Social media followings. Spotify monthly listeners. Email subscribers. Website visitors. These are all stats that, while important, are not defining. You are not your stats. You should be tracking your stats, but that can very easily lead to obsession.
Why You Need To Track Your Stats
If you’re trying to turn music into your career (or you already have), you have to treat it like a small business. Yes, there’s the artistic aspect of creating. But after you’ve created the thing, it’s time to enter CEO mode.
You need to know what’s working, what’s not working, what you can improve, what you can test. You’ll be operating your business blind if you don’t look at your stats.
Ask any marketing person and they’ll tell you how important statistics are. Pretty much 100% of marketing relies on the numbers to show how to proceed. And because marketing has to be part of your business plan, you have to pay attention to how your songs are performing.
Numbers give you an idea of what songs people like, which then tells you what songs you should focus on promoting. And maybe even what type of songs you could focus on making more of.
As part of the 5×5 Method, I track my stats to plot my overall progress. Here are some numbers I keep tabs on:
- Social media followers (Instagram/TikTok/YouTube/etc.)
- Spotify followers
- Spotify monthly listeners
- Spotify/Apple Music streams
- Email subscribers
These categories may be different for you based on your ideal music career. The point is, track the stats that are important to your goals, then use those numbers to direct your path forward.
Why You Need To Be Cautious of Your Stats
Okay, now let’s talk about why you should be cautious of your statistics.
Simply put, stats don’t equal the quality of your art. I’ve found artists with just 200 monthly listeners on Spotify who’s music is so good. Likewise, I’ve listened to artists with 200,000 monthly listeners and been underwhelmed.
Focusing too much on your numbers can lead to a fictitious mountaintop or an unnecessary valley.
If your numbers are too low (according to your ego), you can start to think lowly of yourself. You can start to believe that your art sucks.
On the other hand, the higher your numbers are, the easier it is to think too highly of your art and lose the drive to improve. Or it may lead to arrogance.
Track your stats. But don’t live or die by them.
The Solution: Trust Your Gut
If you sense yourself paying too much attention to your numbers, go back to the art. Create something. The CEO in your head is too loud. You need to bring the artist back to the table.
Another downside of statistics is their debilitating power over your creativity. You can start to think you have to make a certain type of song. Or you may think you shouldn’t make anything at all because “no one listens.”
The solution is to always trust your gut. Create because it gives you life, not as an attempt to boost your numbers.
“The best work is the work you are excited about,” says Rick Rubin in his book The Creative Act.
You are a complex human being who creates and shares art you’re excited about. You are not your numbers.