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Barking Spiders

When did you decide to give up your day job and go fer it?

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I've never had the ambition to be a full-time muso. Always been happy enough playing part-time as a hobby while getting  a bit of extra pocket money. So, to those who are pros..

did you just jack in a decently paid job and went for broke..or

get made redundant and use the redundancy  pay to  fund recording an EP, buy a clapped out transit van  etc or

won a boy band competition and got the backing of some oily industry exec with high waistband kecks or 

like Paul Weller you've never had to do a day's 'regular' job in the first place  or

summat else entirely?

 

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You probably forgot 'Went to music college, graduated with full marks, took it from there' which is what several of my younger friends did, alongside other related freelance jobs such as teaching, luthiery, working at a music store, etc. to cover the gaps.

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I played Wembley and couldn't face going back into the office on Monday. 'It' status still in the air, but I'll get back to you in ten years.

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I worked as a music teacher at Access to Music and privately while following the dream. I never really wanted to do the session thing (not dedicated enough, lazy etc.)

I used the time to develop my writing skills which is what I do for a living now. Can’t say that’s the dream either (not mine anyway) but it’s interesting and no two days are the same I suppose. 
 

I sometimes quite fancy a 3 year jazz degree but I haven’t got the cash to invest in it, or myself at the moment.

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IME even trying to make a full-time living out of music is completely and utterly incompatible with having a traditional job. It's no wonder that pretty much the first step in The KLF's "The Manual" on how to have a hit record is to give up your day job. It might have been written slightly tongue-in-cheek but there's more than a grain of truth in what they say.

It's not enough to be a good musician or songwriter, what sets those who are successful apart from those who are not, is the sheer amount of hard work they put in to the the business side of things. In order to do that you need both the time and energy (as well as the understanding why it is important) and generally speaking most day jobs will completely get in the way of this. And it may be that you need to be in the right place at the right time, but you do that by making sure you are able to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, when the right place and time come along your are there and not at your day job (or too knackered to be there because of it).

 

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I heard someone describe it once as 99% luck and 1% naked greed and opportunism.  As a lowly hobbyist, I can't attest to the veracity of this.... *shrug*

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1 hour ago, Burns-bass said:

I worked as a music teacher at Access to Music...

I did Access to Music in the late 90s, you didn’t teach at Colchester did you?

Well when I say I “did” Access to Music I was signed on to the course rather than actually attending on a regular basis 😕

Looking back though it was a great course. I got a solid base in theory from that course (modal theory etc) which made me tenfold the player I would otherwise have been. 

Good times... if a little hazy 😕

Edited by CamdenRob

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17 minutes ago, odysseus said:

I heard someone describe it once as 99% luck and 1% naked greed and opportunism.  As a lowly hobbyist, I can't attest to the veracity of this.... *shrug*

It say it's at least 50-50. Without a very good helping of naked greed and opportunism you won't have the luck.

Edited by BigRedX
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1 hour ago, BigRedX said:

IME even trying to make a full-time living out of music is completely and utterly incompatible with having a traditional job. It's no wonder that pretty much the first step in The KLF's "The Manual" on how to have a hit record is to give up your day job. It might have been written slightly tongue-in-cheek but there's more than a grain of truth in what they say.

 

It can be done,  being a musician/composer and holding down a day job e.g.

Philip Glass -plumber and cabbie

Charles Ives (US composer) - ran an  insurance agency

Art Garfunkel - maths teacher

Ian Curtis of Joy Division - civil servant at Macclesfield unemployment office

 

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1 hour ago, Silvia Bluejay said:

You probably forgot 'Went to music college, graduated with full marks, took it from there' which is what several of my younger friends did, alongside other related freelance jobs such as teaching, luthiery, working at a music store, etc. to cover the gaps.

Sure, but the gist of the thread is about people who had regular jobs and then jacked them in before deciding to turn pro.  Thing I'd like to know is at what point did they say to themselves' feck it, I'm handing in my notice on monday' , or if unemployed/redundant what made them think' I don't want a regular job' I just want to play music' etc 

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When I moved to France, way 'back then', I gave up my IT job in the UK, and was immediately snapped up by a touring band as a drummer. I did this, full time, for a couple of years, then continued with a tech job in a music shop, before marrying and buying a house.I moved back into IT, but continued depping, or functions etc. most week-ends. It was never the music that really paid the bills; just a bit of 'beurre dans les épinards' as they say. In total, I'd say that I've probably maybe broken even between what I've paid, over the decades, in instruments, amps, PA's, hefty transport an' all, and my income from playing. Not good enough to hit 'the big time', and certainly lacking in naked greed and opportunism. No regrets; it's been a Good Life.

