Hi there. My name is Ryan Spearman.
I’m truly grateful that you’ve found this website and that you’ve taken the time to come to this page to find out a little bit about me.
I’m a professional folk musician and educator from St. Louis, Missouri. I’m 39 years old. I’ve been performing acoustic music for the last twenty years. Until recently, my income from music only made up a portion of my total income. For the last six years; however, I’ve been absolutely “day job free” and loving it.
It’s a lot of work, being a freelance artist, but it’s work that I love; and that makes all the difference!
As a teenager, I was deeply into old time, bluegrass, country blues and folk music in general. I wanted desperately to be a professional musician but most everybody I shared this idea with told me that it just couldn’t be done. Or it shouldn’t be done. I should suck it up, stop dreaming, and get myself a “regular” job like everybody else. Deep down, I believed them.
After high school I went off to college. I didn’t want to go to college (I wanted to be a musician!) but I went anyway. It was what I thought I was supposed to do. My heart was not in it, so I left school after a year and a half and started into a cycle of meaningless jobs to support my music habit.
I never stopped playing, practicing, and trying to figure out my place in the acoustic music industry.
I had a few bands along the way. Some of them toured nationally for a few years and we played a few prestigious festivals and concert halls and occasionally we got to be on stage with some relatively famous musicians.
It all looked pretty good from the outside, but on the inside there was a big problem. We could never make enough money to support ourselves through our art.
We were always one van breakdown or one bad night of merch sales away from being completely broke. This model for running a band or being a performing artist was simply not a sustainable one. So, predictably, the bands’ time would come to an end and we would all saunter off to some “gainful” employment for a while until we were ready to run the same race all over again.
This, I think, is the biggest challenge for bands and musicians. Trying to get beyond this subsistence style of existence and into the realm of comfortable income that is being generated through your art…that’s no easy feat for most of us. But it CAN be done!
Today, thanks to a large amount of experience and years of autodidactic research and experimentation, I’ve finally managed to properly align all of the essential elements of professional musicianship into my own lifestyle in a fulfilling and rewarding way.
In other words…I made it!
Most people wouldn’t consider me to be rich, by any means. I earn $35,000-$40,000 a year. So I’m right around the average yearly income mark for the United States.
Not bad when you consider that I work for myself, I love my job, and all of my duties are within the realm of my personal passion…my field of ultimate interest…folk music.
Well, I’ve blabbed enough here and I thank you for sticking with me this far. The rest of my story is sprinkled throughout my Acoustic Living blog articles and podcast episodes.
Also, you can check out my website at www.RyanSpearman.com for more about me and my music.