How to Make a Living as a Musician with Sarah Lipstate

How to Make a Living as a Musician with Sarah Lipstate



This episode features Sarah Lipstate, a Los Angeles-based composer, and a guitarist. We cover topics such as making a living as a musician today, marketing your work, the things Sarah is currently struggling with, the relationship between her gear and her art, and much more.


Sarah Lipstate is a Los Angeles-based composer, most known for Noveller, her solo electric guitar project. Handling the guitar as her muse, Lipstate summons a sonic palette so rich as to challenge the listener to conceive of how it’s housed in a single instrument manipulated by a solitary performer. In 2014, Lipstate announced her signing with Fire Records. Fire released Noveller’s latest full-length ‘Fantastic Planet’ in January 2015 and also re-issued Noveller’s critically acclaimed albums ‘No Dreams’ and ‘Glacial Glow’ in early 2016. She’s previously released records on No Fun Productions, Important Records, Weird Forest, Taiga, and her own imprint Saffron Recordings.

"No one is going to care about your music as much as you do, in terms of promoting it, and no one is going to represent you as genuinely as you’re going to represent yourself."

Noveller has toured with Iggy Pop, St. Vincent, Radiolab, Xiu Xiu, the Jesus Lizard, U.S. Girls, & Aidan Baker. Lipstate has collaborated with several renowned musicians, including JG Thirlwell (Foetus, Manorexia), Carla Bozulich (Evangelista, The Geraldine Fibbers), David Wm. Sims (the Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid), Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth). She has previously performed as a member of Cold Cave, Parts & Labor, and One Umbrella. Lipstate has also participated in Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Army, Ben Frost’s “Music for 6 Guitars” Ensemble, and Glenn Branca’s 100 guitar ensemble.

  • Introduction [00:00]
  • Episode Introduction [00:52]
  • Advice to Younger Self [02:56]
  • Main Challenges of Being a Musician Today [05:11]
  • Making a Living as a Musician [08:02]
  • Short Episode Break – Support the Podcast [18:28]
  • Marketing Your Work [19:21]
  • Relationship Between Gear and Art [23:05]
  • The Best Investment Sarah Made in Herself [25:38]
  • Sarahs Current Struggles [27:23]
  • Advice for Being a Better Musician and Creative Professional [30:41]
  • Episode Outro [33:18]

    Sarah: It’s just a time of not knowing, and that typically creates anxiety, but I think you just have to lean into it.

    This is the Creative Voyage podcast, a long form interview show with the mission of helping creative professionals to level up. I’m your host, Mario Depicolzuane. I’m a creative professional myself, active in the fields of graphic design, art direction, and creative consulting, working with companies such as Kinfolk, MENU, and Sonos.  

    Through Season One of this podcast, I present in-depth interviews with some of the world’s most inspiring creative professionals, revealing the stories that shaped their lives and careers, plus actionable strategies to help take your mindset and skills to the next level. I invite you to join me on this journey.

    Sarah: My name is Sarah Lipstate, I perform under the name Noveller, which is my solo electric guitar project. It’s a project I’ve been doing since 2005. Performing live, recording records, touring. Over the course of the last 13 years, I have branched out into doing composing for other projects as well for film, for ensembles. I’ve been commissioned now to write pieces for two string quartets, and most recently for a solo cellist. I am a professional musician and that is how I make a living. I’m currently based in Los Angeles, and it’s been an interesting journey to get to this point.

    Mario: Sarah has toured with Iggy Pop, St. Vincent, and Radiolab to name a few, and has collaborated with an eclectic range of renowned musicians. Her music first came to my attention when I watched Radiolab’s live podcast performance Apocalyptical, where she was one of the musicians that joined in on that project. That nudged me to exploring her work, and I immediately noticed the controlled way in which she, as a solo performer, creates ambient, minimalistic, and majestic soundscapes with just her guitar and some guitar pedals.

