Oh so you don't want to work for a band? I'm making it more about money than passion? I'm destroying the dreams of CHILDREN?! What an injustice I have done to the youth of today! How dare I speak the truth as I know it. It's not like I have been touring/playing/working in music in some capacity since 2003 or anything. What the fuck would I know about it (and there it is, my first use of the common fallacy of "Appeal to Authority"...dammit.)
Fear not, I am here to appease my dissenters. You wanna talk dreams? You wanna know what it takes to "make it" as a band? You wanna trade stability in your 30's for a real good time in your 20's? I'M YOUR GUY! You see, I AM a dreamer. I'm one of the fucking idiots. I say that with pride, not bitterness or regret (well maybe some regret, like when the only meal I can afford is a Big Double tray from Cookout. That's actually not such a bad thing. That shit is delicious). I am still dreaming to this day. Dreaming that I can make it as a drummer in Nashville. Dreaming that I can make it as a writer. Dreaming that I won't HAVE to resort back to Tour Managing or worse, selling Insurance (which is the equivalent of being dead according to one commenter).
It's going to be a little difficult for me to speak to exactly what it takes to make it in 2015, but I'm going to do my best to apply some ideas that should be universal regardless of time period or state of the music industry as a whole. Let's do this:
1. BE A DREAMER
When I told my parents I wanted to quit playing baseball, and then eventually drop out of college to go be in a band and go on tour, they were less than thrilled. After all, this WAS a pretty fucking stupid idea. But, I had a dream. A vision for what I wanted my life to look like. For me that was, go on tour, get signed to Tooth and Nail, and never have to do anything else other than play drums to make money. I achieved my dream to the tune of like 75%. I did make some money, but you know not enough to like retire or some shit. I said fuck the naysayers, I can do this. And to some extent, I did. Which brings me to my next point...
2. FUCK THE NAYSAYERS
If you read my last post about pursuing a career working FOR bands instead of being IN a band, and THAT crushed your dreams and made you give up? Well then my point is proven. You don't have what it takes. You have to be able to filter out those that will tell you it's impossible to have a career playing music. It made me SO happy to see a kid say - "Great post, BUT I'M NOT QUITTING". FUCK YES!! I love that shit. I want to see that kid make it. I'm trying to clear the way for guys like him. If all the pussies get bummed after they read about me telling them to quit their band and then actually quit their band, that opens up some "market share" for those that are dedicated and can't be stopped by a grumpy dude like me. I seriously, genuinely want success for those that are willing to put it all on the line.
3. PUT EVERYTHING ELSE ON THE BACK BURNER
For me this meant relationships, friendships, family, college, back up plans, birthdays, weddings, funerals, financial stability and physical health (because of all the fast food ya know?). In 2003 it was drop everything and go on tour. You know when As Cities Burn started getting harder to pursue and manage? When people started getting married and going back to college and working on their back up plans. I'm not saying you can't be married and be in a band, I'm just saying that is a damaging variable to the formula. The more commitments you introduce into your life, the harder your music career will be to pursue. Back up plans are probably smart, but there is something to be said for HAVING to make something work. It's a mental thing. This band HAS to work because there is nothing else. This was a reality for pretty much everyone in As Cities Burn for at least the first few years. We were all on the same page...
4. PICK THE RIGHT PEOPLE TO DO IT WITH
If everyone is not on the same page as far as commitment and long term goals, you are setting yourself up for total failure. Bands break up every day for this reason, among many others. You must understand how difficult it is to get a few like minded people with a common goal to execute a plan. Now throw in the whole variable of actually creating art that people care about and the likely hood of a successful foray into the music industry becomes a crap shoot. If you can't find the right people, go in on your own and retain control of everything. Hire people as needed along the way. Control over your art and destiny is not to be undervalued.
5. STICK WITH IT
It's going to take awhile to find success in music. Whether that be as a band, or maybe a songwriter in Nashville, or just a pop singer. I never made a penny off my band until after one year of touring. The payout? It was something like $85. I have been taking criticism that I am only making it about the money. I take offense to that. I never did it for money. There was no money for a long time. But yes, in the end I wanted it to be my job, not just my passion. I have stuck with it in some shape, form, or fashion and I still generate income because of my musical talents to this day as well as creating art that I am still proud of.
Look, I'm really hoping to just save some people from themselves maybe. When you are 19 years old, you are pretty fucking stupid. I am 32 and I am still pretty fucking stupid. Dropping out of college to pursue music is not solid advice to give anyone. I would never tell someone to do that. That's like criminally negligent or something. I absolutely cherish my experiences making music for a living, and touring. All the good and the bad. I would not trade it. I experienced so many wonderful things since I quit everything else in life in 2003 and made myself a slave to music. I am happy.
So whatever it is you hope to accomplish in music, I say good luck to you. I want to see people be successful. But if you are reading this blog, I am going to be brutally fucking honest with you about what I think. Key words there - WHAT I THINK. Take what is beneficial to you and leave the rest. Comment and discuss. Tell me to fuck off, but please don't take me too seriously. I'm having fun. Love you guys...errr most of you guys.