#130: When Should I Quit My Day Job?

When should I quit my job and go pro as a drummer?

Listener Declan writes: “At what stage do you need to consider taking the plunge and quitting the day job to pursue a career as a drummer?

At the moment I have a very secure job but am just dying to turn this from semi-pro to pro.”

I want to apologize- I think the last podcast that I did, I was apologizing for how long it’d been since I recorded an episode. I promised that I would be back in the swing of things, and then look what happened. I’m gonna have to rename this podcast from Drummer Daily to Drummer Weekly, or something. I promise you I am gonna make every effort to keep this thing going now.

The reason why I missed so many episodes in a row, was that I was wrapping up, I did … You probably heard my talk about recently, or you might’ve even said an ad or something, about a free masterclass that I did online, where I was talking about the path to becoming a professional drummer. Guys, I want to tell you that masterclass, that free class that I put together, I feel like … This is gonna silly, but as far as creative works go, and putting something together, might be one of the greatest accomplishments of my life. I mean that from a sheer … The amount of information I had to bring together, all the research, I feel like I wrote a book when I put this thing together, it was so much stuff.

So thankfully, a lot of you were able to join me on one of those masterclasses. I did four of them. They were all the same info, so I didn’t do four separate, it wasn’t like a four class series or anything, it was just one presentation basically, that I did four times. I know a lot of you were able to join me, so I got a lot of great feedback. I felt like people were able to get a lot of good info out of that, so I was busy putting that together, and hosting that. Then right out of that, I started a six week masterclass, for people who really are serious about becoming professional drummers. Ended up with I think, about 25 people in that class with me. For the next six weeks, I’ll be guiding them through this whole process of developing a career as a professional drummer.

Today I wanted to talk to you, I actually got a question from a listener, his name’s Declan. I put out the call for some questions, I said I won’t use your name, but I’ll use your first name because there’s a million of most. Unless your first name is very, very distinctive, I’ll use your first name because there’s nothing wrong with that. But Declan wrote in, and he actually asked, he said, “My question is, at what stage do you need to consider taking the plunge and quitting the day job, to pursue a career as a drummer? At the moment, I have a very secure job but I’m just dying to turn this from semi-pro to pro. Thanks a lot.” Well Declan, that’s a great question, and it’s actually something that … Thankfully for me, if you know any of my story, if you’ve heard any of it, there was a time when I thought I was gonna have to make that choice. I did not make that choice one way or the other, and ended up getting fired from my real job, and that choice was kind of made for me.

It seems like sometimes I’m hesitant to jump off the cliff and something comes along that pushed me off the cliff anyway. I want to tell you a story, to kind of put this into perspective, and kind of maybe give you some insight into what I think about this topic. I have a friend named Dan, and he does videography. Years ago, and I mean years ago, he … It’s actually the guy, if you’ve taken Boom Click Boot Camp, it’s the guy who actually shot all the video for me, for that. Anyway, years ago he had started getting into doing the video thing, and getting paid to do some videos for people, and really has a talent for it. So it was pretty cool to see how quickly he went from not knowing much about it, kind of just doing it as a hobby, to all of a sudden it was like wow, this guy knows what he’s doing. Quickly escalated into him doing it a lot, and getting paid to do it. He had a full-time “real” job at the time as well.

I want to disclaim this. I don’t know if this specifically is what caused him to make this change or not, but it’s a concept that I hold onto and I believe is something worth talking about. So disclaimer on that, maybe he didn’t listen to a word I said. But at one point, we were having a conversation, and he was struggling with, “Do I quit my job and go into this video thing full-time? Or do I keep doing just what I’m doing right now, which is do the video thing on the side, kind of semi-pro and keep my real job? It’s steady and stable, and I know how much I’m gonna make, things like that.” What I said to him was, “There’s this concept that I ascribe to, and I didn’t come up with this. But it’s called the idea of looking at your, what I call opportunity costs. Which is, you have to look at by keeping this day job, by keeping this real job, what gigs am I missing out on? What opportunities am I having to say no to, because I have this real job? Now, with those opportunities like that, where someone asks you to do something maybe and you say no, that’s an opportunity cost.”

Opportunity costs a lot of times can actually be quantified, it actually can be … There’s a number associated with that. How much would that gig have paid? How much would that job have been worth to you, right now? That’s a cost, that’s a real cost that you are paying essentially, because it’s money you could’ve had but you don’t have. I consider that a cost. So how much is that costing you, in that regard? Additionally, on top of that, if you had been able to take that gig, what other gigs might’ve come out of that? That one may not be as concrete and obvious, so there’s not really necessarily a real number that you can put on that, but you could look at that and say, “I think maybe it would’ve been this much, or that much,” and add that up. So those are two real costs to keeping the day job.

Then the third thing is, there’s another kind of segment of opportunity costs, as creatives that we don’t think about. That is the perception of others. So I know for a fact when I had a real job, that there were people, I found out later, who wanted to ask me to play drums, for either a recording session, or a gig, or something, but they knew I had a real job, and so they never asked me in the first place. So I never even knew I had the opportunity because they assumed that I couldn’t do it anyway because I had a real job, and didn’t even ask me. There’s another segment there of opportunities that we might be missing out on, called opportunity costs.

Now take all that stuff, think about it, add it up as much as you can, and then look at where you’re at right now. And compare all of that opportunity cost that you’re dealing with, and compare that to what you’re getting paid for your real job right now. When those numbers start getting pretty close together, that’s a good point to maybe make that switch over. I want to make sure that we’re clear on this, your opportunity costs can’t be something that you made up, or that you hope for. It has to be real opportunities, real things that actually exist. Not just, “Man, if I wasn’t this job, I could go on tour with the Rolling Stones.” Not that kind of stuff, but real opportunities that have been presented to you, or realistic things that are right in front of you.

I’m not being pessimistic about your opportunities, I’m just saying this is one time when we need to actually look at the reality of what we’re getting offered or not offered, versus being hopeful and optimistic. If those two things are getting close, what you’re actually making from your job, or what you need to live … I would even say this, if you add up your existing gigs that you are able to take with your opportunity costs, if you add those two things up and they seem like they’re close to what your normal expenses are, or how much ever money you need or want to make doing the drumming thing at first, if you’re getting close, that might be the time to make that jump as well.

But I want to be clear, I am not offering you any kind of professional career advice. Don’t do anything that I say without putting any more thought to it, and then end up in a really bad spot. I don’t want that to happen to you. So take what I’m saying with a grain of salt, along with other things other people who are way smarter than me, about this stuff. But I do think that that’s a good first step in approaching and figuring out if you’re ready to make that move from semi-pro drummer to pro drummer. Thanks again Declan, for that question.

I hope that helped you as well, wherever you’re at in your pursuit of a drumming career, or not as a drumming career, just enjoying drumming. It’s still a good thing to think about even if you’re not trying to make this a profession right now, it’s fun to look at it and see, “Oh, maybe I could make this a profession, I never thought about it before.” So it’s fun to do that, it’s kind of like … I don’t ever really play the lottery, like the big powerball jackpot things, but whenever that big number comes around, it’s still fun to sit and imagine what you’d do with all that money. So even if you don’t have a goal of becoming a professional drummer, it’s still fun to think about, and do some fun imaginary work on what you’d do with that situation.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for you today. Hope this helped you out, hope this inspired you, hope this gives you some things to think about. I will talk to you guys again very soon. Thanks for joining me on Drummer Daily. Bye for now.

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