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Why you can't afford to not stop smoking (or drinking or overeating)

As musicians, we have incredibly limited resources financially. I've known my whole life that I would be doing almost everything on a shoestring, and I'm fine with that. Most people aren't, which is something you should seriously consider before you decide whether or not you want to be a full time musician.

I recently was talking with a musician friend of mine about 9 months ago that smokes and does the occasional recreational drug. He told me he was spending upward of 70 bucks a week on just cigarettes, and another hundred on pot and other drugs. He was working a job with a construction company, and he was telling me how he couldn't afford to drop hours for an upcoming gig because he had such huge financial commitments.

(Before I go on, I want to clarify that I'm not going to try and convince you that drugs, cigarettes or alcohol are wrong. I'm not going to talk about how important it is to keep yourself healthy so you can have a long career. All I'm talking about is finances.)

There are two kinds of income for musicians- money that you get, and money that you keep from giving out. Most of the areas you can really boost with very little effort falls into the latter category. Here's some examples of things in that category:

• Food • Clothing • Alcohol • Drugs • Cigarettes

Suppose your boss came up and told you he was giving you a $200 a week raise. What would you do with it? How would that change your career?

My friend was letting something he consumed to control his music career because of the things his spending habit was keeping him from doing. I've seen many of my friends to this same thing with food, cars and dozens of other lifestyle choices. He was effectively cutting his own salary by $70+ every week.

I found out a few weeks ago that my friend wasn't doing music any more- his wife had just had a second child, and because of their already strapped finances, he was working the night shift on top of his other job. He was miserable, but doing what he had to do to keep the cash flow going. He also told he me was smoking twice as much as he used to. Because of poor lifestyle choices, he had put himself in a position that made it impossible to pursue his dream of having a career in the music business.

When you're making lifestyle choices, make sure that you think about what your decisions are doing to help you, and how they're holding you back. I made a decision a long time ago that drugs, alcohol, and expensive food and drink had the worst help/hurt ratio of any decision I could make.



Dreams and Nashville