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The Seven Deadly Sins Of Being A Part-Time Musician


Forgive me, for I have sinned. That is, I’ve committed many deadly sins as a part-time musician.

I have a day job and I make music on the side. And I’ve learned some things about what works and what doesn’t. I’ve learned what actions help or hurt my music career.

So, speaking from experience, here are the seven deadliest sins you can commit as a part-timer.

Using Others As Objects For Your Success

This one is true whether or not you’re a musician. It’s just a rule for being a decent human being. People are people, not steps you can climb to the next level of your idea of success.

But it’s especially important to realize this when music is your side gig. You only have so much time and so many friends. Using them for your benefit is actually going to hurt you in the long-run.

Just be a good person. Enjoy people because they’re people.

Not Working Well With Others

On that note, collaborating is a skill you need to develop. Your fellow musicians are your people. They’re trying to make compelling art and reach success just like you.

So work with them. Be nice. Be honest. Communicate clearly.

Work well with others and they’ll want to work with you again.

Be a poor collaborator and you’ll end up alone, probably in a dank, dark alley somewhere.

Allowing Your Job To Take Over Your Life

I know we all need to make a living (i.e. have a day job). But if that living becomes your life, music will be pushed out of the way. Even if you don’t plan for music to be your career, you don’t want your day job to take over.

If you have no time or energy left in the day to make music, you’re not a part-time musician. You’re someone who used to make music.

Maybe you have a boss with ridiculous expectations. Maybe your company is understaffed. Or maybe you’re working overtime for the money. And I get it. These things may be real for you, but there are still ways to keep the music alive.

All you need is 15 minutes a day to do something music-related. Write a song. Make music on your phone. Email that sync licensing company. You can do these things in just a small window of time.

Coming Up With Excuses To Not Start

Like I said, all you need is 15 minutes to make progress. You’d be surprised at how much you can accomplish in that small amount of time. So, clearly, time is not a good enough excuse to not start doing something.

Maybe you don’t have the energy. Well, try to find 15 minutes earlier in the day before you run out of energy. I’ve been getting up at 5:15 a.m. to do songwriting before I go to work. And it’s been great.

Or maybe you think you don’t have the right equipment. Do you have a smartphone? Yes? Then you have an entire recording studio in your pocket.

Just watch this kid demonstrate how he produces music on his iPhone (including a track for Kendrick Lamar):

My point is that it’s difficult to come up with an excuse to not start making music (unless you don’t actually want to make music).

Comparing Yourself To Others

This is one of the deadliest sins of all. When you start measuring yourself against others, you’re doomed.

You see, everyone has a different picture of success.

My goal is to make a career out of composing and licensing my music for TV and film. But you might want to become a touring artist or a YouTube star or a songwriter for other artists. And even within those career options, everyone has different life experiences that take them different directions.

That’s why comparing yourself to others doesn’t work. It only makes you feel down about yourself, which makes it harder to follow your own goals.

Despising Others For Their Success

If you thought comparison was bad, envy is even worse. It’s one thing to see someone else succeed and wish you had success too. But it’s another thing entirely to despise them for their success.

That’s when you’re in some deep doo-doo.

Envying others for their success leads to bitterness in yourself. And bitterness sucks your energy — mentally, emotionally, and physically. And if you have nothing left for yourself, you’ll never reach your own success.

Thinking You Know It All

Lastly, it’s important to be humble. We all need to realize that none of us know it all. We share a collective consciousness of knowledge, so let’s learn from each other.

You can’t possibly know it all. It’s about time you and I understand this reality.

If you don’t have a learner’s mindset, then, well, you’ll never learn. And you won’t get better as a part-time musician.

You’ll just continue committing these deadly musician sins. And we all know what happens when you don’t repent of your sins…

…That’s right, you end up listening to Nickelback and liking it.

Caleb J. Murphy is a singer-songwriter and music producer based in Austin, Tx., and the founder of Musician With A Day Job, a blog that helps part-time musicians succeed.

FEATURED IMAGE: https://unsplash.com/photos/UHXQXcQqSoM


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About me

About Björgvin Benediktsson

I’m Björgvin Benediktsson. I’m a musician, audio engineer and best-selling author. I help musicians and producers make a greater impact with their music by teaching them how to produce and engineer themselves. I’ve taught thousands of up and coming home studio producers such as yourself how to make an impact with their music through Audio Issues since 2011.

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