Inspiration & Practicality

Everyone once and a while, I’ll pop in an old CD I haven’t heard in a while. Perhaps an old favorite. I always wonder “Why did I ever stop listening to this?” It transports me, inspires me, changes my writing habits as a composer. Oh how I am so easily manipulated into the fantasy of the genre. The lure of playing heavy metal before a crowd, the self-sufficiency of being a singer-songwriter behind an acoustic guitar, the appeal of leading worship at church. “Maybe this one will allow me to pursue this full time.” “How about this one; it’ll surely bring in the income.”

I’ll go through a phase. Sometimes a week, and sometimes a couple of months. Either the inspiration will die first, or the once “practical” solution as a composer seems “impractical.” What comes off as myself being such a genre-diverse composer is really just me scratching & clawing to find something that works; not musically, but financially.

Let’s make good music cheap sounds an awful lot like the fast food industry, but hopefully the dream isn’t as bad for me.

Here’s to all you composers, songwriters, and aspiring bedroom musicians. Let’s find something that works.


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, 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!


Johnny @ Ignite 2015

Coming up on November 14th, I have the great privilege of playing my first acoustic set at the Ignite 2015 music festival. 

While I guess I’m probably more well known for my heavy metal works, I’ve written many songs over the years that I will soon be  orchestrating into my follow up album to the Easter 2015 “The Great Mistrial (or Go to Dark Gethsemane).”  

The songs I’m playing on November 14th will make up a great portion of the new album – acoustic now, heavier  soon.

I am especially looking forward to sharing these songs in their more ‘stripped-down’ state. It’s going create a more personal and emotional performance. I look forward to seeing you all there!

Event details here