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Need help convincing my parents majoring in music is worth the money

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Thegiantgnome, Sep 13, 2005.

  1. Thegiantgnome


    May 31, 2005
    So here is the deal. I want to switch my major at a local university that im attending, which is known for its fine arts its not just some little junior college, from audio production to music performance and my parents who are paying for the bulk of my education aparently don't believe in the worth of a degree in music. I tryed to explain to them that alot more people than they realize major in music and make a liveing ethier being a studio musician or even in bands that make it big. So i need some examples here of people that are at least semi famous so it will actually make an impact on them.
  2. Might I suggest a minor in music performance and a major in something else. If thats what you really want to do, then go for it. But if you want a suggestion from someone that was a music performance major, do it as a minor and doing something else as a major. I was a music performance major and then switch to computer sciences major and music minor. I dont know why, but as soon as I got out of the music major, the amount of gigs I played doubled and I feel as if I became a better musician. I think alot of it has to do with the fact that when I was majoring in music, it lost some of the enjoyement because of all the bullcrap you had to go through to get your degree. I just wanted to practice and play. I didn't want to take "history in pop music" or "sight singing". Minoring in music gave me more time to actually practice and do the things I needed to be doing to play gigs. Not to mention once I got out of the major it didnt feel as "cut throat". Everyone that was a music performance major was after each other. Blah blah. While they were bickering with each other who was going to be first chair in symphony, I was out playing gigs.

    Some people may disagree with me but I'm just talking from my own experience. I know this doesnt really answer your question but its my $0.02
  3. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Uh, dude, basically, a music major is asking "do you want fries with that?" If it's what you love, do it; but if you think there's gonna be any money involved...er, well, there isn't. Sorry. No money in art or creative writing, either. Just the way things are.
  4. I was trying to be a bit more polite and not crush the kids dreams. But, what you said is pretty much exactly what I was thinking.
  5. After 2 1/2 years struggling as a music major, my brother changed his major to marketing and got an associates degree. So after 4 1/2 years of school, he ended up with an associates degree in marketing...not good value for the buck in my opinion...also, sadly 2 wives and 7 kids later, he doesn't do much with music anymore (was once an incredibly talented trumpet player, too).

    On the up side, I've had two friends that majored in music education...one teaches at a high school and one teaches at a small college in Western Pennsylvania. These guys are both fantastic musicians as well.

    Follow your dreams...responsibly...
  6. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I was not a music major, but my university has a strong music program. The one thing I notice is about successful musicians is that they hustle very hard and are willing to put in some really long hours. They also have to be prepared for alot of discipline and delayed gratification. Dude, have you displayed these traits to your parents over the years? If you have, you will probably be able to convice them that you are serious about music and that you will work hard to have a career. As Bobby mentioned, music is super competitive and you better be ready to bust your butt harder than the next guy, and you better have talent too! If you are willing to pay the price, you can have success. I know the music professors at my university do quite well teaching and prusuing careers in performance and recording.
  7. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    There are no career gaurantees in this world no matter what you major in. What is a hot, in demand field now could be worthless in 4 years when your degree is done. I expirienced this personally. When I went to college the first time I was intending to focus on computer science and IT. I ended up dropping out and doing independant contracting for several years making over six figures at age 19. By the time I was 23 I was unable to find a job anywhere despite massive qualifications. Trying to enter the IT field, degree or not, in 2001 would have been impossible.

    Its far better to study what you are really drawn to and try to build a career out of that than to simply get a degree because you think it'll help you land a job. I'm not saying some degrees aren't more valuable than others, just that its impossible to be certain that a given degree will result in a solid career.

    I know lots of people with music degrees who have no trouble paying thier bills, some as professional musicians, some as studio techs, some as teachers, adn some in totally non-musical fields. I know some people with MBAs who work in bookstores, and one person with a PHD in Astrophysics from MIT who teaches HTML programming at a community college because he can't find a better job anywhere else. Education is simply not the ONLY factor that will decide if you get a job or not.

    If you have talent, drive, and willingness to work its possible to find money regardless of what the letters on your degree say. Maybe not tons of money, but you can do well for yourself if you work hard and make solid decisions along the way.
  8. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Well, it's more or less the truth. I mean, it's not cool to hear "there's no money in doing what you love," but that's the size of the situation. I enjoy art and creative writing; yay my future earning potential.

    My advice would be to keep on doing the audio engineering thing; there's more to be made behind the knobs than behind the mic. Look at how many people who worked on the album are in the liner notes of your average album, vs. how many played on it it. The former is usually a landslide more.

