The Pro Musician Game: My Daring Journey


At some point we all ask, “How do I turn what I love into my career?” That’s when we discover what risks we’re willing to take.

The Road to Turning Pro

The Road to Turning Pro

 

I’ve been playing drums for over 27 years. For a long time I knew I wanted to turn pro. I didn’t have too many thoughts of being famous (not in the American Idol sense of the term). But, still wanted to be known as musician. I also knew that I wanted to build a career in music instead of getting rich and retiring young.

So, I studied music, played jazz, gigged as a sideman, joined a rock band, didn’t make any money. To support ourselves, my band mates and I got sales jobs and moved in together.

For a while, that worked. Then, the relationships started to suffer. Five different people wanting five different things pushes people into five different directions.

I declared that I would always play music despite how the band progressed. Eventually, we disbanded and I started teaching private lessons at a music school.

At that time, I was in a relationship that wasn’t’ supportive of my music career. I worked at Starbucks in the mornings and taught in the evenings. The pressure was on to get a ‘real’ job.

Subconsciously, I would sabotage my efforts in getting another sales job or management position. I couldn’t shake wanting to make a career in music and not just have a hobby. Once, I started teaching and gaining more students I wanted to do more.

Eventually, I left that relationship and decided I would become the best version of myself. I was going to figure out to make a living being a professional musician.

Around that same time, I found myself in a new relationship and married. Not only was I going to be a professional musician, I was going to be an outstanding husband. Then, the question became, “How do I do both?”

I’ve seen, first hand, how the musician’s life can hurt relationships. My friends would make poor decisions, cheat on their wives or girlfriends, neglect their health and their finances, then blame it on the musician’s life.

“I have to network” they would say, as an excuse to stay out until 3 a.m. and get wasted. I knew any business talk or networking wasn’t really getting done, because I used to be a part of that scene. How was I going to proceed differently?

On the other side of the spectrum, I knew people who were professional musicians and had families, could pay their bills, had a spiritual life and were all around balanced.

  • What were they doing differently?
  • How could their families be cool with a musician’s lifestyle?
  • How could they pay the bills and work around the atypical schedule of a gigging musician?

I wanted to know these answers not only because I wanted to be a professional musician, but I also wanted a healthy marriage. I wanted my wife to feel loved and could trust me when out on gigs. I wanted her to feel secure in our marriage despite the stereotypes of musician’s lives.

So, a podcast was born. I started interviewing people I knew who had lucrative careers in the music industry and were in healthy relationships to share their secrets to success. What I discovered was so much more than I imagined yet, seemed so simple and familiar.

The common themes were:

  • communication
  • setting boundaries
  • staying true
  • and becoming prolific.

Each one of my podcasts are unique in that everyone has different experiences and challenges. Some have amazing balance in their lives and are quite busy. Others have struggled in one area or the other but still manage to keep going. They’ve all learned from their journeys.

What I’ve learned is to keep going. We have to find a way to keep doing the art. Writer, Jeff Goins was told,

“you become a writer the day you say you’re a writer.”

So, I am a professional musician, educator, writer, speaker, entrepreneur, musician’s coach, podcast host and devoted husband.

And to be better at all those things I must become prolific!

When Jerry Seinfeld was asked for advice on how to be a better comic, Seinfeld explained his method for success:

each January, he hangs a large year-at-a-glance calendar on his wall and, for every day he wrote new material, he had the exquisite pleasure that can only come from drawing a big red “X” over that day.

Drawing those Xs got to be pretty fun and rewarding, so he kept doing it.

Eventually, he began to create a chain of red Xs.

The idea was to never break that chain.

***

I commit to –

  1. playing drums
  2. writing
  3. and creating products that help musicians become more successful with their art everyday.

All, while being attentive to my wife’s and family’s needs.

There is no absolution or finish line. The goal is to keep creating your ultimate life. That’s what makes it fun and fulfilling. If you do the kind of work you love doing even if it fails then, you’re on the right track.

“If it’s work, the instinct is to do less of it. Why ask for more?”

“If you’re playing a game, on the other hand, then the goal is to keep playing.”

– Seth Godin

What are you doing to stay in the game? What one thing can you do everyday that will positively impact your music career?

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