Should a Freelance Musician Go To College?
Whoa there! Scandalous! OF COURSE THEY SHOULD. Right? Well, maybe. Here's what I know for a fact though:
80% of Americans are in some form of debt
Average student loan debts are about 40 grand.
The average musician makes a little over 35,000 a year
HOWEVER, of that study only 33% of those surveyed made most of their money (75%) from music. In other words, music is a side hustle for most of those people.
Those are the facts that can easily be Googled. I also have some anecdotal findings I've experienced in the last year.
The majority of music majors who have graduated are too in debt to live alone.
Most of those people aren't playing any paying gigs. At all.
Most of those people also work a day job to survive.
These are people with Masters Degrees. Which means they could quite easily have gone 6 figures into debt to make a fraction of that.
There are however, a few people that have really figured out how to hustle. Those people that have figured out the market in their area and pursued that market aggressively. In my case, I've learned that Orlando has a lot of really great teaching opportunities that I've been able to piece together a career out of.
Do you want to know how I got 100% of these teaching jobs? I asked. I sent emails. Since moving, I must have sent quite literally over 1000 emails to band directors, local theaters, symphonies, parents of potential students...you get the idea. I've figured out that the other people who are doing as well or much, much better than I am have done a lot of hard work to get there.
I have a feeling that those people who are willing to grind and hustle day and night to piece together a stable career are people that would have done it without college. That being said, being surrounded by people who are better than you and world class educators is worth it's weight in gold! If you have the opportunity to attend for free or to go debt free (which are two different things, right?) then YES, go.
But, if, like me, you never get to do it...Don't worry. You might be better off in at least a few ways!