June 23, 2011

Week 37: It's A Job

(This is Week 36 of my Fifty-Two Weeks of Music Do-It-Yourself Music advice)

Hard at Work or Hardly Working At It?

You’ve got a job. It’s making music. It’s entertaining people. It’s not one that pays regular. It’s not one that will impress most people outside the musical realm. It’s probably not something you can put on a resume that will garner you a $60k a year job. But it’s a job.

For some, it’s a full-time position. You work day in and day out chasing the dream that puts your name up on the marquee in the headliner position. The dream of hearing your songs on the radio, seeing your album listed in the top 50 in Rolling Stone, or getting sponsored by a major company. The dream of being able to afford a home and car from the money you’ve made off of your craft.

But…for most it’s a part-time job because in order to afford the luxuries in life you are used to, like a roof over your head and at least one meal a day, it doesn’t pay enough. But, still you do it. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or an evening rock star… it’s a passion that you’re not willing to give up.

It really doesn’t matter if you fall in the full-time or part-time working musician role… you must understand, it’s a job. Every time you play a club, you’re being hired to entertain people. How much you get paid is either part of a “guarantee” or directly in conjunction to how many butts you bring through the door.

Want to see a hard working part-time musician? Find Ben Mills.
He plays in Waiting for August, books showcases, and
promotes like a mad circus seal. See him 7/8/11 @ Elysium in ATX
It’s hard. I know. Most jobs are. If you have it in you to write and record music and are trying to share that with the world, it’s going to be an uphill climb. You have to climb above all of the self-important crappy singers out there… and deliver something that appeals to a large group of people… not just stroking your own ego.

If ego isn’t in the mix… and you are a decent musician. Consider being in a cover band. You make a lot of money, you just have to be OK with being known as “The guy at my wedding that played Erasure” Instead of a serious singer-songwriter. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s a job. You’ll make money… you can use that money to invest in your serious music career and elevate yourself out of the cover-band genre. Of course… you may just want to play music and make some money… and a cover band is a viable option. Someone will always want to hear “Piano Man,” “Sweet Caroline” and “Brown Eyed Girl.”

Just an option. And a little ego ain’t a bad thing… as long as you can back it up. But, think about it… How many people are working somewhere because “It’s a job?” More people than those who are working at the position of their dreams… I’ll tell you that. Lots of people can go through the motions. And that’s fine if that’s what you’re doing with music. But.. if that’s what you’re doing…this column is not for you.

This column is for the ones who believe that the band they are in just might make it. If someday you’d like to quit your full-time job or be able to stop sponging off of all of your friends and make an honest living at music, this is for you.

Treat your musical career like a job. Make sure you work at it every day.. if only just a little bit. Always move forward. Make progress daily. Get your name out there. Get to be known. Move up the ladder. Have meetings. Plan your week/month/year. Brainstorm ideas. Schedule vacation. Have working lunches. Make friends, attend conferences. Make friends with club owners, bands, producers, and other people who you’d like to work with in the future.

Then… here’s the important thing. At the end of the day, walk away from it and be you. Your music career should not define you as a human. You are a musician, that’s your job. It’s not 100% or who you are. Make sure you are able to feed the other parts of your life as well. Get right with God, find and fall in love. Don’t blow off the important people in your life for music.

Music is your Job. It is not your life. It is a job though. Work.

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/.


Tony Barker said...

Walking away at the end of the "day" - that's the tough part. There's always one more email to write, one more tweak you can put on your press kit, and it feels like you're just being lazy if you stop before you're exhausted (especially if you love it so much that you don't realize you're exhausted).

In a way, though, the decision to stop is one of the most important; you're not as good (at anything) when you're wiped out, and the risk of burnout is real, no matter how much you love what you're doing.

Another great post, my friend!

Sean Claes said...

Thanks Tony. Walking away at the end of the day... that is what keeps great musicians from burning out.

FYI.. listening to your CD... but my car's CD player broke... so I'm working on getting that fixed so I can review (I'm in the car 2 hours each day).

I, myself, am a part-time entertainment writer with a full-time job. :)