getting serious/time management
I am quickly closing in on a point with playing bass, where it is truly all I want to do with my life from this point onward. I feel like I'm totally starting to focus on going somewhere with it, making money, and making it my career.
It's not the first time in my life that I've latched onto something so fiercely, by any means. But it struck me this past weekend when I was hanging out with a friend of mine who's also a musician (guitar), who I played in a couple of bands with, but who just doesn't seem to have a head for the next level of things and kinda lacks the street smarts and the motivation that I have. He's also a few years younger than me and it's taken him a while to kinda grow up. We hadn't seen each other in a while so we met in the city for coffee and ended up hanging for about 3 hours.
It was really good to hang out and just talk and catch up, walk around, have coffee and food. I like having friends, I really do. I tend to be kinda introverted by nature, so it's nice to have people around who get me out of my shell. It was the first instance of true socializing that I've done in a while, that hasn't involved networking with others.
Yet, 3 hours is a precious chunk of time to me. And more and more lately, I just don't have time to "hang out." I just can't fathom people who go home from their jobs and sit in front of the TV and then pour themselves a drink, go to bed, and wake up to do it again. Nothing against it if it makes you happy, but I'm just in such a different place. It's hit a point where when friends ask me to go out to bars, I don't bother...why, what's the point? If there's a band I want to see, sure, but if it's just to go out and drink, I don't care. Or I get invited to a film...in order for me to spend $12 and sit still for at least 2 hours, it's gotta be something REALLY special, you know?
Somehow, I'm hitting this point where when I DO allow myself some downtime from playing bass or working or writing, I prefer to just take it to myself because many of my friends don't seem to understand my level of commitment to music. Why would they, especially if they don't play instruments? And the people who DO understand it, are out there doing it too, so they're never around. So it leaves me kinda adrift socially, and it's weird. It's weird to start feeling like I have sort of a higher purpose than "other people" because I am not "other people." It's not that I feel guilty for having that opinion of myself. It's just very strange to suddenly feel like some of my friends are dragging me down and like I'm drifting away from them because I have different priorities.
For those of you who are out there really doing it...how did you handle stuff like this? How did you handle having to constantly turn down other people's social invites because of rehearsals, gigs, auditions? Or to get more to the point, what do you replace them with...what happens now?
First, drink less coffee. That'll help out some.
Second, too much of anything is not healthy for your mind. While I understand that you're driven and passionate, you may try to figure out why it is that you're so driven and what else you may be missing in your life. If you do that, I guarantee that you'll enjoy life more and still achieve goals. Make time for other things. Do something like set aside all of Sunday after 2:00 for other things, and never touch an instrument or do recording stuff or promo stuff.
Third, let me ask you how far you want to take music. What do you consider to be your musical goals? Have you mapped out how you realistically want to meet them?
If you can play reasonably well, can play a bunch of different styles or genres decently, and read music notation well, you will never have to have a day job. You probably won't be rich, you will probably be playing other people's music, and it probably will be as artistically fulfilling as painting warehouses, but you can always find work. Cruise ships always need readers, so do playhouses, jazz groups, casinos, a whole variety of cover/revue type gigs, etc. These are fairly easy ways to become a professional musician.
Anything beyond those types of jobs/gigs take a whole lot more work, dedication, talent, understanding of business and marketing. The last two usually get overlooked, which results in tons of dedicated, talented and driven, but starving musicians who don't understand why their music isn't on every radio station.
This is coming from someone who made a go of it as a professional musician about 15 years ago, saw little parts of the record industry, but ultimately was never able to live off my music. However, I still have a few friends who did "make it" by their standards, and I am still is able to supplement my income with music through regular gigging and selling songs (mostly background music in cheap, local TV ads).
Lastly, I think that most people don't really like their jobs, but it's a means to enjoy whatever they do enjoy while not working. Then, there are some who take to their jobs like you take to music, and look at it as a puzzle. They have the same fascination with how that industry and it's business works as you have with scales. Most people call them "boss."