    Mario: I play guitar myself as a hobby, and I am fan of the adventurous use of guitar effects. I quickly became captivated with Sarah’s music. I had a pleasure of seeing her play live on two occasions, once in Copenhagen when she opened for Iggy Pop and his project with Josh Homme, and once in Berlin. Those were just a few of the reasons that when I was looking for a musician to have a conversation with for this first season of the podcast, she was the first on my list. So I’m pleased that she was up for it.

    Mario: In this episode, we’re going to listen to the highlights of the conversation I had with Sarah in March of 2018. We cover topics such as making a living as a musician today, marketing your work, the things that Sarah is currently struggling with, the relationship between her gear and her art, and much more.

    Sarah encountered music very early in her life. She played piano as a kid, and got her first electric guitar when she was 17. But it took years, playing in different bands and as a soloist before she gradually started considering herself a musician. Part of the reason being the fact that it can be so hard to make that work financially. She never studied music, she studied film, and her first jobs were in line with that education. One of the pivotal moments on that path was when she joined a band, Parts & Labor, and got invited to tour in Europe for a month.

    At the time, she was working for a media company, and when she asked if she could get some free time from her work for that tour, she got fired and being a member of that band became her full-time gig. There wasn’t a lot of money involved, but that situation nudged her to attempt to figure out how to make it work as a professional musician. I started my conversation with Sarah asking her what she would advise her younger self at that early stage of her career.

    Sarah: You’re never really going to know what’s going to happen, and I think that it’s at all possible to just let yourself just kind of go with the current. Ya, you’re going to have fears and anxieties. But if you can just dedicate yourself to being present in what’s happening, that, it’ll either work out or it won’t, but try not to worry so much about it.

    Mario: And at the time do you think you were worried a lot about those things?

    Sarah: Living in New York, it’s very challenging. It’s not an easy place to live, and I think that you put pressure on yourself to make it. To be able to stay there, and it’s hard, and it requires sacrifice. Sometimes it requires not pursuing what your passion is about, because that’s not necessarily generating enough money to sustain yourself there. But, I think there are ways to get through that. So, yeah, I had a lot of anxieties about it, and I still have a lot of anxieties about this path. It’s like it never feels certain, or defined. I never really know what my year’s going to look like, you know?

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: You just kind of have to keep focused, keep creating, and trust that it’ll provide something.

    As with most creative fields, and partly due to the disruptive nature of technology, it seems that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to be a professional musician today. I’ve asked Sarah to share what she thinks are the main challenges of being a professional musician.

    Sarah: To be a professional musician, you really need to diversify. I think it’s just increasingly harder to make a living just from your recording project, from touring. Certainly some people do it, but yeah. In my case, it definitely helps that I have different facets to the music that I create. It’s not all just for my project Noveller. So I have income coming from all different places, but it’s all music.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: There are a lot of different things that are shifting currently. A lot of people are trying to figure out how to make up for the declining record sales, or the fact that people use these streaming services. For me, I feel like I definitely have this freelancer’s mentality, where I’m kind of piecing together my career from all these different sources. In a sense, it’s like I have to stay on top of things, and pursue opportunities. A lot of stuff comes directly to me. I have booking agents, but I don’t work with a manager.

    Sarah: And as a solo artist, I like that, because I want to be in control of what I’m doing.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: Yeah, it’s just staying on top of things. If someone gets in touch with me about licensing one of my songs for their film or for a TV show, or whatever. I have to stay on top of that. Those types of opportunities really make up a large part of my income. It’s just yeah, a lot of following up on stuff like that. It feels like there’s a pressure to, I don’t know if it’s a pressure I put on myself or what, but to have a record come out. If not every year, than at least every other year, and all the expectations that go along with that like the touring. Yeah, my last album came out last year, and this whole year I’m kind of freaking out. It seems like such a long time ago, because all of the recording I did for that album was the year before that.

    Sarah: I think it just comes down to the pressure I put on myself more than any external pressure, and just being adaptable. It’s like, “Oh, I don’t even know own a CD player anymore, so should I not put out my music, like the next album, on CD at all?” You know?

