Most indie musicians work a day job (yay, capitalism). And it can be frustrating trying to balance your passion with your paycheck. We don’t talk about it enough. So here are four small but effective steps you can take this week to grow your music career while you work a day job.
Step 1: Create a Plan for Your Music Career
Time needed: 1+ hour
Setting your direction is the foundation of your music career. Otherwise, you may very well step out into the endless options offered by the music industry and get overwhelmed. Creating a plan is about saying “no” to most endeavors and saying “yes” to only a few.
Here are the basic steps to making a plan for your music career:
- Decide what your ideal music career looks like
- Find income streams based on your ideal career
- Set goals that keep you focused on those income streams
- Brainstorm several things you can do on any given day that will move you forward
And the beautiful thing about having a plan is, it can change. You can try things, make mistakes, find what works, and adjust. But having a plan at least gives you direction. You will at least be moving forward.
Step 2: Make a Music Creation Schedule
Time needed: 30+ minutes
Creating a schedule for your music career is the best way to hold yourself accountable. It’s a way to commit to moving toward what you want.
Here’s how I do it:
- Find a time each day when I know I’ll be free (can be as little as 15-20 minutes)
- Create an event in my iCal (ex. “do songwriting,” “record,” etc.)
- Set an alert for that event
So when I get an alert on my phone to do the thing I said I was going to do, I have no excuses. I’ve already made sure that I’m free during this window of time. Nothing is holding me back other than just getting started.
Step 3: Create a Marketing Strategy
Time needed: 1+ hour
I know, you may not like the idea of becoming a marketing person. That’s probably because sleazy marketers have given the whole industry a bad name. But think of it this way: you’re simply sharing the music you made in a creative way.
And if you want a career in music, you have to do marketing. There’s just no way around it. So set up a strategy for creatively sharing your music.
Here are some steps to get you started:
- Release the song before you promote it (and not until then)
- Use a site like Musicroamer to find indie artists with similar music to yours
- See what marketing content those indie artists are making and what’s working
- Use the same marketing methods they use but make them your own
- Create a repeating event in your calendar to market your music
For example, I’m focusing on TikTok to promote my music. Before I started, I looked at 2-3 artists with similar music who were doing well on TikTok. I looked for their best performing videos and analyzed what made them unique. Then I created a Google Doc and noted down TikTok video formats that I could use for my different songs.
Am I going viral? Heck, no. But every single time I post a video, people who didn’t know I existed like and comment on my videos, asking where they can stream the song. And I get multiple new followers with each video. The key is to find a marketing strategy that works for you and stay consistent with it.
Step 4 and Beyond: Do One Thing Each Day
Time needed: 30+ minutes a day
Now that you’ve found your direction forward, you’ve set aside time to create and market your music, and you’ve put those tasks in your calendar, it’s time to do stuff.
Based on the creation and marketing plans you made, pick at least one thing you can do each day. Put that task in your calendar, and try to do one thing a day for a month. You’ll see that it doesn’t actually take that much of your free time to make progress toward the music career you want.
The key is not volume, but consistency. Make a plan. Adjust as needed. But whatever you do, do a little bit every day and keep going.