“Sold encyclopaedia door to door
Now it’s over, handed back the Rover
And I’m lying on my floor
I’m currently resting….”
The true existence of the average working musician, actor or artist, is often far removed from the glamourous images of showbusiness depicted in the media. My own journey as a musician has been punctuated by a range of “day” jobs - some OK, some as palatable as an arsenic sandwich.
I’ve worked in a petrol station, in a hotel as a kitchen porter, as a receptionist and as a low-level number cruncher in offices. A few of these jobs stretched out to last for years, way beyond what I ever intended. I quickly found out that the economic reality of trying to survive solely as a musician, especially when I moved from London to Liverpool, was a sudden and harsh awakening where rent, light, heat, food, clothes and equipment all came dependent on a regular and reasonable monthly income. In recent years, my family has been a great support in this respect, while I’ve tried to eke out a living in music – largely through performing covers gigs in hotels, pubs, restaurants, private parties and, occasionally, doing solo and band gigs of original material (the latter being a lot fewer and far between).
Sometimes, I’d feel guilty about “not progressing” in music, of spending too much time away from it, earning something to survive. Perhaps I wasn’t “ambitious” enough. Maybe I wasn’t a true creative. All these thoughts have seeped in to my thinking at some point over the last 30-odd years.
A depressing set of statistics ironically helps me to gain some perspective on this negative outlook. It’s a declaration of numbers that, over the last ten years, seems to have remained unchanged.
I am a member of both PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) and PRS (Performing Rights Society) in the UK. In a Guardian article from 2010, reference was made to the levels of royalty distributions made by both societies to their members. It stated the following :
PPL, the music licensing company that collects royalties on behalf of 42,000 performers, says 90% of them earn less than £15,000 a year.
The Performing Rights Society, which processes payments for songwriters and composers, says 90% of the people on their books earn less than £5,000 a year.
A similar, short article was included in an edition of The Times in 2019, saying more or less the same thing – that the majority of recognised, UK actors and musicians, in the preceding 12 months, had earned on average close to the minimum wage, or less. Somewhere in the £5,000 to £10,000 a year bracket. The arguments over streaming income – and the current campaign to have songwriters and artists paid from Spotify on a “user-centric” basis - feeds into this reality. It’s not easy, but we still plod on.
“Currently Resting” is an acknowledgement that I’ve had to do other things in life, rather than being a musician. In the Arts, the term “resting” has been associated more often than not with the acting profession, but I feel it’s a catch-all term. Despite all this, I'm still involved, even on the quiet days. I still love writing and I write WAY better now than I ever did in my twenties.
Inspiration for “Currently Resting” came from the early Beatles song “It Won’t Be Long”, the opener on the “With The Beatles” album. I was aiming for a similar kind of drive to the rhythm track. MyBFD3 drum plug-in and my straight-ahead bass playing did the best they could to approximate a Beatle rhythm section (sorry, Paul and Ringo). If you need plumbing – call, I’ll be coming…………….