The short story is that it's better to have your rock star gig when you're young and your corporate career after that. (:
The long version is that your should consider your "provider" role primary and your "artist" role secondary. If you do that, most of the other decisions make themselves.
I want to challenge a couple of your assumptions, because false assumptions up front can have disastrous consequences in your decision-making process down the road:
1. Are you really an "office monkey?" Or are you part of an organization that is doing something well, providing benefit to their customers, and rightfully getting well paid?
2. Are you assuming you will eliminate what-ifs by choosing music? Because they will always be there. If you stay with your job you will have what-ifs about music. If you go with music, you will have what ifs about the well-paid career you abandoned. So learn to live with the what ifs and don't consider them in your decision-making process.
3. What kind of assumptions are you making when you cite your 5-year cushion? What would a major health crisis do to your timeline? Or a family emergency? Or a further downswing in the economy? Or the cost of unexpected opportunities for your children?
4. The things that bore you at work (I believe you cited budgets as an example?) -- do you think they will go away if you start a music business? Your budget concerns, for example, will be much greater as a musician. If you are serious about music, you will be running your art as an enterprise, and all the business concerns will remain. In fact, they will increase.
5. Are you assuming the grass will be greener? I know that is overused but it is overused because it is true. When I was going through this decision I asked my friends in the music business what they thought. Turns out that they all thought I was crazy to even consider it. They see my Lexus and all the other "stuff" and they perceive my grass as greener. It looks pretty cushy to them, and for the most part it is. it turns out they wished they had my well-paid job, stability, and future financial security. There aren't many 401Ks and retirement plans in the music business. Does your wife's job (if she has one) offer health care benefits that can be extended to you and your kids?
Enough with the assumptions. Not saying you're wrong, just asking questions. I hope you're cool with that. On to other things.
If you stay on your current career trajectory, in about a decade you will be, according to statistics, entering your peak earning years. if you choose music, most likely not. The decisions you make leading up to and during those peak earning years will determine what kind of college you can afford to send your children to, and what kind of start you will give them in life. They will determine whether you retire in a trailer, a house on the beach, or somewhere in between. They will determine whether you start relaxing more at 60 or work hard until you're 75.
Given all the above, the decision I made was to be provider first and keep my art as a hobby. And I am so glad I did. I don't have to track prima donnas who can't sing just to pay the rent. I can pick and choose, record with my friends, and work with artists that I think are great. And my wife and children are safe, happy, and well-provided for.
Thanks for listening; good luck with the decision.
Hi guys. I'm going to open my heart to you now, and I would really like to hear your advice - especially where it is based on personal experience.
So, I have a very well-paid job. I have a wife and two young kids. I want to do my best for them. I am 42. I have a very fortunate life compared to many people. But I am at a crossroads with a voice getting louder in my head saying I have not been on the right path, and the stress sometimes feels like a hand closing in around my throat.
The thing is, I always wanted to be a musician, but never got lessons. At school I joined the choir and was the only one who couldn't read music or sight read. But I was allowed in (it was a fairly elite touring choir) because the choirmaster said I had a special talent. In my 20's I got into Djing and within a year I was a regular at well known club in Barcelona, also playing festivals around the area. I wasn't as cool as the guys doing it full time but when they heard my mixes they said I had something special and welcomed me into their circle and onto their decks, and I got quite a few fans. But I eventually followed my day job because it was the kind of thing I thought my parents and future family would be proud of and I thought I'd have a better chance of supporting them with it.
So now here I am. I am an office monkey just like I always said I would never be. I am working with people who are nice but don’t seem like my kind of people. I have to act like someone else to work with them and get their respect and cooperation, which I need in order to get things done. I feel as though I live a lie all day. My main job satisfaction is knowing what I am providing for my family.
Like many people of around my age, I wonder how I suddenly got to here from 25, and I really properly understand now that my time on the planet is limited. I am starting to value every second more than I did before. And I really feel, in every waking moment that I am an artist (in the general sense of the word). This is not so much down to anything I’ve created, but more to how I see the universe and what is meaningful to me. And I feel an overwhelming need to create before I get older and die. But here’s the problem: I cannot do this in the tiny opportunities I get between work and being with my family. I love creating with Ableton and feel alive and in tune with myself when doing so, but I don't get enough time - and time is slipping away.
So I’m getting to my question. With my savings I could support my family for up to 5 years, and focus on becoming a master with Ableton and finding a path to making a living which involves music. My wife thinks I should do it. (Wow, what a woman, this is why I married her, after all.)
So one voice in my brain is saying this: Everything you have put your mind to, you have been successful at (to an acceptable degree for me, that is). If you had five years to focus on Ableton alone, with your passion, desire and ability to work very hard, and your business experience, you would find a way to make a living doing what you love. In addition, and this is silly but unfortunately might be relevant, you look about 10 years younger than you are (according to everyone) so if you went into something like Djing this might help.
But the other voice in my mind is saying: hey, are you nuts? it's the music and entertainment industry. You are too old. And if you screw it up, you will be 47, broke, and you will have seriously affected your family's future. All so you could do what you like instead of sacrificing yourself for them. Just making great music is not enough, even if you get that far. There are many talented artists who don't make it. You will have to brown nose people, and compete aggressively with others (including many who are younger and don’t have families to support), neither of which you have to do anymore in your current job. You will have to do so many unpleasant things to be hot in the 'industry' that you will lose the joy of making music. And even if you make it by 47, how long will you then be able to work for, before you are/feel too old and irrelevant?
So has anyone else found themselves with a similar dilemma and especially, has anyone else taken the plunge and succeeded? I don't need to be a multi-millionaire but I would like to be able to support my family. This might mean anything from 30k (pounds/dollars/euros) to 50k per year. Yes, I have read on this forum that you should dip your toe in whilst keeping you day job and then go for it if you get good feedback, but I don't think I can work like that. I have to put all my energy and focus into one thing if I’m going to make a success of it. In the past, when I’ve done this, I’ve been OK. But is Ableton the wrong thing to choose, and is it too late for me with my age and commitments?
I know there will be many opinions on this and ultimately only I can decide. But if anyone has any anecdotes of what happened to people in similar situations, this would really help me. I feel like I have to make a decision very soon!
Thanks for reading guys!