Expert Music Career Advice For DIY Musicians

How to Set Positive and Realistic Music Career Goals

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We've all set a New Year's resolution at some point and have been maybe too ambitious with what we wanted to accomplish in the year. Falling into the cycle of setting unrealistic and vague goals is common when we want to change something in our lives. However, setting goals without a clear idea of how and why you want to achieve them isn't going to help you propel your music career forward.

In order to make progress, you need to be honest with yourself about what you want, set goals that align with your aspirations, and understand that a lot more goes into success than a mental to-do list. So instead of feeling disappointed when you aren't where you want to be down the road, learn how to set goals the right way in the first place. Here are some easy ways to start setting positive and realistic goals for your music career.

Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.

The first step to setting any goal is to take a glance at what you want to achieve in your future. This is a no-brainer. You need to understand what your aspirations are. But sometimes, when looking at the big picture of life, we can get overwhelmed, stressed, and jump straight to planning one vague goal. The best way to tackle feeling lost within your future is to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound – or S.M.A.R.T. 

S.M.A.R.T goals are going to give you a better framework than just writing a to-do list. Make sure that your plan isn't too broad, stretches your abilities but remain within your reach, is relevant to your future, has some deadline, and allows you to track your progress. If you're a smart person, then you can set "S.M.A.R.T." goals.

Set goals that motivate you

Make sure your short-term goals are in line with your long-term goals and overall passion. You should look forward to your goals and want to work to achieve them. If your goals are motivating, I guarantee you that you'll feel incredible when you finally get to check them off the list.

Of course, you won't feel inspired all the time, but needing constant inspiration to get things done is for amateurs. Professionals just go to work.

Understand what's within your limits

We all have our "dream big" goals, and hey, there's absolutely nothing wrong with having them. But as musicians, we need to understand what we're capable of achieving for our short-term and our long-term futures.

Sure, playing the main stage at Lollapalooza is an amazing goal to work toward, but it may be more achievable to work on booking smaller gigs a few times a month. Whatever your goals may be, understand what you consider to be long term versus short term. There will be moments when life outside of music will take over and offset your plan, but if you can check little goals off the big list, then you're on the right track.

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Don't be afraid to adjust

After determining your time frame for your goals, understand that adjustments will need to be made at some point, and that's okay. Like I said, there will definitely be moments in your career when you're on track for a goal, but life will get in the way. A friend will need you, you'll move across the country, and yeah, that night out sounds a lot better than hustling right now. Don't ever be afraid to adjust a goal to make your life a little bit more doable. Just because you're behind schedule doesn't mean you're not making the effort!

Have someone hold you accountable

It's much easier to complete goals when you hold yourself to a deadline. When other people, like a boss or a band member, are involved in your goals, you become responsible for more than just yourself. Deadlines can also help keep you motivated rather than searching for inspiration. You just have to sit down and get your work done; there's no room for procrastination.

Treat yo'self 

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At the end of the day, you're making the effort to propel your career ahead. You know what you aspire to be and the steps to take. That's amazing! Remaining positive in a hectic and somewhat insecure industry like the music industry is no easy task. Remind yourself that what you're doing is healthy, positive, and beneficial.

Throughout it all, treat yourself when you deserve it. Even if that means you checked off sending out a small batch of pitch emails or you got in a few push-ups on tour, you did it – and you earned it.


The purpose of goal setting is to guide you toward your aspirations and future. So try not to put so much pressure on yourself to reach your goals. Life will get in the way sometimes, and that is totally okay. Just remember what's motivating you in the first place, and follow your passion with positivity.


Next up: How to Set Achievable Goals for Your Music Career


Rachel Bresnahan is an editorial intern at Sonicbids.

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