How to deal with a day job?

DrumDoug

Senior Member
Most of us here have dreamed of being a full time musician. Some of us want to be rock stars, and some of us would be happy giving lessons and gigging on the weekends, as long as we were able to pay the bills. I'm about to turn 40 in a little over a month and I have come to the conclusion that my dream is dead. I don't have any asperations to become a rock star, but I always wanted to play for a living. I've just never been good enough. 30 years of practicing and I still suck. I'm probably good enough now that I could play with a small touring band, I'm just too old to sleep in a van with a buch of kids. I just don't know how to resign myself to the fact that I'm going to have to come into this soul sucking day job for the rest of my life. I know I should be grateful that I have a job. I know I should be grateful that I get to play as much as I do, being as bad as I am. To me, coming to work is a black cloud that hangs over my whole life. I find myself unable to enjoy myself when I am off work because the though of going back to my job almost makes me ill. It's not that bad of a job. I shove papers around my desk for the government. I could be digging ditches or flipping burgers. The "Occupy" people around the world are protesting because they don't have what I have. I talked to my pastor about it, and he said it's because I'm an artist. Punching a time clock and doing useless busy work just leaves me feeling empy. I get angry when I think about how much time I spend at work. Between the commute, and lunch, it's 11 hours a day. That's 11 hours a day that have nothing to do with my life and I will never get back. I'm in three bands right now and a fourth and fifth want me to join. I just don't have time and it makes me sick that I have to give up what I love just to pay the bills. I need to quit one of the bands I'm already in so I can see my wife occasionally. But, I don't want to be lying on my death bed and think about how I gave up what drumming oportunities I had in this short life. I feel like a loser because I can't "grow up" and be content going to work and living a "normal" life. I've thought about quiting my job and trying to teach and play for a living, but I just don't think I'm good enough. On top of my playing deficiencies, I'm pretty introverted. The whole social, networking part of it would be hard for me. It just feels to irresponsible. I just don't know how to cope with the fact that I don't have any hopes or dreams anymore. What do I do now?
 

chaymus

Senior Member
Sounds like a midlife crisis. I am not my job, though it takes up a big portion of my life, basically more than sleeping. You can make that 1/3rd of the day worth the rest of it, or you can change vocations, both seem acceptable answers with different risks.

For a long time I've been focused on making my free time my identity and I will admit it has gotten more fulfilling than I anticipated. Part of me does want to change gears and try something new, but giving up security and familiarity is not an easy thing to reckon with.

Good luck.
 

topgun2021

Gold Member
It does sound like a mid life crisis.

Casual drumming is your friend. Find people to play with for fun.

You can alos look into being studio musician if you are aware of local recording studios.
 

larryz

Platinum Member
My best piece of advice is to never "grow up". Make a point of getting outdoors at lunch or bring a practice pad and sticks with you to work and practice at lunch. Somehow involve your wife in your band. Paul McCartney did it :) Or consider teaching children how to play drums. Something to offset the uselessness you may feel at your 9-5 job. I get out of my office and run outdoors daily for an hour. If I didn't have that I'd go crazy.

Appreciate your health and employment, regardless. It allows you to afford to play drums. Look at it that way. Be happy!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
You get to play lot more than I do and I like my job(s). What are you whinin' about?

Seriously though, be thankful with what you have. For every successful musician out there, there has to be hundreds who aren't anywhere close to 'making it'. And I mean that in the sense that these pro musicians actually make enough to pay for health care, retirement, and college educations for their kids, on top of their homes and instruments. In fact, I'm willin' to bet that if you were working as much as a drummer, you'd probably be trying to find a way to stop playing as well (the grass is always greener on the other side, eh? I actually know hard working musicians who just can't wait to stop playing).

I was in the same boat as you a few years ago - the music income was waning and I was going in another direction, and now I like it. Everything seemed to balance out for me - now I can actually say 'no' to absolutely stupid gigs and just take those that I like, and I don't worry about where the food or the mortgage is coming from. There's a thread on here about somebody complaining about the situation with his church band - I was totally in situations like that just to make enough money to pay rent, and that was probably more taxing on me than having a regular job and playing music I like! Try to enjoy your life - there's a silver lining to your dark cloud. You just have to find it ;)
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
He also divorced several times.
Well, this was after Linda passed away. She was the biggest part of his life and the mother of all his children. I don't think his new wives ever realized that they have a supremely tough act to follow.
 

