The inspiring stories of artists who combine their careers with their jobs
It is perhaps one of the biggest dreams for most of us to become a full-time DJ or musician. We cannot stop dreaming when we see the lives of the artists that we listen to, follow and model. However, when we face reality rather than dreams, the rate of the artists who can do it full-time is very low. Especially in the industry, which has been greatly affected by COVID-19, the possibility of living with your art seems to be more difficult.
Nevertheless, it is not a scenario just happened with COVID-19. Plenty of artists that we don’t know on the backstage are working on regular jobs to keep their arts and lives away from financial pressures. In this situation, which we are familiar with in our country, do not only provide a stable income but also support you to advance in your career faster with the experience and knowledge you got from other occupations.
According to Liam Wax, who is one of the important figures of the new generation in UK tech-house, his regular job gives perspective to his music career. On the other hand Eric Cloutier, one of the Mixmag cover stars, shared that he returned to his regular business period in a statement he made to his fans in the previous weeks. According to him, the top musicians who are already earning very high make the lives harder by limiting the income of the lower ones due to the high wages they earn.
So how can it help or make obstacles in the view of your regular business career? Is everyone proper for a full-time music career? If you have a chance to give up from your regular work, would you be really ready to do it?
Elle Andrews, the London-based duo Souvenir member, is used to performing with different names from Joy O to Cosmo Vitelli. At the same time, he teaches photography at a public school on weekdays. “Though without being a DJ, being a teacher is a completely difficult job. Classes became crowded in recent years because of the reduced investment supports, so I have to work almost 50 hours per week” he says. On weekends, he keeps up his music with two performances. When we look at Andrew’s life, it is possible to see 6 days of a heavy tempo in just one week. That’s because he resembles musicians to entrepreneurs. Like every other entrepreneur and new companies, he is aware that it is his basics of a business career that he has to work more than people with an ordinary life.
One of the most similar occupations to DJing is graphic designing. In these times when marketing plays an important role, creating your own design makes you enable to keep your biggest cost in the pocket. Also, learning creative trends is one of the biggest advantages in the saturated DJ profession.
“I love to play but I hate everything else around,” said Trevor Jackson, designer of the first recordings of Todd Terry and Raze, to explain why he’s still a graphic designer. According to him, the design is the can of the corn of the music. His work includes rebranding and regaining the title of being one of the largest record companies around the world. The high-class works he has made in the industry and his connections have opened many doors to him in DJing. For example, playing with Andrew Weatherall in Berghain last year.
DJ for Trevor is a career which was never a place to feel belong. While people like 2ManyDJs have been on the schedule of many festivals, Jackson prefers to remain a niche musician: “I feel lucky to be able to do one or two shows per month. I will never be a DJ who sells lots of songs or tickets, but it is enough for me to have a considerable follower from underground culture. ”
Having multiple careers isn’t always bad. Especially if you are working in music or technology companies. Objekt, which has become one of the most important names in dance music lately, is the best example of it. The artist, who works at German Native Instruments, compares the job there to cheating and playing like in his video games. Objekt’s point of his career today is undeniable, which states that he applied all the ideas to his music career that he could not learn from the outside. Another developer, Avalon Emerson, is also one of the best worker of this job in the technology company for her career. Besides their music, being in the centre of everything gives them a competitive advantage.
On the other hand, it becomes even more impossible to make a choice for those who carry their entrepreneurial spirits to both their business and music. It was one of the biggest challenges in the life of Auntie Flo, aka Brian d’Souza, who founded a music consultary company called Open Ear to avoid working in a regular job after finishing the studies of psychology and sound designing. The musician, who stuck in conflict through her business and career grew, lived with questions for years. The artist, who asks questions like: “If I focus on my music, can I be a better DJ?”, “or would I had a great company if I didn’t focus on my DJ career?”, decides to keep them both in 2011. Today, both her DJ career and company have achieved the aimed success.
By saying “My income in my regular work made possible of my music career. But, it requires too much sacrifice to keep both jobs, it is not easy. The periods when you have limited time because of the two jobs actually help you to increase creativity and discipline. While financial relief reduces the pressure on my music, the limit in my time maximizes me as a creative one.”, she reveals the positive sides of having multiple jobs.
Like many others, Felix Yoosefinejad, aka Moleskin, worked at bars to keep alive the Goon Club Allstars record company. According to the artist who is currently working at Hub67 in East London, you shouldn’t leave your current job if it matches with your point of view in life. Thus, you would establish a mechanism that supports each other constantly. Moleskin defines the success in music as the created cultural effect rather than being the foremost: “Maybe we are not the one who produces most, maybe many people will not recognize our names but when Kanye West texts you or when you want to sample a piece of track from your company to Beyonce, you will better understand your power.”
Although the living conditions or purposes of the artists who support the idea of “If you want to enjoy music, don’t work in the music business” are different, their regular job does not prevent their careers. They even believe that it will give an advantage when you are sufficiently disciplined.
When we look at it from the opposite perspective, we can see that some artists take the risk of leaving their regular jobs and makes their career greater. However, it is clear that being a full-time musician isn’t just about being a musician. So maybe the financial relief, disciplined work, the advantage of knowledge and accumulation that would be brought through your favourite job will be the fields that make you stand out.