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: It’s just being aware, and not just doing something because that’s the way that you had been doing it.

    Of all the challenges facing musicians today, making enough money to earn yourself a living seems to be on top of that list. I spent a significant amount of my conversation with Sarah talking about that aspect of being a musician. I am grateful that she was generous, open, and practical about how she manages that.

    Sarah: It definitely varies from year to year. I’d say overall, one constant has been the money that I make from licensing my music in the past has made up the majority of my income. The music that I create is instrumental. I have at least five or six albums out. I mean, I have a lot of music out there, so I get contacted more and more about licensing my music for film, for commercials, that is where the most money is. People have the biggest budgets for advertising sadly, more so than any film that I’ve licensed my music for. Yeah, one year I made $75,000 licensing two of my songs for an ad campaign, and the commercials, they never even aired. The company, they decided to go with something else but I still got that money.

    Mario: Oh wow.

    Sarah: It was just insane. It’s just insane to think about that. That’s the most money I’ve ever seen in my life, and to this company it’s meaningless enough to just give to someone and then get nothing in return.

    Sarah: It’s like they decide to not to go that direction. When you really put that into perspective, it just illustrates how, just the value placed on commerce versus art.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: But it’s still great, I mean I’ve done a lot of great things with that money that’ve helped my career. Usually the type of films I end up licensing my music for is like documentaries, or just more independent films. Then, there’s a lot of student films or people that have short films, or just stuff like that, that seems like a constant trickle of a few hundred dollars a month for these smaller things.

    Sarah: That’s always great, and it really requires no effort on my part, aside from signing a contract. The music already exists. They can go buy it online and download it, like I don’t even have to send them files is pretty great. That’s a big help. I have my music available for purchase digitally on the site Bandcamp, and people buy my music on there. That’s also just a constant little stream of income. I’m selling my albums for around $7 each on there.

    Sarah: So it’s not a huge amount of money, but it seems like everyday people are buying stuff. Just having that is great. I really didn’t focus so much on selling merch. It’s really hard for me to keep up with mail order. Even when I’m touring, last year I started bringing a tour manager with me. So then I had two people and it was easier to bring merch, but when I went to Europe the last time, I was traveling by myself.

    Mario: Oh, yeah.

    Sarah: And I had to bring all my equipment, and I couldn’t bring any records. It’s harder and harder for that to really be economical. That hasn’t become as big a part of my finances. Playing shows, that can be a big part of my income. Depending on what I’m doing, I’ve been more a fan lately of doing support tours because it’s just more fun for me. In those situations, you’re supporting the headlining bands, yet you’re getting paid usually the same amount for every show. Yeah, but it’s not as much money as when you’re the headliner.

    Sarah: But you have to balance between having a good time and maximizing the amount of money you’re going to make. I’ve been fortunate to get offered a lot of amazing shows here in Los Angeles, and those are the best type of shows because I can drive myself. You don’t have to get on a plane, and factor in all the travel expenses, but just performing at museums or special events. I think that there’s a lot more opportunity to make money because these places have funding or sponsors than if you’re playing a club show which is just based on the number of people who come through the door.

    Sarah: Then there’s the commissioned pieces. Basically anything that has grant funding behind it is really great. The past few years I’ve been commissioned to write pieces for other people, and other instrumentation’s. That’s always great, and that always has a support of some kind of arts funding. Those are really the things you need to look for.

    Mario: Yeah. You have to find opportunities everywhere, and mix and match it seems.

    Sarah: Yeah, and also just realize that you’re going to have good years, and you’re going to have not so good years. It can seem kind of random. It doesn’t seem to correlate with how hard I’m working, or how great I feel about the music I’m making. It’s just how it goes.

    Mario: Yeah, and how do you prepare for that?

    Sarah: Oh, I try to make sure that I have savings. When I got all that money for licensing my music for the commercial that didn’t air, I put most of it in my savings. That’s helped me out tremendously whenever I’ve had leaner months. I try to prepare in that way, and psychologically I try not to be so hard on myself but I think it’s natural that you want to keep moving. Feel like you’re constantly moving forward and being productive.

