I was born with a song to sing. I want thousands of people singing my lyrics back to me.
It’s tough. It really is. As much as I want to be a full-time musician, I have bills to pay. And while our music (gigs, merch, album sales) have climbed substantially the last six months, it’s not enough to have me quit my day job. That's coming though. How do I know?
First, some background. I’m the lead singer, songwriter, and assistant manager of my band. I’ve played in several incarnations, but this one is THE ONE. I’ve kept us together writing songs, creating arrangements, booking gigs, doing social media, promotions, and playing, all while working. I love it, but it's hard work.
Here are my tips as to how I’ve managed, and think these will help you too. I will also tell you why we’re going to achieve our lofty goals.
1. Have a Strategy, and Keep to It:
It’s the most important tip that our manager told me. Paramount to not only my sanity but our increased success has been to sit down, map out our goals and plans, AND EXECUTE. We review it periodically, yet we remain unwavering in our commitment. It’s been very difficult for me to “let go” and want everything to happen immediately, but having this road map and our journey mapped out makes it easier to know that daily mountains and hurdles become anthills.
2. RIP: Respond, Interact, and Prioritize:
Social media is a huge part of our marketing plan. I’ve turned off all of my iPhone notifications for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook so I’m not barraged with interruptions from social media and notifications. The key for our responses and our campaigns has been to plan them in advance and schedule posts, pictures, and events, but also to interact on sporadic intervals with our fans.
I make it a point to respond to every inquiry, post, and request. It might not be immediate, but it does happen. I do have other things to do! That’s a huge change from my past, where I had a slight-OCD complex and had to respond to everything immediately. My life has been better because I now wait. You should, too.
3. Read. Refine. Repeat:
I hate to read (not really, but I’m busy). I do, however, love to learn. Can’t have one without the other. So I read all the time. Blogs, posts, articles. Most of them are not worth the time, but I try to take something positive out of every one – it’s a great opportunity to learn something new and you don’t know what will happen until you’re done! There are many sources I trust, and many I just laugh at, but there’s always that chance. Read, and be open to new things. We wouldn’t be where we are if I wasn’t open to improvement and change.
I can’t tell you the hundreds of text messages and emails my manager and I share with each other every single week (helps to have an unlimited cell plan, ha!). As much as I hate having emails in my inbox (they mean I have something to do!) I love every one. It means someone cares about me as much (if not more so) than I do. Get someone in your life and your musical journey that you trust. And talk! Share everything. Two minds are more powerful than one. Admittedly, letting go was the hardest thing I’ve done. But in letting go, I gained so much more. You will, too.
5. (Bonus Tip) Be Gracious. Be Open. Love Others and Yourself:
Hamlet. Polonius. “To thy own self, be true.” Share. Bring smaller acts onto your gigs as openers. You have to give it to receive it. Like other bands on Facebook. Tweet support to bands you met on your show card.
And by all means, without fail, and without canceling, spend time on yourself. Take time to write. To practice (my band practices every Tuesday, and a day or two before every show) and I take time to practice and write every week. It’s on the schedule, and I stick to it. It’s great for my sanity. And every little bit we give to others comes back in spades to us. Quite honestly, we’ve met phenomenal people and have gotten tremendous success buy just being kind to others. Doesn’t cost anything to tweet or share, and the value received is phenomenal.
We’ve played for thousands of fans at some of the largest arenas in the area, and continue to strive higher by doing everything I just mentioned.