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How To Get From Full Time Day Job To Full Time Musician - Meet John Taglieri

images.jpegA few weeks ago I spoke at Bob Baker’s Indie Buzz Bootcamp with 5 other music industry vets: Derek Sivers, Nancy Moran, Bob Baker, Tom Jackson and John Taglieri. We all delivered same message: Make great music that is a full expression of your creative self, then go out and connect your expression to people using technology and with a little learned marketing knowledge and discipline you will earn money. John Taglieri delivered an inspiring talk about what he did to go from full time day job to full time musician

As a social networking cheerleader who works full-time creating exposure for artists online I often find myself asking in my head: Why all of my artists be more like John?  John Taglieri is a rare breed of musician: A natural sales person who understands the importance of working just as hard on his musical craft as he does on his marketing and sales and for him it comes naturally.

I know that this is not the case for a lot of artists who can get fully frustrated with the idea of sales and marketing and they “just want to play.”  I’ve heard it thousands of times: “I just want to play, I hate doing that online stuff,” if you hold on to this attitude you will be left behind in the dust.

You have to be willing to get on the court and learning to play this game takes time and energy, and the rules change quickly so you need to adapt and go with the flow and not crucify yourself when something is not working.  This is where John Taglieri excels – he is open to learning new things and trying them – taking the parts that work and discarding the parts that don’t.

This stuff is not brain-surgery and the great news is unlike true musical talent (which, in my humble opinion is not a learned skill – it’s a gift) marketing and sales is TOTALLY LEARNABLE…. and there are thousands of gurus to learn from, endless free information to find online and plenty of people to model (yes – copy the ones that have success and watch success come to you – no need to re-invent the wheel)

OK – I’m getting off my soap box now and I want to share some of the best nuggets of John’s talk with you because even though I am friends with him and I work with him he shed some light on what goes on in his mind and I was delighted to get a peek into his thinking. I think you will be too…

The BIG Three Questions:

When John decided it was time to quit the day job and REALLY go for it in the music business he looked at himself in the mirror and he asked himself 3 key questions:

1.    What Do You Want? (Be honest with yourself)
2.    How Bad Do You Want It?
3.    What Are You Willing To Give Up For It?

Question 1: What do you want?  
He wanted to make it as a full time musician. Period.  What he understood by asking himself this question was that he may not get his ultimate dream of being an international rock star and playing huge stadiums and touring the world in a private jet like Motley Crue but that he wanted to play music full time and not hold a second job to pay for that dream and he was OK with giving up the private jet part of his dream.

When you can give up being totally attached to exactly what you thought it would look like miracles begin to happen and John explains that his dream was to play Giants Stadium – he ended up doing that… 10 times singing the National Anthem

Question 2: How bad do you want it?
John talked about his inner motto:
I want what I want and you are either going to help me or get out of my way

This meant that he had to disassociate from some friends that were holding him back by telling him that there was no way he could make it.

Question 3: What are you willing to give up for it?
Making it takes something.

If you are really not OK with working really hard to get it than this dream may not be for you… Getting there will take a lot of discipline, patientence and time.

You may have to go out to dinner less, spend less time with your family, wake up an hour or two early to study whatever it is you need to get better at – it will force you out of your comfort zone and it will take going that extra mile.

Visualize what you want
Every year for 5 he wrote on his yearly goals to quit his day job – he did it after 5 years. It took strong will and getting out of his comfort zone to achieve this goal.

You have to be able to SEE what you want – visualize what you want to do and always focus on moving forward
John talks about a very important distinction: focus on baby steps vs. big leaps.  This is not to say that you should not set a huge goal but think in baby steps while you are working for the big goal. When you achieve a small goal don’t forget to celebrate it and acknowledge that you achieved it.  The music business is HARD, not easy to make progress so take the wins when you get them.

It may not be what you thought
Not everything you want when you get it turns out to be what you wanted when you get it. If what you get is not the right thing its OK to not keep it.  Adapt to what feels right for you.

