Why musicians shouldn't listen to their parents

Posted on 25th September 2019

Do not listen to your parents. Actually, let me rephrase. Musicians, do not listen to your parents! Here’s why;

I get it, parents mean well. I’m still getting unsolicited career advice from my folks and I’m 52 - it never ends. The thing is, it always seems to hang around this idea of security and safety, it's understandable, the world is a scary place. They are transferring their anxiety onto you because they love you and it comes in the form of advice; sometimes a lot of it.

The problem is, sometimes this advice is based on ideas that worked decades ago. To the contrary of this well-meaning advice, we need to be able to create plans and strategies that will work in the future. And before anyone starts giving you advice or lecturing you, they need to know how your industry is working in the present day. Past knowledge is good; however, you need to work out what is going on today and look ahead.

If they are not providing informed advice, then it’s like seeing a doctor for a snakebite who treats you for a broken arm. I’m making a serious point here; I want to stop you reverting to old ways of thinking that will make it harder than necessary. There are things that all young people know instinctively but sadly parents, and sometimes teachers, forget. I want to make them explicit and a resource for you to draw from.

Point no.1 - there is no such thing as a job for life in any sector

This is true across the board and in the last recession, redundancies were running around 100,000 a month for a long period (Source ONS). Unfortunately, all the signs point to another recession coming. Employment per se is not a shelter from the impending storm. In fact, self-employment may just give you the versatility with your income streams to not only weather a storm but to thrive in it.

Point no.2 - previous careers you could bank on are not as safe as you think

Previous careers that you could bank on, let’s say nursing, education, accountancy, or any corporate entity is subject to review and restructure. Just because you have a job now, doesn’t mean you are going to have one next month. Job insecurity is built into the fabric of the workplace these days. Even if you keep your job, this doesn’t stop you from constantly worrying about losing it.

Point no.3 - the advances in artificial intelligence are changing the game

This means that any task or activity that can be replaced by A.I. over the next few years almost certainly will be. This will lead to even more fear and insecurity in the work market. If you check out this website https://willrobotstakemyjob.com/ the most frequently searched jobs are accountants, auditors, lawyers, computer developers, and software engineers. Now the mad thing is, these are areas parents are advising their children to pick as a career.

Point no. 4 – risking the creative career

With all this collective uncertainty, why take the risk of a creative career? Well, actually, for all those reasons, a creative career is less risky in many respects than the careers mentioned. A creative career could give the skills, knowledge, adaptability, and frame of mind required to thrive in the workplace for the rest of your life. What's more, you can do this on your own terms.

The big secret is to design your own ‘portfolio career’ sort of situation. That means your creative output is just one of several income streams and, in the ideal model, they all support each other. Managing lots of income streams means we are monitoring our career situation not just on a

monthly, annual, or weekly basis, but on an hourly one. We become used to adapting. This becomes a habit and we do not find it fearful, as it’s what we do day in, day out.

Point no. 5 – transferable skills

It’s all about those transferable skills. If you can run a band, you can run a business. What is a band these days? If it’s making a bit of money, then it’s an innovative business model. It’s all about doing things in new ways that work. Bands that work are usually experts in business and entrepreneurialism, they are also pretty hot on social media and digital marketing, which are incredibly useful workplace skills in the current market.

Point no. 6 – the future belongs to creatives

My point is that because everything is changing so fast, the future belongs to the creatives. They can adapt and they have the skills and knowledge to be flexible. Creativity cannot be easily automated by A.I. If you take a modern approach to running a band or solo career, and you design a future proof business model, then that's the best possible thing you can invest your time in right now. And, it will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. You can go ahead and do this confidently but do develop your other income streams as well. In this way, you have a robust lifestyle which will set you up forever.

Point no. 7 – goals

Musicians are confident in setting their own goals and following their instincts. And parents, (I’m including myself in this as I’m a parent of three) we need to listen more and speak less. Sometimes that’s the hardest thing to do.

Thank you so much for reading this blog, we have tackled something incredibly important. I’d be interested in hearing your views on the subject, no matter whether you're the parent or a young creative.


by Bruce Dickinson
Bruce has had 11 top forty hits and a number 1 album with Little Angels. He’s toured with Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Van Halen, and opened for Guns N’ Roses on their first UK shows. With his group Colour of Noise, he has run a successful Pledge album campaign and he continues to help new bands through curating the Rising Stage at the Ramblin’ Man Fair festival and Underground Music Conference events. Bruce was a founder of the BIMM group of colleges, leaving in 2012 for the Little Angels reunion at Download Festival and UK tour. He has negotiated several university partnerships and written many validated degree courses, with thousands of undergraduates studying those courses still. He holds an MA in Education Management.
View all posts by Bruce Dickinson

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