Most independent musicians have a day job (yes, capitalism). And it can be frustrating trying to balance your passion with your paycheck. We don’t talk enough. So, here are four small but effective steps you can take this week to grow your music career while working a day job.
Step 1 – Create a plan for your music career
Time needed: 1+ hour
Setting your direction is the foundation of your music career. Otherwise, you may very well go out into the endless options the music industry has to offer and feel overwhelmed. Creating a plan is about saying “no” to most efforts and saying “yes” to only a few.
Here are the basic steps to make a plan for your music career:
- Decide what your ideal music career looks like
- Find income streams based on your ideal career
- Set goals that keep you focused on those streams of income
- Brainstorm several things you can do on a given day that will help you move forward
And the beauty of having a plan is that it can change. You can try things, make mistakes, find what works, and tweak. But having a plan at least gives you direction. At least you’ll be moving forward.
Step 2 – Make a Music Creation Schedule
Time needed: more than 30 minutes
Creating a schedule for your music career is the best way to hold yourself accountable. It is a way of committing yourself to moving towards what you want.
This is how I do it:
- Find a time each day when you know I will be free (it can be as little as 15-20 minutes)
- Create an event in my iCal (eg “compose songs”, “record”, etc.)
- Set an alert for that event
So when I get an alert on my phone to do what I said I was going to do, I have no excuses. I already made sure to be free during this period of time. Nothing stops me apart from starting.
Step 3: Create a marketing strategy
Time needed: 1+ hour
I know, you may not like the idea of becoming a marketing person. It’s probably because sleazy salespeople have given the entire industry a bad name. But think of it this way: you are simply sharing the music that he made in a creative way.
And if you want a career in music, you have to do marketing. There is simply no way around it. So set up a strategy to share your music creatively.
Here are some steps to get started:
- Post the song before you promote it (and not until then)
- Use a site like Musicroamer to find independent artists with music similar to yours
- See what marketing content those independent artists are creating and what’s working
- Use the same marketing methods as them, but make them your own
- Create a repeating event on your calendar to promote your music
For example, I am focusing on TikTok to promote my music. Before I started, I looked at 2-3 artists with similar music that were doing well on TikTok. I searched for their best videos and analyzed what made them unique. I then created a google doc and noted down the TikTok video formats that I could use for my different songs.
Am I going viral? Hell no. But every time I post a video, people who didn’t know it existed like and comment on my videos, asking where they can stream the song. And I get multiple new followers with each video. The key is to find a marketing strategy that works for you and stick with it.
Step 4 and beyond: Do one thing every day
Time needed: more than 30 minutes a day
Now that you’ve found your direction to follow, set aside time to create and market your music, and put those tasks on your calendar, it’s time to get things done.
Based on the creation and marketing plans you made, choose at least one thing that you can do each day. Put that task on your calendar and try to do one thing a day for a month. You’ll find that it doesn’t really take much of your free time to progress toward the music career you want.
The key is not volume, but consistency. Make a plan. Adjust as needed. But whatever you do, do a little every day and keep going.