am.rock wrote:First, there's thousands of hobbyist musicans out there, did you ever feel you were one of those? Like, "my music is pretty good, and my friends like it, and sometimes i play out, but it's [just] a hobby".
My original plan (in high school) was to become a general surgeon and spend a lot of time in developing countries. I also wanted to score films and record albums. But the first seemed more likely, and more in line with the path I was on academically. So yes, for a while I assumed music was just going to be a hobby.
Then the dream of medicine fizzled out, aided greatly by Advanced Organic Chemistry and a seminar in which I "shadowed" several physicians for a few days. I wasn't as cut out for it as I thought I should be. And there, suddenly, was the possibility of pursuing music. The rest of my life was no longer set aside to do something else. The future was open.
Second, when did it become apparent to you that you were going to be a professional musican? I mean, was it clear to you from a while back...in the college days, and the job was just a day job to pay the bills? Or, did you see it more as a hobby, and the thing just spiraled out of control? How did you feel when you realized, maybe I can make a thing out of this and quit your job? I guess what I'm trying to ask is, when did you know? Even, how did you know?
I made the promise to myself to take music seriously, to come up with a plan, midway through college. It was a scattered, haphazard effort for a long time. By luck I met Eric Miller a few months later, and we started recording, with the vague notion to have an album finished by graduation. I looked up Berklee College of Music and spent spring break exploring its campus in Boston. A friend asked me to play a show in a neighboring dorm. I set up a rudimentary website with mp3s. The point is, I'd decided to set my mind to it—it wasn't just a hobby—but that didn't mean I knew what I was doing.
After graduation I gave myself two years. At the two-year mark I'd either quit my job because I had something to go on—a label, a manager, whatever—or I'd quit to go to music school. So I set up my keyboard and PA in tiny coffeehouses; I saved most of my paycheck; we released Waking Hour and I walked to the post office to mail PayPal orders twice a week. As it happened, I got accepted to Berklee's full-time program just as Virt Records approached me with an offer. It was spring 2002, two years almost exactly.
Reading this over, I'm not sure if I've really answered the question. When did I know? I didn't, really. I didn't know for sure until later; I guess the first NPR Weekend Edition piece was the first moment, then Letterman of course. Those were endorsements that opened many other doors. But I didn't know any of that was going to happen when I said goodbye to my officemates. It was a leap of faith, to lean on a cliché. I just had to believe that this was something worth trying. I didn't know whether I was going to "make it." Many deserving musicians don't. I'm still amazed that I've gotten this far.