Performing Musician

In today’s society some professions seem to be deemed more valuable than others.  For example, being an accountant or a lawyer has a specific path toward the end result of being a gainfully employed CPA or attorney.  The training required to enter into those professions, as well as the professions themselves, is looked upon favorably, admirably and even necessary.  

However, music professionals in our society are often viewed as unnecessary, or providing less of a societal function than other professions already mentioned.  I would argue that in some cases musicians actually endure quite a bit more training of their craft than an accountant or lawyer does and yet still most musicians make nowhere near what an accountant or lawyer makes in annual income.

The point is that professional performing musicians provide value and should be compensated for the value they provide.

Most musicians train for years to develop their craft allowing them to provide what appears to be effortlessly stellar performances that entertain patrons at the coffee shop or bar or whatever venue the musician is performing in.

Even though these musicians are providing an entertaining experience for the patrons of the venue in which they're performing, often aiding the venue's sale of drinks or food, the musicians often make little if any wage from the venue.  In many cases the musician has to rely on tips and/or merchandise sales.

Venue owners wouldn't ask their bookkeeper or attorney to work only for tips, so why should a musician?

Musicians are entrepreneurs (and so are artists, writers, actors and anyone else offering their artistic talents for a wage).  Artistic entrepreneurs have to constantly take advantage of the opportunity to educate others about their value -- why venues, patrons, etc. should expect to exchange money for the value of their artistic talents.

The best way to combat this disconnect is to take what you do seriously so others will take you seriously as well. Often musicians and other artists shoot themselves in the foot when they do not conduct their business professionally. I'm a big believer that you need to teach others how to interact with you, and if you are a working musician who wants to command a particular wage for your craft then you need to be as professional about it as you can.  In fact, this will likely put you head and shoulders above most of your competition.