Inspirational hero, JD Samson of MEN and Le Tigre, wrote a piece in the Huffington Post on Wednesday in regards to being a working musician when music is your work.
I recommend reading this entire article because it conveys misconceptions regarding the income of artists who are successfull and admired, and Samson cites class, sexual orientation, and gender as predominant social elements contributing to why they probably couldn't get a shitty-fucking-apartment.
This summer I tried to rent an apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The process sent me into an emotional crisis and awakened me into a whole new realization of our economy, the music industry at large and, more specifically, what it means to be a queer artist in 2011.
I spent days trolling around Williamsburg, looking at shitty apartments with cockroaches lining the doorways, fighting neighbors, rats in the ceiling, bedbugs infesting the linoleum floors, fifth-floor walk-ups and cat-pee-soaked carpets. The rent was exorbitant, availability was scarce, and I was turned down by two different landlords for being "freelance." To be honest, I don't blame them. Not only am I freelance, but I'm lesbian freelance. Double whammy. What was the reason they turned me down? Because it was easier to rent to a rich, trust-fund, straight-guy banker who wants to live in the coolest borough in the world? Because when he met me he saw a tattooed gender outlaw who makes "queer electronic punk music" and isn't sure when the next check is going to come in? Yeah, I don't blame him. He doesn't give a shit about how kids email me all the time thanking me for keeping them from committing suicide. It's not part of his capitalist business practice.
How much time an energy goes into being a musician (or still more—an openly queer musician) with meager financial reward? Worring about things like your health, because you don't have financial or institutional security to help support you, can be seriously debilitating—and it's getting worse every day with our economy in the crapper.
Here's JD participating in the It Gets Better project: