Anne Luna - Defining the Musician
“Clarity comes from action, not thought” -Marie Forleo
When I said “I’m going to be a full-time musician,” I thought that was good enough. I mean, it had been hard enough just coming to that conclusion. I thought it was enough clarity. I already had a solid identity and career (even if part-time) as a musician, so I figured “becoming” a full-time musician was really just amping up that. Much like a sculptor releasing the inner form from a chunk of wood or stone, I thought that in cutting away some of the other roles I had been playing would reveal a leaner, more obvious and beautiful form of my inner musician.
It was definitely a good start and necessary step. Now there was more space, primarily being less baggage of a day job. There was definitely more focus, greater accountability, and big incentive. But, I’ve been finding that saying “I’m a full-time musician” means different things to different people, and that with this space, I am invited (again) to be intentional and specific. There are lots of ways to be a full-time musician…
In much the same way that I found out I did not want to be a full-time biology professor (by teaching more), I’m finding out what I really want to do as a musician. When I take time to write songs, I fall in love every time, even through the writer’s block, fears I’m suffering from cryptomnesia, or in finding holes in my musicianship. When I teach private lessons, I find I have more skill as a teacher than I give myself credit for. I also find that I’m a better teacher if I limit the number of lessons I give and, that it’s not where I want to spend the majority of my time and energy. Even though I get nervous before most performances, I tap into an energy and a different aspect of myself that I don’t get any other way—and I love it. It’s expansion and growth that there’s no way I would have discovered that without doing it. I love touring, the rigors of the road aside. My inner gypsy delights each time I pack my suitcase and get in the van. Only in doing, in trying, am I finding what really resonates with me.
Some things, like studio work, I find I have to keep trying to make friends with. I was initially disconcerted with studio work (“I sound like that?!”), but, because it has been a necessary part of the job, I’ve stuck with it. I’ve also learned there are aspects I really do like. I’m not tempted to become strictly a studio musician, an audio engineer or a producer any time soon, but I wouldn’t know that if I hadn’t at least stepped into that world.
And I see how friends have had much the opposite response to the same experiences. Some hate the road. Some love the studio. And isn’t it great that as individuals we get different contrast and come to different conclusions from the same experiences.
Yes, I’m a full-time musician. I’m still refining what that means and what that looks like from day-to-day. And I only find that out by trying and being willing to participate.
Zak Sloan The Day-to-Day of a Full Time Musician
What does a full-time musician do? Do I play guitar all day long, busking anywhere that I can find a place to play & acquire the proper permits? Am I constantly recording myself or other artists? Do I mix all day long? Do I teach lessons? Do I write music alone or co-write with others?
Yes. I do all of those, but usually only one at a time. Except for busking.
As a person who makes music for a living, I am the captain of my ship, which happens to have a crew of one. A large part of my day is deciding what my short & long-term game plan is. I spend time every day making micro decisions that don't seem like much individually, but add up over days, weeks, & months. Every day I review music blogs so that I can find interesting content to share with my fans & followers. I make my living by selling two things: 1) my music & 2) my time/skills. BUT if I spend all day, every day asking people to buy my record or hire me for their next recording project...they're going to stop listening to me very quickly. So every day I'm trying to figure out how to engage my fans & followers in a way that they will enjoy. This engagement almost never includes me trying to sell them anything. I'm doing my best to give you all information that is helpful & entertaining so that we can keep a dialog going.
I make videos on Facebook Live several times a week to keep people informed of what's going on & to share some of my music. I also write blog posts & email newsletters that go out to everyone on my email list. Every day I check my trending reports from Spotify to see what songs people are listening to the most. I try to make time to read books on the music business & entrepreneurship so that I'm never behind on what is going on in the music & business world. If you want some recommendations on reading material, hit me up. Truly, I'm trying to make myself the expert on the music business in my area. I don't ever plan on becoming an entertainment lawyer or consultant, but I want to have the answers to I can help as many people as possible.
I actually make music too...
At night I rehearse with the Zak Sloan Band or work on new material for my upcoming record. Right now I have a really cool solo acoustic show coming up, so I'm putting together a new show for that. I'm currently recording songs for my album, but I also record other artists. Some artists come to me before they have even written all the songs for their album. We might co-write a song, or I might listen to what they have & help them pick what will be on their record or identify potential points of improvement for their current songs. Sometimes I don't record a song, but I'm asked to mix or master it. I LOVE mixing other people's music; I'd do that full-time if I had enough business coming in.
As you can see, being a full-time musician means that I must do more than music. I'm running a business, but it is a business I love.