Okay, okay, so nobody’s actually BREAKING the above news. But this past fall, a major survey was conducted by the Future of Music Coalition (FMC), which surveyed thousands of musicians about their different income sources. I know it may not feel this way when you look at your bank statement, but you actually have “revenue streams.” Yes. You do.

I first heard about this survey when Pete DiCola, a copyright law expert who works with the Coalition, happened to attend our Talking Back to Beethoven concert (with his wife and Brazilian marching band musicologist extraordinaire Kate Brucher). Pete told me in person that, incredibly, no one has ever really gathered information about how musicians are making ends meet. And in our current era of free downloads, shrinking federal & state arts funding, shriveling music education — you get the picture. Somebody started wondering how the $*%@ we’re doing it!

(Chicago Q Ensemble celebrates another unpaid rehearsal! No seriously, I'm being a jerk. We're really happy!)

One of the biggest contributors to our financial insecurity is a lack of health insurance. FMC has found that 33% of musicians are living without health insurance — that’s more than twice the uninsured rate among everybody else. So FMC created the Health Insurance Navigation Tool, HINT, in order to help musicians figure out what their options are. (Please check it out. Please get health insurance.) And don’t get me started on how our nation’s lack of universal health insurance essentially forces artists to work for organizations that can provide it to them — also known as day jobs — rather than taking the leap of working for themselves, freelancing, or starting their own business. Can you imagine how your career decisions would be different if you didn’t have to worry about health insurance? Can you imagine how many more composers would be composing, painters would be painting, songwriters singing, without worrying that they’ll get hit by the Ashland bus and go bankrupt?

(Don't tell me I'm the only one who worries about this.)

These are the kind of important areas that FMC is working in. Check them out. Get health insurance. And after that, poke around on Sound Music Sound Money, a great (now laid to rest) blog about the financial pitfalls that musicians face. Like how you blew through that big gig windfall and now you can’t fly out to see your family. Or your Starbucks habit means you can’t afford to get your bow rehaired. Or you’re clueless about investing. I’ve read the blog, and I’m still clueless about investing, but it’s a start.

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