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Worth it to pursue music (mispost from bass humor & gig stories)

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by BryanM, Oct 29, 2012.

  1. BryanM


    Dec 15, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Sorry in advance for the long post:

    I'm 28 years old and have been playing music for the last 16 years or so, playing in bands for the last 8 or 9. Current band is about 2-3 years strong and working on our debut album. We've garnered a bit of a local following and have started to get out of town on weekends and such.

    I've also, at 28, been the CIO of a successful online business and headed up their commercial business development team for about 3 years. I raised them from $1.2m annual profits to average $3m-$4.5m annual, but the salary was not commensurate with what I brought to the table so I left for an entry/mid level position in a larger IT department.

    I make a good living and get a decent benefit package, plus the job holds a lot of opportunity for advancement, but I'm also a single man in my late 20s without any children or solid ties here besides career (family is mostly out of town these days) and have been kicking around the idea of jumping into music head-on within the next 18-24 months. This means subjecting myself to the risks of being destitute and all of the other rigors that come with life on the road.

    I'm doing a good bit of the funding of the band myself, being the only one with a career solid enough to allow that kind of expendible income, but have made it clear that I won't bankroll it without a written agreement up front regarding returns. I'm also aware that I will almost certainly not be part of the next big thing and as a touring musician am looking at reducing my salary in half or threefold.

    I do some freelance web design and consulting work and can probably supplement a life on the road for myself that way. Though I have the experience, I'm still a dozen classes or so shy of my bachelor's degree (dual major mathematics/software dev.) I put my degree on hold for financial reasons and will need to save a moderate chunk of money to get back into it, though student loans are not an issue if I went on the road.

    I'm asking because there's a wealth of information available and a wealth of experience to speak of the pros and cons of pursuing music here on talkbass. Is it worth it to put a career with potential that I'm not 100% enthused about on hold to pursue earning a meager living in music or should I stick to being a weekend warrior and maybe find a few steady local gigs to help stave off the cravings to get out and play?
  2. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Dude ... you have a good job making good money with a good future and you want to instead make yourself poor with a music career.

    Have you heard of the song piano man? It is a true story about Billy Joel's life. He made better money playing at a piano bar than touring with his band. Van Halen had their first album go platinum and they came back from touring and the record company told them "you owe us a million dollars and another record"

    Keep your day job and make the band a hobby.
  3. ThunderV

    ThunderV Is getting yelled at by his cat!!

    Mar 26, 2007
    Brunswick, OH
    Difficult question indeed. You seem to really have your **** together. You seem ready to get into the music "industry". Before that can happen you must work in the various music "scenes". Unfortunately "scenes" are usually clogged up with inmature idiots who are dodging adulthood. You must be prepared to be treated as such by promoters, club owners etc... Essentially you will be put on the same level as them. If you are good with that then I say go for it.
  4. ThunderV

    ThunderV Is getting yelled at by his cat!!

    Mar 26, 2007
    Brunswick, OH
    I agree with this as well. You are ten years younger than me, but will still be coming in as an "old timer". Tough to get started at that age. Anymore it seems like record companies are hiring models and giving them music lessons.
  5. Weekend warriorship is an excellent compromise.

    Bankrolling the greatest band ever to hit the road is the dumbest thing you could do.
  6. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio

  7. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
  8. Winfred


    Oct 21, 2011
    Getting a degree, coupled with your already successful business experience, will serve you far better than pursuing music. You're 28 today, tomorrow you'll be 40. Next thing ya know, the AARP will be sending you a magazine subscription.

    Having said that, you're going to do whatever you really want to do, and I wish you all the success in the world at it.
  9. bassinplace


    Dec 1, 2008
    If you want to be stable and secure, don't quit your day job, as they say.

    If you really love music enough to abandon security and undertake a certain financial struggle the odds of which overcoming it are not good, then pursue the musical career.

    It all depends on what's most important to you. Either way, all the best to you.
  10. Here's my 2p:

    Record your debut album. Spend the money to get it mastered properly and spend some extra $ on some decent quality videos.

    Make the album available on iTunes. Post the videos on YouTube and link to the album. Start pushing your music to every online / streaming site you can find. Being in the web field I bet you can make your website real interwebz friendly.

    Typical band models that have been in place for more than 30 years are near dead. Don't buy into it. The vast majority of new listeners are finding their new music online, not on the radio.

    You'll know if and / or when you should make the jump. When Youtube starts sending cheques to you for a million hits to your video and iTunes cheques start coming weekly, then you in a better spot to start touring hardcore..
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 29, 2008
    I convert 4 string Rickenbackers to 5 string basses.
    Remember a professional musician is usually just one fight with a girlfriend away from being homeless.


