How To

Working A 9-5 And Having A Successful Music Career

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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Working A 9-5 And Having A Successful Music Career

Hello Music Gateway family! I record under the name “John Wallos”, and I have been producing/creating electronic music for roughly 15 years. I have been a part of various projects over the years, but I just started releasing my own music independently for the last year and a half. I started heavily in the indie hip hop scene, and slowly moved into instrumental hip hop, and eventually into Dance/House/Techno music (which is primarily what I release today).

Now, you must be wondering: “Why does any of this matter to me, or why do I even care about this guy?”Well, maybe you couldn’t care less about my story, but we may have more in common than you think.

You probably look in the mirror everyday and see a passionate artist trying to figure out a way to make a living by doing what you love. In an attempt to make your dream possible, you may be working some kind of job unrelated to your art (I call mine a 9 to 5, but it is closer to a 7:30 to 4:30) to support yourself and your family (if you have one). With Apple moving towards a full streaming model, it is only going to be harder to make a living off of music, which is why many of us are Music Gateway members.

So with the direction that the music industry is going in, how do we balance what we want to do (our art), with what we NEED to do (work, and make an income) and make the best of both scenarios? I had to figure it out in real time. I am married with three kids, and I knew once my life started moving in that direction, I was going to need to find some creative ways to continue to pursue my passion. For those who are in the same boat, or who are wondering if it makes sense to pursue their passion with an ‘all or nothing attitude’, I have some suggestions:

Get a job… any job!

If you are of the opinion that the only way to ‘make it’ is to dive right into you passion, and you have no real means of supporting yourself, please rethink your strategy. If you have responsibilities and people to support, that attitude is downright selfish. Some jobs are better than others, but there are some that are more conducive to pursuing your art. If you are at the point in your musical career where you have a small group following, and are doing night gigs, a true day job (9-5) is your best option. Most of the music industry’s networking events happen during the nighttime hours during the work week, so working in the day will free up your evenings for your “other” gig. Having a day job will also be a good way to test how dedicated your are going to be with your craft (more on that later).

Look for creative ways to maximise time, and minimise effort

Once I got married, and had kids, I knew the days of staying up to 2-3 in the morning working on music were over. In order to keep chasing my passion, and fulfil my responsibilities as a husband and parent, I had to find a new way. Technology is the friend of the musician, and over time I was able to discover various smart phone apps that allowed me to create music on the go. This allowed me to create a process and workflow that gave me small windows of time to create that I did not consider before.

mobile music production

Know what you want to accomplish

This may seem self explanatory or obvious, but I struggled with this early on. I was not sure who or what I wanted to be musically, and I was going down the path of what I thought I was supposed to do. Once you have a clear vision of the artist you are trying to be (only you can make that determination), you can then organize your life accordingly. 

Do your research

You need to understand the in and outs of what you are trying to do musically. You not only need to know your craft, but you need to know the business side as well. This is another instance where technology is the musician’s friend. All the information you need is now on the internet. Research publishing and copyright. As the music industry shifts to a full streaming model, I think the future of making any kind of money in music is going to be wrapped up in publishing and liscensing music.

Develop a workflow that works for you

I am probably one of the few independent/DIY artists who still records in a studio, and works with an engineer. To maximize my time in the studio, or if I need to drop something off for my engineer to do, I will have already done a lot of prep and pre-production work at home. I think every artist should know how to use Pro Tools (if you don’t already), and own their own version of Pro Tools  (this is a personal recommendation).

Avid Pro Tools Music Production

Every artist should have an idea of how to “finish” their music or get as close to their vision as possible before they see a recording or mastering engineer. There should be a starting point and an end point for your creative process, and this should eventually develop into a routine or a workflow. Over time, this workflow/routine will enable an artist to fully maximize their time, and be the most productive they can be in short periods of time.

Why am I doing this?…

Balancing the demands of a day job, and the pursuit of your art, will test you. Overnight celebrities do not exist. By the time we have seen them, they’ve already put in years of work and probably put out a ton of projects you’ve never heard of.

There is no short cut. There will be times that you may need to remind yourself why you are doing what you are doing. If you are not driven by a love or passion for creating whatever your art is, you probably won’t last and/or be successful (success to me is subjective, and we can argue what that means in another post).

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Don’t give up!

Don't give up!

This is directly related to my previous point. If your art is something you love and want to do, you will always find a way to keep going. A friend of mine told me, you have to start with one project, and keep building off of that project. 

Develop thick skin…not everyone will like what you are doing, but someone will. You have to be able to move on from criticism and unrealistic expectations.

Another aspect of not giving up is the fact that you never know when your opportunity is coming. You have to sometimes make opportunities for yourself, but you also just have to be ready and prepared for when they come, and you prepare by putting in the work.

Jason is one of Music Gateway’s Game Changer members, with a pervasive catalogue of quality music that you can find here. If you’d like to to join the experienced and talented community that Jason is part of, why not click the button below and take advantage of our 14 day no-strings-attached free trial!

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