Going pro

42 years old, web and marketing consultant, planing on living from my creative work by the time I get 50.

I like writing and drawing and really love playing music.

I don’t like the idea of doing the Youtube/IG/Patreon/Review gear stuff, but it seems like a lot of people are going that path.

I plan to continue learning in the next 8 years, playing tablas, shakuhachi, violin, didgeredoo and electronic music. I had some training in most of these instrument and have a music teacher now for the last year on music theory.

I haven’t published much so far, but planing on a more regular release and future plan to start a radio show and aNonradio.

What are people’s experience on taking the plunge to live from their art? 8 years seems like a long time to move from my work to this dream. Anyone else is in this process or has done that? Is that crazy without getting some schooling?

I guess I would like to balance online sale, with online writing (maybe publishing) and some live gig. I am doing a little bit of audio editing for meditation teachers, I am not sure if it could be a inbetween for more audio work…

Still processing this whole thing! But quite clear on the direction, just need to make it happen!


Part of me thinks that a balance needs to be struck between surviving and creativity. So the Pro is no guarantee - but certainly can be if you’re willing to hustle. But otherwise returning to a meek life, lower income, and focusing in solely on music seems a good approach - to find the balance to live that life seems like the first thing, and then any further successes that branch from there are a bonus.

But this is a super interesting topic to me, in the end, making a living from music, receiving income from music, living a working, musical life. It would be a nice maelstrom to live in the eye of, that I’ve personally never been able to fully grasp.

But what also fascinates me is how everybody affords their musical life. Working a job just to buy gear, or having income come from music that affords those things? Something I’ve realised lately is how much can be achieved with a simple laptop and a DAW. This can be as musical as you want it to be, and the overheads needn’t continually be so high.

Fulfilment in life can come from living the action that inspires you, whatever that may be. For some I think a lot of that is the influencer game, but actually buckling down in the studio with focus and creating some finished musical output is definitely its own thing, potentially much more hidden from public view and in its own way quite humble.


I don’t know if you’ve ever been a pro musician or recieved any acclaim from your artistic craft, but I tried in my early 20s- but couldn’t break out of my shell.

From my perspective, the lifestyle seems selflessly selfish. You have to be so full of yourself in the plight of entertaining people. It’s not a judgement- but the social personality is where the energy has to flow into.

You’re either studying the trends and following them or you have to hang your most authentic and true self in the storm of modern society.

Failing at being a professional musician in my 20s was undoubtedly my greatest success and I’m so glad I was shut out of that lifestyle.

For survival, I’d say abstract the things you love and try to match the abstraction to a discipline that can benefit the world. For me, that was programming.



And be willing to do the social networking thing. Makes no difference what you know or how good you are, what matters is who you know. Aslo you need spend all your time generating ‘content’ for your ‘platforms’.

For me, none of that has anything to do with making music. I was jaded by the music industry 20 years ago, I’m even more jaded now. It stinks.

Good for you if you can make a living from it.


If I was you I would start combining at least two creative fields - now.

Beeple showed us how it could work out if one worked constantly over a few years.

My advice (worth nothing) would be:

Do everydays. Maybe 10-20 seconds clips with some drawings/animations/texts together with music. Everyday. Then release them to Instagram and or as NFTs (hype is over … but constant content is king).


I think there’s two avenues

One you have the raw talent that means you produce music of such quality that it would be demand

Or two you have the skillset to produce content and market it to the level that it can reach an audience.

As a consumer that’s the two types of content I consume. Rarely so they both cross imo. Most youtube videos I watch I don’t rate their music or production skills and most of the artists I listen to don’t make YouTube videos


I admire your aim here it’s quite the step to take and I really do hope it pans out.

I’ve thought about something similar recently as I graduated from uni with essentially what is an electronic engineering degree with a big audio bias.

My niche is sound art and ambient tones so “pro” doesn’t really mean much however I am looking into sound recording for ecology and I’ll explore other avenues but I’d really like to combine the two.

An artist I really like, Celer, does a lot of sound work but does photography too and not necessarily makes millions but enough to support himself and his family.

I like the idea of the combination or little artsy things as a living as it would be exciting and I just turned 35 and they say it’s never too late for anything!

Once again, hats off for taking that leap in your future.


39 here and can relate to the need to pivot. I have been lucky enough that I have a long runway saved up for the future and just need to get mentally past giving up a cushy salary so I can focus full time on my passions, even if they make me no money.

I have no advice for you but you have my support. Good luck.


