Looking at my site, I realized that I haven’t posted anything selfish in awhile. Always working to network is showing by my lack of self attention. [Insert strength and laughing face emojis.] Since December of 2016, I’ve been approaching music with the whole focus on meeting monthly goals.
As with any goal setting, you have to look at your goals and see if they remain relevant, have been met, or need revision. When reflecting, I realized that one goal was the driving force and included the other goals. The simple idea of “each month, I want to earn $X with music” has guided me to find gigs both paying and non, network, and work smart.
When you revisit your goals and experience epiphany moments, you need to remember that music, and all artistic entrepreneurial endeavors, are fickle. (Oh, bonus points to any music friends that can work either of those assonant examples into lyrics…before I do.) Think about how you got to now and think about where you are going. Ask if the goals at hand are the guiding factor. If not, revise. Keep things simple.
Having a simple directive has made a world of difference. Now before I come across as Mr. he-who-sets-goals-gets-success, let me clarify. I set a modest monetary goal. Something doable with he amount of time I have available. Four months into the year, I raised that goal because I met it every month. The goal remains modest.
Examples Applying Goals
When setting up shows, I ask myself does this meet my goal in any way. Remember that my goal has three arms hanging off of it: gigs, networking, being smart. Let these examples demonstrate the thought process.
For a paying gig, part of a summer concert series in the community, I thought about each goal part. The gig pays enough to meet my monthly goal, so gig check. Since that main goal is met, other things like advertising is bonus. For networking, making the contact in the community is good but there’s the potential in the community to gain more opportunity, so networking kinda checked. Note that having a system that makes sense to you if you meet a goal or not is useful. Not every goal is binary. Usually, a kinda meets or kinda doesn’t meet split up the gray area well. For being smart, I look at travel and set up times versus performance time, is the show of value, if I am not breaking even then what is the justification, and does the show meet my goal. Because of the gig check and networking kinda check, this gig rated well on the smart scale. This one gig meets my main goal, is close to home, and has value in presenting other opportunities so the a resounded check on the smart scale is made.
For a free gig, a venue that caters to original music, I again considered each goal part. The gig is free but includes a meal and advertising, a kinda or kinda doesn’t gig check. I looked at the rest of the month and already met my main goal. That makes it a kinda gig check. For networking, playing a new place always has the opportunity to meet new people but based on factors like location, opportunity is tougher to guess, so kinda doesn’t networking check. For being smart, I’m looking at being at a new place and having fun with originals only. The performance times are great–which to older or day-job musicians means early. The distance is reasonable. This goal part seems to be a kinda smart check. So, to play or not? With two kinda checks, I reiterate that my main goal has been met and that weighs in favor of doing the gig. I’ll get the answers to questions about the gig’s value and will have more information to use to base booking again at the same place. As most musicians will say, I’ve done more for less before.
Here’s another example, meeting with a venue manager to set up a free gig that may lead to paying gigs. I can feel your spidey senses responding to this one. For those starting out, this is a common ploy for free entertainment. Looking at their site and social media, they haven’t advertised any music event in 10 months. So, my process changes a bit with this situation. Meeting with the manager, in about 90 minutes as of this typing actually, I want to ask what’s the metric for moving from free performer to paid performer and how often performers move from free to paid gigs. That information will help evaluate the rest. Now, based on the free gig example, I’m leaning toward playing for free. I think of it being similar to an open mic that may lead to a gig. Also, a venue that had been one of my main bread and butter gigs is changing who handles their booking and is considering their live music budget–information that typically means you probably won’t be playing there anymore. They have a juke box and I always wonder how they justify the expense of live music, so I understand their decision. I mention that information to show that since I lost a paying gig and this situation may replace that, I’m very interested. The times for a free gig will likely not interfere with a paying gig the same day. Always consider logistics and things like that. Doing two gigs in one day in the winter or cold season would be something to avoid. But, during summer time, I’d rather do a couple weeks of work in one day and have thirteen days to enjoy myself…planning more gigs. [insert smiley emoji.]
Yes, you see what I did there…
When deciding that a goal is irrelevant, it’s often a matter of some activity taking precedence over the goal. The process is natural. I started the year wanting to do monthly video streaming. As it turned out, streaming would take a long time to develop into a gig replacement and I had better results with getting gigs. Less work with more results equals the smart choice.
The streaming idea has morphed into a different goal idea. I’ve been working to organize a songwriter showcase. The showcase idea combines gigs and networking. I’d like to grow the event beyond a house concert type thing to something public. To add value, streaming is a natural component.
In the goal post from December, I (over)used the phrase “thinking ahead.” The idea is think about what else, next, other. You don’t have to think of what more. If you do that, raise your goal. Mentioning that loosing a paying gig shouldn’t lead to frustration and self doubt. Those thoughts typically exists anyway. We are artists after all. But, use that energy to keep on your path and move forward. The day of that news, I generated responses from four new venues. The day after, I progressed talks with a tour manager. Even if those actions bear no results, I’m making actions. All the time. I’m thinking about actions I can repeat and ones that I can initiate. All the time.
You don’t need to make my same actions or follow my process. My intent is to show what I do so maybe someone will make some progress too. Or, maybe contact me and share some ideas as well. Learn your whole life. That’s how we find, gain, and reflect value.