Finding a balance between music business tasks and being creative is key when setting your music career goals – and don’t forget your own happiness
This post is an excerpt from David Hooper’s book, Six-Figure Musician. Reprinted with permission.
What do you really want out of your music career? Do you want to be known around the country? Around the world? Do you want to hear your music on the radio? See yourself on television? When establishing your music career goals, focus on what you want and know why you want it. It’s OK to “think big,” and I encourage you to do so, but realize that sometimes it’s the small things that will have the biggest impact on you.
Once you get clear on your music career goals, it will completely change how you approach your music career and will open you up to new opportunities for success. Focus on what you want at this moment, knowing that you can always revise your list at any time. Your goals can change and will change, because you will change during your process of going after them.
What are your music career goals?
Everybody has goals, or at least thinks they have goals. Only a handful of people are actually making an active effort to get clarity on what they really want and then go after those things in a deliberate way. Beyond that, many people have music career goals that focus only on money and popularity. While these are two topics you should absolutely be thinking about, a look at the bigger picture is more likely to ensure other important areas of your life are not neglected.
Martin Seligman, an American psychologist, found that humans seem happiest when they have:
- Pleasure (tasty foods, warm baths, etc.)
- Engagement (also known as “flow,” this is what happens when you are absorbed in and enjoying an activity)
- Relationships (social connections)
- Meaning (being part of something bigger than yourself)
- Accomplishments (the realization of having specific and measureable goals)
If you’ve ever wondered why somebody would suddenly leave an A-List band that was touring the world and selling millions of albums, to start his own, much smaller project – or even retire from the business completely – remember this:
This is your music career being sculpted, so set it up any way you want. The generic music career goals, such as selling tons of music and playing for big crowds, while they may be OK for some, don’t necessarily have to be what you choose. If you’d rather give away your music and stick with small, intimate venues, do it. Happiness starts now, right where you are.
Once you have a list of things you want to accomplish in the music business, and you’re ready to start working on a task, ask yourself this question: “Is what I’m about to do getting me closer to my goal of ________________?”
If the answer is yes, take action. If not, and you’re frustrated that you’re not accomplishing your music goals fast enough, find something else to work on that will help you to get where you want to go. Focus on activities that get you tangible results in the form of helping you sell more music, get more people to your shows, or whatever your specific and measurable goal is. Don’t focus on what might sell more music, might get more people to shows, or might make you money.
The Pareto principle, commonly known as the 80/20 rule, states that, for many events, roughly 80 percent of the results come from 20 percent of the actions. This 80/20 rule can be found throughout your music business. For example:
- 80 percent of your gig income comes from 20 percent of the gigs you play.
- 80 percent of the money you make comes from 20 percent of your fans.
The big takeaway here is that not everything you do is getting equal results for you. If you can find the 20 percent of things that are getting you the most results, and then focus the time you have on doing more of that activity, you’ll see a huge increase in your music business success.
Taking care of business
If you wanted to do more business, you would have chosen a career on the business end of the music industry rather than the creative. Still, if you want to sell more music, there are some business aspects of the music industry you won’t be able to completely avoid.
There are three types of business tasks:
- Things you like to do
- Things you don’t like to do
- Things only you can do
To find out if you really like doing something, ask yourself the following question: “If money, judgment from others, and needed resources to successfully complete this task were not issues, would I still be doing it?” If the answer is yes, and you can do it without neglecting anything else in your business, go for it.
When it comes to doing the tasks you don’t like doing, look at options that will enable you to either have somebody else do them or eliminate them entirely. Life is too short to do a lot of things you don’t enjoy.
With that said, if you’re getting started in the music business and have limited resources with which to outsource tasks, it may be necessary and you may benefit from experiencing parts of the music business you don’t enjoy, and there are some things you should handle personally. The firsthand knowledge about the various parts of the business you’ll learn will help you better create a system in which to hand things over to somebody else.
As a musician, there are certain tasks only you can do. They include things like performing live, making personal appearances, and anything having to do with product creation (such as writing and recording).
The bottom line when it comes to your music business is that when something needs to be done, like it or not, it’s your responsibility to make sure it happens. You don’t want to be the best songwriter or musician the world has never heard of. Do everything you can to get the word out about your music. Anything less isn’t respecting your art and creative talent.
Gold record image via ShutterStock.com.
David Hooper has been serving the independent music community since the ’90s and is host of the syndicated radio show, Music Business Radio. This post was excerpted from his new book, Six-Figure Musician, which you can get for FREE at MusicMarketing.com – where you can get music business advice from David’s archive of blog posts and podcasts. Follow David on Twitter @DavidHooper.