Stoney

Senior Member
I've been having similar feelings to yours but I am still a self employed drummer. Saying that the amount of shit I've been through recently in bands has made me actually want to get a proper job. I'm not much younger than you wither btw.

I agree with the below. Yes a mid-life crises of some sort. For me I've kinda given up with the band thing, just doing sessions now. I'm having itchy feet though but at the same time am very reluctant to get involved with something unless I'm 100% feeling it. Which is why I have taken control of my musical creativity by sitting down and trying to write my own stuff. It really doesn't matter how old you are if you get into the writing/production side of it. Yes perhaps maybe you won't be a rock star ;) there can still be a life for you in music and drumming!

If you enjoy it don't stop... make them come to you instead! Thats my pence worth....
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
I had big dreams of becoming a rock star, but that had almost completely faded by the time I hit my late 20s. My focus became finding career that I thought was interesting, that could pay the bills, and that would allow me to continue playing drums in such a way that I found most enjoyable. For me that means not playing drums in bands whose music I don't absolutely love which also means that I don't allow myself to be driven by money.

I much prefer to keep the playing as play, and kept separate from working as something to pay the bills.
 
A

audiotech

Guest
Start getting use to four or five hours sleep every night. Sometimes it's very difficult juggling three or four jobs. Basically you have to put everything into perspective. Most musicians aren't able to make enough money to live comfortably just doing that for a living. I was very fortunate being able to do what I love and I never wanted to give any of them up. So for me it is very little sleep and usually taking off most of the day on Sundays to get my head screwed on straight again.

Dennis
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
To the actual topic, it's a tough thing to come to terms with.

It's hard for me because I know of several guys I met 20 years ago who have gone on to success as drummers, while I didn't. That hurts on top of just plan failing. Heck, I know of one kid I helped out, and showed some things to that is now touring behind a major act.

I know a few who are my age who are doing it, and when I hang wit them, it's tough to know I'm not on their level. But it's tough life, because sure, they get paid well when their on the road, but in between gigs, they don't have much money coming in. Things like family and health insurance are big issues to deal with when there is so much instability. I, at least, have those going for me.

On the other side, out of ALL the drummers I went to school with back at PIT, and all the other guys I met 20+ years ago who where on the way to something, it's only a small handful that made it, less than 1%. I know of plenty of guys who have (had) incredible abilities but aren't any better off than I am working a desk job. The music business i littered with people who could have had success, but for one reason or another, didn't. I had a buddy who got signed to a HUGE record deal with Warner Brothers, only to have the CD end up in the 99 cent bin due to unforeseen record company politics, and essentially ended his drummer career. And those stories are far more common than the the stories of the guys who make money at it.

The upside is just because you give up trying to make a living as a drummer doesn't mean you have to stop being a drummer. You can still play in bands, write music, put together a studio. I write my own music (slowly). It's not as glamorous as showcasing in front of labels, but it's very rewarding on a personal level.

One thing that brings a smile to my face is someone once said to me "at least your tried. You moved out here (LA) and did it. The fact the band didn't make money isn't the important part. Think about all the people sitting at home who dream about making it , but never leave the house." And this part is true. I may have never turned a profit from playing, and I may still not be a very good drummer, but I have a lot of stories to tell of my mis-adventures from showcasing in front of every record company in the world, to meeting all sorts of interesting people, to saying "I was there!" when something interesting happened.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
Day jobs and age are things I discuss in my clinic.

First, 40 is not old. 50 is not old. 60 really isn't old. Take a look at the most revered drummers around - they're not in their 20s or 30s or 40s. I'm talking guys like Vinnie, Bozzio, Gadd, Keltner, etc. the youngest of which is 55 or 56 (Vinnie.) I understand that you're concerned about getting to 40 and not making a professional splash yet, but it's certainly not 'over' for you.

Second, a career or day job should make playing more joyous. Drumming and making music should be a release from the 9-to-5 thing, and you should look forward to that, whether it's once a week or once a month. Be glad that you have a steady income that allows you to have the equipment you want and not worry too much about head and stick expenses.

Third, networking with other players isn't really a special skill. It's often very passive, sometimes your name & email scribbled on a napkin at the local jam. I've done a ton of gigs as a result of hanging out at the Thursday night blues jam. Even if your local jam seems goofy, remember that there are often working players there who might be impressed with your playing.

