We've all heard of successful and unsuccessful stories of people dropping out of school to pursue a career in music. It used to happen much more frequently back in the day, but now the music industry is much larger and a bit more complicated. Are you considering dropping out? I'm not here to judge you. It works well for some and is a terrible mistake for others. You have a much better idea of what will work well for you in your personal journey, so I just want you to consider the following questions for yourself.
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Are you right in the middle of a college journey? Are you close to the end of completing a course if you just stick it out for a bit longer? Chances are, you'd be wasting a lot of time and money dropping out at the wrong time. If you've just started, it may be a great idea. If you've already put in countless hours of time and money, why not hold off for a bit longer and get the degree? You can still pursue music before using it.
Are you thinking of dropping out of high school? Things can get significantly more difficult for adults who don't have a high school diploma in almost any career field. If you're trying to drop out before even finishing grade school, it's far less recommended than dropping out of college. High school sucks for almost everyone; you may want to just wait it out for a bit longer and be stronger for it after you've completed it.
Many artists find time for their day job and time to pursue their music careers part-time. It can be a huge headache and a challenge to those who aren't good at being very busy, but it may work for your style and your personality. More importantly, this will do wonders for your pockets, as you will still be working with a decent income and not be a starving artist. On the downside, you will be putting only a partial amount of energy into your dreams.
So you think you're talented. Let's hope you're not one of those people who think they're talented while everyone else is wondering why you want to pursue a career in music. You may have a deep passion for music but just don't have the talent to back it up. If this is the case, consider picking up a music minor to better your skills while still keeping your current plans going without dropping out.
Being talented is great and all, but do you realize how many musically talented people are out here trying to make it big in the music world? Where does your talent level fall amongst others that are in the same genre as you and doing similar things that you want to do with your career? Do you have an actual chance against them? Have you gotten objective criticism from multiple people telling you you have what it takes or at least the potential?
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Talent is half the battle when it comes to success in the music industry. Some will argue that talent is far less of a battle than the art of consistency and perseverance. What have you worked at for thousands of hours in your past? How good are you at focusing? Do you find yourself hopping from one interest to the next pretty often?
Hard work and determination are supercritical. You could have all the talent in the world, but if you just sit back and think that success will fall in your lap, you won't make it very far at all. Talented people get beaten by hard workers that have less talent than them every single day. If you are super talented and super consistent in your efforts, you may be onto something.
Consider your field of talent. Do you play an instrument? Instrumentalists tend to make much more with local gigs in comparison to a singer. Do you make beats? Producers can often find local and online opportunities for selling their instrumentals. Are you good at multiple things that could make you money in the music world? You may be a singer that is also good at mixing and can make money doing both. Do you read music? You can find paid opportunities in the classical and jazz music world.
What's the difference between your current career track and pursuing music? Are you really talented at what you're trying to do now? You may want to keep it as a fallback at it and pursue music after. Are you struggling with your current track, or do you have an extreme lack of interest in it compared to music? Then, it may be a good idea to call it quits.
Are you studying music in school already and consider dropping out and doing it without having to pay for the courses? With the right plan, you may be able to find the same amount of success with or without school training and tuition. Arts degrees are holding less and less weight these days, but majors like music therapy and music education are likely still worth completing.
Do you have a spot that you can crash at if you aren't able to also work and pay rent? Do you have money saved up for a moment like this, or a rich family member that could help you out? Could you just live with your parents for a while and do extra around the house to make up for it? Are you willing to risk it all and possibly live out of your car or on the streets because you're just that passionate about your dreams? Consider the risks of it all.
If you're planning to go the local music route, how will you get around? Public transportation can add up, especially if you are pursuing a music career without a job. Are you good on a bike and in a decent city area that can connect you to studios and gigs? Do you have any money that will allow you to Uber or Lyft around your area often to get to rehearsals and gigs? Or do you have a somewhat reliable cousin who may be able to help you get from here to there sometimes? Transportation can make or break your local scene progress.
Are you one of those people who claim that they'll just go back to school later? Trust me, most people who say that never actually go back to school later. They always have the intention way in the back of their mind, but they never actually find the time, money, or energy to actually start going back to class again. Life tends to get in the way the further you get from your dropout date.
As I said earlier, the music industry has gotten mighty crowded. Decades back, there were a few major labels who were giving opportunities to bands and artists here and there who made a name for themselves with their talent and work ethic. Now, artists and bands need to have talent, work ethic, an audience already, a few placements, maybe a few music videos and tour history, and much more in order to impress big companies. Are you prepared to work even harder than past legends who dropped out did?
We all have big dreams and we all possess the capabilities to reach our dreams, but only a small few of us will truly make it there. You may find that your personality and talents will give you a big advantage in the music world, or you may find that as you've read through these questions, things might not actually work out as well as you thought they would.
Either way, it's all about balancing your expectations and finding where your happiness and true vocation really lies. Some people drop out, fail, and find that it made them a better person at the end of the journey. Other people find music career success, hate it, then find that they actually preferred to live a more mundane lifestyle. Life is a crazy journey that will lead you to the most unexpected places.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, features, nursery rhymes, and DJ drops, she currently spends her time engulfed in creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her most recent creative collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest music releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share the music if you like it!
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