A spotlight on side hustles: Making music

Images: Arron Watson-McNab (@facesplaceslaces)

"Choose a job you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life."  We've all heard that saying, right? Well, Confucius, it ain't always that easy. We may not have known what we love back when we were studying, sometimes you've gotta hella graft for ages before you can properly achieve what you love, and sometimes what we love might have changed.

More and more, people aren't just doing their nine-to-fives, but also have a passion project - a side hustle, if you will - that they maintain in the hope of it becoming their main job in the future, so they achieve this elusive notion.

Arron Watson-McNab, 26, works full-time as a therapy assistant at a prestigious London hospital, as well as freelancing as a writer and photographer. His side hustle is photography - Faces, Places, Laces - while Dwain Caulker-Johnson, 25, is a part-time retail worker, whose passion is making music, under the stage name DeeWain. Amy Deeprose, or amybakesuk, 26, is a design engineer who uses her design knowledge in the cakes she bakes on the side. In a three-part series, I have quizzed them on how they manage their day-to-day jobs and maintain their side hustle, and how they hope to develop it in the future.

This week, it's Dwain. Intrigued by the others, too? Then check out Amy and Arron, as well.


How long have you been making music?

It's always been a hobby of mine, but seriously, it's been eight years.

How did you get into it?

I've always had music in me. I played the piano when I was young and I use to sing, too, but I didn't really get into it properly until university, really. I performed at an open-mic in my first year. After that, people were telling me that I should do something with music, but honestly, I didn't know what to write about and I wasn't good. However, at uni, I'd gone through different experiences and the only way I could express [how I felt] was through music. I started from there and just kept studying my craft. Now, I've got so many things to write about because I've seen a lot. 

What motivates you to make time for it, though?

Just the fact that music is a universal language and that it enables me to relate to people that I've never met before. Words are powerful and people believe in them, so I have to put the medicine in the message because I know my lyrics can inspire people to do greater things.

What return do you see from your music?

For people to feel moved by the music, that's the biggest thing, really. If people are coming up to me and saying that one of my songs or projects affected them in a certain way, I've achieved my goal, to be honest. 

I'd love for that feeling to expand though, so I can build a following big enough to sell out arenas one day - the 02 is my main goal. The idea of performing in front of your own fans on a big stage is mind-blowing. 


What challenges have you faced so far? 

I heard Will Smith say in an interview, "the fight to remain positive is the toughest fight you'll have," and that is the biggest challenge in this industry; you literally have to give everything before you get any kind of result back. The hardest thing is to keep going knowing that you're putting your best foot forward, but you're being ignored - but you have to keep pushing. Self-belief is so key to all of this.

Not having money is frustrating, too, but I can't get too mad because I'm doing what I love. I always tell myself that as long as the music is good, that's all that matters; the rest will come.

Also, the music I make is quite unique to the rest of the urban scene, so I have to accept that not everyone is going to be used to my sound, which can be frustrating. But I'm happy my music is different and I can create my own lane.

Do you invest any of your own money into your venture? 

Yes. I only work part-time, so I can make more time to study my craft, record, shoot videos... but most of my paycheck goes into my music. 

Would you consider your music a business? 

Technically, yeah, I'm getting paid for performances now, so it's a business. But I'd love to get into the music business properly. I've got dreams of owning a label!

What is your long-term career goal?

To be known as an elite artist. A legend. I want to be known as the guy who came and shifted black British music culture and did it my way. I'm coming for everything. Awards. Big tours. Classic albums. Classic moments. Everything.  

What advice would you have for someone who wanted to turn their hobby into their job?

Stay focused, stay disciplined and stay positive. Have a plan and speak things into existence - I believe in the law of attraction and your thoughts becoming things.

In my field, Instagram is so useful, but the best way is to find your pocket and feed it. Keep releasing good music consistently as you never know who's listening. Use different media outlets too - in my genre, there's GRM, Link Up, and SBTV.

Get what you deserve from this earth, too, because no one is going to just give it to you. It's going to require a lot of sacrifices, but as long as you're making progress, that's all that matters. Let go and let God.

Check out DeeWain on Spotify today.