August 27, 2012 • Podcasts
JD Samson talks dollars and sense
Continued from page 3
MK: I want to go back to that – to talking a little bit about confidence – but I just want to ask: What are some of the major pros and cons of being a musician?
JS: I consider myself an artist before I consider myself a musician just because I didn’t go to school for music and making conceptual work. I went to school for filmmaking and I always studied conceptual art, and just fell into the music world because it was a band made up of artists. I think what's great about making music is that you’re able to be a performance artist, make work on your own, and then present it to people and then it’s a product.
I have a lot of friends who are performance artists or who do installation work and for them it’s really, really hard to make money because they don't have anything to sell. You can’t sell a performance. You can have a performance, but to make enough money, you have to have a good budget and get grants and all that stuff, and it’s really complicated. Unfortunately, with the music industry going in the direction it is right now, we’re all concerned about how to make money. Part of the process for Men right now has been to create a show that’s interesting enough to change every time we have a show in each town so that people want to come back, or interesting enough, to create new instrumentation for each show or adapt each show to being a different work. Because the 99 cents we used to make off songs just isn’t there anymore. People download all their records for free and that’s just the way things are going.
MK: In terms of budgeting and managing your money, do you have any advice for when you have a job in the creative field, or how to budget when your income is so unpredictable?
JS: I went to this talk recently about why artists are poor and it was really interesting. It was kind of ironic because it was all generalizations about why artists are bad with their money. I found it to be kind of depressing. I’m not that into generalizations and stuff but I did find that it was interesting to understand, or to be self critical really, like, it’s true, I don't really know how to manage my money at all. When I get paid, I pay my rent, and I work as hard as I can all the time – this is part of me being a workaholic – and I work hard all the time to make as much money as I can so that while I’m waiting for more work I’m going be able to make ends meet. And I don't really have any tips because I’m really bad. I guess the biggest thing is just the way I do it right now; by having my hands in many different things and just trying to continue to make work and put it out there. I think as a musician, the most important thing is to just keep making good work and to keep making work that gets people coming back.