I see you, my friend. You’re an incredible musician. Thoughtful, dedicated. You went to the right schools and survived the years of practicing 6-8 hours a day in order to be as good as you are. You were the star student in your teacher’s studio, and then became a darling of the classical music world. You won competitions, auditions, everyone wanted to play chamber music with you. You were always kind, always prepared, and hell-you even played in tune!
And you were so happy. Your career was in full swing, doing exactly that thing that makes your heart sing. Traveling, performing, meeting new people. And between the concert fees and the masterclasses and the teaching you did here and there, you were making a decent income.
I mean, not an “I’m about to buy a summer house on the Cape” kind of income, but hey, you haven’t had to eat instant ramen for dinner in years! (I mean let’s be honest, you buy it sometimes because nostalgia. Instant ramen being the Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese of conservatory students the world over!)
Yeah. This sucks, right? All of your concerts are canceled, and orchestras are folding. The ones that are standing? Not going to have much of a budget for soloists any time soon. And chamber music festivals? The donors are too busy refreshing the tab on their IRA’s to write checks for Brahms Piano Trios right now.
Maybe you were actually one of the more motivated ones, kept practicing, and decided to do some free live-streamed concerts. You know, because LIVE MUSIC IS IMPORTANT, PEOPLE! And because it felt horrible to not perform for people. But what really felt horrible was doing all of that work, researching the tech, figuring it all out, practicing, promoting it, and then seeing your still empty bank account.
It was fun for maybe the first couple of times, and perhaps you even have a few dedicated Patreon Patrons, but those bucks aren’t going to pay the bills. Unemployment isn’t going to continue much longer, and everyone you know is talking about a plan B.
It’s downright depressing. All those years of hard work, and now you have no choice but to go and get a real estate license? (Actually, I have a lot of musician/artist friends who moonlight (sunlight?) as realtors, and they LOVE it, but that’s for another post.)
I get it. Your entire identity is built around being a performing musician, and you’re not going down without a fight. The idea of giving up and going into a different career is just too much to bear.
At the same time, though, it would be nice to not wake up in the middle of the night EVERY night worried about how you’re going to make ends meet.
You have my permission (and the world’s permission, for that matter) to figure out a way to make money come your way while you are not performing. AND I give you permission to retain the identity of “PERFORMER” while figuring out some other ways to bring in said money even if you are not PERFORMING. This can be temporary.
No one will think less of you. Take it from me, they will call you a lot of things, but none of them are mean. Some of them are quite nice, actually! “Entrepreneurial”, “Forward-thinking”, ” Business-minded” and my favorite: “Smart”.
Because it is smart to take care of yourself. It’s smart to make sure that you can keep living in your home, that you can put food on the table, and that you can continue to save for your retirement–even during a pandemic.
What is not smart is allowing your talented-self to crumble into oblivion because you are afraid of being seen as “not having enough concerts and being forced to make money another way.” Guess what…no one is ever thinking about anyone long enough to have that thought, and even if they had loads of time to obsess over your life? They’re still not thinking that.
So, whatever it is…I’m sure you’ve got secret superpowers. Just think back to those first-day-of-festival orientations when you had to tell everyone what your non-musical talent was. I hear that guy with the Rubik’s Cube is Killin’ it!
I mean, look, it doesn’t have to be forever. It could just tide you over until the concerts come back. It could also be really fun and satisfying and turn into something that you want to continue doing. Who knows…
It could buy you that house on the Cape.
Do it! Permission granted.
P.S. If you’re thinking “Gee, Kate, I’d LOVE to have some monies coming my way right now, but I have NO IDEA what to do, or where to start because the only thing I know how to do is play my instrument” let’s hop on a quick call and I’ll help you brainstorm a bit. We’ll have a coffee, we’ll chat, it’ll be fun. You can pick a time right here.
P.P.S You might also want to check out my “Build Your Best Life Blueprint”. It’s a (very pretty, I think!) PDF that will help you unearth those super-secret superpowers that have been hidden since the first day of Aspen ‘96.