How to deal with a day job?

HipshotPercussion

Senior Member
I'm not one to advise anybody else about how to deal with their day job because I've never had one. All my life I've been obsessed with two things, playing drums and writing books/TV/films/whatever. So obsessed that I could never give up even a moment of my life working at anything else.

The good side of my intensity is that in my "childhood" I worked/played with some seminal bands and met people I never thought I'd get to know - Andy Warhol, Jim Morrison, etc. - and my friendships with those people helped me get the early writing gigs that turned into a long showbiz, particularly television, career. In a sense, being a musician was my beginning day job.

The bad side of my total inability to diffuse my focus and play well with others is that I've burned my way through multiple marriages, alienated 2 out of 5 of my kids so much that we haven't seen or talked to each other in a decade, and lost/blown/walked out on more money than I ever believed it possible to be offered, or to have slapped into my hands.

Back when I was starting out, I looked around at "old people" and noticed that all of them had regrets about their lives. I vowed to myself that if I was doomed to regret things I would at least live so that I regretted what I'd done and not what I hadn't done. At this point in my life, a day doesn't go by when I don't think about the personal price I've paid for everything I've had and wished I'd been a more giving/loving/caring and, most of all, responsible human being.

In other words, I can't tell you how often I've wondered what it would have been like to live the life the O.P. here is questioning - and how much I've envied people who could live that way.

A psychiatrist friend once put it to me this way: "If you could've lived any other way, you would have. We all do our best, but we are who we are." DrumDoug, the way I see it, you're a man with a lot of powerful positives that you personally created. In other words, you've made yourself into one enviable son of a bitch.

I salute you.
 

kettles

Gold Member
You hate your job, so get a new job. Put some effort into applying for different jobs, seeking out employers you'd like to work for, maybe even invest in some professional help with your resume and job interview success if you think it would help.

I'm lucky that I get around 3 hours of downtime at my job, which I usually spend on a practice pad, however I only get about two days a week. That's enough to cover my bills, and I make a little from teaching and occasional paid gigs, but I'll never save enough to go overseas or even think of buying a house. Right now I have just finished a course in finance, and looking for a finance/accounting job, something I have no experience with and not sure if I will follow it for long but I feel the need to set myself up with a career that pays ok, and in reasonable demand.

If I were willing to take on any gigs that came my way, I could probably get by with music full time. But I have other life goals besides drumming that I would be missing out on, goals which all require a considerable pile of bills.
 

bigiainw

Gold Member
Hey guys,

I appreciate all the encouraging comments. I more or less came to terms with the fact that I will never play for a living a while ago. I think that part that gets to me is the fact that I hate my job. And most people hate me for my job. I work at the DMV. Yes I know I suck. I get told this by customers using colorful adjectives everyday. :) I wish my job was more flexible so that I could play more. I have had the opportunity to play with casino level bands, but I need to be able to take off work for a few day at a time, and that's just not an option. Monday thru Friday, 8 -5. Period. The DMV has part time positions, but they all work 34, 36 hours a week. The state just calls them part time to save money on benefits. And you don't have a fixed schedule. You must be available 8-5, Monday thru Friday. With the unemployment rate so high, it's kind of scary to quit a stable job with benefits and retirement and look for some kind of part time work. We could live on what my wife makes, it would be tight, but we could do it. I am just leary of giving up my retirement and medical benefits. I just hate the fact that I have to spend most of my waking hours in a job I don't like, being told how much people don't like me for it, and my passion has to be relagated to a hobby on the weekends. I know I'm just whining, but I thought you guys might be more understanding than my wife. :)
It all depends how you look at things. Maybe I've been lucky in that I have not really planned my life as such and simply taken the opportunities when they arose. I have a good day job that interests me and keeps me thinking, I have a brilliant family with my wife and kids, I have enough money, a big enough house, a nice enough car, a new drum kit that I can play well enough and a great bunch of mates that I play enough "good enough"gigs with and strangely, apart from my very early drumming career, I've never had any desire to do this as my full time occupation- it's my passion and my hobby, not my career, because the other things I wanted were equally as important- stability, security and a family that I saw every day.

Now I could choose to see all of those elements in a negative way, but I don't. I've had my fair share of negatives in my life including the odd tragedy that I could have allowed to destroy me, but I didn't because, if you have your health and a family and friends to support you, then anything else can be overcome.

So if you don't like your life, do something about it. Whining in here will only make you dig a deeper hole for yourself and it sounds as if only your eyes are showing as it is. You are the only one who can change things for you. Change your job or change your outlook- you decide.

And as for your wife, she is clearly more understanding than you give her credit for- I'd have left you by now!!
 

bigd

Silver Member
I curious to know. What do most people consider playing drums for a living? You don't mean playing in a band that plays bar gigs with no paycheck and no insurance do you? I know several professional percussionists/drummers and none of them play in bars.
 
