Hobbyist or Pro – Which are you?
Last week I saw this article(Click Here), where Katie Taylor states, “The core challenge we are facing right now(as artists) is the need to get people to see art as WORK that should be compensated.” She goes on to say that the general public views the arts as more of a hobby, and not as a serious profession that demands fair compensation. I would agree with her observations of the general public, but unfortunately, I think this an unwanted side effect of any career that has a hobbyist component. I honestly don’t think you’ll have much luck trying to change the opinions of the general public, as they just don’t understand what goes into being an artist at the professional level(Or even at the hobby level in many cases). I do, however, think it’s important that you don’t let the the opinions of the non-creative bunch shape how you pursue and view music at a professional level.
Now that I’m in a brand new band starting from scratch(Shameless plug http://hellomorningband.com), I’ve been thinking a lot about what separates the hobbyist musician from that of a full fledge professional. Here are some of my observations.
The Hobbyist Attitude – Believe it or not, many people who are making some income from their art with hopes of being a full time pro, are still operating under what I call a hobbyist attitude or mindset. They work at their craft when it’s convenient and fun, but don’t make the full commitment needed to get to the next level.
It’s Work – To be a pro, you have to take everything that goes along with having a job and assign it to your art. That means doing things you don’t want to do. Music and your art go beyond your own creative expression, as now the point is to make a living. It is work. I’ve known countless talented artists that have faced this fact head on only to become extremely disillusioned and give up.
The Stakes Are Much Higher – As you increase your profile as a musician or band, you become increasingly vulnerable. The audience applause and good press reviews are nice and all, but there is less room for error. People are watching with increased scrutiny, and they will call you out on a bad performance or bad album. Thick skin is not a typical trait of the artistic type, so many become fearful of exposing themselves to that kind of spotlight. Some people thrive with the increased pressure, but for many, it ruins the whole artistic experience.
Don’t Think It’s Possible – I know many people where music is the center point of their lives, but when it comes down to it and are honest with themselves, they really don’t see playing at the professional level as a realistic possibility. Without a burning passion and determination, it will be next to impossible to make the leap to the professional level.