Jumping off the Edge - Committing to Becoming a Full-Time Musician

Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by Vyn, Jan 14, 2019.

  1. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    I was wondering if anyone on here would be willing to share their experiences of that moment where they went all in with music. I'm seriously contemplating doing it myself (I'm aware of the competition, low to next-to-zero income, long hours required and that it's highly likely it might take multiple attempts before it sticks) as it's always been a strong passion and it's definitely something where every day is different.
     
  2. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    You might be aware of it, but that's not the same as living it.

    Why are you bent on it exactly?

    I have a full time job and a full time band. I commute twice a week. It is stressful and difficult. The only way I am able to continue is the support of family.

    I did not fully expect the difficulties. If the fun wears off, it will just be work.
     
  3. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    Why am I bent on it? It's because I can't see myself doing anything else. I like challenges as well, it's definitely one of the more challenging careers/lifestyles out there.
     
  4. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade John Bohlinger's Dank Stash

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    What exactly are you planning to do in this music career?
    Play a guitar? Sell a guitar? Build a guitar? Record a guitar?
     
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  5. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    If you like to get paid, eating meals and having a roof over you, you may see yourself doing two things at once :lol:.

    I'm not saying don't do it, I'm saying do it on the side until it becomes sustaining enough to do full time. Also, have like $5K in the bank before you quit the day job. It will go fast.

    One of the problems with any type of service-for-money jobs on the starter end is that people will just not pay you. And it costs money to go to court to get that money. And along with that, you're paying taxes on the amount you've invoiced - whether you've received it yet or not (at least in Canada).

    It's not impossible, but it's pretty fucking hard.

    I forgot to ask: what aspect of "music" did you mean anyway?
     
  6. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    I'm looking at doing a combination of teaching, guitar set-up and small general parts supplies mostly focusing on rock/metal as well as playing (either my own material, someone else's or a cover band). The way I see it is that approaching a career in the music industry from a couple of different angles/income streams while is still a lot of hard work should enable me to at least live off of it.
     
  7. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I can't imagine quitting a good job without a solid plan is a good idea. If your current employment is worth anything, you should be able to transition in stages - start one of these things, like the lessons, and start to scale back hours at the old job as you do it. Add another musical income, scale back non-music again, etc. until you can cleanly quit the non-music job without destroying your life in the process.
     
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  8. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    For sure, that's kind of what I planned on doing, or at the very least using my current employment to save up a lot of capital initially before going into it. Definitely a fan of the staged approach.
     
  9. JohnIce

    JohnIce Singlecoil Enthusiast

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    Ok, so this is my experience:

    I had a full-time job that made it really difficult for me to really do my band. A live show meant a scheduling nightmare and always ended up in me having to go to work with 3 hours of sleep at best, and finding the time to actually work on new music was incredibly difficult, and exhausting. So after saving up a lot of money that I'd invested in stocks (which were going very good at the time, but this was 3 years ago), I "took the plunge", quit my job and decided to do music full time. If income was scarce I still had enough to last me 2-3 years to start with.

    Well, after 2 years of being a "full-time musician", I've noticed this: Fuck it's uninspiring :lol: I made one EP and 2 music videos, a few gigs and sessions, but 2 years is incredibly long, and the overwhelming amount of time I've spent just dicking around Youtube and Netflix is embarrassing. I have all the time in the world to do music, but I have no inspiration, because I sit at home with fuck all to do all day and after a while you have nothing to write about. I was actually MORE active when I was working, ironically. Working made me ambitious.

    So now I've gone back to working part-time and subbing rather than getting a full-time job, not because I'm broke quite yet, but because if you're not out there living a life and experiencing new things, people etc., your creativity is gonna dry out, and you're just gonna sit there, at home, experiencing nothing, day in and day out.

    So my advice is, if your guitar playing is so in-demand that your job becomes superfluous, let's say half of Australia's pop artists are pulling at you to go on tour with them, then yeah, quit your job and go do all those gigs. If you are like me however, and just wanted the time to create your own stuff and build your own thing, I'd consider doing part time jobs with flexible schedules instead, where you CAN take four days off to record if you want, but still work and make money when you have nothing better to do.
     
  10. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    I just kind of fell into it when my other career ambitions failed to launch. I ended up making decent money, but then the local economy took a dive and things got really tough really fast. It's a volatile path. As good as things were for me in 2003 and 2004, it was just not sustainable. Suddenly, no one had the time or the money for lessons, gigs all vanished, and repair work hit a lull. I went from doing music-related stuff 18 hours a day to struggling to get 18 hours of paid work in two weeks.
     
  11. wankerness

    wankerness SS.org Regular

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    I don’t know what the healthcare/rent situation are out there, but the former is a gigantic barrier here if you don’t either have a spouse who can put you on her plan or have faith that nothing bad will happen to you. My brother is a musician and barely scraping by and that extra 300 a month plus insane deductible that barely made it worth having was too much for him to handle. Fortunately marriage was an option. I think that may be a US only problem though.

