I am now a professional musician, and I am the happiest I have ever been as an adult. Thank you!
I knew at least a decade ago, that there would come a time where my job would crossfade with my music career. That is, as I built a following through hard work and passion for what I do, as well as a bit of luck, and tremendous support from incredible fans, I would be able to make music profitable, allowing me to cut back on working and increase my attention to my music career. That time is now!
I quit my job on my birthday, January 19th, to focus solely on music, not knowing what would happen. I could’ve been incredibly lucky and turned it into my career almost instantly, with very successful shows and open mikes, booking some last minute gigs that kept enough income coming in to not have to go back to work. I figured there was about a 10% chance of that.
The possibility on the other end was that nothing would’ve gone right. My kickoff show could’ve been poorly attended due to a snowstorm for example, and the weather could’ve kept people away from my other performances as well. That was also about 10% likely.
What actually happened, is what I thought was most likely, though I certainly didn’t take it for granted. I appreciate every single person who bought a t-shirt or CD, or came to my birthday show, or opened doors for me in other ways. I was able to generate some sales, and this will be the last time I mention specific numbers. They’re still relevant for independent musicians who are reading this and for the fans who are rooting for me, but I don’t want to focus on them.
In the past 4 weeks, I have generated $495 in sales. I’ve also spent $166.99 in Facebook ads, about $150 in gas getting to and from my gigs, and about $50 in physical fliers. I also reordered t-shirts, and have already bought my bus tickets for my NYC show (I’m driving to Pittsburgh, and taking the Megabus to/from Pitt/NYC; for $78, I get to ride instead of drive, and I can sleep on the bus, saving me from paying for a hotel room, and I don’t have to deal with driving or parking in NYC). The t-shirts cost me about $6 each, so on the 15 shirts I sold, $90 of that can be attributed towards the costs. So, without counting the bus ticket costs (because I haven’t gone to my NYC gig yet), that’s approximately $456.99. The bottom line profit then is about $38. Obviously, that’s not enough to live on for a month, but it is enough that I’m going to cut down to working 2-3 days per week when I go back to work next week.
Here’s why that $38 is bigger than it seems, though. In the past, I still spent about the same amount of money on ads and fliers, and a little bit less on gas because I had less performances, and some months I spent a lot more (especially when I was handing out CD demos). Even if that number were $0, it would allow me to cut down to part-time at work because music is paying for itself. Any hard working musician, or any small business owner for that matter, will tell you, $0 is a huge number. If the business end is paying for itself, it’s a huge success.
So the question now, as always, is “What Comes Next?”
The answer now, as always, is “I don’t completely know.”
Such is the beauty of life.
I’ll tell you what I do know first, and then allow the dreamer in me to keep holding onto this beautiful dream. I am working on a live album with some pretty incredible musicians at the One Eyed Jack’s RnR Playdate on Sundays in Fairborn, OH. These performances are completely unrehearsed, just fellow musicians and fans creating their own interpretations of some of my best songs. It gives them new life, and it has been quite an experience!
I will be releasing the live version of “extra” first, as a single on iTunes, Spotify and dozens of other digital outlets, and when we have the 15 or so songs recorded, I will be releasing a full live album, both digitally and in physical format. The photos for the album will be taken by the talented Jennifer Taylor Clarke, who took the above photo of me playing the guitar on the live version of extra. This will happen sometime this year, probably by June.
Over the past 4 weeks, I’ve performed at 18 open mikes, a short set on a Friday night show, and one full show. I used the open mikes to open doors, and to generate new fans. I am now transitioning to mainly full shows. I will still use the occasional open mic to get my foot in the door in new markets, and to fill in tour dates when I’m away from home for an extended period of time, but I am making the transition to doing more full shows. Currently, I have 5 full shows booked in March, and with some luck, that could become 8 or 9. My shows are in New York City, Newport (KY), Akron, Cleveland, and Kent. You can find full tour dates at bandsintown.com/missionman. If you follow me there, you’ll get an email from Bands In Town whenever I play in your town.
In general, I’ll be working Mondays and Tuesdays, and will try to book tour dates every weekend, mostly regional, including Cincy, Dayton, Fairborn, Columbus, Athens, Akron, Kent, Cleveland, Toledo, Chicago, Louisville and Nashville.
I’m very happy to be in this position. I don’t know how long it will take to get to the next step of going on longer tours, but I’ll patiently find out because I am still a professional musician. I just have a part-time job, starting Monday. Well, it could be starting tomorrow. If the local flower shop needs my help tomorrow, I will be delivering flowers on Valentine’s Day. I’m single, and so happy with my life, that this sounds kind of interesting.
Officially, I’ll be Chillin’ at the Papa again starting on Monday, but it will be part-time, and I am very grateful to have a job that allows me to crossfade into my music career.