Monthly Archives: July 2014

a comment about money in music

I’m back! And I think the three or four people who read this blog deserve an explanation as to my absence. I’ve spent the first half of this year learning French and Australian Taxation Accounting (french for fun, tax because….I have no idea why I learned that, actually) and my spare writing time has been spent writing for Australia’s HEAVY magazine. Then I pissed off to England to grunt evil vocals about satan and headjobs with Akercocke’s David Gray, Matt Wilcock, and Voice’s Sam Loynes for an as-yet unnamed project, then I sailed around Turkey on a boat, then watched people celebrate Ramadan in Istanbul by shooting an infidel each evening from a cannon into the Bosphorus. That didn’t actually happen. It would have been awesome if it did.

Now I’m back, my plate is slightly less full, and I have a backlog of articles to squeeze out. But first, a word about money.

Professional suppliers of essential liquids for musicians – aka ‘Jack Daniels’ – are doing some video series called Jack Daniel’s Future Legends. The first vid I’ve seen is called ‘The Truth About Money in Music’ and has interviews with a range of Australian bands. Sorry guys, no metal in this one. For those interested, here it is:

Hearing them talk got me thinking about my approach to money in music, or at least how my views changed. I can do an article about how we ended up actually being able to squeeze some coin out of this squalid rock called ‘the music industry’, but that will be a later post. This is about something far more fundamental.

I remember when I started playing in a band, money was the absolute last thing on my mind. My priorities read something like this:

1. Create fearsome and terrible band
2. Crush all other bands, hear the lamentation of their groupies, put on horrifying gigs
3. Get hammered
4. Destroy everyone including myself

Money was nowhere to be found. I was merely satisfied if we blew the back out of a gig, and got overseas tours so we could terrorize more people. This was the state of mind in which contracts, band agreements, and all matters financial were decided for at least the next five years. After watching the above video, it doesn’t sound like I’m the only one who approaches things like that.

This is as it should be. No-one should start making music because they expect payment out of it, you should do it because you can’t freaking help it. First band on that filmclip perk up when they hear the board snap, and they can’t get over what a sharp snare sound it makes. That’s what it’s like walking down the street: you can’t stop hearing music in everything, and every normal task is getting in the way of when you arrive home and plug in and try and see if that music sounds as good outside your head as it does inside. 

However.

However, however, however….at some point, money will become an issue. And time is a linear thing, so while it’s passing by and you’re doing your band, you will be getting older. And money rarely becomes less of an issue the older you get, to put it mildly. And if your music is not making you money, then as sure as taxes, as surely as atomic decay, as surely as the heat-death of the universe, the time will come when you have to choose between being in a band or working full-time. You can always do music as a hobby, as I do with The Senseless, but at that point your income from music stops growing as does your band. These babies require full-time attention, dedication, and work to expand.

The point of all this is, you need to think about money from the word go. When you start a serious band the clock is ticking, and the longer you go without getting any sort of income from it, the closer you get to the day when you have to walk away from it all. And that is a fucking heartbreaking experience.

Make the music you want to make the way you want to make it. Run out there and put a stamp on the world. But the minute you think that you are even half-serious about your music, start working on the money side. There is no longevity without it.

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