How to Decide What to Work on as a Musician

How to Decide What to Work on as a Musician

How do you decide what to work on?

It’s been my experience that artists generally fly by the seat of their pants.

Sure, we prioritize to lesser or greater extents, but most of the time, we just do what we’re excited about. To-do lists be damned. Let inspiration lead the way.

And this is a good thing. You should spend time doing what gets you fired up. Otherwise, everything has a way of becoming a means to an end. And what kind of life is that?

But we also need to look closely at the things we’re dreading. Oftentimes, the reason we’re avoiding certain tasks – like making calls, booking shows, or networking – is because they’re just a little outside of our comfort zone. It’s not that any of these tasks will ultimately take a Herculean effort. You can make a phone call in what, five minutes? But these tasks can be confronting.

What I’ve discovered on my own path is that the results generally aren’t forthcoming when I stay in my comfort zone. It’s in the activity that’s just a little outside what I would consider comfortable that good things happen. And miracles can literally happen in a moment if I just do what I know to do but haven’t done yet.

So, make an honest assessment of what you’re working on, and whether it’s going to get you the results you’re looking for. At times, we all need to engage in activity we don’t really want to do to get to the next level. If progress is important to you, don’t step over this. You don’t need to spend all your time in your discomfort zone. But if you’re stuck in your career, consider that you haven’t been in that zone for a while.

For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.

Getting the Right Stuff Done in Your Music Career

Getting the Right Stuff Done in Your Music Career

Some artists over-plan. But I would contend that the vast majority of artists under-plan.

And what happens when we under-plan is that we get drawn into a flurry of urgent activity that may well be important, but probably won’t cause the results or breakthroughs we’re looking for in our music careers.

No matter who you are, you’re going to have fires to put out. But if you don’t set aside as least 60 to 120 minutes per day for your core activities, you’re not going to be as effective as you could be.

The reason you have access to this resource now is because I set aside time to work on it first thing in the morning. Depending on the day, I checked Slack, or sent off an invoice, or answered a couple of emails before getting started. But the number one thing I saw to do was get this work done, even if it wasn’t perfect. I prioritized it.

If you treat your work like professionals approach theirs, and you show up to practice daily, you’re going to get to a point in your music career where you can do most things in your sleep.

It’s honestly one of the reasons I took a bit of a break from music in the mid-2010s – I was getting so good at it; it wasn’t presenting much of a challenge for me!

My point is that you can really let go of perfectionism at that point. I would urge you to. Free and clear of that burden, you’re going to start getting your life work done instead of worrying about that guitar track with too much finger noise. Unless it’s grating to the ear, no big deal! That’s real guitar playing!

J-Rock band B’z recently released their music on streaming services (which came as a surprise to me and my sister, who’ve been keeping a close watch on this development). Just for reference, they are one of the best-selling artists in the world and have 49 consecutive No. 1 singles to their name.

Recently, I’ve been going back and listening to their catalog (starting at the beginning), and it’s been quite instructive for me.

What I’ve been seeing is that, in their early days, they released two albums per year! They were incredibly prolific and relied heavily on drawing from music that already had a proven track record (Hall & Oates, Jimi Hendrix, Dan Reed Network, Aerosmith, Van Halen, etc.). They weren’t afraid to recycle their own chord progressions and ideas either. I’m not saying there was no quality control – what I am saying is they did everything in their power to ensure they were landing those hits!

Despite their immense success, the members of B’z have never taken extended breaks since their inception in 1988. They keep blazing a trail, and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

How you prioritize today will be how you prioritize the next 30 years. Don’t wait to get started on your life work. Get to work today and keep moving forward. Let go of perfectionism, because 30 years from now you will have added that precious polish to your performance.

For a proven, step-by-step framework in cracking the code to independent music career success, and additional in-depth insights into making your passion sustainable and profitable, be sure to pick up my best-selling guide, The Music Entrepreneur Code.

Tee Yourself Up

Tee Yourself Up

Every day, you can tee yourself up for your next accomplishment.

Even if it’s as something as simple as writing a blog post…

If you took the time to plan and outline your work the night before, you’d be able to tee yourself up for success in the day that follows.

You can tackle any area of life, be it work, fitness, relationships, or otherwise.

The tough part is not the preparation required to tee yourself up. Oftentimes, this can be done in 30 minutes or less.

The tough part is in having an expanded view of your work. Not seeing everything as a means to an end, but as a connected whole. Looking ahead in your schedule and considering what’s important to you. Prioritizing.

Every day, there are opportunities to tee yourself up for the next.

Putting Yourself First

Putting Yourself First

Many opportunities will come your way.

But saying “yes” to everything isn’t a strategy, and it isn’t likely to work out over the long haul.

Somehow, someway, you’ve got to remember to put yourself first.

If you don’t, you could burn out. And you aren’t much good to yourself or anyone else if you burn out.

Your health and wellbeing are a macro consideration because they affect everything.

Many things people consider “macro” aren’t, whether it’s traveling, taking a new job, entering a relationship, or buying a house.

These opportunities need to fit within your ecosystem. If they don’t, they will take away from it. That makes them “micro” considerations.

So long as your heart is beating, there will always be more opportunities.

I don’t know how we’ve gotten away from this, but we have. We are putting other people and other priorities above our own wellbeing. And we are suffering the consequences.

What’s workable is putting yourself first – ensuring that you’re ready for opportunities that come your way and having enough space in your life to say “yes” to the ones that fire you up.

You Don’t Have to do Everything

You Don’t Have to do Everything

That’s what I’m realizing.

And I’m also starting to get a better sense of things I want to do and things I don’t want to be so involved in. Some of this surprised me. Just today I realized I may not want to be the one doing interviews on my podcast.

But that doesn’t mean I plan to stop podcasting. It means there are shoes to fill. I would love to collaborate with a sharp interviewer on future episodes.

I can now see I didn’t have much access or a perspective on this (and other matters) before, and I’m not sure I would if 1) I hadn’t taken a break earlier this month, and 2) I didn’t opt to take a yearlong leadership and management program beginning June 11.

The key priorities in my life have automatically risen to the top of my list, while the lesser priorities have automatically fallen to the bottom. To be honest, if it doesn’t make my top five to 10, I’m probably not even looking at it right now.

Now, there are promises to be kept, and I know there are several of those in my email. They are on my to-do list as well. Be patient – I will get to you as soon as I can. I’m not looking to escape responsibility – I’m looking to expand. I just haven’t figured out what that’s going to look like in the new reality I’m creating.

But at this point, I could see myself deleting more emails than not, at least until I have people in place to handle different responsibilities in my business. And, by the way, I’m deciding whether to put the call out on my blog. I will have a better idea of whether this is something I want to do once I’ve had a better night’s sleep.

If there’s a moral to all this, it’s that:

Possibilities are nearly unlimited when you’re working with other sharp, ambitious people. It’s capped when you’re busy trying to be a superhero.

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