By Kevin Cornell
Well, 2020 has arrived. Cue the resolutions, inspirational quote Instagram posts and ‘New Year, New Me’ talk. Even if you’re not into resolutions, there is something in the air each January as folks focus on how to make the upcoming year their best yet – whether it’s professionally, creatively or personally (or all three). And hey, that’s not a bad thing, right? In fact we just published a great piece by Angela Mastrogiacomo that offers some great ways to take advantage of the ‘Winter Slowdown’ in the music industry.
While it’s easy to get caught up with a brief jolt of it, maintaining that ‘New Year Resolution’ energy past January or February is slightly tougher.
So while we encourage artists, producers and songwriters to positively embrace this spirit, it’s equally important to assess the why’s and how’s of taking it further and setting yourself up for a productive year.
Mindset is Everything
How have you been viewing your progress so far? No matter where you are in your music career, it’s important to recognize how far you’ve come. That may sound self-congratulatory, but when it’s all too easy to fixate on how far you wished you’d be by now, why not look at the positive? We’re all human, and part of being human is having emotions. Emotions play a role in how we view things like personal growth and progress.
If you tried something new last year – whether it was dropping your first EP or playing your first show – guess what? You tried something new that ultimately advanced your career. This is where mindset comes in.
“My streams weren’t as high as I had hoped.”
“Not as many people showed up as I had hoped.”
While there’s always an opportunity to dissect your own negative reactions to these sort of things and give yourself a break, you can also flip the script and ride the high of embracing new challenges and learning for next time.
“For my next release, I’ll make sure to pitch my music far and wide before it hits Spotify.”
“When I book my next gig, I’ll go above and beyond to promote it locally.”
Celebrate ‘Successes’ & Accept ‘Failures’
As you finetune your mindset and refrain from letting emotions get in the way of how you view your progress, take note of what you considered to be ‘successes’ and ‘failures’ last year.
I know using the word ‘failure’ here seems contradictory to the mindset thing, but hear me out. Just like in the examples above, missteps can feel like failures, but in reality, without them, you’re not growing as an artist. So while using that mindset to avoid beating yourself up, take a look at what didn’t go so well. What about this was in your control? What about it was completely out of our control? Accept these and move on.
As for successes, similarly, we can let emotions get in the way of acknowledging forward motion. Look back and take a moment to celebrate all the successes you experienced last year, no matter how small. Remind yourself that building a music career is a process and every milestone counts.
Set Some Goals
You’ve heard this one before. Of course it harks back to the ‘New Year resolution’ stuff a bit, but in reality, setting goals is important for any small business owner, and that’s what artists ultimately are these days. We’re going to go deeper into this topic on the TuneCore Blog later this month, but for now, start writing stuff down.
Set some attainable goals – streaming numbers, social followers, live performances, recording benchmarks – whatever it might be, keep it realistic.
But after that, set some not-so-attainable goals. You don’t need to hit these! They can feel pie-in-the-sky and even look absurd. But spend the year looking at them – they’ll provide a great practice field for keeping that motivational mindset we talked about above.
Think Beyond Music
While the goal here is to develop and harness a mindset that will ultimately help you drive your music career forward, it can be helpful to find other areas to channel your energy. You often hear of ‘work/life balance’, which is important for sure. You should have some ‘you time’ between your creative endeavors, relationships, and other day-to-day workload.
Instead of designating some time to watch TV or lounge around, why not begin incorporating some activities to your routine that can allow you to casually reflect on your goals and progress that we’ve been discussing here– without being consumed by creating music while you do so? Everyone’s different, so there’s certainly no one-size-fits-all solution here, but it helps to start thinking about it.
Painting or drawing, cooking, meditating, yoga, exercising, or even a coding project – it doesn’t need to be related to the music you’re focused on creating and promoting this year, but it should stimulate you in a more significant manner than clicking “Next Episode” on the Netflix queue.
Whatever your goals and aspirations for the upcoming year might be, remember that as human beings, we tend to get in our own way a bit. Hopefully the suggestions above were enough to get you thinking about how to develop and maintain a mindset that’ll really kick-start your new year!