I just got off the phone with a client that inspired me to write this post. This particular client is feeling frustrated with where they are in their music career. So frustrated in fact that this person is contemplating quitting music altogether… throwing in the towel and calling it a day. My client is feeling overwhelmed with working so hard and not being where they want to be. This person was looking for advice and I think more accurately, encouragement. Should they keep going they wanted to know. Do they have a chance? Should they just quit?
I can really relate to this person because as someone who has been a professional musician my whole adult life, I’ve been there. In fact, I’ve been there several times. I can recall distinctly being at points where I just didn’t want to go forward. It seemed too hard and felt like my goals were simply unattainable. But, time and time again I’ve returned to my love of music.
For me, the choice to keep writing and playing music is ultimately simple and it really boils down to one question, which is “Are you happier playing (or writing) music than not?”. That’s it.
Every time I’ve tried to quit music I miss it so much that I come back to it. It usually doesn’t take long. I get more joy out of playing and writing music than I do pain. It’s really that simple for me. As much as the business of music can be frustrating, the joy I feel from writing and playing music is greater. At this point in my life I only do things if the net effect is a positive one. Sounds reasonable right? Why do something if it brings you more pain than joy?
I think a lot of us make the mistake of putting the cart before the horse, so to speak, and doing things because we think it might one day bring us great joy and happiness. We think,” if only I could have a successful music career then I’d be happy”. We pursue things hoping that eventually a big payoff will come. But, what if it doesn’t? Or what if you do create the success you dream of but it doesn’t bring you the happiness you imagined? For example, how do you know being a famous musician will make you happy? Maybe it will and maybe it won’t. Have you ever experienced the life of a famous musician? Some of them look pretty miserable to me.
I think we can figure out what path to pursue in a much simpler, more direct way by asking ourselves what will bring us joy today? What do you feel like doing this afternoon? This evening? Do you like writing songs? Does picking up your guitar or sitting at the piano make you happy? Does playing music in front of crowds invigorate you? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then do those things!
Now I know what you’re thinking. What about money? We could all just pursue whatever we felt like doing if money weren’t an issue right?
Money is going to be an issue no matter what you choose to do in life. The music business is hard, but I know MANY musicians who make a full time living from playing and writing music. It’s entirely possible and realistic. However, I do think it’s a good idea to have a day job until you’re making enough from music to at least survive from before quitting your job and doing music full time.
Do you get more joy or pain from pursuing a career in music?
For me the answer is clear.
What about you?
In : March 2014
Tags: music business
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