Live music signPhoto by Clem Onojeghuo

2019 has just started and what better time to choose the best music-related New Year’s resolutions to make 2019 an awesome year for your music career? I’m definitely going to try to stick to all of these and hopefully work towards a full-time music career in 2019.

1) Practice every day!

This seems like an obvious resolution, and yet it’s too easy to get caught up in everyday life and put music off. Whether it’s writing, producing, singing, playing or figuring out a new live situation, make sure you dedicate at least 15-30 minutes per day to your music. Especially if you’re struggling with finding time for your music while holding down a full-time job, this can be challenging. Everyone’s tired after a day at work or other commitments, but today there’s too much competition and that can’t be an excuse. Once a week, schedule a full evening with your music. Cancel everything – including healthy stuff like the gym. No drinks, no phones (destroys creativity!), no TV, nothing except you and your music. Just pick a day a week and stick to it no matter what. The only exception is if you’re super super sick.

Steps to take

  • Delete time-consuming apps and games. We all have at least one!
  • Use an app which will block your phone as you work on other stuff, therefore avoiding distractions (Forest is a good one!)
  • Avoid going straight to the couch and TV once you get home. It’s much harder to get up than it is to just avoid sitting down. Instead, go straight to the piano, guitar, or whatever it is you’re doing musically.
  • Schedule some music time each day. Make time for it, whether it’s waking up earlier in the morning or giving up other activities in the evening (drinks with friends, TV shows, whatever).

2) Improve Your Online Presence

I’m terrible with this. Seriously, it’s my worst trait as a musician, perhaps because mostly I can’t stand social media (which is essentially why I prefer blogging…but social media’s important for that too). And yet, I’ve sworn to be better at this in 2019. Once again, schedule time for social media. I think I’d rather commit a couple of hours over the weekend and plan my posts for the whole week rather than spend some time every day, but we’ll see how that works out over the year.

Steps to take

  • Choose which social networks you’re going to be focusing on; perhaps it’s best to start with one or two.
  • Schedule social media review time; it’s up to you whether to split it during the week or concentrate it over the weekend or one day a week.

3) Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Whether it’s playing live, incorporating electronics and sequences into your live set, releasing music, networking or starting a YouTube channel, there’s always something that as a musician you’re procrastinating because of fear, doubt or laziness. For example, I’m a very good piano player, but I want to add more production elements into my live set by using Ableton live and other tools…however, that takes planning and practice and probably won’t be very good at the beginning. The piano, on the other hand, is comfortable and easy and I know I always fall on my feet if I’m performing piano and voice, but it’s not enough anymore. I need to step out of my comfort zone and invest time and energy to create an interesting live set.

Steps to take

  • Identify your problem areas.
  • Make a plan and set yourself deadlines to get things done.
  • Go to more concerts and events in your area (networking is always useful and it’s something hardly anyone does enough of).

4) Try The Showcase Route

Depending on where you are in your music career, you may or may not have done this before, and obviously this only applies if you’re interested in playing live and making music your job. There are a number of international showcases (MENT, Europavox, SXSW and many many more) which are a great opportunity to play live, see other concerts, attend specialised conferences and do A LOT of networking. You may walk out of there with a manager or be booked to play around the world. Even if you’re not playing, attending can be a great opportunity to network and learn more about the music industry.

Steps to take

  • Research each showcase and the deadlines to apply; start small and perhaps close to home base (just makes things easier). Most European showcases will reimburse at least part of the expenses and will include the backline technicians
  • Check with your collecting society if there are any bursaries or funds if you’re admitted to play. If you’re in Italy, SIAE definitely offers this service.

5) Never Stop Learning

We all have something we need to learn; whether it’s how to use social media better or improve technique, make it a priority to keep learning every day. Coursera offers some great music themed MOOCs and also some on social media, as do other platforms out there like FutureLearn and EDX. Most courses are free to audit although you have to pay if you want a course completion certificate.

Steps to take

  • Choose what you need to work on.
  • Check out online MOOCs on the various available platforms.
  • Dedicate some time every day or a few concentrated sessions a week to learning.

Finally, a sort of bonus resolution: find a way of tracking your goals! Whether you use a paper journal or your smartphone or something else entirely is up to you, but make sure you conduct a review of where you are at least monthly or quarterly; this way you won’t reach the end of the year with still a million goals to accomplish, wondering where your time has gone.

 

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