    Are there options with a performance degree? Maybe; but Bobby is right in that you'll bust your nuts twice as hard to get as quarter as far. You're more than likely looking at a teaching position, and music education positions are VERY competitive. Not to mention the pay might not equal cost of living. Sad but true. You'd maybe make as much in the private sector, but that's a crapshoot that won't pay the bills until you've established a name for yourself with a steady, successful client base.

    Aka, no money for a while, if at all.

    Music sucks, man.
  9. Matt Till

    Matt Till

    Jun 1, 2002
    Edinboro, PA
    Music major is a lot like an art major... with even less jobs... and that's saying something. Another comparison of music vs. art major... if you want to make it big as a "fine artist" *ala no wedding photos... working at sears... painting bunny rabbits for rich kids.. I don't know what I'm talking about* you need to promote the hell out of yourself. You need to be kicking doors in letting people know you are around. If you do become a music major... odds are you will get a job not doing music... but that doesn't mean it's impossible.

    You need to move to some place where studio gigs are all over the place. You need to talk to advertising agencies about doing jingles for commercials. Play wherever you can get paid... you will need to sell out every day of your life just to get by.

    Another thing to take into account... once music becomes a job... it's less enjoyable. They'll be times you'll be forced to play/write and you'll hate it.

    I'm just continuing with the problems. Basically the only great thing is, you'll be doing what you want to do... and I will envy you for it so much. Good luck getting this figured out.
  10. willgroove2


    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    well i have a A.A. in jazz and commercial music and a B.A. in music and i make my living playing the bass and doing other musical thing's(song writing,producing,a little teaching)i also have never had a day job. it's all about how much are you going to put into your hustle.i came off a major tour got, home on a monday and by friday had my tux on and did a jobbing gig.that happened because when we had about a month to go i started making call's letting people know when i'd be home and the thing is i had a nice piece of change from the tour but i have always felt that everyday somehow somewhere someone is making money making music and why can't it be me?have goals for what you do and be ready to work hard to give yourself a chance.i know many people who are far more talented than myself give up music or art because it's"too hard to make it" i always felt that if it were easy everybody would do it.
  11. Tash


    Feb 13, 2005
    Bel Air Maryland
    This describes pretty much every job I can think of, music related or not.
  12. Futurebass


    Jun 22, 2005
    Thinking that there are a lot of up and coming studio musicians is erroneous. Studios are closing at an alarming rate, and the budgets for recordings and number of bands being signed are likewise declining.

    Music is a good hobby for anyone. It's a good profession only for those who "must". If you want a career in music it'll happen regardless of what your parents think. It's a very difficult profession and even if you are successful there's a big price to pay.
  13. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Nah, there's a big difference with other jobs. The difference between music and other jobs is that you are rewarded for the knowledge that you bring to the job, while you can have all the knowledge in the world about music and not only not make more money, you can actually make less.

    Dude, your parents are right. Unless you are looking for a career in teaching music in schools, a music major is a complete waste of time and effort. And Futurebass is right. There are no studio jobs anymore. Every yutz with a computer has a home studio, and while it may take them all day to record something that a studio guy can do in a half hour, they'd rather do it and saev their money. Even the top studio guys aren't getting the work like they used to. That's why you'll see a lot of top studio guys with their own bands playing bars and conventions just like everyone else.

    However, it is possible to make a living playing music. But it has nothing to do with being college educated. It has to do with how much hustle you have and how much of a limit for other people's crap you have. I don't know if you could call it selling out because that implies you're making a lot of money, and the only ones I know who make a lot of money with music are stars who bought their way into the industry or players who got extremely lucky by knowing a bandleader on a talk show.
  14. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Lots of good advice already.
    At the risk of being redundant, I'll say that education is ALWAYS a good thing when it comes to improving your skills and widening your perspectives. But in the arts, there's very little connection between the diploma and steady cash.
    I got a B.A. in music at a fine liberal arts university with a great music program (Leonard Bernstein was the original head of the music dept.); it was strictly classical music, and the music majors were either budding classical composers or shooting for Ivy League academic jobs. I was the lone rock/blues/jazz dude. The stuff I learned was very inspiring, and actually applicable in weird ways to what I wanted to play, but I certainly never got into a band or got any freelance work by whipping out my degree. Afterward, I went for two semesters to Berklee College of Music, where they did seek to give really practical information on how to audition, how to write a quick arrangement overnight, how to handle the business aspects, etc., but again, the benefits to me were the raw musical information and the connections I made (mainly with non-students who posted ads on the bulletin boards).
    When I was about 30, I went back to school for a graduate degree -- library school -- and have been working for years as the music cataloger for a large public library system. I can play strictly the music I want, including low-paying gigs that I find fulfilling, because the job pays okay and provides health insurance, etc.
    A friend of mine got a degree at Berklee with an emphasis on studio engineering. He went to New York and started sending out his resume, with no luck. After months of searching, he got a job in a studio after hearing about an opening through the grapevine, and rushing over there to beg for the position. The guy who hired him told him that they when they got resumes and cover letters in the mail, they immediately crumpled them up and threw them in the trashcan with a laugh, and often gave the *least* consideration to people with degrees! My friend fetched coffee and doughnuts and swept out the studio for a few months, and eventually they gave him a chance to do real work.
    So-- education is fantastic, but the "real" life of a full-time musician involves constant hustling, often in very anti-intellectual circles, and the degree doesn't guarantee a secure future. If anything, "people skills" are most crucial.
    It all depends on whether your folks see this distinction, I guess.
    Good luck with everything.
  15. willgroove2