Face the crowd for perspective
To help visualize his dream, John would go to concerts and from the audience, he would turn around and look at the crowd burn the image of the crowd into his head and keep that visual of what a crowd of really excited fans looks like.

Don’t let yourself be overly structured
John’s tips:

-    Use a calendar or outlook to make a schedule – set it and forget it
-    Have goals and carry over your goals from year to your
-    Contact database management
-    Prioritizing daily tasks
-    Be flexible for changes –things crop up
-    Automate the mundane tasks
John presets the tasks like changing the filter in the dogs bowl – then he does not need to think about things that can suck his creative time.

Create multiple income streams
John has 5 streams of income that all tie together
1.    Plays original gigs
2.    Plays cover gigs
3.    Runs a music studio out of his home
4.    Handles sales & marketing for Cyber PR
5.    Owns a CD duplication machine and makes CDs for people

Have a strong brand
Branding is key in getting people to remember who you are.
In this world where niche marketing is key do not be scared to have a strong brand John’s is: If Edwin Mccain and Bon Jovi had a baby you would have me. He then set out to ingrain that into your head it’s on all of his sites – MySpace, Twitter, CD Baby and more.

Bands Are Small Companies – DELEGATE!
Do not try to do everything on your own – learn to find people who can help you who are in your league – fire people who are not working as hard as you.
-    If you are delegating YOU are responsible for making sure the people that you delegate to are accountable – give them dates and times to achieve things and by when
-    If you didn’t do it – it’s your fault
-    Eliminate negative people and situations
-    Stay positive

And Finally…Don’t Ever…
• Grow Up
• Say I Can’t
• Give Up
• Blame Others
• Whine
• Bitch
• Moan
• Complain

Reader Comments (14)

The info here is pretty good, but the presentation needs work, IMO.I take issue with "calendar; set it and forget it.", for one thing.Who's going to flog your schedule, if not you?

July 15 | Unregistered CommenterMojo Bone

Man. I should tattoo that entire post on my arms as daily inspiration. Kudos to John for breaking his dream down into manageable components, but, at the same time, dreaming big enough to make its accomplishment something genuinely worthwhile.

I've been a long-time academic in the making, who finally gave up my graduate studies to pursue my own music full-time. I'm scared to death and moving back to the States in 6 months to tour a new record, whilst shacking up with my parents. Not glamorous, but I've spent almost 30 years chasing degree after degree (pray, what on earth for?!). It's reading posts like these year after year, that have gradually helped me build the confidence I need in order to give it everything I've got, no excuses, no laziness, no what ifs.

Thanks for your part in that.

-Mark (

July 15 | Unregistered CommenterMark

Great post! The key here is to create multiple income streams, although the ones listed above aren't exactly the ones I would focus on. I would really try to push licensing of music, since there are more licensing opportunities (on and offline) today than ever. Also, sites like audiomicro and istockaudio are a good place to make a little more bread.

July 15 | Unregistered CommenterGavroche

What are some simple, applicable (I stress applicable) tasks I can daily perform on Social Networking Sites (Myspace, Last fm, facebook, virb) to garner interest?
What about making a personal connection via these sites...How do I do that?

July 15 | Unregistered Commenterschmaltz

Clearly Mr. Taglieri has spent much more time becoming a "full-time musician" than a good one. I can safely put my hand on my ass and say that's the worst music I've heard this year. And the ball bearing necklace? Do they still make those?

July 15 | Unregistered CommentermarcusR

Marcus, what is the need to (anonymously) post something negative about someone who is earning a full time living as a musician and is helping others to learn how to do the same? Do you feel better about yourself now? Whether you like John's music or not is simply a matter of your opinion, and that's fine, you are entitled to it. But, I fail to see the need to slam both his music and appearance, or how your post added any value at all to the discussion here.

