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By 1996, I was on my last legs as a music business executive. I'd lost fire and couldn't let go of urge to follow my dream. Finally in late 1996, I left my position as Vice President of SESAC to get back to being a musician. The 15 - 20 hours a week I spent as a traffic and news reporter bridged financial gap.
In meantime, I began rounding up gigs, hustling, and learning all new songs on piano that I possibly could. I knew I was getting about a 20-year late start compared to all hot young players out there. But I figured I could make up for at least some of that through sheer hard work and determination. Because of my previous work experience, I was comfortable telephoning and meeting with people of all levels of business. I began working with hotel, restaurant and country club managers, wedding planners, and any venue that might be open to having piano music.
Systematically going through yellow pages, I would keep meticulous notes about which businesses had a piano, who I'd spoken with and when to follow-up. Soon enough I was performing regularly - an average of three times per week…and earning decent money. Often I would find performing opportunities in unexpected places: libraries, museums, senior citizen facilities, and lots of corporate parties. Eventually, I was fortunate to land a four day a week steady job playing piano at a couple of Nordstrom stores…low paying, but great exposure and experience. I was on my way!
Now with two CDs available on Brainstorm Records, MY independent record label, dream is being realized...the dream is being lived! The CD sales combined with my constant gigging six or more times per week nearly equal income I earned during my peak years as a music executive. Meanwhile, I am putting a new emphasis on generating songwriting royalty revenue, with a three-year plan underway designed to round out that third source of income I have planned on since grade school.
It hasn't been easy...but it has been worth it in every way! My little musical empire, now five years old, has seen steadily increasing in revenues each year. I have felt surges of joy and ultimate in frustration. I am always eager for new challenges…and sometimes ready to quit. But, awhile back I came across a sentence that sums it all up perfectly. The statement comes from John Madden, highly successful former football coach of Oakland Raiders (who has become an even more successful football broadcaster). He was talking about insecure, volatile occupation of being a National Football League Coach, a profession where one can almost guarantee they will be fired - often more than once. In determining whether or not someone is suited for that difficult profession, Madden said: "You shouldn't be doing it unless you can't live without it.”
I would say same applies to one's pursuit of music, or whatever their particular dream may be. If you can't live without it you simply have no choice but to pursue it.
For me, pursuing my dream was best and most rewarding thing I have ever done.
If you've got a dream, I say, LIVE IT!!
Jim Hudak is a pianist, singer, guitarist, and songwriter who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. His latest CD, Gratefully Yours, is currently receiving international acclaim. For more information, you can contact Jim through his website, www.jhudak.com, or by phoning Brainstorm Records at (925) 673-7293.