Is Quitting Your Job to Join a Band at 35 the Best or Worst Idea Ever?

Categories: Fan Landers

Are you a musician? Is your group having issues? Ask Fan Landers! Critic Jessica Hopper has played in and managed bands, toured internationally, booked shows, produced records, worked as a publicist, and is the author of The Girls' Guide to Rocking, a how-to for teen ladies. She is here to help you stop doing it wrong. Send your problems to her--confidentiality is assured, unless you want to use your drama as a ticket to Internet microfame.

I currently have a steady job, a mortgage and an awesome girlfriend. However, I want to fuck my shit up by making the switch to being a musician full-time again. I'm having a hard time dealing with the transition. All my time is taken up with gigs, practice, and recording sessions. Meanwhile I'm still working full-time to pay the bills. How do I find balance?

See also: Ask Fan Landers: Will My Band Always Be Broke?

Dear Pat,
It sounds like you are barely in the transition. You are astride your transition;
you made the choice but have not ceded anything on one side or the other. You seem to be aware of the issues of giving up straight life for the music grind, but something is holding you back from fully committing to either.

We went to high school together (full disclosure/word to Minnesota Center for Arts Education alumnus everywhere) and I know that you're a talented drummer who has been playing for decades, so it's not surprising that a 9-to-5 isn't quite keeping you satisfied. That said, that you didn't up and quit your life for your band speaks to the quality of your grown-up dude life and your interest in maintaining it as much as to the inherent risk of being dependent on drumming to pay your bills.

Your set up on the question tells me this is not about feeling hectic, this is about the fear of the consequences of doing something that probably looks like back-stepping to other people who believe you cannot hack being an adult, which is hopefully not the case. I am a staunch advocate that success is doing life/art on your terms--but circa 35 is usually when most people are quitting their bands and settling down, not the other way around, so you are likely going to have to deal with some judgment from other people about this choice. Sounds like you are already dealing with some of your own.

Quitting your job to be in at band at 35 could be the best or worst idea ever. Let's walk it out: What is holding you back from jumping all in? Do you not have a reasonable savings? Are you scared of having to play in shitty jobber restaurant bands or roadie to make your mortgage payments? Or are you scared of being settled in your grown-up life where music is just a hobby? Is this a broaching-40 freakout? Do you just super-hate your job? You have to be really honest about what is motivating you.

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