I just finished reading several articles on how parents “do music” when they have a kids and a family life.
Most of the musicians I read about were touring musicians. And I gotta hand it to them: several, if not all, just cart their kids along.
The kids learn to adapt and have their own adventures on the road.
I think that’s cool. I think it’s brave. At some point I would like to try that myself.
I do foresee an enormous amount of effort and planning on a whole new level – beyond the strain and efforts of a normal tour.
This might all be worth it, of course, just to have the adventure itself and to have your whole family see and experience the world through the lens of music and music lovers.
Now, what about other parents that can’t or don’t want to bring the whole family on the road?
Many musicians with children have day jobs and bills and mortgages and school routines that don’t allow for touring at all.
Is there a solution to this?
And how does a parent find the TIME to create music, record, and do the other music marketing and promotion activities required to validate their calling (even if it’s a side calling)?
If you’ve never heard of me before, for the record, I’m Leah, I have five children under the ages of ten and I do not tour.
But I make a living with my music.
I also homeschool. Life is crazy busy. So I understand, truly.
#1 Realize that touring is no longer necessary to build a fanbase
Touring is fun. Touring is fulfilling. Touring is part of musical TRADITION.
But….. I dare say, touring is not NECESSARY to building a fanbase or making a sustainable income now.
There are folks who will disagree with me vehemently.
But they are wrong (LOL).
I know this because I and many others have built a fanbase around the world strictly by promoting our music online.
People need to open their eyes and see how drastically the music industry has changed.
We’re in a new (online) economy now, which has opened the doors for virtually every talented musician and band.
I can write a song, record it, and then upload it to any platform.
Then someone in another country discovers it while I’m SLEEPING.
They love what they hear, listen to all my discography, buy a CD, buy some merch, and share my music with their social media networks.
Then this process repeats with my new fan’s friends ten more times, and all before I’m awake at 7 a.m.
I open my inbox to discover $100 worth of direct downloads and merch sales while I was snoozing away, and several emails from new fans who just discovered my music and are ECSTATIC.
They want to know if I have anything else.
I head downstairs with my smartphone in hand, making a mad dash for the coffee machine.
I look at my digital sales report from the past 2 months and see a ripple effect happening across all the streaming and music sales platforms.
My royalty payment for the week (on this one platform) is over $1800.
Many people can and do live off of this income!
It then occurs to me as I drink my first coffee and transfer my royalties to Paypal that I’ve just accomplished this without performing a single TOUR, or gigging at all.
I accomplished this while being a full-time, stay-at-home mom, homeschooling my FIVE children, and running my music business strictly on the Internet.
Now, this is not me patting myself on the back.
No, this is me giving you HOPE.
Most people have more time on their hands than I do. You could do better than I. You could go further, longer, and really do amazing things.
What you must realize: none of this would have happened for me without the Internet, without file sharing, and even piracy.
Shocking, I know!
But I’ve reached tens of thousands of fans around the globe just because of the Internet. It’s allowed me to make a NAME for myself instead of keep my music completely undiscovered in my basement.
If it weren’t for the Internet I wouldn’t be making a dime as a recording artist. No one would know who I am. My large fanbase in Europe would not have my CDs sitting on their shelf.
#2 How do you “do it all”? ….. You don’t.
PRINCIPLE: You can’t do everything.
You can’t be doing five-hundred things, plus a Kickstarter campaign, plus writing your album, plus working full-time, plus driving your kids to karate, plus shooting music videos, and skydiving all at the same time.
PRINCIPLE: Whenever you add something onto your plate, you need to take something off.
If you already have a very busy life with work, kids, other pursuits, obligations, etc. and then you add recording a new album on top of that, you will either: a) never finish your recording project; or b) burn out.
There are probably other negative things that could happen, but generally this is what happens.
The project gets put on the back-burner because “life got in the way.”
Or you push through and are miserable, stressed out, and burn out afterwards, almost taking the joy out of the music itself.
That’s not a good place to be, for you or anyone around you.
Whatever your situation is, you can’t multi-task your entire life. At least, not sustainably.
TAKE AWAY: Recognize what season of life you are in and what season of life you want to be in.
Be realistic about what you can accomplish and then schedule that time in advance.
It’s not romantic, but you need to schedule your practice time, writing time, recording time, and any other activity into your calendar.
If you can’t do it in large blocks of time (usually we need this to get into the “zone”), then do it in smaller 30-minute to 1-hour chunks on a more regular or daily basis.
ACTION: Consider getting up an hour earlier than you normally do. Drink your coffee and play your instrument.
Don’t even put pressure on yourself to write anything brilliant; just play.
By the end of day 5, something new will be brewing. Guaranteed.
This is really a discipline or habit.
In every other sector and industry, this is what successful people do.
They get up early, and they do the most IMPORTANT thing first. They get it done. Then everything else in the day can come at you, and your music will still have come first.
You did it!
#3 Define the Season You’re In
This follows on the heels of the previous point, but, more specifically, recognize what season of life you’re in.
Are you in a season of just increasing your playing skills?
When you’re busy with babies, kids, or important but time-consuming life stuff, perhaps the only time you can afford is a quick 15-minute session of vocal warmups and practice.
It doesn’t mean you’ll never get anywhere with your music.
Just know that’s where you’re at right now.
Are you in a season of writing?
If so, then writing becomes your priority.
It means you turn off the TV at night.
As soon as the kids are asleep, instead of watching shows, you head straight to your instrument.
Know your season.
Be deliberate and purposeful about your season.
There is a time and season for everything.
As a parent, the most important key is to learn how to work SMART instead of HARD in your music business to maximize your TIME and leverage your talent.
There’s nothing worse than living a life of regret. When you’re born to be a musician, nothing can stop that draw that you have to music. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to leave no stone unturned in pursuit of your music career. The good news, as I’ve shared in my own personal story, is that you can now enjoy a profitable music career and family life. It does not have to be one or the other.