R

RenaissanceMan

Guest
Sounds like a rather easy thing to solve really. I you aren't skilled enough now, or won't be ever, to make a living wage from your passion (drums in this case), then a day job is a reality of life. Embrace it, make it work.........deal with it. Sorry, but, good grief.
 

inneedofgrace

Platinum Member
Larry mentioned keeping things in perspective. So I wonder how people from previous generations would react to this thread. Just think of all the people that worked really hard in a coal mine their entire life. Or on a farm. Or in a sweatshop factory. Would they feel any empathy or sympathy for a drummer struggling to make career/job choices today?

I think the current generations are spoiled in many ways. Although the world is in turmoil, right now no one is getting drafted into armed forces and sent involuntarily into war, like they were back in the Vietnam era (or earlier). Those people didn't have a choice about their careers - they were all put on hold.

When I was young and wanted to start playing drums, my parents couldn't afford to buy them. My father was a school teacher and had to work two other jobs just to feed and clothe the family. Now teachers make a pretty decent living (in most cases).

Today I have to decide not whether I can afford drums, but which brand and color to buy. My kids don't want for much. They each have TVs with cable, laptops, internet, etc right in their own bedroom. They both got cars when they were around 17 (I gave them my hand me downs, and they both work and pay for the gas.maintenance). I didn't own a car until after I graduated college, and then it was a crappy old one that I paid $400 for.

Many people say that you should get a career that you are going to love. I think it is pretty rare to find a career that you love, that allows you to enjoy life as a whole. My career has been up and down for the last 25 years. There were times I wanted to pack it in. But I stuck with it and now I have made it all the way up to the position of VP in the corporation. Do I love my job? Certainly not every day or every week. But I like it enought, and it affords me the opportunity to enjoy other things I love to do in life.

I encourage both my daughters to seek a career they may have a passion for. BUT - be practical and try to find something that will allow you to support a family in the future. I've never been one to subscribe to the mindset that a starving artist is really happy inside. I think not only should you like what you do, but have the taste of success in doing what you like. I could never just make music I love, and never have anyone else listen to it or enjoy it. That would give me little satisfaction. I feel fulfilled that I have a good career, and that I am able to support my family and build up to a point where I can enjoy retirement. Too many of the people I know love their jobs, but have no savings, no money for their kid's college, massive credit card (and other) debt, and have no plan for eventual retirement. I don't envy that situation.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
I curious to know. What do most people consider playing drums for a living? You don't mean playing in a band that plays bar gigs with no paycheck and no insurance do you? I know several professional percussionists/drummers and none of them play in bars.
It depends on the player and their situation. I can't think of any acquaintances who do just bar gigs for a living, but I know plenty of pros who are frequently seen playing bars/clubs as part of their musical diet. They do it for a few reasons: it's a little extra money they probably don't have to declare, "gas money" if you will, it's often a chance to play a style of music they don't do on other gigs, and most importantly, they simply love to play.

Those early Motown guys used to record all day and play in jazz clubs all night. They didn't do it because they needed the money - they were in fact paid a handsome salary back in the day - they just loved playing. Also in their case, it was a chance to cut loose and play jazz after a long day 'working for the man' and cutting commercial R&B "pop songs".

All of us in Al's band have other projects and pursuits when we're not on tour. It's not that we're scrounging for money... we just love playing. There's no way I'm gonna sit around and not play with other musicians for months at a stretch between Al gigs. We had a one week break during the fall leg, and I took 3 local gigs with 2 bands! Finished the tour on the 12th, I had a gig on the 13th and more that week.

Sometimes, ya just gotta play. Or as the thespians say, "I am an actor... I act."

And that brings us back to Doug's situation somewhat. Play because you love it and it's something you do. Play because it's a release from the drudgery of your particular job. And be glad you have the financial means to play, without your entire life depending on a handful of gigs. There are plenty of players who would kill to be in your shoes.

Bermuda
 

inneedofgrace

Platinum Member
IAll of us in Al's band have other projects and pursuits when we're not on tour. It's not that we're scrounging for money... we just love playing. There's no way I'm gonna sit around and not play with other musicians for months at a stretch between Al gigs. We had a one week break during the fall leg, and I took 3 local gigs with 2 bands! Finished the tour on the 12th, I had a gig on the 13th and more that week.

Sometimes, ya just gotta play.
That brings up an interesting point. I just watched the Tom Petty documentary last night, and there was a point where the Heartbreakers were constantly touring for about 5 years straight. When they came off the road for a couple years, everything started falling apart for the band members, because they weren't playing together as much and extraneous things and people popped into their lives. They were much better off as a tight nit group that was playing together constantly.
 

swiNg

Senior Member
i hate my clients, their rambling about nothing, and their total lack of self-perception kills me. must i do this for 30+ years now? nodding my head and going to sleep. jesus.
 