    Mario: Yeah, I heard somewhere, I’m not sure who said that. Maybe Ray Dalio or somebody, but it’s, if you’re worrying about it then you shouldn’t worry. If you’re not worrying, then you should actually be worried.

    Sarah: Okay, yeah.

    Mario: I think it’s natural and wise...

    Sarah: Right.

    Mario: …to be on top of things. I’m curious, do you earn any money from streaming? Is that a viable source of income for you?

    Sarah: I honestly, I personally, I don’t use any streaming services. I never have, but I really don’t have a great sense of the money that I actually make from it. I get money from my record label. They send me quarterly statements. I don’t really see how if streaming is built into that. I also, I’m signed up with BMI, they’re the music rights company, and I get quarterly payments from them. Some of it I don’t understand. Last year for instance, I got $4,000 from GEMA, from a German music publishing.

    Mario: Okay.

    Sarah: And I was like, “I don’t know if this is from the live performances I’ve done in Germany, or if it’s a streaming, or any kind of radio play over there.” I think it’s all kind of rolled together.

    Mario: Yeah, it’s possible.

    Sarah: And I was like, “Oh this is a great ... I was so happy when that money just appeared in my ... ” It wasn’t like a check or anything. I didn’t get any notification. I just checked my bank account one day and there was $4,000 from GEMA in there. I was like, “This is amazing.” I didn’t really question it. I’m also signed up with a company called SoundExchange, which I think is more, I really don’t understand it, it’s just I sign up with these companies who say they’re going to send me checks. But those checks are usually so disappointing. I just got one last week from SoundExchange and it was for $28.

    Mario: Oh.

    Sarah: That is really-

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: I mean I buy lunch, and coffee, and whatever for that.

    Sarah: My impression is that it kind of gets folded into these other royalty payments, and I sense that it makes up a very fractional amount of my income, but I haven’t really studied it enough to know exactly. I know I’m not getting rich off of it. It’s a part of how people enjoy music now, and I don’t use it but I understand that. I’m not going to rail against it because I’m not really getting paid for it, because it seems feudal in me, but I’m getting something from it so I’m not going to complain. I’m just going to deposit my check for $28 and then keep hustling I guess.

    Mario: Yeah, you never know. You’re assigned with one specific label currently?

    Sarah: Yes.

    Mario: And so what kind of support do they provide to you? Because it seems that today you can almost take completely a freelance approach to living from music.

    Sarah: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Mario: And doing it all by yourself, like applying to all these different services and stuff like that. So I’m curious why did you choose to go with the label and what do they provide you?

    Sarah: I think probably the biggest appeal was getting advance money for an album. I found that that was really helpful. Even though they recoup those expenses before you see any other money from them, it’s still helpful to get. I would record my album. I’ve always recorded myself, in my home studio, so I don’t have any overhead really beyond what I put into it. Once I finished the album and I submit it to the label, then they send me the agreed upon amount of money. That was a huge appeal, because I did put out two of my own releases on CD back in 2011, 2013, or something.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: Then I was making all the music, and then putting my own money into pressing the CDs, and doing my own promotion and everything. It was really nice to just have to concern myself with the creating and recording the music, and then getting paid for that, and then focusing on the touring. They have the built in promotion machine. It was the appeal of the money in one lump sum, and then after they recoup that money, getting additional payments from them based on record sales. Then also, yeah, just feeling like my music was getting out there. My label’s based in London. Getting out there overseas more, and just getting picked up, radio stations, and then focusing on the live performance. It was enough for me to decide I wanted to go that route, instead of just putting out my own stuff.

    Hey, friends. You’re listening to the Creative Voyage Podcast. We are roughly in the middle of this episode, so it’s time for a short break. There’s no team behind the show. It’s solely produced and edited by me, Mario. I don’t have any sponsors, and I have no plans to add any. Nevertheless, I can use all the help I can get growing the show. If you like what you’ve heard so far, there’s three simple things you can do for me and future episodes. Number one, review the show on Apple Podcasts. Number two, tell a friend and share a link on social media. Number three, visit the shop on and support the show by buying bespoke Creative Voyage Products. Thanks everyone. Let’s get back to the show.

