Is hard to make a living out of jazz? Are there any jobs out there?

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Matt Bo Eder

Guest
I want to make a living out of it because i want to do what i love for the rest of my life and nothing elses not because of money
Here's all you gotta do; get with mom and dad and ask them how much they pay for rent (or the mortgage) on the house, how much insurance is for those things, car payments, health insurance, and how much food, gas, and utilities for the month are. Then you find a way to make your music make at least that amount every month for the rest of your life. Then you can say you're making a living out of it and you're not doing it because of the money.

I would say by the time you're able to go out on your own (let's say, by the time you're 23) you would need to be earning about $5000 a month to be comfortable. This is an arbitrary number, of course. Lots of people live on a lot less, but let's hope for the best and you have everything covered and you're not lacking in any kind of creature comforts you have now.

Take that number you need every month and calculate out how many $50 jazz gigs you'd have to do, assuming they're even out there. What is that, 100 gigs a month? With 30 days in a month, that's about 3 gigs a day seven days a week.

I wouldn't do it for the money either if all that stuff I need to live just appeared out of nowhere ;)
 

KamaK

Platinum Member
I wouldn't do it for the money either if all that stuff I need to live just appeared out of nowhere ;)
For me, it wasn't so much about whether I needed the money to live on. Mind you, I was only making 30-35 as a guitarist in 1994, which was workable. It was whether or not I was making enough to build a the life and family I wanted. I realized that it would cost about 1000/week take-home (75k a year gross) to get where I wanted to go. When I put that in perspective, I would have had to double my income and efforts. At that point, I was already playing 10-12h a day, 6 days a week. Doubling my efforts didn't seem like a reasonable or sustainable option.

On OP's topic: Even though I was not a jazz guitarist by trade, I still had to play a lot of fringe/faux (I don't know the word for it) Jazz. Steele Dan stuff, VM's Moondance, and other similar material. Even stuff like "The Boys Are Back In Town" required me to fall back on my minuscule academic jazz training.
 

mikel

Platinum Member
I want to make a living out of it because i want to do what i love for the rest of my life and nothing elses not because of money
Im afraid that makes no sense, If you make a living at something you are making money out of it.

I love playing the drums and have done it for 45 years, but I also have to work full time to make a living.

As I say, be the best drummer you can be but dont expect to make a living at it, If you do you will be one of the lucky few.
 

SquadLeader

Gold Member
I want to make a living out of it because i want to do what i love for the rest of my life and nothing elses not because of money
That's a lovely dream.

Can't say I've ever had that one (tongue injected firmly into cheek).

Not going to happen I'm afraid. Time to get real.

Even if you happened to be a good musician, got lucky, hit the right notes and the right people, and made music into a career.....you're still going to spend plenty of time not loving your career choice.
 

singing drums

Senior Member
Jazz hasn't been much of a money-making proposition for 40+ years. By that I mean, not mainstream enough to support many full-time jazz musicians. In some major markets, the gigs (read: venues) are few and far-between, and you're lucky to get paid much at all.

New York City, New Orleans, perhaps Chicago aren't too bad, but L.A. is almost nil in terms of venues. Harvelle's is gone, and I heard that Café Cordiale is closing. That pretty much leaves the Baked Potato, and Catalina's as the 'major' venues here (someone correct me if I'm wrong.) But even if there were a dozen jazz clubs in L.A., that's still pretty sad for those trying to make a living in the genre.
...geez...and yet, the market for bop/jazz kits seems robust (for now at least)...
 
M

Matt Bo Eder

Guest
...geez...and yet, the market for bop/jazz kits seems robust (for now at least)...
We all think we'll be the next Max Roach causing the countryside in a station wagon full of jazz musos, speaking the bebop word ;)
 

DPTrainor

Senior Member
Here's a thought...we know that ideally we should follow our passion in life. But here's the thing:: People generally have more than one passion. It is not a singlular thing. So my thought is pick one of your other passions that is more likely to provide you with good income and make that your working career path (day job). Pick your Drumming passion as a side interest or hobby (night gig). Then you have a good financial life and still can enjoy your drumming passion for your entire life.. Best of both worlds, yes?
 

BrokenStick

Junior Member
Here's a thought...we know that ideally we should follow our passion in life. But here's the thing:: People generally have more than one passion. It is not a singlular thing. So my thought is pick one of your other passions that is more likely to provide you with good income and make that your working career path (day job). Pick your Drumming passion as a side interest or hobby (night gig). Then you have a good financial life and still can enjoy your drumming passion for your entire life.. Best of both worlds, yes?
Well said. And there is nothing that says one can't have a career that compliments one's love of jazz--maybe recording, musicology or music history, restaurant management (open your own jazz club) &c.
 
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