Starting a music career with big, irrepressible ideas and goals can be a great thing for an unestablished musician. On the other hand, sustaining a serious career in music is a massive challenge for many. It’s important for musicians to understand their dreams in a healthy and positive way when things get tough. As you progress in your music career, it’s crucial to break down big hopes and dreams into small, actionable goals. A dream of yours might be to get signed by your favorite label, but what exactly does that mean? Are you looking for a partner to help you promote and sell your music? Or are you more interested in teaming up with a producer to help your work stand out?
Creating short-term goals will help give you attainable targets to shoot for and clarity on where you are in your career and where you want to go. If you’re unsure which short-term goals to shoot for in music, here are a few realistic ones to consider:
Selling out a small local venue
If you’ve got a release you’re trying to promote, a realistic short-term goal is to sell out a local venue. Obsessing over streaming and social media follower counts can be distracting for your music. However, focusing on getting your fans to come out and see you is a different story. When burgeoning bands begin to play big local shows, new listeners as well as local tastemakers begin to take notice. If your music already has momentum, some dedicated planning and promotion can help turn your local shows into exciting events your fans and local press will want to be a part of.
Landing a sync placement
For most artists, sync placements don’t pack the career-changing punch they did ten or even five years ago. Yet, they can still bring exposure to your music and money to your wallet. Teaming up with a boutique music placement agency or reaching out to sync agents directly is a good way to do this. There is also a growing number of large micro-licensing platforms to consider. However, the money you’ll earn from those is considerably less than what you’d make from a conventional music placement. This is a short-term goal, but it’s not easy. If you want the best chance at landing a sync placement as an independent artist, you’ll need to do plenty of work and research to make it happen.
Get local radio play or press coverage
Local radio shows, music columns, and playlists are prime short-term goal targets for unestablished musicians. These platforms exist to give attention to the music that’s being made locally. Not only that, but they can also bring your work to new listeners. The results you’ll get from being played or covered locally probably won’t be huge. What’s important is that you’re gaining local momentum for accessing new and important opportunities.
Promoting, planning, and pitching isn’t exciting for most musicians, but there are actions that could bring meaningful attention to your music. By focusing on short-term goals like these, you’ll give your career and music the best chance at being heard.
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.