10 Unexpected Challenges Faced by Musicians

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Whether you’re considering entering the music industry or you’ve been practicing as a performing artist for a long time, you should be aware of the unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers. Although we tend to think of the music industry as a place of glitz, glamour, and fun, it can also be a difficult industry to crack. Once you’ve gotten into the music industry, staying in it can be even harder than it was to break into it initially.

Not All Musicians Face the Same Struggles

As with any situation in life, being a musician doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have the same issues as your peers. Two musicians could even be in the same band and still have totally different experiences in the music industry. Since music involves a love of the art, networking with other people in the industry, interacting with fans, and money, it can have a host of problems that are relatively easy to anticipate if you know what to expect.

If your child is interested in entering the music industry, it can help to review the issues we list below so that they know what they might encounter in this industry. Although Hollywood movies and television shows make it seem like the music industry is one of the easiest or most desirable places to be, it has its issues like any other sector. While it might be more closely aligned with your passions to work in the music industry than working in another field, that doesn’t mean that it will be smooth sailing if you decide to go down this path so you should be ready for troubles that might come your way as a professional musician.

1. Faulty Gear

One of the main unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers every night when they go out on stage is gear not working the way it was intended. Sometimes, electronic instruments have a hard time turning on or microphones’ batteries die in the middle of a set. If you’re shorter or taller than average, you may find that microphone stands need to have someone weld fittings on them so they are easier for you to hold at your level.

As they say in show business, “the show must go on”–even if your gear isn’t cooperating. If you notice that your microphone isn’t working, you can use this as an opportunity to let the crowd sing along to their favorite song while you troubleshoot it. Having someone on your crew who knows how to fix equipment quickly without interrupting a show is another great idea to get a show back on the road as soon as possible.

2. Shady Characters

As with any industry, some unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers have to do with their associates. From people who commit crimes to folks who might want to get a piece of their successful pie, musicians have to know how to deal with people whose values might not align with theirs. As a musician, it’s not a bad idea to have a criminal law attorney in your contacts so you can call them if any legal issues come up for you. Even if you don’t intend to commit a crime, you could accidentally do something to hurt a fan when you’re trying to get out of a large crowd or say something incriminating on stage if you perform under the influence so you should have an attorney in the wings in case you need to defend yourself.

3. Financial Trouble

Although we usually think that musicians make the big bucks, one of the unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers has to do with finances. Many musicians aren’t used to handling the amount of money that they get when they write a famous hit. As a result, they may be tempted to keep up with their affluent peers and head towards financial ruin in the process.

If you’re a musician who has reached the end of your rope financially, there is hope. Although it’s not ideal, you can look for a bankruptcy attorney who can help you start climbing your way out of a financial hole by filing bankruptcy if you can’t pay what you owe to various institutions. Some musicians never enjoy financial success so their troubles are a different kind of financial issue.

Still, if you’re getting into music, you shouldn’t worry about being poor forever. Even if you can’t make ends meet with music, you may be able to let music stay a side gig until you’ve built up enough of a fan base to transition into doing it full-time. Many famous musicians started out playing gigs on the weekends and going to work during the week, so you’ll be following in the footsteps of plenty of people who have made it in the entertainment industry before your time.

4. High Stress

Since performing live in front of hundreds or thousands of people can be nerve-wracking, one of the unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers is the level of stress that they’re under. When you’re touring as a musician, you’ll have people telling you where to go and what to do. You might also not be able to sleep or eat enough to keep up with your demanding schedule.

As a musician, if you notice that your stress level is getting the best of you, it’s time to slow down and start focusing on self-care. You can take an afternoon off to visit an acupuncture doctor or even a few minutes in the evening to unwind with meditation. When your stress levels start to affect your health or happiness, it may be time to consider if you want to take a break from music so you can recharge and return when you feel rejuvenated.

5. Maintaining Relationships

When you’re on the road as a musician, the unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers related to relationships hit a little harder than they do when you’re back home. With a busy schedule, it can be hard to make time with your loved ones or date. Additionally, some people don’t understand the sacrifices you have to make to make it as a musician so you might lose friends as you start moving up the ranks of the music charts.

