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Music as a career - be careful what you wish for...


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Nope, not at all. I think this offers us an insight as to why you are an engineer, and very good one.
I would have to write for hours to explain, but the short answer is there is no way you could possibly make even 50% of the distinctions of what is "reality first" without a few tour of duties.

Ok.... without getting into the meaning of life, let me offer a few pragmatic points that I hope can be useful and removed from my personality and how I see the world.

  • I think it's about a 2:1 ratio (+ or - 10 to $15,000) . So $50,000 full time music = $100,000 regular/adult job.

$200,000 vs 50,000 music -----take the day job, and use the money for your passion projects.

Seeing a few of my classmates from conservatory transition to the NYC corporate world, realize a lot of the extra money you make is is going right back to buy to shit that belongs in THAT world.
Lot's of 6 + figure jobs are "up or out" and competitive.

Say you got the 85,000 year job......what are you going to wear to work ? That Pink Floyd shirt you wear while taking bong rips. So ....... let's say 3,500 go to suits. You can't really claim anymore that music gear you bought is a business expense and deduct it from your taxes. Need to take a client out to lunch...... more money. You might ponder if the car you drive projects the right professional image and you discover Golf and sales are like chocolate and peanut butter.

Oh, and now you have a steady income the Miss wants to be a Mrs.

For everyone here, you are on the other side of the street. Basically under the 50% of your current salary is just going to cause too much stress and resentment. You'll go back to the day job. Plus all the money you need to set up shop, website etc....

I can tell you, not being able to pay rent in NYC sucks ass !! My creativity had to take a backseat to the very real....how the fuck am I going to survive.

If you are even slightly serious I would advise

  • Write a business plan, and get honest feedback
  • Go to SCORE. (if in the USA) It's apart of the small business Association and 100% free. It stands for Service Core Of Retired Executives. Expect to find a former CEO who donates his/her time each week for a few hours where you can ask them anything about starting a business. It's wonderful. It was akin to seeing a proctologist, but I always left with clear and actionable ideas. Also, in NYC, there were a number of record label executives.....so they knew the subject better than I did.
  • Take an evening class on entrepreneurship, and read up on the subject. I had a class at the NYU extension division and it was again very useful to both hear others read their business plan and bounce ideas off others
  • Do form a "mastermind" group. You are going to need other people and other people will need you. Even if it's just pure "motivation" and not feeling so alone, that will help prevent burnout and quitting.
  • Don't leave your steady job with KIDS !!! Married is helpful, married with kids is different. (This is also distinct from musician having kids)
  • You will change, and so will the world around you. Understand the "core" of your dream, and be flexible about the surface. This will help you make decisions and survive the detours that everyone will go on at least once. (ie. The shitty wedding/resort/corporate function gig might pay you enough to record that avant grade jazz albums etc. Those who have a more vague "tag line" that is authentic for them, and answers the internal "why" brings better vibes to others, and less lament for things outside of artistic taste. It could be "Music is love" or "Music is a celebration of life". Personally that makes me vomit, but as the dark cloud I can tell you I have shot myself in the foot more than once, and who you are and how you treat others makes a difference. I still feel bad as -- I am a very good sight reading guitarist which is rare - rushing to leave a church easter gig which I took 100% for the money an old lady grabbed my arm and said " I just want to tell you that was one of the most beautiful music I have ever heard". It was just the wrong time. I hated everyone in that band, hated the gig, and when I heard that I just dead pan looked her right in the eye and said "Well, you don't get out much do you". Her smile went .... :-/ It's odd, I have never been asked back to that band. I wonder why?)

I have to leave it here, but the ideal talents are yes the Business and Music skills, but also "finger on the pulse". That's different. I've seen many very talented business people simply make the wrong choice on where things were going. It was impossible to know at the time. Who knew in 1995 that laptops would basically destroy the business of large studios, or the possible reality that midi samples could fool people in thinking it was real etc
I hope I understood what you mean correctly and I try to reply.

Someone (more than one person) told me that I'm an anomalous engineer, I'm a creative one that from what I could see it is pretty rare. I'm not saying it is best or worst, only facts...

I cannot (and I don't want to) leave music, I feel it in my head and as you said I spent some of my money in plugins, courses etc...
As some other ones are saying here I'm becaming to feel free in composing music this way, with a stable work and some little time to do the music I want when I want it.

My work needs a good amount of creativity too so I'm not far from where I belong actually, I know life changes and I'm ready to see where it will bring me.
My sentence here don't want to be pessimistic, only real and encouraging instead. We need to live to do music, there is a different path for everyone of us to take our music and bring it with us until we will end our life, I'm ok with mine, I only want to make music, to learn about it as much as I can, because I need it and not because of the money.

I hope you understand what I mean, even if I'm learning to write better in english I still have some limitations.

I agree with most of the things GtrString said.


Music (touring with bands) was my full time job (with one year of interruption) from the age of 17 until about the age of 27. And while it is true that it occasionally felt like work and had its frustrations ... I still always loved it. The one and only reason I didn't (read: couldn't) keep doing it was an injury (resulting from being too eager to help lift a power amp rack out of the truck) that became chronic and made the touring lifestyle impossible, and at the time touring seemed to be the only viable option for me to make a living as a musician (since I wasn't located in an area where studio session work might have been an option).

Since then I've primarily (with a few years of interruptions for various musical efforts) worked in a different field, while spending much of what should have been my free time attempting to mold myself into someone who can do something in music that doesn't require being able to handle the road life. That other career is a better paying one, to be sure, but also has become less and less satisfying with every passing year, to the point where I now can barely stand it and the stress thereof is negatively affecting my health. In fact the only thing that keeps me going now is the prospect of a day, not too far in the future, when I will be able to close out this fallback career forever and spend the remainder of my days making music, whether that be for work or just for myself. And while I accept that attempting to once again do music as a full-time job will have its downsides, based upon my experiences I have no doubt in my mind that it is going to be better for me both physically and emotionally ... especially since any non-work time should finally be actual "free" time again, rather than constantly feeling like I am neglecting one career or the other unless I am working every minute of every day.
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