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Barking Spiders

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

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interesting topic, Its a tough call if your in that position, I walked off  Scunthorpe Steelworks one day and just never went back, financial suicide, luckily as I was now available, doors opened, its a brave decision tho 

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I finished my music degree and committed to several originals bands, which didn't pay, so I got some peripatetic teaching work, which led to me hiring others, and running a community group, and stressing every month about paying my bills but also worried about the security of my future as I've always been taught to save and I wasn't earning enough to. So I went the other way; I went from regular touring, dep work, teaching, into the classroom. I stopped playing with bands as music was a job, not fun like it used to be. 

Now I'm in a job I enjoy (Data Analyst) and gig with a covers band more than I have ever done (consistently up to 5 gigs a week every week). It pays and I love the material (blues, Rock & Roll etc), and I'm not wringing every penny out of something that I hate, which is where things have got before. 

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I did it on several occasions, but always went back to the day job. Now I'm an old git, I'm glad I did as I've ended up with my own place and a pension.

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I admire guys that just walk out of the ‘day job’ and follow their dreams. Even more so when they have kids and a mortgage to worry over.  It was an interesting point that Dan made above about music being the new ‘job’ and not ‘fun’ like it used to be? 

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Back in about 1991 I was in a band that was doing quite well - headlines at the Marquee, reviews in NME and Melody Maker, big supports with Carter and Gaye Bykers. Our manager felt we would be "making it soon" so our guitarist and keyboard player left their jobs. But we never did make it; guitarman went to college to study furniture restoration, keys went back to removals, then moved to Wales... With new keys we were making the best music we ever had, our stageshow was exciting but somehow it just fizzled out.

Luckily I didn't leave my job until 10 years later, and that was only to escape That London!

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At 28, with a little baby and another on the way, I left a reasonably steady but dull job at BT (after be redeployed from a far more interesting project-based role when budgets ran out) to chance my hand as a muso and sound engineer. Took voluntary redundancy so had a couple of months worth of bills in the bank but that was it. 

That was seven years ago this month. Have managed to buy a house since then, still just about clinging on, although I get the occasional rough patch (Jan/Feb are always tough). 

I've gradually moved away from the muso work and more in to the tech/production roles, and haven't actually played a gig for a year, but I've been very lucky to work with some incredible artists, travel to some beautiful places and get to do something I love for a living. 

It's VERY difficult to balance with a family. I think if you're going to do it, you need some money in the bank, a very understanding partner, and a reasonable amount of work in the diary. I was playing in a busy function band and doing semi-regular freelance sound gigs before I left my job, but the transition was still rough!

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On 24/02/2020 at 15:34, BigRedX said:

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).

 

True. My 19 year old son signed a worldwide deal with a very major label last week. He’s massively talented and not a little driven, but the sheer amount of work, business, meetings, more work he’s had to put it is incredible, and would’ve been pretty much impossible to do with a day job. Ok, he hasn’t ‘made it ‘ yet, as a deal is no guarantee of success, but he’s on the way, and I’m glad that my allowing him not get ‘a proper job’ in order to concentrate on his music might just pay off.

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25 minutes ago, BrunoBass said:

True. My 19 year old son signed a worldwide deal with a very major label last week. He’s massively talented and not a little driven, but the sheer amount of work, business, meetings, more work he’s had to put it is incredible, and would’ve been pretty much impossible to do with a day job. Ok, he hasn’t ‘made it ‘ yet, as a deal is no guarantee of success, but he’s on the way, and I’m glad that my allowing him not get ‘a proper job’ in order to concentrate on his music might just pay off.

Congrats to your son! I remember doing some gigs with James Morrison a few years back (15 I think). He'd signed some sort of super-development deal and they sent him out on the road for a couple of years to support awful bands like mine. He's obviously made it, but the work he must have put in, I reckon he's earned it.

Wish your son all the best of luck in what will be an incredible adventure, whatever happens!

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14 hours ago, BrunoBass said:

True. My 19 year old son signed a worldwide deal with a very major label last week. He’s massively talented and not a little driven, but the sheer amount of work, business, meetings, more work he’s had to put it is incredible, and would’ve been pretty much impossible to do with a day job. Ok, he hasn’t ‘made it ‘ yet, as a deal is no guarantee of success, but he’s on the way, and I’m glad that my allowing him not get ‘a proper job’ in order to concentrate on his music might just pay off.

