Last week, I finally managed to sell one of my trumpets. No, don't worry. I'm not giving up playing the trumpet. I just decided it was time to let go of the past and move toward the future.
The trumpet I sold wasn't my current trumpet, and the playing style I've adapted to no longer fit the trumpet I once loved. I like to compare it to the square peg in a round hole analogy, except in this case it was a perfect fit until the round peg started to become a square one. It needed to find a way out, and that's what I did with the trumpet. I got about the amount I hoped to get from it, and that was great.
Then, I spent it.
The life of a musician is not an easy one. There are a lot of points where you have to ask yourself, "Is this worth the risk?" And the answer will almost always be yes. Risk is what makes art evolve and grow, and it's what makes history.
I spent the money from the trumpet on an iMac, an investment that should last me a long time and will hopefully further my career. I spent an extra few hundred dollars beyond that to expand the RAM on my new computer, and I'm going to need to invest in some good sample libraries. And after all that is done, I'll have next to no money left. So, why am I spending money if I'm trying to make money?
You have to ask, am I in this to make money?
If you're in the music industry to make money, you're in the wrong industry. Those who make a ton of money by being a musician, that wasn't their intention. They started by performing the art that they loved to share, and they grew and grew until they were rich and famous. If that's your end goal, if that's what you see yourself becoming, then are you really in it for the art? These are questions that are not easy to answer, and for which there is no right answer. It's subjective. But for me, I'm just hoping to make enough to survive, that's all. That's the dream for any artist I think, to be able to do what you love for a living and make it in the world.
As a composer, I'm investing in the best gear I need for my career. But what career am I getting this gear for? For all I know, nobody will hire me and I'll end up a failure. Or at least, that would be true if I wasn't taking risks. I'm not saying that I'm guaranteed to get somewhere in my career. I'm not, nobody is. But I'll never know if I don't try. The life of a musician is all about investments. Investing in an expensive instrument, investing in an expensive computer, investing in the right college to further your education, etc. It's all about saying "I think that's going to work" and going ahead and doing that thing.
Composing is what I love to do. It's satisfying to me, and I would absolutely love to do it for the rest of my life successfully. At the moment, I have to be extremely careful about how I spend my money. I'm okay with that because I'll have my art, that's what I'm doing this for. So I need to rephrase my initial statement; I am going to have very little money, but I will not be poor. Money isn't the only factor in being well-off, and it's not the only currency I will have. When all is said and done, I'll be able to say that I did something others didn't do. In the end, I can say that I took the risks I thought I needed to take, and it felt right to take them.
While I have no idea what the future holds, and I have no idea how much money I'm going to make, I can tell you one truth that has absolutely nothing to do with money: I am going to be rich.