Every year we ring in the New Year with a laundry list of well-intentioned promises to ourselves. We’ll finally start practicing with consistency. Get enough sleep. Make those connections. Do the things we’ve been avoiding doing. We put all this pressure on ourselves to suddenly be a wildly new and improved version of ourselves. And usually, a lot of that falls into our music career. We put the lion’s share of our goals into how we can do better with our careers. And that’s not a bad thing. After all, there’s something really inspiring about the start of a new year, filled with new opportunities. It can be the fresh new start that we need to finally take action on things we’ve been ignoring.
But, you have to be smart about it, because otherwise, it can be really easy to just pile on 25 things you want to improve, to the point you end up completely overwhelming yourself and stopping before you ever get started.
That’s why we wanted to put together a few suggestions for those of you that will be tackling the classic “New Year New You” agenda this January. If we’re going to do this, let’s make it count. And congratulations by the way, because most people are content to stay the same and keep trying the same things that aren’t working. You’re already a step ahead!
Start with the big picture—what do you really want?
This sounds like an easy one. but it’s where a lot of artists first trip up. If you’re going to accomplish all those goals you’ve set forth for yourself, you have to know where you’re going. It’s easy to say “I want to make my music a full-time career” or “I want to sign to a label” but if you’re going to hit concrete goals you need to have a more concrete vision.
So first, think about the feeling behind what you want. Like, why do you want to sign to a label? What would that mean? What would that afford you? Is it really about the label or is it about having a team? Is it really about signing or is it about feeling safe to make music full time?
Figuring out why you want the things you want helps you to determine if it really is what you want—and if there’s a faster way to get there. For instance, you may say you want to sign to a label but realize what you really want is just the security to make a decent living at music. Signing to a label is not only an arduous task but it doesn’t guarantee you will make music full time. So if what you really want is to make music full time, there might be a different, faster path to getting there. Or, if it really is about the label, then start researching which labels you’re most interested in so you can get a feel for the kind of artists they sign, at what stage they signed them, and what you need to do to get their attention.
Whatever your goals, truly understanding the why behind them is going to help you expedite things.
Break it down into quarterly milestones
If we’re starting the year fresh, then let’s set goals that we can check in on to either make sure we’re on track or adjust as needed. Set milestones each quarter (End of March, June, September, and December) that get you closer to your larger goal.
Using the label example again, if you decide you really want to sign to a label you might make Q1s goal to thoroughly research labels and pin down your top 5 choices & get a sense of what has inspired them to sign artists in the past. Your Q2 goal might then be to accomplish one of those things that got their attention (for example building a larger social media following, gaining a set number of streams, etc)
When the end of each quarter rolls around, check-in with the progress of your goals. It’s ok if you don’t hit them—but this will help keep you accountable and you can always adjust as you go. It keeps you on track, no matter your progress,
What do you really need to focus on?
An important thing to ask yourself as you’re setting your quarterly goals but also in the day-to-day is “will this task help me get closer to my goal?” It’s so easy to get overwhelmed thinking about all the things we think we need to do (or that feel more urgent) that the rest falls by the wayside. For instance, how many times have you sat down to do something like book a tour or reach out to press, only to get swept up in feeling like you have to post to social media or answer 100 emails or re-write your bio for the 100th time? But will those things really help you or are you just operating from a place of anxiety?
It’s easy to lose sight of the big picture when the day-to-day feels so in your face.
So, figure out what you really need to focus on in order to move you closer to that larger goal. And then, make a plan for how you’ll get there
I suggest setting up a weekly schedule at the start of each week, so you know exactly what to do each day to move you closer to your goal. This will help keep you from getting distracted or overwhelmed and instead, keep you focused and working with intention.
Outsource where you can
When you’re first starting out, it’s totally ok to get scrappy and try to DIY the bulk of your music career yourself. In fact, as a publicist, I always love it when artists come to me having run their own campaign before. But eventually, as you look towards growing, you will have to hire a team. This might include a manager, publicist, marketing, booking agent—it just depends on where you’re at and what directly serves the goal you’re trying to achieve.
But don’t skip this step. It’s one thing to be scrappy in your first year or two, it’s another to be 5 years in, still trying to do everything yourself, and wondering why there’s no progress.
Budget for the team you need to employ to reach your goals, and then create a plan for how you’ll do that. (see the theme here? Anything is attainable if you have a plan and consistency)
Go easy on yourself
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things will change. You will hit certain milestones and miss others. It happens—it’s not the end of the world. Just continue to ask yourself why you may not have met a certain goal and what you can do to fix that in the future. Then adjust and keep moving forward. The worst thing you can do is get discouraged or give up. Believe me when I say we all have missteps. The difference between those who find success and those who struggle is continuing to get back up and keep trying different things until you find what works.
2022 is your year. Let’s do this.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves ice cream, reality TV, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.