For those of you who want to make your music a full-time job, and who are skeptical / wary of your success rate, maybe Hypebot’s list of artists that are growing and sustaining real careers without backup from a major label could help you take a step back and focus on what’s possible.
Check out Bruce Houghton”s (Hypebot author) list and discussion here: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2009/06/dont-need-a-major-label.html
Bruce Warila posted on Music Think Tank some criteria he believes should be added to the list:
“- If previously signed to a major label (or an affiliate of a major) that previously obtained radio play for the artist, please disclose this.
– Success to me = each band member (or the artist) is consistently generating over $50,000 USD a year after all expenses are paid (including health insurance). You can live on less, but if you are going to dedicate your youth to music, I would target $50K (at the very least) as a measure of financial ‘success’.”
Although it’s quite obvious that success here has to do with a sustainable financial sucess (which is of course the backbone to having a “comfortable life” in our production-driven society), I find it just awkward to put a price on it.
I would definitely take off the list every artists who has been backed-up by a major label – then again it seems important to define exactly what “backed-up” means in this case because I know of a couple of bands who have distribution deals with some fat cats and who aren’t achieving financial stability – and I would replace a fixed net income by simply “musician who has been living off his music full-time for X number of years”. Here we stumble into another complication, because we must take into account that success, in the big schemes of thing, is not necessarily something temporary, or fixed in time, i.e. a band can be living off music full-time for 5 years and be successful at it but quit because a) they weren’t making enough money, b)they got sick of it, c)the band broke-up, or whatever reason. Success in my mind has more to do with being able to say “I’m doing this now, I’m loving it, and I don’t plan on quitting anytime soon“, regardless of income.