As a career coach and artist development manager, I often sit with musicians and ask some hard questions to find out if the musician has vision for their own career. Prioritizing what you want for your career, will give you the vision you need to develop your goals and plans year by year. Doing a yearly assessment is necessary to stay current, motivated and successful.
So here are 5 major items for you to consider before you make your music plans this year.
1)If you could make enough money doing one part of your career, what would that be?
Most musicians I know diversify the music jobs they do to make a successful career. Maybe you do session work and perform in a cover band, or tour with your original music and help other musician record, or even teach music and write songs for TV. BUT the question to you is…What part of music would you like to make most of your money and love doing it everyday?
I recently asked that question to 2 musicians; one was a music student and the other was a seasoned Billboard charting songwriter who also performs original music concerts A LOT! Funny to me that both musicians hesitated when I asked the question and they both said they would have to think about it for a while.
Here are 5 major items for you to consider before you make your music plans this year.
2)How often are you creating music?
For those of you who do not write songs or practice your instrument every day, my question to you is, “Are your really serious about a career in music?” As you write, rehearse and record, you get better at your craft. I know some of you may have other jobs to support yourself, but I am sure you can take 30 minutes, a few days a week, to schedule working on your craft.
I encourage new artists to try and write and produce at least 2 songs a month, so as your music catalog grows, you will have more songs you can share with your friends. So schedule your writing & instrument rehearsal times. If you are stuck on completing your songs, join an online songwriting group or message a musician friend and see if you can do a skype or zoom writing session. Don’t just be happy with the same 8 songs you already have produced and recorded. Push yourself to be a better storyteller, watch the news and write a song about an interest story or make up a story and put that to music. If you keep creating, your writing and music skills will get better and better, PLUS you will have an ongoing music catalog to work with.
3)What is your music mission and are you connecting to your the right audience? Are you opening yourself to new markets?
Every time I say ‘music mission’ to a musician, I think they look at me like they don’t know what I am talking about. So let’s make this clear: What are your songs saying? Is there a specific message in your lyrics, are the melodies attracting the right listeners OR do you just want people to feel like dancing?
What kind of people do you want to hear your songs? Yes, I am talking about gender, age, what kind of everyday activities that your listeners participate in? Use your own likes, community and heartfelt connections to find people who share your some passions that you produce in your songs.
For example, let’s say your songs are stories that inspire positivity. People, who do yoga, shop at health food stores and go to church may be good markets for you to approach. Also, let’s say your music has reggae grooves, you want to look for people who love the beach, have dreads and like to hike & love going to an outdoor picnic. Sit down and group your songs together that have themes and start sharing your music with a meet-up group or specific blog or podcast. This is all about connect to the listeners who will enjoy your music. Stop trying to reach the entire world! Get focused!
4)Have you embraced social media like you should?
Social media is here to stay. Stop making excuses that you are not sure what to say. You just need to get personal and share your thoughts, stories and photos of what makes you happy. Today a friend told me he thinks COVID has eliminated personal connect and kindness. WOW! He may be right.
Seclusion alienates your senses if you let it. Your job, during this weird time, is to try to make people over-feel joy. If you have not done a virtual performance on a social media platform, start today. Performing live, even once a week, will help you feel creative, plus bring music to peoples lives, even through a computer screen, which IS motivate people to get through the week. Don’t be surprised if regular attendees start donating money and sharing your content to friends who also become regular viewers (& fans).
5)Have you let COVID put your performances on hold?
I can’t believe all the DIY musicians who have not communicated or released music since COVID hit last April. Most of those people are in a panic now that live music is still on hold and will probably be her for quite awhile. If that is you, I have some advice for you.
- It is almost February, so look at your calendar and schedule your first audio/video release in about 4 weeks. Then release a new song and video about every 6 weeks. Keep your videos simple but creative….lyric video with a live performance, or with animated or scrolling photos. Need help with that try fiverr.(Release on a Friday because that is the Industry standard)
- Make sure you start a live virtual performance weekly. It can be one song or 3 to 6…that is up to you. Run a track and sing, play instrumentally, tell the story about the song and ask those listening to go to spotify to hear your song.
- If you can play acoustically, call a farmers market or set yourself up outside a popular food store and do some busking. Have a post card that people can pick up and a tip jar so passer-bys can contribute.
- Do some research near your hometown to see what outdoor music events that happened in 2019 and email the contact to pitch yourself for this summer. Outdoor venues like summer concert series, city music and art festivals and even concerts at drive-in theaters will open again in the spring, so throw your hat in the ring.
These items above are just of the things that will motivate you to get your music out to the fans you already have and will prepare you to be one of the many musicians who will be ‘ready to rock’ when all the COVID restrictions lift.
If you want to succeed this year, start planning and execute new ways to connect to your audience!