Pursuing music as a full-time profession seems like a challenge to many. However, discarding music altogether does not work for them either. Surprisingly, there are tons of musicians in our country who are doing music on the side while still having a full-time job.
Rashik Riasat interviewed seven such musicians of the country -- Ritu Raj, manager, Organistion Development at a leading fintech company, Sakib Manzur Zihan, co-founder at Sketchboard Interactive, M Samiul Haque, former senior business acceleration expert at Truvalu Enterprises Bangladesh, Ishmamul Farhad, senior product executive at Yamaha Music Bangladesh - ACI Motors Limited, Rakat Zami, audio engineer at Blues Communications, Avra Barua, category head of Consumer Goods at Daraz Bangladesh, and Riasat Azmi, lecturer at American International University - Bangladesh. They discussed about the pros, cons, difficulties, practicality and many other aspects of this combination of music and full time job.
Question (Q): What advantages/disadvantages are there to doing music while attending a full time job?
Ritu: If you always think of something in one way, you eventually turn blind to other methods. Having both a day job and music surely saves me from that myopia. It helps me bring improvised modulations in my work, as well as get a systematic disciplined approach to my music.
Samiul: To me, music was pretty much a necessary side job because it helped me unpack my emotions at the end of a long hectic day of work. It also helped me stay sane amidst work pres-sure.
Q: What do you think is special about your particular set of day job and musical endeavour?
Ritu: I see the compartmentalisation as that of a superhero. To me, it is similar to waking up every day to go on about daily life, and then wearing the cape at night to fight criminals.
Zihan: I feel that my entrepreneurial experiences actually help me consider my bands as business units. And considering the business side of music is crucial. At the end of the day, you can only go on for so long getting something out of it.
Rakat: There are two sides of music-- the technical side and the creative side. You need both to obtain the end product. The composer needs the audio engineer to record, and the audio engineer has to be able to turn the composer's vision to reality. What's beautiful about my job is that it requires me to work specifically as an audio engineer while as an independent musician myself, I can continue composing music for my own projects. So in the process, I get to develop my musicality in both creative and technical sides.
Riasat: My job as a university teacher leaves me with more time to invest into music compared to other professions. And as a teacher of law, I can harmonise between both the legal and creative aspects of music. Moreover, seeing my students' support for their teacher outside the academic arena is very fulfilling as well.
Q: How difficult is it to find the balance between music and day job?
Zihan: Time management is a crucial factor. There is barely any free time. However, what is even harder is to manage energy. Because After a tiring week of work, it can sometimes be hard to keep up your enthusiasm for practice.
Samiul: Actually, it depends on the job. Some jobs will ensure this balance, while many will not. My job allowed me to come back home fairly early. My weekends were relaxed as well. So I could practice, hit the studio, do recording and everything easily. This is why I had almost no trouble working with my band.
Ishmam: It depends on the people you are working with. For me, working in a musical instrument manufacturing company, everyone practically understands and supports my intention to grow as a musician. I can take leaves for shows, recording, practice and everything whenever I need and my co-workers cover for me.
Riasat: Well, as an academic, I need to study a lot, and there is the pressure of giving three lectures every single day. Then comes the issue of traffic from Bashundhara to Dhanmondi. Overall, it takes a toll on body and mind. So, striking the balance is a bit hard for me.
Q: Do you think doing music is sustainable by itself?
Ritu: The way I see it, music comes from my heart. However, when the very bread-and-butter depends on a love of this form, eventually the place of heart turns into a place of commerce and music loses its meaning. But then again, it is only my views. I am sure there are musicians who can do music from heart and still make a living out of it.
Zihan: In my opinion, in the context of Bangladesh, a solid backup source of income is a pre-requisite to doing music. The thing is, the majority people here are not open to complicated or modern music. As a result, you can't expect to get steady flow of shows and that leaves you fi-nancially broken.
Samiul: My dream job would be to do music full time, but I don't think I have enough skill set to do that. I also feel that the music industry in Bangladesh does not really have enough opportunities to offer yet. So unless you are financially well off, it's difficult to pursue music full time.
Avra: I believe it's possible. But it's a very technical area and you have to be very good at it. And that will take a lot of time, especially when it comes to the kind of music I do. The people leading this arena could make this far only through perseverance.
Q: Does your day job complement your musical life in any way or vice versa?
Ishmam: Having the day job freed me from the stress of being broken gave me good network and made me disciplined. The profession of music is highly entrepreneurial with little to no music marketing agencies in the country. Before joining the company, my only source of money was my band's shows which were very irregular. Hence, I had to look for a job and with a BBA degree from IBA as a marketing major, when I found out that they were looking for a musician with five years of professional experience and a marketing background, it clicked.
The interviewer Rashik Riasat is a second year student of BBA programme at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. He can be reached at
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