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  • Joe Dolman

Everything In Moderation.

Oh the irony of this months blog post is really something.

Today is August 25th, and I’ve had a reminder on my phone every morning since the 5th of the month to start this post. I really wanted to write about what goes into balancing so many things for me, from my own artist project + Patreon, to session work & writing/producing for other artists as well as a multitude of other things (not to mention trying to make time for myself/family/friends!) but i’m here to be totally honest with you.


Some months, it just feels like there isn’t enough hours in the day.

Now don’t get me wrong, not in this post or anywhere would you catch me complaining about how much there is to do because truth be told I couldn’t be happier about it most the time. I am so lucky to be working on projects that I really love and am proud to be part of, of course some things that take up my time do feel a bit more like “work” than others, but as lame as it probably sounds, i’m genuinely just happy to be working. Having an opportunity to work. In Music. Which is all I ever wanted and still is! I try to remind myself every day of the position i’m in and how lucky I am to be here, sounds cheesy but it’s easy to get drowned in the stresses of it all and how sometimes things don’t work out how you hoped, or like this months blog post ironically; don’t stay on the schedule you were aiming for. But it always works out okay and gets done in the end!

It can be overwhelming for sure, but for me that’s usually rooted in not wanting to let somebody down. The music industry is still lying pretty helplessly on its back at the moment, and live touring (which is where most of my work comes from) is almost non-existent still. Thankfully, I’ve been able to diversify myself to take on some more work from home on the writer/producer/MD side of things which combined with the support of you beautiful & kind people, has kept the bills just about paid. What I find most challenging on this side of things is the fear of not staying on track with the bigger picture of it all when working to make ends meet. I think it’s normal; everyone has that worry of not getting where they want to get to in their future because of what’s taking up their time in the present, but this is something i’ve battled with heavily for a long time within music.


All I ever wanted to do was work in music and be part of something, making great music with great people playing awesome shows. As i’ve mentioned in previous blogs I was never fussed about being in the spotlight and only ended up being the artist out of just wanting to see ideas through to the end in the way I envisioned them. To me, I think that’s how you’re supposed to end up becoming an artist?


This is the part where it has got complicated for me especially a couple of years ago. I’ll (try) explain!

I love making music. I love writing songs. Recording, producing, performing, arranging and all in between. I just want to make things i’m proud of. I’ve been so lucky to work on a long-term basis amongst other projects outside of my own such as The Adelaides, Billy Lockett, Tom Clarke to name the main few. But whilst i’ve been working on those over the last 4/5 years, those projects made me question the importance of my own artist project and honestly, whether it was worth the time and effort I was putting into it. Like I said i’m just happy being part of making great music happen and it doesn’t need to be about me, and with that in mind I realised I was feeling equally as happy/valuable both as a session player as I did as an artist in my own right; and this confused me.


How could that be the case? How could I care as much about someone else’s music as much as my own? Did I care about theirs too much or mine not enough? Bit of both? There’s obviously a whole financial side of this conversation too but the reasons I get involved in projects have never centred around money in the beginning, and i’m lucky that the ones I have invested in have also become financially viable to keep putting time into. Money only became a part of it as time went by. As my artist project seemed to cost me more financially than make me anything whereas the other projects paid me but both seemed to make me equally as satisfied, I couldn’t help but ask myself at times; why not just do the session stuff full time and take a ‘break’ from the artist project?

This is something I genuinely considered for a while. In early 2019, after a crazy year of mainly touring with Billy/The Adelaides I was heading into a new year with more of the same. I’d got rehearsals/studio days/gigs in the diary for them + more artists as well as enquiries for me to work in new projects, and although i’d been writing for JD music sporadically whilst on the road, out of those songs the ones I genuinely liked (including Drag You Down) I’d shown to friends and actually ended up getting some interest for them to be cut (performed/recorded & released) by other artists who were a lot more well known than me. Had those conversations gone any further, I wonder what decisions i’d have made and how different things would be. I might have took the decision to take my foot off the gas with my solo music and taken my chances at progressing solely as a session player/writer etc. with the opportunities that seemed to be presenting themselves more and more. As those prospects of those songs being put in the hands of other artists seemed to go quiet, I regained some perspective on what I enjoyed.


Looking back, some stresses within my artist project had overwhelmed me at bad times where the option to take a break seemed like a really great idea; but once things died down and I found some balance between all the projects, I regained clarity on what I wanted to do.

If I really unpacked everything, I think i’d always reach the conclusion that I want to do it all. Not always at the same time, not always forever. However, there’s no better option, no singular project in music i’d drop everything for, forever. In retrospect I’ve felt on many occasions that i’ve been pressured to make a choice between all the projects I’ve worked on; perhaps because it’s not normal to be pushing an artist project so much as well as a session player etc. but I’m so grateful that i’m surrounded by people who support me to do more of what I love because I want to, and not less. Don’t be mistaken, I understand that it’s about balance and I have to be sensible (which I like to think I am, most the time!) but it’s okay for me to want to do more than just one thing. I firmly believe the combination of it all is what makes me the kind of musician I am, I learn so much from playing all these different roles and those lessons are all equal across the board as I don’t think you can compare the value as they are each as important as one another. Everything in moderation.


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