    What's the difference between a large pizza and a professional musician. The pizza can feed a family.
  12. Corbeau


    Dec 14, 2011
    I'm in a similar position myself, because I'm not satisfied with how my life is going and music has always been my first priority in life. I'm also around the same age.

    I think there's been some interesting comments in this thread. I agree that before you ditch everything, you should see the response the band gets from the debut album. If it's a good response, then consider ditching your job and focus on music full-time. Music is a pretty risky business - it's hard to predict how well you'd go or how much money you can potentially earn.
  13. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    That trying and failing thread should be taken with a grain of salt. The world has changed immensely in the last fourty years, to the point where live music is almost dead in most of Australia and, from what I've read, much of the USA. And it's been that way for at least 10 years. So if you gave it a crack now you'd be far less likely to 'make it' than guys who were trying in the 70s, 80s, and early 90s, when live music was still alive.

    OP I think you'd be stupid to quit your career and enter music full time, but that's just me. Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck.
  14. Marginal Tom

    Marginal Tom

    Apr 28, 2010
    O'Fallon, IL
    Consider this - you put a good band together, write, practice and record your first album independently, and market it successfully through the internet. You quit your day job to go on tour to maintain sales and work on your second album. Then your band signs with a major label. Unless you're handsome and look younger than your age (30-something by then), the record company will probably replace you ASAP. Now you're two or three years behind the curve in IT, and have to go back and finish college to land another entry-level job.

    You don't have a wife or kids to support, so you may consider the above risk to be worth taking. But I'd keep the day job for as long as possible, and request a leave of absence rather than resigning.
  15. Violen

    Violen Instructor in the Vance/Rabbath Method Banned

    Apr 19, 2004
    Kansas City Metro Area
    Endorsing Artist: Conklin Guitars (Basses)
    Focus on your band. Live your life with no regrets. Give it 200 percent, and on top of that, dont quit your day job till your manager has labels knocking down your door, but if you think the music is there, make a change.

    You dont have the anchors or fears that some of these guys have. Live it.
  16. I once dropped out of work to play original music. I was between jobs anyway so it was easy to do. It lasted about 6 months. We played many sucessful gigs but it still wasn't enough to live on.

    The chances to do any better are miniscule. You know this.
  17. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    Yeah, if you are capable of holding down a well-paying job then the opportunity cost of pursuing music really seriously becomes very, very high, especially in the long run.

    I know guys who had support jobs at Apple and quit them to tour the world - at least four continents so far. I know one of them got a job delivering pizzas between tours, then had a job at a TV station and was fired via text message while laying down bass tracks in the studio. It's his choice, but he's paying a much higher price for it than if he were the kind of guy who can't get a job any better than delivering pizzas anyway.
    Yup. I also know a bassist who plays DB in the city philharmonic and is young and skinny enough to play in an indie band that tours internationally as well. He got in a fight with his girlfriend and, yeah, basically ended up homeless.

    I definitely recommend the part-time option.
  18. ^^From a guy who plays as many gigs as he wants with all kinds of hawt chicks and takes his shirt off at the first opportunity.
  19. ChrisB2

    ChrisB2 Bass... in your fass

    Feb 27, 2008
    TalkBass > Off Topic
    Excellent point.

    I have never lived my life [been at this a while too] opting for "security" (a mirage), but I always tried to make the smartest decisions I could regarding cutting my own path (which was not music-related). I could never stay in a job I wasn't enthused by. Some people can, I can't. But my career choices were always based on improving my satisfaction with life while simultaneously moving myself and family upward.

    In other words, live how you want and be happy. But also be smart, or things will end badly. Whatever you do, don't screw up. Like another said, you will be 40 before you know it. Heck, 50. Do you want to look back and say, "Boy, that was dumb"?
  20. Wow. An atmosphere of fear and loathing. No wonder no one wants to buy CDs anymore. It's like there's no balls in the place anymore (and I mean that with the utmost respect, gents, I'm no band sensation either).

    I remember seeing an interview with Slayer talking about how tough life was on the road when they started out. They used to stop at 24/7s, get someone to distract the cashier and steal candy bars. Freaking Slayer, my favourite band. Stealing food because they were hungry. And I don't mean that as an example of how you should sustain yourself as a musician. But times have always been tough.

    I hear about people like Justin Bieber pulling $47 million in a year, getting an $80 million assured sum for his next tour and I blanche. Me, with a lousy $1k a month job out here away in India.

    And I think to myself, "Jump on the faggety ann bandwagon?"

    Nah. You got to stick to your guns, dude. Keep doing what you're doing. But be smart. Be cool. You need fuel for the furnace. Money for gear, strings and things. You're not so old, look at Mark Knopfler. Hell, some of the famous musicians died before your age.

    Keep practicing your chops. Revival. That is all.

    Cheers - Jimmy Rage