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How to Leave Your Day Gig

Posted in Articles, Recession Proof Musician | 2 Comments »

Today’s article is an updated version of an older one that I wrote for, originally titled “How to Quit Your Day Job”. I suppose it may seem odd to include it now, but in my own experience, people don’t always leave their day jobs by choice, and these ideas still apply. This year marks the second time that I’ve ever been laid off in my life, but this time I was planning for it. I had declared that I wanted to work for myself, and the universe generously made that happen 😉

If you find yourself without your former day job, that means it’s time to try something else. In a year or so, you’ll be saying how getting laid off was the best thing that ever happened to you. But in the meantime, here are some ideas for alternative ways to create a living.

Leaving the Day Gig for Good

How to Leave a Day Job
by Carla Lynne Hall

Wouldn’t it be great to quit your job and do nothing but music? Sure!! Just tell your boss to shove it, and kiss your cubicle goodbye. The possibility of pursuing music full-time exists, but you have to plan your strategy carefully. Many musicians get dreamy-eyed when the subject is discussed, but their eyes glaze over when it comes to doing the math. Being a well-fed musician is a reality for some, but it’s not a move to make impulsively. If you’re serious about pursuing nothing but music, you will need to consider similar guidelines before diving in:


If you find yourself without a job suddenly, do not panic. Remember that many successful people have found themselves without a job at one time or another, and that this time will eventually pass.

Do Your Research
Find out what other musicians are doing to create full-time income. The best time to find out is while you’re still employed, and can try things out on a part-time basis. Do not quit your job without having a solid plan of action that you have already put into motion.

Create a Budget

How much money have you made annually from your regular job in the past three years? Where does your money go? Find out exactly how much money you’ll need to live on. Don’t neglect considerations like health insurance and future CD recordings.

Decide What You are Willing to Do
Would you consider moving to a smaller city with a lower cost of living? Will you live with your parents, have a lover support you, or seek investors? Are you willing to cut some luxuries in order to lower your overhead? Are you prepared to spend a lot of time “working the phone”? Can you turn down gigs that pay little or no money, and hustle for the ones that will fill your pockets?

Create Multiple Sources of Income

Would you consider wedding bands, cover gigs, being the occasional side player in order to pay the bills? If you’re computer-savvy, could you build websites or design graphics for others? If you have office experience, perhaps you can be a virtual assistant who works from home. Can you produce CDs for other bands? Make a list of all your talents and offer them to people who need them. is a great start for this.

Learn Something New
Why not diversify yourself, and learn a new skill that can bring in more income? Computer-based skills like graphic or web design are always in demand. And learning these skills help you save money when you use them on behalf of your music.

Stay Within Your Budget
Avoid “retail therapy”, or other bad spending habits in order to make yourself feel better. This creates more debt, that will only cause you to feel worse in the long-run. As personal finance maven Suze Ormond says, “I don’t care what you do. Go take a walk. Fly a Kite. But do not spend money you don’t have.”

Have Backup Funds Available
There will inevitably be times when your month lasts longer than your funds. Maybe you’ll need extra money to record new demos. Or to take care of an unexpected expense. It pays to have skills that you can use occasionally to get through the lean times. Make sure that it’s a flexible job that pays well without sucking you back into the corporate world. Excellent jobs in this category include: carpentry/handyman work, temporary office help, waiting tables, virtual assistant, and nude dancing (I’m only half joking).

Create a schedule
When your music becomes your source of income, you will need to spend a lot of time working on your business. If you want to use an agent or a manager, remember that their cut will come from your pocket. You may be better off handling it yourself. Nerissa Nields, from the acoustic rock band The Nields, developed a schedule of working in her home office three weeks a month, managing the band’s business. The remaining week was spent writing new songs. Her husband, also in the band, held a teaching job. They also chose to live in Connecticut instead of New York. Their expenses were relatively low, and they were close to their New England fan base. In the late 90’s, their band toured constantly, and had a mailing list of over 20,000 people. Your choices may be different, but business time will be a necessity.

Other important things you’ll need to have are persistence and determination. Without those qualities, your dream is nothing more than a wish. But with them, you’re on your way to becoming your own boss.

2 Responses to “How to Leave Your Day Gig”

  1. How to Leave Your Day Gig Says:


  2. Handyman in Jacksonville Says:

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