It's The End Of The Week As We Know It: Part 69

Moving away from music news this week, I'd like to get a little personal (you know, talk about feelings and sh-t...).

Ultimate Guitar

Let's all open our Reading is Fun' books to page 69.


I had to throw in the classic Billy Madison reference because I'm giggling like a child over this week's number. 69 though? That's...a lot.

I'll take a second to revel in the innuendo and accomplishment.

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Unfortunately though, my smirking is mostly subdued as I write this. To anyone who has ever experienced the excruciating frustration of waking up at the butt crack of dawn to drive to your metropolitan courthouse for a traffic arraignment, I now understand your pain. Yes, I'm sitting in a courtroom, awaiting the involuntary submission of my hard earned money to the State of California, all because I had the audacity to overlook a No Turn on Red sign. The dusty and overly brown courtroom tires my eyes, as I'm half-awake at a very Pino-unfriendly hour. Maybe if I close them and imagine that my charges stemmed from excessive rockstar antics that caused a 10-car pileup and a hefty urination stain on the Alamo, I'll have more fun. But no, my traffic ticket is far less bada-s and noteworthy. I have yet to live up to Ozzy and Vince Neil-like legal status.

So with three or so hours on my hands, I have nothing else to do but reflect, which I suppose is a good thing because currently, I'm faced with a significant decision. Moving away from music news this week, I'd like to get a little personal (you know, talk about feelings and sh-t...).

I've been offered a job. A good one too. A real grown-a-s adult job with some pretty fine financial ornaments. I'd make way more money than I do now as a full-time freelance writer and the company is respectable and full of young, creative employees. It all sounds great as a whole, but the decision to take the job is more difficult because it requires relocation and a major change in lifestyle. Gone would be the days of waking up at 10 and doing my day's work in my underwear, which may or may not be a bad thing depending on how you look at it. Plus, I'll be saying adios' to Los Angeles for the time being.

The reason I want to talk about this now (and I may regret my full-on honesty) is because I'm sure a lot of people reading this have aspirations to be professional musicians or other artist types. And as musicians, we're all too familiar with the stigma against taking on "real" jobs.

It makes sense though. In an ideal world, we'd make our living solely on music, regardless of how much money is thrown our way. We do it because we have to; we suffer for the art and our goal is to make music the primary focus in our lives.

Such was the case with me. In my younger years, when I first started playing guitar around 13, I dreamed of being center stage and rocking out my songs to millions of fans. I'd look at photos of Led Zeppelin, Metallica, even Nirvana, and think, hey, that's the job for me. Look like a bada-s on stage, have people adore your music, make an impact in peoples' lives? The idea sounded fantastic and pursuing it was a no brainer.

Then as I got older (within the past few years or so), I started to recognize the difficulties a career musician faces, and although years in the practice room and a unique exposure to many, many types of music rounded me as a musician, I discovered that writing was the art form I was more naturally adept at. Hence, I was able to craft a modest living writing about music, which is amazing.

Freelance writing is very similar to the musician life and the realities can be tough. You work gig by gig; work can speed up and slow down; people don't pay you in a timely manner; there's financial uncertainty; there's competition; there will always be people out there who are more skilled and talented than you are; sometimes you stumble on brilliant luck; sometimes you strike out; there are highs; there are lows. It's a unique lifestyle and the experiences gained are invaluable. But every now and then you wonder how long you want to continue the hustle.

Aging a bit has a strange way of shifting your priorities, and as you see more sh-t, you become wiser (if you're positive) or jaded (if you're cynical). As I graduated out of my early twenties, I started to see some of my insanely talented musician friends start to move onto different career paths as well, modifying their goals and take on professions still related to music, but not on the much desired performance route. That was a sobering moment when you realize that even players who are extremely good still face the same career obstacles and you see that talent alone doesn't guarantee greatness.

Acknowledging those difficulties (I mean, really, we live in a time where it's extremely hard to make a decent living solely off music), you may find that music and guitar can certainly be an enhancement and incredible part of your life, but they may not be your life.

When you're younger, hearing statements that fall out of line with the ideology of the music life makes you defensive. I know I was. I used to get in fights with my parents - "SCREW getting a 'real' job. I'm not doing it for the money. I'm doing it for the love of music." Maybe you've said something similar.

