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Pete, I think these are excellent points. Being a composer is my favorite part of being a musician, it's probably the thing I'm best at, and I've been trying to make it my primary source of income for a very long time, but it's never been able to get up there. I get a little trickle every month from my PRO, and occasionally a cool gig with a good fee, but the climate these days is ultra-saturated. You're absolutely right about the briefs: the industry is plagued by supervisors who say "I don't know what I want, but I know what I don't want!" (The kiss of death. I did a thing for JC Penney with a guy like that and it was absolutely nuts.)

My solution for now - thanks in part to encouragement and advice from my friend/mentor Henry Hey, who's done some of the biggest touring and soundtrack work in the business - is to focus on purely creative work, like I meant to from the start.

Which is why I switched to composing. It coincided with finding out there was a bay on the way so it made sense to go the more lucrative path, especially as many of the diversions on the road were no longer so relevant, being in a steady relationship.

However I wouldn't advise it so much these days, getting your foot in the door is less easy, budgets are on the whole lower. Directors are getting less and less able to give a coherent brief (preferring to get lots of unpaid demos knowing there's a half decent chance one of them will work etc. etc. The nice part about it is the royalties don't stop necessarily when the work does.
 

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Forum Contributor 2016, Distinguished SOTW Member
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This is a hypothetical question directed at those of you out there who do or did make a living primarily as a performer, whether as a leader, sideman, studio musician, or anything like that. I'm just wondering if any of you made the choice early on to take gigs in a kind of genre/band/environment that wouldn't have been your first choice, and then had it take off to the point where you felt like it would be a risk pursuing your preferred style of music. For example a hardcore jazzer who started taking pop/rock gigs as a sideman and then was very successful at that to the point where they no longer felt they could make it in the jazz scene (insert whatever genres you want). Does that kind of thing happen often? Is it a problem or are you just happy to be making money playing music? Do you have time for your own stuff on the side? I'm just trying to get a feel for what people's experiences have been, since not everyone has a career where they totally call the shots about what kind of music they play.

A related question - at what point in your career do you turn down gigs simply because you don't like the kind of music you are asked to play (or is there even such a point)?

hope this makes sense haha[rolleyes]
I don't think playing different kinds of music gets in the way of other genres in any way. It's really up to the player. Brecker did his think but he also played gigs with Carly Simon, Paul Simon and many other pop singers. Bob Reynolds did his own thing but played gigs with John Mayer. Jeff Coffin does his own thing but played and toured with Dave Matthews. I think Bob Sheppard and Chris Potter have done gigs and maybe tours with Steely Dan. Most of the sax players I knew in the Boston area would play with whatever GB band they could get gigs with every weekend but play jazz gigs in between when they could book them. You do what you have to to pay the bills I think.
 
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