music career goals

Setting your music career goals

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The road to success starts with a plan. Here’s some sound advice to help you get started.

In any aspect of your personal or professional life, setting goals is an empowering way to set the stage for success. In regard to your music, taking the time to visualize your goals can help you pave a personal roadmap for defining and achieving success with your career, whether you consider music your hobby or you are making a living out of it full-time.

It has been proven that by simply writing down your goals you are ten times more likely to achieve them. Guess what? Only three percent of all people have their long-term goals written down. It’s the most powerful thing I did for myself in 2007, and it works!

Dr. Edward Banfield of Harvard University concluded, after more than 50 years of research, that long-term perspective is the most accurate single predictor of upward social and economic mobility in America. It is more important than family background, education, race, intelligence, and connections in determining your success in life and at work.

In January 2007, I wrote down what I wanted to achieve for the year, both personally and for my business. Every month I wrote down what I had achieved and/or checked something off the list when I completed it. Just by measuring my goals and continuously keeping them present in front of me up on the wall, I managed to make them happen!

Here then, are five tips to help you focus and organize your approach.

Tip # 1 – You can change the rules as you go
Goals are not written in stone (just on paper). They should be looked at as beacons and guiding points for you to keep yourself on track along your journey. That said, you can’t go changing your goals every week, but there are many factors that may make you rethink your plan.

What if you have wild success and meet your goals right out of the gate? Or what if things completely out of your control get held up and throw off you schedule? There are other intangibles, like the fact that the music industry is changing so rapidly, it’s hard to know what goals are reachable. So if in the course of the year your goals change, it’s okay to cross one off or modify another or start the game again and write new ones down as you go.

Tip #2 – Don’t beat yourself up
This is a process intended to take a whole year and you will have your days where you may get frustrated, and you will start to beat yourself up (sound familiar?). This is something I see a lot of my musician friends and clients do.

A client I represent will play an amazing set, get off stage, and all of a sudden start ripping into themselves, saying the set sucked, or the sound was awful, or I couldn’t hear myself, or I screwed up the entire second verse.

This kind of self criticism will interfere directly with achieving your goals and dreams. So, the next time you are making yourself wrong for the bad note you hit or the drummer that was late to the rehearsal, take a step back and take a moment to acknowledge the good, and even (gasp) celebrate the wins. In fact, this tip could also be, “Acknowledge your successes!”

Tip #3 – Five successes each day
So let’s talk about those successes. I’m inviting you to write down five victories a day for this entire year. They don’t have to be monumental, they can be little ones. I learned this powerful technique from T. Harv Ecker, who says that you should write down five positive things you do every single day. Once you start getting into this habit, you are training yourself to put the focus on the positive and get your brain to stop being so critical and mean.

So put a notebook in your gig bag or next to your bed and each day write down five things. Try to make one or two of them music or band related.

Here are some examples:
– Went to gym.
– Started writing lyrics to that song I’ve been thinking of.
– Called three clubs for potential booking.
– Did laundry.
– Reached out to a music blogger who will love my music.
– Made dinner for my boyfriend/girlfriend.

Right now, stop what you’re doing and write down five tiny successes you had today and yesterday.

Define your focus areas
Here is a list of some areas you may want to focus on. Skip the ones that are not for you and revisit each goal in about six months. Think big, be unreasonable, and don’t hold yourself back. Also, write in pen using paper. Your intention is different when it comes from a pen and not from a computer. The act of writing it down accesses a different part of your brain.

– Your USP (Unique Selling Proposition). In other words, what sets you apart?
– Creating a monthly newsletter.
– Marketing. What’s your marketing plan?
– Social Networking strategies.
– PR. Getting covered on radio? Online?
– Booking. Touring or local gigs.
– Writing songs. Are you recording an album this year?
– Number of CDs/downloads you would like to sell.
– How much money you would like to earn.
– Film and TV placements.
– Building your fan base. How will you do this?
– How many people should be added to your fan mail and e-mail list?
– Number of people at your next gig.
– Getting a manager/booking agent.
– Building a new website or diversifying your online presence.
– Buying a new instrument or piece of gear.
– Having friends or family members get involved with helping you.
– Personal health so your performance is better – exercise, eating etc.

Techniques for writing down your goals
– Be really clear about your goals. Give dates and as much detail as you can. Write it as if it’s already happening.
– Your goals should involve you and only you (they can’t be contingent on someone else).
– Make them so they are realistically achievable.
– Do something everyday that moves you towards the goals (your list of five successes will help with this).
– Make daily lists of what you need to do to get your goals met – the night before! Do the hardest thing first. Don’t procrastinate.
– Delegate the little activities that waste your valuable time to other people.
– Build a team to help you. Get an intern or two – log on to and post as an employer seeking interns – you will be amazed at how many bright young people would like to get their feet wet in the business. If you don’t have an office to accommodate them, that’s okay. Meet once week at a coffee shop and have your intern work remotely from home.

Tip # 4 – Make one goal happen ASAP
Start with the easiest one on your list. Give it a deadline of two to four weeks, and then write in the present tense. Like this: By March 17th, 2008, I will have 25 new quality friends to my Facebook page.

Now, go back and put dates on every single goal.

Tip # 5 – Hang them where you can see them everyday
I highly recommend re-writing your goals neatly on paper (or now that you’ve written them by hand, you can go to your computer). Add illustrations or pictures and graphics and hang them in a place where you can see them everyday. Remember, if your goals change, that’s okay. Just cross one off and add a new one. You’re the one in charge of your goals.

Here’s to your success!

Ariel HyattAriel Hyatt founded Ariel Publicity and Cyber PR in 1996 and her firm has worked with over 1,000 musicians and bands of all genres. The Cyber PR mission states that all artists deserve to be heard and there is a place for artists of every level to receive exposure. Go to to learn more and get marketing, promotion, and PR tips for navigating the new music business.

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My Job Is Better Than Yours – aka The Starving Artist’s Silver Lining

3 thoughts on “Setting your music career goals

  1. Thanks for the awesome tips.  I already wrote my 5 successes for the day and my first goal is stop procrastinating. . .

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