I compiled this list back in December, but now that I have officially finished my tenure at the Papa (less than an hour ago), I am now officially a professional musician. Now my goal is to stay that way as long as possible, and that’s really what this blog is about. The things I’m looking forward to about trying to stay a professional musician.
20. Eating in different places. I will be eating at home a lot to save money, but when I’m in different towns, I have favorite places to eat. In Columbus, I get Tatoheads (it’s good and a friend of mine started it) and Dirty Frank’s. In Athens, I love the Philly Quesadilla at the Court Street Diner, and Dayton has my favorite under $5 burger anywhere, at Smokin’ BBQ. They smoke their burgers and they’re delicious! I also like to try new places when I can.
19. Using “avoid highway” feature on my GPS. There will be times where time is tight, but when I have an extra 30 minutes to drive somewhere, I love avoiding the interstate and seeing new places. I really feel like I’m seeing more of America this way and really experiencing how beautiful this country can truly be.
18. Getting into great shape. I’m not out of shape now, but I’m not as fit as I’d like to be. Just by performing more often, I’ll automatically be more physically active, and having some extra time will allow me to stay on top of exercising. Plus, my stress levels will lower, which is always better for my health.
17. Unpredictability. Some things I know will happen. I’ll have fun. I’ll have some great open mikes, and some where things don’t go well. What I don’t know can be amazing though. Before I was offered to appear on Jack Shack TV, I didn’t know it was going to happen, and it was very cool. Before there was a documentary about me, I didn’t know there was going to be one. I can let my imagination take me to some very cool places here, but I cannot predict what will actually happen, and that’s part of what makes life beautiful.
16. Improving my live performance. This will happen naturally just by performing so often, but on my days off, I’ll be able to learn new things and incorporate them into my live shows. I try to learn new dance moves when I can and add those to my shows. My live shows are still very much about feeding off the energy of the crowd and improvising, but adding new elements to my performances is always fun!
15. More time to play instruments and improve musicianship. I have come a long way as a musician since I first played the keyboard as an instrument (instead of just a beat machine) in 1998, but I have so much more to learn that I’m excited to see what I can add to my next album! This is one of the reasons why I love being a musician so much, and why I love being indie; it is a never ending challenge. I can always became a better musician, a better performer, a better music video director, producer, etc.
14. Recording. When I first started making music, I only wanted to be a recording musician. I’m glad I vastly expanded my views on music since then, but recording is still a huge part of what I do. Creating is one of the biggest reasons why I love life, and one of the driving factors in my life. I love not only the creation process itself, but being able to just sit and listen to the songs every once in a while. It’s still interesting to me to listen to a song I made 12 years ago, which I haven’t listened to in years, and hear where I was then, as a person and as a musician. In 2025, I’ll listen to “We’re All Superheroes” with that same intrigue.
13. Sustainability. The balance of working full time and spending a ton of time focused on music is very challenging at times, and it often leads to spurts and stutters. I’ll have a few good open mikes or full shows and then I’ll have to work too much the following week to build that into something more. Even if this only becomes a 3-4 week hiatus from work, I’ll be able to perform 5 days a week, and I’ll be able to say things like “I’ll be back here next week, so please come back and see me again then. If you have any requests, just let me know on my Facebook page.” Instead of saying, “Thanks, I’m glad you liked it. I don’t know when I’ll be back again because I won’t know my work schedule until Sunday night.” By being able to consistently grow something, I believe it will grow faster and more beautifully.
12. Hearing new music and meeting new musicians. I’ve performed with a ton of musicians, and I’ll often learn something just by watching another musician. I also enjoy listening to a wide variety of music, and I love seeing artists perform who do something completely different than what I do. Sometimes I learn things from it that I can incorporate into what I do. I often get to hear good live music and enjoy it.
11. Working hard to earn new fans. I believe in working hard to achieve my dreams. I’m that much more grateful when things go well, and when I do finally get to the point where I make a living from it, I will have an incredible sense of satisfaction knowing that I will have earned it. I felt the same thing when I graduated from college. Had I just gone to school, I think I’d still be happy about accomplishing the goal of getting a degree, but working my way back after dropping out and then working full time while going to school full time gave me immense satisfaction.
