Musicians with a day job?

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  1. jazzacast55
    Member

    Hi guys,

    I'm just wondering how many of you have day jobs as well as having an active music career?
    I'm in a place at the moment in which I'm considering taking a break from teaching and taking on a day job part time so I can really focus on my playing development and composition for an up coming album.
    It's the first time I would have a day job and felt a little out of place and scared that I wouldn't have time for playing or I would loose my ability on the guitar, strange fear but I think I'm it's nothing to worry about.
    I think it would be good to be able to play and not have to worry about how I was getting paid so much, if any one would like to share their experiences with this that would be great!
    Thanks guys

  2. arewolfe
    Member

    I think it depends on how many hours a week you plan to work. You mention part time, so I think it could work fine.

    I deliver pizza about 12 hours a week. It's taxing on my vehicle (vs. highway miles), but it's one of the easiest jobs I've ever had. I still have plenty of time to transcribe, rehearse, teach, gig, practice, jam, etc.

    Contrast that to 2006 when I entered the real estate world in Massachusetts... I ended up making a lot of money but essentially stopped playing guitar because of the amount of hours I was working. 60 hours a week completely interfered with musical life to the point where I was stressed out and unhappy. I chose to up and leave that field altogether. My current income is about 4x less than it was, but my quality of life is immeasurably better and I get to do what I love.

  3. kley2004
    Member

    Interesting point, I say stop teaching and go for it. There's a reason why you want to take a break from it.
    Give it a try - that's the only way for you to know what it's gonna be like.
    You can ALWAYS go back and teaching if you choose to in the future.

  4. jazzacast55
    Member

    Thanks for the replys guys, thinking of giving it ago, still doing some teaching, I think I will decide soon enough if it's right for me, wish me luck haha!

  5. vaultnaemsae
    Member

    Hi, I don't post on this forum much but I just saw your post and thought I might add something.

    It's a balancing act...time doing music vs. time spent out and about shakin' yo money maker.

    I took a full-time job a year ago and it eats my time. I'm at work 9am-7pm everyday and I have about an hour and twenty minutes of commute each day. It pays OK though. So I've been able to finance a new instrument and small musical bits and pieces without much stress.

    Having said that it's not a forever career building job and I wouldn't want to do it forever even if I could.

    The truth is I'm hungrier to play now. Even small chunks of time are more productive practice wise; you just have less of it. Makes me annoyed that I didn't practice more when I had the time! It also helps you realize what it will prob take for you to reach your goals as a musician and prioritize those things.

    Living as a musician can be very challenging at times when you're short on cash. And teaching (which can be sooo draining) can kill your spirit if you're not in a healthy work environment. The work is seasonal and the money is irregular too.

    At the very least maybe try getting a sub teacher for a month and try out the day job thing and see how it suits you. Then you can always go back if it's a drag.

    Depending on the job you might even be able to do your own thing at the office or wherever you're at (esp if you're temping).

    Good luck :)

  6. llazarides
    Member

    I've peeked at this forum here and there over the years, but just took the time a few days ago to delve into some of the threads. Not sure why it's taken me this long, but oh well...

    Anyway, I just want to add to the comment about being hungrier to play. I didn't major in music while in college and work in an unrelated field, so since I graduated a couple years ago, I've been shedding as much as possible trying to make up for lost time. I work ~9-6 5 days a week, and end up getting about 3.5-4 hours practice time a day. It's not much compared to what I used to practice, but the motivation to stay focused is definitely stronger. For the moment it's okay because I don't need to stress about money, but I find it hard to play out at sessions and find gigs when I barely have time to practice as it is. I guess I'm in a reclusive period where I'm just trying to get my chops up to justify hanging with some of the better players in town. It's good for now, but I'm itching to do something to be able to focus more on my playing/practice regimen.

    Would love to hear more input from other people on this subject!

