Your Music, Your Day Job, and Middle Ground

careers, Culture, Media, Music Business, Performance

Here’s the thing. I really like my job. Though I was laid off from a music production job years ago, I do feel lucky that the majority of my post college work has revolved around music, audio/video, or creative media.

I also realize that not every musician has a 9-5 that also entails music and the arts.

My most recent post for Sonicbids is about just this. How do you balance your day job with a music career?

As artists, whether we’re musicians, writers, or actors, the temptation to work on your creative work during down time may be there. DO NOT do not do not do this! I know one person who was fired from one of the most legendary recording studios for doing this. A media director also told me the story of an employee who was fired for working on his own novel when nobody was watching. I also worked with someone who was working on freelance design work whenever she said she was working from home.

These days, it’s even easier to be distracted with our smartphones. However, checking Twitter or Facebook during lunch is one thing. Using those eight or more hours to work on your music promotions is another.

Do I sometime envy those who have time to be working on their music when I’m at work? Not really, but I do envy some of the schedule flexibility. College radio programs for local music guests are mainly during the weekdays, but we’re all at work then. Lots of venues want us to play on a weekday at first, but then we’re up at 6 AM for the next day. Plus, most of our friends also have this schedule, and going to a 10 PM show on a Wednesday is not exactly something they’re lining up for. I don’t blame them.

As for promoting, I do start to feel jaded. We’re not riding the cute-girl-with-bangs wagon, the ironic and witty train, the shock value roller coaster. When band members can’t be online during ideal social media hours, I’m sure it hurts our visibility. And, sorry (but not sorry), I’m not going to hound my friends to share our stuff. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I believe in organic response. Sure, it stings if you see someone else’s music getting way more likes and shares. But I also am on the fence about how the music industry, and marketing in general, is relying so much on likes, shares, retweets, and listicles. I write music because it’s fun, because it means something to me, and I want to create something that may mean something to you, too. I don’t do it to be trendy. I’m not out to buy fans. And, personally, if anyone is out there is a musician for the sole goal of being famous or discovered, then maybe you should reflect on what music means to you, too.

I know it can be so, so disheartening out there. You write something that means the world to you, don’t have time during the day to promote, and you get crickets on the other end.

I thought maybe it was just something we were experiencing, maybe because we’re not flashy or gimmicky, or because maybe the songs just don’t cut it.

I brought this up during a music industry chat, though, and other expressed the same experience.

The above is a song my sister wrote a few years ago. When she first showed it to me, I have to admit…I was a little verklempt! Without even knowing what it was about yet.

When we were children, our mom gave us a copy of The Little Prince. I read it in English and later read it in French. It’s one of my favorite stories, and it means a lot to have this song.

 

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

 

I didn’t do too much on the drums. I decided to add the accents with brushes, like something fluttering away. After all, the Little Prince falls very silently, no?

In a nutshell, what I mean to say is this: your art will mean a lot to you, and it may not mean as much to others. You can’t let it get in the way of your work, or your social life, to that degree.

Not everyone will hear the same thing. Though, it’s profound if someone does. It’s a great feeling. I wrote a song in high school with what I thought was a vague meaning to others. It was about how sad I felt for the boys in our community who were ridiculed for being feminine, and were closeted. One day a boy told me the song meant a lot to him. A few years later he came out of the closet. I hadn’t even known that he was gay at the time, but knowing that the song meant something to him made me so happy.

This is why we write music, isn’t it?

And balance is key. So keep on keepin’ on…and rock that day job, too!

You can find my Sonicbids post here.

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