We scour our mailbox for the most deserving recipient of the Attack readership’s collective advice in the first experiment in crowdsourced answers to all kinds of production and creative problems. No query is too small, no question too personal…

2

This month we discuss the dilemma of whether to give up the day job. When is it worth making the leap to take your music to the next level? Join the discussion in the comments below.

Hi

I’m writing for advice on whether I should quit my job to devote myself to music 24/7? I work in a 9-5 office job which pays OK but I don’t really enjoy it. I make dnb in my spare time and I’ve got a few semi regular DJ gigs that I earn a bit of money from (not enough to live on though).

I feel like it’s a catch 22. I really want to get more serious about my music but it just feels like I can only treat it as a hobby with the job I have. If I quit I’d be able to spend more time on it but I’d lose the safety net and have to start making enough money to survive quickly. Maybe the answer is to get a part time job like bar work or something, take a pay cut and concentrate more on production in the extra spare time I’d have? The problem is what if I can’t take the music career up to the next level and end up throwing away a boring but safe career for the sake of music? What should I do? All anecdotes/life stories/advice gratefully received!

Cheers. S

 

Submit your questions through the contact page.

6th May, 2015

Comments

  • Great article, I’m in the same position. Not sure my girlfriend would allow me to quit my job though!

    Is it sad i thing i know that’s huxley’s studio?!

    Report
  • The only person making any real money from DnB is the man with the bag of pills at the rave.

    Jah bless.

    Report
  • It really all comes down to a couple of things:

    – If you had the time for it, would you be productive enough in making (good quality) music?
    – Is there any way you could make money by producing the music you have in mind (like a music label that wants your music in their catalog)?
    – Do you have an “exit-strategy” (is it possible to return to some kind of similar job you have now, if the music production does not work out OK)?

    If the answer to all of the questions above is a resounding YES, you should make an spreadsheet with your financial status now (what’s coming in, what goes out), if there is any way to save money from spending and a prediction for the future and go for it.! Keep an eye on the financial status and your predictions and be sure to be true to yourself when it doesn’t turn out to be a success.

    Report
  • Try and get to a place musically where you feel as though the extra time would really benefit you. If you aren’t releasing music regularly or have a solid following, try and do all of this while maintaining your day job.

    After some time and A LOT of hard work, you should be in a place where you feel comfortable making the leap. I know my advice sounds safe but it’s realistic. Carve out as much time as you can, drop all other obligations and focus on music at all times when you’re not in the office.

    Report
  • You only live once dude. You could always find another job if it doesn’t work out..

    Report
  • I took the plunge a few years back and it was well worth it. I had a ton of totally desperate moments, dwelt in darkness, but also climbed some mountains and breathed some pretty rare air. In the end, I just couldn’t maintain the incitement that this industry is built on and went back to my job as a graphic designer. I was a few years behind my peers, but that has never seemed to matter, the stories I could more than made up for the five lost years.

    And who says it needs to work out? Just get out there and enjoy it. The worst thing that can happen is that you wake up one morning with nothing to do.

    Report
  • Focus on being more productive with the little time you have rather than believing that suddenly having more time will be the solution. Limitations are good. They force you to focus. I’ve seen a number of people “quit the day job” to pursue music and a lot of times they actually get less productive because of the abundance of time they think they have. I know it doesn’t sound sexy but a better approach is to chip away at it slowly while maintaining the steady income. When you finally reach a point where you are getting so many music related offers coming in that your day job is preventing you from pursuing them, that’s when you want to consider cutting the cord. Don’t be fooled into thinking having more time will suddenly allow you make your music exponentially better and that it will then whisk you up the music industry ladder. That’s a 1 in a million shot. Most people have to grind it out for a long time before they get noticed. In the meantime, you have to pay the bills.

    That said, there could be alternative jobs you could look at that put you in closer contact with the music industry. Or at least jobs that allow you a bit more flexibility when it comes to managing your time. Making good music is only part of the battle (sadly, it seems to be even smaller these days), building relationships in the industry is more important in many ways.

    Report
  • I’d argue that if you want to be a muic pro you need to find a way to make it you’re full time job… But even.. let say you quit your day job to do music 24/7.. its still really hard to discipline your self to do the 24/7 thing… But I also believe, when your young and it’s early in your career.. to try and find a way to follow you interests.. all of them.. that that should be your job.. to follow it to a career…

    I can tell you that having audio skills are valuable in a number of professions.. Like say video production, marketing, interactive design…

    But mostly… do it cause you love it and it’ll make your life a richer life

    Report
  • Hi S –

    ”a few semi regular DJ gigs that I earn a bit of money from” does not sound like enough to make the leap. If there is a demand for your product (DnB) in your city, it might be wise to set up your own night and start booking and making relationships with other higher profile artist; who if you’re charming, likeable and go on to make some great releases – will book you for their nights or recommend you to other promoters…. Hence your sphere of influence will increase and you can start to rely on your DJ income more.

