This entire thread is about waaay more than music. There are many careers/pursuits where the issue is how much one needs to pay in "dues" along with what expectation of success. All of the "arts" fall into this category - painting, sculpture, dance (just watch "So You Think You Can Dance" or "American Idol"), writing, etc., but there are others. I have personally been involved in several of these myself, for example: Aviation: I have been flying for 40 years and have 10,000 hours of flight time. But, I have never been a professional pilot. As much as I enjoy flying, the "dues" are just too high and there are many others out there who are much hungrier than I am. I am married with 5 kids and 10 grandkids. During those crucial "dues-paying" (time-building) years, it is almost impossible to have a normal family life. I was not willing to pay that price. Basketball: I have always loved to play and still play regularly. I would love to be in the NBA - but I am a white guy and only 6'4". Enough said. Scientist: I have a master's degree (some PhD work) in Physics and except for the time that I was a scientist in the Air Force, I have not worked as a professional Physicist. It takes mathematics that are astronomical (pun intended) and they are constantly evolving. I did not pay the price to keep up those skills. Firefighting: (This is my son's passion) - He has an EMT and Paramedic certificate and has graduated from a highly-regarded fire academy. But, when he applies for a position, he is one of 200 similar candidates. Is he "good enough"? So far - No. Like being a musician, it takes being in the right place at the right time with the right skills. So far, that combination has eluded him. So, what to do? I still have a job that I love and I can have a family life and fly as much as I want (I own a plane), and play basketball as much as my old knees will allow, and play the trumpet in a community band and occasional church gigs, weddings and holiday events. I work for a manufacturing consultancy which is a lot of fun, and I earn a decent salary to pay the bills and do the other things on the side. Perhaps something like this may be the answer to this entire question.