The new year is a time when people make resolutions. They start setting goals and making plans to achieve them. We all know that new year’s resolutions can be fickle at the best of times, but that’s not to say it isn’t a good idea.
Setting goals for your music career is important. You should know where you want to your career to end up, and have a few short-term goals in mind to get you there. Setting goals like this can help you keep a focused eye on your career and start marching towards it.
However, there comes a point when setting too many goals with too many hard deadlines will negatively influence your career. This is what happened to me.
My band and I were constantly setting goals and deadlines for when we wanted those goals achieved. The thing was, we never achieved our goals in the time we had laid out. Looking back on it, it took twice, sometimes three times as long as we had anticipated.
Because of this we became frustrated. We dealt with the frustration in an interesting way; we just worked harder. The thing is, we were working harder at the wrong things.
One of the main problems is that people don't always set the right goals for themselves.
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You May Have Set The Wrong Goals
The problem with setting a bunch of lofty goals for your music career is that you may have set the wrong goals for yourself. This is what happened to us.
We set goals like:
- In six months, we will have a booking agent signed on.
- In eight 12 months, we will have a signed management contract.
- And so on.
They seem like reasonable goals, especially for a band that was working as hard as we were. Little did we realize that these goals made no sense for us or where we were.
First of all, most booking agents won’t take on a band without a manager. We focused on getting a booking agent for basically a year. We toured almost 200 days per year completely independently trying to attract their attention. A year later, nothing happened.
It was a very frustrating experience.
We spent a ton of time doing things like playing showcase festivals and sending emails and going to networking events. While these efforts weren't entirely in vain, it was almost pointless. Doing things independently is hard.
The problem was, we had set the wrong goals.
All of our goals were career based and NONE of them were music based. When you think about it for a second, how weird is that? Isn’t making music the whole point of this anyways?
Over the year or two that we were working hard independently, we wrote five, maybe six songs total. And out of those, maybe one was actually a good song. That is not a lot of songs.
We were getting better all the time at business stuff (that’s why I write for this amazing blog), but we were not getting better at music. And here’s what we didn’t realize:
The music is what matters.
The music matters more than anything else. It matters more than your branding. It matters more than your social media. It matters more than your promo pictures. It matters more than your website. It matters the most.
All those other things matter too, but without the music, what are they for?
Why You Should Focus On Making Music First
Before you go chasing management deals and booking agents, you should be chasing great songs and becoming a better musician.
When we eventually realized this, we came to a full stop and changed the way we were doing things.
One month, we decided to take a break from touring to write a new song every day, five days a week. In that month we wrote 25 new songs. And we wrote the best songs we had ever written.
Working at music like this changed my life and the way I look at music. We still worked hard at the business side, we still booked tours and sent emails. But it became a smaller part of our day. A greater part of our day was spent writing, practicing, recording, and playing music.
Interestingly, nothing bad happened when we shifted focus. Nobody cared that we posted on social media slightly less or didn’t go on tour as often. Nobody cared because we were creating and releasing better music.
And the weird thing is, the business side picked up. As soon as we started creating more and being more music focused, we start getting better opportunities. Why? Because people want to hear good music. People want to hear GREAT music!
Shift Your Mindset
This year, I urge you to shift your mindset from being career focused to being music focused.
If you are not getting the attention and opportunities you feel you deserve, it’s probably not because you’re doing something wrong on the business end – it’s probably because you haven’t reached a point with your music that makes those opportunities possible.
This year, don’t worry if you haven’t got a management deal yet. Don’t worry if your shows slow down a bit. Know that your fans will always be there as long as you are making great music.
The fact that you are even reading this blog tells me that you are serious about your career and are already making good business decisions.
Reading blogs like this give you the opportunity to step up your game on the business end of things. What I’m encouraging you to do is to remember why you do all the business stuff. Why you have an artist social media presence in the first place.
You do it to make music.
Don’t forget this simple fact. Make more music, make better music, put it out into the world, hustle, and you career will take shape.
Many people set numerical goals for themselves, such as “I will lose 20 lbs. by June 2017.” But these types of goals tend not to work in areas you have no control over, such as “Our band will sell 500 albums by May 2017.” What you can control is the amount of work you put into getting there. So, instead of spending your energy trying to figure out how to meet certain metrics, try setting daily action goals, which will then become habit. Once you've built that action habit, you'll be on a path to achieving your bigger goals.