Professional musicians come in all shapes and sizes. They perform a variety of tasks to make a living, from performing at events to recording music for commercials. If you love music, being a professional musician can be a fulfilling lifestyle. But that lifestyle also comes with serious risks and financial considerations.
Advantage: Doing What You Love
Presumably, if you want to be a professional musician, you love music, you love playing music and you love performing. As a professional musician, you can earn money doing what you love. While being a professional musician is still work, and often very hard work, it's work you're passionate about, as opposed to an office job pushing papers about which you couldn't care less.
Disadvantage: Making a Living
Like any job in which you are self-employed or freelancing, making a steady living as a professional musician is uncertain. Until you build a steady client base or release a hit record, times can be difficult. Unlike salaried positions, you won't be receiving a regular paycheck and your livelihood is by no means guaranteed. That means you'll have to work harder, work smarter and plan for times when work is scarce or entirely unavailable.
Advantage: Being Your Own Boss
As a professional musician, you are in control of your career. While you'll have to negotiate with clients and record executives, you determine when you work, where you work and who you work with. In fact, while work is not always certain, you have far more control over your own success than at a salaried position with a traditional boss. Unlike some conventional jobs, how hard you work, how much you practice your instrument and how seriously you pursue your musical education all increase your chances of success and how much money you make.
Disadvantage: Unclear Returns
While being your own boss and doing what you love are some serious perks, many conventional jobs offer clearer returns on your efforts. Unless your company downsizes, firms can offer you a clear advancement track, higher salaries as you become more experienced and a solid safety net of health and retirement benefits. As a professional musician, few of these things are guaranteed. Even if you make a lucrative career performing or writing music for commercial use, you may never hit it big or record the song of your dreams. Even after years in the business, you may still be at the same level you started at.
- Polka Dot RF/Polka Dot/Getty Images