Like it or not, being a freelance musician has to be a business and a career as well as a vocation.
And like any business, the startup period was pretty financially fraught. A lot of money went out on setup costs, from business cards to a video showreel, and ventures that didn’t pay off. Income took a while to start coming in, and grew slowly. Unsurprisingly, I cut costs where I could to try and bring the numbers together.
Nonetheless, I ran an unambiguous deficit for the first seven months, pulling successive support packages out of my ever-svelter-looking savings and wondering if it was going to work.
April was a disappointment – I had hoped to turn the financial corner but my chosen measure (money in and out of my bank account, because I can add it up and I’m never going to try and track all my cash spending, even if I need to track cash income for my sense of ethical responsibility even to the taxman) showed I was about ten quid short. May, though, did provide the first point I’d actually saved some money, even if it was only about enough to buy a train ticket to Liverpool.
June was an exceptional month – I don’t expect to maintain being that busy, given I gigged two or three times most weekends and had a few midweek gigs as well, plus getting some money in from transcribing / arranging work. It might be for the best if I don’t have quite that much on alongside my part-time desk job to be honest! However, it is the first time I’ve been really happy about the financials of working as a musician. If I did keep that rate of work up, I could probably have filled the hole in my savings back in by the spring, which would be quite enough to aim at for the moment.
Of course, caution is required. Breaking even is one thing, but it won’t let me save for a deposit (if I thought I could ever get a mortgage without moving to outer small town nowhere and buying a car, meaning – oh yes, more expenses). And the majority of my income is still coming from my desk job. I would like to contemplate going full-time with music; but just because I’m making more than I spend in the part-time arrangement doesn’t prove it would work.
Nonetheless, financial insecurity is apparently one of the leading barriers to freedom from anxiety and stress, and against the odds, I might just be able to cross that one off for the moment.