Martin Atkins’ Advice for Musicians: KEEP YOUR DAY JOBS!

November 2, 2012{ 5 Comments }

A very hoarse Brian Felsen, president of CD Baby, interviewed Martin Clive Atkins, author of one of our favorite “industry” books—Tour:Smart. As a drummer and session player, Atkins is best known for his work in post-punk and industrial groups including Public Image Ltd (PiL), Ministry, Pigface, and Killing Joke. Atkins is also an honorary board member of the Chicago-based nonprofit organization Rock For Kids.

In this clip, Martin explains why “quitting your day job” is no longer the measure of talent and success. In fact, it is often times beneficial to your music career to still have other employment. Why? Check out the video above.

What do you think? Is quitting your day job for music a smart sacrifice or more like financial suicide? Let us know in the comments section below.

  • Kyle Wilson

    That guy is so smart. I don't know if waiting until you're fired is the best option though. 40 hours a week is a lot of time that can be dedicated to booking more gigs. My guess would be wait until you're making a decent amount on the side, and have 6 months of expenses saved. Then make a plan. THEN quit.

  • Maxwellst

    I think it depends upon whether you are Moby or Mozart or something else. It's not because all the Moby's and Mozarts end up making a living (Wolfgang famously died of poverty-induced disease). It has more to do with whether your gift can be developed and your creativity nurtured within the confines of whatever remains at the end of a long day at work. And if it is a betrayal of your talents–which some people would kill for–to give their development and expression second-class status in your life. There is no right answer to this question.

  • christopherawilson

    Not exactly new groundbreaking advice from a who doesn't exactly have a typical "day job". There may come a point in time where you no longer have time to go to an 8 hour a day "day job" and you need to hit the road on a tour for a much longer period of time than just using vacation time will allow. This is true not only for a musician, but for anyone who is creating a business and growing it slowly while continuing to work at the "day job". If the day never comes where you can't support yourself from purely your music career or whatever business you create, than it is merely a part time job or a hobby. And then you have to define if you feel successful being a part timer, hobbyist or not.

  • Medavon DeRaj'e

    Great vid. My day job is teaching guitar and is slower then ever. So far i have refused to get a typical day job and feel since I have an associate degree in occupational music i shouldn't have to steer out that area. So i struggle and have people like my parents nagging me to get a real job. But if you already have a typical job and are use to doing that then it really isn't a problem and one shouldn't quit. Just have one with flexible enough hours to have your weekends free.

  • JPH

    I agree with this guy! I've tried to make a go of it with music as my only income for 3 straight years. Even averaging 80+ shows per year it is a very hard life with a LOT of pressure. I have a family & a mortgage so I can tell you 1st hand the pressure of needing gigs to live is a very heavy burden. On the other hand, a 40 hr per week job will take some time & energy away from your goals, but the reality is that there is an obtainable balance. You can work, pay your bills, feed your family, & still make time for plenty of gigging. Honestly, I find that having a day job allows me to enjoy gigging more than ever. I can pick & choose gigs now. I don't have to take the CRAP gigs in dive bars to pay my bills. I can choose & only accept the nicer venues now. What a relief!