Given that everyone seems to be in agreement that the current state of the music business has us all doing things differently (to put it mildly), I've been wondering just how many of us are finding ourselves in the position of having to turn completely outside the industry for work in order to make ends meet? How many of us who have experienced some degree of success in our careers, have had to turn to another field in order to continue earning a living?
This is something I've been trying to write for over a month now, but it's a difficult topic to approach. That's because most of us aren't comfortable facing it. The PR side of our business has taught us the need to always present ourselves and our situation in the best possible light in order to (above all else) protect/promote our reputation. That sometimes requires us to even stretch the limits of truth and reality in the process. We all know that goes on, and we all accept it even when we recognize it, but I feel that it's time for us to get real with each other and be honest about things.
I read a lot of people here saying things like they've had to expand their work into areas they haven't previously been involved in. I haven't heard anyone saying that they've had to get OUT of the industry in order to put food on the table.
I'll admit it. I have had to. And I can't believe I'm the only one. The circumstances of how I got to this place aren't all that important.. maybe the topic for a blog sometime, but not now.
About the only thing I feel I have left to offer this community is my support and encouragement. And so I encourage anyone who is going through the difficult task of dealing with a lack of work to first of all realize that you're NOT the only one this is happening to, and secondly I encourage you to start to accept the reality, and then get support from others who have already been through it. It's too rough to do it on your own.
Knowing what a hard process this is to accept and finally embrace, I feel that if there are others who are going through it, then by me speaking up maybe someone else might have an easier and shorter time processing it than I have.
For me, it has been an ongoing process, and it's been difficult. I'm fine with it now (I still like me), but it has definitely been a growth experience. The things that go through your head when you're faced with having to leave your chosen career of twenty plus years (one which you LOVED, by the way) in order to make ends meet.. that'll do strange things to your head. One of the worst thoughts to work through is the one that tells you that "everyone will think that I have been a complete failure." That's hard to process, but eventually you can come through it and realize that's not at all true. But getting to that point can take a toll. The initial embarrassment factor is a biggie, too. But you learn to work through that as well.
Another tough one is the difficult task of breaking your emotional attachment to the equipment you've lovingly collected over the years. Saying goodbye, one by one, to items which you were thrilled to have found long ago, and never ever intended to part with. But you realize that you need to reclaim your investment. That has been hard. Each and every piece of it.
As I said earlier, I've been trying to write this for a while. Yesterday I opened the new issue of Electronic Musician and found Nathaniel Kunkel's article, "Good Times, Bad Times" on the last page. He clearly and succinctly expressed some of what I wanted to say about how we as a community have not been willing to face this reality until now:
"Even more amazing is that engineers and producers are willing to admit they aren't working. That wasn't the case two years ago. ... It's been tough for a while, but we felt that looking busy was the best way to be
busy. However, it seems that it's too grim to lie about it anymore."
While I hate to say that I can't share his final optimism that it's all going to get better, I highly recommend his article because it encourages us to be honest about the situation.
In an effort to provide some ideas on where help can be found, I've recently heard of this local "new careers" support group
which I'm told includes some music business types (maybe even some from here at NMP, I don't know). And then I'll also mention Steve Grossman's
blog. Steve is a very talented drummer who exited the business years ago, and his blog provides a source of help for those of us who are following him out.
So let's hear it: how many of you are in this same boat of having to leave the job you love in order to earn a living? It's ok. There can
be life after recording. I'm not saying that everything's fine.. (I'd love
to be able to find a job that pays enough to actually cover my bills).. but I'm getting on with my life. You can too.