Somehow 2015 snuck right by us all, and if you can believe it, we're only a few short months away from the new year! Now before you panic about how unaccomplished you feel, fret not, my talented friends – there are still plenty of attainable goals within reach before the ball drops. Here are four valuable music goals you can make a dent in right now.
1. Improve your web presence
Everyone uses the internet for just about everything nowadays. That means it's more important than ever to have a strong web presence. All artists should have a website – and not just any website – a great, informative, and user-friendly site. One that's a snapshot of who you are as a musician (and a person too, potentially), has great media samples (photos/videos), a thoughtful and grammatically correct biography, and most importantly, reliable ways to get in contact with you. Today, there are so many great and easy-to-use options to start, develop, and manage your own site. Companies like Weebly and Wix made it as simple as drag-and-drop, so there's no need for expensive programmers or designers.
In addition to having a good personal website (and don't forget about your Sonicbids EPK, either!), it's also imperative that artists keep up with all of the latest social media trends for the best chance of being found by fans and industry people, and obtaining unique platforms and work opportunities. That means you should definitely have a Facebook fan page, Instagram, and Twitter. And if you want to take it even further, try out Vine, Snapchat, or any other cool new app that’s all the rage! It's easier than ever to connect with fans, and also easier than ever to obtain new ones through the various online resources available to you.
2. Develop quality marketing materials
Another blessing of the internet is the quick and easy access to business services that previously had been unattainable to up-and-coming artists due to the significant expenses associated with them. Now, you can go on a website like Vistaprint.com or OvernightPrints.com and design your business cards yourself with the help of some awesome templates, and get 50 copies printed for less than $5! A quick stop at Staples to grab some glossy print paper, and you're on your way to having a stack of beautiful and professional-looking resumes, headshots, and flyers, too! Setting aside a Sunday afternoon to dedicate to your marketing materials will be time well spent that will pay off in large dividends down the line.
3. Protect your intellectual property
I know so many artists who haven't taken the time to protect their intellectual property, and nothing makes me more ill to think about! This is your work! Your creation! Your blood, sweat, tears, inner-most feelings, and emotions come to life – why the heck would you not want to have security for your works?! Don't be that person who waits until someone else is making big bucks off of your song to realize that you've royally screwed yourself and have no shot going up against one of the big record companies in court.
Got some money saved? Call a copyright lawyer now. Make sure he or she copyrights all of your musical works, trademarks your artist/band name and products, servicemarks any businesses you might have, and ensures that your creations will be protected from this point forward.
Wait – what is that I hear? Is someone out there crying broke? Can't afford a lawyer? Well lucky you, because in 2015 we have more access to information at our fingertips than ever before! Buy a book (like All You Need to Know About the Music Business by Donald Passman), phone a friend, read the awesome and informative Sonicbids blog posts on the subject matter, or freakin' Google it if you don't have a better idea. But whatever you do, don't wait another moment to protect your intellectual property!
4. Jump-start booking your 2016 gigs
There's no reason not to get a head start booking your gigs for the upcoming year. In fact, most big festivals, parades, and large-scale events always book around a year out. Don't wait until the gig of a lifetime is right around the corner and beg the promoter to give you a shot for an opening slot – get in touch now! Ask around, do a quick online search of all of the live music opportunities coming up in your area in 2016, and start dialing, emailing, and setting up appointments (preferably with your new marketing materials, per point two).
As they say, early bird gets the worm! So stay on top of things and do everything in your power to make sure you have a jam-packed, kick-ass schedule for the new year. This time next year, you'll be glad you did.
Christine Occhino is the founder and artistic director of The Pop Music Academy and has experience working at Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment, in addition to working as a performing artist for over a decade. She has a bachelor's degree in music business & management with a concentration in entrepreneurship and vocal performance from Berklee College of Music, where she was a vocal scholarship recipient and former editor-in-chief of The Berklee Groove. She is also the proud founder and CEO of Hope In Harmony, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that brings music to those in need.