“I wish I didn’t have to work a regular job to make money. I’d much rather be playing music full time.”

This is the cry of so many musicians.

I spend a lot of time with creative people and it is the best environment to be in. So why wouldn’t you want to be a full time musician?

But there’s something I want to know.

What part of the ‘music career’ is it that attracts you so much?

What is it that you are really looking for?

Is it the freedom to travel or that you don’t have a boss telling you what to do?

Is it that you can come and go as you please or is it the money?

Could it be that you are so obsessed with music that you can’t concentrate on your current job and just want to write or play music?

What is it really?

Maybe it is the potential fame or the extravagant lifestyle.

Whatever your reason. Only you know that answer.

A friend of mine, who is a young and exceptionally talented musician is often asked, are you going to play music full time and make a career of it? His response for someone with such talent seems quite extraordinary.

“I love music and I love performing but I also know that I have other gifts and talents that are just as important and I don’t want to limit myself by only choosing one thing”.

This struck me as an answer that answers a lot of questions people have. We are so often told that you have to stick to one thing only if you want to succeed.

Maybe tell that to Richard Branson, should he have stopped at only one business.

What I’m saying is that life is too short to put limitations on what you can do. It is too easy to restrict ourselves and not be open to more than one opportunity at a time.

Stop beating yourself up because you are not Taylor Swift or Keith Urban, yet.

There was an author/professional speaker in town a few years ago. He arrived during the day and didn’t have to speak until the evening. To make use of the time, he went for a wander around the streets. During his walk he stopped to chat to a young local and asked what the town was like. His response was that he hated it here and wanted to leave. When asked why he doesn’t leave he said it was because he had a job here and so he had to stay.

Did he really have to stay or is it because we allow our mind to limit what we ‘think’ we can do?

We so often put ourselves in boxes and think that we are not capable of doing things or that there is no way that we can get out. We think that we are not musically good enough so we don’t even bother trying.

So for all those musicians out there that might feel like they are failing because they aren’t a full time musician and have to have another job to survive. You CAN have your cake and eat it too.

You CAN have your cake and eat it too.

I know musicians that intentionally work four days a week so they can have a three day weekend to travel and perform. I know musicians that work mornings in one job and spend every afternoon and weekend on their music career. Would they rather be a full time musician? Possibly. But are they stressed out, living a budget lifestyle? Not really. They get to play and have money without worrying if people will buy their album or if the next gig will cover their fuel and food for the week.

But what about you? What part of the industry draws you in?

The first thing to do is to try before you buy.

Instead of watching movies all weekend or sitting around talking about what you could do, take up the opportunity and start to play more. Start to write more. Spend time with other musicians and collaborate on a project.

When you become more confident, offer to help out at a festival for a weekend or offer to help on the road supporting a tour.

As you try each of these things you will soon discover what it is you really love about the music industry. Only then should you consider changing careers.

Below is a checklist of music industry experiences that you can start with even if you have a day job.

  • Write a song
  • Perform at an open mic night
  • Record a song
  • Release you song on iTunes
  • Perform live on community radio
  • Be interviewed on community radio
  • Perform with a band
  • Write another song
  • Record in a professional studio
  • Co-write a song with a recognised artist
  • Create a professional video clip of one of your songs
  • Do a photo shoot for your single
  • Write a music biography
  • Write another three songs
  • Release a physical EP
  • Be a member of a music industry organisation
  • Attend music industry workshops

Don’t limit yourself musically because you have a job.

What have you completed so far from this list and what is next for you to experience as a musician?

Chris Richter
Musician Mentor