Get the Balance Right

It took me a while but I finally struck a balance between my day job and my music career. Three week day nights and weekends I am in front of knobs, dials, touch screen, API and Ableton. Weekdays as Director of Operations at ENVEN Energy Services I stare at Windows 7 via Bootcamp, Excel tracking sheets, Quickbooks or I am in the field auditing commercial lighting systems in Rockland, Orange and Sullivan Counties. Once and a while live performances as The Horrorist steal a Friday away from ENVEN but since I am a partner in the company it’s a perk I am allowed. Mornings before anything starts thirty minutes goes here to Wire to the Ear and these words. I know balance has found it’s equilibrium because my to do list gets cleared and I am not having those “missing class” nightmares. I admit I struggled to make this work and for a while it cost me some music creating time. The key is I pretend I am far more important than I am. I pretend I am a CEO. I wake up early, eat super healthy and spend 45 minutes on the Elliptical trainer each day. I allow myself one or two planned, scheduled fun short late afternoon meet ups with friends and family per week. I know this all sounds pretentious and needlessly stiff. In between all the positivity there is a blackness. I regularly feel like I am missing something somewhere. I have huge doubts and I feel I’ve become a mouse on a wheel. That said, I am doing my life’s plan and I hope in the end people will have noticed.

“There’s more besides joyrides. Little house in the countryside. Understand, learn to demand, Compromise, sometimes lie. You think you’ve got a hold of it all. You haven’t got a hold at all. When you reach the top, get ready to drop. Prepare yourself for the fall, you’re gonna fall. It’s almost predictable.” – Depeche Mode

For more info: Get the Balance Right, Depeche Mode (iTunes link)

photo credit: Colin Harris

Working for it

Musician for Hire

I took this photo near Madison Square Park yesterday while waiting for the bus home. I wonder if these advertisements actually work. I guess I should have pulled the paper up a bit to expose the contact info. In NYC there are often a groups of Hip Hop artists on corners that try and put their CDs in your hands. If you take one they follow you and ask for a few bucks for it. I think a better way to make money on the street is to actually play music and have a few things for sale on the spot. I remember seeing a story about a guy in LA who had some techno gear selling a few CDs an hour at $20 each. If your looking for some free hipster subway music in Brooklyn hang out in the Bedford Ave L train stop on Friday night. I do try and throw a buck into a guitar case every now and then.

Work vs Play. How do you deal?


I’ve learned almost every life lesson the hard way. The “hard way” usual means you don’t listen to what anyone tells you and therefore you experience life’s pains first hand. I do admit when I am wrong and today I’ll make a minor confession. Basically, I thought if I took a full time job I would make music just as easily and with the same fluency and frequency. So yeah I was pretty much wrong.

However, it’s not actually time management that’s the issue. It’s more that well, I love my new day job! It seems after almost 40 years on this planet the left (analytical) side of my brain grew as large as my right brain (creative side). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been freaking out waiting to get dirty with Ableton Live 8 but I’m finding organizing my audits also tantalizing. My official job title is “Field Energy Auditor”. I enter commercial buildings in a certain section of Manhattan that ConEd is having problems delivering power to. I help stores and buildings reduce their current demand by recommending various conservation (lighting retrofits, new HVAC systems, etc..) and generation (solar, geo-thermal, hydro, wind) methods. Often I meet with building managers and companies with more money than the entire music industry (just sitting in the top drawer of their desks!). You would be amazed how open they are to the green revolution. Then again, they save tons of money by implementing the plans we offer. Did you know an underwater turbine now sits in the east river and powers a Gristedes supermarket? Amazing.

I wanted to post this to put my feelings on the record. It should be interesting in a year or two to read this again (for me anyway). So to those of you who work full time how does your music making life fit in? Whenever you get the urge? Weekends only? What’s your stradgey? One thing I am sure of is I put 20+ years into the music business, learning the craft of song-writing and I am finally good at it… so expect many more albums to come. The best thing is I can afford more toys with keys and knobs on them! Here’s where I work: Energy Management Solutions

photo: They found my secret life as The Horrorist.