Tell me if this has happened to you…
You find a musician on social media. You like the song you hear, so you look it up on Spotify. Once you land on their Spotify page, the first thing you instinctively look at is the Monthly Listeners stat. It’s right at the top so it’s hard to miss.
And at that point, you make an instant judgment of them as an artist and the quality of their music. I’m sorry to all my fellow indie artists, but I definitely do this as a listener.
It’s either “Why doesn’t this artist have more listeners?!” or “How the heck does this person have so many listeners?!”
And as an artist, I check my Spotify for Artists every single day. It’s kind of embarrassing. I want to be the artist who just puts music out and doesn’t even pay attention to the numbers. But in today’s world, being an independent musician is like running a business. So you have to know the numbers.
The thing is, while tracking stats is important to see what’s working and what’s not, it’s very easy for it to become an obsession.
So all this to say, check yourself. Make sure your stat-checking is not becoming an obsession.
There’s a much deeper meaning to being a musician than stats. Let’s talk about it.
How Do I Find My Purpose as an Artist?
Purpose is what keeps you going and gives you meaning as a musician. But how do you find your purpose as an artist? Here are some things that have helped me…
Match your career goals to your personality
Everyone’s music career will look different, so you have to figure out what you want yours to look like. And to do that, there are two big questions you can ask yourself.
What are you doing when you lose track of time?
When you’re doing music and you lose track of time, that means you’re doing what you love. You’re in the zone. This is also called “flow state.”
For me, my flow happens when I’m writing and recording songs. I might be in my studio for what seems like 20 minutes, but it turns out to be two hours.
What are you doing when you get into the flow? That will tell you what kind of musician you want to be.
What do you really want to do all day?
Imagine something with me.
Imagine one of your super fans comes to you and says, “I want to pay you an annual salary. But you have to do something every day to move your music career forward. Treat music as your new day job — your new career.”
If that happened, what would you do all day? If money were no concern and you could do music 7-8 hours a day, what would you fill the time with?
Your answer will tell you what you want to be.
Build a plan based on your ideal career
Once you figure out what you want your music career to look like, you need to set goals to get you there. This way, you’re only competing against yourself, not other artists. You’re only tracking your progress and focusing on your success.
To build a full music career plan, check out this guide.
Focus on the process, not the destination
Remember why you got into music. Remember the high you got from playing your first chord progression, writing your first song, or playing your first show. Intentionally remind yourself of the joy music brings you.
This will keep you focused on the process of creating instead of your stats or even your income.
Success is the release
You have to define your own success. And I can confidently say that releasing a song is a success. To write, record, mix, master, and release a song is a big deal. You should be proud. When you put a song out into the world, you are successful, even in that small way.
Share and connect
When one of your songs connects with a fan on a deep level, there’s no feeling like it. Something you made has altered someone else’s life (hopefully in a positive way). And there’s no better feeling as a musician.
So put your music out there. Talk to and connect with the people who like your music. The human-to-human connection is the reason why I keep releasing music.