When you hear the expression "I need to make a living," it's commonly associated with the idea that one has the earning potential to support themselves and/or their family.
According to veteran emcee and producer Oddisee, however, there's a difference between making a living and living.
In a new interview with Passion of the Weiss, when the D.C. native was asked if his goals or his definition of success have changed since he began working as an artist professionally, he used the opportunity to separate scraping together money every month to pay your rent and bills and earning enough coin to have a fair amount of financial freedom.
"I don’t want to make a living doing anything but music, and every year I take steps to keep that in place: creating albums, licensing, touring, etc., to make a living. And I don’t necessarily just mean generating money, but living. Eating what and when I want, sleeping when I want, traveling where I want whenever I feel like it. I want music to provide that freedom for me."
It's not easy to make money as an independent artist, certainly not in 2017. Music is no longer commoditized in a way that is fruitful to creators—most artists makes pennies on the dollar in streaming royalities—and artists are no longer competing only with other artists but with the free time of consumers.
Oddisee is fresh off the release of his 11th full-length album The Iceberg, but back when he released his first mixtape in 2005, Instrumental Mixtape Volume One, the music industry was a completely different animal. Just how different, you might ask? According to the IFPI, global retail sales of all recorded music in a physical format totaled $17.6 billion in 2005. Ten years later, in 2015, that number dropped to $5.8 billion.
Unlike many artists and producers in the world of independent hip-hop, Oddisee has learned through experience over his impressive 12-year career how to generate income through a variety of non-music sale revenue streams—licensing, touring and merchandising—but it's what drives him to make a living, not what he's learned along the way, that has allowed him to truly prosper.
Making music is great, and making lots of money off that music is even better, but for all independent artists, the most realistic goal should be obtaining fiscal flexibility.
Money cannot buy happiness, but making music that generates money to live, not only to survive, sounds pretty damn enjoyable.
By Z, who loves to argue with you on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Instagram