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(noise)letter: How Your Day Job Can Fuel Your Music

Tell me something – what’s your day job? Do you have a side hustle (or two) that supports your music? If I had to guess, I’d say you probably get pretty bummed thinking about work every once in a while. We’re human, and most of us are artists, so if you say it doesn’t get you down from time to time, you’re lying. I’ll be the first to admit that I have serious issues when it comes to how I spend my time. I want it to matter. And even though bringing in a paycheck does matter in the long run, it’s hard to get on board when all you want to do is write and play music with your friends. That work means something… But you know, there’s a lot of value in what you’re doing, and you CAN move your dream forward while working a steady job. After leaving my first internship at a boutique music PR firm in Memphis, my boss and mentor gave me some advice that I would carry with me throughout my entire career: Find the skills within your passion and look for opportunities to grow them. That may mean that you aren’t making a comfortable salary as a performing musician right away, but that doesn’t mean you can’t write and perform. It just means you have to get creative with your revenue streams. Think about what aspects of music you love and are good at – Is it the writing? Is it the business? Is it the events? Is it the storytelling? Is it understanding how music works? Once you dig up one or two of those skills, you can sharpen them in a 9-5 that will return your investment to your music.

  • If you love writing music, look for writing jobs – journalism, copywriting, communications, etc.

  • If you love the business, look for office jobs in the music industry (or beyond) – publishing, licensing, booking, management, etc.

  • If you love the events, look for events jobs in other industries – community festivals, corporate events, weddings, etc.

  • If you love the storytelling, find a way to be a professional storyteller – marketing, advertising, PR, social media management, etc.

  • If you love the knowledge of music and how it works, teach.

While some of these are within the music industry, some of them aren’t. But what’s important to know is that any of these options can serve your music and your creativity. You just have to find the shared skills between them. I’ve gone from teaching music theory, songwriting, artist development, creative writing, publicity and promotion, even philosophy and apologetics, to PR, to journalism, back to PR, to copywriting, to web development and SEO. It’s not a traditional career path by any means, but sometimes, what can I say, you gotta do what you gotta do… And you know what? I’ve learned skills from each of these jobs that directly impact my own music and creative life. Because of these (somewhat unrelated) opportunities, I can build a website for my business and my band. I’ve become a stronger writer and storyteller. I can market my music from social media to traditional media outlets. I can coordinate an event. I’ve made connections and built relationships in the industry. All because I took my mentor’s advice and focused on my skills, rather than job titles or “staying in the music industry.” Trust me, the music isn’t going anywhere. In the meantime, build your skills in the best jobs you can find. And let me reassure you… You are not selling out. You aren’t “just not cut out for music.” You WILL get back to your dream, because you never truly have to leave it behind. You can do this. Find the skills you want for your music career and make it happen, whatever it takes. To your success, Naø 🖤


In other news...


The Jason Lee McKinney Band is getting ready to drop their eighth studio album, ‘Pieces,’ via Bonfire Music Group. Jason has this to say about his favorite song:  "My favorite song on the album is ‘Put Up the Good Fight.’ I love the modal push and pull of the chords against the RnB melody. That combination aligning with a simple blues guitar riff hopefully creates a haunting catchiness to the song as a whole. A vibe that wrestles within itself. The music is meant to accent the lyrical theme of the temporality of time with its cruel linear trajectory against the existential transcendent need to make a life of meaning. I tried to pack as much depth as possible into as tight and short of an arrangement as I could without losing that meaning. In short the arrangement of the song itself is allegorical of the meaning of the lyrics." Follow JLMB on Spotify and be the first to hear the new record, available everywhere tomorrow, 2/21!


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