We’ve looked at the market, the struggle, and the reality that many talented, legitimate performers may need to maintain a more steady income than freelance performance can provide. But also, consider the fact that a regular job may offer both clear and less obvious advantages.
Of course, the money helps. But the multitude of benefits of even a small steady income can add up over time, and may come in many forms. Here are just a few examples to factor in as you evaluate your own situation:
Being in the “real world” offers experience and knowledge that will inspire you toward meaningful creative projects. Every artist we’ve spoken to says that they’ve learned something from each job (even if that lasting lesson is what not to do). Lauri’s List, for example, wouldn’t exist without every odd job I’ve had over the previous twenty years or so.
Maintaining a regular schedule may actually make it more likely that you’ll commit to your artistic time — even full-time artists report time benefits from having a part-time job or another activity outside the realm of their creative work, a few hours a week, as it helps structure their days and organize their thinking.
Any steady income you earn, if managed well, can fund your art and leave you more independent, better able to work on the things that are most important to you. An outside income may give you more freedom to make the choices that move your work forward.
If you have a family, the “sacrifice” of a steady job is of tremendous value to their ability to thrive — don’t disregard the value of your commitment to them. Providing for essential needs is important. But juggling both worlds has advantages, too: building an artistic life alongside your children will enrich their existence and help teach them problem-solving and coping skills. These are tricky decisions — once you find your formula, don’t kick yourself for not doing one or the other.
If you have at least one stream of income that gives you employee status (rather than independent contractor), adjusting your W-4 to voluntarily withhold additional taxes from each paycheck can make a big difference when it comes to resolve your self-employment taxes at tax time, possibly relieving some cash flow woes. (Talk to your tax advisor about this one, but it’s worth looking into!)
Good jobs come with benefits that may not be available to self-employed or even union musicians. Depending on your circumstances (health, family, genetics), that may be a deciding factor for you, so take a good look, particularly at companies that offer impressive benefits for part-time jobs.
Of course, these ideas are just a starting point. The point is to look at all of the pros and cons as you examine income opportunities, wherever they come from. Be honest about your needs, your comfort zone, and your artistic goals. The best solution may not be the one in your head. But there is one out there.
“These Part-time Jobs Offer Solid Health Benefits” — Two Cents / Lifehacker, 3/24/15
This is the last installment in a four-part series. See also: