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How to prepare for life after the music stops

How to plan for the long term and embrace change

  • Fenny Nadorp
  • 11 July 2019

It's not a pleasant thought, but it's good to acknowledge that there is a chance your career in music won't last a lifetime. That doesn't mean that your life has to end there too.

A music career often pushes you to live in the moment as you travel the world, meet people and create new music. You work in a flow, focused on your next task: the next release, tour, performance or deadline. With your full focus on the here and now, you might forget to think ahead.

Keep in mind that the music industry is a fast-moving place. One moment, you're the flavour of the month and next, you've lost that status, and you're not getting booked. Sometimes, you can control it. Other times, you can't.

Whatever the reason may be, I'd like to share tips on preparing for life after the music, even (and maybe especially so) if you don't feel like you have to think about it right now.

You'd be surprised at how many artists have made an unlikely career shift. David Rowntree, the drummer of Blur, is now a lawyer. “I'd always known I wanted to heal people, so I enrolled on a chiropractic course,” said Terry Chimes, who was the drummer on the first Clash album.

Ask yourself:

What did you love doing as a kid, before you got absorbed by music?

What is it you would love to do? Why?

Recognize that it make take time to discover or acknowledge. It took me about 30 years, going through burnouts, frustration, sadness and pain before daring to say out loud that I wanted to help people.

I chose to help people because I want to help people avoid feeling lonely. Help people understand that they don't just have to continue on doing whatever it is that they are doing because it is "expected" of them. That you can stand up for yourself, protect your boundaries and speak your mind.

If you feel confused and unclear about other passions besides music, you can find inspirations in other ways.

If you cannot find yourself back to what you enjoyed doing as a child, or if it was just music from birth on, you can get inspired in other ways. Try the DISC method!

Discover your strengths. What are your qualities? What is your personality? You can contact a work coach to get inspired or find direction. Get out of your comfort zone and try something you've never done before. In a foreign country, plan time to sightsee, or get active around town. It's important to be adaptable and openminded, as every place will have something new and fun to offer.

Interact with your surroundings. Take a look at what your friends do. Ask them how their day looks like or go with them to experience what it's like if it's possible.

Let others inspire you. Who is your inspiration in life? What does he or she do that inspires you? Talk with others about what drives them to do what they do. Let it inspire you to think bigger, create new thoughts and new ways of thinking.

Sense what you feel. Be curious and allow yourself to feel what you feel. Make time to explore other jobs other surroundings, other scenes. How do you feel about helping others? What makes you happy?

Create and challenge yourself. Challenge yourself by taking on a course you’re interested in and that’s completely the opposite of what you would normally do.

Create a mind of your own and let everything that you've experienced, learned and seen now come together and shape you and see what ways it will take you.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to stop your current career, but know that you are not limited to just one thing.

Even if you have managed to plan ahead, that moment when the music stops -- whether it be caused by bad press, the natural slow of attention and business or some other incident -- can feel like a black hole. It can make you feel empty and drained, and as if someone has moved the floor from under your feet. Sometimes, you feel as though you don't have the power to bring things back to normal.

Losing any job can take a significant toll on you, especially if it is something as personal as music. Nonetheless, it is a part of life. Even though you cannot do anything or much to change what happened, you can make an effort to overcome.

What to do when the black hole hits you?

Let yourself go through all stages of grief. Eventually, accept the situation and decide to get back on track.

Rest, breathe and take in what you have accomplished and learned. All this can help you to decide where to go next.

Recover and find ways to make sure to find peace in yourself so you can really accept your current position. Communicate with those around you and let them in on how you feel, what you’re dealing and struggling with.

Make new and explore new avenues, using the DISC method as described above.

Take care of yourself: mind, body and soul. Get fit, eat healthy and get your body in shape. When you feel good, you will think clearly.

Do something out of the ordinary. Breaking out of a routine that isn't working for you can instigate something new in your life. This could be as simple as getting a new hairstyle or taking on a new project, like decorating your house or learning a new skill.

Have faith in yourself. Be kind to yourself, and allow yourself to get back up your feet. This will give you the strength to move forward across every challenge life throws at you. Losing your “job” is undeniably hard, but you will still have to and will find a way to hold up in the face of bad times. You are stronger than what life will throw at you, and what's next will be beautiful.

Fenny Nadorp is an entertainment and creative industry life coach, trainer and speaker based in The Netherlands. Find her on Instagram here and contact her at hello@fennynadorp.com.

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