If you’re the kind of musician that just wants to make music and do nothing else, it’s a sign your heart is in the right place. You’re going to need a huge amount of passion and grit if you want to connect with an audience in an industry as brutal and competitive as music. Unfortunately, passion alone isn’t going to be enough if you want an actual shot at making this your career or even simply creating music long enough to find an audience. Creating goals big and small, short and long-term, is something every serious musician needs to do to succeed.
Ditch your vague ambitions and create detailed goals and plans
The more detailed your goals are, the better. Goals transform your vague ambitions into specific plans, strategies, benchmarks, and accomplishments. Loving music is absolutely essential to thrive and succeed as a songwriter or performer, but simply wanting to “make it” in music is too big and unclear of a goal to work towards. What does making it actually mean to you? Is it making a living only through music? Being signed to a specific label? Touring a couple months out of the year and headlining your favorite venue at home? Every music-maker is unique and has a different personal definition of what it means to be successful in music. This is why the first step of creating goals for your music career is nailing down what success specifically means to you.
From there, it’s about making short-term goals and plans that are designed to serve your larger music career ambitions. This can be anything from planning a deadline for writing an album to touring specific places in hopes of attracting label and industry attention. If you’re just starting out, your goals might be geared around booking shows in your local scene and putting out your first release. Remember that the act of creating detailed goals takes the type of planning and logistical work that might not come naturally to you if you’re a musician that thinks about melodies and chord progressions all day. But if you put in this sort of work, it will pay off in huge, career-changing ways. Think big, but make small, attainable plans and goals that can be reached weekly and monthly. Eventually completing smaller goals creates the sort of momentum that can make a huge difference in your career.
There are countless opportunities out there whether it’s your local venue searching for an opener for a big national headliner or a music supervisor wanting to match a scene in a show with the perfect song. Opportunities like these will not fall into your lap, and more business savvy and motivated musicians will get to them first if you don’t, even if their music isn’t as good. Artists that have loads of passion and great music who are smart and thorough enough to make detailed career goals are usually the ones creating hype in their local scenes and getting access to the kind of opportunities that aren’t just given to every band.