- Dane Drewis is quitting his finance job to pursue music full-time by treating his music like a business.
- Drewis treats his music like a business and has mapped out a financial strategy to move forward.
- He recommends acquiring digital production skills for more control over your music.
Sometimes you need a nudge to make a leap of faith.
But a pandemic lockdown can do the trick, too.
Once music gigs dried up during COVID-19 lockdowns, California musician Dane Drewis decided he would quit his corporate finance job and make the jump from part-time to full-time musician. Drewis, who was most recently the VP of finance at design and technology company 14th Round Inc., has done a lot of jobs in his working career: business, finance, waiting tables, and even running a restaurant that Beyoncé invested in.
But that list never included music, until now — and that’s because he’s decided to treat his music like a business venture, not just a side hobby.
“I’ll be turning 39 soon and I’ve never made a full commitment with music,” Drewis told Insider. “I want to be able to look back and say I went all in with music.”
Drewis, whose parents are both musicians, fell in love with music in college thanks to late-night jam sessions and endless hours practicing guitar alone in his dorm room. But as he took on a professional career, he didn’t have the time or energy to go all in.
Despite a comfortable salary at his old job and the flexibility to play music on weekends and during evenings, Drewis felt he had to both answer his passion and stop doing what he didn’t enjoy.
“Honestly I’m tired of doing spreadsheets all day,” Drewis said. “I’m ready to share as much happiness and love as possible through committing myself to music.”
No more safety nets
Several years ago, Drewis gave up an attempt at becoming a full-time musician because sleeping in his van and living with fewer comforts took its toll. He couldn’t secure enough music work to make ends meet and eventually he had to find a full-time job.
“Being that broke is stressful and it makes it really hard to be creative,” Drewis explained.
This time, Drewis has given himself a runway to launch off of — the security of a roof over his head and a nest egg of savings, as well as a more developed financial strategy as opposed to playing music at casinos, weddings, and small-time gigs for low pay.
“I’ve done the whole starving artist thing, but it won’t be the same this time,” Drewis said. “Less scrambling for cash and more consistent work this time, promotional events. I’m treating this like a real business venture.”
In his previous attempt, Drewis kept his finance degree front and center as his backup plan. The safety net, he said, is ultimately what prevented him from full dedication.
“No backup plan this time around,” Drewis said. “Before, I was like, ‘I can do finance if I need to.’ But this time’s different. I know for damn sure I don’t want to do finance again. That’s what’s driving me this time.”
Leveraging digital skills and a business plan
To make the jump to full-time musician, Drewis has revamped his digital skills and has used his education to map out a financial strategy for his music business. He shares music on Instagram and is a verified artist on Spotify.
He’s invested in learning how to produce his own songs rather than relying on a company to produce his music for him — something essential to maintaining creative freedom, Drewis said.
“I’ve put a lot of time into learning the software behind music production, tracking and producing my own songs,” Drewis said. “I’m taking control over my recordings for my own work.”
By producing his own music and working on his own timeline, Drewis aims to create original content on a regular basis. Then, he has plans to build out his music-licensing business to get his songs on television commercials and elsewhere.
“Ten years ago, I never treated music like a business,” Drewis said. “I just saw myself as a singer. But now I see this as a startup company. I know my revenue and expenses. I have a firm business plan.”
To younger artists looking to make the leap, Drewis recommends becoming as tech-savvy as possible with music production.
“[Digital] skill set is the primary currency today,” Drewis said. “You want to be your own artist, you want to be able to translate what’s in your mind onto the computer and into people’s ears, all while making your music sound exactly how you want it to sound.”
Drewis recommends becoming proficient at Ableton, a production software, as a way of gaining more autonomy as a musician. These tools allow for greater control and customization, he said.
Drewis returned from his first international tour in Germany last week, and he has a slew of shows planned for the coming months. His focus remains on building out his digital presence, filming music videos, and growing his audience.
“For musicians, a big worry is artistic failure,” Drewis said. “But a bigger worry, for me, is wondering if I was good enough to really do this. Now’s the time to find out.”