Goals have always been important in music, but they’re more important than ever in today’s complicated music industry. Lots of musicians start bands because they want to express themselves through music, and that is and always should be the driving force behind why a band makes music. But if the goals stop there, your band probably won’t be able to accomplish much.
Goals help bands define what they really want
Your band probably gets a lot of fulfillment out of playing together, but what else do you want? Some bands want to spend the majority of their time touring while others are perfectly fine writing and releasing music without ever playing shows. Starting a conversation about setting goals is important because it can help your band decide what it is you want and where you want to go.
These goals don’t have to be big. If you’re just starting out, the goals your band sets for itself should be small: book a weekend tour, release three songs this summer, bring 30 people out to a show, etc. As you grow in experience and notoriety, let your goals expand with you.
Get everyone in your band on the same page with common goals
Unless you’re in a band of robots––please send me some of your music if you are––then the musicians you play with are each going to be completely different people. This means that you might have a vision for where you want your band to go that your bandmates don’t agree with. Talking about and setting goals is huge for bands because it forces them to set aside differences, make tough decisions, and get on the same page. The thing is that you’ll end up talking about your goals eventually whether it’s through disagreements and issues that need to be addressed last minute or through constructive conversations beforehand. Not everyone in your band will always agree on your goals, but agreement isn’t the point. The idea here is to get to the bottom of who your band is, what the members in it want, and what can be realistically achieved.
Big goals for your music are vital
It’s a good idea for new bands to start with bite-sized goals that they can easily mark off their list, but eventually there comes a time when a band needs to set difficult and seemingly unattainable goals for themselves. Without big things to work towards, your band runs the risk of fizzling out. Big goals don’t have to be superficial or based on money either. To form these sorts of goals, you might have to suspend the belief of your own reality for a minute and work from there. What could you achieve with your music if anything was possible? It takes a lot of bravery even to ask that question. Your band might never get to where you want to go, but that’s okay because you and your music will be better off for trying.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician, and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.