Metrolife: Mid-career professionals quitting to pursue music

Doing music is fine, but how will you pay your bills? That’s a question people who switch to music full-time frequently face.

Admittedly, quitting a full-time job with a stable income to pursue music is not easy. 

Does the city you live in offer ample opportunities for full-time musicians? Have you saved up any money to fall back on if things don’t go as planned? Does your community support full-time musicians? These are questions musicians are forced to confront before they take the plunge.

Sanjay Chandrakanth, founder at Stringdom, has been playing the lead guitar for about 30 years. “Having done the corporate drill for almost 25 years, I felt the need to do something on my own, preferably with music.”

Seven years ago, he bid goodbye to his corporate life and picked up the guitar for his livelihood. 

“I am now a full-time musician tutoring and performing. As a sessions guitarist, I get to perform with top-notch artistes, which pushes me to be versatile and to polish my skills in varied styles and genres,” he says.

Wilfred Demoz, drummer of the Peepal Tree band, quit his high-paying job in the United States to pursue music full time. The decision led him to Bengaluru.

“I woke up one morning and asked myself, if I die tomorrow, would I die happy? The answer was a clear no. I went to the office that day and quit. I moved back to India and started playing with Raghu Dixit and kick-started my music journey from there,” he says. 

He does 70 to 80 gigs a year now. “While being in the music industry is glamorous, that’s not all there is to it. It is easy to get carried away and fall into the wrong crowd. It is essential to stay true to your roots and not let anything influence that,” Demoz says.

Naveen Thomas, lead guitarist for Suraj Mani and the Tattva Trip, has been playing for 18 years. “As much as I loved my job, I also loved music and wanted to pursue it,” he says.

Rehearsals take up most of his time now. “The amount of work that goes into two or three hours of rehearsal requires the same amount of energy that eight hours of office work does,” he says.  

He also loves playing sports and is a big foodie. “Find out what you’re passionate about and work towards that,” he says.

Debjeet Basu, lead guitarist for Perfect Strangers India, has been playing for 15 years. After spending 17 years in the corporate world, he recently quit to focus on music. The band is recording its first album. A good frame of mind is necessary to do constructive things with music, Basu says.

“Having a corporate life and playing with a band was difficult to balance as it didn’t give me any time with my family. Right now I’m going through one of the best stages of my life. I consult at an IT company and that also gives me ample time to focus on music,” he says.

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