    Usually, as creators, what we do best is the act of creating. But as professionals, there’s always the other part of the work. The portion which can include administration, business development, and promotion. In an increasingly competitive marketplace, marketing our work becomes crucial. With proper marketing, we have a chance to tell our story to differentiate ourselves and position our products or services in a way that we can hopefully thrive doing what we love and do best. However, even though outsourcing that part to somebody else is always an option, it seems to me that the only effective and sustainable way of marketing our work is to take that on ourselves. Because as creators, we are the ones who care the most about what we do, and about its success. I’ve talked to Sarah about that topic, and how that’s an integral part of her work routines.

    Sarah: It’s interesting now in what is considered marketing, because I work on music everyday. It’s not necessarily I’m plugged in recording every day, but I’m playing every day, and I’m experimenting with sounds every day, and part of that is documenting what I’m doing and putting it on social media. On Instagram for example, and that has turned into this weird marketing platform. In a sense, just making music, having my phone, the video going while I’m doing that and putting that online, turns into self promotion, turns into companies. It’s mainly now in the form of companies contacting me about sending me their bills or whatever. Getting free products, getting connected with companies, and that all is really, really helpful.

    Sarah: In a sense, yeah, that’s both time spent creating, but also promoting myself rolled into one. I’m really bad with staying on top of my emails, but that’s something I definitely need to work on. In terms of the business side, being good about communicating with people who want me to work with them or they want to license a song, or have me play a show. Thankfully I have my booking agent. Anytime I get emails asking about me playing a show, I just can forward it to him. That’s really great. I try to spend the majority of my time actually creating the music, because that’s what makes me happy.

    Mario: Yeah, but it does seem that more and more it’s becoming important to integrate both the creation and the promotion side. I think there’s, at least it seems to me, that there’s less opportunity to rely on other companies or other entities to promote whatever you’re doing. You can kind of at the same time work on your art, but then also try to build your platform. Then it’s perfect if you can find a way to integrate the two.

    Sarah: Yeah.

    Mario: I guess that’s what you’re doing with sharing your process on Instagram.

    Sarah: I mean no one’s going to care about your music as much as you do, in terms of promoting it, and no one’s going to represent you as genuinely as you’re going to represent yourself. I feel like, yeah, I really enjoy sharing my process, and sharing the things that I’m excited about with the people who follow me online. Not only is it just putting it out there, but it’s also creating a community and opening up dialogue to exchange ideas about the music, and in my case, about the gear.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: And it really connects me to other people all over the world in a way that previously didn’t exist.

    Sarah: I think it’s pretty remarkable, and I like what it adds to my experience as a musician.

    One characteristic of Sarah’s project Noveller, is extensive use of guitar effects. She’s a true explorer in that domain. Regularly experimenting with different guitar pedals and other effects, pushing the limits of what we would ordinary define as guitar based music. Since my favorite hobby is playing guitar, at this point of our conversation, I had to shift gears and geek out for a bit. I’ve asked Sarah, how does she see the relationship between her equipment and her creative work?

    Sarah: The gear, and specifically the guitar pedals that I use, those are my tools. It’s what allows me to have this pallet of different sounds and textures that I can use to create these guitar soundscapes. Because I’m just one person with one instrument, I’m trying to create music that’s emotional and engaging, and meaningful that means ... I crave a diversity of sound.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: And the way that I create that is through all these different pedals. It’s always interesting to me to see what’s out there, and I feel like there’s so many smaller boutique companies creating gear now, creating guitar pedals, and people pushing to innovate. That, It’s really exciting if you get into it, and you start following the different companies. I’ve also gotten into working directly with pedal builders, and I have a pedal that I collaborated with a company called Dr. No. He’s based in the Netherlands and he’s releasing a signature pedal for me.

