It’s always been the case that the entertainment industry was brutal, unpredictable, and lacking in any security whatsoever. Back in the day, the common wisdom was to get a safe, stable job that would pay you a decent salary. In exchange for your loyalty, you’d also get a pension after forty or so years of service.
The artists—the musicians, the actors, the writers, the painters—knew that they were trekking a hard road. The pay was low and sporadic. Unemployment was always around the corner.
But nowadays, EVERY industry is like the entertainment industry. The stable jobs are gone.
They Don’t Care About You
Your boss doesn’t give a fuck about you. Loyalty is dead, if it ever existed. Even if you do your job well, it doesn’t matter. If they can get your work cheaper, they’ll outsource your job and force you to train your replacements.
Or maybe they’ll just move the entire factory to another country. Don’t think for one second that you are anything but expendable. Young people will change jobs over a dozen times in their lives.
There’s No Safety Net
It’s our natural instinct to want a safe, predictable, spelled-out path for success. “If I do X and Y and Z, then I’ll be okay.”
And for a brief period in human history, that equation worked. But it’s not true anymore.
Think about the halcyon years of the 1950s. The idea that you could have one breadwinner, an average Joe, who could support an entire family? That would be insane today. You would have to be in the top 2% of earners to do that in most parts of the country.
And don’t think that making a lot of money can keep you secure. As our incomes rise, we tend to raise our spending to match it. That’s how people can make $500,000 a year and still live paycheck to paycheck.
My friend’s father is one of the top entertainment lawyers in the country. He drives a Maserati and lives in mansion in Calabasas. And he’s broke. “I hope that I can retire by 70,” he says.
If that doesn’t scare you, it should.
And Now, Time For The Good News
Oh, you didn’t think there’d be good news, did you?
The good news is that since loyalty is dead, since there is no stability, since the system is rigged—you are free. Since they don’t care, you don’t have to care. You don’t have to trade your freedom for security. You don’t have to live in an expensive area to work. And you don’t need to be a cog in someone else’s machine.
You Can Do It Yourself
In Choose Yourself, James Altucher talks about this path to freedom. Artists literally “choose themselves”, rather than wait for some faceless gatekeeper to bless them with attention. Novelists publish their books directly on Amazon. Filmmakers get backers on Kickstarter. Painters sell their works worldwide on Etsy.
This can play out in a million other ways. Start your own business, side project, or hustle. Sell gigs on Fiverr or Upwork. If you’re well-compensated for your job, what could you make if you became an outside consultant? The internet has opened countless doors of opportunity. You can get customers, funding, and distribution that would have been impossible 20 years ago.
Look, I get it. It’s all easier said than done. But it is possible. If no one is booking you on a standup tour, create your own tour. If no one is offering you the roles you want, produce your own film.
This is one of the best times in history, if you’re willing to break out of your comfort zone and try something new.
And why not? It’s not like you’ve got anything left to lose.