Many people think that it is a great and easy life to be a working musician. They think that all musicians get paid $100 or more every time they play. Being the wife of a musician has shown me so much.
When I met Jeremy, the only gigs he played were for tips. There were always good days and bad days, of course. It is near impossible to prove income with a job where you get paid cash on a consistent basis, so many people did not respect what he did because it was not a “real job.” Honestly, those people are stupid. Jeremy uses a skill that he has practiced and developed for 14 years to provide entertainment to the masses that come to hear the Blues on Beale Street and throughout the country. He works pretty much 7 days a week, sometimes up to 12 hours a day trying to earn a living. It’s funny that people want to come hear the music on Beale, but sometimes it seems as if it is hard to get even a $1 tip from most people. Last Thursday, my husband played for 4 hours and made only $5. This is not just something he does for fun. This is how he takes care of his family. Many of the bars don’t guarantee any money, and it is usually no more than $200, so the musicians really depend on merchandise sales and tips to actually make the gig profitable. Why is it that music is in such high demand, but people don’t see a reason to support local musicians who are not travelling the world and superstars? It is hard to comprehend how people go on vacation or come to Memphis on business amd come to Beale Street looking for a unique sound but would rather spend $40 on a 100 oz drink rather than tip the band providing their entertainment $1. It is truly crazy watching how things progress.
You would also think that travelling would pay more than staying at home. Not really. Most places don’t pay a whole lot more than here when you factor in travelling expenses. Don’t think that just because a band travels they are rich. That is not the case. Most times they come back with the same amount they would have made here without travelling. It’s also exhausting and makes a person with a family miss out on things much more valuable than money, like family and sleep.
My husband just got back from two days on the road. He drove 12 hours overnight to make it to church this morning to play. Then rehearsal right after church. He is in bed exhausted from a three day whirlwind. Is it worth it? I guess we will see in the future. Sometimes it doesn’t seem like it.