Don't "Keep Your Day Job"... Keep Your Job and Build Your Business!There’s a common saying that really irritates me, and I’m sure many of my musician friends can relate. That sentence is, quite simply, “Keep your day job.”

It’s just about the worst advice you could give someone, and worse yet, I’ve heard it come from the mouth of musicians!

It’s the Information Age

Please understand that we’re not in the Industrial Age anymore. The status quo is failing. No longer do we exist in a time where going to school, getting good grades, getting a good job and working really hard assures success. Even historically this wasn’t the case (James Cameron, Thomas Edison, Pablo Picasso, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Coco Chanel, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and many other successful people never even finished school).

Can you make a living in a career? Of course. Can you make a six-figure income in a job? Undoubtedly. The trouble is that you don’t own your job. We live in an age in which CEOs get replaced at the first sign of dishonesty or lack of progress. What makes you special?

Business Mentality

Obviously, you need a job to cover your expenses, but the real question is what are you going to do outside of your 9 – 5? You can get by on your 9 – 5, but what are you going to do to get ahead?

I think most musicians understand this mentality. Most of them have to work a day job to support their careers. If they are financially solvent as individuals, then anything they make from music is gravy.

However, if you don’t have a business mindset, then the money you earn from music is just going towards fried foods and alcohol. I get it. We all like to enjoy the fruits of our labor from time to time.

Even so, delayed gratification is important too. Setting aside the money you earn in a separate chequing account will not only help cover the expenses you incur (strings, drum heads, rentals, etc.), you could even start putting money towards new instruments, marketing, festival submissions and other things you may not be able to pay for at the outset. It just depends how diligent you are in saving.

Ownership is a key component to building your future. Business owners don’t look for instant gratification. They work to produce an asset that continues to bring in an income (preferably passive) long-term. Even if they don’t see immediate results, they continue to pump the pump until the water starts flowing.

Plan B

I think what this all comes down to is having a plan B. That could be a little ambiguous, so let me define it a little further. You should have a plan B in motion. Don’t just put it on the backburner and wait until you lose your job or get a pay cut. Start acting on it now.

It doesn’t matter if you can only put 30 minutes toward your venture on a daily basis. If you’re going to give eight of your best hours to someone else, you can definitely afford to give 30 minutes a day for your own future. If you don’t think that way, you will continue to give the best hours of your life for 40 to 50 years or more and not have a whole lot to show for it later.

Don’t despise small beginnings either. If you can get a business or a venture up and running that produces $2,400 annually ($200 monthly), even what may seem like a small amount is extremely valuable. Practically no one is going to give you a $200/month raise, and from that perspective, you are creating a future that many others aren’t even thinking about.

Author: David Andrew Wiebe

David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.

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