Sometimes, you just want things to be easy. You get a little tired of the constant hustle and you find yourself wondering why it’s not enough to simply make good music. I hear you. It can feel like an uphill battle. But one thing I’ve learned after a decade in the music industry is that if you’re taking the right steps, it starts to feel a lot less like a slog and a lot more like progress.
You see, the mistake a lot of us are making isn’t that we’re not doing enough—it’s that we’re doing too much of the wrong thing. We’re trying a bunch of different things for short bursts of time instead of focusing our attention on just a few things at a time and creating reliable, consistent action. So it’s no wonder that most of us are burning out and spinning our wheels.
But I know you’re in this for the long haul and I know you want to create impact and make waves with your music. So, we’ve put together a simple way for you to begin to take action on your goals and supercharge your career.
Create concrete, measurable goals
The first step to any successful endeavour is to have concrete, measurable goals. I see a lot of artists creating goals that are well-intentioned but completely arbitrary. For instance:
I want to sign to a label.
I’d like to support myself off music.
I just want to play music.
I want to play festivals.
On the surface, these feel like good goals, and they’re a good start! But, if you look at them, you’ll notice they’re lacking any real definition. For instance, you want to sign to a label. Ok what label? When do you hope to sign (“ASAP” is not a realistic answer unless you’re already pretty successful). What steps have you taken to make sure that label would be interested in you?
Or, you want to support yourself off music. What does that mean to you? Is that 30k/year living with roommates but getting to play music full time? Or is that 100k taking care of your family and never having to go into an office again? What would you need to make each month for that to happen, and how can you create various revenue streams to reach that?
Being able to create goals that are not only incredibly transparent, but are measurable and have a plan of action behind them, is the difference between reaching them or not.
Set aside time every day
This simple hack has been a game changer for me. We lead such busy lives that it’s easy to push things aside, make excuses, or just flat out forget what we’re doing on a day to day basis, but making time each and every day to work towards your goals is essential for any artist wanting to make this their life’s career.
Beyond the obvious (that you get more done), the benefit of this is in the consistency and the effect that has on your mindset and motivation. When you make time for the things you want every single day, it signals a shift in your mindset that tells you “this isn’t just a dream—this is actually important” and it means that everything else you’re doing—from the way you prioritize your time to the decisions you make and the opportunities you accept—are all a part of working towards that dream.
Trust me, this one will boggle even the most skeptical of minds.
Create relationships built on trust
You hear a lot of talk about building relationships, and for good reason. This is one of the most important things you can do for your career. But we don’t talk enough about what that looks like. Building relationships is not meant to be something you do for short term gain, and when you’re talking about supercharging your career, knowing how to build relationships in an organic way that’s meant for the long term is incredibly important.
For instance, it’s not about connecting with someone just because you see what they can do for you right now. It’s about getting to know your community, the other artists, and entrepreneurs in it. Having conversations that have nothing to do with music, and connecting regularly, even and especially when you have nothing to ask of them. It’s about creating solid friendships and foundations. That’s where you see the real results. It isn’t in the person you connected with and immediately asked for a favor—it’s in the person you’ve been getting to know for 6 months just because, and now it turns out they have a connection at the festival you want to play and can get you an introduction. Or the band you’ve been supporting for a year that just signed to a label and wants to take you on tour with them. It’s those long term relationships that move the needle the most.
Always be learning
A lot of us can be somewhat stubborn when it comes to learning. We think we know all there is to know, that we’ve tried all there is to try, and that if something isn’t working it’s because the game is rigged. I hate to break it to you, but the game isn’t rigged—your strategy is just off.
The difference between you and that super successful artist you’re snubbing is that they followed the steps, took consistent, daily action towards their dreams, and never stopped learning. That’s it. That’s the secret sauce. The people who succeed in this world, are the ones who never turn their nose up at learning.
They don’t think they know it all
They don’t think they’ve tried it all
And they don’t think the world is out to get them—they know that if they stay consistent, enlist the help of mentors, other artists, people who have gone before them—and use that as fuel and knowledge to build their own career, that they’ll get exactly where they want to be.
Know this is a marathon, not a sprint
Last but certainly not least, remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. There is no such thing as an overnight success. You will have to work hard, and push forward, and fight those insecurities and doubts, but know that all of that is perfectly normal, and as long as you keep pushing forward, you will get there.
I truly believe that.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.