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stewblack

Well I gave it my best shot

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Been playing for decades now. Big stages and small, theatrical to rock and roll and every point in between.

2017 the wheels fell off, lost marriage, home, mental health, work, just about all of it.

Was lucky to have a family member willing to put me up so had a roof. Got a small pay off from the ex so she could keep everything and help ease my way into whatever awaited.

Decided to embrace my 'freedom'. Buy decent gear, keep a vehicle on the road and get out there and call myself a musician. Took lessons, joined bands, started bands, depped in bands, placed ads answered ads. Gave it my all.

This week the money ran out. I'm not earning anything apart from the occasional dep slot in a function band and the odd £50 here and there which gets eaten by petrol and rehearsal money.

So I finally lived the dream,  for a whole 13 months. Got pretty good at the bass by playing for hours every day. Learned I can improvise live to a good enough standard to get paid and asked back. Made some friends.

But that's it. I'm going to have to get a job and go back to being a hobby bassist. Unfortunately at my age and with my checkered employment history, the economy about to collapse, and enjoying very unstable mental health, my prospects are not great.

Perhaps I just left it too late. I did enjoy saying 'musician' when people asked what I do for a living, that was the first and only time since entering the workplace in 1980 that I've derived any pleasure from answering that question. 

But it was a sham.

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As one door closes another opens - good luck!

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3 minutes ago, stewblack said:

So I finally lived the dream,  for a whole 13 months. Got pretty good at the bass by playing for hours every day. Learned I can improvise live to a good enough standard to get paid and asked back. Made some friends.

Stewblack, I feel for you. Sometimes life can be a s##t.

But, reread what you wrote above, and pick out the good bits. You worked hard and clearly enjoyed, and are still enjoying, the status of being a respected muso.

You don't have to stop, just because you have to get some sort of dayjob for a while. It's very common amongst actors as I expect you know - they call it 'resting'  (!)

And you've made good friends and contacts, and this is maybe the most valuable thing of all.

So, keep on keeping on, as they say...  🙂

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54 minutes ago, stewblack said:

But that's it. I'm going to have to get a job and go back to being a hobby bassist. 

No I don't think so. So many prominent  bands (I mean really PROMINENT) have always had day jobs, especially in niche genres that have never been good to "make money". I would never call them hobby musicians for that. They are MORE "musicians" than engineers/cashiers/plumbers anyhow. IMO craft and dedication mean much more than where your income comes from. If you really are a musician, a job won't make you a hobbyist

54 minutes ago, stewblack said:

 

Decided to embrace my 'freedom'. 

Now embrace the freedom to play only what you really like without compromises and with no worries if It will pay or not.

Edited by oZZma
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41 minutes ago, stewblack said:

I did enjoy saying 'musician' when people asked what I do for a living, that was the first and only time since entering the workplace in 1980 that I've derived any pleasure from answering that question. 

I would not give that question more weight than when asked what's your zodiac sign. People who don't realize that working is a necessity and not the most important accomplishment in life are of no interest to me.

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I’ve always resisted trying to make music a job as it’s my hobby and I do it for the love of it. I think with all of us that’s how we start, so as pointed out above, find a band that plays what you love Stew. I went through a bad year last year, with stress and depression and being in my band kept my brain in somewhat in check (which is rather ironic given my symptoms stemmed from exhaustion, mostly as a result of gigging). Having a hobby you live really is like a pressure valve.

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1 hour ago, oZZma said:

No I don't think so. So many prominent  bands (I mean really PROMINENT) have always had day jobs, especially in niche genres that have never been good to "make money". I would never call them hobby musicians for that. They are MORE "musicians" than engineers/cashiers/plumbers anyhow. IMO craft and dedication mean much more than where your income comes from. If you really are a musician, a job won't make you a hobbyist

 

I was talking to guy from the USA last year who was touring the UK with a band. He admitted that music wasn't his main income and he works as a self-employed web designer (I think - I'd had a few :drinks:)   which pays for his musical projects.

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1 hour ago, Lozz196 said:

Having a hobby you live really is like a pressure valve.

Exactly this. At one point I viewed music/the band as too great a draw on my time due to growing work pressures etc. I then realised that it was actually the one welcome distraction and outlet to allow all those pressures to be resolved. All the best to you Stew.

Edited by Deedee
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Sounds like you've been through some real stinky poo over the past few years.

I've not been there so I can't imagine what it has been like for you but you seem like a good dude so I hope 2019 picks up for you!

Good luck with the job hunt, just think what gear you'll be able to acquire with that first pay cheque!

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Those 13 months that you became a full-time musician weren't wasted. They were probably the perfect remedy for all the cr*p that you'd been through before. And just because you need to get a non-musical job, it doesn't mean that those months were wasted - you'll always have the skills & experiences from that time.

