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niki's avatar

What do you think of musicians that still have daytime job?

Asked by niki (714points) April 21st, 2009

thanks for all the replies for my previous questions, now I have clearer picture of what I have to decide to do. although I still have one nagging question/issue, and this is what I want to ask all of you:

we all know that music is not an easy world.
often there’s a hell lot of sacrifices to make, a thing which i’ve learned now.
whether it’s a stable living, or money, or family-relationship, or at the very extreme, the risk of being lonely poor broke musician!
that’s the risk that ANY musician (or a person who’s still have high passion & ideals in music) has to take.

so as a ‘cushion’ to all of these dangerous risks, you’ve probably met & found many musicians who still want to keep the “safe zone” by having daytime jobs, usually even not related with their passion, Music.

now, what do you think of musicians that still have daytime jobs like this?
do you thinks it’s a bit ironic somewhat?
i mean, think about it, you’ll probably never see a person whose passion or dreams to become a lawyer, or doctor, having ANOTHER non-related job as their “daytime job” .
but only in music (or rather, Art), that you’ll find many cases/stories like this where a passionate-musician, unfortunately (or ironically), have to “make a living” NOT through their utmost passion, but in fact, perhaps through a job that they DISLIKE (or even hate), just in order to keep-up with their REAL passion in Music, in their SIDE-time? (notice all my emphasis)

in an ideal world, i know that these so-called musicians probably would prefer to have Music as their ultimate FULL-time job, rather than only as their ‘side-time’ job, while have to work in non-music-related daytime job.
but alas, we all know that the world we’re living is mainly geared towards Money, and thus, a musician even has to be very ‘practical’ about their life, like it or not!

do you think these musicians live ‘painfully’ (ie: not too happy) while enduring their daytime jobs at the noon? while dreaming WHEN they can really take Music as their primary full-time job?
or they are actually quite happy even while doing music (ie: gigging, touring, producing) during their side(free)-time?

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13 Answers

benseven's avatar

I don’t think it’s ironic. It’s perfectly possible to be even a highly talented musician and still not pursue it as a main source of income. Some people are happy to earn a living and pursue music without the pressure of having to make a buck out of it (and indeed, their music can flourish at its own pace in this way). There are musicians that will work jobs that they hate in order to fund it, but I don’t think it’s good to work somewhere you resent in any case, whether you have a passion outside of that or not.

Cardinal's avatar

They need to eat and pay their rent!

cookieman's avatar

I call them “realists”.

I worked as an archival picture framer full-time for six years while I pursued freelance graphic design work after I earned my BFA.

By the sixth year, I was working just as many hours at both jobs. So when the gallery I was working for burnt down unexpectedly, I dove headlong into graphic design and never looked back.

But while you’re building your following, there’s bills to pay.

MrItty's avatar

It means they’re not delusional. The ratio of all people who have made a living off of music to all people who wanted to make a living off of music is absurdly small. Good for those who keep a level head while pursuing their dream, and do not end up costing the tax payer money when they realize they can’t actually “make it” and find themselves with no actual employable skills.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I’ve often thought about quiting my day job to focus more on school and music, I have a decent amount of money saved up so I’d be fine for a good while, and it get’s rather hard balancing all three, one of them usually always suffers(it’s usually my music) but when it comes down to it, I suppose I’m just banking on a career in something other than music.

AlfredaPrufrock's avatar

Music, like acting, is hard to make pay. It’s a talent, profession and a business. There are limited openings and opportunities. Professional musicians are among the hardest working people I know.

Jack79's avatar

1. I think that maybe they haven’t made it yet, or possibly never will.
2. I think that they are realists. I would think a lot worse of them if they DIDN’T have daytime jobs and tried to do music while living off the dole or, worse still, dad’s pocket money.
3. Many people have to do something other than what they like due to financial reasons. Being a doctor is not a good analogy, because we’re always short of doctors, but I know many mathematicians that have to work as waiters for example. You have to be realistic and make ends meet, nothing wrong with that. A passion and a job are two different things, and even though we’d all like to combine them, it is not always possible.
4. The only real way to make it as a musician is to focus on what you’re doing next, and keep trying. You have to prove yourself at every opportunity, and not forget to take them when they come along. That basically means that you need to have a job that gives you enough to survive, but spend all your spare time pursuing your music career, and then when things start picking up, leave your daytime job. Following an exhausting, 12-hour-a-day career in an occupation you don’t like will be a dead end.

