Back in June, I got an email from a reporter at the Miami Herald looking to interview me about my dual careers as a musician and web designer. No one ever bothered to tell me it was published two weeks ago... That's Miami for you. :)
ERIN PAUL, FRENCH HORNIST AND WEB DESIGNER
As a classical musician, Erin Paul is about as far from the 9-to-5 lifestyle as a person can get.
“Sometimes your calendar’s really full and you’re doing a lot of things,” said Paul, who plays French horn for the Florida Grand Opera and the Palm Beach Symphony. “Other times, you’re looking at your calendar and you’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t have anything to do for the next three weeks.’ ”
To fill in the gaps, the 26-year-old builds websites for musicians, actors, artists and other performers. Paul tries to keep FancyDog Web Design small enough that it doesn’t distract from her real passion.
“The hard thing about Web design is that I’m not a computer programmer, and so I have to stay on top of what’s new,” she said. “To be full time as a web designer would take away from what I like to do.”
Finding full-time work as a musician is almost impossible, Paul said. Pay is low and competition is fierce. Plenty of doubters asked her, “What are you going to do with a music degree? How are you going to make a living?”
Paul’s answer was to earn a second music degree — this time a master’s in horn performance — and join the Sarajevo Philharmonic in Bosnia. She documented her travels on a Wordpress blog, learning the basics of Web design.
Today, Paul lives what she calls “the freelance life.” She spends half of the year in Miami and half of the year in New York City, playing in the pit orchestras of ballets and Broadway plays. Between rehearsals and shows, she works on websites to pull in extra income.
It can be a tough balance — she can’t plan vacations in case a lucrative gig pops up, and she knows her income is only enough to support herself.
“Musicians don’t have kids when they’re 25, that’s for sure,” Paul said. “I’m not going to start a family for at least 10 years.”
Eventually, Paul hopes to get involved with arts administration: fundraising, grant-writing and bridging the communication gap that often exists between an orchestra’s board of directors and its musicians.
She occasionally worries about losing her job. But with Broadway ticket sales climbing higher, Paul believes that Americans raised on a diet of “dumbed-down, bubblegum culture” are beginning to search for something more substantial.
“People are going to eventually figure out that they want steak,” she said. “And they’re going to go hear the symphony.”