I’ve Been Here Before (A Reflection on Job Loss)

Published On May 14, 2024 
by Chase Tremaine
Would you be interested in becoming a supporter of Chase’s writing, music, and other productions? Join the Friends Club, and in return, you’ll receive all of Chase’s albums, new members-only songs every month, opportunities to meet Chase and discuss music, art, and life with him and other likeminded music lovers, and much more!

Back in 2015, I felt like I was on top of the world. I had landed a great office job straight out of college, starting work as a content editor for a financial advising firm merely one week after graduating with my bachelor’s degree in May of 2014. This certainly wasn’t a “dream come true” by every measurements: a few years prior, my brother and I both promised to never work an office job — a promise I was quick to break in the face of financial stability! Also, the job had nothing to do with music, but it somewhat scratched the itch of my secondary passions for writing and editing.

It was a contractor role, so after fulfilling my first three-month contract, I was offered a raise alongside a six-month contract. Adulthood was arriving quite comfortably! Towards the end of the second contract, I signed a lease for a one bedroom apartment at a great location right off the interstate. Before I knew it, I was living alone for the first time in my life, supported by a cushy corporate job which presented an exciting and stable future ahead. Then within three weeks of making my first rent payment, I received the news that I would not be offered a third contract with the firm.

I shouldn’t have been surprised; I can admit with hindsight that my work ethic had been far from exemplary. But in the moment, the main reason for not keeping me on board seemed due to a disagreement between my supervisor and me about the purpose of my role and which tasks should have been taking up my time. This disagreement turned my final few weeks at the firm into a messy and contentious period, but I was ultimately excited to move on to my next venture. You see, I had saved up enough money over the course of the preceding nine months of work that, despite the newfound costs of living alone, I was confident that I could spend a few months pursuing one of my dreams rather than immediately bouncing to the next traditional job.

My plan? To spend a few months attempting to become a full-time musician through offering customized songs (writing and recording songs in any style you choose, about any topic you choose) alongside my ongoing pursuits of performing concerts and selling CDs of my solo music. I was thrilled about this seemingly novel idea to write and record songs which could be treasured as unique, personalized, and detailed pieces of art — songs which could be commissioned as gifts, as commemorations of events, as novelty items, etc. As it turned out, I was ahead of the curve on an idea which has since grown into a viable income stream for thousands of musicians, through not-yet-founded companies like Songlorious and Songfinch. Undeniably, there was something special about this idea, but was I up for the challenge? And was I prepared as a songwriter and producer to pull it off?

Jumping ahead nearly a full decade, I find myself in a precariously similar position. Friday, May 3rd was my last day working for the company that employed me for nearly eight years (practically the entire time that I’ve lived in Tennessee). I would love to say that I went out triumphantly and fully of my own volition, but sadly I cannot. In a number of ways, the situation that transpired over the past month and a half bore many similarities to what occurred back in 2015, with the primary difference this time around being that I didn’t have concerns over the quality of my work ethic. Simply put, my specific role had been designed for “planned obsolescence” to meet a temporary set of needs; yet while I thought I had a few years left within the company, the leaders came to a recent conclusion that now would instead be the best time to ask me to leave. And when all was said and done, I came to agree with that decision, but the way it played out was not the timing I would have chosen for myself. It all happened so unexpectedly fast, and it’s been an emotional roller coaster over this past month to transform my thinking from “I have another few years working here” to suddenly “I don’t work here anymore.”

As I reflect on the similarities between 2024 and 2015, one conclusion screams out at me: I don’t want to fail again. And let me be clear that, by basically every metric, my “business” venture in 2015 was a colossal failure. In the two years that I spent actively pursuing customers and commissions for my “song shop” startup, I earned less than two months’ worth of livable wages. While I could expound upon the difficulties of pricing those services with no industry standard or how hard it was to find customers, that would merely deflect from the true reasons I failed: my own lack of effort and my lack of dedication to the craft. The former, because I never treated the “song shop” like a full-time job that deserved my day-in, day-out effort to find new customers, and the latter, because I never invested my time in learning production or my money in buying professional equipment, meaning that even my best songs would result in cheap-sounding recordings.

But times have changed, and as I enter this new season of unemployment/self-employment, I can confidently assert that I have put in the work. Thousands of dollars and countless hours have been invested into my ongoing growth and learning to be a better musician and producer. And abundant lessons have been learned across dozens of past song commissions, not to mentioned the numerous full-length albums I’ve recorded for my solo music, which has given me hands-on experience with different types of producers in different types of studios. So I am very excited to announce that I am reopening the song shop!

The best and easiest way to support me in all of these pursuits is to join my Friends Club, which (for 2024 only) is available for only $1 a month! If you sign up before 2025, you’ll be locked into the $1/mo (or $10/year) price forever, and this ongoing membership will give you discounts on everything else I do, alongside Club-exclusive access to music and podcasts that won’t be released elsewhere. So while the different song shop options range from $25 to $250, I’m currently offering a massive 60% discount to members, bringing the range of prices down to only $10 to $100. (I’m also offering editorial services that are extremely market-competitive.)

I hope it’s evident that I’m truly not trying to milk anyone for their money. My prices (even before the Friends Club member discounts) are already low balling the market, not because I don’t think my work is high quality or isn’t worth charging what the market says I should charge; instead, it’s because I would rather make a minimal amount of money getting to do what I love than not get to do it at all, and I want opportunities to serve people through my music without asking anyone to break the bank. If you would be willing to offer ongoing support through the Friends Club or to take a chance on my song shop (or editing services), I promise to make it worth far more than what you’d be paying. Check out all the options, pricing, and details at friends.chasetremaine.com.

I’ve been here before — but that “I” was a very different Chase in 2015 than in 2024. A decade ago, I was lacking experience and grit and work ethic and training. I was single and didn’t feel the pressure of needing to succeed. Now, I’ve spent the past five years balancing a full-time job with my musical efforts, often pulling early mornings and late nights at work so that I could squeeze studio time in during the day, arduously recording all the drums, guitars, and vocals myself. Now, I’m a husband and father who feels the urgent weight of needing to provide for my family. Now, I have a stronger conviction about the importance of art within our communities and how God created me for musical creation in a way that goes beyond my understanding. I also don’t want to say all this without taking a moment to acknowledge how privileged I am that I have the flexibility and safety net to take this gamble; people lose their jobs all the time without having the option of waiting a few months before finding their next job, and I am extremely grateful to be in this fortunate position. Recognizing this spurs me on all the more to not waste this opportunity to chase my dreams.

I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Have you considered joining the Friends Club?

The Friends Club is where I connect with my listeners, provide all of my music for free (including new members-only songs every month), and offer discounts for all of my other services, including writing and recording custom/personalized songs. Come join the fun!

Check Out My Recent Blog Posts:

“Settled in the Unsettled” – Story Behind the Song

“Settled in the Unsettled” – Story Behind the Song

“Settled in the Unsettled” is a special song, unlike anything else I’ve yet written. It has perhaps the highest bang-for-your-buck ratio within my discography, packing many memorable musical moments and interesting intellectual inquiries within less than three minutes. The composition leans into my classical and traditional influences, and it’s the first song I’ve released that sounds like it has already existed for many decades, as if it could’ve been released in the 1950’s.

read more