craft. You’re not going to be a guitar virtuoso, or a master wordsmith, or an amazing vocalist in a matter of days. Sure, most people have innate talents, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be developed. What this usually means as an artist is that you’re not going to be working at a paid job as much. You’re going to be spending more time wood-shedding as it were.

I can’t tell you exactly what the difference was in the years that I made $9,000 versus $20,000. In all honestly, I felt like I was working harder in the years that I was making $10,000 in contrast to the year that I made $20,000 (it could be that I was going down in a blaze of glory, as I mentioned earlier). What I can say is that – more than likely – if you’re an independent artist, your income is going to fluctuate. It doesn’t mean that you can’t live a certain lifestyle; it just means that you’re going to have to be shrewd about your money.

It should also be said that money should not be your only indicator of success. We all need money to live, and to continue to support our art. However, if it’s the only thing you’re going after, you might get disappointed very quickly.

Still, if you’re in a corporation like Kevin said, you probably wouldn’t be thrilled about taking a $100,000 pay cut. That I can understand. However, if like me, you’re an independent musician, a 10% difference in your income isn’t going to discourage you, or even mean all that much.

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David Andrew Wiebe
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