Great story. Music making as a way of life is for the young, really.  You can take a chance with your life as you have plenty of time to put things right if it goes sideways, as most attempts at a career in music do. I admire anyone who has talent and wants to find out how far they can push it. He has plenty of time to get a "proper job".Rock and Roll.

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The risk for many (re: my previous post about business) is putting all of ones eggs in a single basket. To come up with a poor analogy - having a “normal day job” is having all the eggs in one basket. You get made redundant or lose your job, you’re up the creek. Attempting to be a rock star alone is the same, albeit more risky from a financial point of view. So, rather than  rely on that single income stream, it’s important to have several. Technically I have about 4 jobs*, but they all require me to be a professional musician. That’s the cool thing about music. It’s such a huge business, there’s plenty of things you can do to satisfy that “professional musician” status. Oh and the great thing about it, is that as a “creative”, the more things you get involved in, the more inspiring it is for the inner-rockstar. Only yesterday another musical opportunity arose that I hope we (musicians) can put together. That’ll keep me busy*

 

*Why musicians put in 12hr+ days!

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2 hours ago, Dood said:

The risk for many (re: my previous post about business) is putting all of ones eggs in a single basket. To come up with a poor analogy - having a “normal day job” is having all the eggs in one basket. You get made redundant or lose your job, you’re up the creek. Attempting to be a rock star alone is the same, albeit more risky from a financial point of view. So, rather than  rely on that single income stream, it’s important to have several. Technically I have about 4 jobs*, but they all require me to be a professional musician. That’s the cool thing about music. It’s such a huge business, there’s plenty of things you can do to satisfy that “professional musician” status. Oh and the great thing about it, is that as a “creative”, the more things you get involved in, the more inspiring it is for the inner-rockstar. Only yesterday another musical opportunity arose that I hope we (musicians) can put together. That’ll keep me busy*

 

*Why musicians put in 12hr+ days!

Well hardly. I doubt you would get a redundancy payment if your input into music was no longer required. I have done both and music is a far more tenuous way to earn a living, more so if you depend on your creativity and the public buying into what you have created. Working 9 to 5 for the man is far from ideal but is infinitely more secure than the music business. 

I would also class anything that does not involve writing, recording and playing music as a day job. Being in bands, creating and gigging is I believe what the op was on about.

Edited by mikel
Adition

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1 hour ago, mikel said:

Well hardly. I doubt you would get a redundancy payment if your input into music was no longer required. I have done both and music is a far more tenuous way to earn a living, more so if you depend on your creativity and the public buying into what you have created. Working 9 to 5 for the man is far from ideal but is infinitely more secure than the music business. 

I would also class anything that does not involve writing, recording and playing music as a day job. Being in bands, creating and gigging is I believe what the op was on about.

“Redundancy” might not have been the best example, but that said, out of the (non-music related) jobs I’ve been made redundant from, only 1 paid anything out as part of a redundancy package. It does raise the question with regard to your post - this suggests that a person can’t be a professional musician if they are a salaried employee of a company?

I appreciate we are talking about self-employment though, so that question was just of interest.

Regarding the last point, the OP asked about “going for it” as a “muso” - my post explores the wider avenues of being a professional musician. Maybe limiting the classification of what a “muso” is could also impact on the opportunities offered and thus the earning potential. 

It’s interesting to look at what people’s definitions of what a professional musician is (and it has had heated discussion on BC before) but, some of the most financially rewarding music I have been involved in, “writing, recording and playing music”, hasn’t been for the wider public. But it wasn’t a day job. 

 

Edited by Dood

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1 hour ago, Dood said:

“Redundancy” might not have been the best example, but that said, out of the (non-music related) jobs I’ve been made redundant from, only 1 paid anything out as part of a redundancy package. It does raise the question with regard to your post - this suggests that a person can’t be a professional musician if they are a salaried employee of a company?

I appreciate we are talking about self-employment though, so that question was just of interest.

Regarding the last point, the OP asked about “going for it” as a “muso” - my post explores the wider avenues of being a professional musician. Maybe limiting the classification of what a “muso” is could also impact on the opportunities offered and thus the earning potential. 

