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Topic: Quitting the day job -- A diary

  1. #1

    Quitting the day job -- A diary

    11 months ago, I posted a thread entitled I am a composer on these forums, describing my desire to turn to music as my sole profession. The many useful comments by forum-goers make this a great read. I highly suggest anyone who is thinking of taking the plunge and moving into music full time to check it out.

    At that time, I made several small but important steps towards my goal:
    1. I began telling people "I am a composer" when asked what I do. This helped cement the thought in my head, and just possibly in the heads of people who some day be looking for a composer
    2. I gave myself a one-year deadline to make the changeover.
    3. I began to compile a list of ideas for my business.

    This is the diary of my efforts, and the story of a one-year plan that is now 11 months old. I will attempt to update this fairly regularly, to keep readers up to date. It's my hope that this thread can serve as an encouragement to those who are considering this sort of life-changing move.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  2. #2
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Quitting the day job -- A diary

    I have always had a great deal of admiration for you and your compassion to make your dream a reality. Something most of us can only think of.
    I wish the very best of success for you Jamie!
    Remember, "You ARE a Composer!"

  3. #3

    Post Re: Quitting the day job -- A diary

    Feb 2, 2006

    I turn 42 this month. My original target was in fact my birthday (the 27th), but I have now pushed it to April 1. Still, this is only eight weeks away, so it's scary close.

    In my current work, I have been dealing with the same project for about six years. Some time ago, our company lost the bid on the contract to create a brand new version of our system. Everyone on my team was let go except for me. Development on the project ceased, and I was relegated to "support" for the system. Over the past few months, my work has been getting sparser and sparser. Luckily, I still get paid.

    When the project ends on March 31, my company will attempt to find a new position for me. My boss is pressuring me to get my certification in Java. I decided I don't have the time or desire to prepare for that, so the end of this project looked like a good target for the beginning of my new life.

    Last night, I sat down with my wife, and we talked about all this. For the first time, I gave her a real calendar date for quitting my job. She's scared, but extremely supportive. She quit her day job just over two years ago, and is still struggling with her home business. She is making money, but not exactly a truckload yet. We discussed a lot of our plans, but I won't spell it all out here until things come to fruition.

    Ok, so the other thing I did was build a new desk for my studio. A fresh start deserves a fresh working environment! I bought a beautiful long and deep desk from IKEA, and spent the night putting it together. I had planned out exactly how it would fit in my space, and it all worked very nicely. I have so much more elbow room, and it's just nicer to be sitting there to work. My video and audio monitors are better placed, and there is room under the desk to fit my large filing cabinet, my rack of gear, my PC tower and my legs!
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  4. #4

    Re: Quitting the day job -- A diary

    This will certainly be interesting to see the updates and progress you make.

    Just remember to use wisely a passion; do not be blinded by a passion.

    Best of luck to you in your journey! I wish success for you!
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  5. #5

    Re: Quitting the day job -- A diary

    ...good luck, Jamie!


    Jim Jarnagin - no not THAT Jim Jarnagin, the other one.

  6. #6

    Throw off the bowlines...

    It took me a few years of getting very uncomfortable in my 'comfort zone' before finally quitting the day job a year and a half ago and doing music full-time. As difficult as it has been to get the ball rolling, it is definitely rolling now and there's no doubt to me or my family that I did the right thing. I wish you the very best, Jamie. My wife was encouraging me to do this more than I was willing to myself, so if your wife is supportive that's definitely a great thing.

    Here's a quote by Mark Twain that helped me quite a bit during a particular time of doubt and fear before I made the plunge:

    Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

    Ha! I just realized I posted that same quote to your previous thread. Oh well, it's worth reading again, eh?
    - Cool Tunes for Kids -

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2000
    Orcas Island

    Re: Quitting the day job -- A diary


    You have a lot of courage to do this. It is very difficult to make a living with music as a sole profession. I've been there and understand what it is like.

    You have a profession that is so competitive, not always regarded highly by those who would hire you, and is ever shifting and changing. Yet there is the unquenchable love for music that compels one to go forward no matter what the cost.

    You initial plan is a good one. The one-year deadline may be optimistic and I hope you revise that. It takes a long time to network and get yourself out there. Give yourself a longer game plan. You are smart to compile a list of ideas for your business. Many a musician shuns any notion of business and that could lead to a lack of success.

    Try to find a niche that is yours, a specialty that you can do better than anything else. Write articles about it, give talks, become an expert in one particular area of expertise. Be the guy everyone looks to in that one thing.

    Case in point: Jeremy Soule. I have a great deal of admiration for what Jeremy has accomplished. Years ago, not many heard of game audio or Jeremy Soule. Hollywood and TV were the rage then an game audio was not on the radar. Jeremy positioned himself very nicely and became known as an expert in composing for games. Now the gaming industry is larger than Hollywood, TV gigs are now replaced by reality shows, and Jeremy is composing for Lucas Arts and other high-profile games. There are many such examples.

    Music is now undergoing fundamental changes in the creation and delivery. Look for opportunities. Films are going iPod and broadband. Look at what's coming with Atom Films. Ringtones have done well for some composers. Gaming is still exploding. Imagine what tomorrow will bring and be there first.

    OK enough rambling on my part.

    Jamie, you are incredibly gifted and have what it takes in the talent department. You may want to consider revising your timetable. Whatever you do be true to yourself and never abandon your dreams.

    Gary Garritan

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    NW Illinois

    Re: Quitting the day job -- A diary


    I'd also like to add that I suggest to be flexible to different opportunities that may come your way. Sometimes our initial musical goals might not work out exactly as we hope, but there's nothing wrong with revising plans as you go along and. Good luck.


  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Wilton, NH

    Re: Quitting the day job -- A diary


    Good luck! And thanks for keeping us posted.

    I’m real interested in this – I’m your age, in the computer field and wish I was in the music field instead. I don’t, however, feel I am ready to quit my day job. I am spending a lot of time working on my music and my networking preparing for he day when I will be able to cut loose.

    Looking forward to hearing more of your adventure. Best of luck.
    Trent P. McDonald

  10. #10

    Re: Quitting the day job -- A diary

    Scary yes, but rewarding. I have not had nearly as many magic moment in my current (software) career as I did in my music career (which, to date, only lasted 1/3 as long).

    I'm always amazed at how many musicians think that they can be successful without a plan. Making $$$ in music is a business, and it's necessary to have a plan for any business. I applaud you for both your courage and your plan.

    Good luck, God bless, and please ask for help as you need it.
    Pat Azzarello

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