Whether or not you actively seek music, it’s everywhere. Be it through your favourite streaming platform, on the radio in your car, through commercials on TV, in the background at the grocery stores, or through live performances in bars, clubs, or restaurants - music surrounds and delights us by filling up life’s silent moments. And behind the music that you hear every day, there’s a musician who dedicated their lives to making it possible. However, it’s becoming an increasingly uphill battle to work as a professional one.
With the rising cost of living and the way, people purchase music evolving rapidly over the last few years, working as a musician seems only possible as a side-hustle or passion project.
The mere idea of a musician working for a living nowadays seems far fetched, almost near impossible.
But for this week’s Ratehub.ca’s Real Money Talk guest, Mike Evin, is a full time working musician currently living in Toronto, Ontario.
Evin’s work as a musician spans nearly two decades, with full-length albums, a handful of EPs, and a few charming music videos.
He’s also worked with Juno-nominated producers, and earned regular playtime on CBC Music.
Evin’s also earned nods from some of Canada’s most notable working musicians, (like Dan Mangan and Sarah Harmer), and shared the stage with staples of Canada’s professional musician industry (like the Barenaked Ladies and Ron Sexsmith.)
We spoke with Mike Evin about the ins-and-outs of what life as a working musician is like, how musicians make ends meet today, and other topics, including insider tips and tricks on how musicians can make the most of their time working in the competitive music industry.
This podcast is brought to you by EQ Bank and the EQ Bank Savings plus account.
[0:00 - 3:36] Intro
[3:36 - Money Mistakes and Money Makeups - losing money as a musician, too much alcohol, cancelled gigs
[6:24 - 7:29] Tell us the Mike Evin story - playing music as a kid, jazz as a teenager, high school band, late teens writing songs.
[7:30 - 8:24] When was the first time you thought you could make money as a musician?
[8:25 - 11:29] Did you play in small clubs? WHat’s the earliest memories of making money as a musician? Great story about the real life struggles of getting paid as a musician.
[11:30 - 13:14] What would you say to a self employed musician in getting paid well. Should a musician accept drinks as payment? You need confidence and love and respect.
[13:15 - 16:34] Venues are shutting down. How does an artist stand up for themselves? People shouldn’t be happy with whatever they can get, but take it gig by gig. The three thing rule - pay, quality of music, and the hang. You need two of those.
[16:35 - 20:24] How do musicians earn money these days after a decade of streaming and file sharing? Limewire, Napster and now subscription based services like Napster.
For every 1 million streams you get $4,000 - it’s not worth it. THere needs to be other sources. You need to diversify. Neighboring rights
[20:25 - 22:09] There’s a lot of money that goes out when making music. How do you find that balance? It’s not a regular 9-5 job with a bi weekly paycheck. How do you manage the cash flow?
[22:10 - 23:29] How long does it take to fill out a money grant? Does it have to be 100% made in Canada? Yes, there are stipulations - they can be political, quality of music, but there are far more criteria. Making money from ticket sales, merchandise, Socan.
[23:30 - Is Canadian content (CANCON) rules restrictive - does that restrict our artists growing out of Canada?
All Canadian record labels, if you took grant funding away, you’d go bankrupt.
[26:51 - 29:02] About visas to work in the United States. You need a US Visa to work. Be careful crossing the border