“I wish I wasn’t stuck in a dead end Job so I could be a professional musician”

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photo by http://jjacobphotography.co.uk/

photo by http://jjacobphotography.co.uk/

Someone said this recently to me and it sparked the thoughts for this “Guitarist Survival Guide”.  It turned my thoughts to a conversation I had with a friend of mine who is also a talented film music composer.  I was asking her advice because I have been asked to do the music for an independent film.  “How much should I charge?”, I asked.  Her reply really surprised me:  “Well, I have to SAVE UP to be able to do film scores, there isn’t much money in it really.”  Wow…really?   She went on to say that most of her income comes from writing Jingles for adverts, (quite a few of which have been on national television).  She said; “my passion is writing film music, it is what I love to do, but I need to have the other work to pay for it”.

Basically, she knows that she would be miserable if she wasn’t able to write film music, she VIEWS HERSELF as a film music composer. She also views the other more mundane side of what she does as “saving for or paying for doing what she loves”.

This is a great perspective to have.  Maybe, instead of viewing our jobs as dead end jobs, we should view them as “saving for what we really want to do”, and start finding ways of doing what we love rather than thinking. “If only I was a successful musician…etc. etc”.

world tour

I was speaking to another guitarist, who tours the world playing guitar for a living.  He is what most of us would consider to be “a professional musician”.  I was asking him what its like to be a “successful musician”.  He said something that really got me thinking.

Sometimes being within touching distance of your dream can be worse than your dream being out of reach”.

I asked him about what he gets paid per show and he said between £200 and £300 ($300 to $500).  This might seem like a lot of money, but consider this: If he plays a gig every other night it works out at £100 to £150 ($150 to $200) and for the amount of travelling and hours put in, hour on hour he is actually earning about the same as the minimum wage.  This means that in order to make a living, he has to do gigs all the time…otherwise he can’t make a decent wage.  He really loves what he does, but being on the road playing someone else’s music, also means it is very hard for him work on his own music.

It would be very easy to look at my friend who tours the world and be envious: but I’m not…Why?  I’m not, because I spend 3 days a week writing, recording, and promoting my music.  I know that writing my own music is what makes me happy.  But to do this, I work two 13 hour days teaching guitar and work most evenings after the kids are in bed.

I mostly teach young people who have been thrown out of school. They, not only don’t appreciate who I am or what I do,  but most of the time are down right hostile!   Sure, I teach masterclasses and play gigs and sell songs….but the reality is I need to “save to do what I love”.  This means a sacrifice… no big holidays…no fancy car, and yes; even buying nice guitar gear is a struggle (ironically, it seems only bank managers buy expensive guitar stuff!).  So my point is this: being a musician isn’t for everyone, especially if financial security and having a big house, nice car, and nice holidays are the things that make YOU happy.

My advice to the guy in a dead end job?  Start saving for the things that make you happy: If its being a musician, start doing it after work or cut down to 4 days a week…if its having financial security and having nice things: then stop moaning and do your job the best you can.  Its all about perspective really!  We need to stop wanting what others have and be honest about assessing what really makes US happy in life.

What do you think? Is this good advice or a cop out?

Check these blogs out too!

http://davebrons.com/5-steps-to-kickstarting-your-music-career/

http://davebrons.com/10-survival-tools-for-serious-guitarists/

http://davebrons.com/what-progress-really-looks-like-in-the-real-world/

If you liked this blog and you want to make sure you don’t miss any future ones, please subscribe to my mailing list at http://www.davebrons.com

14 Responses to ““I wish I wasn’t stuck in a dead end Job so I could be a professional musician””

  1. Jonathan Vipond

    Yep it’s about choosing what matters and if doing something that you don’t really fancy doing, like a mundane job, means that you can in the future do what you love then so be it. Good read all of that!

    Reply
    • Dave Brons

      Thanks for commenting Jonathan. I agree. Its easy to think that the grass is greener, but the reality is that I choose what to do because I love it…I’d do it whether it made me a tonne of money or not. I get fed up with all the hype around being a musician… I think that being a musician isn’t for everyone, and we need to appreciate what we have, and keep moving forward, rather than always looking at others and wishing we had what they have.

      Reply
  2. Chris Rotherham

    That’s a good attitude to have for life Dave,its one I have tried to follow all my days.Sometimes it works sometimes things get in your way ,but that doesn’t stop me trying.

    Reply
    • Dave Brons

      Thanks for your comments Chris. I really appreciate your support here on the blog and also on Facebook!

      Reply
  3. Gary mclean

    I agree totally the grass isn’t always greener.its important to have goals and to have dreams and be inspired and inspiring others do what you love and love what you do and stay humble there’s always someone better.if only we had the internet back in the day tho then maybe things would be different for a lot of us???

    Reply
    • Dave Brons

      Ha ha maybe the internet would have helped us, or maybe not…who knows! I agree about staying humble though. So true!

      Reply
  4. adam frost

    Great read Dave! One point I would like to mention is by teaching and always writing with others, it can become very difficult to write your own music. You get home after a long day teaching and the last thing I want to do is pick up a guitar and finding inspiration to even work on technique is down right a death struggle sometimes.

    Reply
    • Dave Brons

      I agree Adam. Thats why I only teach two nights a week and have protected composing time on a morning.

      Reply
  5. Mike K-H

    It’s a sad fact of the world that the stuff that pays well (like short advertising clips, whether you’re making them or editing them) does so because of the constraints – stifled creativity, clients who can’t make up their minds, and crazy deadlines. Learn how to do that kind of work, and use it to fund the stuff that gives you more control.

    And if what you do to make money has nothing to do with making music, do it to the best of your ability, not grudgingly. You’ll suffer less stress, learn more, and generally be better off.

    Reply
  6. Vinnie Liotta

    Wise words, Dave! I grumble about the stress of my job (psychiatric nurse) but I know what I am earning each month and I have several weeks paid hols a year… When I was in my 20s I did a few little tours round europe and I always came back exhausted! Music is awesome but is hard work! Keep rocking, Dave! All the best in 2015…:-)

    Reply
    • Dave Brons

      Hey Vinnie
      Thanks for posting. Thanks for doing such an important job. As someone who has struggled with depression in the past I know that Mental Health Nurses are very much needed and do an invaluable job!

      Reply
  7. Elwyn Smiles

    It’s a lot like the work to live/live to work debate. For years I chased the money changing jobs for an extra £5k a year and a better car….but it was all work and very little play. Four years ago Aged 49 I had to reassess my life after having a quadruple heart bypass operation. Luckily I hadn’t had a heart attack so heart muscles were fine and everything has worked out well. What it did do is make me take a look at life and at priorities. I realise that I have a good job that pays well and allows me to afford my passion for guitar playing and music in general. I can’t imagine the potential stress faced by musicians who know it’s down to them to put bread on the table…we, the public don’t really see the day to day life, we just enjoy the end product. I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I have great respect for true musicians, for their passion and dedication and the world is a better place with them in it. Keep rocking Dave…your music is inspirational

    Reply

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