Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is Music Your Life?

"Music is my life" is one of the most common statements I hear from people these days; however, most of the time I'm not entirely convinced. Usually when I hear this statement, my first thought is, "Yeah, I know what you mean, me too." I take it seriously because music is my life and has been for three decades now.

I've been completely consumed by music as far back as I can remember. I know music is a big part of most peoples' lives, but I'm not talking about a casual enjoyment of music where there are a few artists or songs that bring back fond memories of days gone by or being in a band and recording some songs and playing a few gigs here and there, I'm talking about being completely consumed by the desire to create music for a living and doing whatever it takes to make that happen. And I'm proud to say that's exactly what I've done.

I started playing when I was about 11 years old and I absolutely loved it! Since the beginning of my infatuation, I played in bands, wrote songs, recorded, taught, signed record deals, licensing deals, publishing deals, toured with my own bands and other signed artists and opened up my own recording studio so I could help new bands share in the joy of making music and building something from nothing.

When I look back at my career from the beginning to the present, I can honestly say, music is my life. I make my living doing it and a very large portion of every day is dedicated to it.

What's Important To You?

Every day when we get out of bed, we automatically go to work on the things that are most important to us. Or at least the things we've been conditioned to believe are most important to us. These are the activities that take up our time and dominate our focus. Whether or not it's truly what we want to be doing is irrelevant, it's what we've become programmed to do.

So, if you think music is your life, then here's a couple questions you can ask yourself to find out for sure:

1. How much of your time every day is spent on your music career?

Once you determine this, take a moment to compare it to how much time you spend on other activities. Be really honest with yourself here and be careful not to blur the lines between recreational internet use and business use (networking with fans or industry professionals, booking a tour, booking studio time, etc.) or doodling on an acoustic guitar verses time spent on actual songwriting. You may be surprised to find that you're not putting forth as much effort as you thought you were. There may be some other things that are consuming more of your time than your music.

I'm not talking about your day job or raising your children if you have them. Of course your kids will demand a lot of your time and your job is necessary for now so you can generate cash flow to put toward your career. Plus I'm sure that just like me, you've probably become fond of things like food and shelter. Barring your kids and your job though, there should be nothing else that you spend more time doing than working on your music. If you don't have the responsibility of child or a job then I would expect that you'd be putting in the same number of hours towards music that would otherwise go toward your job and children. And even if you do have a job and kids, don't let those things become an excuse for why you're not producing results. An excuse is a lie you tell to absolve yourself of any responsibility for the actions you take or don't take. Remember, where there's a will, there's a way.

2. How much of your financial resources do you put toward your music career?

Again, it's a matter of becoming aware of where your priorities lie based on how you've been conditioned. Take a look at your spending habits. How much money do you put toward your music business expenses verses other items and activities? If you find that there's a lot of money going elsewhere that could be going toward your music career, you must ask yourself what's more important to you. I'm sure if most of us really looked at our spending, we'd see a lot of waste.

And don't forget, being in a band is basically just like a small business start-up and the idea is to eventually make a profit, but for the first few years you're likely going to be running at a loss. To keep things rolling, you'll have to put forth a sizeable chunk of your own dough on rehearsing, recording, touring, marketing and promotion, etc to see things through.

True Story

I once worked with a band that insisted music was their life. They came in with a very low budget to do some recording and over the course of the project I couldn't help but notice how much all of them smoked. I figured all four band members were smoking at least a pack and a half a day because they were out for a smoke or two every half hour or 45 minutes. If a pack of smokes is $8, then it's $12 for one and half packs. Multiply that by 30 and it comes to $360 per month. Multiply that by 4 band members and that equals $1,440 per month that they're spending on cigarettes.

This story isn't done yet! Through our conversations I found out a couple of them spent between $50 and $75 a week on dope. Let's find a middle ground of $62.50 and multiply that by 4 weeks in a month and the total is $250 per month. Multiply that by 2 band members and there's another $500 per month that's NOT going toward their music career.

This story still isn't done! I also estimated that these guys were collectively spending somewhere between $500 and $700 per month on alcohol. When you do the math, all of this adds up to over $30,000 per year that they're spending on cigarettes, drugs and alcohol. Do you think music is their life? Me neither.

I know that's a pretty extreme example, but I kid you not, this was their reality. Imagine what you could accomplish with $30,000 at your disposal. You'd have more money to put into pro recordings, marketing, radio trackers and essentially build a team of professionals around your band and your brand.

Only you can decide for yourself what's truly important in your life. It can be easy for us to get distracted by other things that take us away from what we really want to be doing, so I think it's important to sit down every now and again and be brutally honest with yourself. I hope this has helped you spot some areas in your day-to-day life choices that could be improved upon and help get you on track to what you really want to be doing with your life. If you have any stories or anything else you'd like to share, I'd love to hear it. To your success!


  1. this is an amazing post! I too know bands who say music is their life and then drink and dope it away - i didnt think of the expense! i was thinking of just the sheer downtime created by laziness that the drugs and hangovers produce. I'm sharing this! More bands need to see the reality of this in text.

  2. Thank you, Donna! It's pretty sobering when you run the numbers isn't it?

  3. Great Article Sean!!!

  4. Well said, good sir! This one gets shared for sure!

  5. You are either all in or you are not. Simple. 100% effort everyday produces results.

  6. Thanks for reading, Jim, glad you enjoyed it!