Knowing when to leave your band behind

As I book out into 2019, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got to this point in my musical life. There’s the received wisdom for most artists in any field that until you make it, you should keep your day job so you can have a solid financial foundation while you work at your art. The downside is, with a day job, you generally have less time to focus on your art which in turn decreases your ability to turn it into a full time career. It’s a delicate balance between having no time to do your art because of the time you put into your day job, as opposed to spending less time at a job (and thus having less financial security) to focus more on the art. The ideal balance is to transition into turning your art into your full-time job.

The risk of that, though, is burn-out.

Burn-out, though, can happen at many levels. I was just reading a piece about band break-ups and I know I’ve felt it it from time to time–usually when I put so much into a project only to have roadblock after roadblock stop it in its tracks. What’s equally frustrating is when you try the idea out with a different group of people, then it works fine and you get the results you predicted–and in some cases–even better than predicted. This isn’t strictly a lateral move (unless you’re thinking along the lines of your music being a sole proprietorship), but in many ways can function as one even if you’re basically trying to do the same thing as you were before the move.

The trick really is to consider your music or art as a sole-proprietorship rather than focusing all your energy on one (or a small number of) band(s) which is similar to the idea of having a portfolio career (something I’ve blogged about on occasion several years ago).

The nice thing about this is the ability to not go through dry spells in your gigging life because even if one particular market dries up, you can fill the hole with gig opportunities in another market. Remember–we’re in a fragmented market so it makes little sense to keep doing the same thing over and over again. The proverbial head versus brick wall comes to mind.

So how have I managed to make these lateral moves with ideas into other gig contexts work? Well, in many ways, it isn’t the same thing that I’m doing at all. I’m trying it with a different group of people; or I’m implementing the ideas in a completely different genre of music–context matters as much as anything else when considering the situation.

In the end, you have a limited amount of time to pursue your craft–don’t waste it trying to get people to do something they don’t want to do, just try it out elsewhere.

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