Singing for Supper: The reality of making it as a musician - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Singing for Supper: The reality of making it as a musician


It may be a quiet day at Bob's Guitars in Cedar Falls, but Mason Greve's life is anything but.

This bustling musician has a lot on his plate. He goes to school, works at Bob's Guitars selling his favorite instruments and when he can, he jams on the weekends with his cover band the Pork Tornadoes.

He said it's tough making ends meet.

"Unfortunately we are at a time when clubs don't need bands as much as bands need clubs," Greve said. 

Musicians are still everywhere, but he said he knows many don't make it to the top.

He said he would love to be able to play songs he has written for crowds, songs that tell his life story. He said artists playing original music and sustaining a living from it are few and far between.

"If you are trying to do original stuff around the area, there is not a whole lot of money involved in that, a lot more clubs will pay more for a band that plays covers than a band that plays original stuff," he said.

It's something Tom Tatman said he has seen as well. He has been operating the sound board at Catamount Recording Studios for 16 years. He said business is steady, but the change is evident.

"When there was a strong professional music scene, colleges, high schools, ballrooms all hired bands on a regular basis. That's all gone now," Tatman said.

He said few of those musicians are able to sustain a living on music alone.

"In actual dollars, not adjusted for inflation, bands make about or less [than] what we did in the 70's," Tatman said.

Tatman said if someone really wants to make it as a musician, he or she should write original music, record it well and try to get a recording contract.

"That's a deal where many are called and few are chosen but that's a way to do it," he said.

Greve said he will never give up playing music, it's in his blood and he said though he may never win a Grammy or earn millions doing what he loves, he's content strumming away knowing the voice that matters most is his own.

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