The music industry implies certain lifestyle choices. Lifestyle choices that you need to be aware of before diving in. I wanted to touch on this this week because Pallbearer are sleeping in my living room right now and that’s one of the main things that we have been talking about. For better or for worse, when you’re in music, choices that you made as a teenager are going to alter your life, and force you to recalibrate goals that everyone around you said you should have growing up. This doesn’t mean you need to completely deny those goals, but you need to realize that when you embrace this life you are setting yourself up for an alternative path that has no real pedagogical background and is instead based on your ability to improvise and get stuff done.
One of my personal struggles is that a bunch of choices I made when I was 17 have gone on to permanently alter my life. I’ve become a dude who is on the road for months out of the year and there is nothing I can do to change that. I don’t regret any of it necessarily but it certainly opened me up to some existential struggles that I never realized I was going to have to face. Odds are – if you’re trying to do this for real then you are going to find yourself in a similar situation. This is because the music industry, when approached seriously, is more than just a full time job, it’s almost more of a psychological disorder that forces you to work nonstop and grind away until maybe, just maybe you find a way to make just barely enough money to live off of. In other words, the poverty line? Well that’s the goal.
That’s what you are seeing, with the decentralization of music, more and more people moving from hip and happening cities to the suburbs, or even really rural parts of the world. The amount of money you can save is insane, and when you have the choice between living in New York City and hemorrhaging money on rent and bills versus paying a third of that to live in a more mundane environment… Well it seems fairly obvious what kind of choice you should be making. Especially if your work is exclusively online, as is with so many music industry professionals. While there certainly are merits to living in the city (I certainly don’t plan to leave anytime soon) one needs to keep these things in mind and remember that the ‘burbs are always an option. And this is only the beginning of the lifestyle changes brought on by music.
To list all of the changes music brings on would be a Sisyphean task, but what you do need to know is that I never thought I would break as many laws, have as many friends who were addicts, and drink quite as much as I do if had never gotten into this in the first place. Toss in the late nights, early mornings and perpetual singleness (Although there are a nice handful of hookups with groupies balancing this one out) and you start to get a sense for how painful this can be. Am I complaining? No. There are a lot of great things that come from this lifestyle too, not just the seemingly perpetual gift that is free pizza (And boy, there is a lot of free pizza) you get to meet people from all over the world and develop new interests with folks who truly ‘get it’. It’s just that there’s a lot of downsides, physically, emotionally and mentally you are going to have to deal with.
Don’t take this as a letter of discouragement, I regret nothing about dropping out of college to do this. Its just that you nee to be aware that surviving in music require a very specific personality type. It requires being willing to think long term. In many ways you have to, because falling asleep drunk on yet another strangers floor? Well that doesn’t seem like a good time at all, unless you can couch it in the hope of something greater. So yes your diet will be shitty, probably for the rest of your life, and you need to ask yourself – is that worth it as compared to the benefits? For a lot of people it is not, and that’s fine, you can still interact with music, but it’s probably better if you back off from doing it full time.
This is one of the main messages I seek to get across with this blog – that you need to weigh things out before diving into them. This is an industry that requires a lot of heart an the willingness to suffer a lot. Odds are if you dive into the music industry you are going to be in pain almost non stop and the easiest way to fix that will be the cheap beer people keep buying you. Of course… I think you can see how this becomes a massive problem further down the line, and explains why so man musicians become burnouts. You need to be careful going forward, but I know you can do it. Just walk with knowledge and a touch of grace.
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