Fourth, treat jams and gigs like auditions. Be on your best behavior and play appropriately as if people are watching. Because, they are. Other players assess what you do and file it away in their minds for future reference. Even other drummers need to know you can play, in case they need to find a sub now and then. So don't treat a jam as a place to show-off or cut loose. Show others that you have workable, real-world approach to playing (assuming you do!)

Fifth, you may indeed be going through a mid-life crisis, but try not to let it get the best of you. A more objective perspective on what you do have will do wonders for your outlook.

Bermuda
 

Stoney

Senior Member
I may have never turned a profit from playing, and I may still not be a very good drummer, but I have a lot of stories to tell of my mis-adventures from showcasing in front of every record company in the world, to meeting all sorts of interesting people, to saying "I was there!" when something interesting happened.
Exactly. Life is about experience. When I'm lying on my death bed I want to have stories to tell. I don't think I could ever have that from a 9-5. I have plenty of stories already. i feel grateful for the stories. Life experiences are more valuable than any money at the end of the day!
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
When I started drumming, I was dreaming of going on stage and play for an audience at least once, I did that. Then I wanted to play all over the place in my country (Switzerland), I did that too. Later I wanted to have the experience of a recording studio, I did that, twice. Also, I wanted to have a good reputation as a drummer, I had that (part of three bands at once at one stage). Then I wanted to move to another country, where music was more alive (UK), to be able to live and support myself financially, I tried that, but it was so tough, I had so many auditions with signed bands, but none of them hired me, the "competition" was way much better than me, it was a shock for me back then, so I was back playing with "amateur" bands and kept my day job. I knew then, that it would never happen, sure I would continue to play the drums and enjoy music, but as a "hobby".

I have enjoyed my musical life as well as my day job life so far. And looking back, I'm not sure that not having a solid base, a home, a proper family life, a circle of friends, would have suited me, going on a world tour for 2 years, sleeping in a bus or a hotel every night, far from your family, friends, home, is a tough situation, and you must be absolutely certain that is the path you really want to choose, providing that you have the talent, the dedication and that you are at the right place at the right time.

Have you considered to change your day job, to do something that is in relation to music, working in a drum shop? a Record shop? that way you'll be in touch with music during your day job.
 

Stoney

Senior Member
And looking back, I'm not sure that not having a solid base, a home, a proper family life, a circle of friends, would have suited me, going on a world tour for 2 years, sleeping in a bus or a hotel every night, far from your family, friends, home, is a tough situation, and you must be absolutely certain that is the path you really want to choose
I can't speak for anyone else.. but for me it was the touring which led me to meet my wife and have to eventually have a baby... now a 3 year old whom is the best thing that ever happened to me! So if nothing else, music gave me my son and wife :)
 

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
I can't speak for anyone else.. but for me it was the touring which led me to meet my wife and have to eventually have a baby... now a 3 year old whom is the best thing that ever happened to me! So if nothing else, music gave me my son and wife :)
Hey Stoney

Same thing for me, except that I met my wife in my day job... :))

... and my daughter is 18 years old, now I feel old... ha ha.
 

mxo721

Senior Member
home recording studio ? I played ( guitar/bass/other) many years in bands, I HATED playing live. I always was just into song writing and doing home recordings with friends. I find it way more fun to share the writing recording process with like minded musicians, rather than playing to a bar full of toothless slobbering chain smoking drunk people..( pardon my bitterness)....oh by the way, I'm 48 years old.
 

Toolate

Platinum Member
I wouldnt do anything drastic right away but it would make sense to take stock in what you have and what really is required to make the machine go ($ allow you to live and eat etc).

After that you will be able to make an educated decision to either continue as you are and focus on what makes you happy or maybe change jobs to something that offers more satisfaction (maybe work in a music store) or provides a different kind of satisfaction (I work outdoors and would never give it up) to help with the feelings you have about your job.

Your post was somewhat confused which says to me that you need to reflect on things and really identig=fy the issues and options. Take your time.

I just started drumming at 36 and regret not playing for the 30 years prior every day (alot) so you are lucky to have done what you have and have the bands you do. Take it easy
 

mxo721

Senior Member
oh wait...dis-regard my last post...I see you're in California also, Yeh, you are too old to play drums, you should give em' to me this weekend, after we load the drums into my truck, I'll drop you off at the old folks home ;)
 
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