I came across an article recently about what to expect when you're planning on being a full time, professional, old-school musician. I didn't like it.
It felt more like a treatise on how to justify workaholism with a musical skin. According to this proposed lifestyle, I can't hang out with non-musical friends until I've figured out how to run my music business. I can't do book clubs, or whatever, until my music business is supporting me. Apparently, the only way to afford going on tour is to eat nothing but beans in the weeks leading up to my tour schedule.
Here's the thing. I know that I don't really know what I'm doing. I know that the person who wrote the article probably makes a ton more money at their music than I do, or maybe ever will. Maybe my musical journey will look more like a slowly flowing trickle than a waterfall.
But if my music happens alongside a full life, a whole life of a wide range of experiences, than I consider that to be musical success for me. I don't think the primary place of music in our world is for financial gain, although I know it really can lead there. I say that the primary purpose of music is for the wellbeing of humanity; I think it's here to help us live whole, healthy lives.
And yet, the further I get into Music, the more I'm told I'm supposed to embrace a life of endless, frenetic activity, which actually squashes any desire I have to play any music. If my cup is empty, how can I give anything to anyone else?
I had a bit of an 'Aha!' moment recently when I read a newsletter I got from www.thebibleproject.com - they've made it a part of their work environment to be unhurried, to embrace rest. And yet they're very prolific, with lots of quality content out there. One would think an unhurried work environment would lead to little output, right?
So my question is this - what could that kind of philosophy look like for musicians? How can we meet our financial goals, our musical goals, without feeling like we can't ever stop? How do we trust long enough to let the growth happen without always feeling the need to step in? If I pause to rest, does that just mean someone else is going to have to pick up the slack? Or is there a way we all win?
At this point, if this were a movie, you would see a montage of me finding an answer and concluding this little essay with something other than questions. But I'll just say that I'm going to try to find out. We'll see what happens. Stay tuned.