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Don't Make Your Hobby Your Job

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Yes, yes, yes! At last! The day has arrived. In the long history of the internet, I can only post this blog on this one day. Yes, today. 1 February 2012.

'One-two. One-two'. 'One-two. One-two'. That's it. Today. 1.2.12. 'One-two. One-two'. 'One-two. One-two'.

I don't know about today's generation, but what a resonant phrase for mine. 'One-two. One-two'. 'One-two. One-two'. Rock and roll!

The audience is buzzing. The lights are down. The stage in gloom. Out of the darkness, a guitar note twangs. A drum rolls. 'One-two. One-two'. 'One-two. One-two'. The roadie tests the mic. Or should that be the 'mike'? Certainly not the mick.

The audience applaud, whistle, cheer. Backstage, the band loosen up and draw that final drag. 'One-two. One-two'. 'One-two. One-two'.

Louder now, and more excited, the audience noise builds in anticipation. Excitement. Expectancy. 'One-two. One-two'. 'One-two. One-two'.

On come the lights, multi-coloured, moving and bright. The drummer, already seated, fires out a louder, longer drum roll. The bassist, tall, long-legged, thin, lopes onto the stage and, fag in mouth, loops his guitar strap over his shoulder. The spotlights wave around the arena until they point to the rest of the band, whose random tuning syncs into a recognisable tune. The singer leaps out from stage right, charges to the microphone and throws himself into his signature track.

The gig is on. The music loud. The audience out of control. One huge, smoky, roomful of human togetherness. Great days. Great memories.

They started at school where, unbelievable now, Genesis came down and played in our small, rickety, pre-war theatre. Pete Gabriel had broken his leg leaping off stage the week before (as you do). He was stuck in a chair but, even so, still a vibrating, electrified chaos of thrashing arms and legs. Then came Hawkwind. And the immortal Edgar Broughton Band. 'Out, demons, out! Out, demons, out!' Rebellion! Rock and roll!

When my pal George and I made it to the VI Form, we felt the baton pushed into our hands. And we grabbed it. We called Chrysalis and booked Pink Fairies. Out with the fairies, more like. They turned up stoned, stayed stoned and tripped meaninglessly around in an introverted whirl of psychedelic nonsense. Just like them, we didn't have a clue, but it wasn't cool to admit that. We were hip.

The next term, we got UFO. 'Doctor, doctor, please. The state I'm in!' We booked them. We met them. We knew them. We were there, man!

Then, later, only a few short years later, with the arrival of the Sony Walkman and the sudden ubiquity of audio cassettes, and working for respectable, civil service Ogilvy &Mather London, I had the idea that music magazines like the NME and Melody Maker would be better expressed in cutting-edge audio format than tired old newsprint.

All of a sudden, I was in the music business. SFX was born. The upside was great. The excitement of the early business plans. Finding the best, the very best, music writers in London. Cosying up to the music companies and their ad agencies with the excitement of our innovative new idea. I had my photo taken by Anton Corbijn. U2? Me too.

Ogilvy, brilliantly, let us offices. Snazzy, red-carpeted reception welcomed Echo and The Bunnymen, Aswad, The Eurythmics, Paula Yates, Jools Holland and Pete Tong alongside the Marketing Directors of American Express, Shell and Unilever. Madness.

'Outside' meetings were at EMI, Virgin, Chrysalis and Island. So cool.

But do you know what? Over time, the more I got to know the business behind the music business, the less I liked it. More sportsman than junkie, I prepared carefully-thought-through, professional presentations to stoned, out-of-their heads Marketing Directors. A non-smoker, I went to gigs where I could hardly see anyone for the smoke or understand them for what they had smoked. Out of bright lights and glamour, disillusion seeped into my soul. It just didn't feel right. I was out of place. It wasn't me.

And the more it went on, the less I liked it. And the less I liked it, the less motivated I felt. Yet it had been my idea. My baby. Friends had bought into it and left their jobs to join in. But I just didn't have the music in me any more. I lost my mojo.

Now, later in my career, I meet youngsters, fresh out of uni, keen to make the most of their lives. And so many say to me 'I am sporty. I want to work in sports marketing'. Or 'I like food. I want to own a restaurant'. Or 'I'm into music. I want to be in the music business'.

And I think 'No. Please - no. Don't do it. Don't risk the loss of that which you love. Don't make your leisure your business. Don't make your hobby your job.

Because if you do this, and you become disillusioned, you may find you have sacrificed the freedom to enjoy that which you most enjoy - unencumbered by commerce, unminding of the P&L and not caring of the financial consequences. And you may never enjoy that freedom again.

Perversely, Jimmy Goldsmith's mantra comes to mind: 'Don't marry your mistress. All you do is create a vacancy.' But there's a different moral to that story.

In the meantime, roll on 12 December.