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The Story Behind The Song (“Not-For-Profit Life”)



"Not-For-Profit Lifewas the first of my songs to be played on internet radio.

Back when Jango.com was kicking off their “Artist Airplay” program for unsigned artists, I was contacted about adding this to their playlist.


The Idea


As is sometimes the case, the song evolved around a Hook (title).

“Not-For-Profit Life” came first…both lyric & music were written to accommodate that theme.


Subject Matter


My intended message was a simple one…..

Life is about more than the pursuit of money & stuff.


No child is ever born thinking about it.

We don’t come out of the womb with dollar signs in our eyes.

The importance of financial success is systematically sold to us.


Don’t get me wrong…having enough money allows one to live a financially responsible life.

That’s a good thing!

But beyond the point of enough, it's a question of perspective…a personal choice.

To quote Sly and the Family Stone, “Different strokes for different folks”. ^_^


Lyrical Structure   


In a nutshell, it's different!

All 3 verse sections, the first pre-chorus & first chorus are written in 3rd person narrative form.

The final pre-chorus & chorus shift to first person, thereby taking ownership of the thoughts being expressed.


Song Structure


Introduction / Verse / Pre-Chorus (Rise) / Chorus / Musical Interlude / Double-Verse / Pre-Chorus (Rise) / Chorus- Brief Ending



Voices of children enjoying the sunshine

Laughing & playing with friends

Livin’ out days as if each was a lifetime

& Losing themselves in pretend


No plan for riches

No thirst for fame

Young lives so simple

Less greed, less pain


They’re livin’ not-for-profit lives

No sleepless nights, no worries or fears

They live it one day at a time



Then come the years of bigger & better

The quest for success at all costs

Convincing themselves they’ve gotta keep pace with

The neighbors, the times & their boss

Squandering life for the sake of achievement

More money, more stuff, but no time

Chasin’ the dream, the one they bought into

The one with no reason or rhyme


No thanks, you keep it!

That’s not for me!

Things I hold dearest

Mostly come free


I’ll take a not-for-profit life!

No sleepless nights, no worries or fears

I’ll live it one day at a time

Livin’…a not-for-profit…life

Copyright 2008- Tom Hoffman


Musical Fundamentals


The song is set in the key of E minor.


By 2008, keyboards were part of my musical arsenal.

Organ & piano were used for this arrangement.

Both parts were played on my Yamaha P-80 Electronic Piano



The guitar track is a mixture of picking & chords.

With its single coil pickup textures, my Fender Stratocaster (Strat) was the natural choice.

It's rare for me to create an arrangement with a single guitar track, but that was the case here.



Additional Instrumentation......

 - Harmonica (intro-only)

 - Bass Guitar

 - Soft-Shake

 - *Congas

 - *Drums


*Core drum & conga tracks were creating using a Boss DR-670 drum machine.


After 13 years of recording with "real drums", I converted to a drum machine in 2007.

Being a drummer, I had mixed feelings about the decision, but the additional control, flexibility & convenience sold me on the change.


Unfortunately, the machine decay rate made crashes cymbals sound VERY artificial.  

So, crashes were overdubbed…using live cymbals.

It was inconvenient, but improved the sound quality significantly.


Vocal Details


In each of the chorus sections, the phrase “Not-For-Profit Life” employs what’s known as vocal doubling. The part is sung twice & recorded on separate tracks.

When both takes are played together, the small differences in pitch & timing produce a thicker sounding vocal texture. It’s a common technique & has been used for decades.


A single harmony vocal track was created for:

- the entire 3rd verse

- the final line of each chorus section


Final Production Notes


By 2008, I had traded up to a 24 track system.

Another Tascam, but this time a PortaStudio 2488.


Having 24 tracks available opened up a whole new world of arrangement possibilities.


Performance Credits:

Guitar, bass, piano, organ, harmonica, soft-shake & vocals – Tom Hoffman


Tom Hoffman
"About Me" Muse Member pg.

Tom Hoffman YouTube


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