What You Should Really Expect From A Broke Musician

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I’m a 20-something artist living in New York City, and, quite frankly, I’m tired of trying to make people believe that I have my shit together. It’s way too much work.

I constantly find myself having to choose between taking a shower, brushing my teeth, shaving, dressing appropriately for whatever it is I have to do, OR being on time for whatever it is I have to do, and, spoiler alert: you can’t have both, team.

As an FYI for all of those who haven’t realized what it’s like dealing with a performer/freelancer, let me give you a general rule of thumb: money and time are like an endangered species to us. Although we consider ourselves exceptional at our respective concentrations—whether it be music, art, or acting—we don’t have the energy to concentrate on anything else. The result is an endless tailspin of lateness, a serious lack of giving a shit when it comes to monotonous jobs where creativity is absent, and an inability to ever get the next round of drinks at the bar… ever.

When a girl wants to go out on a date, she’d better warn her expectations to step like the Ying-Yang Twin song, and ‘Get Low’. Broke musicians (spoiler alert) cannot take you out to nice places and our idea of nice things include… well… anything after smoking a bowl. Maybe I’ve been in the game a little too long but it kind of boggles my mind how people still don’t get that.

The worst part is when people ask: how do you not have money? That’s not a exactly a chicken or the egg scenario. How do people fail to realize that every extra dollar goes into sheet music, voice lessons, headshots or promo shots, studio time, business cards and other basic essentials of performers?! And after that, everything left over usually goes to alcohol because Hell, there’s no point of being broke AND sober.

Isn’t it enough that I’m overbooked because my fourth supplemental income job—that I have to go to once a week to pay my uncle the loan he gave me for overdraft fees in my bank account—is in Canarsie and I’m coming from an audition in Midtown… in rush hour? MTA doesn’t exactly make things easier what with slowly increasing train fare every five seconds, and a slew of recent ‘incidents’ and ‘construction’. You’d think after all these years they’d be done ‘constructing’ things. Why do the ‘incidents’ always seem to happen when I’m already late for something? Before I know it it’s turned into a situation where I’m perpetually late for every single thing that’s happening that day.

I am in no way implying that tardiness is cool (unless, of course, you are tardy for the party which is what we can truly learn from The Real Housewives of Atlanta), I am simply stating that the expectation levels of musicians to systematically function like everyone else are unreasonable and unfathomable and I refuse to continue to be a part of them. Here’s a note to all non-musician friends: the next time you’re planning a social activity with your musician friend make sure you put yourselves in their worn out pair of shoes before asking for a substantial financial commitment. If they are anything like me, they struggle with committing to a weekly unlimited Metrocard (I literally count the number of trips I need to take that week before each purchase).

So why do I continue this madness? Because in a world where Miley Cyrus suddenly thinks she’s Rihanna, I’ve learned that anything is possible. We, hot messes, shouldn’t put ourselves under so much pressure to get it together, and we should stop listening to everyone who tells us to do so. That’s why I no longer feel bad about being such a mess and neither should you. In conclusion, I would like to challenge my fellow musicians, actors, singers and dancers: let’s break the status quo of pretending like our lives are well put together, because they’re not. Expectations are for people with salaries.

Photo Credit: www.bookedpromotions.com

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About the author

Freddie Cosmo - Associate Debtitor

Freddie Cosmo is a recording artist from Philadelphia, PA. living in New York City by way of Miami. He spent all his money on undergrad music school and feels as though he owes all musicians (and the universe for that matter) the most accurate information on how to be broke without giving up on their dreams. He would like to shamelessly invite you to check out his music at www.soundcloud.com/freddie-cosmo.
  • http://keane.li Keane

    Challenge, accepted. Great article.

  • http://www.thebrokeandbeautifullife.com Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life

    Thank you for this. I just got invited to a bachelorette party- $250 for the hotel alone. Ummm… what do you not get about, I’m an actress?!