We got into music because we love it.
No, scratch that. We got into music because we couldn’t not get into it. Because there’s something in us that just feels right at home when we pick up our instrument, or walk into the studio, when our creativity gets to soar and we get to be ourselves in that very unique way that only happens when it’s us and our music.
Musicians know the feeling. Industry professionals know the feeling. You know that feeling. That’s why you’re here. We all chase it. But sometimes we have to put it on the back burner because of work or life or whatever else—and that feels awful, doesn’t it?
But when you’re working full time and trying to manage all the other little pieces of life, it can feel exhausting to try to fit in your passion. It starts to feel more like a chore and less like the thing that truly lights you up, until it becomes more and more difficult to make it a daily part of your life again.
First, you’re not alone. We all feel this at one point or another and everyone struggles to prioritize the things they love. It doesn’t mean you don’t love it, it just means you might need a little help finding time for it. And you’re also not alone in juggling your day job with music. Most musicians are in this stage right now.
There is a whole community of musicians hustling to make this their reality, but if you’re not careful, it can start to feel overwhelming. So, how do you break the cycle and balance your music career with your day job?
Good news? It’s totally possible.
Build out a creative schedule
I know, it’s not very romantic to schedule creativity is it? But creativity is a discipline much more than it is a magical whim of inspiration, and when you’re juggling a full-time career, you might have to schedule it in. That’s ok!
It’s important to create time where you can work on your passions. This is where your creative schedule comes in. Ideally you’ll schedule this for the same time every day so that it becomes a routine and a habit, but if your work schedule changes, so can your creative schedule. Whatever works for you.
Starting is simple. When do you work? Nine-to-five? Great. When do you wake up and when do you get home? Now we’re at eight-to-six. I know that your inclination is to now talk about all the other things you do in that time that prevent you from having a solid hour or two to work on your music but take a step back and put those aside for now. We can find time for all of those things. Right now, just concentrate on the open time you have.
What time do you have open both before you wake up and after you get home?
The key is to identify the time you have to dedicate to your music at the start of each week and then follow through. No excuses—this is your time for you. It will almost definitely mean making changes like rearranging the way you do things, waking up earlier, asking for help from your partner, and getting intentional about your time, but we’re going to make it happen. Because this is your passion, and it’s important.
It’s one thing to set aside chunks of time for work, it’s another to be fully intentional about what work you’re doing. It’s the difference between just feeling busy and actually getting things done.
Now that you’ve identified you have an hour from 7-8am available and an hour from say, 8-9pm available, what are you going to do with that time?
So ask yourself: What’s going to move the needle the most? What can I do in this allotted time that truly makes the most sense? This depends on how much time you have as well. So if you only have 30 minutes, that’s a good time to create social media content. If you have 4 hours, that’s a great time to work on some of your larger goals like booking a tour or recording music.
This is truly one of the most important parts of balancing your music with your nine-to-five is this intentionality. Knowing exactly what you want to accomplish and why (i.e. how it actually gets you closer to your goals) is what keeps you moving forward vs. feeling like you’re stuck spinning your wheels.
It’s also what allows you to get things done in a much shorter amount of time. If you only have 45 minutes to do your networking for the day, you’re going to be very intentional about that. You’re not going to get distracted or mindlessly scroll social media, you’re going to stay focused.
Find the in-between times
This is the golden little secret of everyone who is side hustling. It’s the in-between times that we so often forget about or take for granted, but that hold the most productivity. Ever notice how when you have 4 hours to do something you take the whole time but when you have an hour to do the same thing, you still get it done? It’s like that.
So think about all the small moments you can dedicate to your music career. It could be your lunch break, where you take that hour to eat at your desk and work on your music. It could be hanging at a nearby coffee shop for a couple hours before or after work to avoid rush hour traffic (win-win!). It might be the half hour between meetings where you end up wasting time scrolling IG but you could instead be contacting press or brainstorming your next marketing move. Start to pay attention to all the moments you often overlook. This is truly where you’ll find the most opportunity, and before long you’ll start to discover more opportunities and time opening up for your music. You just have to make it a priority and take intentional steps, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it begins to fall into place.
Angela Tyler is the founder of MP Co. (formerly Muddy Paw PR) securing placements on Forbes, Business Insider, American Songwriter, PopWrapped, & more. She loves dessert, her rescue dog Sawyer, and discovering new music.