I’ve been having an interesting conversation with one of my coaching clients lately. The topic is a common one among music people (and all creatives, for that matter): trying to resolve the “conflict” or the “incompatibility” between making our living from our artistic pursuits vs. making a living from a “day job” or other, non-artistic pursuits. I think part of the problem is the inherent assumption that it’s a “conflict” in the first place.
I just don’t see it that way.
A few years ago, I was on a “DIY Music” panel at the annual TAXI Road Rally music convention in L.A., along with other music industry professionals including Tony Van Veen (then EVP of Sales and Marketing for Disc Makers), Derek Sivers (Founder/then CEO of CD Baby), Lydia Hutchinson (Owner/then Publisher of Performing Songwriter magazine), publicist Mike Farley, and musician/songwriter/artist Gilli Moon.
During the panel discussion, the subject of the “dreaded day job” came up, and I expressed my viewpoint that I didn’t see a day job or other, non-music sources of income as “dreaded” at all.
Unlike so many other music people, I hung onto my day job (as a software architect for GE) for as long as humanly possible before I finally left to pursue my music career full-time. Why? Because while I was a dedicated employee and worked hard, I also “milked my day job for all it was worth,” and never saw it as “the enemy” or the thing that was preventing me from realizing my musical dreams.
In fact, it was exactly the opposite.
That day job funded my music career, and gave me opportunities I would otherwise never have had.
And even though I haven’t had a “day job” in 15 years, I still refer to my home in Nashville as “the house that GE bought” and my commercial recording studio, from which I make my living today, as “the studio that GE built.” Every instrument, every piece of recording gear, every tour I embarked on, was initially funded and made possible by that day job.
So today, during my conversation with my coaching client, memories of that TAXI Road Rally panel and the views I held at the time (and still do today) came back to me.
Here’s what I told my coaching client:
As for the “dichotomy” between making music a priority and making other income a priority, remember that it’s not actually a dichotomy at all. That’s entirely a mindset thing. The two are not mutually exclusive; they’re actually complementary. At least while we’re getting things rolling with our music income, any non-directly-music pursuits that we take on, and the subsequent income we derive from them, are what make the music possible. Those outside pursuits are actually our “virtual business partner,” or the “virtual venture capitalist” for our music career. As long as we look at it that way, then we make both sides of our work compatible, and not in conflict with one another. Income from anywhere is still income!
So for me, it’s not a conflict at all, but a wonderful, symbiotic relationship. That viewpoint is a choice — one that we all have the opportunity to consciously make, or not.
But given the alternative, why choose to look at it any other way?
If you’d like to read the full transcript of the TAXI panel discussion, you can find it here:
I hope this perspective will help others view their non-music pursuits in a more positive light as well.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. How do your non-music pursuits fit into your overall life picture? Make sure to comment below!
About the Author
is an independent music producer and engineer, published author, music career coach, and co-founder of the Azalea Music Group in Nashville. He helps artists and songwriters reach their fullest sonic and emotional impact with the recordings he produces, and also teaches them how to do it themselves. His diverse list of clients includes Davy Jones of the Monkees, Grammy-winning songwriter Don Henry, and international guitar virtuosos Tommy Emmanuel and Muriel Anderson.