Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pros and Cons of Being a Professional Musician

Recently I was afforded the opportunity of becoming a "Full-Time Musician" (read Unemployed), and I have been weighing the pros and cons of my decision over the last few months. While there are some glaringly obvious pros (sleeping in, not having to punch a clock, etc.) and cons (financial instability!), I'm finding lots of other little details that used to go unnoticed, by me anyway.

Pros
  • Time - It's kind of hard to be a songwriter when you don't have the time to actually write, and my "day gig" was really getting in the way. I now have time to practice my writing (between hustling up gigs and keeping my web presence up-to-date) and have quite a few new songs as a result. Progress. That's what we're shooting for. I also have time for friends and family, since I'm not working 40+ hours a week and gigging 3-4 nights on the side. I've seen my parents more in the last week than I have in the last 10 months! I have time to practice guitar or learn a new song or two. I can blog more, call a few clubs, or just sit and enjoy being alive. More people should just sit down and enjoy being alive.
  • Rest - Since I'm a musician and out until the early hours of the morning playing music and moving equipment (who has time to party?), and I have nowhere to be at 8:00 AM the next morning, I'm able to get the proper amount of rest and all the health benefits that come with it. Proper rest also leads to a better disposition, and when mixed with time to do everything you need to do, creates the third pro, which is
  • Less Stress - Stress is quickly killing off the human race. I would get knots in my muscles and become so irritable that I was losing friends and quickly running out of places to hide the bodies! I always had a cold of some kind and never felt like doing anything other than what I was obligated to do, and even then I had to make myself do it. Taking back 40 hours every week was the only thing left to do.
Cons
  • Financial Instability - Because I have no "day gig," I don't have the steady paycheck coming in, and must spend every second of every day in "work mode." I'm not allowed to step away from my phone or computer at any time, as I may miss an opportunity to "hustle up some revenue," and let me tell ya, that's some hard friggin' work! I have about 15 seconds to sell myself to an owner/booker, and blues ain't an easy sell. Financial instability also causes a different kind of stress that will almost negate the pro. Almost.
  • It's a lonely life - It takes a special kind of person - one who loves music as much as musicians do - to be in a long-term relationship with a musician, and not everyone is cut out for it. We've all seen the same scenario; a musician friend meets a girl at a gig, they start talking, hit it off, and start dating. Then, a few months in, she's upset because he's got a show and she doesn't want him to go because other girls will be looking at him! Soon, the shows start to die down, he cuts his hair and gets a normal job. It's all downhill from there. But there are those special people out there that understand, or so they say. I'm still looking. 
Half full or half empty? I don't really know. Perception is the key, I guess. For the moment, I'm still focusing on the pros of being "full-time."

What do you call a guitar player without a girlfriend? Homeless. :-)