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When do you know it is time to quit trying and move on.
When is it the right time to jump from the gig you’re presently on to something else?
Maybe it’s time to move to something other than the gigs you’ve been doing?
Or maybe it’s time to quit and find a new career.

Have you ever said, “I feel like I’m wasting my time doing this? I’m not learning anything new and can’t seem to advance to the next level.”

How often have your friends, family, or significant other asked, ” When will you realize this isn’t working?”

What’s the answer?

Sorry folks, I have no crystal ball and no qualified answer.

I have come to understand that change isn’t a bad thing. It’s just “a thing .”Sometimes change is pushed on you, like when you are asked to leave a job, also known as fired. Then there are the times you don’t get asked back for the next gig. How about when the show you’ve been working on for years gets canceled, and everyone working on it gets canceled, also. Sometimes, that little voice in your head starts screaming, “Let’s try something else. This gig isn’t working for us anymore. There has got to be something better.”

 Our industry is like no other. This makes it hard for people not in the industry to offer advice or understand how it works and why you keep trying. For example, in the outside world, if your resume lists a hundred jobs you’ve done in the past two years, it looks like you can’t hold a job. In our industry, you are perceived as a go-getter and have collected diverse valuable experience.   

The entertainment industry is all about change. You constantly need to keep your eye on what’s next, how I can land that gig, do I know anyone that can help move me in that direction, etc. You know the phrase “side hustle”; it’s meant to explain something you do that’s not part of your regular job. Like I am an accountant, and I DJ weddings on the weekend or I am an auto mechanic, but I also have a side business restoring old cars. Those are side hustles.

In our world, if you’re a freelancer, everything you do is a side hustle. You’re constantly on the lookout for the next opportunity. You should continuously develop your contact list of people who might have work or can introduce you to someone with work. Even if you land the rare staff gig, you should keep your eyes and ears open for other opportunities. Because, as I said earlier, when the show ends (and they all do), there is no guarantee you’ll get picked up for the next show. This goes for music tours, music recording sessions, network programming, theater gigs, etc. This weirdness holds true for the high six-figure exes to the minimum wage utility folks. Every position is tied to the success and failure of something out of your control.

So why the hell would anyone play in this sandbox? How can you build a life outside of work if you could be unemployed at any time or any day?

Why? Because for those of us doing this our whole life love what we do and have learned how to navigate the unknown future. We also learned not to hit the panic button when there is no work, even during the rare pandemic.  

It’s all a balancing act.

Here are some things you need to learn to balance out the future.

  • Understanding you are basically the owner and operator of your business, YOU. 
  • To run and grow this business, YOU, you need to learn how to:
    • Develop what makes you a value to others.
    • Market your brand, YOU, so the world knows you exist.
    • Find a niche in the industry that needs help and fill it. 
    • Constantly expanding your contacts list.
    • Keep one eye on the job at hand and one eye on the next gig
    • Learn to manage your time verse your income.
  • Learn how to expand your contacts.
  • Learn as much as possible about the entertainment industry at large.
  • Learn the process of how content and content development get implemented
  • Money management, “save for a rainy day,” or invest in technology speculation.

I could expand on that list for days. Most of it comes from common sense and absorbing the successful behavior of those who came before you. Those of us who have a handle on working in and around the “unknowns” of the industry have figured out a method of success that works for us individually.

If you happen to be new to this world and are wondering if you can make a good living at this, the answer is an absolute YES. The qualifier to that answer is it’s entirely up to you. Even though everyone thinks being in business for yourself is the answer to all your concerns, it only frees you from one set of circumstances to another.

Staff gigs or any corporate gig are a different kind of animal and take a completely different approach/mindset. Typically, the day-to-day activity on the front lines is similar to that of a freelance gig with the upside of structured work hours, a defined weekly salary, benefits, etc. The downside is you will be working in a large environment with layers of management/discussion makers who have no real idea what it takes to do what you do yet have complete control over you. Eventually, this frustration could push you to become complacent and stop caring about improving your or your department’s situation. In the end, that attitude only hurts you. As in the freelancer’s world, you need to stay in command of your destiny. You must learn to maneuver around the negative folks and avoid the “frustration pit.” 

To sum up, your career and gigs are what you make of them. Freelance, large corp, small production house, or a combination of all of them, you will still need to learn skills for the job and how to navigate the environment. Stay away from focusing on the negatives and the perceived success of others. If you don’t, the gig will become a grind. If you keep your focus on the job at hand, take advice from and learn from the success of others, and don’t listen to or concern yourself with the negative speak from coworkers or superiors. If you follow these basic steps you will learn to love the life and become as successful as you desire, however you define success.

Fast track your entertainment production career