If you’re a self-managed artist, you know that it takes a lot of hustle to get your music heard and keep your career on track.
You must think like an entrepreneur — which means you might feel like two separate people: an artist and a businessperson.
Luckily, it’s possible to bring your left and right brain together to create the foundation of your dream career.
To get the recognition you deserve, start with these three steps.
We call them the three pillars of success.
Pillar #1: Clarify your long-term career strategy
Most performers have a very narrow view of success. They envision performing at specific venues, collaborating with specific people, or touring for a specific amount of time.
It’s not that you don’t need a clear, specific vision — you do! It’s that, when you focus on those external factors, it’s easier to fall into the push-push-push mentality of going after something you think will make you happy.
But there’s a better way.
Instead of only being satisfied if you meet certain, external criteria, think about how success feels to you.
To do this, you must know what really matters to you in life — not just as a musician but as a person.
For example, fame and fortune might not be what you truly desire. You might feel more fulfilled by having ample time to explore creative ideas. Or success for you might be connecting to audiences in person, no matter how big or small. Or it might be about contributing to the larger good of humanity.
When you see success through this lens, you get less caught up in how successful you look on the outside and more in tune with your inner motivations.
Once you’re clear about what success means to you, you’re then able to take steps toward your personal vision of success, which leads to a much more fulfilling career — and life.
Pillar #2: Accurately portray who you are as an artist
Knowing who you are as an artist is an important part of your brand. When you’re clear about how you want to be perceived and what types of audiences you want to attract, you’re able to get more done in less time (because your energy becomes highly focused).
We recommend rooting your brand in your personal values. For instance, if you value rebelling against the status quo and making people see things differently, you can creatively demonstrate that energy in your branding. If you value philanthropy and giving back, you can use your brand to support those values.
When your brand is aligned with what matters most to you, you’ll feel more passionate when promoting yourself, and it will be easier to stay motivated as you pursue your career goals.
Pillar #3: Actively book engagements and performances
As you’ve heard us mention before, it’s crucial for you to take control of your career. Even if you have a manager or agent down the road, you’ll still be required to play a role in getting the word out about your performances, and packaging yourself in a way that stands out.
To take this a step further, you can even look for ways to create opportunities for others. This will establish you as a generous, helpful person — which is always appreciated in this industry.
We’ve seen many musicians trick themselves into thinking that they’re doing everything they can to promote themselves. But often, they’re putting their energy in the wrong places.
Your job is to get clear on the first two pillars, then take that information and communicate it clearly (and consistently!) to the rest of the world. You can do this through your website, crowdfunding, touring, or performing locally.
Where Do You Struggle the Most?
If there’s one pillar to success where you tend to struggle the most, focus on cultivating that skill over the next one to three months. This will ensure you can start 2017 off with a clear, purposeful goal.
And if you have any questions, leave a comment below. We’re always happy to help!