JD Samson

The Le Tigre/MEN member JD Samson has an article up on the Huffington Post in which she talks about the financial difficulties faced by musicians in general and herself in particular: “I’m 33 years old and I can’t make coffee. I don’t know how to use Excel, or bartend, or wait tables, and I’m officially too old to join the police force. I’ve lost the confidence to go back to school and feel stressed out about impending debt when I think about further education for even one second.”

In that article, she talks about how she couldn’t get a crappy apartment in Williamsburg, how she’s spent too much money hanging out with successful/famous friends, and how she doesn’t have health insurance. Here’s the thing, though. She doesn’t consider the possibility of living in places other than Williamsburg, and she only barely addresses the idea that her own decisions could’ve played into her present circumstances. And while it’s true that other countries provide universal health care and subsidize musicians’ pursuits, it’s also true that you have to learn how to manage your own money. As someone who supports his family by writing about music (admittedly not the same thing as making it), I found the whole thing pretty risible. But what do you guys think?

Comments (47)
  1. Get a job, hippy….

  2. She didn’t seem broke when she played here in Dublin during the summer, and something tells me that art collective warehouse crew running the night didn’t pay for her flight over. I’m also not sure how writing an article on a content farm site like Huffington Post is going to improve her finances any. These are only two budget-related tips that have sprung to the mind since I finished reading this post 30 seconds ago.

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  4. JD Samson is the ugh%.

  5. “She doesn’t consider the possibility of living in places other than Williamsburg” Dead-on. There are too many good music cities right now that are inexpensive to live in (Atlanta and Austin come to mind).

  6. You know, the economics of being an indie musician has never been mentioned ever, as far as I know. And as lazy and ridiculous as Samson is about this shit, he’s at least bringing up some concerns I’m sure a lot of indie musicians face at one point in their career: how can I make a living off of this? The independent music community was designed to never have its artists become incredibly wealthy without selling out or getting your music on a car commercial. Which band will be a Dinosaur Jr or Sonic Youth and do this shit until they’re dead, and who will get a high-scoring Pitchfork review but most likely never breaking anything bigger than that and get a regular job? Interesting stuff to think about…

  7. “I’m 33 years old and I can’t make coffee” is the new “I never learned to read”.

  8. Yeah, I was going to say I don’t think you’re representing the original article very fairly. However the main points are the same. I think she does need to learn bartending, which isn’t that hard, or Excel. I was very bad at managing my money in my punk rock 20s and 30s, then hit the same sort of wall as JD. I slowly figured out what I HAD to do to keep going and now in my 50s and very happy running a small business designing art catalogs and books in upstate New York. Oh, right—the moving away from NYC thing helps out a lot with the money thing. Anyway, as a huge JDS fan, I most certainly wish her well.

  9. Ryan, J.D. is a she.

    I love the music J.D. created with Le Tigre, but this article frustrated the hell out of me. And Zack, she made have said that she’s “the only one responsible for…,” but that doesn’t mean anything if you have it your head that being a lesbian is the reason you make less and don’t get an apartment. She had no basis for those spurious facts she spewed. I’m a lesbian and have a great place to live because I have a steady job and a history of financial responsibility. If you want to be a musician, if it’s truly what turns your gears, then accept the entire package. I found the entire article pathetic and annoying. Bummed me out.

  10. just ask christina aguilera for some cash

  11. And might I add, I didn’t go to school to learn the book/catalog design business. You can do it on your own nowadays.

  12. “I spent days trolling around Williamsburg, looking at shitty apartments with cockroaches…fighting neighbors…rats…bedbugs…cat-pee-soaked carpets…What was the reason they turned me down? Because it was easier to rent to a rich, trust-fund, straight-guy banker …?”

    You know the type: rich, trust-fund straight bankers who love cat pee and shitty apartments. I HATE THEM SO MUCH!

    • Renting to someone with references and proof of income? Incroyable! That paragraph was particularly obnoxious, and her comments about the landlord might as well have been “don’t you know who I am?!”. And don’t get me started on the “I save da kidz frum suicide” angle…

  13. She may need to shave off that Stache if she has an interview.

  14. I think 80% of artists wish they enjoyed 90% of the success that she has enjoyed. The only point I would take is her comment about why she understood that the landlord would to “trust fund… bankers” Big assumption

  15. There are tons of places that would hire a rock star/feminist icon in New York. Of course maybe if the feminist icon is complaining about not being able to find a job because she can’t make coffee, maybe she’s not such a good feminist icon after all.

  16. If you can’t control your finances and balance a fucking checkbook – it doesn’t matter what you are or were you are in society – you’ll be broke. Plain and simple.

    Not sure why this is a hard concept for her to understand.

  17. @Kat She was born a “she”, but I think JD identifies herself as “he”. Either way, I think that’s besides the point here.

  18. I understand that being a queer woman doesn’t make things easy, and I wish we lived in a world where good intentions paid the bills, but her acting as if her gender or sexuality had anything to do with her admittedly poor spending/savings habits or her lack of skills is pretty ludicrous. Besides, how many celeb autobiographies could begin “me and Harvey Keitel had to share a one-bedroom rathole and one crust of bread per day until we made it.” People will struggle when trying to make a living as an artist, and either a) they’re lucky enough to make it, or b) they’re passionate enough to keep on doing it. But to complain about a situation that you admittedly helped create, and seem to not want to work your way out of, is a bummer, and, considering the economic struggles of so many current Americans, kinda gross. Don’t get me wrong, I wish her the best, but I’m gonna disagree with her on this one. I hope she can turn things around for herself.

