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Artist Advice Column: How To Quit That Side Job & Do Music Full Time Pt. 2

If you have a plan, quitting that side job to do music full time doesn't have to be so scary.
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New Year’s Eve is just two days away so it is time to come up with those New Year’s resolutions. Good luck keeping those binding resolutions, but we want to help you make a potential goal of yours possible – quitting that side job to make music a full-time reality. We already dive into the topic earlier this month and with 2018 just a stones throw away, we will give you the tools and mindset to make this a reality.

Do you have enough music ready to be demoed or released?

If you are ready to go full-time with your music career, you need to have plenty of music ready as well. You hopefully have some sort of distribution deal in place and have released music in the past either through a label or some on your own, so this process won’t be totally new to you. When you are ready to go full-time, in addition to perfecting your craft and writing more music, there should be something you are releasing or giving to a label.

If you are planning on approaching labels to shop your music around, this will take a while to get something signed, scheduled, marketed and released. Make your end of the bargain is done first. If you are DIY and handling most of the release on your own with a distributor, the schedule will be much more condensed. Make sure you aren't going out into the world empty handed. 

Do you have a tour planned or is one in the works?

Unless you are one of the unicorns in the music business, selling your music won’t make you much money. You can line up some syncs (how to do that another time) with a company like SoStereo, but more than likely, you will need to get your income from live shows and touring.

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If you have music ready to go and are about to sign it or release it, then a tour should be on hand as well. If you are ready to go music full time, then you have probably done shows at most of the small venues in your area and traveled to do some gigs as well. Using those connections and some further reach out with your existing music and upcoming music, you could put together a pretty good tour for you and your group. It may not be glamorous or incredibly profitable, but getting yourself out there in front of fans is invaluable to selling more music, growing your fanbase and getting more shows in the future. If you can’t tour, you likely won’t be able to make it in the business, so having something set up when you start full-time is important.

What is your one year, five year career plan?

This is something you should have if you are serious about making it as a musician, regardless of your intentions to quit a side job or not. However it becomes even more paramount to have a career plan if going full-time in the music industry is your intention. There will be unexpected deviations, for better or for worse, along the way and you can’t always plan for every outcome, but being as prepared as possible is smart.

So that means knowing how much music you will need in the next year. Knowing your potential tour plans in the next year. Plan out what your goals are for the next five in terms of amount of releases, what types of venues you want to play, artists you might want to work with, festivals you want to play, syncs you want to get, while creating a strategy for how those might happen with benchmarks along the way. It isn’t sexy, but it is critical to long term success in music.

Have a set revenue stream:

This sounds obvious, but it is important. At this point we have gone over having your music available online to buy and stream, having a plan for the future and having music ready to be signed or released. But if you are going to eliminate your main source of income, there needs to be some money coming in from music as well so you don’t go broke in a year. You should have some decent savings, but that runs out surprisingly quickly.

With your music online and some other revenue from merchandise, potential syncs and the odd gig, you should have a goal for the amount of money you are making each month. If this is going to support a full band, then that number needs to be a little higher. Align this with a budget and your career goals and you should have a rough outline of the monthly revenue you need. 

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