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Reality check: Life as a working musician (and yes, it is work)

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Two women having a conversation during a panel with microphones.

There's a misconception that being a musician doesn’t fall under what we think of as “a job.” For the rest of us who only see them on stage or hear them through speakers, it’s all a bit abstract. You create music, share it with the world, play it live in front of fans and repeat the cycle.

We witness that idealized vision of the job every day, especially with our local music scene. Not to shamelessly plug, but right here at Radio Milwaukee alone, talented individuals get the spotlight as part of our Milwaukee Music Premieres and our live showcases every Thursday night at State of Sound.

That idealized vision of the job couldn't be further from the truth. Admittedly, it’s how I saw things. But I never really thought about the day-to-day stress and realities musicians go through especially when on tour. Then I came across an Instagram post by Victoria Canal, who recently did a Studio Milwaukee Session with us.

Her confessional dealt mainly with touring and its impact on her mental health. It was incredibly raw and honest, detailing the harsh realities touring musicians face — physically and mentally.

What struck me even more was when Grace Weber, who was on the verge of playing a hometown show at The Pabst Theater, commented on the post (along with hundreds of other people) to say: "You hit the nail on the head, thanks for sharing."

I wanted to find out why this post resonated with Grace and gain insight to the intricacies of being a working musician. But, not being a musician myself, I recognized I might not add much to the conversation. So I approached B~Free, a multi-talented artist and colleague of both myself and Grace (learn all about Grace Weber’s Music Lab here), to step in.

On this episode of Uniquely Milwaukee, you’ll hear her and Grace delve into what it’s really like when you make music your job: the raw realities, the mental-health challenges and the unglamorous side of touring.

Listen to the episode using the player at the top of the page, catch up on our first episode using the link below, and check back with us throughout November as our “Odd Jobs” month continues.

Audio Storyteller / 88Nine On-Air Talent | Radio Milwaukee