What do you do with a BA in music?
You don't have the patience to teach.
Arts administration was sweeping the nation
Until we wrecked our economy.
If you're not the smartest you'll be a starving artist.
I hope that you like waiting tables.
-- Me (circa 2010) -- Parody of a song from Avenue Q
As part of my senior recital back in 2010, I decided to create a parody linking 10+ songs together, poking fun at my major and my college experience as a whole. It was meant to be a playful string of inside jokes and oddities from my alma mater, but was honestly mostly a giant middle finger. Choosing to be a music major, and especially a music major at that particular school, was hands down the absolute dumbest decision I have ever made.
Some of you reading this are probably thinking something along the lines of:
"But Jamie, you love music. It's your passion. You have such a beautiful voice. You're so talented. You went into music because you love it. You should do what you love. Go on American Idol. I know you'd make it big if you just took a chance. Herpy derpy derp derp derp."
That's what you sound like. Simply put.......herp derp. (Before you decide that you hate me and that I'm a terrible person, read on. Well, I am kind of a terrible person, but read on regardless.)
I realize that escalated into offensive real quick like there at the end, but hear me out:
As much I appreciate every single person who has ever said those types of things to me, and I know it's coming from a genuine and lovely place, you can't understand why going into music is dumb unless you have personally done it. Don't get me wrong, music is my passion. Life would be really freaking boring without it. But going into music is about as smart as a naked man walking through a room full of cats who have not been declawed. Let that image sink in for a minute............
So now that I've offended some people by saying that when they speak, it sounds like "herp derp," let me explain. You don't ACTUALLY sound like that. That's mean. I'm a terrible human being. You're so pretty. (*pets your head*)
Music is just a really difficult career path. You spend years training, wrack up all kinds of student loan and credit card debt getting an education, and are sent out into the world with absolutely zero chance of "making it big." You're constantly undervalued and told "you should do it for free because you love it."
Now stop. Right. There.
Who on earth wants to do their job for free???!!! Unless someone is going to hand me a suitcase full of money at some point in the near future, there is no way in hell I will perform for free. Do you want to work your 9-5 for free? The time worked for a gigging musician is not just the actual gig itself. So you may see a musician setup a half hour before the gig (after schlepping their own equipment in the snow), play the three hour gig, tear down (schlep the equipment in the snow again), and that's their "time worked." Wrong. I have spent HOURS prepping for gigs. I'm not a human juke box. I actually have to select material, make charts for myself so I don't have to spend hundreds of dollars on sheet music (what exists usually sucks anyway), learn the damn tunes, rehearse them until I sound like I know what I'm doing, and THEN go play the gig. Only then does someone hand me a suitcase full of money. Except the suitcase is full of monopoly money. And they don't even let me keep the suitcase. Now I have no place to sleep. Thanks a-hole.
Most musicians piece together a stupid amount of part-time things to make a living, and are still considered to be right around the poverty line. (Hence drinking Old Crow on a regular basis -- ouch) Before I decided to get my MBA and get a "big girl job," I was teaching a ton of piano and voice lessons, running a church band, gigging with two bands, transcribing for a jazz organist, and waiting tables. Let's not forget the swell times I had waiting tables and relying on cheap oxygen thieves to help me keep my lights on. I'm not bitter.
The biggest irony of it all is that I wouldn't change any of it if I could. If I had pursued a different path that chewed me up and spit me out right into a 9-5 after college, I would probably be in a psych ward by now. Being a musician really sucks sometimes, but I honestly don't know any other way to live my life. And I don't want to. I am however completely fine with serving as a cautionary tale to future music majors......"Don't let this happen to you! Run! Get an education and training in a field that will actually pay you money!" But it's so true what they say: "You do it because you love it." But if you don't love it enough to bleed for it, get the eff out while you still can. I happen to love it that much. So I will continue to bleed for it.
And even though I openly mocked you earlier with the "herp derp" stuff, please don't stop saying those things to me. Except the American Idol thing. That's dumb. Please stop that. But the other stuff.......it helps to remind me that I not only stick with music because I love it, but also because I know that it brings joy to other people. And that's pretty cool. But if you book me and try to hand me monopoly money, I will cut you. (*Drops mic*)
I'm an "adult," or so I've been told. I do "adult" things, I have an "adult" job, I pay bills, and I drink bourbon and wine. I have great friends and family, an amazing husband, and generally a pretty good life. I have achieved many things, yet so little at the same time. I'm in my 30s, yet I feel more clueless than when I graduated college. This is how I "adult."