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56 minutes ago, CamdenRob said:

I did Access to Music in the late 90s, you didn’t teach at Colchester did you?

Well when I say I “did” Access to Music I was signed on to the course rather than actually attending on a regular basis 😕

Looking back though it was a great course. I got a solid base in theory from that course (modal theory etc) which made me tenfold the player I would otherwise have been. 

Good times... if a little hazy 😕

No, I was teaching the course in Bristol. It was a well written syllabus and pretty solid in terms of theory. 

I have to say I’ve forgotten a lot of it as I stopped playing between about 27 - 35 after being in a hugely unsuccessful band that got signed (in Germany) and went nowhere.

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3 hours ago, Barking Spiders said:

did you just jack in a decently paid job and went for broke

Yup.
Not that I'm a pro anymore, but that was indeed what I did: quit my job and started studying music.

BUT I had a little trick up my sleeve:
Even before getting the decently paid job, I'd already taught music pupils with the sole purpose of finding out whether I could live as a music teacher.
I needed that knowledge before starting at music college because I knew that sooo many music students start studying with the aspiration of becoming world famous musicians - only to wind up as local music teachers instead.

Edited by BassTractor
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14 minutes ago, BassTractor said:

Yup.
Not that I'm a pro anymore, but that was indeed what I did: quit my job and started studying music.

BUT I had a little trick up my sleeve: even before getting the decently paid job, I'd already taught music pupils with the sole purpose of finding out whether I could live as a music teacher.
I needed that knowledge before even starting at music college because I knew that sooo many music students start studying with the aspiration of becoming world famous musicians - only to wind up as local music teachers instead.

 

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In my mid thirties I was in a band whose BL wrote really good songs, the sort that really could have done something. When I joined he'd written many of the bass lines and they were the sort of thing I enjoyed learning and playing, interesting but not overwrought.

I was secretly convinced we were all too old to make it in a world of 'bright young things'.

I left when I took on a new job with a lot of responsibilities; I offered to help a new bass player into the role but they never got in touch. I fear my leaving may have kyboshed the band, and I still wonder what we could have done if I'd stayed.

 

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3 hours ago, BigRedX said:

IME even trying to make a full-time living out of music is completely and utterly incompatible with having a traditional job. It's no wonder that pretty much the first step in The KLF's "The Manual" on how to have a hit record is to give up your day job. It might have been written slightly tongue-in-cheek but there's more than a grain of truth in what they say.

It's not enough to be a good musician or songwriter, what sets those who are successful apart from those who are not, is the sheer amount of hard work they put in to the the business side of things. In order to do that you need both the time and energy (as well as the understanding why it is important) and generally speaking most day jobs will completely get in the way of this. And it may be that you need to be in the right place at the right time, but you do that by making sure you are able to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, when the right place and time come along your are there and not at your day job (or too knackered to be there because of it).

 

I officially became a full-time professional musician over ten years ago now. When I left the "Safe Zone" of what everyone calls a "normal day job", the first thing I did, before even remotely getting excited about leaving the rat-race was to get business advice. I did this off my own back. I coughed up for an advisor. I went to seminars on everything from tax to marketing. I shadowed others doing the same work that I wanted to do. I volunteered and I learned how to network effectively.

I agree, it's not enough to just be good at what you might love doing. That will not pay the bills if you suck at the administrative side of things. I have watched several music-related businesses fail because of this massive imbalance of music skills vs business skills. I'm no expert and theres plenty I could do to improve my own business, but I've learned over the years a bit about what you should do and thankfully common sense has always told me what really isn't a good plan.

I also agree with your first statement. At least making yourself available to start with puts you nearer to those doors you want to open.

Edited by Dood
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Quite impressed reading some of the stories on this thread. I’d guess for guys that aren’t still living at home with mum & dad, the motivation to pay the rent/mortgage at the end of the month is motivation in itself to get out there working? 

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4 hours ago, Burns-bass said:

I worked as a music teacher at Access to Music and privately while following the dream. I never really wanted to do the session thing (not dedicated enough, lazy etc.)

I used the time to develop my writing skills which is what I do for a living now. Can’t say that’s the dream either (not mine anyway) but it’s interesting and no two days are the same I suppose. 
 

I sometimes quite fancy a 3 year jazz degree but I haven’t got the cash to invest in it, or myself at the moment.

I had an interview arranged with Access to music for a lecturer in music. They cancelled an hour beforehand and never got back to me. I’ve since heard a few people say they’re not good to work for.
 