    Mario: Ah, cool.

    Sarah: I mean, I don’t know, there’s a lot of room for conversation between the musician and the gear builders. It all just furthers my passion for playing music. It helps to have different points of focus I think.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: It doesn’t mean that I don’t just love sitting on my sofa with my guitar not even plugged into anything and playing stuff, but if that’s all that I did every single day, I don’t know if I’d get burned out on that, if it would cease to inspire me. And so for me, being invested in gear and having a lot of effects, just allows me to always have something to spark my interests, and keep me feeling creative and excited about what I do.

    As I already mentioned throughout this series, growth seems to be a crucial ingredient for a holistic approach to our creative work. It is the way to stay relevant throughout the years and decades, and it can produce a sense of wellbeing, which we need if we want to keep doing our work sustainably. We can induce growth by investing in ourselves with things like education, travel, or acquisition of new tools. I’ve asked Sarah what she thought was the best investment that she made in herself.

    Sarah: It’s less concrete than like, “Oh I invested in this amazing piece of software,” or, “This amazing piece of equipment,” or something. I’d say that honestly having the money in my savings account, affording me the freedom to leave New York where I was really unhappy, and to move out to Los Angeles. It was something that I couldn’t of done otherwise, because I was locked into a lease in Brooklyn. When I moved to Los Angeles, I still had my apartment in Brooklyn.

    Sarah: I had to work with a friend there to try and find people to rent it out, and that worked to some extent, but I still ended up losing $8,000 by just having that apartment that wasn’t always ... I didn’t want all these people subletting it from me. Being able to move out here, and I’m so much happier being in Los Angeles. I found a little house here, and I have home studio set up here. Of course I’ve invested in equipment and stuff like that along the way, but I would say just investing in my happiness is a huge thing. Because if I’m miserable, maybe I’m going to create some good music, or maybe I’m going to be too depressed to actually record it, you know?

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: So, just being able to invest my quality of life has been the biggest thing.

    Difficulties are necessary part of the process, which makes me curious about them. I wanted to hear what are some of Sarah’s challenges at this point in her journey.

    Sarah: This month, I just wrapped up two longterm recording projects that I was working on. One was, I was commissioned to write a piece for solo cello last year. I spent a lot of time working on that. It was really a fun project, but also challenging because I’m composing for someone else and for different instrument, but got wrapped up March 1st. Then the other was, this month I also wrapped up creating the score for a feature links documentary. That, I had been working with the director since 2014 I think, or 2015.

    Sarah: It was a really long collaboration, and just took up a big part of my time when I wasn’t on tour, just writing music for this film. Now that those two projects are over, it’s like, “Okay so what am I going to focus on next?”

    Sarah: In terms of a project or just what to put all that freed up energy into. I’m currently navigating those options, and it’s just a time of not knowing, and that typically creates anxiety for me. But I think you just have to lean into it and try to navigate it well, and hopefully end up with something that is going to be good for you.

    Mario: Yeah. When you say it as a strategy, like leaning into a problem, anxiety or anything else, is great.

    Sarah: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Mario: It’s kind of the way to do it, but do you have any practical, more like tactical things that you do when you feel that anxiety or any other difficulty?

    Sarah: Yeah, that’s something that I’m trying to figure out right now, because I’m not so great at managing my anxiety outside of trying to talk to other people about it. I feel like it’s good for me personally, since I do have a lot of anxiety, just to try and get out of my own head at times and get other peoples perspective. Outside of rituals, or coping tools, I’ve just been trying to embrace things that maybe seem challenging to me, in terms of projects. I guess when I’m starting to feel the anxiety closing in on me, I try to open my mind up to other opportunities.

    Mario: In what way?

    Sarah: Well I get a lot of people asking me to collaborate with them in various ways. When you have a lot of stuff on your plate, then I really tend to shy away from those things, and they just never go anywhere. But I find that when I’m in a position like I am right now, then I just become more open to it.

    Mario: Yeah.

