One of the most frequent things we hear from musicians after we give our instructional talks is "Help! There's so much to do, where do I begin?"...

File Under: Building Your Music Business

Tomorrow we'll be presenting in Chicago at SAE. If you're in the area, join us! One of the most frequent things we hear from musicians after we give these info-packed instructional talks is "Help! There's so much to do, where do I begin?"

Every time we give one of our talks we leave our audiences awash in notes, advice, lists, and how-tos. Even this web column alone The DIY Advisor is already up to nearly 100 articles of practical advice. The thing is, what we write and speak about took us years not only to learn but implement.

Focusing on the end result immediately is like looking at a finished cake and not realizing it was created one step at a time, with different ingredients. So our advice -- which comes from a band with over 20 albums, multiple license deals, and a 365 song-of-the-day project is: take it one step at a time.

In the one and half years we've produced this weekly web column, we've done our best to give you bite-sized pieces of actionable advice from our constant research, interviews, and courses we teach. We know this is a daunting number of things to do. But you shouldn't -- and can't -- do it all at once. Choose one thing at a time and from there.

Of all the successful musicians we've interviewed, most succeeded because they were persistent and didn't give up. That said, here are a few tips to help get yourself organized, minimize the feeling of being overwhelmed, and ensure you're making progress even though there's only so much time in the day:

1. Space out your music releases on a calendar.

Decide when you're going to be releasing your music, videos, and major content. These are the big items, and most of the things you need to do hang off of these. If you plan out your year, you can also ensure that you'll always have new things to share with your fans throughout the year. Check out our Master Class feature at Electronic Musician, Make Spotify Work for You, to learn more about how to approach your music releases so the business items such as registration, promotion, getting heard, etc. aren't as overwhelming.

2. Work backwards from your release date to schedule what needs to be done ahead of time.

Once you know what you're going to release and when, work backwards from the release date to figure out what needs to be done before it's released. For example, before you release any music into the world, go through the EM Master Class: Song Release Checklist we wrote. This will help remind you what steps to take to ensure you register your copyrights, song/sound recording royalties, and music credits. That way the music you release can generate revenue for you on day one.

There's no reason to limit this to just registrations. Use your calendar to plot out your marketing campaign to promote the release, your social networking plans, your get heard campaign, and other work ahead of your release.

3. Make and use checklists.

We break up our tasks into lists to make sure that we don't miss anything. It's a Song Release Checklist for a reason. Your album releases, for example, should include items like updating your website with the new album, updating your press page, your bio and fact sheets, and more. Don't forget these little things by creating a quick checklist. We use Google Drive so it's always accessible online whenever we need to review it to make sure we thought of everything.

4. Use a team.

Most of the reasons why people get overwhelmed with the business side is that they think that they have to do everything themselves. This is yet another reason why you need a team. None of the successful artists that you might admire are doing it themselves. They have people helping them behind the scenes.

Successful music businesses are not built quickly. Some "overnight successes" took over 10 years, and the kids that you see that are successful immediately usually have an experienced team of industry veterans behind the scenes working out the details. All of this takes time, but if you pull together people to help you and make a plan and break it into bite-sized chunks, you can scope what you're planning on doing to what you can handle and make progress with your business through the year.


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Photo credit: Melissa Wiese