Youngstown, OH

Just curious what some fellow chip musicians do to survive. I've recently come to a fork in my life where I choose between pursuing music full-time further or abandon it as a day job to pursue something more practical, like IT or something. I've been going to a state university for theory and composition of music the last four years, composed string quartets and generally excelled in my courses buuuut the university system doesn't work like that I suppose. So far I've been eeking out a starving artist's wage through teaching guitar, composing for video games, doing session work and selling music online. Definitely not enough to live on yet, though. Anyone doing this smarter than me?

Last edited by sleepytimejesse (Mar 29, 2013 2:07 am)

Alive and well in fucksville

Get your works published. Form an llc and write any and all music related expenses off your taxes. of course you have to have enough income to cover expenses. But you will get the money back whether your business grows or fails. protect your assets. I do massage and plan to have a ton of tuning forks for my practice all as business expenses.

Last edited by bitjacker (Mar 29, 2013 2:17 am)

Santa Cruz, California

I'm once again the Mod/Repair tech at Level Up Video Games in Santa Cruz CA.
Hoping to change careers by the end of the year and be a full time youtuber... and hopefully have my chip music reach a level worth listening to.


I'm still in high school.

Philadelphia, PA
sleeptimejesse wrote:

Anyone doing this smarter than me?

It's tough out there really.  As bitjacker said, you really need to generate income in general so that you have a greater ability to write off expenses at the end of the year.  That's really key.  It will make the money you get for writing pieces/royalties soooo much more powerful.  There's nothing better than meeting with another artist for lunch and knowing that your bill will be written off because it was "a business meeting" haha!

There's money out there... not much but you can make it if you are smart.  If you managed to get your education for very little money (IE scholarships and stuff), it will make things a lot easier.  Students loans are a major drag.

I decided to continue and pursue my MMus and I find that it has opened more doors... though poorly paying doors.  Still, I manage to cobble together composition, college teaching, private lessons, and some freelance work to make a respectable career.  You just gotta be open to working some "day jobs" to fill in the cracks- even if that's being a bartender or doggie daycare This spam will soon be deleted (I did that for a while haha).

And having a day job doesn't mean "QUIT BEING AN ARTIST AND FUN.  NO FUN ANYMORE".  A lot of my friends went the Composition/Music Ed path.  They are teaching at local schools and are publishing lots of great contemporary works right now.  One of my best friends is an IT guy and writes ridiculously awesome music that gets played all over NYC.  The IT job gives him a LOT more time to compose actually.  Money, in some cases, equals stability.

I hope that helps!  Good luck and go get'um!

Elektronikz wrote:

I'm still in high school.

same. after high school, i'm planning on going to culinary school to become a chef.

i'm almost certain that i won't ever be able to make music full time, but if you feel like you can, then go for it.

South Jersey, USA

I work with kids who live with autism. Challenging at times but spiritually rewarding.

South Korea

I'm currently a teacher, and I'm studying toward a Computer Science degree.

Brunswick, GA USA

Customer service telephone operator. I'm the smiling headsetted person in the corner of the website, like this guy, except our dress code is more casual:

Music making became easier for me after I decided it didn't need to be my living. It became easier still when I realized that composing is the aspect I like most.

Last edited by chunter (Mar 29, 2013 3:53 am)

rochester, ny

run a coffee shop.

Washington DC

Cashier at Harris Teeter.

Also kind of an English major.

Montreal, Canada

15 years of video game development.... which leads me to make shit money and get fired every two years or so when the studio I'm working for close down.


But in response to the original post. I found out, just like chunter, that music got a whole lot more fun and my skills got a damn lot better when I threw out my dreams of rockstardom and just started enjoying it for myself. I've earned a "living" with music before, composing for games, tv, ads and stuff like that. It's shit work and its not constant. Like so many other things, you'll see people with half a quarter of a third of your talent and passion get all the contracts and half ass them. Being a working musician outside of being in a super successful band mostly means know how to sell yourself more than know how to make music. That didn't suit me at all since I couldn't sell myself out of a soggy paper bag. I opted for the 9-to-5. I needed stability. That stability got me a much nicer studio setup than the music contracts that were barely putting any butter on the proverbial bread.

basspuddle wrote:

after high school, i'm planning on going to culinary school to become a chef.

Try and get a job as a chef or in a kitchen first before you go to culinary school or while in school.  And shop schools hard.  My wife went to the Art Institute and they talked big game about the success rate of graduates. But out of 50ish people she kept in touch with, the only one who is successful right now worked in a kitchen during school.  All the others are broke or are still on school including my wife who is now working on a different degree at a real Uni. .

I'm studying Biological Anthropology with and emphasis on Human Evolution and Genetics and I work security at night for apartment complexes.  But since they're "luxury" complexes, it means I'm bored and nothing ever happens.

Boulder, CO

Don't do IT.

matt's mind

i have a culinary arts degree

the above advice is pretty golden.  take a cooking job before going to the school (if you haven't worked a line yet) and completely ignore their stats about post-graduation job landings.  unless you count working in a hotel chain or a mass cooking enterprise (nursing home, etc) as successful employment for a culinary degree student.  which i don't.

the job you think you'll have with a culinary arts degree most likely won't be available.  (and i graduated magna cum laude with that degree and had a great internship to boot).  culinary schools are a good example of the new business of education, they just want to make a buck off you.  even if you do land that dream job, the pay compared to the labor you'll put in isn't that great.  very exploitative work, you've got to have a passion for it (it is very rewarding in a lot of way, tbh).  and you need to be comfortable with drugs, because your coworkers are using at work.

yeah.  i'm sort of a downer on that topic...  but, its true, out of the people i went to school with, NONE of them are cooking now (who i've kept up with at least)

but then again, i have a MA in PoliSci too, and NONE of the people I graduated with are using their degree in a paying job (one person got a (volunteer) non-profit job in the field).  the student and job markets are so flooded with people right now even doctoral school just to take out more loans and waste time for a job to show up isn't happening for my fellow grads...

hardcore, Australia

I'm getting paid to eat a kit Kat while I watch tv from another country and occasionally repeat what the tv is saying to a computer so it can print the words back on the tv in another country.