As a musician, have you set yourself goals and made plans to achieve them?
A study made at Harvard Business revealed that 83% of the population don’t have goals, 14% have a plan in mind but no written goals and 3% have goals written. In that study they found that the 14% who have goals are 10 times more successful than those without goals and the 3% with written goals are 3 times more successful than that 14%. Having goals and writing them down sets you up to be exponentially more successful, not just in life but as a musician, so why don’t you start today?
Setting goals can be difficult so we’ve created a guide on how to set yourself realistic goals and how you can go about achieving them and measuring your success.
Importance of Goals
As the statistics prove, setting yourself goals in writing already puts you in a better position to achieve them. Having in writing what you wish to gain in the future will put you in the right headset, so those goals can become reality. When you don’t have a plan, how can you expect to reach your destination? You may have your destination in mind but without any sort of secure plan and goal, it’s just a thought not put into practice.
A goal doesn’t just motivate you, but it forces you to make your dreams a reality.
What are you focusing on?
Now you understand the importance of setting goals for your musical career, you need to know which area to focus on when setting your goals. No one is saying you can’t have multiple goals in different areas, but make sure they’re separate and you’re not just setting general goals. Let’s break down the different areas you can set your goals in as a musician.
As an artist, your branding is one of the most important factors for creating a fanbase. Your personal brand is what separates you from everyone else in the market, so this is probably one of the major focus points when setting goals.
Your brand is your artist name, logo, style, image and any other feature that identities you as a product over other artists.
Example goals for branding could be…
- I want my image to be more fitting to my musical genre, so my target audience match my musical style to my look
- I want to create a new logo
- I want to design new merchandise
Each artist’s branding goals are going to be entirely different depending on the level they’re at. If you’re just starting out, stick to smaller and more realistic branding goals such as ‘I want to choose my band name.’
When planning a release strategy, it’s key you have goals. If you’re not sure which areas to reach out to in your DIY PR campaign, then research. Find similar bands to yours and see what sort of coverage they’re securing. Break down your marketing goals into the separate press you can achieve e.g. online blogs, radio stations. Most bands set themselves targets for their release on where they see it fitting in the market, but not many write the specifics down, so be one step ahead of them and start doing that today.
Example goals for marketing could be…
- I want to secure a premiere for my music video on Clash
- I want to confirm a spot play on BBC 6 Music
- I want to be played on Made In Chelsea
Another focus area is booking, and this is a lot easier to measure success in than the others. Live events are one of the most important ways to get your name out there as an artist so setting yourself goals on where you’d like to perform, how many dates you’d like to secure and how many tickets you want to sell is a simple way of setting a plan for yourself that you can easily put into practice.
Examples of goals for live booking could be…
- I want to sell out a 200-capacity venue
- I want to play a 10 date UK tour
- I want to secure a support slot for a major artist
Setting yourself a figure of how many streams you want to achieve can be extremely difficult for artists as most musicians believe their music deserves millions of streams but be realistic. If you have less that 1,000 Spotify streams, don’t set yourself a target of 500,000 in a week, it’s not going to happen. Set an achievable but still challenging goal of how many streams you’d like to achieve and by what point. Don’t just focus on the numbers either, also set goals for which sort of playlists you’d like to appear on, how many playlists and how many streams via the algorithm-based playlists such as Discover Weekly.
Examples of goals for streaming could be…
- I want to achieve 1,000 streams per day by next month
- I want to be added to Indie Mono’s Spotify playlist
- I want to be added to a Spotify Official playlist
Social media is a tremendous opportunity for bands and artists, that acts as a gateway for mass exposure, so goals need to be set in this area if you want a successful musical career. You can now be in complete control of your music promotion using social media, so set yourself targets based on each platform, including followers, interactions and general growth. With Facebook’s algorithm changing so drastically, your posts don’t even reach most of your audience, so perhaps reflect on social media interactions and shares instead of the actual likes/followers.
Examples of social media goals could be…
- I want to share one piece of content a day for a year
- I want to grow my Instagram audience by 200 in 6 months
- I want to start creating vlogs
Writing and recording
Although artists believe this is the easiest part of being a musician, writing and recording music is probably the hardest and most demanding part, with the constant fear of getting writers block or even producing something that just isn’t up to scratch. With over 35 million songs on Spotify, you can’t just sit back and release one single a year and expect to be number 1 in the charts. Set yourself goals on how many tracks you want to write, record and release a year and meet those targets.
Examples of writing and recording goals could be…
- I want to release one song a month for 6 months
- I want to write a full album before next year
- I want to finish recording my EP by January
How to record your goals
As mentioned above, writing down your goals is essential. Break down each area into subheadings and write a list of goals for each. Actually writing something down rather than typing it is a lot more effective as it’s linked to improve creativity, critical thinking and problem solving.
Be specific with your goals rather than setting general ones. Perhaps you write your overall goal in the centre of the page and then create sub goals off of it. For example, your main goal may be to get 100,000 streams on a track you’re releasing on Spotify but a sub goal for that could be to finish recording the track.
Set timelines for every single goal, no matter how small. Set long-term and short-term goals within this, starting with the short term, easier to achieve targets. No matter what that goal may be, write it in an optimist manner. Having an optimistic frame of mind puts your head in the right place, ready to achieve goals.
Measuring the success of goals
Now you have set your goals, you need a method of measuring your success and how close you are to achieving your goals. Each measurement will depend on the focus area so let’s break down the different ways you can measure your goal achievement.
One way you can measure your success is with actual statistics. This is probably the easiest way to measure your success as an artist but don’t become obsessed. There are so many musicians that live to see their social media numbers or Spotify streams grow, but there’s absolutely no point in the figures getting bigger if your fan base isn’t. For example, you’ll find some artists are paying for streams, YouTube views or Facebook likes so they appear bigger but what have you actually achieved by this? You have not achieved any goals by this, so we highly recommend avoiding any form of pay for plays, likes or streams at all costs.
Each artist will have different goals and see success as a different figure. Some bands will set a target of 10,000 streams after a year of releasing and will feel like they’ve succeeded if they achieve that, but another band might get 100,000 streams and be disappointed as that is an underperforming number compared to their other tracks on Spotify. Look carefully at what is achievable for you and don’t compare it to others.
Your online presence can be a major implication of success as an artist. How often do you see an artist in the charts that has zero online presence? Never! Therefore, measuring how many online features, reviews and interviews you have confirmed within a certain time period is a strong implication of your success, keeping your goals in mind.
Your online presence can also be measured by your social media presence. You can use the figures measurement, or you can start looking into the actual interactions and growth of your pages, rather than just the numbers. If you’re posting content daily that is getting comments, shares and likes, that will be proof of successful social media content, more than how many likes your page may have.
Before using any other form of measurement, gain feedback. Feedback from friends and family is good bust most likely biased, so gaining feedback from tastemakers and industry professionals is a realistic measurement of success. For example, if your goal was to release an amazing heavy rock anthem and then BBC Radio 1’s Daniel P Carter says, “this is sh*t”, it’s clear you haven’t met your goal!
Stay On Track
Make sure you’re constantly looking back at your goals and measuring whether you’ve achieved them. You may want to keep the piece of paper on you at all times or write them up on your notes on your phone. No matter how you do it, stay on track, ticking off each goal as it’s achieved.
If one goal has been on your list for a while and you haven’t seen any progression towards achieving it, start to reflect. Reflecting on your goals is a really important and beneficial way of picking apart your movements and seeing if they’ve actually helped in getting closer to achieving your goal.