    Sarah: Yeah, I guess I’m just more motivated to embrace things that seem scary to me, because I feel like I need to do something so it could be amazing. I try to embrace those possibilities instead of focusing on how uncomfortable the idea makes me.

    We’ve come to the very end of the conversation I had with Sarah. And as with other guests, I’ve asked her to highlight three parting pieces of advice based on what she experienced and learned so far on her professional journey. Here’s what Sarah shared with me.

    Sarah: Number one would be just to keep pursuing what you’re interested in. Doesn’t matter if you are currently having to work a day job, or it seems like you don’t really have the right to dedicate your energy to music. If you’re not a professional musician, that doesn’t mean you can’t play guitar for three hours a day if that’s what you want to do. I think it’s really just important to keep igniting your passion for whatever you’re instrument is.

    Sarah: That being said, I guess number two would be allowing yourself to listen to your brain and your body. There’s certainly times when I’ve felt like, “You know what? I don’t want to play guitar this week.” I’ve talked to other musicians who feel similarly conflicted with that. Where it’s like, “Wait, but this is my life. This is my job.” It’s like you need to listen to your brain, because the brain has to recharge and refresh itself. You’re not a machine.

    Sarah: And I think that that’s part of keeping that flame burning for music, or whatever your creative pursuit is. Number three would just be, I wouldn’t say managing your expectations, but just accepting that there are going to be extreme ups and downs in your creative field. And that you’re not always going to feel great about how your careers going, but at the same time, not letting that prevent you from moving forward. Even though, like I said earlier, I don’t have a defined project that I’m focusing on right now.

    Sarah: I’m still playing music everyday and I’m still satisfying my desire to get better at certain things, or explore certain things even though there’s not a set output. It’s not going anywhere that’s concrete. It’s just my own personal curiosity that I’m still pursuing, even though it’s not really going anywhere in a tangible sense. It’s the pursuit of knowledge. It’s the pursuit of creative satisfaction, I think is important, even if you feel extreme anxiety and you don’t know when you’re going to get paid again.

    Mario: Great, perfect.

    Sarah: Yeah.

    Mario: Okay, thank you.

    Sarah: We did it.

    Mario: Thank you, yeah. Thank you very much.

    Sarah: Thank you. Glad we got to have this conversation.

    Mario: Yeah, me too.

    For everybody at home keeping score, I think we touched on a lot of useful information for anybody out there interested in the music industry, being a musician today, and more generally about growing as creative professionals.

    I want to thank Sarah for coming onto the show. She’s an amazing artist, and I’m grateful for the insights she shared with us. Links to Sarah’s work, her Instagram, as well to some other things mentioned during our conversation, can be found in the show notes at

    You can follow on Instagram, and you email me directly on Tell me what you think of the show, what could be improved, and if you have any guest suggestions for the next seasons. If you haven’t already, be sure to subscribe, and until next time my friends take care.

    Recent Episodes

    1. On Passion, Patience & Photography with Myesha Evon Gardner

      Myesha’s approach to photography, including influences, gear, experimentation, shooting analog and working in the darkroom, her mindsets about growth and finances, lessons she learned from her father, who is a musician, the importance of patience and passion, risk-taking, her most essential rituals, and more.
    2. How to Be an Interior Stylist with Colin King

      Colin’s work/life balance, the source of his motivation, how he approaches interior styling, work routines, his thoughts on professional growth and relevancy, the power of asking for help and of helping others, his challenges along the journey, including encounters with addiction and his path to sobriety, and more.
    3. On Courage, Embracing Change and Lifelong Learning with Astrid Stavro

      Life-long learning and continually being a student, Astrid’s work routines, advice for young designers, her experience as a Pentagram partner, what makes for a good piece of graphic design, how to orient ourselves during times of change, and more.
    4. On Knowing Ourselves, Growth and Long Term Goals with Chidy Wayne

      The importance of knowing ourselves, Chidy’s work routines, managing finances as a freelancer, the importance and challenges of personal growth in the face of modern distractions, advice for young creatives, his views on the craft of illustration, including style and trends, and more.