By Cari Cole
Within every music artist is a path to prosperity, success and achievement. But will it be realized? One third of the equation is staying power, one third is having the foresight and decision making savvy to get there and one third is knowing where you and your music fit and carving a strategy for that (and ignoring everything that doesn’t fit into it).
It’s such a huge game to be played. And the last thing you want to do is be in the river without a paddle or up the mountain without a map.
“The music business is not a good place for people that don’t know things” says Mary J. Blige.
Nothing is more true.
It’s a complex business and it’s easy to make mistakes that will take years off of your climb.
I see it all the time, and wish I could’ve saved it from happening, especially when I have the tools and know-how to do so.
An artist came to me just the other day telling me a story of getting signed by a label that was totally into them artistically, only to hold all of their material back from release and keep them captive for 2 years. That’s 2 years out of their artistic lives they could have been releasing material and growing their fan base. In the life of an artist, that’s a LOT of time to lose. Now they are in a “custody” battle over their music. Sigh.
Having a successful career is not just luck. It’s having the foresight and wisdom to know if the decisions you’re making are the right ones. It’s not grabbing the dangling carrot without thorough examination. And then even when you do examine, you never know how exactly it’s going to turn out. At some point you have to take those chances too. But I have found over time, that the thorough examination saves time and avoidable mistakes, and lots of them.
Here is my 10 Steps to Grow Your Music Business Strategy Right Now.
I hope it helps you make better decisions for your career and not lose any time that you don’t absolutely have to!
1. Envision your path. Start by examining where you are and where you want to be.
The first step in any strategy, is to look at where you are and where you want to be, and to start to outline the path to get there. What is your path? Folk Fest? Songwriting? (Bruno Mars, Sia etc.), Touring? House concerts? Licensing? Read a lot of Wikipedia’s and stories of how artists made it. Envision your path.
2. Outline a strategy of next steps to get there.
Here’s where lots of folks get stuck. What are my next steps?
If you’ve got music out in the marketplace it may be to build your Inner Circle, go to music conferences where you can meet industry face-to-face, or work with a mentor who can help you build your strategy. Or maybe it’s time for a new record?
If you’ve been on tour for awhile, maybe it’s time to stay put and grow your connections and music industry know-how. Maybe you’re missing some licensing opportunities and need to grow your catalog?
If you’re just coming out with a new record, maybe it’s time to study promotion and marketing and get ahead of the curve with your next release? Maybe it’s time to hire a marketing company to help you grow your brand?
3. Write out the next 3 months of to do’s.
Having a list of your next 3 months is vital to any business, especially for artists. In my private consults, we focus on strategically building out 1 year ahead, and then focus in 3 month intervals. Keep a list of everything you can think of that needs to be done and then….
4. Put them in your calendar.
In my Artist Success Circle Mastermind and my Fast Forward Program & Blueprint where we dive into the strategies and career building actions to grow your music and connections, I help artists get more of an action plan and “live” the calendar. That means tasking to do’s right in your calendar instead of it living on a to do list somewhere #growfaster. You can also build out a project management software like Asana where you can see everything laid out and set reminders (recommended).
5. Include what you know you need to do but are afraid of.
What one bold thing can you do if you were brave enough? Then do it.
6. Prioritize what’s best for you and your music.
This is a HUGE one. You can’t do everything ~ it’s virtually impossible. Every time a new trend starts up, everyone adds that to their task list and pretty soon no one can keep up. It’s important to pay attention to trends that are happening, but not to move towards that trend if it’s not in your wheelhouse or not right for your music. Smart artists prioritize the most important direction for their music and their resources.
7. Write down a list of everyone you know who can help you.
Everyone needs help. Write a list of people who are helpful to you, everyone you can remotely think of. This is your list for when you really need help. Reach out.
8. Write down a list of everyone you know (or don’t know but want to) in the music industry.
This is an important list. Start with the people you know in the industry. Then add on people you would like to know. It’s okay to dream big, but start with people you’d like to know who are reachable. And if you’re not in a networking group, get in one ;). There are plenty of Facebook groups and actually groups like Women in Music (guys can join too) to be a part of.
When you get an offer from anyone in the industry, do your research. Research the person or company thoroughly. What’s the word on the street about them? Who knows them? Who has worked with them? Reach out and ask your musician friends or in FB music groups for opinions. Filter responses. Not everyone is qualified of a valid opinion.
9. Invest in yourself. Get help. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel.
Take a course, get a mentor. Learn from others who have gone before. It will get you there waaaaaay faster.
10. Create an Inner Circle of people whose opinions you trust.
Consult them on major career decisions and on your music. Set up a private Soundcloud to share with them. Listen to the feedback. Always filter it, but listen. If everyone is saying the same thing – LISTEN.
If you tend to procrastinate: don’t pile on a lot of tasks. Simplify. One task per week or per month. Overload is the fastest path to overwhelm. You also might be someone who needs accountability or help. Get an intern who is good at organizing and keeping you focused and inspired! Also try yoga and meditation to keep your spirits high.
One step at a time, one day at a time, one foot in front of the other. You CAN DO THIS.