This is the first in a new recurring creative collaboration with the fine team at Muddy Paw PR. Each month we will be featuring one or two original articles from the staff of Muddy Paw, as well as informed essays from the numerous artists they represent. We like to think of everything we do here on the blog as a crash course in music business education, and we’ve found a shared passion for teaching in the Muddy Paw team. Follow them on Twitter and who knows? You might just discover the next band that will change your life.
Just a few weeks into the New Year and odds are many of us have already abandoned our good-intentioned New Year’s Resolutions. I myself am guilty of a late start to some of my more ambitious plans—but just because the year may have started off a bit bumpy doesn’t mean you can’t still make good on those resolutions. Before you start beating yourself up, or sweeping up the reminisce of failed plans, consider keeping (or making) these 5 New Year’s Resolutions.
Do one thing that scares you every week
This is one of my favorite resolutions to make because it has the potential to inspire a massive amount of growth. When I first moved from Boston to San Francisco this was a goal I set for myself, and one that pushed me outside the confines of my comfort zone and eventually into the presence of musicians and industry professionals that continue to inspire me, and to new adventures and experiences that I might otherwise have missed.
Set a goal and a timeframe that works best for you—maybe once a week is a stretch, but once a month is doable. Whatever it is, set a goal and stick to it. Play in front of an audience larger than you’re comfortable with. Reach out to that venue you’ve always wanted to play. Ask that person you admire for advice. Whatever your personal fears are, consider making a list of things that scare you, and crossing each off as the weeks pass. By challenging yourself on a regular basis, you’ll open up new doors and invite new opportunities.
Make a business plan
I know what you’re thinking—but I’m an artist, not a business! The truth is, every artist these days has to also be a business. If you don’t think like a business, you’re going to get left behind. Creating a business plan will allow you to get really honest with yourself about the things you want, the things you need, and the cold, hard numbers and facts. It will allow you to map out in detailed form all your hopes, dreams, and the realities of getting there, while also allowing you a way to reflect back on your progress. You can find a good sample here or here. Personally, I also like to tack on a goals section. By outlining my visionsf for the next 3 months, 6 months, year, etc, I set realistic markers for success, and am able to then put together a plan to tackle each and every goal.
Set stretch goals
Stretch goals are an important part of every dreamer’s diet—and let’s be honest, we’re all dreamers in the music industry. So while a business plan is paramount for outlining your vision, it’s also important to have stretch goals—the things that we know are really ambitious, but that we want regardless. Things like playing the full Vans Warped Tour, being on tour nine months out of the year, signing to a major label, etc. Set a healthy amount of stretch goals, and then work backwards to figure out how to turn those dreams into a reality.
Make it your business to meet as many new people as possible
You know how everyone is always talking about how important networking is? They aren’t kidding. Talent isn’t enough these days, so it’s crucial that you make it part of your mission to meet and genuinely connect to as many people as possible. The key word in there is genuinely. I’m not talking about the kind of networking where you schmooze one another just to hand off a business card. I mean making true, lasting connections, because as it turns out, the people in this industry are pretty amazing. And if you’re just getting to know people because of what they might be able to do for you, they’ll see right through it. But if you’re genuine about wanting to connect, you open yourself up to not only an entirely new world of opportunity, but a new friendship as well.
Embrace your local scene
I honestly believe that your greatest asset as an artist is your local scene. It’s the place that you cut your teeth, make your greatest fans and partners, and truly begin to conquer a market. This doesn’t mean just playing around your hometown venues—it means getting creative with where you play, and who you present yourself too. Stake out local coffee shops, book stores, record stores, restaurants, etc that share the same vibe as the kind of music you’re producing, and ask to play a set there. Figure out where your fans spend their time, and then make sure you’re putting yourself in front of them. Beyond just finding new venues, don’t be afraid to align yourself with brands whose beliefs coincide with yours. Get creative with your approach and you’re sure to expand your reach.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the owner of Muddy Paw PR (which has placed bands on sites such as Noisey, AbsolutePunk, UnderTheGunReview, PureVolume, Substream, and more) and music blog Infectious Magazine. She has also founded several chapters of the music industry meet up Balanced Breakfast and finds inspiration in the works of Frank Turner, Anberlin, Zappa, and Andrew McMahon among others. She loves ice cream, passion, and maybe even you. Say hi on Twitter! @Angela_Mastro