What does work-life balance mean to you?

Meet Jonathan, a 24-year-old Bengaluru-based musician

Passion – Making music

Path – Working in a corporate job by day and musician by night

Dream – To produce music full time, while being financially stable to live a satisfying life

Jonathan has a fascinating work-life balance. His day job helps his passion for music survive.

With a burning desire to perform in front of a live audience, Jonathan formed a 4-member contemporary music band through his networking at Christ University during his college days.

Does music pay?

A performance at a high profile music event can pay close to Rs. 1,00,000 but a gig at a mall on a weekend would only bring in Rs. 25,000. Acoustic Unplugged gigs would pay close to Rs. 12,500.

Though Jonathan’s day job helps pay for the down payment required to assemble good quality equipment and outsourcing of sound technicians, there are some additional financial measures he has taken to support his solo album production and other overhead costs.

The volatile nature of the industry and exploitative organizers leave little room for budding artists to bargain. Moreover, these payments can be as delayed as 3 months after the performance.

Having a band is the same as having a business – there are revenues and then there are expenses

Jonathan has to cater to other band-related expenses as well, such as travel to a venue, studio recording time, down payments to sound technicians, investing in guitar strings, etc. Unlike the post-paid nature of the gig income, his expenses have to be paid as and when they occur.

Jonathan knows that he cannot depend solely on music as a profession. He needs money to feed himself as well as his passion for music.

How does a musician manage his money?

So how does a young professional, like him, manage to pursue a relatively high-maintenance hobby without financial backing from his parents?

The answer is surprising yet simple; saving and investing.

Jonathan saves about 50% of his monthly salary, by consciously making an effort not to withdraw it. He uses this money solely towards his band practices and jamming expenses. It’s quite a different approach considering the common belief about musicians being foolhardy with their money.

The income from gigs and performances are distributed evenly among the 4 band members. Though he is operating his personal account for the band, he intends to start a joint bank account for the band’s income and expenses.

His money habits are simple and easy to follow. He uses note keeping apps to keep a tab on his expenses and income.

He has recently started investing his monthly savings into a liquid debt mutual fund, as he can withdraw this amount at a short notice. He has created a small but useful corpus from his savings of the past one year.

Looking forward – one step at a time

Jonathan is now in the process of recording a solo album. He said that the album is draining away most of his savings, owing to the fact that he needs to produce good quality music, hire the best sound engineers in town, because in his own words, “You are only as good as you sound.”

His saving and investing habits are helping him realize his dream of becoming a performer and an artist. He did not quit his day job neither did he sacrifice his passion for music. He simply saved and invested smartly so that he could have his cake and eat it too.

Such a plan may seem like a major leap of faith, that not everyone is able to take. But in reality, it is only a combination of some smart financial decisions which help you pursue your passion, much more than anything else.