It’s a sad truth, but one that artists need to get their head around before they embark on a life where making music is their only or main source of income.
Even a level of success which looks profitable to the outside world often leaves an artist in a strange netherworld of some fame, yet no cash! At the same time, most people around them will asume that they have made plenty of money. This is amplified in a band where there’s not a lot of cash generated and it has to feed more mouths. Have look at this classic rant from Steve Albini which explains why an artist signed to a record company can end up selling a lot of records and yet make no money.
The DIY musician can do better than the signed artist if they can fund their record releases and touring to profit, but it’s not easy for them either.
Forewarned is forearmed.
The idea that musicians—even well-known musicians who sell out large club shows—have money is a misconception for the most part. Financial concerns and viability obviously vary from artist to artist; no two musicians are exactly the same when it comes to money and how it’s made and spent. But what most fans fail to realize is how much it costs to be a musician and how much more it costs to be a musician on the road.