No one said it was easy to pursue a music career while maintaining a day job, but if you love making music, it might just be worth it. Whether you are a music producer, a singer-songwriter, or a member of a band, it’s important to devote time and energy to your craft. Yes, while still keeping a full-time job to pay the bills, which can cause more than a little stress.
The struggle is real, and many other indie artists are right there with you. Yet there are ways to succeed in music and maintain a nine-to-five job without driving yourself insane. With the right amount of preparation, organization, and the will to make it work, you can make a strong run at success in the music industry.
The importance of deadlines and schedules
Deadlines are necessary when you are developing your music career. Without them, it is easy to let your dedication to music slip away. Songs must be learned and practiced for rehearsals and shows. Songs, videos, and albums must also be completed, and meetings with other professionals in the business, like producers and music venue managers, have to be prioritized, as well. Making a schedule and sticking to it is crucial to all musicians. It may be even more important when you are juggling music alongside a day job.
The first step is staying organized. Create a music schedule by making short and long-term to-do lists and using a calendar or planner to keep track of the commitments you have made for yourself. For instance, if you have a show in two weeks, how many times will you need to practice to perform well on stage? Make sure you appropriately schedule the time you need. Write down the days and times of your practices in your schedule regardless of whether they are alone or with a band. Aside from shows, it is also important to schedule in creative time to work on making music and developing your ideas. Without dedicating specific time for this, it is all too common to be sucked into a Netflix binge or too many happy hours after work. Writing down when you plan to work on music in a planner, makes it harder to flake on yourself.
On top of schedules, setting deadlines is a necessary part of being a successful independent musician. Those failing to set deadlines all too often see themselves faltering in their music careers. You might find yourself forever tweaking things, never-ending with a finished product. Deadlines also help you prioritize and organize your schedule so you are using your time effectively. In addition, they are great for helping you figure out exactly what you need to accomplish your goals and pushing yourself so you get it done. Make deadlines for things like song completion as well as song, album, and video releases.
If your deadlines are not realistic, you put yourself at risk of getting unmotivated and falling even further behind if not giving up on a project altogether.
Equally as important as setting deadlines is making sure they are realistic. This is essential for long-term success in the music industry. If your deadlines are not realistic, you put yourself at risk of getting unmotivated and falling even further behind if not giving up on a project altogether. The latter is particularly problematic after certain amounts of deadlines are not met. If you have a big work commitment, for example, that must be factored into how much time you can dedicate to music in a given period. Setting both short deadlines (what to finish during the week) and long ones (like when to finish an album) is an effective way to manage your time. Doing so will help you achieve your goals while minimizing stress.
How to hold yourself accountable
Holding yourself accountable is best achieved when not attempted as a solo act. If you are in a band with multiple members, this is built in. You have each other to make sure you are going to meetings and spending enough time on music. If you are alone in your music project, find an accountability partner (or multiple) and tell them your deadlines. This way, someone besides yourself is making sure your deadlines are met.
If you are alone in your music project, find an accountability partner (or multiple) and tell them your deadlines. This way, someone besides yourself is making sure your deadlines are met.
Having someone else to hold you accountable creates a consequence for the ego when a show does not go well or you are not meeting deadlines. Now you have someone to answer to, someone who will know that you are not meeting goals, and they will be there to bring it up to you in a serious way. It is easier to make and accept excuses for yourself. It is harder to make excuses for someone else who will call you out and make you not only admit but also truly see that you messed up. That can provide the extra focus and drive you need to do what you set out to do musically.
Time blocking and why it is necessary for productivity
Time blocking allows you to have a flexible schedule while also making sure you are including specific time for music. Just because you set a schedule for your music practices does not mean that week in and week out, your schedule has to be the same. You can block your time based on what works for you. Time blocking can also provide peace of mind, because when you are outside of a scheduled time block for a specific task, you can stop worrying about it.
To put time blocking into practice as a music artist, organization is of utmost importance. You have to know what your week looks like ahead of time to block out times for specific music tasks successfully. This begins with realistically balancing the tasks you have in your day job with your music deadlines. If a deadline is coming up for a music release, the time blocked for the weeks leading up will likely need to be spent on figuring out your marketing to get the song heard in the right places. If you have a big work project to complete, that might not be the best time to schedule a music release, as blocking out the necessary time for it could prove overly stressful or impossible.
The bottom line is that you have to block your time according to your priorities day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month. Figure out what those priorities are, and block time for specific music tasks accordingly.
Using your time and money efficiently
When you are a musician with a full-time day job, using your time wisely is a big concern. You do not have unlimited time to work on music, so you have to use your free time efficiently in order to encourage success in your music career. Aside from scheduling music into your life in concrete ways, you have to figure out how your time is best spent and what things can be delegated to others.