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Music was the only thing I was ever really any good at. It was all I really wanted to do, I did A levels intending to be a vet, but my heart wasn’t in it though. Gigs just took over. Then I started teaching. Then 8 years ago I decided I wanted to teach music at a higher level, and get better as a musician, so I auditioned for ICMP and got a place on their BMus, which lead to me then going on to do a masters, now a PhD.

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2 hours ago, Burns-bass said:

No, I was teaching the course in Bristol. It was a well written syllabus and pretty solid in terms of theory. 

I have to say I’ve forgotten a lot of it as I stopped playing between about 27 - 35 after being in a hugely unsuccessful band that got signed (in Germany) and went nowhere.


I stopped soon after the course, got a boring proper job and only took it up again ten years later...

Looking back on the course I feel it was such a great opportunity and at 18/19 non of us really appreciated how good it was, and didn’t give it the respect it deserved.

We had great theory lessons, Music Tech (in well equipped studios - mostly outboard gear at the time), weekly guest lectures from pit players, session guys, TV music guys etc and to top it off, they allowed us to arrange ourselves into bands and paid for proper studio rehearsals twice a week and monthly gig nights. Which being full of student bands were always well attended.

All of my teachers were great and made a lasting impression on me. Not least a bloke called Jack Monck who was the bass tutor. The best player I have ever seen... the man made a Wal sing in the way only a Wal can... I’ll never forget him.

Edited by CamdenRob
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I had a nervous breakdown around 2003, and my wife suggested I didn’t go back and made teaching and performing the ‘job’ 

still doing it today. I teach in 5 schools, with a healthy number of private students, and I play in 3 bands- 1 original recording band, a tribute, and a covers band. 
as well as doing dep work where needed

 

 

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Other than when I was a spotty teen I never fancied being a muso.  I've travelled the world more than most successful touring bands, so I'm not missing out there.  Groupies would be nice, but in this day and age with all those nasty diseases about it's not a good idea, or being accused of rape years down the line.  Drugs on tap don't appeal to me either. 

So no, never seriously fancied it.

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Lived the dream for two years back in the early 70s. In a band with my mates, writing our own stuff, another mate with a transit and another who just loved to play with amps and the PA. Recorded a demo and hawked it round the record companies in London. Didnt get signed but played lots of gigs and had a great time. After starving for two years I met a girl who became my wife and I went back to the proper paying job. I would not have missed that two years for anything. 

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16 hours ago, CamdenRob said:


I stopped soon after the course, got a boring proper job and only took it up again ten years later...

Looking back on the course I feel it was such a great opportunity and at 18/19 non of us really appreciated how good it was, and didn’t give it the respect it deserved.

We had great theory lessons, Music Tech (in well equipped studios - mostly outboard gear at the time), weekly guest lectures from pit players, session guys, TV music guys etc and to top it off, they allowed us to arrange ourselves into bands and paid for proper studio rehearsals twice a week and monthly gig nights. Which being full of student bands were always well attended.

All of my teachers were great and made a lasting impression on me. Not least a bloke called Jack Monck who was the bass tutor. The best player I have ever seen... the man made a Wal sing in the way only a Wal can... I’ll never forget him.

It was a great course and some great musicians went there. Now in Bristol you've got BIMM which churns out some stupendously talented signers, songwriters and musicians. Go to an open mic and the standard is fantastic (sometimes).

The sad thing is that there's just not the demand for all these great players and producers. I gave up playing when I realised that so survive I'd probably have to earn money playing bossa tunes on a cruise ship. There's nothing wrong with doing that, but when you're 25 and wanted the rock and roll lifestyle, it hardly appeals. 

The funny thing now is that I spend most of my time playing jazz standards, so the world has gone full circle I guess.

I remember transcribing 'Maybe it'll rub off' by Tower of Power once and getting some of the kids there to groove to it and play fragments of it was great. In the end, the most popular lessons were always the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and I can't stand them so the game was up. 

I did meet an ex-student of mine who has done really well for himself, which was brilliant. Can't say any of that was my doing, he was super talented!

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18 hours ago, mentalextra said:

Quite impressed reading some of the stories on this thread. I’d guess for guys that aren’t still living at home with mum & dad, the motivation to pay the rent/mortgage at the end of the month is motivation in itself to get out there working? 

Yes, and at times is akin to holding a plastic sword up to a pack of hungry lions.

That said, if your job is you "calling", then it's easy to be motivated by the love of it all. To those outsiders, it must look like I am some sort of obsessive. Ha! I actually get quite upset when an external influence (Thats a whole other conversation for another day!) gets in the way of my progress/earning potential/self-development/work. I adore this job and it will be a very hard and difficult day (week, month, year) should I have to give it all up.

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