Too busy or not busy enough? 3 Things YOU should know about being a Career Musician.

Dec 05, 2022

By: Nomad 

 

Why We Complain

 

I'm no comedian, but I have a little joke that I like to quip everytime I hear a musician talk about work. Whether it be about having too much work or not enough. Ok, here it goes...

 

How do you get a musician to complain? 

Give 'em a gig! 

How do you get a musician to complain even more? 

Tell them there's a mandatory rehearsal. 

How do you get a musician to complain yet even more? 

Tell them there's a dress code for the gig. 

How do you get a musician to complain yet even more again? 

Tell them there's food they can eat at the gig. 

 

Starting to see a trend here? You see, musicians by nature are selfish. Why? Because it takes a lot of time to get really good at playing our instrument(s) and learning how to perfect the art of performing and recording. 

Furthermore, since we've been isolated for so long woodshedding (which simply means practicing), we're not used to being told what to do.  

Naturally, when we're told that we have to be somewhere at a certain time, do a certain amount of prep work, wear a certain type of clothing etc, we tend to wanna go against the grain and resist. 

But be warned! This is a trap, and here's why...

 

A Gig Is A Good Thing

Whether you're "too busy" with personal life stuff, or "slammed" with gigs and recording sessions, the basic premise here is that you're booked up. Which means one of the following 3 things: 

 

  1. There's so much going on in your personal or non-music work life that's keeping you from focusing on your music career and this makes you feel frustrated. 
  2. You're so busy with gigs and sessions that you don't have any time to focus on your own music as an artist or composer. Which is good because you're making money but you're not being creatively fulfilled. 
  3. Or perhaps you simply just can't get called to play a gig or session if your life depended on it! This of course makes you super frustrated because of the obvious – you're not making money, and you're not one of the "cool kids" getting the calls. 

 

Road To Remedy

The important thing to remember is simply this. You. Are. Enough. 

That's it! 

The fact that you can play an instrument and that you can work with other musicians means that you're already ahead of the game. 

But wait, there's more! If you actually are tempted to complain about a gig when you do get one, what are you telling yourself by putting it out there in the universe? That although you need and want gigs, you're not happy with the ones you do get. This is extremely counter productive which can lead to even more frustration. 

Therefore, I propose that you do the following to Remedy yourself of the complaining musician gene that so many of us are prone to. Afterall, this is the music business and let's face it, it's tough. Really tough. 

 

1. Count Your Blessings

As stated above, the fact that you're talented and can create music is truly something to be grateful for. But if this isn't enough to squelch the complaining circuit, think about this...there are people lying in a hospital bed somewhere wishing they had the chance to live their lives like you do! Whoa! If that doesn't do it, then I'm not sure this blog can help. 

 

2. Remember Your Why

Why did you get into music in the first place? I seriously doubt any of us can say that it was because we were money hungry! I know for myself, it was because I had this inexplicable passion to just keep playing and creating music! This can be a fun experience that lightens your mood when the stresses of life are bogging you down. By sitting down and playing your instrument without any ulterior motives or monetary prompts, you will be reminded of why you started to play in the first place. 

 

3. Shut Up And Be Grateful

Look, I'm going to be brutally honest. Nobody cares about how many gigs, sessions, or other forms of work you have on your plate! In fact, when you brag about it, it just pisses-off all of us other musicians  if our calendars aren't as full as yours. In fact, if you're "so busy," then you should be 100% grateful and content. Regardless if you have to be up at 4am for lobby call, then fly right back home after the gig to do a bunch of sessions, only to go out of town again next weekend for more gigs with more early lobby calls. This means one thing and one things only – YOU'RE MAKING MONEY! 

Catch my drift...? 

 

But What If YOU Really Can't Get Work?

Ok, listen, this is a legitimate issue and it happens to us all at one point or another. If anyone tells you otherwise, they're lying. 

Here's a few tips based on my 30+ years experience as a Career Musician on how to drum up some biz: 

1. Make sure that all of your social media posts have examples of you playing and/or demonstrating what it is that you do well! 

2. Start reaching out to people seeking collab opportunities. And don't worry about money, just make yourself and your talent available to others and the money will come. 

3. If there's a particular person that you really want to work with, hire them first! This is a great way to get people to see you in your natural habitat and it gives them a chance to feel comfortable working with you. Chances are, they'll call you to work with them in the future. 

4. Never, and I mean NEVER look for work out of desperation. People can sense it and it will make them feel uncomfortable. Instead, make sure you're earning money doing something. Anything, it doesn't have to be music. This way, you'll be able to focus on making music with a clear mind without having to worry about money. 

5. Remember this if nothing else. Doing what you love for a living is a privilege. Most people are not that fortunate to do it. So even if it takes a little longer to get your music career up and running, it's okay. Don't panic. Just keep chipping away at all of your goals and endeavors and the opportunities will present themselves. As long as you're doing everything you can to perpetuate awareness and generate good vibes, you'll be just fine!  

 

Recap

The 3 things you should know about being a Career Musician: 

 

  1. Work doesn't always come consistently. It ebbs and flows just like everything else in life. So whether you have too much, or not enough, don't worry. It won't always be that way. 
  2.  Remember why you got into music in the first place. Yes, I know this sounds cliche but it's really true. A great little saying is – Money follows success and success comes with sacrifice. In other words, by putting in the work EVERYDAY, the success will come which in turn will bring the money. 
  3. Be grateful no matter what! Whether you're so busy you can't even think straight, or you're twiddling your thumbs wishing for a gig. In fact, how dare you twiddle your thumbs! You should be working on your own music when not gigging or recording with others. 

 

Conclusion

Whether you're crushing it like a rockstar, or pacing yourself like an old windup motor car, keep everything in this blog at the forefront of your mind. Read it more than once. Keep it handy so you can refer back to it when you're feeling bummed out about whatever the current situation you may find yourself in at the time. 

I've toured the globe many times over only to come home to a quiet house with no phone calls, emails, texts, or DM's. But conversely, there's been other times that I was so busy with various types of work that I had to hire a part-time assistant just to help keep me organized. 

One thing that has always been consistent however, is that work begets work. In other words, I find that when I'm working a bunch, other work presents itself. And this is true not only for paid work, but also for work that you do for yourself, or even friends that's unpaid. 

By putting the consistent work in of the daily grind, you'll be occupied with the tasks at hand that you won't have time to complain, worry, or even brag! 

 

 

 

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