Are you a Professional Bassist / Musician? Your definition please

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by Bonafide, Jan 26, 2003.

  1. Bonafide


    Oct 15, 2002
    Can you describe why you are / think you are? Or... Will you explain what your definition of a Professional Bassist/Musician is? What it is that defines it for you.

    Thank you.
  2. when i think "professional musician" it means just that; that music is you profession. so, if you make your living from making music, you are a professional musician.
  3. I "was" professional and semi-professional. Now I just refuse to waste my talents in what is still a lame-assed music scene with sh*tty cover bands that only seem to know either regurgitated classic rock/bar band music or horrible southern rock (I haven't played in a regular band since 1996 and was last on stage sitting in with some friends in a club outside of town in 2000.)
  4. DWBass

    DWBass The Funkfather

    If you've made any money playing music, you are a pro!
  5. Hmmm... hard to define.

    I'd be comfortable saying that I'm definitely a professional bandmember.

    As far as being a professional bass player, I think the definition is going to vary widely, depending on who you ask.

    About 25 % of my current income is from live performance as a bassist, the rest is from my 'day job'.

    Some feel it has to do with musical education (currently have about 3 yrs. worth), or how much of your income is from performing, etc...
  6. Jeff Berlin said you're a professional musician if you make money playing. while I think that's valid, I think it has as much to do with how you think of yourself. for example, when you meet someone for the first time and he or she asks what you do, how do you answer? if you say, "I'm a bassist.", then you're probably a pro.

    of course this is all opinion and I'm wrong as often as not...:D

    from the low end,

  7. I made my living from music for many years, but the current economic situation and changes in the way people spend their entertainment dollars have meant I need to supplement my music income by taking a day job. However, when asked, or filling in a form, I am proud to say "I'm a musician".
    My definition means I was pro, now I am semi-pro.
  8. Audiosolace

    Audiosolace Guest

    Oct 8, 2002
    Knoxville, TN
    In order to be a professional musician in this town, all you have to do is get in good with a coffee shop in the Old City and play an acoustic guitar by yourself... and maybe some bongos... :rolleyes:

    Oh how tough it is to be a professional bass player in K-town. Guess I'll have to start looking for work as a session guy.
  9. Bonafide


    Oct 15, 2002
    IMO, I have to agree here with stew. I think it is 100% in your approach-attitude-dedication and how you percieve yourself.

    Making a living or even making money from music DOES NOT and IN NO WAY qualify you as a pro. If that was the case then there would be few distinquishes between a pro and a wanker.
  10. eric atkinson

    eric atkinson "Is our children learning "Is our teachers teachin

    Feb 4, 2001
    I dont make much from playing live gigs now! But i still work as a studio musician! And i also teach music to children. So i guess i am a pro.hehehe
  11. baba

    baba Supporting Member

    Jan 22, 2002
    3rd stone from the sun
    Of course this is all a matter of semantics but if you break it down....

    Professional in any arena I can think of means you are getting paid to do is your job, source of income, means of survival in a capitalist society. Amateurs do not get paid.
  12. By this definition, I guess I'm a 'bonafied, distinguished semi-wanking pro who gets paid to play'.
  13. eric atkinson

    eric atkinson "Is our children learning "Is our teachers teachin

    Feb 4, 2001
    Hehe i wish i got paid to preform!heheheheh
  14. maxvalentino

    maxvalentino Endorsing Artist Godin Guitars/ Thomastik-Infeld

    Yes, I am a professional musician/bassist. In a loose definition it might be assumed that to be paid for your work makes you a pro. But if someone pays you to do some handyman chores around their house does that make you a carpenter? Methinks not.

    I make 100% of my income from times this is a very substantial amount. At other times quite meager. Yet I have been able to buy my own home, build my own studio and meet all of my bills with only revenue gained from being a bassist.
    I have had no other job than being a musician for 10 years now.

    Yet, being a professional is MUCH more than merely being paid for your services. It has to deal with your attitude and skill within your given profession.
    Handling yourself, and your career in a "professional" manner (i.e. being on time, having a positive attitude, being aware of trends in the popularity of music,and regardless of whether you like those trends being able to supply your part, being able to accept and take direction and work toward the goasl of someone else's vision, keeping your "tools", your gear and your chops, in top maintainance).

    It also requires being a bit of an entrepeneur. You must find your can never have the luxury of becoming complacent. You must constantly "re-invent" yourself, stay on your toes, create new avenues not only for your creativity but for your monetary compensation. Teaching, consulting, working live sound for others....look around for possible "jobs".

    As a pro player, I see myself as an independent contractor; hired for my special skills within the industry. Whatever I can do which exploits my skills and knowledge can be rewarding both personally and financially.

    I teach, I write, I do "consultations" for other musicians and bands (helping them with problems in their show or sound), I freelance engineer at studios, I have done live sound mixing, I do clinics, I work with artists of different mediums (visual artsits, video atrists, dance troupes etc.) I gig, I perform solo, I do sessions, I am a frelance sideman, and as such play in every possible style and configuration (last week I did a gospel session, a bluegrass gig, and a straight-ahead, reading only, jazz combo gig).

