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Career Advice

Your Music is Just a Hobby. So What? Part 1 of TBD

Your Music is Just a Hobby. So What? Part 1 of TBD

A Guest Post by Normandie Wilson

There seems to be no shortage of zippy headlines, tweets, and email newsletters telling you, usually with a proliferation of exclamation points, that “Your Music Can Be Your Full Time Job!!” If you haven't quit your day job yet to be a full-time musician, then ~wow~ you must really suck! Or you don't want it bad enough! (GRRRRRR!) Or you haven't bought the right program or coaching to get you there! Click here and pay $29.95 for the guide that will turn you into a millionaire by next Tuesday! Better yet, give me $2500 for my exclusive insight that will have you winning American Idol and get your songs placed in Super Bowl commericals by this time next year!

* eye roll *

* heavy sigh *

I can't be the only one who's tired of these trite, hollow promises. Not only are they silly, but they are patently untrue. I am not interested in perpetuating the myth that everyone can be a full-time musician. It's not necessarily that you don't have the talent or the drive (although, maybe it is). The main reason is that it is not feasible for everyone.

Notice I use the word feasible, instead of possible...

Feasible: possible to do easily or conveniently


Possible: able to be done; within the power or capacity of someone or something.

There seems to be only one viewpoint these days in new-indie circles, and it's a harsh one. If your music is a hobby, then that's bad. Full time music = good. Music as hobby = bad. Either you're a full-time musician, and you've “made it,” or you're not, and you've failed before you've started. Either you're one of the lucky ones, or you're not, and you should just quit and go home. Or, more realistically, you should spend every spare penny you have on trying to quit your day job, so you can start doing music full time and learn how to live on 1/3 of what you were living on before. (Sounds really fun, right???)

[PS: Please tell me you've noticed that every single person who is out there telling you that you can be a full-time musician has a bottom line...? Something they're selling in order to help that happen for you? Hmm...very interesting]

I think this viewpoint is stunted, short-sighted, and doesn't address the breadth of human experience. Viewing your music as a success only when you make enough to earn a full-time living from it limits you from doing the best that you can with your music when it's “just a hobby.” How does an extra $5000 per year sound to you? How would it feel to have $2500 in savings for your band, so that the next time you pressed a CD, no one had to eat ramen noodles for a month? What would it be like if every time you played a show, you ended up with enough cash to use as spending money for the rest of the week? Or how about doing something really old-fashioned, like actually having enough money to go on tour instead of begging your friends and family to fund your Kickstarter? Play your cards right as a “hobby” musician, and this can be your reality....

Read the rest of this article on Normandie's blog...


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