April 8, 2011

Week 29: Notes From The Cubicle

(This is Week 29 of my Fifty-Two Weeks of Music Do-It-Yourself advice)

Week 29: Notes From The Cubicle:
Career or Passion or Both?

I’ve spent the last 28 weeks giving you advice on how to make a move in the indie music business. I hope I’ve given you some good advice, and for those who have tried something I’ve suggested, I hope it’s worked out. Would love to hear a story or two.

Now, here’s my footnote. This advice isn’t for everyone.

Sometimes it’s just about the music. Sometimes you just have to dance to the beat of your own drummer for nobody else but yourself. Sometimes it’s not about the fans. Sometimes it’s not about the radio play, the fame, the fortune, or the gigs. It’s not about the status, the dream, the future, or the past. Sometimes you are just playing for you.

That’s O.K.

If your only goal with music is to play it and make a sound that pleases you, chances are you don’t need a bigger/better gig. You don’t need to promote the CD you just recorded. You don’t need to put your music in front of a radio DJ or a blogger who reviews. Just play.

This column is for those who are set on sharing their dream. Making the world a better place, one note at a time.

A long time ago, I began this blog. I called it “Notes From The Cubicle” after a tongue-in-cheek article I wrote in 2004 called “I Work In A Cubicle.” I wasn’t writing in order to make a million dollars. I wasn’t concerned with getting to the next level. I started this blog with the intention of making people laugh and for an outlet for my writing and promotional work I’d been doing. Over the years it has evolved into what you see today. I stopped working in a cubicle. I started concentrating more on my writing and freelance gigs. I used this blog less and less for humor and more and more for sharpening my writing skills.

I’ve been working in the field of journalism, communications, copywriting, and graphic design professionally for 12 years. I have been writing freelance for 15.

Why am I telling you this? Well, just to let you know that it’s OK for your passion to become your career. And it’s OK for your career to turn into a passion. I don’t know where you are sitting with your musical career right now, but I can tell you that I have met more people who have full-time jobs and make beautiful music on the weekend than I have met people who are full-time working musicians.

What’s the impetus of this column? The contract job I’ve had just ended. I’m sitting at a crossroads right now. I’m 38 years old and I’m unemployed (but I call is a “freelance writer”). I’ve got 2 children and a wonderful wife who have been right there with me for this ride called “Advertising Copywriter / Communications Specialist / Music Journalist.” I am skilled. I’m a better writer than 75% of the people out there doing advertising copywriting. I have helped people sell things like plumbing, engagement rings, a dog race, music, a neighborhood, prescription pills, stereo equipment, lawn services, and furniture with my words.

I am passionate about writing. A good job is just as tough to get as a good musical career. Some people luck into it, some people work really hard to achieve it, and some people bust their humps for decades and don’t seem to get anywhere.

A lot of people just have jobs. Something that makes enough money to survive and that enables them to do what they want to do after 5:00p.m. I have never been that person. I don’t understand that person. My mind doesn’t work that way.

That is why I write this blog. It’s for the people who don’t give up, who CAN’T give up. It’s for the musicians out there that strive to make a living doing what they love. It’s for the lovers of song.

Maybe in 2004 I didn’t realize this blog would take this turn, but the name suddenly has two meanings. Notes From The Cubicle. Your music is your job. You may have a hobby that pays the rent, but your “cubicle” is the stage/recording studio and your “notes” represent the music your write/play/sing.

So, I’ve got 23 more of these to go. Are you with me?

Incidentally, I AM in search of a new full-time writing gig. I’d love to be a lifer at an advertising agency or creative department somewhere in Austin. Writing ads that turn heads is my passion. So, if you have any leads, or want to offer me that job, check out my online book. This page has my resume and contact information. http://www.seanclaes.com/book.html


Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. For an introduction to his "52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice" visit this link - http://www.tinyurl.com/Claes52DIY. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here - http://www.seanclaes.com/.

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