Can you be a professional musician with an 8-5 job?

Hello, I’m a professional HR Advisor…

… .and a #1 Billboard Recording Artist.

So you’re a musician with a full-time job?

If ONLY you had all day to focus on your craft…

If ONLY you could do music full-time…then…

… THEN you would be able to write and release that hit song, or get your website finished, or finally get that email list built!

It’s just not fair you have to work an eight-to-five job, while other musicians live their dreams all day long!

You may have thought these things before. I know I have, many times. There’s so many of us in the same boat, DIY musicians with a profession (or primary “hustle”) besides our music careers. And it can be tough to fight off the doubt that often comes with that day-gig: Can we REALLY be ‘professional musicians’ if we don’t play music ‘full-time?’

Can you be a professional musician if you have an ‘8-5’ job?

Yes, You can!

Why? The answer is simple: You perform or create music, whenever and wherever you’re able to. Period.

What you do between your ‘stage’ time is up to you, and does not take away the legitimacy of your craft or your performance. However, we may not always believe this ourselves. We may fall into doubt, which prohibits us from expanding not only our creative endeavors, but the lifelong pursuit of seeing our selves as a whole.

I have spent nearly a decade working 8-5 in the field of HR. I’m also a solo piano artist with 12 published albums. At first glance, these two “professions” don’t seem at all complimentary to each other, leaving most people who discover my music on Spotify asking: “What in the world are you doing working a day job?” The question is fair, but the bigger conversation of “being a creative in an 8-5 world” needs to be had, and perceptions need to be changed.

Let’s debunk some of the myths.

Here are 5 myths about working an 8-5 job while pursuing your music career

1. If I work a full time job, I’m not a ‘real’ musician.

 Let’s make something clear, and let’s say it loud. You ARE a musician (an author, an artist, a whatever), even if during the day (or during a “set shift”) you are also a carpenter, lawyer, salesperson, stock trader, or phone representative.

Just because you have an ‘8-5’ job, does NOT mean you are unsuccessful in what you do with your creative pursuits.

In fact, take a moment to realize it’s a testament to your will and dedication TO your craft.

2. I need to be a musician, or work an 8-5. I can’t do both.

You are not JUST what you do in your day job. You are a “whole” human. You do have skill sets that may fit a certain job, but that “job” or “role” does not necessarily define all of who you are.

It’s not an all or nothing proposition!

However, it’s so easy to get caught in the mind-trap… “I need to do my creative gig full time or I’m never going to make it” …OR….”I just can’t do both because my 8-5 requires so much time!”

In reality, these are just excuses we may be telling ourselves.

This is where we need to start to see the overlap in how our other “profession” could actually be helping us succeed in our creative venture.

3. If I didn’t have an 8-5 job, I’d be much more successful in my music career.

There may be some truth hidden in this, but I’d challenge you to think about how working your 8-5 is actually making you a BETTER musician:

  • Is it providing benefits for you and your family that you couldn’t get on your own?
  • Have you been able to participate in professional trainings or leadership courses that help your music marketing, networking, creation, etc?
  • Do you have the opportunity to engage with people and build relationships during the day?
  • Have you acquired organizational and efficiency skills that serve your music as well?

All of these things are only HELPING you be a better musician.

In my role as an HR Advisor I spend a lot of my day talking with people, building relationships and figuring out solutions with employees, managers, and leaders. The more I build these relationships, understand how businesses work, and what makes the human interactions in business tick, the more I can apply those very same principles in building my own music career and building relationships within the music industry.

4. I don’t have time to do both!

I already mentioned this in #2 above, but I think it’s worth emphasizing: we don’t think we have enough TIME!

The question I get asked the most is “how do you have the time to do what you do (manage, The Going Solo Podcast, produce albums, write blog posts) as well as work and 8-5 job?” (Oh, and I  have three small children as well).

Yep, there’s a lot going on in our day-to-day lives. But it might be time for us to look at time differently — in terms of ENERGY. Where are you spending your energy and are you spending it on the right things at the right time?

I am continually amazed when I talk to leaders in the professional world (be it finance, medical, education), and I hear what some of them do outside their 8-5. Whether it be training for Iron Man races, volunteering many hours at non-profits, coaching games, or fitness classes, the list goes on.

The fact is all of these things take time. Yet, how can some of the busiest professionals also be successful in their passions outside of work? How do they have that time?

If we switch this to an energy conversation we may be able to challenge ourselves and prioritize where we should be spending our energy. For example, after work, are you spending the next 2 hours on the couch watching that latest episode on Netflix? Or maybe you are going to that Happy Hour again. Nothing wrong with these things inherently, but what would happen if you spent that 2 hours solely focused on your email list, or scheduling social media posts for the next month? 

5. I need to quit my job now and pursue my passion.

Maybe you do. Only you would know that.

But before you do, are you ready to carry over the same discipline you applied in that 8-5 to your own career as a musician? Are you really going to be working 9 hour days in full service to your craft (and the business of sharing your music)?

Everyone’s situation is unique, everyone has different needs and goals, but before you make that jump, make sure you aren’t hurting your creative pursuit in the process!

In conclusion, you are a complex human being with a variety of skills beyond just that of being a musician. Start thinking about how utilizing ALL of your talents may actually open more doors for you, be it in the office, on stage, or on screen.

Until then, see you at 8am on Monday…..and on Spotify.