1. Stop complaining that you don’t get paid enough. We live in a free market, and people will pay what they think something is worth, not how much you think it’s worth. If you’re not getting the price you want, reposition yourself in the market and offer buyers something they don’t mind paying a fair wage for.
A few years ago, I was playing coffeehouses as a solo pianist for tips. As I discovered the maximum I was going to get for a 3 hour show was going to be $75, I decided to go after country clubs and high-end parties with music I branded as “quiet dinner music” on my website. In less than a year, I was making $100 per hour, and my calendar was full. Once you find the right niche in the market, and you’ll be amazed at how much people will pay for your music.
2. Stop complaining that no one listens to your music. I went to a show last night. The band wasn’t bad- they played a bunch of 70’s and 80’s tunes that I knew, generally looked pleasant onstage, and were decently tight as a group. Sadly, this isn’t enough any more to keep people’s attention for 2+ hours.
When you are playing a show, keep it visually interesting and as interactive as possible. One of the bands I’m with invested in $20,000 in lighting and wrote a story that is played back between songs to keep audiences attentive for almost 2 hours. The result has been amazing, with almost no one leaving their seats during the entire performance.
3. Stop complaining that no one comes to your shows. If no one is coming to your show, you’re either not advertising enough, or your show isn’t interesting enough to keep people coming back. Other things that kill attendance is picking weird venues/times, playing too many shows in one region, and not changing up your set.
4. Stop complaining that no one supports you. No one owes you a living. Sorry.
5. Stop complaining that the music industry sucks. Here’s a secret- the music industry has sucked in one way or the other since before troubadours were hauling lutes around medieval Europe. Let’s stop focusing on what isn’t working in the music industry, and celebrate the good.