My own example is this: I used to work as a journalist in a big city, which meant I spent several hours a day working and probably even more stuck in traffic. Even though I had the connections, I never had the time to pursue my career as a musician. The closest I ever got was when I did radio and played my own songs on my own show. It was an exciting career in many ways, but not worth it for me. And it was a dead-end job as far as my music was concerned.

Then I got a job as a freelance teacher. That meant I got paid by the hour. I did many hours per week, and got a lot of money. And sang here and there the odd weekend. It was exhausting at first, but after a while I bought a decent guitar and eventually a PA system. Meanwhile, I was very good at both my “daytime” job and my singing. So people started booking me for more and more shows. As time went by, I reduced my teaching hours to the point where, within a year or so, I only did 2 hours a week (simply because I liked that class). The rest of the week I’d burn CDs, learn song and give 1–4 performances, which would be anything from a $50 unplugged session down at the local pub to a $500 concert with 2 more bands at some festival in some faraway city. On average I made more money than I needed and made a good name for myself, which meant people were booking me months in advance. And it all went very smoothly.

Darwin's avatar

A musician with a day job is someone who understands the need to eat. The goal, of course, is to be like @Jack79 and to be able to phase out the day job eventually. Not every musician reaches that goal, but that is the dream.

Of course, it is wonderful if your day job is related to your dream, but sometimes anything that will give you enough cash to get by and will still leave you enough time and energy to work on your music works just fine.

Here are some other people’s views on day jobs:

Day Job Ideas for Musicians

How To Get From Full Time Day Job To Full Time Musician

So You Want to Quit Your Day Job?

Judi's avatar

My son in law (Who is a correctional officer) says, “I work so I can afford to do the things I really want to do.”

Darwin's avatar

If you are lucky and you plan well, you get to say “I am having so much fun doing this I am always amazed that they pay me to do it.”

Many people say what @Judi ‘s son in law says.

If neither applies, then this could be your anthem

gilgamesh's avatar

you want something that provides security. A daytime job is an excellent idea.

ashmanovski's avatar

I don’t believe focusing 100% on something which demands creativity is a good idea, if you are to focus on it as a scheduled “job”. Let creative ideas appear by themselves. Never force them to appear, by for example giving it specified time on your schedule. Don’t think about that you must be creative or do something creative, and don’t think about not thinking about it either… hahah. It’s contradictory I know, but if you have it in you, it will work it out by itself, as long as you spend your time with inspirational people at inspirational places, not necessarily having any to do with the creative ability and genre that you have.

Focus your scheduled time on something productive (solving puzzles, do research, study, stack food items on a shelf in a grocery store, whatever floats your boat and gets your everyday life rolling you know), and only be productive in terms of creativity once the ideas have appeared first.

At least that’s how it works out best for me, and believe me when I say I tried most things possible in order to boost my productivity in music-making.

Conclusion: a daytime job is a fantastic idea :)

Teacher_Preacher's avatar

We’re talking day job vs. career here. We’re also talking about musicians.

You know, if you’re a true musician, you’ll always have that feeling that you didn’t put 100% into it if you don’t make it as a musician. Find something that will keep you close to music or keep you playing music. Look for jobs related to music first. Go to school and get a degree in music. Teach music, either privately or in an institution.

I’ve been playing music for 25 years now and I ended up with a master’s degree and I teach English/ESL at a university. I’m a metal musician at heart. Obviously, no one in my work environment knows this. I’m always STILL looking for some kind of job in music. If you want to make it in music, you can have no doubt about yourself and you have to be completely sure that you are confident that you can do it. Then, just do it and succeed. Don’t expect people to believe in you. None of these people here want to work. You’ll be met with alot of jealousy.

I’ll tell you what “realism” is. It’s working some job you really don’t want to do, but you have to. Then, you get laid off or terminated or fired or Donald Trumped or whatever you want to call it. Then, where will you be? Looking for another crappy job to support your obsession.

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