Office of Film + Music: Yes, music is a real job

Local musicians are constantly being told they need to have a "real job," but according to a survey by the Office of Film + Music, playing shows, selling CDs, and generally walking the walk actually can sustain a person, financially-speaking.

A pressing issue that looms over many young hopefuls (like Cumulus, who I interviewed about this very subject earlier this week), the ability for life as a musician to be both fulfilling and fiscally possible is one that interested Film + Music director James Keblas.

So he peeked at the financial records of three local musicians from various genres -- with permission, of course -- to see whether or not the revenue from music (and just the music) could be enough to pay the rent, keep the lights on, and leave a little left over for food and parking and other necessities. Keblas said that he explicitly looked for middle-earners, rather than those who were breaking in big bucks.

What he found was that with a little bit of business savvy and some creative endeavors (like giving lessons and licensing original music to advertisers), musicians in the city were able to support themselves just with their craft.

Seattle is also a unique city in terms of access and potential for musicians.

"The infrastructure for music in Seattle -- the venues, the music blogs, the radio stations -- that's how we found success. And that doesn't exist in the vast majority of cities," says Matt Bishop of Hey Marseilles, whose second album, "Lines We Trace" was released in March, and who will be playing the main stage at July's Capitol Hill Block Party.

"There's such a committment to music and the arts, but it's also a small community, so it's easy to network," Bishop explains.

Still, it takes work and smarts. Keblas admits that it's not an easy road, but that "if you have the musical skills and the perseverance, you can do it."

You can see a larger version of the graphic here, and get more information on the findings from the Office of Film + Music's blog.