009: How Are You Growing Your Career?
Are you growing fast enough?
Do you know how your business is growing? Do you even think of your musical career as a business? Are you already feeling stressed thinking about these questions? Do you want the stress to stop? The reality is at some point you’ll need to ask the important questions if you want to truly succeed.
Growth can be measured any number of ways, and it really depends on what your focus is - ticket sales, Spotify streams, CD sales, downloads, email sign ups. It is simple enough to track these numbers month over month and see how things are progressing. You can then set goals to achieve based on past performances and attempt to exceed them during your next tour or album release. Now if all of this is sounding a bit abstract and purposeless, it should. Numbers for numbers sake is never helpful - and can lead to spread-sheet-itis. The type of growth I want to talk about isn’t numbers based.
There are plenty of articles or books you can read, and videos you can watch on how to grow, but if you don’t have a purpose for that growth you don’t have a foundation to build on. I’m not going to talk about numbers, I’m not going to talk about %, that is not what growth is about at its core. I said at the start of this article that at some point you need to ask the important questions if you want to truly succeed. The important question is not how are you growing, but why? What are you growing for?
Envision where you want to be in 10 years. Do you want to own a house? Do you want to have kids? Do you want to live the van life and travel the world? This stuff goes beyond your music career, but it is vitally important. Your career will play into your 10 year vision, obviously, but think beyond just your music. Where do you want to be in 10 years? Now figure out roughly the income you’ll need to support that lifestyle. I know I know, I said I wasn’t going to talk about numbers, but we need to talk about a few. If you’ve got that number, break down your revenue streams, how much do you make now from live shows, digital sales, physical sales, licensing, royalties etc. Add that up and compare it to where you want to be in 10 years. This will give you an idea of where you need to grow - you might be surprised, you might realize you’re not actually all that far off from what you need to live the type of lifestyle you want. Or you’ll realize some serious focus is needed to live the life you want.
All too often we set career goals based on what others are doing, or the typical path people take to success. But the reality is, and even more so now, there is no typical path.
But without a typical path, combined with the fact that you may not know where you’re trying to get to (your future life) it’s pretty hard to have a direction to your career and measure if any progress is being made. I’ve found that the stress people have around the growth of their career has less to do with what they are measuring, and everything to do with why they are measuring it. If you know what you’re aiming for you’ll be less stressed - regardless of how you are progressing - because you’ll have a clear picture. The stress comes from being uncertain about where you are going, but still internally judging how fast you are getting there.
Take the time to clearly define where you are heading. Take the time to figure out what you will actually need to do to get there. Then only worry about those things - let go of the stress of the unknown and embrace the challenge of the goals you’ve set for yourself.