“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.”

Abraham Maslow, Psychologist

Pros and Cons of Working as a Musician

advantages and disadvantages of being a musician

You dream about becoming a musician?

While this job can indeed have many advantages, there are still some downsides related to this career path.

Thus, make sure to check out all the pros and cons of being a musician in this article before making your final decision regarding your future professional life.

Musician Job Profile

Job DescriptionMusicians can play many different instruments for a living. While some musicians make their money from just playing music on the streets, others aspire to a fancy musician career and want to become really famous. As a musician, you can not only make money from playing music. You may also offer music lessons or start your own social media channel to generate additional revenue.
Salary$32,000 per year on average, most musicians make between $15,000 – $45,000 per year.
Job SecurityAlmost no job security at all since you will often only get short-term contracts and may get fired from one day to the other if you don’t perform well.
Job SatisfactionGood if you love playing music.
Work-Life BalancePoor work-life balance since you will have to work on holidays and weekends quite often.
Physically / Mentally Demanding?Can be mentally demanding.
Future OutlookPoor since the music industry will still be quite competitive and only few musicians will actually be able to make a living out of what they are doing.
RequirementsNo special educational requirements.

Advantages of Being a Musician

  1. Musicians can make the lives of people better
  2. You can learn many different instruments
  3. Musicians can play on various different occasions
  4. You can make money out of your passion
  5. You will be able to get in touch with many different people
  6. Musicians can share their work with people from all over the world
  7. It has never been easier to become famous as a musician
  8. You can start out your musician career as a side hustle
  9. Working as a musician can also be a nice second job
  10. Musicians don’t have to work outdoors
  11. Musicians have an easy time in the dating market
  12. Working as a musician is not that stressful
  13. It may just not feel like work to you
  14. You may be able to travel the world
  15. No minimum education level required for becoming a musician

Musicians can make the lives of people better

One important advantage of being a musician is that you can just make many people happy.

For instance, when they walk by and hear you playing as a street musician or if you play at a wedding, the results should be quite similar.

When people listen to music, they just want to have a good time and get in touch with their feelings.

They also want to forget about their problems in their lives and want to get kind of a short vacation.

Thus, by working as a musician, you can just make the lives of many people better and can also help them overcome difficult periods of their lives.

You can learn many different instruments

Another upside of working as a musician is that you will simply have the chance to choose between numerous different instruments.

While some people want to start their music career by playing the guitar, others may want to start playing the piano.

Opportunities are almost endless in this regard and you may also learn one instrument and switch to another one later in your life.

Thus, don’t worry that you will not find a suitable instrument for you.

Chances are that you will even find more than one instrument you want to play.

Musicians can play on various different occasions

As a musician, you will also be able to play on various different occasions.

While some musicians just play on the streets and rely on donations of people to make some money, others take it a bit more seriously and play for weddings, birthdays or even in concert halls or on TV and radio.

As you can see, there are many different levels and ways how musicians can make money and chances are that you will find your own path.

For example, you can start out as a street musician and make some money after work.

Later on in your life, you may have more time and can get really serious about a professional musician career.

You can make money out of your passion

Working as a musician is just more than just work for many people out there.

In fact, many musicians are just so passionate about what they are doing and would even play their instruments for free since it is just a pretty nice hobby for them.

Combining your passion with work is just the best way to make money since you will always be looking forward to your next workdays instead of just being disgusted by your work as many other people out there.

You will be able to get in touch with many different people

Thanks to your career as a musician, you will also be able to talk to many different people.

You will play on many different occasions and this also implies that you will work for other clients almost every day of your career.

While this can be quite demanding, it also gives you the opportunity to get precious feedback from your clients.

In turn, this allows you to overcome your weaknesses and to get much better over time.

You can also build a really strong network in the long run and this can greatly help you with getting additional gigs.

Musicians can share their work with people from all over the world

Another benefit of becoming a musician is that you can share your work and your ideas with people from all over the world.

Thanks to the internet, there are many forums out there that allow you to participate in discussions with many different musicians who have similar interests and also want to become better musicians.

You may even find new band members and gigs through those forums and you should definitely join those digital communities since the digital world will simply be the future and you will just miss out on plenty of opportunities if you don’t leverage those digital channels for your musician career.

It has never been easier to become famous as a musician

This may sound weird since the music industry is still pretty competitive.

Yet, there is a lot of truth around this statement.

It has indeed never been easier to become famous as a musician since you can use social media channels to distribute your work and can also start a YouTube channel for free.

By doing so, you can organically build a huge audience that you can monetize later on in your life.

If you are good enough and use those various different channels, chances are that you will achieve a certain level of fame sooner or later. Sure, not everyone will become a world-class musician.

Yet, chances are better than ever since you do no longer have to rely on influential managers and can distribute your work directly to your customers.

