Today, I turn 28.
In the words of my girlfriend, “still young, but not that young anymore.” In my recent reflections, I’ve been giving a lot of thought of Reality vs Dreaming, mostly in context with my career. 28 is a big age developmentally for musicians. 30 is even bigger.
1. Time is running out. Right?
In conversations with a good musician friend of mine, Trevor H., the idea that we’d be 30+ year old dudes playing in local bars and clubs in hopes of one day “making it” seemed unacceptable. It still is. While do I feel like I’m “making it,” perhaps the better phrase is “making it happen.” The reality of what it takes to be an independent musician in this radically changing business climate is daunting, but this is our professional degree via the school of hard knocks.
Being a musician is like being a shark: one must constantly be moving or risk drowning in the very environment that gives you life. Creating and practicing is such a miniscule part of the day-to-day activity. There are plenty of better-written articles that talk about how much work goes into putting on even a moderately successful show. The point is that I feel like I’ve been working hard, working smart, and working long hours. But I still feel like I’m not working enough.
However, feeling like there’s never enough time is a good thing. I go to sleep excited, barely able to wait until I have a chance to move things even more forward.
2. Maintaining turns me into a caveman.
A lesson that I’ve learned this year was about the importance of adapting. Trends change so quickly, and what once was profitable, hip, and seemingly eternal can disappear. As another one of my musician friends (Geoff B.) had observed, guys who stick to the old ways are essentially cavemen still swinging branches in an age of bows & arrows. I realized that I was playing catch-up to a destination that was still going to leave me lagging woefully behind.
If I want true success, I have to take risks, suck-up failures from experimentation, and anticipate where trends are moving. Sure people will continue to find success in the traditional way of doing things, and maybe I will too, but even the rock stars of old have had to change to survive in today’s market. And I’m no rock star.
3. Touring is wonderful. Family is even better.
I began my 27th year of life single. I felt great about it: I was going to be a road dog, traveling nonstop so I can perform my music. With no ties emotional ties to a significant other, I wasn’t really hurting anyone, and I had a way of keeping the machine going, at least for a little while.
Then I fell in love.
After my summer tour, we moved in together. We had a puppy. I didn’t want to be traveling all the time anymore. But my finances suffered because of my extended time away from the road. After all, I’d planned my next few years of life as a performing artist with a packed schedule. Plans change.
I’m blessed to have a girlfriend who begs me to stick with music. She dismisses any notion of my getting a “real job.” She’d told me, “I can’t see you doing anything else. You found your calling and are meant to do this. It hurts me to think that you’d consider doing anything other than what you love.” Then she added, “It’d be a completely different story if I felt that your music sucked.”
We haven’t quite found the right balance yet, but I don’t think it ever gets easy being away from your girlfriend and puppy.
27’s given me a lot of lessons, some learned harder than others. I’m looking forward to seeing where 28 takes me! A big thank you to everyone who’s been supporting my music and making this all possible!