music career goals

Setting (and achieving) your music career goals for 2021

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Get 2021 started right by adjusting your music career goals and plans to make the most of the continued lockdown. Use this list to get the ideas flowing and help you decide where to put your time and energy.

We made it to 2021, and now is the perfect time to set your goals and plan for the year. While vaccines are on the horizon, it will be months before the US is inoculated, and many areas of the world will still be in various stages of lockdown as the year progresses. The Coronavirus will continue to affect live venues, practice spaces, studios, and other music businesses. It also will continue to affect music audiences and your overall revenue.

So now is the time to think through what you want to achieve in the new year, adapt to the realities of the pandemic, and tap new revenue streams. To help, we’ve come up with a few suggestions to consider where to put your time and energy in music.

This year, our advice centers on creating new music and online content, making sure your online presences and royalty registrations are up-to-date and in sync, and trying to create revenue streams (and entertain and build your audience) from the safety of your own home.

Make more music

Many musicians are using the lockdown as time to write and record new music. Even major artists are doing this, including Taylor Shift and Paul McCartney, and since the beginning of the year is liable to be a continuation of the past eight months, use this time to create new music so when we emerge from the pandemic, you can release singles, EPs, or an entire album (or two).

Review your royalty registrations and update your songs and sound recordings

Use this time to give your song and sound recording registrations a tune-up. Review all the tracks you’ve released and ensure everything is registered with your PRO and publisher. Every time your music is broadcasted, performed, streamed, or covered by another artist, a fee for its use is generated. The only way to get these royalties is by signing up with organizations or services who can identify your music, track how many times it’s played, collect the royalties, and send you a check. If you don’t sign up with these organizations, you won’t get a cut of the income they’re collecting. You need to participate to get paid.

There are actually quite few different organizations to sign up with, such as a performance royalty organization like ASCAP, BMI, SEASAC; a sound recording performance organization (SoundExchange); and others. Another option is to sign up to a service like CD Baby Pro Publishing, which works to capture all your royalties across multiple organizations and countries.

For more details on your rights and what you can earn from your music, check out our detailed two-part Disc Makers Blog series, “Collect everything your recorded music can earn,” Part I and Part II.

Play online shows

To continue to play live and pull in some money, musicians of all stripes have turned to technology services that help connect people remotely (many of which are free) for their online performances. If you play live, this is one area to focus on.

Making Money With MusicTo help, we wrote a series of articles worth reviewing so you can plan to play more online shows. First, there are 10 techniques you can use to make the most out of your online shows — learn about them in “Maximizing your revenue when streaming live shows” and “Maximizing your revenue when streaming: Part II.” We also wrote a series of deeper dives on key aspects of live streaming, including “How to produce a compelling live stream show,” “Easy fixes to improve the lighting in your videos,” and “Improving the audio in your streaming broadcasts and videos.”

Create more/new merch to sell online

Merch is one of the best and most reliable income sources for musicians, so it pays to have a strategy. And, if you do it right, merch works with your streaming shows. To make your merch plans for 2021, take a look at our free Disc Makers guide, How To Make More Money With Music, and check out the Merch Strategy section. (You can also watch the video.) Come up with at least one merch item for your minnows, dolphins, and whales (the guide will make sense of that), because merch can go well beyond t-shirts, posters, and caps. There are a ton of possibilities and the guide has many categories of new merch concepts you might want to try in 2021.

Tune up your social media profiles (so you can make money)

Now is a good time to review and tune-up all your social media. Make sure all the platforms you use are aligned to your persona, consistent with one another, and have the appropriate contact info and links to your website. And while social media is a tried-and-true publicity method to get new fans, you can also set them up to make money, even from your very first follower. Read “How to make money off your social media channels (no matter how many followers you have),” because these techniques can be effective even if you’re just starting out. Why not choose one idea and start turning these platforms into revenue generators this year?

Plan your marketing (focus online)

Determine how you’ll market yourself this year in light of the continual lockdown. Our book, Making Money With Music, goes into great detail about developing a marketing plan, and you can try any of these “Seven effective strategies to get your music noticed” in 2021, which can be extremely powerful with the right bit of creativity.

Target at least one new place to get your music heard

Each year, we push musicians to try to get their music heard in at least one new place, and this upcoming year is no exception. For example, this year, you might want to try getting your music on a podcast or any one of the numerous streaming music stations on the web. There are entire universes online hungry for new music to play, and sometimes, all it takes is a simple email and an MP3 file of your song.

— — —

You certainly don’t have to do everything we suggest on this list, but know that each one is achievable and well within your reach (the related articles will give you practical info to get started). With a little bit of goal-setting and planning this month, you can prepare for success in 2021 and what we all hope will be the last months of the global pandemic. Putting in the time now will go far towards creating, distributing, promoting, and generating revenue from your music during these difficult times and beyond.

Also, keep in mind that you’re not alone: we’re here every step of the way, with our articles here on the Disc Makers Blog and our free Making Money With Music newsletter.

Here’s to a Happy New Year and a much brighter 2021!

How to 
Make More Money With Music, the Complete Guide

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Collect everything your recorded music can earn: Pt. I

One thought on “Setting (and achieving) your music career goals for 2021

  1. Thank you guys for so much great advice. I do plan to purchase from you. First I have to get prepared.

    Thanks again.

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