What Is The Difference Between 'Just Playing Music' and 'The Music Industry '? By Larry Patton
As a touring musician for over 30 years in the music industry I sometimes think everyone that plays music knows exactly what I'm talking about when I use the term "music industry", but then I am reminded that there are many people that have also played music for over 30 years or more and know very little about the "Industry" and the average music fan has absolutely no understanding of it at all. Although the music industry revolves around music, it is a very small part of the industry. The music industry's total involvement includes many other facets such as, songwriting (nothing happens without a song), song publishing (which enables the writer to get paid), song pitching or plugging as it is called (to find someone to record it), artist development musically (creating a sound), the image of the artist visually (videos are a big market in the industry now) so it is sometimes more important how good you look then how well you sing, recording of the artist vocally (with all of the new advances in recording technology the singer doesn't really have to be that great anymore, one button can bring the artist to perfect pitch).
Then there's the sales of the artist's recording(this is where the record labels get involved to distribute the artist's recordings), booking agencies and booking agents (to keep the artist in front of the fans), live appearances, management, tour busses, trucks, airplanes, hotels, truck stops, bands, rehearsals, road managers, roadies, technicians (stage, sound and instruments), drivers and down to the people that sell the merchandise, just to name a few.
Everybody gets a piece of the pie, so the pie must be very large to begin with.Most of the time the 2 hr. or so show that you see was preceded by 22 hrs. of hard work to make it happen. I have heard people say "What an easy life, just play two hours a day and have the rest to the time free to goof off"or"Music is not a real job". Music may not be a real job, but the music industry is, and it can be a lot of hard work. The "music industry" is a business. Some choose to support themselves and their families working in another kind of "Industry" or business and just play music for fun. There has always been the attitude by many that you cannot make a living as a musician. There is also one sure test of whether you should be in the music industry or not, and that is "If you can be talked out of it, you shouldn't be in it".
I believed I had too make a living at it becausethere was nothing else I loved to do as much as playing music. I definitely could not be talked out of it. Just playing music will not pay your bills, but the "music industry" can on the average provide a great livelihood and in some cases make all your dreams come true. The truth for me has always been that the hard work was worth the reward of getting to play that two hrs. and it paid very well and I quote "I didn't have to get a real job". It had to have been both musically and financially rewarding for me to do it for over 30 years.
The music industry took me around the worldto so many great places that I probably never would have seen without it. It allowed me to travel and be paid for doing what I love to do. There is a great big difference between playing music on the back porch and working in the music industry, but I believe that both can be very rewarding. The greatest thing about music is that it is its own reward and if that is enough for you then you probably should stay away from the "music industry". I had a wonderful and exciting time playing at Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry because of what and where they are, but musically I have had just as good a time pickin' on the back porch with good friends, but there is also something very exciting about doing what you love to do in life and getting paid to do it.
It is all part of what I call the "Square of Life"which is Health, Wealth, Love and Perfect Self Expression, the ultimate in joyful living. We all have our many forms of expression and one of mine just happens to be music. I cannot even imagine what my life would be like without it. I chose the "Music Industry" for a career and I have no regrets about that decision because even in the "Music Industry" I was able to be totally fascinated by something I love so much. "Music, Music and more Music".
This article is the opinion of the author and may or may not represent the views of everyone in the band.