Practical Tips on Balancing Your Music Career with Everything Else
“Is it possible to raise a family well, maintain a high-paying job and have a career in music?”
“Of course!” says many
struggling juggling artists. But it is not for the weak. It means less sleep, less time with the kids and a lot of HARD WORK. It means knowing which ball to catch and which ball to let go to maintain the balance.
Here are what some musicians do to balance their day jobs, family life and music career:
TREAT IT LIKE A SMALL BUSINESS
I work full time, have a wife, and treat the music thing like a very serious small business. I have two days (and by days I mean nights after work) set aside for practicing, song writing, practicing mixing skills, getting together with my band, etc. I practice for about an hour day on guitar, before my wife gets home from work. When I record a full length album I usually take vacation time at work and record through the vacation.
After 7 years of working full time I am finally starting to make really excellent money. After 12 years of practicing, gigging, recording, promoting, and doing everything else associated with a music career I have still made practically no money.
CHOOSE A COMPLEMENTARY PARTNER
Though love may flow, it can be tough when two parents have parallel career goals. For example, if both of hope to land an orchestra position or college gig, securing work in the same city may be near impossible (unless you met on the job). It is tricky when two parents are regularly on the road, or both are subjected to the roller coaster finances of freelancing. Finding a partner who balances you professionally is a great asset.
– Savvy Musician
EARLY ON, BLOCK OFF ALL VERY IMPORTANT FAMILY/JOB EVENTS
Remember that you are always in a position to exercise total control of your career and to stand firm and decline opportunities that create too much conflict. A prominent artist who I used to manage blocked off all family birthdays, his wedding anniversary, and school year vacation periods as non-bookable dates. He never made exceptions. Perhaps that may seem like a luxury, suitable only for someone well-established in their career. I think it is undeniable that respecting and cherishing family milestones adds meaning and joy to a hectic performance life and helps to maintain a healthy approach toward life’s priorities.
I’ve been back and forth between 9 – 5 jobs, entertainment industry jobs and mixing the two for over 30 years. It comes down to balancing your desires and your responsibilities. It’s a lot easier to take a crappy job and dedicate your life to your creative desires when you’re 20 than when you’re 35 and have a wife, kids and a mortgage.
– Uncle Bob
MAKE GREAT DECISIONS EARLY ON
Living gig to gig is expected when you’re 20, but not a great place to be when 30, 45, or 60. Establish a sustainable musical business (aka your career) that automatically generates opportunity and capital as you age.
PRIORITIZE WORK AND PRIORITIZE FAMILY
It’s easy to get caught up in just one. Some musicians become so focused on their art, they neglect spending quality time with loved ones. Others become absorbed in family life, and cease to remain active vibrant musicians. There is enough time to do both if you want them badly enough.
LET THE BOSSES KNOW HOW MUCH YOU LOVE MAKING MUSIC
For an indie musician, a string of spur-of-the-moment events, performances, and opportunities can arise and it’s always good to take advantage of the opportunities. You never want to let a single opportunity to allow you music to be heard by new ears slip from your fingers but it’s always best to never jeopardize your day job because that could be the difference between employment and unemployment. It is, however very important to make it apparent to your boss, department head, supervisor, or, in my case head chef that you are perusing a lasting career in music and give them a chance to work with you not against you.
– David Gamble
DON’T THINK ABOUT WORK WHEN YOU’RE NOT IN THE OFFICE
I think about my job as little as possible when I’m not in my employer’s domain, and I think that separation is vital. I’ve always looked for work removed from my own artistic interests. I wish we lived in a more artistically philanthropic society, but for now creative types just have to keep pushing on.
– IAN AMBERSON
When you are a starving artist, you have to sell your music to the public with out also taking food off the table. That means finding free ways to promote your music or cheap ways like flyers and business cards.
– Lil Macc Loco
REMIND YOURSELF AND THE FAMILY WHY YOU’RE DOING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE
When we first had the children, I contemplated giving up music, but I wondered what kind of example it would set for them, if I gave up on my dreams so easily. But there is no getting around it, I am away for chunks of time, and it is hard on the kids, and my wife, but it has become expected, and it gets easier incrementally for them each time. For me, I miss them terribly when I am on the road, so I just try to focus on the work.
And to be honest, having children has helped me a great deal with my music as a business . I can’t go on tour and lose money on every show, or pay to play. I have to sell a certain amount of merch. I have to come home with a profit. Because it is not just me I am doing it for. That kind of pressure can really motivate you.
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