So, it’s Christmas. And I thought it would be fun to schedule this post 2 days early, so you have something to read when you flee to the toilet to have just 5 minutes to yourself. (Man, I really sound like I hate Christmas now…)
Come on, you know just as well as I do that I’ve written and scheduled this blog post days ago, because who wants to sit in front of a laptop when you can stuff your face with too much food and hot chocolate while listening Christmas songs? (See, it’s not *all* hate! I do love some parts of it!)
And at the moment of writing, I sure as hell know that I will have that awkward Christmas dinner conversation at least once. Some random family member I haven’t seen in a while asking about me and my music, in such a way that you just know they are expecting interesting stories and big name dropping and newspaper reviews of your latest premiere and pictures of dozens of award ceremonies and shit.
This is not reality. Only for the best 1% or so. The guys who dedicate their life to music and work more than 12 hours a day. Me not so. I prefer to have some kind of social life. Eating Christmas dinner at a dinner table instead of a mixing table. And I have a very lovely boyfriend who likes the fact that I sleep at home every night and not on the couch in the studio because I worked way too late.
It all started when I went to the conservatorium to study. Everyone and their mums and nanas wants to know how that works and what you’re doing. So the classic conversation went a bit like the following:
“So what do you study?”
Me: “I study MediaMusic at the conservatorium in Enschede. Composition, music production, songwriting and sound effects.”
“Oohhh conservatorium!” [I know that word! But I didn’t listen to everything else you said.] “That’s music, right? You must be very gifted! So what instrument do you play?”
Me: “I don’t do any instrument, I study composition: I write and record music.”
“So with real notes! Do you write it all by yourself? That must be very difficult!”
Me: [Kind of fed up with the whole conversation already] “No, I copy Beethoven and then I sign with my own name.”
Every Christmas, every birthday party, every family gathering or party that was sort of “sitting in a circle, eating snacks and cake and talking to the people next to you” was like this. And the music business conversation hasn’t much changed since I graduated:
“So how’s music lately? Do you have a job already?”
Me: “I’m self-employed. An entrepreneur. There’s not really 9 to 5 jobs for a composer. I produce music and sell that on a stock music website called AudioJungle where people can buy it to use for their film or game project. I also have some income from advertisements on my blog and occasionally a commissioned piece of music. But business is slow: people have to get to know you exist. But that’s the startup phase, you can’t expect to earn a full-time salary in only a short time when you’re working in such a niche. It’s gradually improving though.”
“So what do you do all day?”
Me: “Well, basically everything I do is computer work, not really interesting. And then once in a while I try some chords on the piano. Or someone comes over to record a part. And of course some paperwork because that comes with every job.”
I guess people don’t really get how much the idea of work and income has changed since the digital era. Even I would never have thought I’d make my money on the internet by selling stock music and writing some blogs and selling ad space, this kind of thing just didn’t exist a decade ago! And you can’t expect people suddenly to know everything about these new jobs gradually appearing with improving technology and communications.
But what I DO find annoying, is that most people still have VERY old-fashioned ideas of working in the music (or any creative) industry. They all think it’s sitting at an ancient grand piano being a virtuoso writing symphonies with a quill on parchment. Going door to door from orchestra to orchestra to sell your new quirky and modern piece of music that nobody actually want to listen to (only the reviewers). Like all composers are stuck in the 1800s.
It’s kind of tiresome. But not all bad. It at least inspired me to write this blog post 😉
Do you have this kind of conversations with relatives or family friends you don’t see that often? Share them in the comment section, I love a good laugh! 😀
Disclaimer: The official term for the figure of speech used above is “rant”. It is meant as a satyrical and slightly sarcastic way of putting some thoughts and emotions in perspective, hopefully to the mere enjoyment of the reader.