    Aug 16, 2003
    chicago IL
    Endorsing Artist;Essential sound products,Dunlop, Ergo Instruments
    the thing is with home studio's(i have one myself)there is not a whole bunch of job's there either,plus audio engineering has a system where you have to work your way up often starting as a unpaid gofer.the funny thing is as i looked at this thread none of us adressed the starters question so here you go;nathan east went to college and has a music degree and has played on thousands of record with a bunch of really famous people. add on please
  16. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    going to move this to misc...
  17. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    If I may toss in my $0.02. Please have your parents read this post. I invite their response, as well.

    Bottomline up front: What you study as an undergraduate doesn't matter. Good grades are more important than a specific field of study.

    The undergraduate degree in modern America is increasingly regarded as a stepping stone, especially liberal arts education. The point of a liberal arts education is to teach a set of relational, logic, and critical analysis skills. Whether applied to writings, political systems, or music, the Bachelor or Arts should possess a reasoning mind that is curious, relatively well-informed, able to solve problems with a systematic approach, and develop a defensible conclusion.

    This stands in contrast to the Master's degree, which is now considered the "journeyman's" credential within a particular profession. Whether you're in business, journalism, or even social work, each field of human professional life has reached the point of complexity where a master's degree is needed to acquire the "lingo" and background needed to excel. The master is for the practitioner.

    The Ph.D. is the "educators" degree. To achieve this degree, one is supposed to learn basically everything there is to know about a field and then make one's own substantive contribution to the body of knowledge through research in a dissertation. One is then supposed to stay current on the field forever, but we both know that this is hard and rarely happens once/if tenure is granted.

    This is a roundabout way of getting to the point that what you are studying as an undergraduate is not especially important. What IS important, particularly if you want to move ahead in a field, is to LIKE what you are studying, so that you can get the best grades you can possibly get. Why? Because the largest screening factor in Master's programs is NOT major, but GPA. Graduate schools want to know not that you studied english or math, but that when you pick something to study, you are able to do well.

    And having a music background, is actually attractive to a lot of programs because it usually means you have a creative mind and will likely bring a more diverse perspective to their student body than the 101st accounting major they accept.

    By way of background, I have a Bachelor of Political Science, and two master's degrees--a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Business Administration. If I had my undgraduate years to do over again, I would double major in Art History and maybe Physics. Why? Because these are two areas of human inquiry that are interesting to me, but that no one will EVER pay me money study again in my life.

    Here's the rub--don't waste your undergraduate degree taking the same courses you're going to take again as a graduate student. Even if you think you're going to be in business, keep the business courses to the minimum you need to get into an MBA program.

    If you AND your parents can take this view of your undergraduate education--that it's good grades and not a specific field--that matter, it will spare you all a lot of angst. If you can do better as music major than another major, plus you learn the core analytic and reasoning skills that form the center of a Liberal Arts degree, GO FOR IT!

    There are good practical reasons to do it, well aside from the oft-cited urge to chase one's dreams.
  18. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    I think the point you need to make clear to your parents is you want to be a professional musician not a professional in audio production. If that's the case, then you should be a music major.

    All this talk about having something to fall back on, etc. is silly. The sheepskin doesn't guarantee you a successful in ANY profession.
  19. The Nanny

    The Nanny

    Dec 23, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Do what you love. If you are amoung the best at what you do, SOMEBODY will pay good money for it. Even if its basket weaving.

    Get an education for education's sake. 99% of the people with college or univeristy degrees aren't working in that field in 10 years anyways. Nobody - not even your parents - can crystal ball job markets.

    At what point in time did someone decide that one should only learn about those things that can lead to a job?