But the way I'm looking at the job opportunity is just that - an opportunity. Sure, I won't be focusing on music and writing quite as much (and the new job would require me to wear pants at all times) but the job can grant me the freedom to pursue more creative endeavors. I could afford the luxury of purchasing equipment and software that I currently have a hard time affording. I can quit some writing gigs that suck the life out of me and focus on writing the book I've been slowly planning. I'll be in a new city, able to check out the music scene and maybe fall into a music group or two. I'll experience a different kind of lifestyle and see if it's something I enjoy. It could be a cool new chapter, and with hope, it'd be cool to share it all with you.

The thing is, I'll still be able to do this. You bet your a-s I'm still going to write this column every week. Out of all the writing gigs I have, many of which will fall to the wayside, I'll definitely keep UG going because it is by far the best writing gig I've had. Plus you guys are awesome.

So this week, I'd like to hear your stories about your aspirations. Do you have those dreams of musical stardom? Do you treat music as a hobby and allow school or work to be a priority? Would you be content having a mix between music and career or are you going all in? I'm just curious if anyone else has the same feelings toward getting older and making life choices that fall away from the original plan.

It's a strange, yet exciting time, and we'll see what happens. Regardless, it's 69 day and court is adjourned! Time to celebrate with some nudie magazines.

On The Next It's The End Of The Week As We Know It:

After allegedly having sexual relations with a ghost, the class act Ke$Ha writes a string of ballads lamenting how the ghost hasn't called her back.

Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong further clears up the reasons behind his recent temper tantrum at the iHeartMusic Festival, stating that he was frustrated because he wasn't able to save 15% on his car insurance.

I return to the LA courthouse on Monday after deciding to pull an Ozzy and p-ss on the Disney Concert Hall.

