So this is my first blog post on my website, and from the list of things not to do for a first post, I'm going to talk about something fairly heavy. My intention with this blog is for it to be a semi-regular thing where I go into a fair amount of detail about various topics, from my music to gaming to current events to just general going ons in my life. This first post falls into that latter category, with a bit of music thrown in I guess.
I'm assuming that many of you will have read about my decision to leave my job at the end of the month to pursue a career in music full time. I've talked at length about how amazing and humbling the level of support I've gotten is, and it just reminds me how amazing my fans are. It's cheesy and cliche but I literally would not be where I am today without their support. Trying to stand out and make it as an independent musician in a veritable sea of other artists and bands, some independent and some signed to record labels isn't easy. I see many artists and wonder how they haven't gotten the traction or exposure that I feel they deserve. It just makes me feel even more lucky and privileged.
However, this post is more about what led to me make my decision, and some of the challenges I had to think about before taking the plunge. As a bit of context, I graduated from university with a masters degree in physics in 2013 and took a year off as I didn't know (or more accurately, didn't have a clue) what I was going to be doing with my life. I didn't want to go into physics academia (and I don't think I was smart enough to begin with) and I didn't feel I could sustain myself from music at the time. A few months after graduation, I began to apply for graduate jobs and graduate schemes. This was a bit of a trial by fire, as I had never really practised interview technique or read up on what to do at assessment days. The only advice I can give to anybody going through the same process is not to let rejection get to you, because it can and will happen.
Eventually, I got an offer to worked for a large professional services firm through their graduate intake, as an analyst in the firm's Technology Consulting practice. It was a great opportunity for me, and I accepted it without hesitation. I don't have any regrets doing so, because I've met some great people, learned a lot about the corporate and business world and had some great experiences through my time at the firm. I'm leaving with all my connections intact, very much with a sense of 'no hard feelings'. I've been told I'm welcome back if for whatever reason music doesn't work out, which is a nice safety net to have. It's not one I intend to use, but nice to have nonetheless.
If you've never met me (which is likely!), then there are probably some things I should say. I value honesty and directness, and I don't put it lightly that I don't really suffer bullshit from people. It should be no surprise then that the corporate world and me didn't really get on. A lot of what I experienced clashed with my personality and I found myself quickly becoming cynical of a lot of what I dealt with at work. I didn't really feel comfortable with being a 'resource' as opposed to a person, and I didn't appreciate how London-centric the firm I worked at was. The other issues was the travel. I had two periods lasting several months in the last year and a half where I spent most of my week living out of a hotel, with a flight or a long train journey every Monday and Thursday. Some people thrive and enjoy the travel, I really didn't. I wanted to be in front of my studio every day, working on music. This came to peak around the beginning of the year, which was exactly the time I should have been spending the most time recording Set Course for Andromeda.
So during January and February of this year, on Mondays I would get up at 5am to get a 6am train down south, a journey lasting 4 and a half hours. I would get to work at about 10:45am and stay there until Thursday afternoon. The thing was, I had almost nothing to do there, which made me wonder about why I was there at all. I doubt most people would complain about having an easy time at work, but I didn't get to go home in the evenings and there was no way I would be able to bring down my entire recording rig on a train. I didn't even get a say in it either; I was simply told this was where I would be working. These are very much first world problems, but I'm going to complain about them anyway. I had music I wanted to work on and I wasn't even getting the free time after work to do it.
It was at this point I decided that I had to leave this job. The majority of my work had been in Scotland near where I live, and that was fine, but there was absolutely no guarantee that I wouldn't be shipped off to a project down south for 6 months at a moment's notice. For me, that was an unacceptable compromise to take when I wanted to dedicate more and more time to music. I told my parents, who were understandably worried that I would be giving up the security of a corporate job for the trepidations of an independent musician, but after talking to them they became fully supportive (they are awesome and have been supportive of everything I do music since the beginning).
The challenges of going full time music are almost all financial. Like anybody else, I needed money to have a place to stay and money to eat. This is the part where I give another huge thanks to my fans. Thanks to continued support from album purchases and from streaming revenue from services like Spotify and Google Play, I worked out I could at least pay rent and bills. It would then be a case of building on what I had in order to make this a sustainable career for myself. To be honest, if I never make the same amount of money I did with my previous job but had enough so that I had a place to stay and continue making music, I feel I will be much, much happier. There will be times where it will be challenging, but what is life without a little adversity? If I can get through the next few months, I think I'll be able to sustain my foray into full time music.
The plan for the next year is to build on a (hopefully) successful album and tour in Japan, play more live shows and get myself touring in the UK, Europe and hopefully the US one day (maybe Australia too, I have plenty of friends there!). The last thing I want to do is think I've somehow made it after leaving my job. That point should mark the beginning of what I want to do musically. I want to be able to dedicate all my time to music and I want to be even busier than I was at my job, writing and recording music, giving lessons, doing production work and who knows what else.
I don't really know what the future holds for me. And you know what, that's incredibly exciting and I wouldn't have it any other way.