2016 is, finally, coming to an end. After an exhausting year like this one, I love looking ahead to New Year’s Eve. Not just because I love champagne and countdowns, but because it’s that special time of year to break out the new planner and set some goals in stone. This time of year is perfect for taking stock of where you are in your career, or where your band is, what you’d like to accomplish, and what things you struggle with that you’d like to improve!
No matter where you’re at, these six new year’s resolutions will help you get on the path to your most successful year yet!
Change your mindset: Your band is your business.
If you’re calling your music a passion project and not a profession, it’s time to step up your game. There is no magic moment when you suddenly become a “professional” musician. You have to choose to dedicate the time, energy, and resources to build your band to that level. Nobody will take you seriously until you do.
More importantly, passion doesn’t pay the bills.
Learning to set a budget and track expenses is just as important to your music career as writing your next masterpiece, albeit less exciting. This year, take a serious look at what you’re spending to pursue your dream vs. what you’re bringing in with your work. When you know the facts, you can plan your next tour, set prices for your new album, or launch your Kickstarter campaign, accordingly.
Dream up yearly goals, write out daily plans.
Once you’ve got your mindset right, get your action plan in order. Any effective plan breaks major goals (raise $10,000 to go on tour, record a new album, sell out Madison Square Garden, etc.) into manageable steps. When you’re talking about marketing goals, it’s especially important to plan yearly. You’ll cut out wasted time, money, and energy on initiatives that aren’t contributing to the major goal.
Start by envisioning yourself a year from now. Take stock of financial, artistic, professional, public, and personal goals. Write them down and be specific. When you’re talking money, use numbers. When you’re talking time, set a date.
Next, break those goals up into steps. Keep breaking down these steps into smaller and smaller tasks. You’re looking for things you can accomplish in one day, one hour, even in the few minutes between your day job and rehearsal.
As you brainstorm, you’ll see the connections between the small tasks you can take on daily, and the huge results they’ll have when combined over weeks and months. You’ll develop a clear road map leading towards your goal. A plan to achieve your goals makes the whole process of fighting for them less intimidating.
+ Read more on Flypaper: Professionalize your practice routine. Read what four internationally touring musicians do daily to improve their skills and enhance their opportunities in “How Successful Musicians Practice.”
Ask for help and use your resources.
Artists are often highly independent creatures. That independence comes in handy at the writing desk and in the studio, but when it comes to advancing your music business, it can be a real setback. Trying to make it on talent and hard work alone is a noble pursuit, but it’s not realistic.
If you’ve been afraid to launch a much-needed crowdfunding campaign or ask your friends and family to help promote your next concert or tour, challenge yourself to go for it. You’ll get a lot further if you reach out to the people who are ready and willing to support you.
Keep connecting with your fans offstage.
Social media and email lists aren’t just advertising tools. They’re essential for communicating and connecting with the people who love your music and support your work. This one’s a two parter on your new year’s resolutions list: start an e-mail list and share more on social media.
Keeping your core fans informed with an e-mail newsletter is just smart business. These are the people most likely to attend your shows, buy your albums, and donate when you need a bit of help. Grow your list by offering your core supporters discounts, advance announcements, and getting them involved in your process from the ground up.
As for social media, it’s one of the most effective, inexpensive ways to grow your fan base and get your music to new audiences. Stand out in the internet noise by sharing valuable content, and pay attention to what your followers respond to. If you post great content regularly, you’ll build an engaged following that can help get the word out about your work.
Don’t let setbacks keep you down.
If you keep any of these new year’s resolutions, let it be this one. Growth and success are not straight lines. One moment you’ve accomplished something incredible. The next, you’re facing the worst obstacle of your career.
It’s okay to take a break when things get rough. It’s important to take care of your health and give yourself time to recover from setbacks and stress. It is not, however, acceptable to stop fighting for your music. You owe it to yourself to keep picking yourself up and trying again.
Scale a wall this year!
Whatever you think you are musically, theatrically, or administratively capable of, set a goal that challenges you to up your game and go bigger! If you’ve only ever written music for guitar and voice, challenge yourself to write for a string quartet. If you’d really like to bring your music to new audiences this year, book a month-long tour and go for it (or heck, book two)! Or, see if you can write a track and get it featured in a commercial, podcast, or short film!
Whatever your new year’s resolutions are, make a commitment to your music in 2017. The rest of the Soundfly team and I will be here to support you!