10. Meeting new people, including hopefully my future wife. When meeting new people through my musical endeavors, my experiences have been mostly positive. I’ve made some good friends this way that I’m happy to see every time I perform where they are. As far as my future wife goes, well, who knows? It could happen during this tour. It could happen 20 years from now. I’m happily single and won’t give that up for the wrong woman, but I’d gladly give it up for the right one.
9. Sharing the experience. I know that not all of you who want to see me will make it to a show. Some of you are just too far away. It’s a long drive from Tokyo to Columbus, Ohio. Others have very busy lives, with careers, children and other wonderful blessings. Even if you can’t make it, I know you’re still rooting for me and want to experience my pursuit of my dreams, and I’m glad I can share that with you. To those of you who are already living your dreams, I’m not the least bit jealous. I’m just happy for you! To those who aren’t, I hope that one day you get to.
8. Coming home. Most of the performances I’ll have during this tour will be close enough to drive home afterward. It’s only 4 hours roundtrip to play in Columbus, or a little over 7 to perform in Athens. Occasionally, I’ll stay the night somewhere. Regardless of when I come home, though, I am always happy to lay down in my own bed, thinking about the great things that have happened and are continuing to happen.
7. Building a foundation. I have spent the last 3 years, since returning from Chicago, really focusing heavily on Dayton, and I’ve put a significant amount of time and energy into Oxford and Cincinnati as well. It has allowed me to start taking the next steps in those places, and now I get to really build something in Columbus, Athens and Fairborn, while continuing to build in some other places. Having a handful of places that are musical homes is my foundation for making a living from my music. It will allow me to then build up from that foundation, and hopefully do some heavy touring. For now, one great step at a time!
6. Watching the Super Bowl. I’ve had to work 12 out of the last 14 Super Bowls, and since the NFL is by far my favorite sports league, this actually means a great deal to me. Working in a pizza place during the Super Bowl is very rough, by the way. If you could see it in your heart to not order pizza during the big game, I’d appreciate it. I won’t be working it, but I care about those who have to. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to eat. I may have some Lou Malnati’s shipped a few days before. I may get a frozen pizza, or order from a restaurant that isn’t busy. Regardless, I’m going to watch the game. I’m going to enjoy every down and every commercial!
5. Performing. There’s not much to say. I just love performing!
4. My birthday itself. My birthday is always a big deal. I’m not celebrating my age; I’m celebrating my life. This year may be the best adult birthday I’ve ever had! I am performing at Blind Bob’s in Dayton, and before that I’ll have dinner with some of my best friends and family. I will spend the entire day smiling about the possibilities of the next 3-6 weeks, 2013, and beyond.
3. Enjoying the moment. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the long run. I could pull off a miracle and during these 3-6 weeks find a way to immediately make a living from my music. I could find a way to make a little bit of money from music, giving me just enough encouragement to keep trying to make a living from it. I could discover that it’s just plain not possible to make a living from it. Regardless of what happens, I’m going to enjoy every moment that I can. Every smile from a fan, every like, every mile of roadway driven, every hug, every lyric written, every show, every meal. Everything.
2. Spending time with friends. Let’s see, I’ll be performing 5 nights per week (sometimes 6). Before the performances, I’ll be handing out and putting up fliers, recording, practicing, dancing, learning, posting video and/or pictures, making video blogs, updating my website, booking shows, and much more. Still, I’ll have more free time than I do now. Time to spend with my friends, in Oxford, Dayton, Cincinnati, Columbus, Athens, Fairborn, and anywhere else my dreams take me. My friends are very important to me, and being able to spend time with them, especially with wonderful things happening in my life, is something I’m very much looking forward to!
1. Doing what I love everyday! Starting right now!
As an addendum to what I compiled a month ago, I start this chapter of my life with a great deal of confidence, even though I have much less money saved than I planned. I have about $600 available credit and enough money coming in from my last 2 paychecks to pay my February rent, which means if I don’t make enough money to pay my March rent by February 22nd, I’ll have to go back to work. There’s no real empirical data to show that I will definitely do this, but I have a very strong, positive feeling about the next 5 weeks. I feel like I’ll do well enough in the next 5 weeks to support the following 5 weeks, and it will just get better from there as I grow something beautiful, with your help. Thank you so much for giving me the courage and confidence to do this!