By Zach Pino Twitter: @zachpino

26 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Such a personal and very actual article... So, I think, this is one of the major dilemmas in life - for all, who are really love Music (like me and, I think, most of UG readers) or another thing - and faced with the need to earn more money to support themselves in modern society's life. Personally, making music for me is one of the most important ways to express myself. And if Music is not my whole Life, at least, as Friedrich Nietzsche said, "Without Music, life would be a mistake". And, perhaps, I can say that I am one of the happiest people - about the work. I'm doing what I'm really close, and this is due to the fact that I love - music. And I am very grateful to the UG for that. But sometimes the work (even the best work for me, that I really love) is taking too much time - so much so that it is not enough for writing music. It is really sad, but I think it's inevitable in this life. And we can (even MUST, I think) find opportunities to practice your favorite thing in any situation - we must strive to do so and don't forget that we hold dear, and who we really are. So, thank you very much for this article, Zach! And we hope to read many more great articles from you! Everything will be fine!
    Dude, welcome to the club! Making a living solely off music is like winning the lottery. All the right numbers have to come up at once. I personally do not know one musician (and I know some really good ones) who can live off of his music w/o some kind of support, be it his parents, girlfriend, borrowing other peoples money/car/ couch etc. I prefer to make my own way, and that meant music had to make room for a "real job". ...but I still dream sometimes "what if I had kept at it....?"
    I totally agree a solid music career is hard to start these days. getting a "real job" is the funnest thing in the world but you gotta do what you gotta do to pay the bills. yet being in a band and becoming famous for the music you write would be the best life to have.
    Personally for me guitar and music are hobbies. My passion is physics. I'm currently in my third year and many of my friends will be graduating and going to get real jobs. Fuck that! I want to shoot lasers at things! But at some point I will probably have to get a boring job. At least you are going to a job which will actually use your talent, in all likelihood I will end up some banker wanker.
    I grew up in a musical family. My dads 63 and has been in bands since his early 20s, my sister plays bass in a band, my brother plays everything and has a few bands, so naturally I found my musical talent early. I am 29 and have been playing stringed instruments since I was 15. I have had bands come and go. currently gone lol. I was around musicians trying to make it my whole life, so I am familiar with the struggle, and I never felt I had a chance. I went to college got a degree and have a great job with great pay and am waiting for financial reports to download as I am writing this actually. As I approach 30 I have regrets about not trying harder or i have feelings like I gave up before I even started, and realize now, I had a good chance to make it. But I know what the rock star life is like, and I know myself, and I don't think I could have taken it. Life on the road is robotic and highly scheduled, there is little time for yourself, let alone others, especially in the early days. now i have time to sit and play and its fun, its not a chore and I think if i had made it, it would cease to be fun and become work.
    I'm 18 and I think it's worth a try - you never know, you might happen to be relevant and in the right place at the right time. If not, you likely had fun trying and you can look back in fondness at how poor and smelly you once were.
    I think it really is a personal choice. I absolutely love music and I like to play it (whether it likes being played by me is a whole other can of worms). However, it's tough to make a living as a musician, as you said, so you have to ask the question: how much do you really love music? Do you love it enough to live in the park while you play in that band that may or may not "make it"? or do you love it enough to play it but just call it on the weekends and hang out (maybe in the park you could be living in. I hear its nice this time of year)? Answer that question and I think you'll solve your dilemma. However, being able to answer it and follow through with the plan is easier said than done. So I guess my answer is (at the risk of sounding like a disney movie) follow your heart. And by the way the column is great and the blurbs at the end are hilarious!
    Hey man, I'm glad to hear you're still going to write the article. It's always something to look forward to and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading each one every week since the first one. I also want to kinda point out that regardless of what work life it like, music can (and should!) always stay apart of it in some way. Despite the fact I am now a senior in college, and have decided to pursue life after in a small publishing firm surrounding sports/music/film figures in the Newport Beach area, I refuse to abandon music, both playing and making it. Music is the only aspect of my life that has stayed constant over the years. When friends and family have come and gone, music has been there always, and it will always be there. Granted I don't believe I'm good enough to make a living at it, as long as it is a significant part of my life in one way or another I will be happy. Even if it's playing a few gigs here and there, or recording on the weekends and weeknights after work as I do now.
    Im 26 and still hope that something will happen with music for me one day. Its a horrible thing getting older though - you realise that musicians you love mostly became succesful in their very early twenties at the latest and I must be honest Im beginning to feel like its passed me by - like I say I still have a little hope though. The media/art world is notoriously tough to crack but congrats to you for wedging yourself in - I know lots of people who read this weekly news item so it must feel good to have a little following. It also sounds like youve made your mind up - your going to take the job and keep a few doors open with the writing/music. Its a no brainer really by the sounds of things. I suppose just make sure you do somethign you enjoy and keep the music and writing as a hobby - dont turn out like the majority of us who have to sacrifice things we love, for jobs we absolutely hate!
    When thinking about a career in music I always think back to that old high school counselor question "If money were no object, what would you like to do for a living?" Playing music would definitely be one of my top choices in relation to that question. It's just not a practical career for me though. I love playing music and trying to write my own stuff, but with my meager (at the moment) writing skills I don't think I could make it currently as a musician. I don't think I could handle the rigors of the musician lifestyle. I need stability, as much as I would like to be able to just drift along, so the financial difficulties and the unkown variables of where I'll be in the future would probably get to me. I'll be graduating from college in the Spring if everything goes right with a degree in Anthropology, a discipline that I love as much as music. I don't have a career path set as of now and I'm gonna have to figure things out in the coming months. I don't know if I'll find my dream job, but I am willing to work a real job that isn't everything I expected but is fulfilling in its own way. A working musician doesn't seem to be the life for me, but I will always be a musician. Playing music for me is fun, and I expect it to always be that way even as a hobby set up alongside a career.
    A lot of people even have trouble landing jobs they dont't particularly want to be doing ^
