Is a Traditional 9-5 Job Actually “Safer” than a Music Career?
Hi everyone, my name is Jarred and I am Taylor’s husband and business partner. I’m excited to share my first article with you here and to offer a different perspective in this blog to hopefully help out in a unique way.
Ten years ago when Taylor first started her YouTube channel I didn’t like what she was doing at all. I had a very traditional idea of what a career should look like. In fact, when Taylor graduated from college my advice to her was: “play it safe and work for a big company, something reliable.”
That’s what I did, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing a more traditional career, my reasoning for trying to encourage Taylor to follow that path was wrong.
Just to give you a quick snapshot of my career, I worked as an electrical engineer in the automotive industry for about 5 years, then I worked as a software developer for about 4 years at a couple different companies. On paper, an extremely safe career path, and because of that I never really was afraid for my own career.
But fear is what made me second guess Taylor for pursuing music. What if she never made any money? Even if she started making money, how long could it really last? What if something happened and she lost all her income overnight?
I had so many fears about her doing music full-time. Fortunately she believed enough in herself and in her plan that she made it work despite all my doubts. And as it turns out, a lot of the things that made me afraid for her career choice actually became more of a reality in my own traditional career path.
Fear is such a powerful motivator (or demotivator), and I know a lot of you out there might have your own fears and reservations about pursuing this type of a career, or have someone important in your life who has these fears, so I wanted to go through the fears I mentioned before to illustrate how a music career can actually end up being a safer career choice than most people nowadays still believe.
Fear #1: What if she never made any money?
Starting out in my own career, I felt like I made a good choice here. I was making a solid living right out of college working as an engineer.
I had no concept of how long it would take Taylor to start making money with her music, so when it didn’t happen immediately, I thought it really wasn’t going to happen. She was still working at her 9-5 job when she started pursuing music on the side so I thought she’d eventually come to her senses and music would just end up being a hobby.
But Taylor stuck with her music. She played it safe in her transition to her music career by saving money from her day job to put into her business and in about a year she was already profitable, making even more than she was at her traditional job.
But I still wasn’t convinced…. which brings me to my next fear.
Fear #2: Even if she started making money, how long could it really last?
This was where I really thought I would have my “I told ya so” moment. I didn’t want her to fail, but I honestly believed that there was no way this type of career could be sustainable.
We grew up in the generation of Napster and all the other music “sharing” platforms. I thought eventually the well of people who would be willing to pay for her music would dry up.
On top of that, streaming started to become popular and I thought “ok, now this is when the money will stop coming in, and that’ll leave me and my sweet, safe, career path to swoop in and save the day”… wrong again.
I’m sorry to say that the only thing that was as consistent as Taylor’s income was my doubting that it would stay consistent. Taylor has now been an independent musician for almost 10 years, and throughout that time her income has been many times more reliable than my own.
The music industry has changed during her career but she was able to keep her success consistent because she always kept adapting.
That’s one of the major differences to keep in mind when running your own music business vs. a more traditional job. In more traditional jobs, you can sometimes allow yourself to get complacent and you still continue to get paid whether you’re growing or not.
When you are running your own business, especially in the music industry, you need to be willing to adapt and grow. An unwillingness to adapt is a huge reason why most musicians don’t find success because they get stuck in their own way.
Where I would have gotten nervous about something changing in the music industry that could stifle Taylor’s success, she would embrace it and changed her business model along with the industry changes, which is why she’s always been able to keep her business growing year after year.
Now onto my next big fear…
Fear #3: What if something happened and she lost all her income overnight?
So at a certain point I couldn’t deny that Taylor was making a great living, but I couldn’t stop thinking “what if something happened and she lost her money overnight?”
This fear was actually pretty crazy looking back on it now.
If I had my way in the beginning of Taylor’s career, she would’ve been working for General Motors in Detroit, which is where she worked as an intern one summer during college. Well, as you might remember back in 2009, GM filed for bankruptcy and thousands of people lost their “safe” jobs overnight.
Oddly enough, this was right around the same time Taylor would have been working there if she had followed my advice about pursuing a “safe” career path.
What’s crazier is during the rough economic years following 2009 (The city of Detroit itself filed for bankruptcy in 2013), while everyone was having a hard time finding a job, or losing their jobs overnight, Taylor built a fulfilling 6-figure business.
The funny thing is, Taylor and I did eventually have to deal with my big fear of losing income overnight, but it wasn’t from her career, it was from mine.
Taylor’s Music Business Came to My Rescue
So back in 2017 I was working as a software engineer at a health technology start-up, which I recognize wasn’t the most stable job choice. However, I think if you told your family you were an online musician vs a software engineer at a start-up, they would still be way more comfortable with the latter. I know I was.
Well, one random Monday I went into the office thinking everything was fine, only to find out that most of the employees were being laid-off. No warning, 1 week severance, and that was it. I was suddenly unemployed overnight.
Taylor’s stable music business came to my rescue in the end. With how she set up her business this sort of thing can’t happen to her because she earns money from a number of different sources. When you have multiple income streams, you can’t lose everything overnight.
With a traditional job money comes from 1 spot. If anything happens to your company, you’re out of luck. The variety of income streams available to independent musicians can make that type of career even more stable than a traditional 9-5 job.
We Are Both on the Safe Career Path Now
So after almost a decade of worrying and questioning Taylor’s career move I finally did what I should have done in the beginning and decided to join her as her business partner.
I finally came to realize that my doubts about this career path were mostly founded on this false sense of security from a 9-5 job and a number of fears that I should have never been worrying about. Now, I honestly couldn’t be happier with both of our career choices.
The bottom line is that you can have an online music business and make a reliable, fulfilling living. You just need to have the right plan to get you there, and that’s what we are here to help you do. I’m sure you have plenty of people in your life who are just like I was, but you’ll prove them wrong