I am talented songwriter who’s had a few of his songs played on the radio, recorded a few cds that were independently released. But my musical career has largely been playing cover tune gigs. Every professional musician knows the score. You can become a human jukebox and play the cover tunes the people want to hear and play them for the rest of your life in bars and restaurants where nobody is really listening ( they’ll pay you for that ) or you can play your own songs and maybe with a lot of hard work and effort, make it big or at least achieve a certain degree of success, even if it’s on a local level. Unfortunately the odds are that you will struggle in obscurity as a starving artist til you quit and get a real job or at least until your parents or girlfriend stops supporting you.
If you are a true artist i.e. totally unemployable and pretty much incapable of doing anything else, you will probably end of either dead or in prison before you give up your dreams. You can try and do both, play cover tune gigs to pay the rent while still playing your originals at open mics and ” showcase gigs, ” ( a euphemism for no pay ) hoping for your big break. But you’ll probably end up doing that as a solo artist because your band will quit on you citing ” no pay, no play. “
It’s funny sometimes lightning strikes all around you while you seem to get nowhere. I was in a really good cover tune band in the 90’s. We were in the union and making decent money when the bass player said he was quitting to play with his original country band fulltime. We all scoffed at him. ” Come on we’re making really good money, you’re going to quit? To play in a country band from Miami with a Cuban lead singer? ” They were good but their success didn’t seem likely at the time. Well Bobby Reynolds and the Mavericks moved to Nashville became a big success. They had a bunch of hits and I think won 10 Grammys. Bobby later married Trisha Yearwood ( who later left him for Garth Brooks. ) I hear they’re doing a reunion tour, best of luck to them. Meanwhile I’m playing at the local bucket of blood every Friday night. So take it from me if you are just starting your musical career and want to play your originals take a chance while you still can. Sure you can play covers and make a little money but once you do…
p.s. if I play Freebird will you at least give me a tip?