6 Ways I Use My Day Job to Pursue My Dream Job

Monday morning is upon us again. The majority of us will get up and go to a job we tolerate in order to pay our bills, have insurance, and maybe – if we’re lucky, bring us a tiny fraction closer to our dream job.

DSCG4839The following was advice from my producer shortly after I started working with him on the first of our now two albums. He has played metal all across Canada and Europe and knew of individuals who were using their day jobs to advance their careers as musicians.

  • For example, one individual worked for an airline; therefore, was able to get excellent prices on tickets for him and his mates for touring.
  • Another example; a bandmate worked for a moving truck company (Uhaul, Ryder, etc) and was able to cheaply haul instruments and merch while supplying transportation for his band members.
  • And to finally beat this into the ground, I understood that another musician worked for a tshirt company – so  yes; his merchandise overhead was significantly lower than most musicians.

Sometimes you will have to think outside the box for your circumstance. You may have to dig deep to discover just what advantage your job brings you. I had to do just that. I don’t often like to talk about my day job, but for the sake of this article, I will do so.

IMG_2338-0I work at Starbucks, and as a partner I have used several benefits to propel my career as a composer and performing musician.

  • Free pound of coffee per week: I have used this not only to stay up later working on music & articles (such as this), but also as currency as I do have a great relationship with my producer. The coffee I bring him eliminates his need to purchase coffee; therefore, a dollar amount we agreed on deducts from my final studio bill for every pound I bring in.
  • Paid Vacation: I’ve been with the company several years now and I tend to rack up vacation hours more quickly than most. With this, I have used paid vacation days to work on music, do shows, and work with my producer whilst getting paid to do so.
  • Stock Options: Yes, I sold several hundreds of dollars worth of stock I had racked up in order to hire my musicians for WaveTransform Fest 2014
  • Face Time: We’re encouraged to develop lasting relationships with our customers, and it is also said that word of mouth is this best marketing tool. A great many of my regular customers are aware that I am a musician & composer, who regularly composes and performs, and has albums available to buy and stream at Johnny-Newman.com, iTunes, and Spotify.
  • Spotify: Speaking of streaming, an especially new benefit to all Starbucks partners is the availability of free premium Spotify. So, if I were to have the desire to have album reviews as a regular part of my blog (by the way, blogging also fuels my music career), it wouldn’t cost me a dime to do so – just a little time out of my day.
  • Entry Level Perks: Since I have been with the company, I’ve actually turned down promotions. This allows me to make my availability almost as flexible as I wish. Additionally, our insurance begins at 20 hours a week. This means when work picks up on the music end and I have to cut my hours at my day job, my insurance and benefits never suffer!

Take time to brainstorm over your day job. Find ways you can use it to your advantage in pursuing your dreams! If you can’t find any way it can help you, ask yourself is it really worth staying? Especially if the paycheck isn’t that hefty, you may want to consider other options closer to your dreams!



Riff Development | Getting the Most out of Your Ideas


One of the greatest lessons I learned when I was a student of music composition was to make use of my ideas; or in this case – riffs. Before my training, I didn’t often maximize on my ideas and would write motifs, ideas, riffs, etc. and not take time to find their full potential as most young and inexperienced composers do. Below is an example of how I might begin to develop an idea.

(0:00 – 0:24) I present the idea as a simple gallop riff with some chromatic ties between the gallops and a chromatic 3-note run at the end of the phrases. I establish the initial idea by repeating it before I develop it by modulating up a whole step.

(0:24-0:35) In the modulated development, I change up the chromatic ties between the gallops; however, I leave the chromatic 3-note run intact. At the last phrase end, I introduce the next development before I continue into the next phrase by playing the 3-note run as double stops (power chords).

(0:35 – 0:58) As I return to the original key, I have developed it further by playing the whole section as open power chords. Also, you will notice that the percussion has become more aggressive; the crash and splash cymbals are in use with some more technical fills.

(0:59 – 1:10) When I modulate this section, I change octaves for some of the ties for a better flow on the instrument. At the end of this section, notice I extend my 3-note chromatic run by adding an additional 3 more notes and by extending the measure from 4/4 to 5/4 to emphasize my cadence before returning to the original single-note idea (1:11)

If I were to develop this idea further, I would begin to look at fragmentation. By taking some of the individual ties, or even the 3-note chromatic run, I could explore some excellent development to build upon my original ideas. When doing this on your own – make sure to save your best developmental ideas for last as to make an exciting climax! I’d love to hear what you all might do, as well!

Happy composing and happy riffing!!