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How You Can Be a Professional Musician and Still Keep Your Day Job

How You Can Be a Professional Musician and Still Keep Your Day Job

As a musician, it’s easy to feel that your passion of making music is at odds with the obligations of your day job (which also happens to pay your bills). You love creating and performing music but you also have a certain lifestyle and responsibilities as well. Can you achieve equilibrium by keeping a steady job to pay the bills and receive benefits while holding/growing a professional music career? How can you give both equal attention so that you don’t end up losing one or the other?

Here’s a list of ideas to help you can make that happen:

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Find a Career with Flexible Work Options: These days, it’s becoming more popular for employees to have the option of telecommuting or working from home. For touring musicians who need the income stability that a job can provide, this is a great option. Even though your current position might not offer telecommuting as an option, it is always possible to sway the opinion of your supervisors. This article offers 5 tips to convince the boss.

If telecommuting can’t work, you could always see if your employer is open to a flexible scheduling option. For example, you might have several regional, weekend tours and may not need to be away for weeks at a time. Perhaps you could request working 4 ten-hour days instead of five 8’s. You might also be able to request a leave of absence for other extended leaves if you don’t have enough vacation time. The most important thing is to be up front and communicate openly – the more advance notice, the better. Most employers will want to accommodate your needs, especially if you do good work and can prove that you’ll still take your responsibilities seriously.

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Create Your Own Day Job: Many musicians have a special skill set that allows them to supplement their music’s income by starting a small business. Whether it is consulting, IT work, or running a small business, sometimes the best boss who understands your rock n’ roll needs is yourself. You could always explore this as an option during your free time. Be sure to also read this article on How to Start a Business for some advice.

Adjust The Music Business: No matter what, you’ll want to set up goals and have some kind of plan on how to reach them. Not all musicians need to tour frequently or live a life on the road. Some have very successful careers without leaving the city. You just need to understand what kind of music business model you are building for yourself: you might want earn a living through licensing rather than the traditional approach of playing gigs every night. Think about how much you want to perform or create, what you would like to see in return for your investment in music (money, influence, fame,?), and what you’ll need in order to accomplish those goals. You might surprise yourself and learn that creating a sustainable music career is quite possible, even with a steady day job.

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Hire musicians: Some touring bands have a rotating cast of performers; some even use a different lead singer when they’re on the road. If you’re unable to join your band for every tour, perhaps you could have a friend or a hired gun fill in for your role on some of the smaller gigs. Carefully think about the music arrangements and see if there’s a way to manage performances in a way that doesn’t require you to be there. It’s becoming more popular than ever for bands to tour as an acoustic duo or have the singer tour solo.

Bottom line: it is not impossible be a professional musician while holding down a day job. Many musicians also supplement their income by running their own businesses as studio engineers, guitar or vocal teachers, booking agents, or food cart owners. Some restrict their performances to weekends and use vacation hours to work. Others take a leave of absence. Just remember that no matter what arrangement works for you, it’s important to achieve balance, have clear and open communication with everyone involved, and that it ultimately reflects your personal life goals.

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Featured photo credit:  beautiful young woman playing the piano via Shutterstock

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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