Author Topic: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?  (Read 1235 times)

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Ron

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August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« on: August 03, 2017, 05:20:37 AM »
I waited a few days for someone to post a topic of the month, but no takers. Oh well...


There's not much money available in the music world, so I doubt many of us make our living that way. Me? I've been a high school English lit. teacher, a government employee, a computer consultant, an income tax preparer, and B&B owner. I now survive on AOS (Old Age Security), CPP (Canada Pension Plan), a small bit of RIF (Retirement Income Fund) income. Every 4 or 5 years I work for Elections Canada at a polling station--which is a job I really like. My wife still works as a freelance medical editor (editing medical research papers for publication). She feeds me because I check all the citations for her for accuracy and format. So far I have earned $20. for my musical efforts.


So, how do you manage to feed yourself?
Ron
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tbmartin

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2017, 06:38:55 AM »
I browse and forage in the woods, looking for tender twigs and grasses.

Sales of my music have netted me perhaps $25. My day job is as an actuary. I've worked in the US insurance industry (or related entities) since 1985:

Aetna (Was Aetna Life and Casualty when I was there. They now do just health insurance)
Arthur Andersen (Consulting work. Yes, the one that got sucked under the waves because of Enron.)
Oxford Health Plans (an HMO/Health insurance co)
Conning (major business is bond investments for insurance companies, but that's not what I do. I write strategic studies about the life insurance, annuity, and health insurance industries)

My wife is a CPA and currently works about 10hrs/week at our church.

Since I'm still employed full-time, time left for composing and arranging is, alas, minimal. I expect this will be my mostly-full-time retirement hobby.
Terence Martin

Tools: Finale 2003 on Windows XP
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Goal: Improve quantity and quality of concert band compositions.
Play: Saxophones (all, but tenor primary), Bass Clarinet, Piano (poorly)

Jamie Kowalski

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2017, 06:55:02 AM »
I'm a programmer. A nerd from every angle!

Ron

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2017, 08:02:47 AM »
I'm a programmer. A nerd from every angle!

I would have been happy if they had left me alone to just write code, but I kept getting drafted for lower-level management, consulting, and systems management jobs. I was really good at figuring out how to convince a machine to do what it was supposed to do, not so good at convincing people of the same thing.
Ron
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Jamie Kowalski

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2017, 08:19:24 AM »
I'm a programmer. A nerd from every angle!

I would have been happy if they had left me alone to just write code, but I kept getting drafted for lower-level management, consulting, and systems management jobs. I was really good at figuring out how to convince a machine to do what it was supposed to do, not so good at convincing people of the same thing.

My boss asked me if I wanted to be a manager. He waved fat stacks of cash in front of my face. I said no.

Michel.R.E

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2017, 09:49:51 AM »
I browse and forage in the woods, looking for tender twigs and grasses.

This sounds very much like my mode of financing.

So far, I've been lucky with one big commission that paid very well, otherwise, I've made small amounts through my scores selling at the Canadian Music Centre, or my performing rights fees coming in from SOCAN.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Musicís main function is not revolution. Ė Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. Ė Jamie Kowalski"

MikeL

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2017, 01:33:30 PM »
When I first started composing in earnest seven years ago I had visions of becoming famous, touring the world and so on.

Laughable I know.

And so I continue with my day job as a management consultant.

I did receive the princely sum of $200 for a performance at Hamilton in Victoria but it cost ten times the amount to take the time off to go to the concert.
These aren't the chords you're looking for.

flint

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2017, 04:22:44 PM »
My primary job is statistical analysis and productivity for a large financial company, but I have fingers in several different pots there as well... website management, document production, communications. I get to be creative enough that it's not an awful job.

I also earn enough money from performing each year to make my taxes annoying.
"Music is like wine; the less you know about it, the sweeter you like it." - Robertson Davies

luke

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #8 on: August 06, 2017, 10:23:57 PM »
How difficult would you probably say it is to support oneself solely on composition? i.e. commissions, sales of sheet music/books, etc.
"The only love affair I have ever had was with music." -Maurice Ravel

Michel.R.E

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2017, 10:52:35 PM »
only a handful of composers, worldwide, make a living purely from their compositions.