If you’re just starting in the music industry, you can develop habits to nurture relationships that will serve you well even if you become famous one day. You can plan a date night with your significant other at a hibachi restaurant or another place once a week so your partner knows that they can expect to see you at least once a week. You can also arrange for your friends to have at least a video call once a week so that you don’t lose touch with the people who matter most to you as you start focusing more on your career as a musician.

6. Travel Logistics

Although agents may handle the specifics of travel, those without an agent or manager may encounter unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers when they’re trying to figure out how to arrange trips to different places. Whether you relocate to a major city that’s known for its music scene or you decide to stay in your hometown as a home base, you’ll probably need to think about moving at some point if you want to launch a successful music career. Musicians who go on tour need to make sure that they can have a smooth transition from one city to the next and plan where they’ll sleep each night so they don’t end up sleeping on the streets.

If it’s stressful for you to plan a day trip or family vacation, imagine how stressful it would be to plan a multi-city tour for a musician. Musical artists sometimes rely on travel agents or managers to do this work, so it shouldn’t scare you off if you want to get into the music industry. Still, those who don’t love to travel might want to reconsider what it would be like for their music career to take off.

7. Tech Issues

As with any industry, one of the unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers is technical difficulties. From the wi-fi giving out in the middle of an important meeting with managers to the power going out when you’re in the middle of a jam session, technology isn’t always on our side. If you notice that you experience tech issues all the time when you’re practicing your music, you may want to call an electrical contractor to see if there’s a larger electrical issue that’s causing you to blow a fuse.

Some types of music are less affected by electrical issues. For example, folk musicians can still use their instruments and thrive even if the power goes out. Those who use electric guitars, electric pianos, or synthesizers may need to ensure that their electrical connection is strong before they plan to practice on their instruments to avoid interruptions.

8. Stolen Gear

When you have expensive equipment, one of the unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers is theft. Once you become a famous musician, even basic instruments or equipment may be worth something if the person who stole them tries to resell them, so you should lock up all of your items. Putting your most prized possessions in a storage unit with a lock specially designed by a locksmith company can go a long way in protecting your gear.

If you don’t have a special place to store your gear, you can put a tracker on it so you’ll have a better chance of finding it if it gets stolen. Additionally, you may want to wait to invest a lot of money into gear until you can afford to store it securely. Although you might dream of having a guitar that’s worth thousands of dollars, it could make you a target for theft if you can’t properly protect it.

9. Health Issues

Between spending a lot of time on the road and wearing themselves down with musical events, some of the unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers have to do with their health. When you’re on the road all the time, it can be hard to make time to see a local dentist or establish care with a PCP. If you’re a musician, you should put yourself first since your body is your most valuable instrument.

Musicians should also take care to practice in ways that sustain their health. As a singer, you should learn techniques that aren’t harsh on your vocal cords. You should also pay attention to any issues with pain or discomfort in your throat and diaphragm.

If music starts coming before your health, it’s time to reconsider priorities. Your well-being is priceless. It’s worth more than music.

10. Substance Abuse

As you can tell from many news articles on the subject, some of the unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers involve substance use. Some musicians may start out by hitting their friends’ wine cellars too hard. Others may take harder drugs to cope with the stress of the music industry. No matter why musicians use substances, they deserve to get help just like anyone else.

Some musicians use music as an outlet to discuss their relationship with substances or even glorify substance use, unfortunately. Others might keep the problem under wraps from the public. If you find music to be a helpful release for urges to use substances, you should keep relying on it instead of relapsing so you can inspire others to do the same.

Depending on your age and stage in your music career, you may or may not know a lot about unexpected challenges faced by musicians and musical performers. Some musicians keep their heads down and their noses clean so they might not see as many of the issues as those who hang around certain crowds do. Regardless of whether you think you might face the difficulties we list in the article below, it’s good to stay aware of your surroundings in the industry and know when trouble might be headed your way so you can prepare to tackle it head-on.

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