Have you revisited you music goals lately?
Feeling stuck in your music career? Or like you’re simply spinning your tires and getting nowhere?
Week after week you do show after show. You work hard at becoming a better artist and trying to perfect your craft, yet things still seem to be at a standstill.
Have you ever felt like this at some point in your music career? Better yet, ever had someone come up to you and ask “what do you want from music?” or “where do you envision yourself 5 or 10 years from now?”
I’d say 90% of artists would struggle with clearly answering this question. The crazy thing is, if we don’t know where we want to go as artists, how do we expect to get to this mysterious destination?
While planning is something we stress about a lot here at Music With Flavor, the truth is a plan is nothing without a good foundation of goals to give your plan purpose and meaning.
Not just any type of goals either. Many of us think that we have set strong goals but usually they aren’t written down, are super vague or we haven’t taken the time to truly understand what it will take to accomplish them.
If you want success with your music career, it all begins with the type of goals that you set and I highly suggest you implement what are known as SMART Music Goals.
What is a SMART Music Goal?
As an independent musician trying to navigate the music industry, you will have limited time to work on everything from the creative to the business side of things.
Which is exactly why you should never begin anything without clear goals in mind. This is how you set your priorities and are able to focus on what’s important now.
Otherwise you will find yourself moving in a million different directions and not accomplishing anything. Yes, the shiny object syndrome that stunts so many artists growth.
Having SMART Goals however is what slows everything down for you as an artist. It allows you to get more strategic with your planning and use your resources more effectively.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant & Timely.
When creating your goals you need to ensure that they include all of these elements or chances are you won’t follow through. We as artists don’t want to rely on hopes, wishes and luck.
We want to control the things we can control and the more strategic we get with developing our goals the stronger we will be with our planning and eventually our execution.
How to develop your own SMART Goals
S – Specific
When creating your goals you need to be as specific as possible. Too often artists will have goals that they themselves don’t even understand fully. Saying “I want to be famous” or “I want to sell out stadiums” is not a specific goal.
Specific goals have elements that include the 5 W’s or the who, what, when, where, and why. When crafting your goals be sure to include these elements so that there is no question as to what exactly you are trying to accomplish.
Example: “I want to gain the skills and experiences required to go on a month long summer tour around Europe so that we can expand our fanbase and connections in that part of the world.
M – Measurable
This is hands down one of the more important aspects that every goal should have. Your goals begin to change when you start applying a number to it. More importantly it makes you more accountable.
This eliminates the grey area at the end of the day because when you start using numbers things become very black and white. It is either you hit your target or you didn’t.
Measurable goals force you to ask questions like how much? How Many? or How will I know when it’s accomplished?
This allows you to make better business decisions and adjust when necessary. There are a million different types of metrics and data that you can focus on but only a small percentage actually work to further your music career.
With that said, goals like “I want more Instagram followers” or “I want to sell more music” are not going to cut it. These goals need to be more specific and have a number attached to them.
Example: “I want to sell 100 CDs when I release my new album in December” or “I want to grow my email list to 200 fans by January”
A – Achievable
When it comes to making your goal achievable you will need to take stock of where you’re currently at with your career and also consider where you would like to go.
We mentioned the vague goal of selling out stadiums which may not be realistic if you haven’t released any music yet. However, you can make this into an achievable goal with a slight adjustment and by being more specific.
Essentially you need to ask yourself how will I accomplish this goal? and what resources will I need to accomplish this goal?
Once you’ve thought about these elements this suddenly becomes something you can start working towards accomplishing.
Example: “In 7 years I want to work with my team to grow my fanbase to over 20,000 strong so I can sell out the Staples Centre in Los Angeles”
R – Relevant
This is an aspect that can be tricky because you don’t want to set goals that won’t get you anywhere with your career. Essentially your goals need to challenge you and be worthwhile. They should make sense given the current point in time.
Especially when a lot of what we do as artists is reliant on the behaviour of the people we are trying to reach, we need to be aware of what’s going on around us.
Setting a goal of growing your engagement on MySpace when no one is using the platform anymore would not be a good goal. We even have to be aware of the things that are popular now but might fall out of favor one day.
Putting too much emphasis on Instagram when the platform may not exist one day is what I am referring to. Make sure your goals are relevant and more importantly make sure they are relevant to you and not the goals of someone else.
Wanting to tour the world because “that’s what artists do” is not relevant to you especially if that isn’t what you want from your music career. Maybe you only want to be well known locally. Regardless make sure your goals are your own and relevant to you.
Example: “I want to research the new Tik Tok social platform and see if there is any way for me to leverage this for my career”
T – Timely
Lastly, every goal needs a timeline or a date. Adding numbers and quantifying your goals is important but setting a deadline helps to set your priorities and gather the resources required to execute in a timely manner.
I don’t know about you but when I was in school there was something about deadlines and leaving things to the last minute. Whether it was cramming for a test or finishing that term paper the night before it was due.
Deadlines create urgency and pressure, something that we artists need to ensure things get done. Add a realistic timeline for getting things done and you will be surprised at how much more you get accomplished.
Ask yourself when can I get this done by? What do I want to accomplish next week? Next month? A year from now? And so on.
As an artist, using a calendar and treating it as your lifeline will go a long way in keeping you organized and productive no matter what comes your way.
Example: “I will send 50 emails to blogs and playlists asking for help with the promotion of my new single by July 26th, 2019.”
The Importance of SMART Goals for Musicians
Goal setting is something that should not be overlooked. If you’re planning to do great things you will need strong goals in place to guide your actions and lock in your priorities.
There are so many distractions in life and it becomes harder and harder everyday to stay focused on the task at hand. Don’t fall into the shiny object syndrome trap and ensure that you prepare yourself for success by implementing all the elements of a SMART goal.
While the things you intend to do won’t magically happen for you overnight, you can be certain they probably won’t happen at all if you don’t set your intentions now.
Create your goals today if you haven’t already. Make sure they are written down somewhere that you can review them daily and don’t be afraid to adjust them if you need to.
The roadmap to where you want to go is far from a straight path but with SMART goals, at least you will have the ability to know what to do next when you’ve hit a crossroads.
Kevin is the founder of Music With Flavor, which joined Whipped Cream Sounds in 2023. He is a seasoned musician turned industry expert. His passion for music goes beyond melodies; he delves deep into the intricate world of music marketing, striving to unearth the most effective strategies for indie musicians. However, Music With Flavor isn’t just about Kevin’s knowledge; it’s a network of industry experts handpicked to provide the most trusted advice. Kevin’s role is to pose the right questions, not just answer them, as he and his team tirelessly research trends, connect with artists, and gather valuable insights.