Posts tagged risk
A Risky Life

I’ve had many conversations with creative friends regarding the life we have chosen to live, a life that seems unnatural compared to what is widely accepted as “normal” and which provides no shortage of discomfort, uncertainty and risk. The fact is that many people who have the artistic itch willingly and knowingly enter into a life path that causes a great deal of stress. Stress from not knowing when your next paycheck will be. Stress from sickness and injury when you have poor insurance coverage, or none at all. Stress from not feeling capable of leading the life modern society has bred most of us to believe we are supposed to live, or from not even wanting to live that life in the first place and possibly feeling slightly alienated or even ostracized from a social structure that finds that to be odd.

These are not anxieties exclusive to the creative community; they’re shared by many, many people devoted to any number of disciplines around the world. And, as I firmly believe, we are all creative in one way or another. But while I know this applies to many different types, I’m thinking of a very specific kind of person as I write this (because they’re the ones I talk to about these things on a regular basis).

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Artistic Naiveté

For anyone who’s living a life of creative pursuits, being realistic about our chances of making it to the next level isn’t something that we generally take into account. Like I said in my post about the romance of the ideal a few months ago, most of us tend to live life with our heads in the clouds, and maybe one or two toes scraping the ground for good measure.  After talking with a friend about the inevitable umbrella of naiveté that we musicians have to live under, I realized a few things.

There are two kinds of artistic naiveté. One is good, and one is bad.

To be fair, it could be argued that both are bad, but nobody who has devoted their life to pursuing near-impossible goals like musicians and artists is going to lock horns with me on this one. We’ll leave that to the folks who are always wondering when we’ll grow up and get real jobs. Anyway, the good naiveté is that which we use to ignore the odds of turning art into real income. I’ve been playing in bands since I was a teenager, and I’ve been spending the better part of my last five years working on developing my current band. As much as I believe in the music we’re making, as good a band as I think we are, the simple fact is that the law of averages is against us. For every band that makes a living from their music, there are hundreds that never even came close. Maybe even thousands. And being good is no more a guarantee to your success than being lucky. Being smart about your music career is a must, but that’s a topic for another day.

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