This is a great article that really rings true with me. The takeaway is something I have always believed, and live by: Being a musician and having a career don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
I have been a gigging musician while working as a full-time engineer since completing my degree in 2004. In about a year, I will have earned a yearly vacation allotment of four weeks. Between that and personal/sick time, I have about six weeks per year that permit me to visit my family, perform, and travel — and pay for it. I have played in most of the neighboring states, and have developed a napping strategy that let’s me perform late even on weeknights.
My career provides me with a technology-rich atmosphere where I can exercise parts of my brain that don’t get stretched when I play music. I have health insurance, and can take sick days when I have a cold (today!). I can afford music equipment and repairs when they are needed, and occasional gear acquisitions when Gear Acquisition Syndrome (GAS) attacks. Being a musician also saves me from career-born insanity (though I still swear on the job). And on top of it all, the field of computer hardware design gives me the ability to do my own repairs (most of the time) — a good tool to have when you’re on the road.
I think each musician has their own goal and implementation strategy that only they can understand. For some, being a full-time musician may be the way to go. But, being a musician in an area where good music wishes it were thriving, I wouldn’t trade my career and the stability it gives me for anything in the world.