Breaking free from the Rat Race
They call us starving artists for a reason, and while most of us have plenty of food to eat, everything beyond that tends to be a struggle.
I remember talking with my good friend after one of our many “CD Release” shows. I was frustrated. Despite our best efforts, only a handful of people had shown up. We did all the right things: We harassed people on social media, sold advance tickets, booked solid support bands, and still a small crowd.
As I vented to my friend, I realized how tired I had become of trying to make it.
Sure, that’s not how we started. We had a mission. We were telling people about Jesus, but somewhere along the way, we got caught up in the game. My priorities shifted. Suddenly it was about having great merchandise, getting Facebook likes, song downloads, and booking shows. I don’t even know how it happened, and I became exhausted. I finally came to a point where I’d had enough. I was done. No more desperate pleas to friends and family to come to yet another show, no more “vote for our band ” campaigns, none of it.
Simply put, I was tired of trying to make it, and I suspect my story is not unique. Statistically speaking, very few artists will make a living exclusively from their art. At one point or another, all of us will end up getting a job at the guitar center.
I had a friend who was in a successful band. They were signed to a record deal, and they toured constantly. They made tens of thousands of dollars. By most bands’ standards they had “made it,” and yet after two years of constantly playing shows, the band broke up, still owing their record company several thousand dollars for unsold merchandise. Sadly, most bands would kill to achieve even a measure of their success, and yet the band ended in financial debt.
This is more prevalent than you might think. It seems that more bands would want to break free from this rat race.
Why not try something completely different? Forget the game, and trust Him to provide. Make building his kingdom your focus - and don’t worry about making it. If you never make a dollar from your art but are free to follow God’s call on your life, unencumbered by the demands of the industry, it’s a small price to pay.
I have experienced this firsthand in my life as an artist. I have performed hundreds of shows all over the world. By the standards of most bands, I am “living the dream.” I travel the world and play music, and after ten years, the opportunities only continue to increase! I believe these opportunities exist because of our willingness to share Jesus openly and not because we’ve tried hard to “make it.”
At the end of the day, making art is a privilege that for most of us won’t last long. Wouldn’t there be far more satisfaction in knowing that while you were able to be in a band, or make videos, or paint, you worked to build God’s kingdom, and didn’t just try to “make it”?
It seems this should be an easy choice for most Christian artists. Surrender your gifts to God, ask Him for opportunities, and use the platform God gives you to make an eternal difference - you won’t regret it.