Choosing to be a music creator comes with certain, shall we say, pitfalls. While it is tough enough to put in years of hard work, it will be that much harder for you to achieve your goals when you have a mate who is watching the clock, who is impatient with your precarious financial situation and who simply does not share your passion for a music career. No one knows this better than Mixerman, who has weathered plenty of hardscrabble years in the music business. And in the following article––which is excerpted from his latest book, Zen and the Art of Recording––he dishes some absolutely essential insights and advice to us all.
To be perfectly honest, it’s far easier to make it in this business when you have a life partner able to bring in a steady income. You should choose your partner based on love and compatibility, not a W2, and I wouldn’t suggest otherwise. But if you’re purposely putting off marrying that great gal or guy because you first want to be in a financial position to do so, you’re ignoring the fact that you’ll likely find yourself in similarly hard times in the future.
That said, partnership with someone who is unable to deal with the difficult times in this business will result in one of two possibilities. Either you’ll be out of the business completely, working a job you hate in order to keep your marriage together, or you’ll be divorced. Possibly both. Life balance issues will put a constant strain on your relationship, even with the most understanding of mates.
This is not the kind of job that allows for balance when it comes to your personal life. Statistically speaking, it’s a business that’s fraught with waves of feast or famine, and you will often have more work than you can handle one month, followed by an empty studio the next—the very definition of feast or famine. There very well could be times in your life when work is steady and dependable. I have experienced those times. Unfortunately, periods of feast can be just as detrimental to the well-being of a relationship as spans of famine.
“You must have a mate that is fully supportive and understanding of what’s at stake.”
When you’re working, your absence will breed resentment. When you’re not working, your lack of income will breed resentment. Life balance in this business is not achieved in the short run, but rather over the long haul, and I’m not sure we can reasonably call that balance, since you will somehow manage to foment resentment regardless of whether you’re working or not.
Further problematic is the stress of operating a business with a robust overhead. Disagreements over money can be traumatic to a relationship. Your mate could very well want to save money in order to soften the blow of the tough times. Good advice if there ever was any. Unfortunately, in order to build a business you must invest in it. Your mate will not likely understand a decision to sink a large chunk of money on a microphone when you’re suddenly flush again, after a month of mac and cheese dinners.
Mates who have never built a business often can’t truly comprehend what’s needed to keep it growing, and your expenditures could be viewed as nothing more than personal whims, rather than necessary investments that will allow you to compete. That said, cash flow problems are certainly not unique to this business. It’s your dedication and discipline that could prove the real downfall to your relationship.