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Why Shelby Earl Ditched a Successful Career to Make Music

by Mehera Bonner
featured, music & audio

Photo of Shelby Earl taken by Genevieve Pierson.

Photo of Shelby Earl taken by Genevieve Pierson.

The pursuit of passion and happiness is influencing our economy more than ever, and many young Americans are abandoning the corporate grind to follow their dreams. Seattle-based professional singer/songwriter Shelby Earl recently spoke to Business Insider about her own drastic career change, explaining why she left a plum job at Amazon for a more creative profession.

Shelby decided to ditch her gig as an Associate Vendor Manager at Amazon in 2009, after two years working with record labels in the company’s music department. Though she liked the job, it didn’t give her room for creative freedom or expression. “I enjoyed certain aspects of the job where music and writing were involved, and I loved working with the labels,” Shelby tells Business Insider. “But Amazon’s corporate culture ultimately wasn’t a good fit for me. Frankly, I don’t see that company as a good fit for ‘creatives’ in general.”

Shelby kept up with music while at Amazon, and eventually her passion for songwriting started seeping into her work life. “The big revelatory moment happened one day when I was sitting at my desk, miserable, staring at a spreadsheet, perplexed as to how my life had come to look like this, and I suddenly realized no one was making me be there,” Shelby explains. “No one was making me live the life I was living. And if I wanted, I could just change it. It wasn’t that my job was too hard or that I wanted to give up, it was that I realized I could live a much bigger, more meaningful life than I was currently living.”

The need to create something meaningful is a growing trend among millennials, and Shelby says her thirst for creativity spurred on her decision to quit. But did she simply walk into Amazon’s headquarters one day and hand in her notice? Not so much. Shelby had a rock-solid exit plan — she made sure her stocks were fully vested, that her savings account was up to snuff, and that she jumped right into her music career so she wouldn’t “go too long without focus and structure.”

Shelby’s radical career change wasn’t without its struggles, but the feeling of fulfillment she got from pursuing music trumped her financial stress. And ironically, her experience at Amazon gave her great insight into the business side of the music industry — proving that the pursuit of passion can often stem from the daily 9-5 grind.

Source: Business Insider

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Mehera Bonner

Mehera Bonner is a freelance lifestyle and entertainment writer. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two children.