Robert Fripp’s advice to aspiring musicians: “This is a field we only enter if there is nothing else we can do with our lives”

The musician offered advice to those looking to make a living off their music in modern-day society.

King Crimson's Robert Fripp

Image: Steve Thorne/Getty

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Robert Fripp has shared his thoughts on what it takes to be a musician in the current day – advising aspiring musicians to only pursue a career in the field if they believe there is “nothing else” they can do with their lives.

Fripp has shared some footage from his recently-finished speaking tour on his YouTube channel. Entitled That Awful Man & His Manager, the tour saw Fripp and his manager David Singleton travel across North America, sharing anecdotes from their time in the music industry and answering a series of questions posed to them by the audience.

In one of the clips, the duo shared advice on how aspiring musicians can make a living from their music, in light of the obstacles posed by online streaming.

“How to bring about a radical shift in our contemporary culture? One night at a time. One song at a time.” Fripp advised the audience. “This is not a field we enter if we like to earn a living. This is a field we only enter if there is nothing else we can do with our lives.”

Fripp continues, giving an example of how he believes the music industry has shifted over the last fifty years and grown to prioritise profit over creativity.

“In 1969, Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records flew from New York to see King Crimson at the Speakeasy to sign us to Atlantic,” he recalls.

“If I had said to Ahmet Ertegun, ‘Ahmet, [we’re here because] we want to make a tonne of bucks’, [he] would have thought ‘This isn’t the band I want to sign’… However, today, if I were speaking with the head of Universal Music and I said, ‘Dear Mr Big Cheese of Universal Music, I’m only here to be true to the musical impulse’… [nowadays,] he would think ‘this isn’t the band for me to sign.’”

Find the full clip below.

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