  7. jazzbum
    Member

    I'd offer a word of warning to the OP about taking a day job - make sure it is something casual enough that it will not drain your energy. All human service jobs take their toll, especially if you tend to be more of an introvert. If you have technical skills, or can work some place that isn't in human services, that would be best. I say this as someone who got a degree in Gender Studies when music didn't work out, and thought I'd like to help people to make money - the real world has sucked much of that desire away.

    In the past 2 years I have been working full time and my playing has gradually been getting less attention. At the end of an 8-5 shift, if it is a miserable job, you will probably not want to do much real practicing, I know I haven't. The desire is still there but the energy just isn't. I did not have that problem when I worked this same job part time....so you should be fine - casual/leaving it at work is key.

    One other thing I would suggest is to continue to live modestly, do not get used to making more money if you end up doing so - this will make it hard for you to keep your job "just a job" and can quickly trap you into thinking more about money than music. Throw extra money in savings. I signed a year lease in May on a place that is very nice, but I have to have my current salary to maintain - this gives me less freedom to leave my job, and I can't save as much. For me going from part-time to full time was a very slippery slope, if you are working on an album, you probably won't have this problem - your priorities are straight.

    Last thing - music is important, but be sure you always have time for friends, family and the people you love. If you are currently single, or in a more casual relationship the reality of the situation is that when things get more serious, you will have to change your routine. You will likely also want to, so that you can do other stimulating things, and have a meaningful connection with others. Balancing work with music is hard, but adding relationships - even family can make it even more difficult. Shed a lot when you're single, and be prepared to make shorter practice sessions work if things change for you.

    For all you shedding out there, to end on a positive note - I'm truly delighted by Mike Outram's site:

    http://www.mikeoutram.com/?p=all

  8. silverwater
    Member

    Having a part-time job to supplement your income can be liberating in many ways. Although there's something to be said about making your living only through playing, the reality for most players is that they'll have to take gigs for the money only (cover bands/wedding bands etc.) which don't offer much in the way of development/self-expression.

    These gigs also may have long commutes which can eat into your practice time, and even the steadiest of regular gigs is likely to disappear before a regular part-time job does. Teaching private lessons on your own is the same way - Students come and go. It's a ton of work as well if you're committed to doing a good job.

    Trying to keep up while working 9-6 M-F sounds pretty difficult, I must say. Bartending can be all right, depending on the bar (flexible schedules at least). If you want to get your geek on you can sell Bitcoins on localbitcoins.com; there's a huge market out there for people willing to pay 10-15% over value just to buy from an individual.

  9. mf
    Member

    i think this is a really good thread that could help a lot of people out there. this is something im trying to figure out at the moment. anyone else want to share their experiences with how they make a living as a musician? do you work part time? have a full-time day job? teach? gig full time?

  10. jbroad
    Member

    it's VERY tough to make a living as a musician at this time. i've been a full-time musician since 1996. currently, i live in the NYC metro area and i teach guitar and play in a few different musical situations. my "money" gig is playing with a 10 piece motown/r&b band that primarily does private and corporate events. i've been teaching 2 days a week at a local music store (which is about to jump up to 4 days a week since another guitar teacher is leaving). it's really hit or miss. the last 3 months have been horrible monetarily- lots of cancelled gigs and cancelled students due to the amount of snow that we've had. i easily blew through all of the "emergency" money that i was able to put away last year.

    i've been listening to a lot of musician-oriented podcasts lately (the insidemusicast is a great one) and i think we were all born at the wrong time. a lot of these musicians talk about the music scene in the 60's, 70's and 80's. many of these guys had massive amounts of studio and live work all of the time and were able to support themselves by playing. i can only think of a handful of musicians of my generation or younger that can make a living only by playing.

    lately i've been having conversations with a lot of my musician friends about this exact topic and they are all struggling as well. it's a horrible economy right now with no sign that things are improving. i remember reading a quote by bill evans: "take care of the music and the music will take care of you". sadly, i'm not sure that this is true anymore


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