Very well stated Uberheist. OP, I understand your drive and passion. I really do. I'm guessing (just a guess) you are in your mid 20s. (Not knocking you, just observing) The only advice I can offer is that you simply must give your brain, heart, passion a rest every now and then. If you don't, your passion will quickly become something you wish to avoid. That doesn't even seem possible right now. But it can happen with anything. Music, a woman, even pizza. Too much of ANYTHING isn't good. Taking a few hours here and there to do something "useless" that doesn't involve bass is a good thing.
And don't cut your friends loose just because they aren't as driven as you are. Friends, and other purely social interactions, keep us grounded. You don't have to mix business and pleasure with them.
Also, keep in mind that bands are social by nature as well. If you were to get involved with a very successful band, it would creep your band mates out if rather than hang out with them you just sat in the corner playing bass scales over and over and over again. You would be "that guy" and everyone around you would be asking "What's up with that guy? Why doesn't he just relax?" Eventually, no matter how good you are on bass, you wouldn't be much fun to have around. Yes, I took that to the extreme. But just keep in mind, if you were to go on tour with a group of people, you will be spending an incredible amount of time with/around them. It will be as important to everyone involved how well you get along as much as how well everyone plays their instrument.
Short version: Keep working hard. But lighten up before you have a heart attack.
If your no fun on the bus your off the bus.
All the music skills in the world and most intense attitude ever will not change the fact that having a band "capable" of succeeding has more to do with personal dynamics than music.
Practice consistent and efficient, but the time spent should be proportionate to the immediate return. If you want to practice more etc. then line up more gigs/play in more bands. Gigging is a far better teacher than practicing out.
I mean, my life IS pretty balanced right now. I recently got out of a 2-year relationship where I ended up not playing or practicing as much because this guy just expected so much time from me. So I think part of what's happening now, is that I'm making up for that.
I like hanging out with band mates too. I'm not the weirdo who sits in my room and does scales for 4 hours, I promise! And I do value my friends. But I guess I'm also just growing apart from certain people or certain ways of life as my priorities change.
I'm older than you thought, I'm gonna be 31 on the 17th actually. It's not even that I take this stuff OMG SO SRSLY. It's just that I'm seeing how it DOES take work and a certain level of discipline.
I just know that I've been in NYC for seven years. And in another seven years, when I'm pushing 38, I know I won't be happy playing for free and just...doin my day job and havin
What's also funny to me is that this doesn't feel hard. It doesn't feel like work, like some epic challenge. It just feels right.
I'm having a hard time explaining this without sounding like someone's holding a gun to my head about it...I mean, didn't anyone else ever have those types of friends-or even a significant other-who try to pull you away from your passion? Sometimes, yeah, I let them. But I've already spent enough time with my now ex, giving too much of my time away for something and someone other than music. I've already done other things in my life.
So isn't this the turning point where it IS time to take it seriously...?
Forgot to add, I am NOT a bedroom bassist! I've been playing with others as much as possible!
You're right (OP.) Keep doing what you're doing. Don't waste your time. We only get so much of it. No need to "hang out," or do things for the sole purpose of USING time. Keep plugging away, and keep noticing whether you are where you want to be or not, and what you think you need in order to get there.
I am about to turn 50, and I was complaining to my 83 year old dad about how I haven't gotten where I want to in live, and he laughed, and said, "you're just a kid."
God I love that guy.
Funny how age is so relative!
I don't mind being out of my 20's. They kinda sucked. I didn't get much done because I didn't have my head on straight enough. So now that I do, I feel like I owe it to myself.
Your passion is awesome! However, no one likes to play music with a 40 year old bassist that lives with their parents and has no other discerning skills. Just something to think about.
Don't lose your drive!!!!
Um, yeah, that's exactly why I'm busting my @$$ now and why I also write, am Apple certified, and know how to solder and fix audio gear. I know Pro Tools too, I went to art school and have a BFA in sound design, I'm familiar with the Adobe Creative Suite, and I also worked in the film and television industry for four years as a camera assistant.
I'll spare you the rest of my resume but I do not live with my parents and I am not a one-trick pony by any means.
Thanks man. Yeah, it's a heck of a balancing act, to be sure.
Get good with that pro tools stuff. Being able to do all of your own recording saves you a ton of money and gives you more time in the studio to get everything just how you want it.
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