    Out of all the Absolutely terrible articles that are posted on UG, your end of the week articles are the best by far. You have a gift with words! Right now I am in the same position, I have been playing guitar for 4 years now, and am taking lessons right now to become much, MUCH better under the tutalege of a world-renowned musician, and I constantly have to make a choice between my work which I love, my social life, and my guitar playing. The fact of the matter is money is not the root of happiness, spiritual and emotional fulfillment is, but knowing where your next paycheck is a very big deal. It is hard for me to balance wanting to expand myself creatively while balancing everything else I love to do. I wish you the best of luck man with your new job!
    Survival comes first, music; the feeling at the end of the second/minute/hour/day/week/month/year/life. I feel it's most ripe for the plucking every two-three hours or so depending on conditions, but it's nice to let things sit for awhile before you pick them up as well. That aside, music is too great a thing to make a living off of. One can't simply apply a business structure to music's own whim, not without depleting oneself of the ability to appreciate the gift. Imho.
    Being a career musician means treating it like a job. It sounds like the coolest when you are young. But at some point, you will have to play gigs that you don't want to play, or write music that you don't want to write. Like any job, you suffer burn-out, become jaded, and possibly lose the inspiration that you had when you were 20. Where's that leave you? Well, if you never acquired any other practical skills along the way, it leaves you stuck.
    Hmm it's difficult. I am a music student, though I mainly focus in history and theory due to the fact that my school teaches mainly classical music and I'm a bass guitarist. Of course I would love to become a famous musician and make loads of cash and have tons of chicks. But for now I am quite content working part time, going to school for something that I love, and saving money for travels after school. I am by no means a big spender so money doesn't mean much to me. I'm sure it will in the future but for now I'm okay. I would like to possibly be a private music teacher. Teaching a new player to play an awesome riff is a great feeling for both the teacher and the student. I can't tell the future though, maybe I will fall into some other career and have music as a hobby. I try to focus on the moment at hand rather than the past or the future.
    I wanted to be a rockstar. i grew up and became a firefighter. it appears i went back in time.... lesson learnt, follow the dreams, keep on rocking people, never grow up!
    Right there with you, man. Not only did I not grow up in a location ideal to getting noticed in the in the music scene, I graduated college and have a job that requires none of the skills I'm currently paying for acquiring, and am living in an even worse location for music. Bought a house because rent and mortgage was roughly the same amount, and I have too much debt to pursue anything that doesn't pay the bills. Oh well. I still enjoy playing, and there's the possibilities of joining local bands to play some paying gigs if I wanted to. Good luck to those of you who go for it.
    I say you really go for this job. Lots of people in this world aren't even lucky enough to land themselves a job that they honestly love doing! Keep using your musical talents as often as you can, but it sounds like this job would also be great for your writing talents. You never know where this new career could take you; you may find that, in a few years' time, you end up being able to write about our explore areas of the music industry that you've never been able to access before. That might be through increased wages paying for new tech, or the chance to experience new scenes. Whichever way you choose to do things, you've definitely got the literary and musical talents to succeed!
    Well, life has those times... I've been recently kicked out of the band I formed four ****ing years ago. Right now the only "original" members were the other guitar player and me. The other three members have been in the band for less than a year. They kicked me out for the simple reason that I don't fit musically in the band, which is true. The other guitarist's ideas seemed to work instantly with the other members, and everyone got to work on them quickly and figured their part out really easy. Meanwhile, I struggled to find myself a place, musically speaking, within the songs. It's a bit like if you try to get another guitar player in the Jimi Hendrix Experience. There was literally no more room for another guitar in those songs. Also, my ideas for songs just didn't work for them. I'd post an idea and it would be the typical reaction "sure man, it sounds cool" but they'd never really take off and grow into real songs. So I was forced to leave the band I had spent four years forming with the other guitar player (which is also a close friend of mine now), right when we had found a great drummer, a great bass player and a great singer. We got along phenomenally well on a personal level, and everything was right between us, except on the creative side. It had gotten to a point where I stopped enjoying playing music. Every rehearsal I spent it frustrated with my amp, my pedals, unable to find a sound that suited the band or even the right thing to fit the songs, so being kicked out was almost a relief, as painful as it was. So my current musical situation pretty much sucks. Plus I live in a relatively small city where it's pretty hard to find musicians, and insanely hard to find good musicians that don't play in 3 bands at the same time. On the other side, I've also been offered a job (I had also been concerned with that, and even considered moving to England -I live in Spain, which will land me some financial freedom to buy whatever gear I might need or whatever.But now I don't have a band in which I can use said gear. So I'm in a bit of an inflexion point in my life. I can leave music aside and not bother forming/finding another band and focus only on work and leisure, or keep on trying. I've always seen the path to making a living out of music as a stubborn-ness contest. There are more and less talented guys but the ones who succeed are those who cope with disappointment better and keep on pushing ahead. Everyone has a point where it stops being worth the pain. But if you love music, you'll always keep on pushing. At least that is how I see it right now. So I kind of relate to our situation. Good luck!
    Such a difficult decision... All I want is to play music, I literally want almost nothing else, but I also know that it is next to impossible for me to make it happen. Even if I was able to put together a few like minded musicians that could all write together and record our music, there's no guaranteed chance of being discovered and making any money off it. It's a truly horrible reality and I bet most of us here are more than well aware of this struggle. Being an artist, it's also hard to essentially shun that side of you and 'stoop' down and get a 'normal' job and be left feeling like you've 'given up' or 'sold out'. It's a tough situation, being stuck between a rock and a hard place. At least I know that which ever path is chosen, I'll always be able to make music, whether it is only for myslef and the few around me, or for a much larger audience.
    Honestly my dream in life is to be a musician in a band and do that for a living. But you're right. It's not easy and having talent does not guarantee that one will make it in this industry. So as much as I want to pursue music I still plan on going to college and study to be a journalist and hopefully work for a music magazing like Alternative Press or AMP Magazine or something along those lines. But while in college I know I'm still going to want to be in a band just to see where things go. So i guess I'll be nerdy intelectual college student by day, wannabe rockstar by night
    This strikes such a huge chord within me man.....I really do feel you....hell, I don't have anything else to, thank you....