I don’t really know what I’m talking about this month so I thought instead of writing anything about my job or harps, or gardening or owning a house or any of my other (there are none) hobbies (or which, again, there are none). I thought I would share with you some of the questions I have when I’m lying in bed at night as a scared, frustrated and worried little 24 year old free-lance musician.
They are not nice thoughts, so if you want to continue feeling good I suggest you skip this blog and read next month’s entitled ‘How Ole Sammie Got Her Groove Back’ or something.
1) Am I progressing or am I in exactly the same place I started?
This one is a tricky one because as a musician, you’re accomplishments are basically completely intangible. You can make recordings and videos etc but the main brunt of your work is simply ‘improving as a musician and performer’ which are not tangible things. If you worked in an office, a clear sign you were doing well would be that your pay would go up and you would also get promotions and move in the company. However, there are so many ups and downs as a Musician (and even just a free-lancer) that it’s actually tricky to tell if you’re doing better or worse. One year you may have a full-time residency, then you lose your residency but still, somehow end up earning more and working less than when you had it! Similarly, you may never do concerts anymore but you may be a lot better at performing than you used to be. So, as long as you are growing and developing, the answer is always ‘yes’. Even if you’ve had no solid work and feel like you’re stuck and never getting out, you’re doing better.
2) Why haven’t I found my audience yet?
I genuinely don’t have a good answer to this, I have a condescending mean-spirited answer towards myself, which is always ‘BECAUSE YOU NEVER GET OUT THERE AND DO THINGS?!!?!?’ but then I remember that I busk like 3 times a week and that’s not really a good enough reason. It takes time… I’m making music not memes!
3) Where did all my money go?
This one I ask myself every.damn.year. and between paying for all the expenses of life, and what I can actually afford to save, there is not much left over. Also, being a small business, turning an actual profit is tricky and you will spend the first few years just trying to keep going! (Also, it helps if people pay you promptly! I can not stress this enough! If clients sent me a payment the day of the event I would never worry about this at all! and in fact, during my residency the fact that at times the hilton would owe me £800 would come as a complete surprise to me after struggling to pay my rent for two months!)
4) I would get more work if I was thin.
I genuinely believe this, and I’m sure one day I will get tired, lose a bunch of weight and people will think I’m amazing or something. but until then I’m just gunna keep trying my hardest…
5) Will I ever actually just be able to work inside instead of busking?
My goal is just to be able to stop busking at 30, I just want to have developed enough of a career that I can work inside… that’s all I want… and to not have to carry around a harp all the time…
6) I’m never getting out of here.
This is not really about ‘here’ as in a place, this is about ‘here’ as a career. I have very limited prospects. I’m not 100% sure what my next step is, whether I could go into Opera, Musical theatre, or even train formally as a harpist and get into an orchestra (which is apparently all anyone things harpists do…).
But, I’m been making a decent living off my Bmus and I have time to decide on a proper career path so I’m not too worried about that. My worry is about my equitment and my actual work. I just want to be able to play on instruments I really like, I absolutely hate my big harp, it’s useless for gigs because it’s so quiet but with ridiculous string tension that gives you absolutely nothing in return… So my second worry is that I will be stuck playing this instrument for years until I can finally get something that works for me.
7) Do I hate my job?
yes… maybe… who knows… sometimes… doesn’t everyone… why do I never smile when I’m playing events…I should smile more and pretend I’m having fun at work.
8) Will I ever be respected enough at work?
I am so sick of children running into my harp at weddings, and middle-aged women thinking I’m some sort of charity case that needs to be ‘helped out’. Does my talent not speak for itself, and if it does, then is THIS what it’s saying about me?
9) When will I be famous enough that people will never ask me to work for free?
The answer to this is ‘NEVER’, in fact if I get more well known I will probably get asked to work for free all the time…
10) Why don’t I have more friends?
I feel like whenever I’m with people it’s just a performance… I don’t like having to make conversation and it’s exhausting trying to think of clever, funny and insightful things to say. I just wanna sit in my office alone and only communicate via email.
11) Why don’t I have more friends who are musicians?
This is a strange one because I’m a harpist with the training of one of those sad guitarists but a singer with the training of an actual singer, so where do I fit in? I’m such an in between ‘proper musician’ and ‘guy who knows four chords on a guitar’…
12) Will I ever find my ‘crowd’?
I’m still looking for the group of 20-40 year old free-lancers who all hang out together and go to fun and fascinating events and cultural gatherings together. Where are those people?
13) Am I WASP-y?
Well… I’m definitely passive aggressive and I don’t like to be touched…. sooo yeah sure. There are worse things you could be…
14) I spoke to about 3 people who all knew who I was this week and I have no idea who they are….. What’s wrong with me that I can’t remember faces or names?
honestly, maybe this is just practice in case you get super famous and everyone knows who you are…? I guess… *Shrugs* OR, you are a terrible person, you need to put more effort in when you meet other people, it’s no wonder you’re a sad loner.
15) Why Did I let that woman take all the chairs from my table?
I went to a concert yesterday and they had tables so I sat down expecting someone to come sit one the table too as it was a pretty good view and a woman came up to me and asked if she could take a chair. Next thing I know I’m sitting alone at a table in a crowded room.. This is a large 4 person table with me on the only chair… Why did I not say ‘oh, you’re gunna take all the chairs and make me look like an anti-social loner who masterminded some insane plan so that they wouldn’t have to sit next to anyone else at this crowded concert… ok great, thanks.’ I don’t know, it just felt selfish and exclusionary to take a bunch of chairs instead of just sitting at the table… I’m complaining about nothing here, let’s move on.
16) Do I hate everyone?
Seriously though, is hating everyone just a trait in my personality? I get that I’m competitive by nature and I would probably win a hunger-games style event due to that alone. But, why don’t I like a lot of people? I’m so judgemental and mean all the time… it’s no wonder I don’t have any friends.
17) Do people understand me?
like, when I talk… do I actually get my points across? my biggest fear is people not understanding what I’m trying to say. And it really weirds me out when I talk to people and they don’t understand me (this is not a ‘Do you speak English?’ thing, this is a ‘Does what I say make sense to you?’)
18) Should I get an office?
No… I’m not that busy.
19) What If I’m never busy enough to need an office?!
a valid fear.
20) If I close my eyes and lie really still, why can’t I get to sleep?
Seriously, I just lay there for hours in complete silence waiting for dawn to break half the time.
21) Am I too angry?
22) Am I not angry enough?
23) Do I sound good or do people just pay me because they feel sorry for me?
no joke, I genuinely had a theory that my parents for paying for the Hilton to have me for my residency. I don’t want to know if it’s true or not, but it’s a solid theory!
24) Do I really want this?
Is this really what makes me happy or have I just made it so that getting a different job would be awful?