057 – How Important Are Boundaries in Building a Music Career?

by | Aug 22, 2017 | Podcast

People often talk about setting boundaries.

And while boundaries can be important in certain situations, they don’t always work. Sometimes others end up violating them, and sometimes we put ourselves in situations where they have the chance to be crossed, intentional or not.

So, we need to ask ourselves: Are boundaries important? Do they exist? What situations should they apply to, and in what situations do they do more harm than good?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share some thoughts on boundaries based on my own life experiences.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Why this podcast episode will be a bit different
  • 00:48 – How I’ve been spending my time this past week
  • 02:27 – How important are boundaries?
  • 02:57 – Boundaries and client relationships
  • 06:36 – How boundaries apply to musicians
  • 07:13 – Setting boundaries with difficult people
  • 08:48 – Setting boundaries with people you love hanging out with
  • 11:35 – Life happens whether you want it to or not
  • 12:38 – Final thoughts


Hey, thanks for joining me. This is going to be a little bit of a different podcast. I’m not at home, so first of all, I am not recording in front of a broadcast quality microphone. Second of all, it’s going to be a little bit of a different topic that I might not normally choose to cover on the show, even though you’ve probably noticed, I cover everything from like personal development and finances all the way over to various music marketing tactics and methods and so forth.

Today, I wanted to cover this issue of boundaries. Now, first of all I just wanted to let you know I am on the road right now. I am headed over to Chase, BC where I am staying in British Columbia. It’s a beautiful place. I just came out here to spend some time to recharge, and recover, reflect, think things over.

I haven’t really taken much time for myself in the last six years or so. I do believe I had a little bit of work vacation back in 2011 followed by a fairly brief true vacation where I took a little bit of time to rest and enjoy myself in Canmore and Red Deer.

I was going to be in Canmore again this year. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out because everything was booked up. That’s just following a theme with things that have happened this summer because I also got away from the long weakened with a friend. We headed out to Cranbrook. Now, we may have chosen to stay in Radium instead but the issue was that everything was booked up.

Anyway, that’s just a little bit about some of the adventures I’ve been on this month specifically. If you’ve been following my updates and everything else, you already know that I’ve done quite a bit of this this summer.

It’s just really important for me to do this, to take some time to recharge because not everything has gone according to plan, which is somewhat normal in life, and we have to roll with the punches a lot of the time.

So, getting back to this topic of boundaries, I think first of all we have to consider how important they are. To be perfectly honest, I don’t believe they apply to every single situation. Now, a lot of people talk about boundaries and setting boundaries. I think there are certain situations where they totally apply, but there are also other situations where they sort of get in the way and don’t serve you. That’s what I want to get in to.

I think boundaries are specifically important when it comes to client relationships. Now, as a musician you may not have clients, but as an entrepreneur you may. But in my situation, I still have other work outside of The Music Entrepreneur HQ, so I do serve clients in different capacities, whether it’s ghost blog writing or developing websites.

In some situations, I’ve either had to say “Look, I’m going to be a day late on this. I’m still finishing it. It’s still going to be important for me to do that. I’m going to get around to it right away. I hope you’re okay with me taking a little bit of extra time to put this together for you.” That hasn’t ever gone badly for me. Generally, if you’re a day late, people don’t care that much.

I am a person of integrity and I believe in getting things done on time if not before. But some situations have just led to a point where either I was not able to complete the work on time or the email somehow got missed.

Or, I just don’t really feel like it. Honestly, I haven’t felt a whole lot like just sitting on a desk in a basement. It actually doesn’t seem to matter whether it’s in a basement or in a hotel room. I haven’t had a whole lot of desire to just sit out at a desk and plug away at things. I think it’s been important for me to find that motivation, but also take some time away from doing that.

I’ve also had to set some boundaries with other clients. Those have been a little more [of a] difficult situation. Not like the ones I just mentioned where there is a day or two of a delay, but sort of letting them know like, “Hey, I am doing the best I can. I just don’t seem to have the focus and energy I need to do this right now. Plus, like I just told you I am away right now. I actually plan to be away for a full week even though it is technically a work vacation. I’m getting some work done, just not necessarily a lot.” I had to say “I’m sorry. I will have an update for you this week, but I’m not going to be able to get to your project right away or necessarily be able to finish all of it.”

Fortunately, people have been understanding. In some cases, they’ve come back and said, “I have a timeline in mind. I guess I should’ve communicated that.” I mean, normally it doesn’t come to that point with me. Normally, I finish things way ahead of schedule before anybody even asks “Hey, is it done yet?” So, it’s been a little bit challenging for me to let go and sort of let things sort themselves out. But I don’t think I’ve lost any business as a result. I’ve just had to sort of bite the bullet and say, “I’m sorry, it’s going to take a little bit longer for me to do it. Your project is important to me. I haven’t forgotten you, but please just be patient with me.” That has worked out okay.

