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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Working Musician by Mark Stone

I should start by introducing myself.  My Name is Mark Stone.  I am Not the professional hockey player nor was I the former bassist of Van Halen but I am the Singer/Guitarist/SongWriter/Vocal Instructor/Music Teacher/Leader of the project Mark Stone and the Dirty Country Band.

For the last 10 years of my life I've been a working Musician.  I still consider myself a working musician although I'm not sure I qualify for the title by some standards anymore as I've recently got myself involved in the dreaded DAY JOB, but I'd like to share my experiences as this may help someone who maybe trying to accomplish the same or similar things.
My Story starts like a lot of them you've already heard. I loved to sing. I could repeat whole songs before I could even hold a proper conversation.  Some would say I have a Rainman like quality when it comes to remembering lyrics.  Great quality to have as a singer but it won't help you keep a day job.  In fact the reason I became a working musician was purely out of necessity.  Although it has been my love of music that has kept me from seeking out anything else until now but I'll get to that later.
Off and on throughout my life I've pursued music.  I dropped out of high school (I don't recommend this) to join a traveling coverband.  When the band folded and after an inspiring epiphany moment soaked in my moms tears I went back to high school and graduated. A few more cover bands followed until My first original music band Juggernaut (Top)

We were Signed to Noise Records in Germany and even made a video that MTV Europe played during the Headbangers Ball Program

Ahhh those were the days touring in a transvan eating ramen when possible otherwise smoking breakfast and drinking lunch and dinner (also not recommended) but the band blew up everybody went their separate ways.  Although, I now have the guitar player of that band playing bass for me in the Dirty Country Band but I just jumped ahead too far.  

I Got a regular job as a truck driver for awhile the lifestyle is amazingly similar to touring.  I found other local driving jobs that paid as well and I concentrated on making money and being home to support my son.  I divorced and for awhile my son lived with me so the most music I did was occasional weekend warrior stuff but he decided to move in with his mother and I had nothing to keep me home.  In fact I got out from under it and started playing more often.  It was at this time that I got laid off from my then Cement Truck driving job and there wasn't much else for work available.  One band wasn't enough to pay the bills so for awhile I was involved in 4 different projects one of those dissolved and I started teaching at the School of Rock as a vocal instructor.  By the time I left School of Rock 4/1/13 I was teaching vocals at all 3 School of Rock locations as well as Show directing at the Eden Prairie School and Directing the Elite performance group made of the top students from all 3 schools out of the Burnsville location.

What happened??? For the longest time my top priority was making a living playing music and I had succeeded in sustaining a reasonably modest lifestyle doing just music but my music had taken a backseat and it had gotten to the point where that had to change.  I made a clean break. There was an opportunity to play music in TX and from the sounds of it a lot more opportunity to play period. So I packed up my wife and all the necessities in a big RV and headed to TX.

In TX just outside of the Live Music Capital of the United States of America.  I learned a few things.  Playing live music in TX for the middle class working musician depends largely on tips.  You can play 7 nights a week but those weekday gigs aren't going to offer much for a guaranty and if you aren't well known in the area your draw will suffer.  Mind you if you can get the weekend gig you'll probably make out better some nights than you would if you had a guaranty but it may also be hard to get those coveted weekends if you don't have a name.  The Opportunity folded but I did manage to get into Music Lane Studios in ATX and Track the basics for an entire album and play Austin during SXSW twice so probably the best 2,400 mile trip I've ever taken. Not to mention a gorgeous winter honeymoon for my wife and I.  "We'll Always Have TX" will be on a Future release but the album I recorded basics in TX is available through my website for Pre-Order and soon digitally available everywhere in 2015

Now I'm back in my home town where my wife and I 1st met and near the high school I graduated from and played my 1st gig.  If there is a moral to this story it's this:  Do what makes you happy.  You can probably do a lot of things to make money but in the end you can't take it with you anyway so you might as well enjoy your time here.  If you want to make a living playing music you'll most likely have to diversify.  Being kick ass at one thing is hardly enough anymore you'll have to be kick ass at a few things and bottom line you can't do it all yourself. Very few people just shy of no one has ever made it in the music business alone.  You need to build a team. There are only so many paid opportunities out there and even if you land a good one you'll most likely need more than that. So try on a few hats teaching, live sound, promotion, booking and or broadcasting.  Being a working musician is an attainable goal but I'm not going to blow smoke up anyone it gets harder and harder to do with the passing of time and you will most likely have to find a few music related things to make it work but if you truly Love music there is no other occupational pursuit that will give you the same satisfaction and you'll need the experience and insight that wearing those other hats will give you if you ever want to succeed.

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Your questions and comments are welcome.
Here's how to get a hold of me if you'd like to connect:

ElectronicPressKit(EPK)- -email

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