The end-of-year slowdown. If you’ve been in the music industry for a while, you recognize late October through the end of the year as a slow time for all things industry-related. Albums aren’t getting released, tours are winding down, publicists have less to promote, journalists have less to write about, promoters aren’t running as many shows — the whole industry feels it.
In truth, it’s a convenient time, since it allows us to focus on our loved ones during the holidays and gives us a well-needed break from the chaos that ensues the rest of the year. It’s also a great time to plan your next steps and start off the following year stronger than ever. So how do you do that? Start with these five ways.
1. Take stock of the past year
You can’t move forward if you don’t acknowledge the past. Take a moment to look over the last year and assess what went well, what could have gone better, and what didn’t work. Make a plan to incorporate more of went well but also take time to evaluate why certain things didn’t work.
Was it because you didn’t have the resources? If so, how do you make sure that doesn’t happen again next year? Was it because what you were doing wasn’t really aligned with your brand and your heart wasn’t in it? If so, scrap it. By getting crystal clear on what worked and what didn’t, you can cut out the things that don’t serve you and pour your energy into what has.
2. Make monthly, quarterly, and yearly goals
One of the most important steps you can take at any point in your career is to ask yourself what it is you’re really chasing. It can be easy to get stuck saying, “I want to be famous,” or, “I want to make enough money to support myself through music alone,” but what do those things really mean to you? How much is enough money? How many revenue streams in the music industry would you need to have to make that work? What does being famous really mean?
By writing out two or three solid goals for each month, quarter, and year, you not only force yourself to get clear on what you’re chasing and why but you have something to refer to when you start to feel lost or unfocused.
3. Ask yourself, “What three things do I want to accomplish next year?”
Now that you know what your long-term goals are, you can start to figure out how to tackle them on a monthly or weekly basis. Take the time to figure out three to five overall things you want to accomplish in the next year, and be very clear on what they mean.
These should be larger goals (or “themes”) that overarch the goals you’ve laid out above. For instance, maybe next year you want to increase your fanbase, play more shows, and start a newsletter. From there, you can begin to break down those larger goals into smaller, more manageable micro-goals.
4. Write out a plan of what it will take to get those three things done
Once you know what you want to accomplish, work out a plan on how to get there. My preferred method is to identify the goal and then work backwards asking, “What do I need to make that happen?” For instance, if your plan is to release a new EP next October, ask yourself questions like:
- How am I going to fund both the recording and the PR for that album?
- What will that cost?
- What does the band need to save for those things?
- When do we have to start recording/getting our promo photos/writing our bio?
If your goal is to play a small local festival that takes place in July, you might ask yourself:
- When is the application deadline?
- How can I build my social media presence or online buzz between then and now so I look more attractive to promoters?
- How can I network with other bands or industry that may increase my chances of getting picked?
5. Be flexible
As much as I support and encourage having a set of goals, you have to be a little bit flexible in your planning. If an opportunity that resonates with you comes up and it’s not part of the original plan, don’t be afraid to take it anyway.
If in six months, you realize your long-term goals have changed, it’s okay to go in and adjust them. So long as you’re always keeping in mind those goals and working towards them in an organized, structured way, you can’t lose.
While taking the time to create a plan and set of goals like this may seem intense, it’s one of the most important tools you can arm yourself with if you want to set yourself up for a successful year. So take advantage of the slow down, get excited about your future, and start planning!
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR and Infectious Magazine, as well as a PR coach. Muddy Paw clients have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, and more. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.