As others have said - don't think of relegating your bass playing as a hobby behind a day-job, the day job is the hobby that pays for bass playing.

Good luck with everything stewblack :)

Nil carborundum est!

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Most Jazz musicians are employed as teachers and get the bulk of their income from that rather than performing and recording. The relationship that each of us has with our music is very much our own. We define it as we see fit. 

Edited by Bilbo
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Great supportive advice above. 

Stew and your post didn’t read as if it was a sham.

 

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14 hours ago, stewblack said:

So I finally lived the dream,  for a whole 13 months. Got pretty good at the bass by playing for hours every day. Learned I can improvise live to a good enough standard to get paid and asked back. Made some friends.

But that's it. I'm going to have to get a job and go back to being a hobby bassist.

Sorry to hear the bad news, but if you are good enough to be asked back then you are far more than a "hobby bassist".

Maintain all those contacts and play as much as the new job allows. Never stop working at being a better player.

Good luck for the future.

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At least you gave it a crack, so many people have dreams and do little with them. 

If it helps, the only full time gigging musicians I know are session guys for big bands who earn enough to (just about survive). Everyone else subsidises their income another way through teaching, work etc.

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Absolutely no shame and, to me, you are what your heart tells you. This dawned on me several years ago when I was playing in an excellent band on the south coast. We had the chance to turn pro but the singer didn't want to. He was a huge fish in that small pond but ................ he was a builder by trade.

The rest of us concluded that there is an important difference. He was a singing builder and not a building singer. You should not think any less of yourself for doing what you have done and where it is led you. There are bound to be a whole bunch of us here who have done the full time thing and then had to get a 'real' job to pay the bills.

As has been said, there are any number of acts that have real jobs to make sure the bills are paid. That's just a fact of like and it doesn't define you. It took me a while to realise that.

Edited by Steve Browning
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I work 3 days a week in an office and 3 days a week making music. Maybe you could get something part-time? Best of luck

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1 hour ago, MacDaddy said:

Plenty of people in bands playing major venues have day jobs. 

 

I met a guy at a party - a really unassuming chap. He was telling me how he couldn’t walk the streets in Norway as he was famous there. In Manchester he was a boiler repair man - but in Norway he was Black Metals answer to Ringo Starr.

Seemed crazy at the time, but It was a bit of a wake up call for me as I was very much chasing the dream at the time.

Your difficult circumstances actually afforded you the chance to give something we’d probably all love to have a go at.

I know putting positive spins on situations when you’re not in a good place is difficult, but when the dust has settled you’ll see more positives than negatives.

More power to you mate - I see no Sham here at all x

 

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5 hours ago, Teebs said:

the day job is the hobby that pays for bass playing.

This - this - is the attitude to have. You have to pay the bills, but that doesn't mean that the thing you love doing automatically has to take a back seat just because you're a wage-slave. It depends on how you see yourself and your place in the world - are you Employee Number 12345678 or Stew the bassist who's putting some hours in to pay the bills?

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I asked about teaching for a reason, I know very few ‘professional musicians’ who are JUST musicians. Most teach, write, make gear, produce for other people etc etc. 

I think you can continue, but simply expand upon the things you do already.  

But also, as above, it’s not unusual for amazing musicians to have a job. Mike Bendy works for Apple, Bryan Beller was a VP whilst still playing, Juan Alderete worked in data before he got the Mars Volta gig (I think). There’s a romanticism about being a ‘professional musician’ that sometimes forgets that music is about life, not really the other way around.

Si

Edited by Sibob
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1 hour ago, AndyTravis said:

I met a guy at a party - a really unassuming chap. He was telling me how he couldn’t walk the streets in Norway as he was famous there. In Manchester he was a boiler repair man - but in Norway he was Black Metals answer to Ringo Starr.

Similar story:

There's a chap originally from Macedonia by the name of Radé who has been playing solo gigs (vocals, guitar & backing tracks) in pubs around Norfolk for years.

A singer I know was offered the chance to do some gigs with him over in Macedonia and while they were there Radé likewise couldn't walk down the street without constantly being approached for autographs etc. When my friend asked him why he bothered to come over to England and play small pubs for £100 a time, he apparently replied that was still more than he could earn as a big name star back home. 

 

Incidentally, nobody ever went to watch a movie about Bruce Wayne the billionaire businessman with a little side-story about his hobby as a masked vigilante. They go to watch Batman (who happens use his day job as a CEO to fund his amazing superhero exploits). 

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1 minute ago, Painy said:

 

Incidentally, nobody ever went to watch a movie about Bruce Wayne the billionaire businessman with a little side-story about his hobby as a masked vigilante. They go to watch Batman (who happens use his day job as a CEO to fund his amazing superhero exploits). 

Exactly, it's all in the marketing.....which is another thing a 'professional musician' usually has to be an expert in, even if just their social media presence.

Si

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