You can start out your musician career as a side hustle

You are also free to start your musician career as a side hustle and turn it into a full-time job later on in your life. In fact, many musicians started out this way.

They just wrote songs and played music after they finished work and over time, they built a strong portfolio and published it through various channels.

You may also be able to have more than one income source as a musician.

Apart from playing music instruments, you can just start a blog or a successful YouTube channel and earn money from display ads or affiliate marketing. You may even sell your own digital products related to learning how to play an instrument.

Opportunities are almost endless in this regard and you have many different options how to make money as a musician, even though you might still have a day job to pay your bills.

Working as a musician can also be a nice second job

Some musicians also never aspire to a professional full-time career.

In fact, many people out there are just pretty happy with what they are doing for a living but still want to keep playing music as a second job to make some extra money and since they simply love playing in front of an audience.

Thus, learning an instrument can also make quite a lot of sense even though you might not aspire to a full-time career.

Musicians don’t have to work outdoors

As a musician, you will also have the privilege to work indoors.

While you might take this for granted, many people out there have to work hard in the cold in winter and during extreme heat in summer.

By working as a musician, you can avoid those extreme working conditions since you will just play in rather cozy environments indoors.

Musicians have an easy time in the dating market

Many musicians also don’t have difficulties in the dating market at all.

In fact, musicians have a high level of popularity in society and if you are really good at what you are doing and also have a certain aura, chances are that you will have more dating options than you could ever accept.

While this can be exhausting, it can also make your private life much easier.

It all depends on your attitude towards those things and if you just don’t want the classical life with marriage and children but rather want to have many different partners, a career as a musician can make quite a lot of sense for you.

Working as a musician is not that stressful

Another advantage of working as a musician is that you will also be rather relaxed most of the time.

Sure, in the beginning, you may be quite nervous if you have to play in front of a huge audience.

Yet, you will still learn how to handle those moments quickly and over time, chances are that you will really enjoy all the attention and appreciation of others.

Compared to other office jobs, you will also not have that much time pressure. Yes, you will have to start your gigs on time.

Yet, you will just have no boss watching what you are doing all day long and this can give you a great feeling of freedom as a musician.

It may just not feel like work to you

Many musicians also report that their job just doesn’t feel like work to them.

In fact, if you love what you are doing, time flies and you will just feel that you do what you love and earn money from it at the same time.

Thus, if you love playing music, a career as a professional musician can make quite a lot of sense for you since you will just be able to spend your time with the thing you like most in life compared to most people out there who are just in their jobs for the money and get really frustrated about that in the long run.

You may be able to travel the world

If you are really good at what you are doing, you may even be able to travel the world as a musician.

At the time you reach a certain level of fame, concert managers will book you internationally and you can work in many different countries.

While this can be exhausting for people who just want to stay at home, it can be great for adventurous people who really want to see the world and who want to experience many different cultures.

No minimum education level required for becoming a musician

You also don’t need to go to college or any other fancy education to become a musician.

Yes, it can help to take music courses or to educate yourself in various different ways.

Yet, it is no formal requirement for becoming a musician and as long as you are passionate about what you are doing and are willing to put in the work, you can become a pretty decent musician, even though you might not have plenty of money to invest in your education.

As you can see, there are indeed many upsides to a career as a musician.

Yet, there are also many problems related to this career path which are discussed in the following.

Disadvantages of Being a Musician

  1. Most musicians don’t make good money
  2. Musicians often have to work on weekends or holidays
  3. Work-life balance is rather poor
  4. You may be away from home quite often
  5. Difficult to maintain relationships as a musician
  6. Musicians basically have no job security at all
  7. Many musicians have to get second jobs to survive
  8. Your income will greatly fluctuate over time
  9. Questionable future job prospects
  10. Hard to get into a different field
  11. Musicians may suffer from old-age poverty
  12. Consumption of questionable substances is rather common
  13. Musicians have to deal with high levels of insecurity

Most musicians don’t make good money

One downside to being a musician is that most musicians will just not make that much money.

Sure, there are musicians out there who earn many millions of dollars per year.

Yet, the percentage of those famous top earners is ridiculously low and you should not expect to get to this level since plenty of luck is needed for such a fancy career.

Instead, chances are that you will end up as pretty average musician or singer who will make less than $40,000 dollars a year.

This will not be enough to cover your costs in many big cities due to high rents and you may really struggle to pay your bills as a musician in those regions.

Musicians often have to work on weekends or holidays

Another problem with being a musician is that you will also have to work on holidays or weekends pretty often.

In fact, many private events are held during those dates and if you will therefore often have to perform while other people just enjoy their leisure or celebrate special events in their lives.

You will also not be able to make weekend trips with your family due to your work.

Thus, make sure that you are willing to pay this price for your career as a musician before going in this direction.