    Rent was also a bastard for him cause the only places where people would pay to hear musicians also had insane rent. He basically had to end up getting a ton of connections and some rep and now lives out of town a bit and gets gigs all over the place. His albums get funded partly through Kickstarter and partly himself - obviously the money they make is negligible, but it’s more stuff to have out there for promotion/reputation. Getting reviewed in publications like Downbeat is huge.

    He makes a fair amount through lessons and filling in as band director. I dunno how applicable the former is if you’re a guitar player - most of his lesson income is from rich parents who want to make their kid better than the other band students. To be a band director you need formal training (he has a masters degree, but not a teaching license).

    Also not sure if this is applicable to you in Australia, but if you’re a musician you’re considered self employed and you get destroyed on taxes if you make anything even slightly above the poverty line.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2019
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  12. nsimonsen

    nsimonsen SS.org Regular

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    I have a full time job in the music industry as well as two bands, and I'm very content with where I'm at right now. It allows me to have financial stability whilst still working consistently in a creative field/music.
     
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  13. budda

    budda Do not criticize as this Contributor

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    Teaching is pretty easy to get into, but you have to actually be a good teacher and hold down students to make that work. Do you have any prior experience teaching? Did you have a high turnover?

    Tech work - why should they go to you over someone else? Honest question. If you live in an area with a lot of musicians but no techs then you have a bit of an advantage, but generally there's "the guy" in town and and secondary places. Do you plan on moving to a larger city if you can't find enough work in yours?

    Cover bands - good cover bands are 30hr/wk jobs in themselves. If it's going to be covers for the business of getting paid (not because you like playing covers and happen to get paid) then you'll need to find like-minded bandmates. That may be easier than playing originals, but as anyone can tell you, it's tough to actually start a successful band. You need 2+ other people as committed as yourself.

    My guitar tech (and former teacher) does all of the stuff you're mentioning here. He's also been doing it since the early 90's though, so it became sustainable before he had to worry about mortgages, car payments and child-rearing (he's married with kids).
     
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  14. dreamspace

    dreamspace SS.org Regular

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    1. Unless you're really established, with a time-tested record, you don't get to pick and choose. You take what you get, and there are always tons of other players competing for the same spot.

    More often than not, you end up playing stuff that you may not enjoy personally - just getting this out right away - the money is not in metal (metal is kinda like what horror is to movies - you don't get into it professionally to get rich, even though a small percentage of people "make it" there). Not as a touring musician, not as a studio musician / guitarist. Start sharpening your acoustic, country-rock, and funk/pop skills.

    2. Networking should be your # 1 priority. Go out to gigs, reach out to people in the industry, just get your name out there.

    3. Understand that re-location is almost inevitable, unless you happen to live in a sprawling area. In this day and age, it is entirely possible to give lessons and do work over the web, but the real deals still happen where people are willing to pay money - and money tends to attract talent.

    4. As a gigging session musician, your schedule can be quite hectic and jumbled up. One drummer I worked with played with 10 different acts during ONE week - minimum two different gigs a day, some days three gigs.

    And forget having a regular schedule with family or friends, your late weekends and weekdays are going to spent playing live music - even holidays.

    A lot of times these gigs will come on a very, very short notice. I'm talking the day before, or sometimes even on the very same day. This is one reason why reading sheet music is imperative for session musicians. This one time I was hired in to play around 20 songs with a band, on a two week notice, with guaranteed 4 band practices.

    Well, guess what, none of those came through - and two days before the gig, we got a new singer and bass player. I had zero confidence in that gig, but we managed to get through, and I walked out with a months rent.

    5. Almost every "regular" (i.e non-"rock star") musician I know - as in doing it for a living - also rely on having students. Either through schools / third-party systems, or by themselves (so you better learn some basic business skills).

    6. You need to adapt a "fuck you, pay me" mindset. The scene is flooded with amateurs and novices that will do stuff for free, or undercut competition. This in turn has breed a mentality of "B-b-but you'll get free food and exposure" - so you'll need to be very frank and direct with people, and talk shop upfront. Giving out freebies as a musician, would be like running a store and handing out inventory for free.

    To be honest, the most successful musicians I know, are those with the most boring routes. I'd say that a good two thirds of the ones that've "made it" play in various touring country acts, and then supplement their income with both session work and lessons.

    I know guys that have played in cover-bands for decades, and tour their neighboring states for 6 months a year, playing cover tunes at various happenings. It's not glamorous or original, but it pays the mortgage and keeps the family fed.

    Personally, If I were you, I'd probably try it for a year or two - but you better have a back-up plan.
     
  15. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade John Bohlinger's Dank Stash

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    Stay in school, kid.
     
