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Making a career as a bassist

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Dougie1316, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. Would just like to hear from others, just out of interest. For those who use their bass playing as a career, how and what do you do for that? I'm exclusively a bass player who is going to study music at University and I'm looking to mould a career out of it. The most obvious outcome will be private teaching bass and playing in function bands, has anybody else made a career out of this? Share your stories.
  2. Itzayana


    Aug 15, 2012
    Oakland Ca
    Well, for me it has really been primarily about two things. Investing the time in the woodshed to become super proficient and making connections in the industry.
    After 40 years things are comfortable. Had some seriously lean years, but always kept in mind that life is short and, for me, spending my time doing what I want to do is of supreme importance.
    Other than taking a year off from time to time to go on sailing adventures, there is nothing that I would rather do than play music. Especially bass.
    If you make a career of it you will experience a dramatic Ebb and Flow of income.
    You will get through the lean years... when the money is good, try not to spend it all in one place like a drunken sailor. Pretend that you are broke and invest it. Let the guitar gods throw the cash around!
  3. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    I'm in that club. Your plan can work if you get enough students, in my market that's been very difficult for me.

    For myself the biggest reasons I've been able to be a full time musician is first, living waaaaay below my means. And second, being versitile. The function music thing (in assuming you mean blues bands and cover bands) is a weird scene to break into because there's players who've been doing it so long that they get hired because of that reason. Even when you could outplay the "old guy". If you want these gigs you HAVE to sing bgvs.

    Learn to fake any music and you'll be good.
  4. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    A career? I scrape by with some supplemental income and a good family support system. It's always been difficult to make a living as a musician but it's getting more and more difficult. The mistake I think a lot of people make when considering a career in music today is looking at the music industry pre-2000. The days of ample studio/jingle work are gone. Bar/club gigs that pay are virtually gone in most cities, the opportunities for establishing regular income via royalty cheques are far fewer as are the opportunities for getting sideman work on tours, theatre gigs and with corporate/wedding bands. Plus, there are way more educated bass players out there today than there were twenty years ago so competition is stiffer. I'd say that far fewer aspiring bassists seek out private lessons largely as the result of the internet so it's more difficult to rely on teaching privately to make money. Want to teach at an institution? Get in line now. There are tons of great players out there not working enough to make a decent living. There are also lots of institutions offering courses of study in a dying field (music performance) but they generally won't tell you it's a dying field (that would kill one of the few remaining decent jobs for musicians: teaching at a college level). Don't get me wrong, studying music is a great thing (I have two music degrees myself) but don't expect that it's going to set you on a career path. If you want to make art, cool - that's a noble endeavour. If you want to make a living I would suggest exploring other avenues.
  5. Dogbertday

    Dogbertday Commercial User

    Jul 10, 2007
    SE Wisconsin
    Blaine Music LLC
    Almost forgot. I know a few bass players who teach beginner guitar as well. If you know some basics that can add to your income if you're set on teaching.

    ...and get a car with good mileage.