How does an independent DIY musician promote their music?

In this week’s episode, I’m going to start diving into a question I get asked a lot. And that is, “How does an independent DIY musician promote their music?” This question could be a year-long course. But because this is a bite-size sort of podcast, I’m going to talk about how to start. More specifically, I’ll be chatting about how musicians can balance their music career, promote their music and get things done.

If you have no idea where to start, this is one of the best places to because it’ll help you organize your priorities, ensure things get done and goals are being reached.

So, as a DIY musician, where do you start? Right now, you probably have a number of things on your plate. You might have a project you’re working on. You might be wondering how to go on a small tour. You might wonder how to grow your fanbase. All the while, you’re trying to make money. You might not be making money through your music quite yet, so you may be working another job. You might even be in school or other obligations that pull you away from your music – like family. On top of all this – you’re trying to figure out how to market your music.

You might be led to think, “hopefully, I can get discovered and someone else can handle it for me.” But the reality is, this doesn’t really happen. This is rare and very challenging.

As a DIY musician with tons of other non-music related obligations, you need to be smart with your time and strategic with your efforts. So, how do you start?

How does an independent DIY musician promote their music

First, you want to start with a SMART goal. A SMART goal is an acronym for a specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and time-sensitive goal. Before I give an example of what a SMART goal is, I’ll give an example of what it isn’t. First, a SMART goal isn’t something that’s like, “I want to be a successful musician” or “I’d like to make money with my music.” Why? Because these goals are vague. It’s missing specificity, a deadline and it’s not measurable. Furthermore, it’s unclear what the specific actions are. The dangers in having a vague goal like this is that you may not even reach it at all because you don’t know where to start.

When you’re starting out, you want to decide on something specific. You might ask yourself, “What goal will make tremendous impact in my life and music career?” You want to start out with ONE goal in the beginning. If you try to tackle too many with a limited time constraint, you may not be able to tackle any at all.

Let’s break down the goal I mentioned earlier. Let’s say you’d like to make money with your music. What are the specific goals you’ll need to accomplish in order to make that happen? You might need to reach a certain number of fans via email or Facebook. You might need to create an album. So, let’s say you’d like to grow your fanbase. A SMART goal example would be to “Grow my fanbase to 50 e-mail subscribers in a month by using a free single.”

This is a specific, actionable goal. The time-frame is within a month; it’s relevant to your bigger goal; and it’s measurable with the 50 email subscribers.

Next, you want to make sure that you give yourself time to be able to accomplish this goal. Look at your schedule and identify and block out an hour or two, maybe 5 days a week. Make sure that it’s uninterrupted and nothing competes with that time or your attention.

After you decided when and perhaps where you’d like to work on your SMART goal, list out specific actionable steps you’ll need to do to get things done. For the 50 subscribers, you might want to make sure you have a freebie single to give away. You might need to set-up a mailing list, a place to gather sign-ups, a small marketing campaign on social media, or you might need to create your freebie single. Whatever it takes to achieve that goal, write out every actionable step that’s needed to be done and dedicate time to do it.

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One hurdle that you might encounter is deciding when to do things. If you’re like most DIY musicians – you’re probably busy with a lot of things: family, work, school, music, etcetera. So, as you’re considering your schedule, make a list of everything that you do and prioritize them from lowest to highest priority. Then, create a schedule where you block out hours to do certain things. This will keep you on task and eventually create a rhythm. There are studies that argue that fixed schedules, lists, and timelines actually encourage productivity because you’re keeping yourself accountable to finishing things at a certain time. For example, if you have a 9-5 job, you want to make sure you complete what you need to by 5PM. After that, if you have other things to do, you are more willing to let go of excessive tasks that compete with what you’re prioritizing because you have limited time.

As your prioritizing, you may need to create a “NO” list. A “NO” list is everything that could potentially distract you from your schedule or task. We all have them. This could be Netflix running in the background, YouTube, Facebook stalking, constantly checking e-mail, texting your friends incessantly, some more stalking but on Snapchat, and more. If these things are a must, you’ll need to make sure that you block out time for that and don’t GO over it. For me, I limit my entertainment until the weekend. I used to have Netflix or YouTube running in the background while I work, but then I realized that my productivity shriveled and I worked slower. There was so much I wanted to watch, but then there was so much I wanted to do. So, in order to alleviate my entertainment addiction, I allowed myself a “reward” on the weekend after my tasks were done.

If you’re like me and there are distractions that impede your productivity, create a “NO” list and list each activity one by one. Then decide how you might suppress or move those activities for another time.

Finally, after all your organizing, it’s time to dive right into your action steps!

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