This article originally appeared on The DIY Musician Blog.
You want to take things to the next level in 2016, build a bigger fanbase, play more shows, make better music, get more video views, bring in more revenue. Well, the start of the year is the perfect time to put a new plan into action. But while you're setting your music career goals for 2016, watch out for these all-too-common mistakes.
1. Over committing Playing in three different bands?
Planning a tour while also managing your town's adult soccer league? Thinking of moving to a new apartment the same month as you're releasing an album? Stop! Maybe you should streamline, focus, pare down, and cut back so you can invest most of your creativity and energy in the project you deem most important.
2. Missing your windowsWant to plan a summer tour?
Start booking now! Gonna put out a new single in April? Start shooting the video now! Gonna put out a Christmas album at the end of 2016? Start recording now! Don't wait. Don't procrastinate. Don't underestimate the time or energy something will take (especially something that potentially costs a lot of money, like a recording project or tour). Time keeps speeding by, and you don't want to do a half-assed job by rushing through something this important.
3. Not making the most of your opportunities
Every album release, every new single, every video launch, every concert can be an event around which you rally your efforts and the enthusiasm of your fans, and maybe the press, too. Don't squander those opportunities with poor planning or little action. Instead, start building towards them well in advance, creating anticipation (through social media, email, or otherwise), and continue to promote them long after they're "news."
4. Ignoring your back catalog
We have a tendency to push our newest song or album at the exclusion of our older material. It's understandable. That's what's fresh and feels like the most accurate reflection of where we are today as artists.
Even your old music is always new to somebody. And with unlimited digital shelf space, you can keep promoting and selling all your music, not just the latest release. Plus, music supervisors who place music in TV and film productions don't care how new a piece of music is; they only care how perfect it is for the scene or the subject. So make sure your entire catalog is signed up for worldwide distribution, YouTube monetization, sync licensing,publishing royalty collection, and more.
5. Sticking to the well-worn path
It's easy to get into the mindset of saying, "Oh, this is how my favorite band made it, so I should be doing that." Or, "It seems like all the buzz bands today are doing such and such, so let's do that, too." Now more than ever – thanks in large part to the internet – there's no proven path. You should do things your way. You should do things that make sense for your life, your goals, your passions.
You could be a successful touring musician who's never made a music video. You could be a YouTuber who has no interest in performing live. You could give your music away for free on your website and earn most of your revenue through merch sales or sponsorships. You could only perform at house concerts and sell nothing but vinyl records. Or you could distribute music everywhere and earn a living by tapping into all of these revenue streams.
The point is, do what you want. That goes for your music, your vibe, your presentation, your distribution methods, and everything else. If it feels right, it is right. Because that's what will continue to inspire you in 2016 and beyond.
[Interestingly, I think this also means you can ignore any of the advice I've given above – as long as what you are doing is working for you.]
What mistakes did you make in 2015? What are your plans for 2016? Let us know in the comments below.
Chris Robley is an indie-pop songwriter whose music has been praised by the LA Times, NPR, the Boston Globe, and more. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in Poetry magazine, Prairie Schooner, Boulevard, and others. Robley is also the editor of CD Baby's DIY Musician Blog.