Sales of sheet music generate the lowest amounts of money.
Performing rights can give a bit more, depending on the country of origin and the number of concerts and size of ensembles.
Commissions are the only major means of financial gain as a composer.

There are thousands upon thousands of composers, all vying for the same limited funds available for commissions.

I got a multi-thousand dollar commission a few years ago. And even at that, my faculty advisor from when I did my Master's degree has YET to receive a single paid commission. And I consider him to be one of the greatest living composers in our country.

Another composer friend who has been composing far longer than I have has seen major commissions refused by funding agencies, while frivolous requests for a few hundred dollars here and there for very minor commissions from amateur groups have all been granted.

If you want to become a composer, don't do it because you think you will make a living from it. Do it because it's in your blood, and you have something to say.

If you expect to make a living from composing, then go into film music or game music. But remember that even in those domains there is fierce competition and precious little work. If you expect to work in film/game music but write concert music on the side, just understand that you will have nearly no time nor energy to devote to garnering the required training for concert music while working on game/film music. The two fields have drastically different requirements.

I know a composer who has gone into game music (I believe he's written extensively for something called Warhammer 40,000? I might have the name wrong). He's written only a very tiny handful of concert works over the last 10 years, and he is basically doing the rounds with one of that handful getting regular performances and no time to really write anything else. (He's one of the exceedingly rare and lucky few who got a VERY complete musical education and learned the required craft to write solid concert works AND be able to write for games.)

I don't want to be a Debby Downer, but them's the shakes.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Musicís main function is not revolution. Ė Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. Ė Jamie Kowalski"

tbmartin

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2017, 07:19:35 AM »
If you want to become a composer, don't do it because you think you will make a living from it. Do it because it's in your blood, and you have something to say.

I think there might be another reason to compose: Do it because you enjoy the process.

I really don't know if I have "something to say." I would actually feel presumptuous to claim that I have something to say and people should listen to it. However, I enjoy the process of composing and the learning that comes from it. It would be great if others enjoy my end product, but for me, that's secondary.
Terence Martin

Tools: Finale 2003 on Windows XP
Day job: Actuary
Composing/Arranging output: mostly sax quartets
http://bit.ly/TerenceMartinSaxArranger
Goal: Improve quantity and quality of concert band compositions.
Play: Saxophones (all, but tenor primary), Bass Clarinet, Piano (poorly)

mjw58

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #11 on: August 10, 2017, 02:27:24 AM »

I definitely canít make a living from my composing.  :)

Iím an electrician. We have to document all we do as part of our job. Risk assessment before we start, we have to do a final inspection when we are finished and a declaration of conformity. All this to document that we work within rules and regulations. A part of my job is to teach how to do this.

I also do a lot of annual controls of electrical installations to verify that they are within rules and regulations. Measurements, visual inspections, IR detection with IR camera.

Composing is something I just enjoy to do. I donít have as much time to compose as I would like but I do it as often as I can. And with no musical education I often have to read about things.
But I like the process. From the original idea, all through the development of the idea, harmonization and listening to the final product. Itís quite rewarding when I struggle and finally get something finished.  :)

The money I get from my music is not worth mentioning.  :) But itís nice to see that people are buying my music and perform it.

Morten
Compositions: Wind band, Brass band and Fanfare
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EdSharpe

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2017, 09:51:30 PM »
Well first let me say I am sorry I have been away so long. 
And please forgive me if I update or reply to some old posts.

As for making money, like others here I have been in the software and computer world since the 1980's. 
Currently work for a very very large software and hardware company.

Ed

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: August, 2017: How do you support yourself?
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2017, 10:32:00 AM »
I'm retired. That's why I have time to study orchestration.
 
My wife and I live in Mexico on US Social Security and a small pension.
 
I was a toy company executive, founder and director of a theatre company, graphic designer, and jazz pianist.
 
My wife, Ann Decker, was an art director at Fortune magazine.
 
We live better here than we ever did in the States, and on far less money.
 
Cheers,
Jer
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