Obviously, I don’t want to wreck those relationships, because clients are important to me and the work that I do is important to me. But I still had to set some boundaries that way. It’s much easier for you to be in the moment or like if you’re going to get away like I am right now, you don’t really want to be contacted constantly about the work that you have to do, so setting those boundaries can be really important in those situations.

As a musician, it might just be some of the gigs that you’re playing at bars, and pubs, and agreements that you have with the venues. Making sure that you’re doing what they require you to do and they follow through on their commitments to you.

It’s important to have those expectations laid out whenever you are signing a contract or organizing some kind of show. Having a contract has become even more important these days I find because there are so many venue owners out there that just don’t get it and don’t follow through on their agreements.

Okay. So, there is a couple of extremes with boundaries that I’ve noticed. I used to have the “roommate from hell”. I absolutely hated living with him. It was really one of the worst experiences I’ve had with roommates. I’ve had magnificent and wonderful roommates aside from this one dude who shall go unnamed.

But I had to set some boundaries in terms of choosing not to communicate with him anymore, not speaking with him. It’s not like I don’t forgive. I forgive people, but I don’t forget what they’ve done either. Depending on the severity of that and the trouble it caused me or the pain it caused me, I don’t necessarily have to let those people back into my life. I mean who am I, right? Why would I want to torture myself with the same problem, the same issues over and over again?

And we do this to ourselves. It’s a form of insanity. It’s a form of not feeling like we deserve better. We just keep putting ourselves in situations to be hurt by others because we can’t see ourselves deserving better than that. I think that’s a situation where you absolutely need some kind of boundary. This kind of stuff, believe me, will come up. If it hasn’t come up in your life yet, at some point it will. You just got to say “no” and start to move away from those people.

Okay. On the other opposite extreme, we have people that we absolutely love being around. I’ve heard Steven Paige talk about the fact that – I can’t remember the other singer’s name from Barenaked Ladies right now [Ed Robertson], but he absolutely loved hanging around with him. He simply could not get enough of that.

And so, we run into that in life. It could be a significant other. It could be someone with whom we’re infatuated, or somebody that we like or it might not be… It actually might just be a friend or someone who is a best friend.

You have to ask yourself how realistic it is to have boundaries in that situation. This is going to sound really odd, but I’ve found boundaries don’t really work because your desire to hang out with them isn’t going to diminish just because you say, “Oh well, I don’t think it’s right for us to spend this much time together.” It’s not going to work. You’re just going to find yourself back in the same situation wanting to hang out with them.

It could almost become torturous at some point. You realize you might kind of be addicted to this person and that can be problematic in the sense of… if that turns into some kind of codependency, then you’re both getting something from each other, and that can become very unhealthy.

That’s something to be aware of, but if you find that you’re not codependent but you’re nevertheless addicted to this person and you want to be around them and want to hang out with them all the time, I honestly say boundaries be damned. Forgive my language. I think you almost just need to get it out of your system.

Like you need to hang out with them enough until you get to that point where it’s like, breathe a sigh of relief and go, “Oh, okay. I think I have it out of my system now. I think I can sort of begin to get on with my life.”

Because the problem with not doing that could be that you’re only thinking about that other person while you’re supposed to be engaging in your work or in your gigs or whatever you have going on in your life. And that’s problematic, right.?

If you’re only thinking about that other person, they are not really out of your system, are they? You’re still constantly thinking about them. That’s why I say boundaries don’t really work in that type of situation. Should you set boundaries in that situation? I’m going to leave that question for you to answer and maybe you can tell me from your own wisdom and experience what you think.

But like I said, these situations will come up in your life whether you want them to or not. You have to decide in those moments. Trust me, it will be a lot harder in a moment to make that decision than it will be premeditated or after the fact.

Because you can look back in the situation and go, “I really should have done something about that.” You can think of future events, “Oh well, I wouldn’t ever find myself in that situation.” But you’re going to. Weird things come up in life. Situations come up and you don’t necessarily know how to deal with them in the moment.

Even though personally, I spent a lot of time on personal growth, self-help, all kinds of material so that when those challenges arise, I am at least somewhat prepared or have some kind of interpretation and knowledge that I can work with. I think that’s a good thing for all of us to do, but it can still be very confusing and very difficult field to navigate.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this episode as well as how you set boundaries or how you don’t. How you just say, “boundaries be damned” and move on with your life regardless of whether you set them.

Upgrade to Members Only Audios for more exciting, exclusive training.