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The Middle-Aged Man’s Guide to Getting Out Of the Music Industry

Follow these steps for a less painful, less poverty-stricken professional life.

Note:  Maybe you're going in the other direction?  Feel free to click here


#1. Avoid Meeting “Industry Types”.

Now that you’ve decided to — in the parlance of our times — do what your parents did and get a job, you need to stop screwing around with all these music conferences and the like. South by Shit Fest, Folk Annoyance, all these ASCAP or SESAC community meetups… Collectively, they’re all just a money pit. You may as well buy a 1976 volkswagen camper van. Wait, what’s that? You’ve already got one? Oh geez… it’s even worse than I thought…

My point is, stop looking for people that can help you with your music career. You’re trying to get out of the music business, remember?

#2. Mentally Prepare Yourself for Having A Savings Account.

What’s that you say? Savings?! Yes, savings. A funny thing happens when you’re no longer spending all of your money on recording, producing, mastering, publicizing, touring, conferencing, blah, blah, blah: You have money! Not a ton of money, but *some* money. And it’s weird at first. It takes a minute to adjust, so you know… prepare yourself or … whatever.

#3. Get an Apartment.

Now that you’re no longer “on the road” three and a half weeks out of every month, you can actually move all your stuff out of that storage space off I-35, and maybe get an actual place to stay. One that has four walls, a ceiling and zero wheels. Hooray for normality!

Sure, you’ll feel like a conformist for the first day or so, but once you realize that — unlike that pub in Swindon — you don’t need to leave your boots on to sleep for fear of vermin biting off your toes, you’ll start to feel pretty smug about your new life.

In addition, if you thought ladies loved it when you were a rebel sleeping in your car and driving from town to town letting “the man” have it through the power of song, well firstly you were very sadly mistaken my friend. They did not love that. That which you have mistaken for “love” was more likely complete indifference and at best, pity. Secondly, wait until you see how they react when you tell them that you’re gainfully employed! Whoo-Hoo! Who knew that gainful employment was such an aphrodisiac? Answer: Everyone but you.

#4. Furniture Is Your Friend

Now that you’ve got an apartment, you’re going to need furniture. This fact might escape you since the last time you had an actual place to live was probably in the late 90s. You were in your early 20s and it was enough to have a couple of beanbag “chairs” and a TV for playing “Golden Eye” with your stupid friends. Well you’ve missed about 20 years of real world maturation so you might have a bit of catching up to do. See, most people your age have things. Not necessarily nice things, but things. Books, bric-a-brac, cushions, dishes, pots and pans. You know, things. When you have things, you need other things to put those first things on/in. Things like sofas, bedroom sets, a dining room table. Hell at your age, most people have sideboards. Look that up. Sideboard. It’s a thing.

Anyway, it’s important to note, that you can’t really get away with the cheap fiberboard IKEA stuff either. You’re way too old for that now. If you’re a 40-something year-old bachelor (and let’s face it, if any of this piece applies to your life you almost certainly are a bachelor) IKEA just screams “L O S E R”. However, since you’re just getting started in your real life, you probably can’t afford Crate and Barrel yet (the middle-aged’s answer to IKEA), so the best thing to do is look for estate sales. Some unfortunate soul (only about twice your age by the way -- yeah... that's real) kicks the bucket and leaves a house full of furniture that took a lifetime to amass. You’ll go in with all the other vultures and pick that carcass clean over a long weekend. Get yourself some chairs, a table or two. Hell you can find anything at these estate sales.

PRO TIP: Go on Sundays. There’s not much left, but what there is, they’re practically giving away!

#5. Adapt Your Stories and Anecdotes For the Real World.

What you’re about to undertake (getting out of the music business as a middle-aged man) is not altogether different than quitting a debilitating drug habit. Once you’re out, you’re probably gonna need to make some new friends, because hanging out with your old friends could cause a relapse. (Let’s get the band back together!) Now over the past 20 or so years of touring you’ve definitely managed to collect some world-class anecdotes and hilarious stories. The problem is that the real world probably isn’t ready for some of these stories. Following is a list of words or phrases that are likely pretty common in your anecdotes, paired with a word or phrase that probably suits the real world a bit better…

Hobo = Intern.

Bouncer = Security

Another songwriter or musician = Colleague

Heavy boozing = Crunching numbers

Gig = Off-site

Touring buddy = CFO

Replacing these “problem” words makes the following anecdote passable in a real world conversation:

My touring buddy and I hadn’t slept all night, because we’d been up doing tequila shots over at this other songwriter’s house until well after sunrise. We had to get a cab and run down the street to barely make our morning gig! When we tried to walk past the bouncers, we looked so rough, they mistook us for a couple of hobos!

Magically becomes:

My CFO and I hadn’t slept all night, because we’d been up crunching numbers over at a colleague’s house until well after sunrise. We had to get a cab and run down the street to barely make the off-site! When we tried to walk past security, we looked so rough, they mistook us for a couple of interns!

#6. Get ready for exercise!

Another thing that you may not yet realize is that you have essentially been starving to death for 20 or so years. In much the same way that bathing in the lime-light doesn’t count as a shower; fast food, cigarettes, whiskey and coffee are not an integral part of a balanced diet. Now that you’re not constantly on the move, two things will happen: 1.) You’ll find you quite enjoy a sedentary lifestyle and 2.) You’ll have time to eat. These two factors add up to one big, fatter you. Yeah, you’re about to pack on some pounds. So if you’re smart you’ll get ahead of this thing and do some biking, or swimming or whatever. I’d suggest bowling.