I can't tell you how many times I've had to search my soul and come up with yet another new way to hold music in my life. I've been a gung-ho careerist and I've quit completely, sometimes for years at a time, more than once. I've played tons of gigs and none at all, just the cherry gigs and anything I could get, loved it, hated it, and everything in between. And I've been doing this since 1975!
Maybe for those whose careers take off big time while they are young, this whole thing is easier. I don't know. But for those of us who have lives outside of music and whose music is not setting the whole world on fire, this is an ongoing subject of interest. In fact, one of the major subjects I talk about with my musician friends is when, where, why, and how much do we or should we play music.
I'm as happy as I've ever been with my current relationship with music and how I do music in my life. And it's stayed pretty much the same for over 5 years now. But I do regularly check in with myself to see if anything has changed...because being a musician is like being married: you change, she changes, and unless you keep talking and checking in, you grow apart, and that's not good.
I play any and everywhere I can, anywhere that feels right, without regard to money or status or "over-saturating" my market. I just like making my sound and seeing what comes back. Tips? Indifference? CD Sales? More gigs? Nice comments? Smiles? Whatever.
I don't feel entitled to anyone's attention and if someone does listen, and likes what I do, I'm sincerely grateful. In today's music saturated world, it's a minor miracle!
I approach recordings the same way. I record and post everything I write on my site where it's available for downloading free or with a donation. And again, I just keep doing this and seeing what comes back. I'm not courting attention or trying to figure out what "the people" want to hear. I'm focused on what I feel like singing about, making my sound, and doing it my way. Then I see what comes back. I list all my stuff with CD Baby too, so it is available for sale at places like iTunes, etc. but that's mostly to help people find my site...So far so good!
I think the nicest thing about doing it this way is that my attention is free to focus on the most enjoyable aspects of being a musician: writing and playing music, and not on the least enjoyable aspects of being a musician: marketing, status, how successful I am, do people like me?, politics, etc. I just said, "Fuck it." to all that stuff. I hardly think about it. I'm 90% focused on the work which really improves the quality of my life and time, which has always been my main interest in life anyway. In a little while it won't matter whether I even lived at all, let alone wrote songs, or did it better than someone else. I want to enjoy my life while I'm living it...