  16. mguilherme87

    mguilherme87 SouthShoreSeven

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    I'll throw in my two-cents. My senior year of highschool I met this dude Scott. He was a member of 'Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch' (He was one of the funky bunch). After the group shortly disband, he took to managing pop, hip-hop, and RnB artists. He got one girl, Tynisha Kelli, platinum in Japan, and managed LFO (lesser known 90's band with that one song 'Summer Girls'). He was assembling a 'boy-band' type group (it was 2011) and needed a guitarist. I joined. For 5 years we rehearsed and recorded. He got songs written by established song-writers from all over the map, these reference songs were given to us to re-record and add our own spice to. We did showcases for Sony records, and several others. Some offered us 'single-deals' and 20,000 signing deals which my manager felt would be worth nothing in the long run (That money goes fast). We also worked for a while with Ric Aliberte, the road manager of Kiss, Queen, and the Eagles back in the day. And after 5 years we finally landed two major showcases with Mike Bivens (of New Edition, Bel Biv Devoe, and Boys 2 Men) as well as with producing extraordinaire Teddy Riley. Both of which were interested. We went out to Atlanta to meet Teddy Riley and he expressed great interest in us, he promised to send us paperwork to sign us, for unknown reasons, he and my manager never settled on a deal. Bivens however, signed us to a '3-song, non-exclusive contract', meaning we werent tied down to him, but would try it and see where things went and if he liked us, he had first dibs. Well....time went by and the "New Edition" special on BET was being shot, and he decided to go back on tour with New Edition and never contacted us again. I left the band, the others tried for another showcase in LA, and nothing came of it. I now am in college full time with a 3.95 GPA while writing and recording original music with two really good friends of mine. We also do cover gigs on the side for extra cash and for the love of playing. It's a lot more fun, a lot more creative, and im not broke and single. The point of all of this, is the music business can be extremely fickle. Id never try to discourage anyone from following their dreams, but you need to be careful and realistic with your expectations. If you're trying to 'make it'....you're going to sacrifice a lot of things and might very well end up empty handed. I found that for me, music is passion and can be done in the highest capacity possible but only while making sure my other grounds are covered (job, education, car, rent, girlfriend, friends, family)...There's more to life than music. It's all a balancing act. have fun, don't have unrealistic expectations. And don't think that music has to be the ONLY thing you do. Look at the Renaissance men of the 1200's, Davinci, Michelangelo, etc.. They were not just musicians, but painters, mathematicians, scientists, inventors, and all else. You need to be multi faceted and enjoy all aspects of life to be well-rounded.
     
  17. Ordacleaphobia

    Ordacleaphobia Shameless Contrarian Contributor

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    Something that was eye-opening to me was the revelation that the Veil of Maya guys weren't able to quit their day jobs until well after Eclipse was released.
    In our scene, those guys are pretty successful. That fact alone underscores the need for a backup plan.

    The multiple angle approach is a good way to cover your bases, and it works for people (the Periphery guys, for example), but that's all touchy too. You have to be good, and have a good rep, or else you're just wasting time. Even for something as merit-based as tech work, you're going to need to account for a considerable amount of time to build up a reputation and a customer base before you start seeing any return whatsoever.

    So, with this in mind, my advise to you would be to start with one aspect- whichever aspect you think would be best for you personally to
    1. Establish a base.
    2. Get your name out there in your local scene.
    3. Be good enough at that you're confident in your ability to outshine enough of the local competition.
    Once you "have a good thing going," I would start branching out into other aspects, leveraging the momentum you already have to keep going.
    Still though, I wouldn't think in terms of "going into music full time," I would just think of it as "getting into music," because being able to truly do it full time is going to take a long, long time, and a lot of hard work.
     
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  18. ArtDecade

    ArtDecade John Bohlinger's Dank Stash

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    Post a clip of your band's demo here and I am sure you will get plenty of opinions about making it your career.
     
  19. wankerness

    wankerness SS.org Regular

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    My guess is that unless it's "metal" in the vein of like, Ghost BC or Andrew WK and unless you have some kind of stage gimmick or just incredible charisma that things may be rough without a genre change. Do you have a hot babe that can do vocals for you? :D

    You did say "rock/metal" so maybe there's hope. Also, I dunno what things are like over in Australia. My totally uninformed guess would be that it's similar to much of the US where people like simple stuff and female singers with tambourines or male singers with cowboy hats.
     
  20. Vyn

    Vyn Not a Sparkly Vampire

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    Something I should probably mention is that I'm late twenties and already have a reasonably established career in IT and Engineering at the moment (which would end up being my fall-back after a few years if everything completely died in the arse).

    We actually have a functioning public health system in Australia so getting sick when broke isn't an issue.

    There's a lot to think about in these two posts alone, I'll post up some thoughts when I've had time to digest them all. Cheers guys!
     
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