Disclaimer: the following is not intended to diagnose or cure any personal problems and is intended for your boredom only. I urge all of you to seek professional help for what ails you.
Its been a while since my last post regarding road life. Primarily because I've been engaged in, well.....road life and home life. We've been all over the map and back and planning for more. While I have enjoyed some amazing sights, hikes and good company from north to south recently that I'd like to share with you all, right now I'm inspired to write a bit more on the logistics of road life and being a musician/artist.
I think it is important to address the elephant in the room. So many musicians would rather continue on with their heads in the sand, pretending the perils of their careless behavior will not catch up with them. But it will... and personal finances must be addressed! I think most people I know would rather discuss STDs. It's ok. We can get through this. If you'd rather look at pictures from our adventures, scroll down!
Money and Goals for Musicians 101
As I've said before, I'm not wealthy but the fact that I haven't come from money gives me at least SOME credentials on surviving in this world and keeping the lights on even if I am a work in progress. Finances go hand in hand with the musician's shadow - anxiety. If your finances can at least be cordial with your goals it will go a long way to assuage that stress.
I’m going to make this a series of posts. First, I'll zoom out a bit and discuss goals, then, zoom in and get to the nitty gritty tough love of finances for believers and backsliders and then more practical, specific measures.
Part One - Make a Map
1) Know your point A. Take a lucid look at your bank account, your income, your savings (wha?), your bills, your credit score. Write it all down and don't despair, be empowered. Nothing is permanent. Hopefully, in doing this, you will uncover issues you want to work on immediately. A personal inventory is important, too.
2) Know where you are going. There are endless books about goal setting if you need in depth help here, and they aren't all lame. For now, though, what is it that you want to accomplish? Do you want to be a full time musician/artist, part time, go on a monthlong tour, tour regularly, play a half dozen shows a year? Quit your day job? Own a home? Be financially independent? Debt free? Its a lot to think about. If you aren't sure what you want, literally --- give yourself time to just think about it often and not just for 10 minutes.
If you have an overwhelmingly huge goal, break it down into bite sized bits. To sound trite, think in terms of specifics that are challenging but realistically possible to start. Why? You need clarity and possibilities to motivate you. Fear is a fickle motivator and may send you running. You have to be all in with your goal or you will flounder. If you don't believe in it enough you won't likely work for it; If you don't have a destination you are willing to work for, plan to be absorbed into someone else's plans.
Once you know where you are and where you want to go, challenges will emerge along with inspiration. That just means your brain is working. YAY! Now you have a list of concerns to address.
3) Prepare to count the cost. If you have a lifestyle full of comforts that you are not willing to give up - ever - and a job that pays for them, you might want to adjust your expectations, destination or routing accordingly. I know extremely talented people that have never believed in themselves or their dream enough to do what it takes to pursue it; some people fear tightening their belt for nothing, or are afraid to give up the certainty of a weekly paycheck. If that’s the case or, if you don’t want to work harder to invest in your dream as required, revisit #2 and make some adjustments.
If you have a huge wad of cash collecting dust that makes "having it all" possible, or a spouse, parent or uncle with deep pockets, that’s great. Learn as much as you can so you can make it count and don't abuse that support. But, if you are like most of us, you should be ready to give up some things and adjust your lifestyle to pursue your goal. If you aren't willing to count the cost, it may be the wrong dream or it may be a fantasy. Dreams are not the same as fantasies.
4) Put the effort in...If your goal is to making a living off music, but you aren't putting in full time effort, you are relying on luck. It’s unlikely that a major label artist or record exec will wander onto your social media page, or into the local corner bar you are playing, at one of your 6 gigs a year (where you arrived late and unprepared) looking for your amazing tone to sprinkle fairy dust on them and make you both rich. If your idea of being a full time musician means not having to work, I have nothing for you. If the effort makes you feel like a complete and miserable martyr, revisit #2.
5) Set specific financial goals to coincide with your personal goals. Some ideas that are a good place to start; set aside money for 6 months of bills, eliminate your credit card debt, halve you living expenses, save to pay cash for a major expenditure, save X amount of money to record or for bills before you go on tour, have a million dollars in a retirement account (for real, bro), buy a vehicle you can live and tour out of for a year. Even if you've already decided to take a leap and quit your day job tomorrow, or music has been your gig for years, it’s not a bad idea to set some goals. Time is on your side. Start now.
6) Be fluid and don't hate on yourself. Making mindful decisions and taking control of your life is positive. Don't beat yourself up over mistakes or situations that don't turn out the way you planned. Take notes, make adjustments, learn. Don't throw in the towel because of one failure. Also, new possibilities you never considered may come from forward momentum. Be open and willing to tweak your goals. And, If you have always taken a safe route, let others make your decisions, or have always had a parent or someone there to provide a soft landing, you may not have much of a history of successes, so "failures" may feel devastating. Be kind to yourself. Build a thick skin by taking note of all your successes big and small to look back on and help you gain confidence.
Next up, some tough love on finances.
Midway, Kentucky - Just outside of Lexington last May.
Visiting with the legendary Ike and Tina of Wichita, KS, along with their minion and ace tattoo artist at Ol Crow Tattoo, Mr. Palmer.
Roadside Americana in Kansas sans politics; A Donald with a little something for everyone.