    I can only really see this genre providing a DJ income… How many DnB fans log onto itunes / beatport and actually purchase tunes?! Advertising / film synchs are hit and miss, sometimes you get a pot of gold.. But you can’t rely on them as a regular source.

    It’s probably also worth developing a further unrelated strand of self employed income to steady the ship and help the transition to a free(er) life.

    If possible broach going down to 3 or 4 days a week in the office whilst you get started. Forget bartending, bars are busiest on Friday and Saturday night when you should be gigging!

    JJ

    Report
  • The question is not if it’s possible to make a living off music in the near future (it won’t); it rather boild down to if you’re willing and able to have a much lower standard of living for maybe a long time.If so, go for it and quit – i’m serious.

    Because i have yet to see someone who really “made it” who managed it through part-time jobs (or making music part time).Part time is the pipe dream that never becomes true – if you wanna be succesful, you can’t go part time, simple as that.Full risk or nothing, anything else is for hobbyists.

    Report
  • I Like this quote from Arnold Schwarzenegger :

    “I’ve always figured out that there 24 hours a day. You sleep six hours and have 18 hours left. Now, I know there are some of you out there that say well, wait a minute, I sleep eight hours or nine hours. Well, then, just sleep faster, I would recommend.”

    makes me remember there are a lot of hours in the day 🙂

    Report
  • Oooh tough one. I’m lucky, in that I have a day job I enjoy too that pays well, and then I can use the whole music thing to kick back and unwind in the evenings/weekends.

    There does seem to be a bit of a pernicious myth that youre not a “real musician” unless it’s your only job, and you can’t possibly make good music unless you’re constantly struggling to survive. Neither of those things is true, frankly.

    There are obvious rewards if you can pull it off, but there are also risks if you can pull it off too. If music becomes your “job” will you grow to dislike it? Some people do, some people don’t. Can you handle the lifestyle that often comes with it, of constant promotion and touring and such? Are you likely to have to temper your creative output to satisfy others so you can pay bills?

    There are a lot of tough questions there.

    Youth also helps. It’s a lot easier to be a fulltime gigging musician when you’re 23 than it is when you’re 43. It’s do-able, but it’s an uphill climb.There’s also the health factor – can your body take the punishment of long hours, late nights, and variable schedules? Can you handle the occasional question of “food or medicine?” when the budget is low?

    Do you have a family to support? Or one that can support you?

    And don’t forget, as much as music is a creative endeavor, it’s also a business. I’ve seen many, many musicians who are brilliant at their craft completely bottom out because they can’t manage their finances or market their output (or manage their bookings, or keep up their website, etc etc).

    And as one comment above has mentioned, do you have a backup plan? Even if all your ducks are in a row and you’re a brilliant musician and marketer, sometimes time-and-place are just wrong. Do you have things you can fall back on?

    If you can answer all the questions above in a way that makes you happy and not lose your mind from stress, then go for it. If the mere idea of anything like that fills you with deep existential dread, there is absolutely no shame in being a weekend warrior.

    Report
  • making music is the funnest part of 24/7. …and the shorter one too!
    other tasks you have to do (and maybe learn to love) are: sell, promote, make strategies, make calls, meetings, and so on. Honestly, If you don´t dig it , don´t quit.

    Peace.

    Report
  • What about a part time day job? Fewer hours per day, or fewer days per week?

    Report
  • Stay at you day job for a while and when you’ll feel raedy to make that kind of step you’ll know right from the start.If you are questioning your ability to pay bills by pursuing your music career that means it isn’t the right time to do it.

    Report
  • i am not sure about the sales of dnb, but it looks to me its a genre that wont make you a living unless you are a real talanted artist.
    + if you are questioning quiting your job, then you are not ready or not good enough.

    to figure it out where exactly you stand you could do this: try to make a samples pack in your spare time, normally you would need about a month but as you have a job it may take you 2-3 or even 4 months, but if you manage to make it and sign it for one of the major labels – samplephonics, sounds to samples or loopmasters, the chance that you are good enough in what you do would be big.

    just follow your dreams 🙂 good luck!

