Last year, I stated some goals and plans for the year. Reviewing how those went, changed, and culminated is leading me to preparations for 2018. Beginning the year with goals, set me on a course of events that led to good things. The adage of you can make your success holds true for the most part. If you clearly define what you want and plan how to achieve it, you have a method for measuring success. A good way to summarize my thoughts here is to value your time. Value does not necessarily mean money but you should have a goal for everything you do.
I began the year with three main goals: play solo gigs, add video streaming, and work smarter–meaning plan and evaluate what works. With solo gigs, the idea was to achieve a very modest money goal each month. In March, I added some new gear paid for entirely with music money from that and previous months, and I realized something about my goals. Two were completely off. Everything was dependent on the first goal. Music to me is about fun but I’ve been doing it long enough to know it should support itself. Well, I wanted to do a little better than break even. So from April onward, that goal of earning $X was the guiding goal. Looking at the year, the modest goal I set for myself needed to be increased by 34%.
Now, if you are a musician and you don’t know how to monitor nor manage what you earn or do, stop and learn. Right now. Seriously. Spreadsheets are your friend. Don’t party so hard you can’t math.
By combining my goals into one, I could focus. Focus extremely well. Finding venues and working on expanding into some new areas was a task that was easy to do and was well organized. Things were moving forward nicely until May or so when I received an email about blogging music. While talking to this blogger, I learned that my new friend Christopher makes his living by booking tours. Game changed, but goals unchanged.
By combining my goals into one, I could focus.
By combining my goals, this huge change in the game had no impact on my goal. In fact, my goal helped me evaluate if touring would yield returns. A vlog and details of the tour can be found here.
So, the year ended with me meeting my goal in gross revenue. In net revenue, the month of heavy touring didn’t meet the goal. Things went so well that I surpassed what I did with music last year with only a few month into the year. Most importantly, I learned much through everything I did and learned how to keep growing.
The goal for 2018 is similar to the combined goal of 2017, earn $X a month with music. The X is slightly higher than in 2017. The reason for increasing is I’m looking at when I can retire from my day job. Retirement will provide more time and an economic safety net for my artistic endeavors. The idea last year was to grow music to a level where by the time I retire I could pay some bills. Last year went well enough, I had to increase my goal. So, increasing the goal by a small amount over the next few years will achieve just that. Remember, if you can’t see where you want to be in a few years and how you can do that in achievable pieces, go read about goals and being successful. This is not magical, esoteric knowledge.
Some details for 2018 are an album release and a tour to support that. The last time I released an album, I broke even in six months. I just happened to realize that happened without the feat being planned. This time, I want to break even in four months from the release date. Through live engagements and sales, I can make that happen. Depending on the touring situation, the extra costs will make that more difficult. To gauge the new album goal, I’m planning on meeting my usual goal first then look at income above that goal being applied to the new album goal. In other words, for four months my $X is increased.
Don’t party so hard you can’t math.
Another idea that’s on my back burner is writing a book or something that outlines my business model for music. I talk to many musician friends that either don’t really organize their efforts or try to apply pieces of strategies pointed at making music a full time job. For me, music is part time. I’m fine with that. I enjoy figuring out how to manage my time and efforts to produce a results I want. I have a variety in regular venues from free to paid with other amenities. What I do works. More importantly, I’m not working that hard at it. Meaning, I’m not spending hours a day killing my motivation trying to be the next star which in turn ruins my creative spirit. I’m having fun, I’m creating lots of content, my live show is improving, I’m growing. Also, creating guides and manuals is what I do in my day job teaching. Putting together a description of my business model can help people without giving away any “secrets” I may have learned. And, such a description would show the viability of art on a different level.
Happy New Year!
2018 promises opportunity in many forms. My 2017 had some interesting things in it–personally, professionally, and musically. 2018 will likely be similar. I hope the good trends sustain and I will continue to focus on growth and holding my goal as my main consideration.
Here’s a Sonic Bids article that supports a lot of these ideas.