Work-life balance is rather poor

Since you will often have to work on holiday and weekends and often also have to work in the evening, your overall work-life balance as a musician will be relatively poor.

Sure, you will have some time off during the day.

Yet, many musicians complain that they simply don’t have enough time to manage their private life and to do the things they love apart from playing music.

You may be away from home quite often

If you reach a certain level of fame and have an established brand in the music industry, chances are that you will also be away from home quite often.

You will travel to many different states or countries and will change the location of your performance almost daily.

This can be pretty stressful for your body and your brain since you will always have to adapt to new circumstances and will never actually feel at home.

Hence, unless you really love traveling, a musician career may also not be for you in this regard.

Difficult to maintain relationships as a musician

Many musicians also have a pretty difficult time maintaining relationships.

Since musicians will always be surrounded by fans and have a pretty easy time to find new affairs, long-term relationships often fail.

Moreover, you will often be away from home as a musician and this can further increase the risk of cheating on each other.

Consequently, you should really ask yourself whether you rather want to live a conservative private life like most other people in society or not.

If this is the case, you should definitely not go for a musician career.

Musicians basically have no job security at all

Another downside to becoming a musician is that you will also have pretty poor job security.

In fact, job security is almost non-existent for musicians at all since you can just be fired from one day to the other.

Many musicians also don’t have long-term contracts and rather earn money from selling their songs or from performing gigs on stage.

This also means that you can never be certain that you will be able to pay your bills in the future and knowing this can be really exhausting.

Many musicians have to get second jobs to survive

Some musicians even struggle to make a living out of what they are doing.

Those musicians even have to get a second job to pay their basic expenses and still are often not able to afford any luxury.

Hence don’t get fooled by the glamorous world that might be out there for you as a musician.

The reality of the situation is that many musicians struggle financially and that they are barely able to survive if they don’t work in a second job.

Your income will greatly fluctuate over time

Due to low levels of job security, your income will also greatly fluctuate over time as a musician.

While you might have plenty of money to spend one month, you may not earn any money at all in another month and if you are the kind of person who is financially irresponsible, chances are that you will get into real financial trouble sooner or later since you will simply run out of money sooner or later.

Questionable future job prospects

Also future job prospects will be rather poor for musicians.

Sure, there will always be musicians who earn truckloads of money with what they are doing.

Yet, the majority of people will really struggle to make a living out of what they are doing.

Hard to get into a different field

Especially if you haven’t got any additional education, you may also become trapped in the music industry.

In this case, you will just not have the option to change your job since you will just lack basic qualifications for doing so.

Instead, you would have to get many years of education to switch fields.

Therefore, you should make sure that a career as a musician is really what you are passionate about since you might have to work in this field forever.

Musicians may suffer from old-age poverty

The older you get, the harder it can be to get booked as a musician, especially if you usually perform in front of a relatively young audience.

Many musicians also have to quit their careers at an older age due to physical or mental health issues.

Thus, many musicians will also struggle to pay their bills and may also suffer from old-age poverty since their pension will often also be relatively low.

Consumption of questionable substances is rather common

It is also rather common for musicians to take certain substances that keep them awake and that can take away their insecurities.

While those substances may work, the use of those substances also implies a great risk of dependence and unpleasant issues related to it.

Musicians have to deal with high levels of insecurity

Since musicians never know whether they get booked for gigs just a few months in the future, they often suffer from high levels of insecurity regarding their income and also regarding where they have to perform.

This can really eat you up and you should definitely not become a musician if you don’t have the stomach to deal with these issues.

Top 10 Being a Musician Pros & Cons – Summary List

Being a Musician ProsBeing a Musician Cons
Being a musician can be excitingBeing a musician can be exhausting
You may become famous as a musicianMany musicians don’t make much money
Musicians can travel the worldYou will have to deal with insecurity
You can get to know many peopleFuture job prospects are rather poor
Many dating optionsMusicians often have to work on weekends
You can share your work with othersRather poor work-life balance
You can play many different instrumentsSome musicians even need a second job
Being a musician can be a passionOld-age poverty can be a problem
It may just not feel like work to youConsumption of certain substances
No fancy education requiredHard to maintain relationships

Should You Become A Musician?

Whether you will become happy with the life of a musician greatly depends on your individual preferences and your character traits.

You should just take your time and evaluate all the advantages and disadvantages of being a musician so that you can make a profound decision for a happy life in the long run.

If you are still interested in becoming a musician, you should also get detailed information on the salary, future outlook, duties, educational requirements, work-life balance and job satisfaction of musicians.

Also make sure to check out the following articles if you want to learn more about additional promising job opportunities:

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a designer

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a digital marketer

Sources

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes272042.htm

https://www.statista.com/topics/1639/music/

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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