Those in a band should delegate tasks amongst band members evenly to spread out the work. How to do that fairly will depend on each band and the separate skills of its members. For a musician working alone, no one is naturally available to help with the workload. In this case, maximizing your time and spending it on what makes the most sense often involves investing in help. This can mean investing in a producer, audio engineer, manager, booking agent, publicist, or music distribution service. However, finding people and services that are trustworthy and effective is not always the easiest task. The ways to invest money varies by music maker. A singer-songwriter might decide to invest in a producer to speed up the process and enhance the final songs. A music producer may decide to invest in someone to help with marketing and distribution to optimize the time they can spend creating, for example.
Aside from scheduling music into your life in concrete ways, you have to figure out how your time is best spent and what things can be delegated to others.
Using your hard-earned money from your day job to invest correctly in your music career necessitates research. There are important points to consider before making such a big decision. What cut does the booking agent want from your shows? Are they even getting you shows? Understanding the fair amount anyone you hire deserves is essential before investing. To understand what is fair, you have to check the market as well as the previous work of the person or company you are hiring.
You also have to figure out your budget when it comes to investing intelligently to push your music career forward. If you can afford to work your day job less, it might be wiser to do that than to hire someone to do a task that you can easily do but just do not have the time for. On the other hand, if you are not good at a certain aspect of the music business, hiring a specialist might make the most sense.
Tools to push your music career forward
Music in the 21st century is not what it used to be. Technology, the internet, and social media have pushed music into new territory. Navigating the waters can be tricky, what with all the tools, apps, and services out there that promise to turn you into a successful and recognized musician.
Many of the tools and services out there are quite effective; you just have to find out which ones they are. For some, having the right equipment, whether physical or digital, is necessary to achieve their goals. Having the right pedals or plugins for the desired sound can be of huge assistance in jumpstarting your music career and ensuring you create the music you want to create. However, that is just the beginning.
Many of the tools and services out there are quite effective; you just have to find out which ones they are.
Once you have the musical tools you deem necessary, equally important is getting your music out there. That is probably one of the hardest parts in today’s music world. It is not enough just to be creating great music. There are many tools and services available for connecting with and building a fan base. Don’t assume artists are after a record deal.
As a tool for artists, Songtradr streamlines licensing and distribution into a single platform and can help you save time so you are able to focus on the parts of the music business that brought you there to begin with: creating and playing. Songtradr helps you get your music onto streaming services such as Spotify, iTunes, Google Play and more. It’s also home to a music licensing marketplace, where you can make your songs available for placements in film, TV, and more.
Songtradr gives musicians and songwriters access to a global marketplace of people looking to license music. Music supervisors for major TV shows, films, and commercials across the globe approach Songtradr with briefs looking for specific types of music. By uploading your songs to the platform, you make them available for these opportunities and open up new ways to monetize your music, reach fans, and learn valuable insights about the marketplace. Technology like Songtradr can open doors and save a lot of time so you can spend more time creating.
Getting your music on TV and in films not only helps to make money in the short term but it can also provide a domino effect by providing exposure for your music. As a result, you have the opportunity to sell more concert tickets and get your music streaming to a larger audience.
Music licensing and distribution services are useful for the modern-day independent musician for several reasons. As a music licensing company, Songtradr allows music owners to retain the publishing rights to their music and keep all performance royalties. Songtradr is non-exclusive, meaning a musician can still pitch their music elsewhere and sign with a publisher. In addition, distributing through Songtradr allows music owners to leverage their licensing and streaming data from one place. This provides not only control of the music but the freedom to allow it to flow and flourish based on opportunities that arise.
Networking is necessary in the music industry
Songtradr is just one of the tools out there that can help you while you are balancing your music career with your full-time job. Another tool that has become essential in the music industry of today is social media. It seems impossible these days to get your music out there without dedicating a specific social media page to your music project. What’s more, people want more than just to hear the music; they want to get to know the musician. With Instagram Stories and Snapchat being such popular global platforms, you have the opportunity to set yourself apart from other talented indie artists by showing your personality.
Social media is useful not just in getting exposure directly to your music, but making connections with music websites and publications, event coordinators, record labels, and other, more established musicians and influencers. If you build relationships with the right people through social media, it can change the game for your career in music. Sometimes, all it takes is a few shares from a big artist or influencer, and suddenly you are being noticed by loads of new fans and others in the industry. This is undeniably useful for musicians with a full-time job during the day that do not necessarily have time to attend the relevant music events in their area to network the traditional way.
Social media is useful not just in getting exposure directly to your music, but making connections with music websites and publications, event coordinators, record labels, and other, more established musicians and influencers.
Using social media in the music industry can be a lot of work on top of everything else you have going on, but it can be a worthwhile endeavor if you do it right.
Being a successful musician with a day job might be difficult, but it is not impossible. By making schedules and deadlines revolve around your music career, using your time and money wisely to invest into the development of yourself as an artist, and finding the right tools to maximize your exposure, you give yourself a shot to find your own version of success.
About the Author:
Denny Bulcao, Jr. has written for The Associated Press, McCann Worldgroup, Apple, Google, and more. He is based in Southern California.