Avoiding career burnout

Making the best of every situation

An excerpt from EP.19 of the Murdoch Music Podcast, aired Mar. 10, 2015.
Tim sits down with Niki Rochefort, owner and creator of Artists in Motion (AIM) a boutique booking agency with an incredible roster of talent. As one of the hardest working people in the Canadian music industry, Niki has grown her business with a ‘trial by fire’ attitude. Learn how she avoids the dreaded business burn out and keeps ‘the magic’ alive – all whilst booking almost 50 amazing musical acts.

[Conversation opens with the clinking of ice cubes and a discussion about the merits of yoga for quieting one’s mind].

Niki: I wish I was more into yoga. I’m working on that [laughs].

Tim: Well, so how do you find that work-life balance?

Niki: I think I’m still figuring it out, though I can say that part of it is looking at what I’m doing for a living. I feel like I’m always working – and so I think, “If I’m always working, what do I do to make this fun?”

I like sunny places, meeting new people and travelling. I realized that because my office is wherever I am, I can travel and still do my work. This past year I’ve been more on the road then I have been in Toronto [home].

For instance, last winter I lived in Austin Texas for two months, then in Australia. I was also invited to Scotland in April of last year – I loved it and built some great relationships.

So now every time I think, “this is all consuming,” I also remind myself of the places I’ve been. Normal people don’t get to do this. This is a very blessed life, but I only came around to feeling that way that once I realized that I had the option to travel and run the business at the same time.

Tim: You’re right. I think it’s very easy to bog yourself down with the minutia and the stress [of work]; there’s a never ending to-do list, but I think you hit the nail on the head. There is a lot of burnout in this line of work because many people don’t have the mindset of focusing on what it is that they love about the job… it’s that whole saying that ‘when you love what you do, it’s not work.’

The reason I started doing this is the same reason as you – what I really enjoy is meeting new people and I’ve always enjoyed talking to people and finding out why they do what they do.

Niki: I think, if you feel you’re on the verge of quitting, you can step back [from those negative feelings] and ask yourself, “what is my option here?”

I’ve done four conferences in six weeks and during that time I’ve both been on panels and moderated them. When you’re on a panel, you get a lot of questions about ‘how did you get to this point in your career?’ which in turn has really made me think about how I got here in the music industry.

I remember the passion that I had in my early 20’s when I made that life decision to get into the industry – the passion I had for the music and the performances/shows. But [as you gain experience], this becomes a business – and sometimes you forget that crazy passion you had as a fan. When it becomes a business you can face burnout, but what’s really validating for me is.. well, I’m here at Folk Alliance and it’s a wicked time for Artist in Motion. I get to see that artist that I represent, that I hand-picked for the roster – and they play and my heart melts. I forget that I’m an agent and I just get to be a fan.

When I have a bad day, I go back to certain memories; I go back in time to when I was a fan. I wanted to make that energy and magic (of a live show) happen for people and that’s why I got into this business. The magic that happens between audience and artist – I think that’s super cool.

Tim: I think magic is a good term. It seems cheesy and cliché but I think it’s totally true. There is something about great art, regardless of whether it’s a painting or an acting performance or a piece of music – there’s just something about artistic creation that is magical. It’s the only way it can be described really.

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