Homework?! How old are we, 15??? Thank God, we’re past that stage (I assume). But yes, I’m definitely suggesting homework. That you give yourself. To reiterate -- that’s more work… that you give yourself. So you know a few weeks ago when we talked about making your music project your job… even when it’s not? Yeah, this is part of that.
Some artists instinctively have a pretty good idea of what they should be doing to advance their careers. Others are lost little puppies, barking up the wrong tree and getting sad when no one pays attention to them. If you are that puppy then this post is for you (we’ve all been that puppy). If you feel like you’re in a rut and things aren’t progressing like you’d like them to, then I suggest giving yourself some extra tasks (with all of that free time, ha). I even suggest taking it a step further and writing them down. There’s something about seeing something in front of your face that makes you feel a little more like staying on track.
“Well how do I give myself things to do when I don’t know WHAT to do in the first place?? GAH you’re so freaking dumb with this advice thing”
I’m glad you asked, friend! You’re sweet. The first step is to look at what’s missing and then start to piece together small things you can do that will help. I’ll give you some examples and then you can take it and run with it:
- Are you bummed that no one is taking you on tour? Or that you aren’t playing shows at all? Well.... big shock here - GO TO SHOWS. Your homework is at least one club show per week. Meet the bands, meet the promoters if they are around and available (don’t go harass them), hell meet the bartenders! You might be surprised at who might want to help you out.
- Do you hate your brand and think it looks like garbage? Your homework is to take an hour or so a day to look through people you love. Eventually that cool brand stuff will seep into your brain (this is real, I’ve scienced it).
- Do you feel like your brain is tapped out and you aren’t writing songs that make sense? Your homework is to carry around a notepad (or use your phone’s voice memos) and attempt to add one turn of phrase or idea each day for a few weeks. They don’t have to be good - it’s just to exercise your noodle. Extra credit if you find a group of songwriters who are on your level who will set up a co-write with you each week.
I can’t tell you exactly what you need to be doing, but you can definitely figure it out. The overarching point here is to give yourself strict tasks to do each day/week/month. By checking them off not only will you feel more productive, but chances are you will actually BE more productive. It’s crazy how that works out.
Real life scenario #1: before Ron goes on tour he knows he needs to beef up his guitar playing, so 4-5 times a week he wakes up an hour earlier and does a few lessons.
Real life scenario #2: I used to manage a band that didn't have the money for a big publicist (and had been burned by an expensive & lack luster campaign with one), but they knew they had a release coming up that definitely warranted press. One of the band members spent hours each day in the months leading up to the release researching press outlets and the best contact to reach out to. They crafted a great pitch email and then got to work being their own publicist. And it worked! They got GREAT press for a band that did it on their own.
REASON TO IGNORE THIS ADVICE: Your band played one show/had one song, got signed with a massive advance, managers threw themselves at you, and you have backlog of 50 worldwide hits in your brain. You figured something out, so just run with that.
What am I reading? Advice by the Slice is a weekly blog giving independent/growing artists small pieces of advice throughout the year. Through growing Ron Pope’s career from baby-sized part time gig to (what most consider) a successful independent full-time thing with millions of streams, sold out tours, and living as a mostly full grown adult, we get questions all the time about how to “make it.” Full disclosure: We are not experts and there is no formula. However, these are things we’ve tried along the way and have proven to be positive for an artist. Why one piece weekly? Well, we often feel like throwing a whole lot of advice/opinions at someone makes them want to crawl in a hole and say goodbye to the music industry forever, so this feels a little more manageable. Also, by the slice pizza joints are the best spots on earth, so this is also our tribute to those guys. So, here’s to a year’s worth of tricks to try and slices of pie. Cheers!
QUESTIONS? Email us at email@example.com