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5 Tools, Tips For Dodging Artist Burnout

1As an entrepreneuring DIY artist, your career is going require massive amounts of time and energy, meaning this risk for burnout is incredibly high. Here we look at some tips for how to avoid burnout and the negative effect it has on your creative output.


Guest post by Kodi Vonn of Bandbasher

Burnouts are creativity killers. They can make your music sound forced. To continue to develop as an artist, follow these tips.

1. Take Breaks 

This should be a no-brainer but it’s something passionate professionals in every field forget—and forget often. You get so involved in a project that you forget to eat, maybe forget about your laundry that’s piling up in the corner, or even forget to keep an appointment. Don’t drop that level of dedication (it’s what will keep you pushing through the hard times when you’ll think about giving up) but learn when to step back and take a breath so you don’t completely burn out.

If you’re the type to get lost in your work, try the Pomodoro Technique. The technique trains you to split your workday into segments (as short as 25 minutes) where you can by hyper-focused, then take a break, then repeat throughout the day. The technique gets its name from a line of tomato-shaped kitchen timers (pomodoro is Italian for tomato), and that’s essentially all you need to put this technique to work for you. Most phones come with timers but if you’re looking for something with a few extra features, try one of the following:

2. Don’t Engage Every Opportunity 

When all you want to do is break into the music business, it can be almost impossible to turn down an opportunity. You feel like every one could be the one that pushes you to the big time. This is one of the fastest ways to spread yourself too thin and ensure that you’re not able to put your full effort into a project. The trick isn’t in chasing down every opportunity, but just the right ones for your career.

How do you decide what’s right and what’s not?

As an artist and entrepreneur (because that’s what you are as a musician, producer, engineer, manager, etc.) you should have a set of solid, doable, and easy-to-explain goals. These goals are all of the steps you need to take to further your career (like recording an album, booking shows, or increasing your social media following by amount of people). Not every opportunity is going to put you closer to achieving your current goal—some opportunities will actually take time and resources away from reaching a goal. So if an opportunity comes along that doesn’t put you one step closer then consider passing on it for the time being.

Need help managing your goals? Try:

  • Strides Habit Tracker (available on multiple devices/browsers). “Track anything you want… any way you want.”
  • GoalsOnTrack (available across multiple platforms) helps you break bigger goals up into smaller ones. It uses the ever-popular SMART technique for goal-setting (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely).

artist development burnout hobby photography

3. Get a Hobby 

You need a refuge, a safe place for your brain to go to for a break from your “job” of being an artist. Many people think music is their hobby, but this isn’t the attitude you want to have about what should be your music career. If anything music is your second job Practicing your craft (playing an instrument, singing, producing, etc.) may have started as a hobby, but no longer.

Now, this isn’t to say your hobby, your mental getaway, can’t in some way contribute to your music career. If you like to read, there are plenty of music business books and artist (auto)biographies to enlighten you on the music business. If you like to workout, listen to industry podcasts or new music while you’re sweating. The goal is to make it feel like you’re getting away from work.

A popular book these days, recommended by many music execs, is Streaming, Sharing, Stealing: Big Data and the Future of Entertainment by Michael D. Smith and Rahul Telang.

Or learn a new language with Duolingo, learn to draw your album artwork with Artfonica, or learn how to become a stellar photographer with the guided lesson app, Elements of Photography.

4. Work with a Purpose 

Not to belabor the point, but setting goals for yourself can do a lot for your career. The grind to become successful can feel like it stretches on forever without end. You need goals, you need milestones, to give yourself a chance to pat yourself on the back and celebrate. Have you ever delayed finishing a task because you weren’t sure what to do next? Small, measurable goals allow you to always know the direction in which you’re headed and the next step you need to take.

You already have some goal-setting and time management resources listed above, so here are a couple options to keep your head in the game:

  • Coach.me (available on multiple platforms) provides three levels of aid: 1) to help you build good habits with support from the coach.mecommunity, 2) actual life coaches who work with you to achieve your goals, and 3) a leadership coaching program.
  • Quotes (link to the iOs app) is for those who just need simple, daily inspiration delivered automatically.

artist development burnout switch routing

5. Switch Up Your Routine

The creative process is very similar to muscle memory. At a certain point, you’ve done something so many times you take the “soul” out of it without thinking and are just working on autopilot. Sometimes all you need is a change of pace, scenery, or faces. Write a song in the park while people-watching, or write one in a cave completely alone. Collaboration can also be a great way to get yourself out of a rut. Work with someone whose music inspires you or work with someone outside your genre.

To get out of your bubble and collaborate with like-minded people in music, Bandbasher’s Connection tool makes it easy. Simply log in, and use the search bar at the top to look for vocation (singer, rapper, guitarist, producer, etc.), skill (songwriting, tracking, mixing, etc.), and even location. You’ll be able to view their skins and social connections, check out their work, and chat about ideas.

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Follow these tips, avoid the burnout, and continue your artist development to reach your career goals.