Artist Advice Column: How To Quit That Side Job & Do Music Full Time Pt. 1

Going music full time is what you always wanted to do. Here are a few questions you need to ask yourself before doing so and a few solutions to make sure you are successful.
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It is almost time to wrap up 2017 and that means taking stock of the year, what happened, what didn’t happen, and how to grow into 2018. It is also a period where people come up with New Year’s resolutions. Most of them are as futile as ever like actually starting to go to the gym regularly, or reading more or whatever else you wish you did, but will probably only do sparingly. However for your music career it can be time to plot goals for 2018 and dreaming big is not a crime. Having a five-year plan is always a good idea if you are serious about the business, but figuring out how to approach your next year is just as important. If you are still work a side job and want to take that next step for going full-time with your music career, we have a few tips for you to take the plunge.

1. Why Are You Doing This?

It may seem like a simple question, but an important one. Almost everyone likes music, but do you truly love music? Is it what you want to make a career out of? Are you willing to deal with the business side of things and put in the long, grueling hours it will take to make it? Are you willing to accept that failure is an option or the fact you may not be selling out arenas at any point in your career? If you don’t know why you want to do this, you can’t expect anybody else to want to go along with you.

2. Have some savings:

This is pretty vital. Quitting will likely mean there isn’t some big severance package waiting for you on the other side, so you will need some money to fund your life as you go pro. You will hopefully have some income from music already (more on that later), but rent, food, car payments, insurance, cell phone bills, student debt, clothes and any other extra spending you may need will need to be covered. You don’t realize how quickly your money disappears when your primary source of income is lost. So make sure you have some decent savings saved up. During those last several months of working your job, instead of going out for food, cook more. Stay in a few more times. Don’t get that one extra drink at the bar. Don’t buy that extra pair of sneakers or jacket. Save your money because you will need it later.

3. Make Sure Your Team Is As Committed As You Are:

If you are in a band, make sure they are willing to take the plunge with you. One exception may be if you are a frontman and write all of the music and then just require players to come in and record and tour. However if this is a team effort, make sure everyone is on the same page and ready to commit. Also know that you have the same level of commitment from your manager, agent and / or publicist (if you have them). They don’t need to quit their side job as well because they may not be able to sustain themselves if you are their only client, but make sure they will still be able to run through that figurative wall for you.

4. Make sure all of your music is available to stream and buy:

Don’t just quit your job cold turkey without having your music available to world. If you are quitting your job, lay the groundwork first with your music. If people can’t find your music online, they won’t be able to stream and download it. This will be an important part of your revenue stream (albeit likely a small one), but vital to promoting yourself and getting booked. Getting your music on these services isn’t difficult. We have covered it before, but just find the distributor that fits your needs and you can get your music out to the world. If you are serious about making music your source of income, just having it on Bandcamp, YouTube or SoundCloud won't enough. Have it on iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and every other service you can. You will be able to find more fans on these different services and the more chance you have of going viral there.

5. Are you ready for this musically?

This may be another obvious question, but an important one. As an artist you will always be improving, learning and growing. Perfection is something you aspire for. If you think you are going to need another five years to get your craft to the level where you can start playing shows and putting out somewhat commercially viable albums, don’t quit that job. You should be ready to tour and have music you are incredibly proud of. Don’t make music just to sell it – believe in your vision and the fans and money will come, but if you think you are too far off from fulfilling your vision, then hold on to that job. This also goes for your bandmates if they are helping to write your music and perform. You don’t want any stragglers. 

See past artist advice columns here and see how SoStereo can help you with music licensing here

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