This principle is hard for me to articulate and might sound a bit preachy because it’s one of my theses that I’m still proving: I think that most starving musicians are the result of ignoring supply and demand.
Here’s why a lot of us musicians have a hard time making money.
1) We pay venues to host us.
2) We invite our friends/fans to recoup the money.
3) We hope that somebody sees us and makes an offer to elevate our career.
Our friends do us the favor of attending, but our career didn’t advance as much as we’d hoped.
It’s called “pay-to-play” and it uses the artists’ connections to create profit on concessions and reputation.
This is not the case in wealthier/less-populated cities! Some cities have more money than musicians, and are willing to pay to get you to play at their venue!
For example, Santa Barbara is not a major city, but has lots of wealthy patrons. I’ve met more people in the music industry through S.B. wine gigs than I have playing shows in LA (they’re trying to get away from LA, and relax on the weekend in SB/Ojai/Paso Robles). I get their info, and when I do play in LA I invite them to come!
If you know someone who wants to be a career musician, but they live in an over-saturated city, please advise them to consider gigs that are 1-2 hours away. Encourage them to figure out where wealthy people go to relax on the weekends outside of the city, and find gigs there.