What it’s actually like being an independent musician.
Buckle-up, buckaroo. You think you want the musician’s lifestyle? yes?! Well alright then. I am currently a full-time musician. Let me tell you what happens on a day-to-day basis. I’ll preface this whole thing by saying it is a LOT of work. If your only skill is making music and being really friendly… you’ve got two out of what seems like 100’s of skills necessary to win people over and make a living with your music.
This isn’t how to get big on youtube or any of the platforms. This is just what my typical day looks like (on a good day!)
8am: Wake up and exercise. I really only aim for about 20 to 30 minutes. I don’t to much… because my goal is just to stay fairly active. work out a couple muscle groups and sprint around the block. If I’m feeling saucy I’ll do a double work out (which is basically a normal workout for some people). I really don’t do much… and once my schedule lightens up I’ll have the habit in place to start working out with the goal to build muscle or whatever. doesn’t matter.
THE MAIN POINT OF THIS is to accomplish something HARD from the get-go. If you feel accomplished early on the rest of the day is easy.
9am: I make myself breakfast after a quick shower (i don’t shower in hot showers anymore. more like luke-warm to cold. more discipline stuff. totally unnecessary but I’ve learned to like less warm showers.)
I go for eggs. Eggs and toast. takes like 5 to 10 minutes to cook. saves time. curbs my appetite. Lunch is usually a bigger meal for me but i can’t go without breakfast.
10am: Any necessary errands. This is usually when I plan my day. What’s lunch? what’s dinner? is there dessert? when am i going to practice? do I have lessons? What would i LIKE to accomplish today. The more you do this the more you can look at what is humanly possible. int he beginning you WILL overload yourself and not get everything done. A trick for this is to don’t add to the list until it’s completely done. I recommend getting some kind of whiteboard for this. I have like 3. lol!
Planning your day doesn’t take very long. So I use some of the time for practice. I aim small early on. 20 to 30 minutes on whatever instrument you’re developing. Right now I’ve got guitar and piano (which I’m really just maintaining. so that’s only 15 minutes each)
11am: I might stop practicing. I might continue. It’s pretty loose, and it depends on what day of the week it is. I teach on Wednesdays and Thursdays (and a little bit on the other days, but that barely counts) so if its one of those days I’ll cut that short and move onto one of my daily routine tasks.
-HERE ARE SOME OF MY DAILY THINGS I CHECK BEFORE I MOVE ON-
Email Subscriber Stats
Ad Campaign Stats (Cost per Click and what videos are performing well)
Social Media (and I’ll even post on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays if I remember. Honestly this is my worst one. gotta have a chip in your armor somewhere).
Blog comments and research. (Here I am. I post about once a week. sup?)
12am I will either teach for 3 to 4 hours OR I’ll do the following.
Social Media posts (I focus on two or three right now. Start small)
FB ad campaign messages. I get about 100 a day, so this can easily take up all day, so try to do this for 20 minutes every hour for several hours. This WILL CONSUME YOUR LIFE. … but then again… this is where the $ comes from.
FB ad campaign video alternatives for AB testing. (I can talk about this for DAYS… so… yeah not here)
Website conversion rate optimization (gettin’ nerdy up in here)
3pm (yes. 3 hours.)
I will work on music. YES… that’s right… i have been awake for 7 hours and I’m finally working on music. well… most of a business is having a refined product… and figuring out the best way to sell it. AND those businesses have 100s if not 1000s of employees… and very deep pockets. For now… just refine your craft. either practice for another hour or write your song or study some music theory or listen to production and practice production or audio recording… gosh… the list really is huge. The actual PRODUCT of music is huge in and of itself… so… you should be doing something musically productive EVERY day. not just practice.
4pm Depending on the day I’ll be done with teaching and I’ll probably go on a walk. I like to stop for a minute around this time and think about what i’ve done so far and what i need to do. Painters need to take a giant step back and look at how the big picture is lookin’. I’ll answer a few more of those messages, try to get caught up by 6pm.
6pm Dinner. I’m tired by this point. You can’t maintain a 12 or 13 hour workday every day without ending up miserable. Take your time with Dinner. make it good. spoil yourself… Today (5-14-2020) I had garlic rosemary chicken, broccoli and rice. I cooked everything from scratch… because guess what… simple ingredients = simple day. I just let the chicken start marinading around noon with some rosemary, olive oil, garlic, onion powder, pepper and a bit of salt… it was tasty. leave it out. Cook chicken when it’s at room temperature and it’ll stay moist when it’s done. friggin’ treat yourself right. you can make chicken and broccoli and rice taste good.
ok ok ok… i put some butter on the veggies. sue me.
8pm It’s actually more like 7:45 by the time dinner is made, consumed, and the kitchen is clean; I have a really good habit of cleaning up after myself (thanks mom!) I’ll decide if I’ve got more work left in me or if I wanna call it for the day. USUALLY I’ll keep going until about 9pm. In fact I sat back down to type this 8pm section RIGHT at 7:45. So there you go. If you’re feelin’ it… keep going. but you should be active from 8am to 8pm… and be your own boss after that.
By now I have probably done SOME of the things on my list. I will have checked off all of my daily routine things, I’ll have done basically all the work I’m gonna do… and I’ll put int just a little more time in whatever i feel like doing.
Could be practice, writing, production, education or goofin’.
Could be prepping for content for the next day.
And it COULD be finding blogs to read (several reasons why this is important… stay up to date, and create backlinks for SEO purposes)
I might just clean up my office. I’m a tidy person… so it’s important.
9pm. relax…. or wrap up what I’m working on.
Honestly if I’m really feelin’ it I’ll work until midnight. But DON’T do this unless you’re feelin’ it. don’t force it… you’ll burn out super quickly.
Here’s my motto… *aghem* Motivation and inspiration are fickle….
AGAIN… FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK!…
MOTIVATION AND INSPIRATION ARE FICKLE.
Have a routine and follow it. When you are inspired or motivated… ride the wave, but don’t expect it. Both routine AND discipline are reliable as fuel for productivity.
I’m working towards waking up at 7 to get some things done nice and early and so I can have another hour to get the routine with social media down. Once I have that habit i’ll adjust my wake-up time. Everything about your routine is malleable and should be treated with respect. If you think you can get away with just making a cool song and that people will flock to it you are dead wrong. It takes years of this schedule (if you’re working alone). But if you really want to be a full-time musician you will learn to love all of the work it involves. The same way I learned to love cold-ish showers.