True. I regretted is as soon as I posted it. His being a full-time musician is clearly more than I can say for myself. I extend my apologies to the site as well as to John who clearly has made a great deal of people happy with his music. well done.

July 18 | Unregistered CommentermarcusR

Wonderful post Ariel and thanks to John also.

I especially liked your question 3, what are you willing to give up. Musicians need to learn that success takes more than "just playing good music." Most times this will involve a sacrifice of some kind whether it be in time, effort or money.

Just playing good music and hoping that someone will buy it is a poor model.

I hope to read more good stuff like this here soon. Well done.

July 20 | Unregistered CommenterMark Gibson

Thing I loved about your audio with bob was all the "weeding your garden" stuff really encouraged me to level with my clients and say hey look - this won't happen in a hurry. If you're in it, you're in for the long haul. Welcome to web 2.0.

Negative people need to be given the chop, while negative situations need to be negotiated pareto style. I don't organise gigs on my own any more. I just don't, it stresses me out.

July 23 | Unregistered CommenterMatt @ Kurb

Great Post Ariel,

I love how you pointed out that a band is a small company.

You have to deal with band members as partners or as employees.
You need to keep track of your money as you have money coming in and out.
You need to market and promote.
You have to create value for people in order for them to spend their money on you.
You gotta be organized...

I appreciate the time you put into this post.

Have a stellar day everyone!


The New Rockstar Philosophy

July 29 | Unregistered CommenterHoover

Hi Ariel and John

Thanks for that advice, I found it really useful and comical!
I hear you about not being too structured, I've learnt to accept that I'm a complex, organised, mess and that's fine with me! I especially like your 'dont ever' list, too many people like to complain about why things are how they are instead of using that same energy to do something about it. If you're serious about making money out of your passion - you will.

Keisha :D

August 20 | Unregistered CommenterKeisha

no one said it would be easy. The artist tempermant knowing when to let the inner rational/managerial step up is hard to juggle. I've been working freelance with a few streams of income to support the love and I'm still not making enough money. I may have to go back to get a full time job. Being in a small town is tough but I need to be here right now because I own a house and am responsible for it. But I haven't tried the full time musician/artist life yet. It's hard for me to organize it all.......
thanks for the suggestions!

January 15 | Unregistered Commentermargot malia

This is actually a pretty good article. I've made the transition from a scientist to a full time musician. I teach boston guitar lessons as well as voice lessons.

It has given me a lot of time to free up and work on my music. You can check out some of my music a

I did my first album while working a full-time job and it sucked. Thr process of recording my second album has gone much better and I've had more time to concentrate on thigns that matter. Multiple sources of income is the key to the equation.

February 15 | Unregistered CommenterLauren Bateman

Great Post Ariel,

Yes. Multiple streams of income is the key for a full time musician. In my case, I have always worked as a full time internal auditor for over 25 years and raised a family. Although I was able to create music in my home studio, I felt that the live performance was missing in my life and my creativity was starving. I didn't have the time working a full time job and commuting 4 hours round trip while raising 3 kids.

Then I got laid off in 2010 and then divorced and suddently I found a lot of time on my hands. I attempted to collaborate with a new band. Ariel is absolutely correct! A band is a small company or organization. We established roles for each member of the band and I was the secretary and took the meeting minutes, wrote the sheet music, and secured the domanin name for the band. However, due to conflicting personalities and power struggles, the band ended.

My income stream comes from the following:
- live performances as a solo smooth jazz guitarist. (Only one personality to deal with)
- CD sales B2C and B2B
- DJ for Events

However, the income stream where I am having many challenges is from radio airplay and licensing for film and tv. This can be very lucrative but getting DJs to promote your CD through the airwaves is the key. Unfortunately, I have not found that magic recipe for licensing and royalities yet, but I am living the dream of live performances in Northern California and Nevada.

My live performances and dates can be found at If you're in the area, stop by to say "Hello".

Thanks for the post Ariel.

Doug Martin

July 24 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Martin

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