    If your band gets paid for a gig, that does not really make you a professional. Semi-pro maybe, but more likely it is still amateur. The attitude and degree of comitment to your craft is what turns a player pro.

    Ask yourself "how much time do I spend learning about my craft"? Do you take lessons from other players? I do...I recently took drumm lessons just to learn more of rhythmic syncopations (to think like a drummer...). Do you research your craft? Do you know the history of the bass? Of music in general? If you don't know much of theory, have you spent the time to try learn more? Do you listen to music which you don't like, and then try to learn it...and then play it with all the passion you put into music you do like? (believe me, I do plenty of gigs playing tunes which I just don't care for...but I still put every ounce of my heart and soul into it...after all that's is what I am paid for, and I am a professional) Music is music, after all, and as musicians we should love music not just one style of music...leave than to the patrons who pay us for our skills and talents.

  15. eric atkinson

    eric atkinson "Is our children learning "Is our teachers teachin

    Feb 4, 2001
    Playing gigs isnt the only way to make a living in the music field! I have toured and made enough money to buy my home as well. But these days i just do studio work and make more than i did on the road. I also teach bass to kids. If any of you guys have spair time and have a good enough grasp on the bass to do so then please teach some young kids how to play. Because we all know there is a real lack of talent in the music industry today. So lets get a jump on it so we can listen to some great bass players when we are all old farts.
  16. Bonafide


    Oct 15, 2002
    Again, I agree whole heartedly. This kind of thinking is right in line with my own ideas (I am also a professional musician) and I appreciate hearing a level headed response.
  17. In defining the term professional, (depending on your dictionary and your interpretation of applying the word to musicianship) professional essentially means 'one who practices a learned occupation'.

    It appears that some degree of thought should be applied to a more specific description. By this, I mean defining 'part time' or 'full time' to the professional description. Some bassists live, eat, and breathe the lifestyle, and may rely on this for their entire income. While others may work a 40 hr. day job, be a parent, and play 2 nights per week. Seems the 'full time professional' and 'part time professional' more accurately describe one's involvement.

    I know of original bands that gig 6x per year, to an audience of '30 critics' and generate little revenue. They love what they do, their dedication and hard work are indisputable… regardless of whether they eventually make it (radioplay, fame, etc.)

    On the flipside, there are those who play cover songs to a packed house 2 or 3 nights a week and generate lots of revenue in their craft. Or, the studio player who rarely plays live, but his dedication to the recording industry is intense.

    Maybe there is a blue collar and white collar musician, with these terms simply conveying method rather than status or value.

    Look at bassists like Flea from RHCP, or the Talkbass-beloved bassist Fieldy. On outward appearance, these gentlemen may have numerous members of the white-collar bass playing community looking down their noses at them. However, you cannot deny the fact that there must have been some amount of dedication and professionalism in their success.

    I think there is a point where any bass player, regardless of status, finds a comfortable level of dedication and identity in what he is doing…. whether he is playing in the shed, in a garage band, in the studio, to a packed house, at the local jazz lounge, or touring the world.

    I personally enjoy the variety, as well as learning from each and every one of them.

    Thx for reading.

  18. trinket


    Nov 25, 2001
    office chair
    Oh no, this isn’t one of those "say your piece if your ideas are in line with mine" type thing, is it? Just making sure that isn’t the only acceptable response here. I was hesitant to reply. :)

    I am not necessarily a professional musician. I have so little time it’s ridiculous. However I enjoy what I do and can call myself dedicated with what time I have. My husband is also a bassist, he is fantastic and “a pro” by all definitions *IMO….and from what I read, others would agree.

    I lived in LA most of my life. I went to several coffee shops and listened to a lot of turds hammer out hideous tunes on whatever unfortunate instrument. I suppose they are not categorically pro’s.
    On that note (no pun intended) I also saw Jewel when she was living in her van and playing coffee shops she couldn’t afford to buy coffee in. I think her status now qualifies her as a pro. Did it then? Maybe, it depends on who you ask. She was definitely not a “wanker”. (great word)
    There are plenty of professional musicians that are big wankers though, not sure how to read that one.

    In a simplistic view I see it as someone who is able to make a buck on their playing their instrument, knowing what you are doing, attitude and of course ability to play without making others ill. To meander further, a “professional” is someone who has reached some sort of level of expertise in an area.
    So I guess it’s also in how one perceives their own ability, their desire to improve/grow, their achievements & work they’ve put into it.

  19. Seems we're rather speechless on such an thought-provoking topic....

  20. You are only a professional bassist if you have a professional bassist's license/ID.

    All of those unlicensed untouchables give the rest of us a bad name.

    I do realize that some of the newbies may not be licensed because they don't know how to go about the seemingly intimidating process. It's easy to get your license, if you know how. Legitimacy and respect come hand in hand with your card.

    Anyone who needs help or renewal of their bassist's license can send me their info along with fifty untraceable, US dollars. Your information will be reviewed and you will recieve your license in the mail as soon as we can process your application.

    Email me at, make sure to put "Sucker" in the message body.