I don’t know about you, but my 2021 was awful.
2020 was this altered reality where nothing was real and calories didn’t count. 2021 was the pretend return to normal, only to be slapped in the face by Delta and the great reset. So many tours and shows got booked, cancelled, rebooked, recanceled. And as I’m coming to you now inside the Omicron spike, and another slew of postponed shows, it can be hard to feel inspired to plan for the year.
But we gotta start somewhere.
Personally, I’m very excited for 2022. I’m excited to kick things back on track. Ramp up. And make shit happen. Because that’s the thing that you eventually realize if you’re in the music game long enough, nothing just magically happens. You have to make it happen.
Luck is merely when preparation meets opportunity.
I just finished my conversation with Justin Vibes for the New Music Business podcast (Season 3 launches January 19th! Catch up on past episodes here). He’s a jazz vibraphonist with 8.5 million TikTok followers and has producer and songwriting credits on Platinum and Gold records. Hearing his story on how he made all of this happen reinforced how the years and years of preparation (practicing for hours every day, honing his craft, writing countless songs) enabled him to rise to the occasion when the opportunities presented themselves. He didn’t just “get lucky.” He didn’t just “get discovered.” He didn’t just “go viral.” Or whatever.
So, if you want 2022 to be your year, the year that you make things happen for you, then you need to make it happen for you.
How do you do this? You get meticulous about it. Step by step. And set SMART goals.
“A dream written down with a date becomes a goal. A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan. A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.”
SMART goals are defined as:
“I want to make a lot of money with my music,” is not a SMART goal. “I want to make $10,000 in 3 months with my music,” is.
“I want to get discovered by someone,” is not a SMART goal. “I want to partner with XYZ for my next release in 9 months,” is.
“I want more streams,” is not a SMART goal. “I want 1 million streams and 10,000 followers on Spotify in 6 months,” is.
“I want people to come to my shows,” is not a SMART goal. “I want to sell out my headlining show at the Echo in 6 months,” is.
“I want to go viral on TikTok,” is not a SMART goal. “I want to have 10,000 followers, 100,000 Likes and 1 million collective views in 4 months,” is.
“I want to make money livestreaming,” is not a SMART goal. “I want to make $3,000 a month livestreaming on Twitch in 5 months,” is.
“I want to get into sync licensing,” is not a SMART goal. “I want 3 sync placements on TV shows in the next 6 months,” is.
See the difference?
Every one of these SMART goals has a timeline and is measurable and specific. You’re going to have to determine for yourself if they’re realistic or achievable for where your career is at now.
So once you set your SMART goal, you can then reverse engineer it.
Using our Echo example, it goes something like this:
- Find out who books the Echo.
- See what kinds of shows are on their calendar. Do you know any of those bands? If so, can you hop on any of those bills?
- Do you want to do a headline show or a co-bill?
- Do you have any connections to the talent buyer? If not, track down their email. Use Ari’s perfect cold email approach from How To Make It in the New Music Business to reach out and get some holds.
- Once the date is locked, plan out your promotional calendar so every day you are working on selling 350 tickets.
Reverse engineer. March confidently in that direction.
So, right now, open a doc on your computer. Write out 5 SMART goals you have for the year. I encourage you to set at least one for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months. Short goals and long goals. If you want to take this further, setup 1 year and 3 year goals as well. Plan out a day with your confidants to brainstorm these. Go get a whiteboard and some multi-colored dry erase markers and have fun with this.
Once you feel good about this doc, put just the goals in list form (with dates) on a clean sheet and print it out. Now put it up in your office or studio. You want this in your physical space to keep reminding you of what you’re aiming for and to keep you on track and in check.
Every 6 months, reassess this list. Your goals, dreams, desires will evolve over the course of your life. But you always need to set goals.
No matter where you’re at in your career, set SMART goals. Every 6 months.
Now go get it.