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I’m from Brazil and I’m 39. I’ve been a musician ever since I was a teenager. I played in different bands, had some local and somewhat national recognition in my country at a time when there was no Internet (early 90s) and the indie scene here was so small that you knew pretty much everyone by name. Later on, I formed other bands. The latest, Cassim & Barbaria, toured Brazil, Argentina, US, Canada. Every time I recorded/released an album, shot a video and toured a lot of money was invested. I never got it back. Not even 1/3 of it. If It’s hard to you guys, imagine how It is in countries like Brazil, where there aren’t as many indie music fans, venues and media channels. It’s really a David X Goliath thing. And as far as I know I’m not the big guy.
In spite of all that I never ever thought of giving up. I’ve had jobs most of the time. My music career would advance quicker and I would produce more as a musician when I wasn’t working as a full time writer or radio producer, but those spells wouldn’t last long. There would always be the due rent bill to pay in the end. I am currwently working as a radio producer and It’s not my dream job at all. But my music will survive it.
I even found ways to earn money from my music, but they didn’t mean steady payments, just hope in the form of paychecks. I had some of my stuff licensed, wrote for theater, TV and specially, music for fashion shows. I also had some reasonable paychecks from copywrights. I’m sure I would be able to make a living off all that, but then, maybe I wouldn’t have the energy to write my own original stuff afterwards. So I keep on getting day jobs and using my music to earn money aside.
I’m 39 and just can’t quit it. I’ll probably be recording and releasing my music when I’m 70. That’s what I do, and I’m not doing it to be famous or get a living from it, although that wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. I just happen to be in the wrong place and in the wrong time to be a hyped up artist or whatever. But maybe I’m in the right place/time for what I am doing.
There’s always someone who says my music has inspired him/her, there’s always people saying your music is special to them and that happens everywhere I go They aren’t in the thousands or even in the hundreds, but you always meet someone who really understands and likes what you do. That’s more than enough to me. I love the music I make. And I love when people can relate to that. That’s pure bliss to me.
I always try to remember that most of the best music of the last centuries was made by hardworking people who had tiresome day jobs and were never getting paid the money they deserved for their music. Take the original blues players. The idea of someone getting rich by going onstage and playing music is quite new to humankind and won’t last long. And you know what? Maybe That’s a good thing. It will make the wannabes go alway from it all. Or at least some of them.
Having said all that, I still believe that If you’re an artist, you will take what you have and make art with it just because that. Be it with restrained time because of day jobs or with all the time and feeedom in the world and a pile of bills to pay. And you can always learn how to be an ascetic, for that matter.