As I’ve relayed before in this column, my life in music is a multi-faceted morass of what occasionally feels like countless side-hustles that somehow, by some stroke of miraculous good fortune, tend to aggregate into something resembling “rent” and “food” and, to a lesser degree, “fun” on a somewhat monthly basis. I suspect that those of you who also make their living in music have a somewhat similar story, except for the handful of rockstars and the independently wealthy that I’m sure must occasionally glance across the pages of BP.
My attitude about this life oscillates with alarming regularity between pride and glee at being one of those “doing what he loves” guys and “holy s$%#!, this has all been a terrible idea, how in the F am I going to pay my bills this month?!” So, y’know, not terribly stable. In fact, it’s the instability that is both the joy and pain of a life in the arts. It’s cool not showing up to a 9-to-5 and being the master of my own destiny, it’s not cool that doing so has only become increasingly hard with time. The culture and economy simply don’t reward us justly, and that’s only getting worse.
But, alas, I have yet to let the reality of the hard bits impede on the joy of the good bits. Ultimately, I do get to do what I love, and that I know what it is and am skilled enough to actually pull it off is itself a kind of unimpeachably good thing that I cannot talk myself out of, even on my darkest days. Despite the stability of my commitment to the choice, the day-to-day banalities of it still plague me, as I suspect they may some of you. I teach, run a studio, play gigs, do sessions, repair basses and amps, produce music, and write for this magazine. Needless to say, this is an organizational and logistical nightmare for even the best multitasker.
The purpose of this month’s column, then, is to crowdsource your best tips, tricks, concepts, and technology to help succeed in the thorny jungle that is the typical working pro’s career. In doing so, not only will you help me, but I suspect you’ll help scores of readers with similar challenges. As you well know, the corporate world is inundated with a multitude of books, seminars, videos, software applications, and just about every other possible means of improving the quality of the corporate worker’s life. Why shouldn’t we at least try to borrow a bit of that same sentiment for ourselves? The paucity of content on the topic of career and life management for us musicians is glaring. That there isn’t a clear, universally known book, for example, about achievement in music inclusive of not just playing but also business is not only a failure of our community, but a business opportunity of its own.
If you’re game to help your community (and I know you are … you’re bass players after all!), then please email your best insights to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll pick the best of the lot and share them in an upcoming column.
Bass Player Senior Contributing Editor Jonathan Herrera is the magazine’s former Editor-in-Chief. An accomplished player, Jonathan has been a full-time musician and producer since first leaving the magazine’s staff in 2010. His latest endeavor is Bay Area recording studio Airship Laboratories. Catch up with him at jonherrera.com and at airshiplaboratories.com.