The Cambridge English Dictionary defines the term Weekend Warrior as “A person who takes part in a particular activity only at weekends”. I love the description from the Oxford Dictionary: “A person who works all week, especially in an office or other indoor job, and uses the weekends to go out and do more active and/or dangerous physical activities”. The danger part works for me.
Due to my corporate day job, I practice my musical craft mostly over weekends and evenings. I, therefore, fall squarely within both these definitions. That’s me far left in the picture above playing with Mixtape at Delvera just outside Stellenbosch. Most of my band-playing and music-making friends fall in the same category. They live their musical passions in their spare time and make ends meet with an 8-to-5 day job. If you give most of them half a chance they will make music full-time.
We all made the decision to be a Weekend Warrior at some point. Be it the bad economy, declining revenues in the music industry globally, wanting a more secure source of income or a more stable lifestyle with less travelling. These are all legitimate reasons in my opinion. I have thus far managed the conflicting demands of a corporate career on the one side and a performing and recording musician on the other for 2 decades now. It has its negatives, but also many positives. So here is my list of the pros and cons of being a Weekend Warrior. For some, it will be exactly the opposite, but this is how I experience it.
The pros of being a weekend warrior
Pro 1: My passion for music is not tempered by the realities of doing it for a living.
I know many musicians who are making a living from music full-time that enjoy it most of the time. Unfortunately, I am one of those people that will lose my passion if I have to deal constantly with the realities of the music industry. People not paying you, hustling for the next gig, an audience that could not care less whether you set yourself on fire or not, worrying every month how you are going to pay the rent (I have been there) or playing seriously dodgy venues or children’s parties just to keep the dream alive on the off-chance that you might write a hit someday or be “discovered” by a multi-millionaire. If this is you, you have my respect. Seriously. Now you can argue that any other business is no different. That might be true, but as a weekend warrior I can simply stop if it gets too much for me, and it has been the case at times. I can take a breather, regain the passion and then give it another go without impacting the food on the table.
Pro 2: I can buy nice gear simply because I love it.
Not all Weekend Warriors have jobs that will allow random gear purchases, nor am I implying that full-time musicians do not have the means to buy excellent gear. The purpose and motivation behind the purchase might differ though. I have been lucky that my job allowed me to buy some of the best guitars, amps and effects available in South Africa. Although it was bought to use live and for recordings, a lot of it was simply to feel the joy of owning it and not necessarily because I needed it. If I used it for my job I would have been more careful and considerate of specific use cases, value for money and whether I REALLY needed it. Now I simply buy it (within my budget obviously) for pure enjoyment. Period.
Pro 3: My work schedules correspond with most of my friend’s
When I was a full-time musician I was always working when most of my friends were off and visa versa. Finding time over weekends or in the evenings to spend time together was not easy. It is still a challenge as I am playing/recording most weekends, but at least I can choose and say no to gigs when I want to spend quality time with friends. Being a Weekend Warrior allows me and the missus to visit friends together without me “working”.
The cons of being a weekend warrior
Con 1: Time to play is very limited.
As I am writing this I have not played the guitar for 3 weeks. It was not intentional or planned. My work schedule, MuzoPlanet’s publishing needs and the wife’s extracurricular activity schedule simply did not allow me the opportunity. I wish it was different, but it is a reality that I chose. As my practising time is limited I will never be the quality player that I could have been otherwise.
Con 2: I have to say no to many opportunities I would have loved to be a part of.
I cannot go on a three-week tour through South Africa. I have only a certain amount of leave days a year and they are reserved for quality time with my wife and family. I cannot do a three week run in a theatre playing till 12 or 1 in the morning every night. I have to work the next day. I cannot take a full week to be in a studio and record a new album or session on someone else’s album. Sometimes I cannot even accept a session for one song that’s only due within a week. My schedule will simply not allow a quality product within that time. I want to do all of it, but I can’t. I said yes to many opportunities in the past that were totally unrealistic within my capacity to deliver. It caused many problems. As a Weekend Warrior, I had to accept that I cannot do it all.
Con 3: I will forever feel that I should have been on stage instead.
No matter what I do or how successful I am in my corporate career, the yearning to make music full-time is always there. I understand all the reasons for my decision to be a Weekend Warrior on a cognitive level, but on a deep emotional level, the yearning remains. Maybe it is the sense of freedom that I experience on stage. It’s almost like a drug that I want to experience as much as possible. That inner conflict is here to stay no matter how convincingly I rationalize my decision. It defies all logic and I will probably have to deal with it for as long as I live. But for now, I am to remain a Weekend Warrior.