1. Set small, realistic goals for today
Long-term goals are vital to succeeding or improving any task or skill, as they give us something tangible to work towards and help clarify the path to personal improvement. Having only big goals, such as “improving my sight-reading” or “writing a new record,” however, can be overwhelming. While these are great targets to have, you also need an approach to actually get to them. That’s where small goals come into play.
2. Meet somebody new
The importance of networking has been beaten into the brains of the majority of serious musicians worldwide. It’s true that having a strong and large network can be the key to a successful music career, but how do you actually go about building it?
Figure out who to meet
Anybody that’s involved in the music industry can be a useful connection, but in order to narrow it down, it helps to target people in specific locations. I try to pay close attention to radio DJs and music bloggers that have great personalities, cover the kind of music that I like, and like to cover bands and artists at various stages of their careers. (Some of these folks love to help out bands that are just starting out, while others won’t cover you unless you’re well-established locally or even nationally.) I look out for these kinds of people both on a local level and on a regional level. If you take your music on the road, or have aspirations to, it’s important to make some friends in all of the cities in which you play, not just your hometown. Connections to make can include journalists, DJs, producers, managers, promoters, publicists, and most importantly, other bands and musicians.
Actually start reaching out
If possible, the best way to meet anybody is in person. Reach out to your current network and see if anybody personally knows whomever you’re trying to connect with. If somebody else can make an introduction for you, the connection will have more personal value to the person you are trying to meet.
3. Practice something you’re bad at
Even for people who practice their craft every day, a lot of time gets wasted on skills that you already have a degree of proficiency in. There’s definitely a certain satisfaction in doing what you’re good at, but focusing entire practice sessions on it will stunt your growth. This applies to more than just practicing an instrument; it can be anything to do with music, such as composing, songwriting, mixing, or networking.
Increase this time gradually until you’re spending your entire practice sessions on skills that actually to be practiced. This is how to truly practice productively.
4. Check out a new album
This is an easy one to throw on the to-do list. It doesn’t matter what you do in music – listening is an absolute key component. Whether you’re a performer or writer acquiring new sounds and inspiration, or an A&R representative looking for some new talent, if you aren’t listening to music and expanding your sonic universe on a daily basis, you’re missing out on the most important piece of the puzzle.
5. Explore a new hobby
Music, however fun it may be, is hard work. You’ll need to take some time to let your brain recover at some point every day, or possibly a few times every day. Even if you aren’t “working,” these break periods can still be used productively.
If you don’t have any hobbies, trying new things should be put on your daily to-do list. Great choices are activities that keep you fit and active, such as running, swimming, or yoga. As I mentioned before, it can also be very beneficial to find other hobbies in the musical realm that keep you improving even during your break times, such as songwriting, composing, mixing, or instrument repair. The world is vast. Go out and do something!