Very interesting topic! It’s something I regularly dream of but simply don’t have the balls (or talent) to pursue. Having a family and currently being well paid in a not so demanding role is the final nail in te coffin for that dream. I can make do with the rare artsy opportunities offered in my workplace that almost always end with folks saying “oh, you’re in the wrong job! You are so creative…” :rofl: Current plan is to save and clear debt early enough to allow an earlier mid 50s retirement where I can do what I want. That’s a long way away though!

@ponnuru - you talk about this being an 8 year journey. Have you considered documenting the journey itself in some way as content to share? You can see from responses already that folks find it interesting. Could be pretty cool to follow someone’s journey over time - could be inspiring even.

Good luck though! Hope it all works out.


Great topic! I’m currently in the middle of this transition. I’ve been creating music and doing various audio related things for the better part of my life and going full time has been a long life dream. The biggest hurdle was actually starting to share music and knowledge. So years ago I started the YouTube channel thing and started to learn a bit about how to market it. The most important thing was that i wanted to do it in a way that felt okay. Not pushy, not selling something I’m not.

This same thing goes for the music. In probably every genre there’s a lot of fakery going on. People that talk themselves up, constantly selling themselves to the point where you can’t have a normally conversation with them. It’s very annoying and feels fake. You definitely will encounter this. My remedy to it is to stay true to one’s self and don’t go with that fake flow of “the scene”. That’s definitely the tougher path to take but I’m sure it’s much more fulfilling and it is possible to grow within a scene that way. Master your craft, try to create something some niche of people actually enjoys listening to, and share knowledge. It’s fun and not only does it make people happy, you will learn a lot yourself as well.

So currently I’m working part time (have been for years now), 3 days at a day job. The rest is dedicated to music. I teach, create courses, perform live (things starting back up again finally), mixing and mastering work and the occasional other job like recording a singer songwriter or creating music for a business video etc.

So I try to do a lot of different things. There will be a few that will stand out when it comes to incomebut I’ve noticed it’s very important to be able to do these things (and do them well) as to be more flexible when one of the avenues are slowing down for a while.

My goal now is to go full time within two years. I’ve been making and learning aufio for about 20 years now (30 if you count my upbringing with a guitar). And most importantly in a safe way (no risk of bankruptcy, no chance of stress), on my on terms. Not in a way where I need to fake a personality to sell stuff.

Hope this brief story helps a bit. Definitely put teaching on the road map. If you know more than some people, you can teach them something. Find your niche.

Great topic and awesome goal to have. I wish you all the best in this adventure. Don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Because a lot of people fail to go full time because it starts to feel like work rather than creative :wink:

PS. Great idea @J0n35y ! That’s definitely something that would be interesting to watch.


It’s something I somewhat had the opportunity to do in my 20s, and I have friends who have made a success of it, but ultimately I wasn’t prepared to accept the drastic lifestyle change that came with it. The only way for me to do it at the time was through live shows/DJ gigs, but I have a a wife and children and wasn’t prepared to spend so much time away from them or living that on-the-road lifestyle.

Since that point, other opportunities have arisen and other avenues now exist to make a living from your artistic output, though, which makes it a much more viable proposition now.

For what little it’s worth, although I began releasing music “professionally” in 1999, I don’t feel as though I reached the point where I had much to say until this year.

I’ve made a lot of music over the years that was just ok. It was fine, but nothing earth-shattering IMO. Regardless, a chunk of it got picked up for release. What I think that experience affords me, after all this time, is the ability to genuinely recognise and accept that now I’m making music that is actually good without feeling the need for external validation.

I’m making the best music I have ever created, yet, at the same time, I’ve never really been less interested in whether or not people are listening.

Maybe that’s the goal.

Artists who sign to big labels and make money that way have common traits, I think. They have space to explore stretching out in front of them. You can perceive artistic growth over a series of albums - a genuine body of work. Which is actually pretty rare, when you think about it. People can have a solid, successful career without ever experiencing that kind of progression.

That’s the area you need to it if you want to get a salary-replacement level income from music. However, there are sliding scales, of course, plus, as I said, other avenues. You can pursue publishing/licensing opportunities and make a strong living without anyone ever knowing that you make music. Making music for adverts, film, TV, video games and online content offers a potentially dependable income and will allow you to essentially live from your art, but it’s an odd thing to do that requires a specific skillset. The publishing houses I worked with would send out lists of things they wanted to add to their library and you would submit pieces according to their briefs. That wasn’t something I enjoyed as I wasn’t make what I wanted at all, but instead had to work within a strict tempo/mood/tone dictated by them. Some people are great at it; ultimately I never submitted anything and after several months I told them “thanks, but no thanks”


also, judging by my mates, this is what actually takes people’s full time.
and making own music rather happens in their spare time – again!
when i realized this, i decided to stay at my regular (boring) IT job and keep music as a hobby, because either way it needs to be sponsored with something else.
(and recent covid madness proved me right.)