  19. Being an artist means starving or having a day job. I don’t know what she expects, really. You expect to be paid for your art? Fuck that. She should be thanking her good fortune for getting her this far without having to get an alternate vocation, but honestly I think she is delusional about what art is. Art is not a commodity! I mean, holy moley lady, you make up the .5% of musicians that actually have made a “living” playing music without needing other work. AMAZING. Now shut up and learn a skill and get a job. Can’t bartend, my ass, it takes a weekend to get smartserve or whatever. My god, this lady. One of my Jazz professors from university – easily one of the premier jazz pianists in Canada – works at a library to pay the bills. A professor and killer musician. DAY JOB. Man, I couldn’t have less sympathy if I tried.

  20. I was sort of with her until the part about spending a lot of money to impress her peers. Ew.

    As a lesbian and former musician, part of me can relate and part of me can’t. I spent 5 years in a band playing shows every night AND working full time to pay the bills. I never made it and I got sick of being poor, so I learned how to do search marketing. And guess what? I’ve been laid off twice in the last 3 years and am currently struggling to find another job. We’ve all got it hard. She should consider herself lucky to have been able to pursue her music full time for so long. Hardly any of us get there.

    • Like she said, “I think it’s important to remember that the economy is failing for EVERYONE.” And she also talked about how lucky she was to have gotten so much out of her career. The article was mainly about her not being able to afford necessities like dental care and a regular shitty apartment, and that she would probably inherit debt from her family, even though they are really amazing to her.

  21. STOP!


  22. I think we can all be accused of spending out of our means from time to time. I’m pretty sure she was just trying to be honest about her situation, and that was something that she felt was significant. I don’t think any of us can necessarily say to what extent she took it to or if she took it way too far.

  23. grow some balls and go do something

  24. Uh…there are so many things that I find a bit off here. Nobody knows how to do anything, so when you get a job, they will train you to perform the necessary tasks. You may have to shave off the mustache though. I mean, if I (a white male) had that mustache, I guarantee that I would never be hired for any position.

    Also, I have a very limited experience with Brooklyn, but based on my few days there and the many people I know who have lived there, roaches are found in every apartment. Isn’t that just part of apartment living?

    “This is my coming out. I’m done feeling bad about myself. I wish I could afford a personal meeting with Suze Orman. She’s a lesbian. Maybe she could help me reestablish my financial security.”
    What? There’s your problem. You want to pay someone to help you out of this situation. Instead of wasting money on How to Not Waste Your Money lessons, just don’t waste your money. Don’t buy expensive jeans. Don’t buy expensive food. Stop caring about appearing successful.

    And does the math of women earning 77% of what men make translate over to the jobs JD said she had? And do queer women make 23% less than heterosexual women? I found the study for men, but I found nothing about women. Again, I can’t see her being paid 54% of what a straight male of the same level of fame would be paid for the same job (within her field).

    Then again, I really know nothing about any of this, and I read through the article rather quickly. So don’t listen to anything I say. Sorry for wasting your time.

  25. “this is my coming out” — how many of those do you fucking get?


    “I will always be a queer woman, a woman who makes 77 cents to the man’s dollar, and a queer who makes 23 percent less than the heterosexual. Does that mean that I make 54 cents to the straight male dollar? Wow.” — no you fucking idiot, it does not mean that at all. maybe you should have started thinking about your future in math class.

  26. Can’t make coffee??!!!?? I’m pretty sure that starbucks or other coffee shops have employee training for such things. Regardless I’m pretty sure BK or McDonalds don’t require much skill and it gets the bills paid for a shitty apartment in ANOTHER CITY! Maybe if she traveled to NYC for #occupywallstreet she could get a job cleaning up their mess after they leave

  27. Just to clear it up because one or two seem confused, Ms. Samson is and identifies as a woman. As for the article, it’s pretty rife with logical fallacies, but for personal reasons I’m gonna leave it at that.

  28. New Paltz, Hudson, and, yup even Albany…it’s all happening upstate these days kiddos, time to leave the 5 boroughs behind. F*ck Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Bed Sty, the whole nine yards. Brooklyn is done, Manhatten’s a ghost town. Move out to the periphery and try to make art there. And as others have said, Texas and Georgia are great places for musicians right now too.

  29. What a fucking loser.

    That’s the beginning and end of it.

  30. I apologize sincerely, but I cannot take this plea for help/money seriously. I much prefer when artists just offer the opportunity to donate (like White Denim, whom I have donated to) and don’t beg for money because the real world of not having a day-job and relying on their indie band to pay their bills didn’t pay off

  31. JD Samson is really cool…to throw shit at.

  32. I’m guessing s/he’s the 99% ? Occupy Williamsburg anyone?

  33. I work during the day going building to building in NYC trying to sell portable AC and heating. NOT MY DREAM JOB. When I get home I shed my shirt and tie and start writing music and poetry, which is my passion over all. You gotta do what you gotta do to follow and fund your dreams. If she is broke she needs to write better records or get that application in over at Wendys. Complaining about it at 33 is, well- funny for anyone doing what it takes and not expecting life to be handed out to them. Work harder on your hooks.

  34. using “risible” is a questionable choice, pal

  35. Wow, a nearly useless member of society. Please stay in Williamsburg.

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