The Fuck Does This Make Money: ”I value not being depressed all the time”
A Q+A with Katie In — musician, Working 2050 audio designer, and under the radar Aries.
The Fuck Does This Make Money,” is a Q&A series with queer, trans, BIPOC, + neurodivergent people about money and feelings.
This one is with Katie In — Midwest songwriter and musician, Working 2050 audio designer, and stealth Aries.
Who are you? What do you do?
I am a musician, teaching artist, person who makes things and teaches people how to make things.
The fuck do you make money?
Mostly through teaching and by getting gigs (music, odd jobs, presentations/workshops/teaching).
I also edit computer-generated transcripts of lectures as a weird side job for income.
What do you spend it on?
I spend as little as possible on living expenses. I lived in a rural area for a few years because the cost of living was so low that I could afford to work at a traditional job part time and work on my creative projects the rest of the time.
I spend a lot of money on my projects: paying other people for their services and collaboration (photographers, videographers, sound engineers, etc.) to bring my projects to life. Making music is very expensive for how little it pays, unfortunately.
How do you spend your time? How much of your time “makes money”?
Are you addicted to thinking about time like every minute makes or costs you money? Because I am.
I have this Protestant work ethic productivity shame thing hammered into my brain. For me, this means I feel guilty about how I spend my time no matter what I do.
When I spend my time working on my art, I feel guilty. I tell myself it's a self-indulgent luxury, a phase I'm supposed to grow out of, a financially unproductive pastime, it is unimportant to the world.
But when I spend time working for money in ways that are unrelated to my art, I also feel guilty. I tell myself I should be focused, disciplined, working hard on my craft at all costs because I know that this is what I'm supposed to do.
I don’t have a plan B. (The music biz really likes it when people say they have No plan B because that means they are willing to do anything to make it.)
I realized recently that I lose and suffer and feel guilty no matter what if I buy into all of this. So I'm working on learning how to identify these judgments and stop internalizing them so much. Either that, or be okay with believing in both extremes. And saying to myself:
Yes, I believe there is work that is more important than the music I make.
Yes, I believe that if I don't focus and work hard, I won't make good things.
Yes, I believe that being a working creative is a luxury and a privilege.
Yes, I am being bold and breaking down cultural and familial patterns that would have me live without this voice, this agency and connection to this sense of purpose.
One thing about being in a creative field is that playful exploration and dead ends are part of the process. I have not entirely made peace with this yet. So a lot of my time doesn't make money, and some of it does.
I'm working on smearing the line between so I can stop being mean to myself. But I also know I'm not going to be able to untie time from money anytime soon because that would mean I wouldn't be worried about survival.
And I value not being depressed all the time. That does guide how I make money.
Some people call this “seeking personal fulfillment in your career,” but I think it’s emotional survival.
Tell me about a decision about money you’ve made that you’re proud of.
I guess I could be proud of how much I’ve invested in myself and my creative practice. I see the payoff in the decisions I’ve made over the past several years because I’m better at my craft and have grown a lot. But it doesn’t yet feel like this has translated to the form of actual money that can sustain my basic living needs.
Tell me about a decision you’ve made about money that you’re NOT proud of.
I’ve regretted hiring people to do things who don’t do a good job. I don’t know.
Maybe this is not cool. I believe in taking chances on people and supporting people who are just starting out since I’ve benefitted from that so much.
Since money feels scarce to me, it’s easy to want to do things on the cheap.
But I’ve regretted not dishing out more for higher quality work sometimes.
But there are many issues around entitlement and elitism here. Ah!
Tell me about a choice around how you make money you know was the right decision, but that you still feel weird about.
I feel weird all the time about leaving the traditional employment world.
I applied for 20+ jobs this fall. Not getting a single one was really tough on the self-esteem and made me think I’ll never be able to get back into that world of traditional employment again. That having music or arts jobs on my resume is a red flag.
But then I remember how so many of the jobs I was applying for pay little more than what I make now. I feel like it’s the right decision to boldly stick to the path I’m on —even if I feel weird and it’s scary.
What’s something you were surprised by when you first started making money this way?
How much it costs to make and release music. You know what they say: pay to play.
But also that gigs seem to keep coming.
I’m not saying this in the white lady self help book Jen Sincero sort of way like “I’m manifesting gigs that pay by putting rich girl energy out”. But I guess there is something to trusting the work I’m putting in pays off.
Anything else I didn’t ask you want to share?
For a long time I felt like being an artist was way too self-indulgent and I shouldn’t even entertain that as a career option. I wish I would’ve been bold enough to start sooner. And all of this has to do with money.
The reality is SOMEONE out there is making the TV we watch and the music we listen to and the books we read. That can be us.