    Report
  • normally I would be the first to tell you to quit your job and make music but in my opinion you are looking at this the wrong way.

    you should want to quit your job because you love making music so much that the thought of doing anything else makes you miserable.

    i don’t agree with the person who said that you will be less productive if you have more time.

    Report
  • In essence you would become an entrepreneur and if that idea is exciting to you, you’re halfway there. The other half is to keep paying the bills I suppose.

    So grab a calculator and make the business case. How are you going to make money? How much money do you – realistically – think you will come in? How much goes out? Find out how taxes are going to change for you, there might be interesting benefits for (starting) entrepreneurs.

    If the balance is/will be positive, then you can stop the philosophical approach and quit the job.

    Report
  • Some things here:

    I quit my job about a year ago to write full-time, so I’m on the other side of this curve.

    Firstly, you need to pick a career and production path that’s likely to make (some) money. D&B is awesome, but its moment has passed: you’re unlikely to make a career out of it now.

    The two options that are financially viable seem to be A: pure self-expression (think Flying Lotus or Holly Herndon), or B: pop production. If you’re writing in any established genre you’ll struggle to get recognition, but the world cares about high-quality, genuinely new music.

    If you want to make it as a producer you HAVE to go full-time. Like playing an instrument, it’s simply not possible to get professionally good without practicing for hours every day. Skill comes with experience, and experience comes with hours.

    Plan to live without much money for the first few years. You need to commit full-time to launch a career in music, but it will still take years of hard work. You’ll need to cut your expenses massively: live somewhere cheap, cook at home and stop drinking.

    Find other artists who you respect who are professionally successful. Talk to them about their career paths, understand how long it took, and get a breakdown of where their money comes from.

    You’ll need a business plan, a schedule, self-discipline, and a talented crew. You’re not just an artist, you’re a businessman, a project manager and a hustler.

    Report
  • it’s worth to check how the guys are doin this in the states, everybody who want something as a pro producer/dj quits day job. I don’t know anybody who are quite good at this and has a day job.
    believe in yourself!

    Report
  • This is my personal opinion but without work things could get stale pretty quickly. Your job, the hours you put into it and why you don’t enjoy it is where your getting your ideas and motivation from. Artists who work solely on their music is still rare, how much commercial music do you hear that is not so good and how much underground music do you hear which is better? Could you negotiate less hours but keep your job? Also theres also plenty of part time Music production courses, future employers are looking for qualifications.

    Report
  • ask yourself…

    will you regret it more if you don’t try it, or if you do try and fail?

    Report
  • Moreover, detach yourself from financial gain. Do your job, pay the bills and give yourself complete unadulterated musical freedom. Pushing yourself to make money from your music could lead to some superbly average tracks. Having to rely 100% on your music for income is not a good thing if you want to be an artist.

    Report
  • I am in the same exact position. I am currently working a job that is not music related, but it pays the bills. However, I have been saving my money (from work and music projects), built a decent studio, and have saved enough to work for 6 months on my music for the past 3 years. My strategy will be to go part-time at my current job (or find another part-timer) and live off my 6 months worth of savings. Since I will still have my part-time job, and money saved, while still making more money from music, I think it will put me in a position to comfortably work on my building my client base, improving my mixes, and eventually leaving my job and sustain myself. As Hevige wrote, you need an exist strategy. Save up extra cash and DO NOT TOUCH IT!

    Report
  • I definitely think having more time on your hands makes you less productive. I decided at 25 that music is the only thing i want to do with my life. I quit my day job and pursued my dream with no prior experience in djing or producing. I’ve definitely learned and taught myself over decades worth of knowledge in a few short years but that still wasn’t enough to make a career out of it where I could support myself. In those years I learned to live off next to nothing, but I have real bills and had to go back to work this year. Im 29 now and the only reason I work is to fund my audio addiction. I’m not good enough to support myself making music yet, but I will never give up on my dream. Now that I have less time to spend on music the time I do spend is that much more valuable and in turn I am more productive. Having more time isn’t going to make you more successful, but allocating your free time the right way will. If you’re questioning leaving your day job to pursue music full time you should stay employed. If your job is causing you to miss out on money you could be making from music you would have already quit. Don’t give up on your dream, stay focused and keep working hard. It will pay off.

    Report

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You currently have an ad blocker installed

Attack Magazine is funded by advertising revenue. To help support our original content, please consider whitelisting Attack in your ad blocker software.

Find out how

x

A WEEKLY SELECTION OF OUR BEST ARTICLES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX