Being part of the workforce isn’t a hindrance to pursuing a career in music. To make ends meet, some musicians prefer to punch a clock and gig after a day’s worth of desk labor. Others strike a balance between stability and passion, excelling both in their professional jobs and music endeavors. Sometimes, a healthy compromise is all it takes to overcome the insurmountable.
As living proof that one can hit two home runs in one inning, we spoke to accomplished musicians from various professional fields and solicited sage advice on how to polish both ends of the spectrum.
1) Vin Dancel (Frontman, Peryodiko / Twisted Halo)
His day job:
"I'm the CEO and co-founder of JoomaJam, a technology startup focused on early childhood learning and social impact education. We've released a sing along app that's multilingual and features Pinoy music artists; a storytime app that allows kids to change elements of the story; and we've recently developed a portal for parents and educators that measures what kids are learning while playing video games and other educational apps."
How do you juggle and balance your time being both a musician and someone fully invested in another professional career?
Time management is key if you wanna keep doing the things you love.
2) Mike Constantino (Frontman, Conscious and the Goodness / Mike’s Apartment)
His day job:
"I run a science-based music and content agency called Homonym together with my wife. Along with our US partner, Songtradr.com, we provide strategic audio and content solutions to our partner brands and agencies, while at the same time, providing artists with alternative ways to earn from what they love doing."
What's the secret to balancing your love for music and your income-generating career?
Prioritization and making smart and practical choices (e.g., putting DJing aside so I can concentrate on the other aspects of my life). While I do run Homonym and manage Conscious & The Goodness, I never forget that I have to be head of my family/household first. Only after I've taken care of everything on the home front can I shift focus on the business and the band.
3) Jaycie Tanseco (Singer-songwriter, Jaycie & Honey / Vocalist x Guitarist, Mistress)
Her day job:
"I have been doing corporate events since 2001, and my work entails conceptualization, planning, and execution of corporate events. The company I work for also offers PR services, media planning, and activations, and I am mostly involved in these kinds of projects as well."
Can you describe what it has been like being both a musician and a PR professional?
I started doing gigs in 2003, and I must say I am very fortunate for having been able to manage my schedule with doing gigs and having a day job. At that time, I was younger, so getting up in the morning wasn’t that challenging compared to now. Fast forward to 2017: we still play live, but we do not book gigs as frequent as before. My working schedule has been reasonably flexible through the years. My band really never saw gigging as a means to make money, so we play because we really want to, without any pressure. This, I guess, is why we are still around after all these years. We may not ring a bell to most, but that really doesn’t matter to us. We are just grateful that we still get booked to play in some bars to share our music, and have a day job that keeps our minds busy.
4) Ralph Gonzales (Bassist, Fools and Foes / The Mind Is A Terrible Thing / Neverdie)
His day job:
"I teach kindergarten in a Steiner/Waldorf school in Sta. Rosa called Acacia Waldorf School. My mornings consist of trying to harmonize three to six year olds socially. Basically, I teach them how to share, take-turns, pack away, and do chores. On some weeknights, I attend classes in St. Paul University Manila, where I am currently taking up my master's degree in Music Therapy."
What aspect of your professional life do you still need to work on?
Time management! I'm not very good at it yet and I tend to mix up gig/rehearsal schedules with school/work related events but it's a learning process. I am lucky enough to have found a career and passion that balances each other out. Whenever I feel burnt out at work, I have gigs where I can vent. Whenever I feel burnt out with gigs, I have little kids that help me see the brighter side of things.
5) Dee Cruz (Frontwoman, Run Dorothy)
Her day job:
"I'm an Art Director for a 360 advertising agency. Since college, I've worked for different ad agencies as graphic designer."
What's the secret to fulfilling your passion as a musician and art director?
I actually don't know! Ha ha! I just make sure that I make time for my passion. When we have gigs during weekdays, I make sure I finish work and meet my deadlines first. There were also times when I had to cancel gigs for shoots and overtime. For me, it is important that you love what you do! And in my case, I love work and music!
6) Jam Lorenzo (Frontman, The Geeks / Guitarist, Disquiet Apartment)
His day job:
"I’m a Research Associate for an environmental NGO based in Quezon City. We’re mostly concerned with proper management of toxic chemicals, and I work under the Policy Development and Research team. Right now, my research focuses on the use of mercury in artisanal mining sites."
Can you tell us more about the challenges associated with being a musician and a working joe?
The main challenge was always trying to fit music into the hectic work schedule. We’ve never been a band who played a lot of gigs (we sincerely feel they’re exhausting and that we suck live) so I wasn’t exactly new to turning down gig invites, but the first few months at work was a real adjustment period. Saying no to gigs seriously hurt. We were also in the middle of recording an album last year when I got this job so I was spending a lot of time doing fieldwork in obscure provinces, and that caused a lot of delays.
I guess the main thing is just picking your spots and learning to sacrifice things. Getting a job that I was really serious about also made me realize how much I loved making music. I’ve learned how to say no to my boss a number of times just so I could play a few gigs, and even then, losing that much sleep always made me sick. Once, I had to go straight from doing fieldwork in Marinduque to playing a gig in Mapua and I was sick for a week after that! I would miss family events just so I could hang out with my band and talk about music. Honestly, I missed out on a lot of stuff on purpose just so I could spend time singing to myself. You learn to sacrifice a lot of things, big or small, but it’s all really worth it!
7) Jerros Dolino (Drummer, Read Between the Lions / Blidit / Sleepwalk Circus / Child/ren of the Pilgrimage / Lady I)
His day job:
"I work as a lawyer for the government. More specifically, I’m an Associate Solicitor for the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), which represents the government of the Philippines, its agencies and instrumentalities and its officials and agents in any litigation, proceeding, investigation or matter requiring the services of lawyers. Simply put, if the government were a person, kami po ang abugado niya."
What advice can you give to other musicians who are struggling to keep both their band and job afloat?
Like what they say, if you really love what you are doing, you don’t simply just find time. You make time. Kaya ayun, madalas kulang ako sa tulog. Haha!
8) Billie Dela Paz (Bassist, Oh Flamingo!)
Her day job:
"I work as a Junior Print Artist for a small design firm. So I design various print media (billboards, menu, flyers, booths, etc.) for various clients."
How has your journey as a bassist affected your career as a professional artist?
My first job was actually in a multinational advertising agency and it was hell trying to balance such a hectic schedule with a lot of OT work and on-call projects. I kept missing gigs, or being late, and eventually I had to make the big decision of leaving that job to find something that would allow me to fit in my band life.
Thankfully, my current company's mantra is holistic development, and they really support having side hustles, especially creative endeavors. They are very supportive with my music projects, and their policies allow me to give time to my band's activities.
9) Icoy Rapadas (Frontman, Lions and Acrobats)
His day job:
"I'm with the campaigns team for D5 Studio, It's the digital arm of Media5 Marketing Corp, which is the sales and marketing company that handles TV5 and other assets under that umbrella. I mainly do accounts work and strat."
How do you keep things from falling apart?
It's not as hard as it might seem to be quite honest. In my case, I guess I'm just lucky that I work in an environment that is supportive of its employees pursuing their other passions. It also helps that it's not that demanding of my time. I have a schedule, and more often than not, it gets followed. So, it's fairly easy to work around. But for the sake of moving the discussion forward, really, it's all about managing your time, your priorities, and being transparent about it with your bandmates and your colleagues at work.
Make the most of the time that you have because with this lifestyle, there's really not much of it. So make sure that you always know what to do with the time that you have by planning ahead. And don't forget to rest.
10) Eric Strange (Drummer, Paranoid City)
His day job:
"I am now a full-time associate professor in De La Salle University–Manila after I recently resigned my post as the Country Head of a Manila-based Australian Investment Banking firm. I’m also connected with Miriam College as an assistant professor and a part-time financial advisor of PhilamLife."
How important is commitment when balancing these two important aspects of your life?
First, you really have to commit to the idea that you want to do all of these things. As we all know, not all musicians hit the jackpot money-wise, but you still want to play, right? Because the music calls us. However, we still have to pay the bills, which is why we still have to work. All of these things, music and professional work, make us feel alive, so the commitment and the passion should be there. No excuses. Second, time management is one of the major requirements when you have a band and a corporate job. If you have to go home right after your set just to have enough sleep and rest, then do so. If you have to go to work a bit early so that you can leave earlier to attend an early gig, then do it. The only limited resource in this life is time. Learn to value it by managing it well. Third, which is my favorite, is the proximity of your place to everything you do. It is really important to minimize your travel time going to work and going to the gigs. The city traffic sucks the energy and time from all of us, so in order for people like me to go to work and attend gigs, having a perfectly situated living place is very ideal. Lastly, you need to have very supportive band mates and band management. If there’s a conflict with your work or any other scheduling problems, it is vital that you have bandmates and management that understand you and are willing to adjust so gigs can fit in your work schedule.
11) Isa Añiga (Singer-songwriter and Producer, Skymarines)
Her day job:
"I work as a Japanese collections analyst for Google Inc., the world's largest search engine. I handle all top accounts of Japanese advertising agencies. I'm also tasked to do translations. On weekends, I teach Japanese at home."
Aside from the music and your professional career, what else keeps you busy?
I'm a working single mother who loves to sing and make music so I never really felt I had to juggle both.
12) Jeremy Lopez (Frontman, KISSLING)
His day job:
I'm a Copywriter for Mobext Philippines, Inc., the digital arm of the Havas Group. I help create digital content for three brands. I get paid by creating posts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other known digital outlets. It's a dream come true for someone who's always online.
How has a career in advertising challenged your band life?
Years ago, nung sa above-the-line pa ako, mahirap. Lalo na pag may kasabay na gig ang isang deadline or when preparing for a pitch. Tumatakas ako to play then balik sa office after the set. But right now, since nasa digital realm na, it's not as overly demanding as compared to ATL. I get to win my life back since most of the time, 9 p.m. tops naka-out na ako nun. I even get to use my office hours in creating content for our band's page! Weekends have become a strictly-for-band days, too. And the good thing in having another professional career is you get to not be overly-attached to your day job. Revisions? Okay, let's do it. After all, I have my music to channel my creative frustrations.
13) Honey Machuca (Singer-songwriter, Jaycie & Honey)
Her day job:
"I currently work for an events and advertising company. I have been working here for almost 12 years. I deal and communicate with clients, as well as create concepts for campaigns and events."
Does it help your music that your career is hinged on creativity?
I am very blessed that all my jobs from the start were in the creative field. I think having been able to balance music with all the jobs I had made me realize that if I wanted something, there is always a possibility that I can do it. People say that life is short but complain that days are long. I make the most out of the long days. It’s all a matter of making time for the things that you like to do. Right now, I am sure of one thing, I may take on any job, but I will always find time to make music and play gigs.