Ryan McClelland on Going Pro

Ryan McClelland of Spokane Bass Lessons and Bass Matter has recently posted the first in a two part series regarding the label "Professional Musician," titled, "The Starving Doctor". His candor on such a misunderstood issue is refreshing, and he doesn't pull any punches when comparing a career in the arts to a more pragmatic industry:

"If you’re a musician, you’re an artist. Welcome to a bitter sweet world filled with passion, competition, a lot of loose rules, a lot of opinions, and some fragile egos. How come you never see a movie about a starving doctor? He’s couch surfing from place to place, just waiting for the right place to apply his skills, borrowing money from friends, maybe a bit behind on a shower, and more often than not lost in day dream and refusing to give up his passion. Society generally sees him as a mooch scraping by, and family is tossing out subtle or even very loud hints that it’s time to grow up. Then, he gets his big break and gets to be a famous doctor at some fancy hospital making tons of cash. His family tells him how lucky he was because only about 0.001% of doctors will ever be able to pay the bills doing it after all the time, money, effort and school involved, but...he was just that good. Wow! That movie would suck! However, replace that with a guitarist, writer, painter or general artists, and now we’re talking about some good cinema! Wait..I think they’ve made that movie once or a 1,000 times already.

My fellow artists, please let us call it like it is. Our art is difficult, takes enormous dedication, education, practice, skill, is highly personal, ingrained in cultures world wide, and the majority of non-artists will never understand. This doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate it, but they won’t understand. There are few non-artists that would even care if you called yourself a professional musician; this label really only matters to well...other artists."

Ryan goes on to relate that western culture is of little to no help in this area. As society continues to elevate celebrity status, musicians of all pursuits and backgrounds are susceptible to tremendous pressure to attain some nebulous level of income, wealth, and status. These have little or nothing to do with the laborious creative process that yields great music, and I appreciate that he has drawn attention to that fact.

—A.Hunt, SPCS Records

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