John Mayer 2011 Clinic – “Manage the Temptation to Publish Yourself” – Berklee Blogs

Lots of insightful stuff here and I completely agree that many musicians should aim for a better balance between improving their craft and promoting themselves. But I'm having trouble understanding this whole idea that having a back-up plan is somehow bad. I see that advice being given by people who were successful in the past in the old industry, under different conditions, but they seem to overestimate how much money the average person is willing to spend in this economy and will spend in the future.

Let's say you're a talented and unknown artist trying make a living in 2011:

- Forget about record labels, they aren't signing anymore. No more tour support, PR and marketing.
- From what I understand, making enough touring and merch profit to survive in today's world is pretty much impossible unless you're a huge act playing in 2000 + seat venues. When I hear and read from several sources that most bands and artists playing in 1000 seater venues are not even breaking even, it puts things into perspective.
- youtube and facebook are great places to upload your content but will most likely not magically attract random people to you unless you promote, not to mention that the conversion rates of those youtube views into actual music purchases (CD, concert ticket, etc.) are extremely tiny.

Unless I am missing something here: without a day job or backup plan (i.e. career that you are talented at outside of music), how are you supposed to pay rent and buy food?

It's like saying to a typewriter repair-person when personal computers were starting to become popular: "if you really want it, you can have a future in the typewriter business. People who tell you to look for other opportunities or a back-up plan say that because they have failed."

Am I missing something here?