I speak for a living, so in a way that’s an art form as well, at least to me it is for sure. And this sentence is 100% accurate in my experience. You gotta be real brave and make yourself vulnerable (i.e. open yourself / show yourself in settings where you can’t be sure that no one will use that opening to stab you figuratively speaking) or you gotta go with a trend and give the monkey its sugar as they say.

I don’t think the latter is a good way to live, so I encourage everyone to be true to oneself to the greatest degree possible while still staying connected with the world around ourselves.

As for your question I’d say start building that career now. There’s no reason to wait till you can go full time to start earning with it. You gotta set that intention and not be hesitant / tentative with it, as that will keep you in a position of what ifs rather than test & validate. If you give it a good push you can see if there’s a way forward for you with that, if you just sort of explore it / stay tentative about it in your resolve and actions, you’ll always have that little room of unspent effort to wonder IF it could work out.

I’d also throw in a caveat regarding making your passion your main source of income. It’s great & fun but it’s also a hustle and even the best meal can become monotonous after a while. I played pro basketball in my earlier life and basketball had been my absolute passion up to that point. I hated playing pro ball and quite after 2-3 years because my spiritual investment in the sport did not align with the business realities of the pro game.

I guess all I’m saying is no matter what you do, there’ll always be periods of struggle / lack of motivation and even meaninglessness that come and go. Even when your passion is your profession.

Good luck with your endeavors!


This read like a nice article on the finest publications. You’re a good communicator I can tell.

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How did you get started in mixing and mastering?

As someone in the same boat as you, who currently lives off audio and music already, the journey has been long and tough for me, and I’ve explored many different avenues. It has been 21 years since I started working on the dream. Granted I stated from zero at 15 unlike you who probably has plenty saved and are able to afford tools and time.

There isn’t much I can advise, given you have more life experience, and for that I’m sorry. I can tell you you are on a good path of you are already doing different things, because unless you get extremely lucky, you will have to do lots of different things in the field in order to make ends meet. I do not know if this will always be the case but expect several years of learning how to do different things for different projects.

I wish you the best of luck. Best of luck for us all.


For me, I know I won’t get better at this fast enough if I only spend an hour or two a day playing with sound. Last night I had to deal with work stuff until 20:30 and had zero energy left after I ate. I tried to watch some YouTube music stuff and couldn’t keep my head up.

I struggle with this also. I work all day, I go climbing 3 times a week and after I have eaten my dinner I don’t feel motivated enough to go and spend hours on my OT. It’s a shame but you can only do what you can do.

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I think the most unhealthy thing in those moments is to stress that you’re not using OT enough(or any other gear that one might feel is being neglected), I feel like I hear it all the time.

Imo, OT will always be there waiting for you, no need to stress about not using it at every hour of the day that you can… just enjoy the fact that you own it and that you can go hand have a play date when the mood strikes you… ain’t nothing wrong with that


Currently in the middle of earning a bit from it and growing the service. But it’s definitely not yet the thing that generates the most income currently. I started really focussing on learning to properly mix when I went to the Academy where I graduated. Always have had an ear for it though. During my time at the academy I recorded, produced and mixed a lot of bands. Ever since I had the dream of someday having a proper studio with high end monitoring to really go for it. I now have both. In the years leading up to it i did some mixing every now and then in less then ideal environments, which is a great way to get better at it.

So now I finally have a proper studio and monitoring. Up to this point it was a wish to be able to earn a living with it. Bit much to explain here but I’m running a few experiments where I combine mixing with teaching. So I have a few mixing jobs and the plan is to slowly making that a regular thing next to teaching, performing etc. The goal here is to build a portfolio. eventually as the portfolio grows it will take off. This is the plan and am confident about it. :slight_smile:

Mastering is another dream. I have the skill set and ears and if someone wants to hire me for it they can. But for now the focus lies on mixing, when that takes off I’ll shift a bit more focus towards mastering. Realistically more focus will go towards that when I live from music full time. At the moment I have to manage my time very carefully as to not half arse the things I do :slight_smile: . Working constantly on the live set, creating videos, music etc. Lucky my girlfriend understands how important this is to me haha. It’s a bit of an obsessive way of living maybe.

There are other things running in parallel so it also depends a bit on how things go. Maybe one of the other ventures takes off and then I’ll focus more on that. I think it’s really important to be flexible in this regard.

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