You Don't Have To Have a "Plan B"
I try and tell any of my students that want to be a professional musician/artist that if you really want to pursue a career in the arts your best “plan B” is a strong “plan A.” In other words, don’t let life make you compromise your goal of being a professional artist. Keep those ideas in the forefront of your mind and let them drive you to accomplish your artistic vision. Early on in my career I read about this idea in an article and it has stuck with me ever since. It is one of the mantras that has propelled me to this point in my career. It is what has given me the mentality necessary to push myself forward and to never settle for anything other than what I truly wanted to do. The journey of trying to become a professional artist can be extremely challenging, but when I decided that this was what I really wanted to pursue, I was determined to stay focused on that goal.
Over the years I have seen so many fellow artists take part-time jobs to supplement their journey financially. Which, isn’t in and of itself a bad decision, but too often they panic when they don’t have work immediately (especially if they just moved to a new place) and they feel they need money and stability immediately. I completely understand that reaction, trust me when I say that moving to NYC after getting married, not having any connections, spending two years in school and then spending another three years scraping together enough work to pay rent from month to month was STRESSFUL! But… I always had those words in my head, “Never settle, always plan A.” I had to let those circumstances drive me to make something work. I’ve never had a side job that has nothing to do with my craft. Not because I felt I was “above that”, but rather, I wasn’t wanting to take a detour on my career or in my mentality to keep pushing myself. What can sometimes happen when you get a side job or go to “plan B” is that your sense of urgency diminishes. You feel as though now you have more time, but now you don’t have the same hustle to make something happen. Not having a plan B is sometimes a very scary place to be, I get that! But in my opinion, it’s a necessary place to cultivate the desire and motivation to get over that first hump of figuring out what it is that your artistic voice brings to the table. This also means that you will most likely not be able to afford certain luxuries or comforts that you might have been able to afford in the past… again... this period of discomfort and difficulty is going to be what ultimately pushes you to become the artist you need to be. It will force you to think outside of the box, to network like crazy, to get yourself out there. Because literally, your life depends on it.
Even after leaving NYC, moving back to CLE, buying a house and having two kids this mindset has not changed for me. Everything I do to make a living directly involves music and performance. Until I decide I don’t want to do that anymore, I won’t stop. I will say that this lifestyle decision is also something that needs to be supported by those in your family. I would not be pursuing my career in this if it was something that my wife and I didn’t agree upon. Her support is another major reason that I’ve been able to succeed and I don’t want that to go unmentioned!
I’m putting this article out there because I hope that this might encourage or inspire someone that is on the fence about pursuing something that they really love because they feel it’s not practical. Wether it’s a student about to enter their first year of college and is deciding on their major or someone who has simply been living in their “plan B” for too long. Know that the potential to pursue your artistic vision is there! It takes a tremendous amount of focus, effort, sacrifice, frustration, stress and starting over, but in my opinion… it’s worth it.
If you have thoughts or questions please comment. I would love to hear from you! :)