Maybe the frequent referrals to alcohol in a lot of songs make people think that various intoxicating beverages make up a substantial portion of a musician’s diet, perhaps even 100 percent of it.
Paul McCartney claimed all he needed was a pint a day in the song “Band on the Run.” As one of the most successful musicians and songwriters in history, I don’t think Paul ever had to worry about being able to afford any of his drinking “needs.”
Playing for drinks and tips as noted in the song “Piano Man” by Billy Joel is all right for a side gig but is a hard way to support yourself let alone a family.
Asheville, NC songwriter Aaron “Woody Wood” has a line in one of his songs that sums it up well: “The living that we’re making ain’t no way to make a living.”
I’ve been fortunate to have a day job most of my life. I’ve just been too insecure (or maybe too realistic) to go very long without a steady income stream or employer-provided health insurance.
Some might say that means I’m not a real musician.
Maybe they’re right. I haven’t suffered, at least not economically, for my art.
I do admire those who commit to a life of music and I try to support them when I can. And that doesn’t mean buying a performer a drink. It means buying tickets or forking over money for cover charges to see live music and actually paying for sheet music and recordings, whether physical or online.
In the old days musicians like Mozart and Beethoven had patrons who helped financially support them. Today we, the fans, are the patrons who show our appreciation for the work of our favorite artists by helping them make a living.
It’s okay to treat them to a drink too as long as we all remember that musicians and bands cannot live on beer alone.