It’s interesting to look at what people’s definitions of what a professional musician is (and it has had heated discussion on BC before) but, some of the most financially rewarding music I have been involved in, “writing, recording and playing music”, hasn’t been for the wider public. But it wasn’t a day job. 

 

My sole definition of a pro musician is one whose sole or principal income comes from music, whether writing, recording or performing. If you earn some extra dosh but it's less what what your regular job pays then you're not a pro.

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43 minutes ago, Barking Spiders said:

My sole definition of a pro musician is one whose sole or principal income comes from music, whether writing, recording or performing. If you earn some extra dosh but it's less what what your regular job pays then you're not a pro.

My mate is in an internationally renowned band with several albums out and has toured a large part of the world. They are writing a new album I think.
He’s doing truck driving as his day job.  (Thus earning more money from it). Is he still a professional musician?

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There are lots of definitions of 'professional' out there. For once I think the Cambridge dictionary has a the most apt for this situation:

used to describe someone who does a job that people usually do as a hobby

In other words the reason for doing it is as a job, that is it is at least part of how they make a living. It might be their lesser job, but they do it as a source of real income; this excludes those of who do or have made a small income from music that is probably (often much) smaller than what we what we spend on it.

Edited by Stub Mandrel

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Apologies, I didn't mean for the thread to rail-road :$

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17 hours ago, Bluewine said:

Not until I retired at age 61. I guess that doesn't count.

Blue

Bang on, Blue. I worked for a living for 44 straight years, earned enough to take early retirement, and took it with both hands.

The great majority of my tiny annual income now comes from playing pub gigs (well below the threshhold for income tax) so that makes me a professional musician.

And boy am I going for it. Not entirely sure what 'it' is but when I find out I'll come back here and tell you.

 

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1 hour ago, Happy Jack said:

. . . . . . . . Not entirely sure what 'it' is but when I find out I'll come back here and tell you.

When I got there I discovered they'd moved "it"!

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2 hours ago, Happy Jack said:

Bang on, Blue. I worked for a living for 44 straight years, earned enough to take early retirement, and took it with both hands.

The great majority of my tiny annual income now comes from playing pub gigs (well below the threshhold for income tax) so that makes me a professional musician.

And boy am I going for it. Not entirely sure what 'it' is but when I find out I'll come back here and tell you.

 

I need every cent of my gig money to supplement my pension.

It's better than working part time at a store.

Blue

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Picture the scene: 1962 at Butlins Minehead. We were a four piece and a female singer, married to the guitarist with a small child. We’d won a local talent contest and won a week’s holiday with some work thrown in. Going pro was discussed but I just couldn’t see it. But the others did quite well - writing songs, Hollies, Elvis included, session work, building studios and high end audio. The small child grew up to join Dire Straits. So a very talented lot. But for me there wasn’t a successful outcome that my engineer-wired brain could envisage. So I settled down to a humdrum life of work while the others prospered in music.

Any regrets? No, not really; I’ve enjoyed playing the bass for sixty years, in fact I’ve got two gigs this week. I’ve always said that music is a great hobby but not the best way to earn a comfortable living. For most of us, that is.

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22 hours ago, Dood said:

My mate is in an internationally renowned band with several albums out and has toured a large part of the world. They are writing a new album I think.
He’s doing truck driving as his day job.  (Thus earning more money from it). Is he still a professional musician?

Wouldn't that make him semi-pro?  

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5 minutes ago, Barking Spiders said:

Wouldn't that make him semi-pro?  

Only if Bruce Dickinson is semi-pro because he flies airliners and runs an aircraft servicing company on the side.

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I tried to be a full time muso between 1994 and 2000, with limited success. I eventually packed in my full time job in Oct 2002, and joined a gigging band that was out 5 nights a week minimum. Ended up doing 9 tours of the states, played europe numerous times, played in Russia ( I can laugh about that experience now, but at the time....). Quit that band in 2013, struggled for a year while I reestablished myself as a jobbing player, am now caught up in a load of tribute band stuff, not really my thing, but the bills get paid... Even though it's been a financial struggle at times, I wouldnt change anything, except that I would have done it in 1984 and not waited until 2002....

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9 minutes ago, Barking Spiders said:

Wouldn't that make him semi-pro?  

But there is a world of difference between him and a genuine semi-pro like me who gigs regularly and makes some money from music, but has a full time 9 to 5 day job.

Edited by peteb
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