Is The Life Of A Musician Glamorous?!

How glamorous is rock & roll, you ask?
Sure, anyone who has ever seen a big stadium show with lasers, pyro and huge video screens could be convinced that music is a glamorous business.

There's the years of tireless practicing alone in your bedroom while the other kids are out playing whiffle ball and "Truth or Dare", there's the endless quest to find like-minded individuals with which to embark on your rock & roll journey, the uncountable hours spent in your humble rehearsal space forced to keep playing just to drown out the obnoxious roar of a dozen or so horrible bands just down the hall,

And then there's the continual pestering of local talent bookers - because, starting out, none of them are calling to offer you that righteous gig opening for your favorite band. Noel Gallagher of Oasis said it best: "Nobody asked for the Beatles or Nirvana, you've just got to go out there and ram yourself down their throat." In the meantime, you play every Tuesday night gig at the Double Door or Quenchers that you can get, you get to be your roadie in the middle of a horrible snowstorm all for the privilege of playing to five people, and then having to shift right back into roadie mode at the end of the show.

All the guys NOT rehearsing, or NOT playing gigs are drinking a pint at the bar, chatting up all the cute gals while you wrestle your amp into the back of a P.O.S. Acura and hoping nobody saw you slip on the ice and go balls up just a second ago. This, of course, is after you chase down the guy who has your band's money who you see everywhere all night long, but who suddenly goes missing when it comes time to pay the band.

And those CD's and albums don't record themselves, either.

You immediately go from spending six hours a day in your bedroom learning your instrument to spending six hours a day in your rehearsal space writing new songs, then rehearsing them with the band, then demoing them, then cutting them in a proper studio, then having them sequenced and mastered before sorting out the artwork and handing it all off to a pressing plant.

Keep in mind that nobody on the outside is holding their breath waiting for your album to drop. If you were to wake up one day and call the whole thing off, nobody would give a rat's ass one way or the other. For you, it would bring a huge sense of relief. Think of all the money you'd suddenly have for luxuries like food and clothing.

And then when those boxes of newly-pressed CD's finally show up on your doorstep, you're not at the finish line by any stretch, you're at the starting line. Now you've got to go pester the few remaining record stores to carry your product while those who have chosen to forego the physical product route set up their CD Baby or Bandcamp pages in their underwear.

You've also got to seek out some media attention because there's nothing like a few nice reviews by music writers of note to flesh out that otherwise empty "PRESS" or "MEDIA" page on your website.

All the while, other folks hear AC/DC's "It's a Long Way To The Top If You Wanna Rock & Roll" and go "I love this song" while you turn it off because you're still living the bloody thing every day of your life. It'd be like the guy our gal working at McDonald's who changes the channel any time a McDonald's commercial comes on the boob tube, except they're making more money than you.

And yet there are those who continue to believe that rock & roll is all glamour and parties and that getting a roomful of strangers to come to your show is so fucking easy when the truth is that if you should be lucky enough and work hard enough to get to that point, chances are your road crew is still seeing more "girlie action" and making more money than you.

That's right, the unkempt unibrow running your sound is chatting up more ladies and getting a lion's share of the earnings simply because you need him a fuckload more than he needs you. It's enough to give you pause some nights when you and the rest of the band get to split the remaining $25 five ways.

So, to answer the question...YES, the life of a musician is glamorous, but GETTING to that point is the sort of hell you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy because there are no promises whatsoever that you'll ever see the glamorous part.

For every Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar on fire, there are literally a million others you'll never see or hear of, no matter how hard they work to get your attention. Walk into any pawn shop and take a look at all the guitars, drums and amps, but this time stop to consider that behind every one of them is a rock &roll dream that died a hard, cruel death and left each dreamer with no choice but to sell the very thing that could have made their dream come true.

Superior St. Rehearsal Facility


  1. What's even more depressing than the story you tell is that once you pass a certain age in the rock business, there's no (or very rare instances of) turning back because you may be too old to switch to another line of work, and you may be ill-equipped to do so even if opportunities pop up. And yes, with continued hard work and a good business sense, you might ... just MIGHT ... be able to live a modest working class life playing or teaching or recording music. And that's not bad. Not bad at all.

    It just that there are so many more talented musicians who do not have a head for business, or family members to help serve as roadies and staff at merch tables and such, who end up middle-aged, at dead ends, and with no health insurance. And an unhealthy taste for adult beverages.

    Now THAT'S tragic. And I'm not even a musician.