The View from the Sacbut Section by Clark Gayton

Musings of a New York musician

A Working Musician’s Guide to Surviving Hard Times: The Game Part I

Posted by sacbut on April 17, 2009

You may be thinking, “Is there such a thing as a working musician, surviving?” Why, yes, yes there is. And I’ve got the scars to prove it. Literally.

I came to New York over 20 years ago to be a professional jazz musician. I come from a family of musicians who had achieved various levels of success. Most family members worked day jobs to supplement their musical habits. Others attempted to make it as professional musicians, but had to change careers as their lifestyles changed.

What I have learned to do best in New York City, which is probably something most New Yorkers can say, is survive. New York is a tough town for working musicians. Not only are you competing with established, famous and sometimes dangerous, musicians who have lived in the City for years, you’re competing with everyone else in the world who has your identical aspirations. You may have come to New York with your All State Band letters, fans, family, and local newspaper clippings. It doesn’t matter. No one cares. That is not what New York does. The people who live in New York are there to feed New York. Unless you provide the city with sustenance, you have no business being there.

That isn’t to say that New York doesn’t have its charms. As with any seductress, the charms are available to everyone.  The seduction can lead you to an early sacrifice to the music gods, or you can keep the city entertained for One Hundred and One Nights.  Me, I plan on living a long time, so I keep the seductress interested.

Do I want to encourage competition in the enchanted city? The competition comes daily without my beckoning. What I would like, and what I hope to encourage, is an qualified adversary. It’s no fun just taking away the candy from an unsuspecting adolescent. I want to give you a fighting chance.  Here are some tools to help you with the game.  In anticipation of your demise, the first thing I want you to is [to be continued…]

copyright 2009 by Lautir Publishing

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4 Responses to “A Working Musician’s Guide to Surviving Hard Times: The Game Part I”

  1. Deborah said

    Brilliant – can’t wait to read more!

    Deborah

  2. Deb Hesketh said

    Interesting Clark. I wondered why some musicians make it and others don’t. Some get to play for Obama and some don’t!

  3. MiWi said

    Keep it coming!

  4. Liz said

    Great topic, Clark! Looking forward to more of this!

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