Here's the conclusion of "A Musical Tale". If you missed the first two parts, you can read part 1 here and part 2 here.
After a few years of teaching guitar full time, Jonny still had a feeling that haunted him. It was a feeling that sometimes kept Jonny up at a night. It was a sense that although things were going well, they could be going better. It was a sense that he could be doing more with his music, but he wasn’t sure exactly what.
Jonny was reluctant to form another band. What’s the point he thought, he loved playing music, but based on his past experiences the idea seemed futile. Why invest all that time into something that is so uncertain he thought. Jonny was willing to take risks, but as he got older he realized the most valuable thing he has in life is his time. It’s the one thing he can’t get back he thought and so he was careful about how he invested his time going forward.
Around this time Jonny started recording a lot of new ideas he had. He was inspired to write music again, more so than he had been in years. He stayed up late at night, recording new tracks and working on new ideas. He brought in old friends that he used to jam with to collaborate and together they recorded new songs that filled Jonny with that same sense of passion that he had when he was younger.
He realized that although he isn’t sure how to move forward in the music business at times, he had to keep going. It’s not so much that Jonny is sadistic and wants to work in a business that has the potential to drive him to the brink of madness, it’s that he needs that sense of excitement and optimism that he has when he’s involved in a project he’s passionate about. He learned from his past though and so he decides to proceed with his new project much more carefully and methodically.
Instead of jumping into a new band or project, with no real plan or vision of how to succeed, Jonny focused on selling his songs first. He managed to land some licensing deals through a connection he had and started making a little money that way. Then he started promoting his songs aggressively online via Youtube and other channels. He started getting some momentum going that way too, which led to a modest increase in sales.
Over the next few months, Jonny kept going with his new plan, which was to simply generate as much exposure and revenue from his music as possible, through channels he could control. There was no risk this time of someone else preventing him from succeeding. There was no chance of someone quitting his band and bringing his dream to a screeching halt. This time, Jonny had a sense of control over his destiny. Not that he had it all figured out. Far from it. But day by day and month by month, Jonny moved closer towards his goals and the money he starts to make from his endeavors starts adding up.
Jonny started to book some solo shows as well, to play his new songs and some cover songs he liked. Sometimes he would play alone and sometimes he would invite one of his friends to back him up on vocals and rhythm guitar. Because he wasn’t splitting the money he made with four other people, he made more money each night. He also didn’t have to worry about getting four people together for rehearsals. At first he was uncomfortable playing without a band behind him, but he quickly became more and more comfortable, and eventually would grow to prefer playing shows alone. He was also able to produce a new CD with his solo material which he sold at shows. Because he didn’t have to split the sales with anyone for his CDs, he got to keep the entire ten dollars he charged for his CD.
When Jonny was a teenager, he dreamed of becoming a rock star. Not because he was delusional, but because musicians sometimes became rock stars. It seemed like the thing to reach for. If you’re going try and do something, why not try and be the best and go the farthest. Reach for the stars. Eye of the tiger. Go big or go home. All that jazz.
Jonny realized though, that he got into the music business at a time when things were changing rapidly. It wasn’t his fault. Just bad timing. Record sales started declining drastically right around the time Jonny started pursuing his music career. Music started being downloaded and listened to for free. Becoming a rock star or a successful musician had always been hard, but now it seemed almost impossible. The odds were always stacked against Jonny, but perhaps now more than ever.
But…. Despite this reality, Jonny realized that music keeps getting made. People keep going to concerts. Musicians keep uploading their music to youtube. Musicians keep licensing their songs. People keep listening and people keep buying music in one form or another. It was a humbling time to be a musician, but to Jonny it simply separated the wheat from the chaff. If you were only in the music business because you were hoping to get rich quick and become famous, you would most likely quit. If you really loved making music, for the sake of making music, you kept going. Jonny loved making music.
Now Jonny realized, it’s easier to make music than ever before and perhaps more challenging to make money from music than ever before. Perhaps in some way, that balances things out Jonny thought. But, either way Jonny realized, the business of music keeps soldiering on. A lot of people are quitting. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing Jonny realizes, because it makes room for new people to enter the industry - new people with new ideas and new solutions. Jonny wants to be one of those people and contribute whatever he can to the music industry.
So Jonny keeps making music and despite all the challenges and the naysayers, Jonny somehow makes it work. Through teaching, licensing, performing and selling CDs, Jonny easily makes in excess of 65 thousand dollars a year, a salary well above the average income in the US. On par with a nurse, or school teacher or even what some lawyers make. In other words, a respectable salary, for respectable work.
As Jonny lays in bed with his girlfriend Marian, on the night of his 32nd birthday, in their comfortable two bedroom apartment in a nice neighborhood, with a refrigerator full of food, a smile comes over Jonny’s face. It’s not so bad being a musician he thinks, as he drifts off to sleep, excited for what tomorrow brings.
In : October 14
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