Nuka

Senior Member
I'm a student in universty. No job.

I'm more one on how to deal with my drumming. fitting in practice around essays, research and more.
 

bigd

Silver Member
It depends on the player and their situation. I can't think of any acquaintances who do just bar gigs for a living, but I know plenty of pros who are frequently seen playing bars/clubs as part of their musical diet. They do it for a few reasons: it's a little extra money they probably don't have to declare, "gas money" if you will, it's often a chance to play a style of music they don't do on other gigs, and most importantly, they simply love to play.

Those early Motown guys used to record all day and play in jazz clubs all night. They didn't do it because they needed the money - they were in fact paid a handsome salary back in the day - they just loved playing. Also in their case, it was a chance to cut loose and play jazz after a long day 'working for the man' and cutting commercial R&B "pop songs".

All of us in Al's band have other projects and pursuits when we're not on tour. It's not that we're scrounging for money... we just love playing. There's no way I'm gonna sit around and not play with other musicians for months at a stretch between Al gigs. We had a one week break during the fall leg, and I took 3 local gigs with 2 bands! Finished the tour on the 12th, I had a gig on the 13th and more that week.

Sometimes, ya just gotta play. Or as the thespians say, "I am an actor... I act."

And that brings us back to Doug's situation somewhat. Play because you love it and it's something you do. Play because it's a release from the drudgery of your particular job. And be glad you have the financial means to play, without your entire life depending on a handful of gigs. There are plenty of players who would kill to be in your shoes.

Bermuda
Thanks for the reply Bermuda,

That's really what I think people here should see. Playing as a pro and making a living isn't done in bars and when I read a board like this that's what people seem to think. The pro's I know are symphony players who play in the symphony and if they choose teach on the side or do recording sessions. I also know a couple of percussion professors who will do fill ins for the symphony or take a contract gig for a road production of a broadway play if it comes to town. I know one professional drumset player who was a symphony timpanist and now plays drumset in the top marine band. He gigs the White House.

BigD
PS I'm sitting next to my 14 year old son who is a monstrous huge fan of Al's work. He absolutely loves him.
 

bermuda

Drummerworld Pro Drummer - Administrator
Staff member
That brings up an interesting point. I just watched the Tom Petty documentary last night, and there was a point where the Heartbreakers were constantly touring for about 5 years straight. When they came off the road for a couple years, everything started falling apart for the band members, because they weren't playing together as much and extraneous things and people popped into their lives. They were much better off as a tight nit group that was playing together constantly.
That's another reason we play between tours - to keep our skills up. For most musicians, practicing alone isn't the same as playing with others. Music is a 'team sport'. I owe it to all of my bands to stay in shape as a player. Playing with Al makes me fresh for my local groups, and playing locally keeps my stamina and skills up for touring.

Bermuda
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I suspect that a WHOLE LOT of people can feel your pain. I understand and appreciate the honesty in your words.

I went thru that phase when I was 29. The only thing that kept me at my job(s) besides the mortgage payment was the thought that I was more than a droid in sector 7G. I was a musician dammit.

I think your problem is job related not drum related. You were hoping that the drums would get you out of your crap job and now you are way deep in it.

LIfe can be a depressing pit of blah blah blah but the good news is that we can alter our perception of it. People do all kinds of things to deal with their mundane existance. Find something you are good at and use it to trick yourself into thinking you are special. It works for me :)
 

mxo721

Senior Member
I also have a "government" job doug..part of my torture is, every morning at 10:33, as I drive down Del Norte..in Oxnard, I glance to the right....sigh...yup, the DW factory.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I noticed that those who made a living out of my old crowd were those who'd quite their day job ... not all but none of those who didn't dare to starve got there.

This is in the late 70s and early 80s - a very different climate now. The music scene was much more open for gigging musicians than it is now. However, some people make it via home recording and YouTubing.

Have to agree with MX about jamming, recording and gigging ... IMO the crap you go through to gig without roadies is rarely worth it, especially if you have an already busy lifestyle.

If you're doing a day job it helps massively if you're trained up and can find something that's at least tolerable with a decent boss. Job flexibility is a bonus.

Working in a job dealing with the feral general public is a recipe for burnout, no matter how you spend your out-of-work hours, unless you have an unusually calm and stoic disposition. Meditate ...
 

JRannefeld

Member
Yes!! Great advice Bermuda. Roy Haynes is 86 and still plays. My friend Ernie Durawa is about to turn 69 and still plays. Too me, drumming is a lifelong pursuit as long as you can stay healthy...




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
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
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?

Life is one big disappointment until you achieve the sweet release of death. If you are lucky, you will get hit by a bus on the way to the factory and won't feel a thing.
 
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