In what I’d call the “journeyman years” I played for free (or for some food or £30 or whatever) too many times to list. Weekly sessions where the share of the tips amounted to under a fiver. A charity event with hundreds of people where the organisers got paid but not the musicians. The Edinburgh festival is a whole thing in itself, as promoters always draw on local musicians to play for free or for tips. One year I played at the Edinburgh Food Festival with a full band for free.
Without extensive self-funding and support from my parents I would have never gotten to a point where I can earn enough money from music to keep doing music. It was still a struggle and a lot of luck, so what about people who weren’t so lucky to have the privileges I did?