Training to be a musician takes 10 – 15 years on average, not including music college and / or performing experience. It is one of the longest apprenticeships known for any vocation. Musicians surpass the barriers most reach when learning their instrument, study to a high level and often practice for eight hours or more each day. Studying music is expensive too; on average, musical training costs £20K, plus any college and university fees, not to mention maintaining your instrument. The professional musician exists on a delicate balance of projects, gigs, tours, party bands and teaching, often working upwards of 70 hours a week. But despite their rigorous effort, discipline and long hours, musicians are lucky to receive £50 a gig, or £25 per hour for offering private music tuition.
When it comes to gigging, a small percentage of musicians land on their feet and secure lucrative contract work as a touring or session musician. The remaining 90 percent earn their bread and butter performing smaller gigs in pubs and bars. The owners and promoters of these venues will often refuse to sign a contract specifying a fee and with the average small gig paying £200, is it worth persuading them? There is always the possibility that a client won’t pay the band and musicians are understandably nervous about asking for payment. A pub landlord once refused to pay my band more than £20 per head. “It wasn’t busy enough”, he said, “where were your fans?” It is not uncommon for bands to go home with empty pockets.