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A Musician’s Guide To Setting And Achieving Goals For 2012

The last half of 2011 was intense for a lot of us.  The financial news across the world remained bleak, Occupy Wall Street was all over the news as the 99% spoke up to be heard.

The music business continued to take hits with Spotify’s arrival and news of more layoffs at record labels and management companies as we all scratched our heads to blog about positive things and good outcomes.

Many of you may have seen this article (or another one) on setting goals as they crop up at this time of year.

It’s a new year and a clear slate is in front of all of us. The turning of the calendar from 2011 to 2012 is an ideal time to set your goals. I see a marked difference between artists who set finite goals and those who do not regardless of what is happening in the world and in the news.

Ask yourself: Is this the year I want to make a difference for my music career?  And if so – what difference and how?

Think of goal setting as if you were driving in a foreign place – You wouldn’t get where you expect to go without a clear set of directions. Goal setting is like drawing a map for yourself.

This article is designed to assist you in creating a personal roadmap for achieving what you would like with your musical career this year, whether you consider music your hobby and you do it part time or you are making a living out of it full-time.

I have included a few links from some of the best musician related posts on how to think about and achieve goals as well.  So, bookmark this long article and refer to it throughout the year!


Many studies have proven that long-term perspective is the most accurate single predictor of upward social and economic mobility in America. And it has been proven that people who have goals written down are much more likely to achieve them.


STEP 1: Write Down Your Focus Areas

Here is a list of some areas you may want to focus on. Skip the ones that are not for you and write out each focus area goal.

Branding – Your look and feel your image and health or your pitch and overall messaging.

Marketing – What will you do this year for your marketing plans.

Newsletter -  It’s still the #1 way to make money!  What will you do to create and send yours 12 – 24 times this year & how many people can you add to your e-mail list.

Website  – Building a new one or diversifying your online presence?

Social Networking  – How’s your Facebook Fan Page looking? How many tweets do you send each week?

PR – Getting covered on radio, print, or online.

Booking – Touring or local gigs this year or a combination?

New Music – How much will you release?

Money – How much money you would like to earn?

Film & TV Placements – Will you work towards them this year?

Expanding Your Fan Base – How will you do this?

Team – Will you be trying to get a manager or a booking agent?

Time – How will you manage to balance your time this year to make sure you can focus on your musical goals?

Songwriting – Recording an album or EP this year or just releasing singles as they come?

Instrument – Buying a new instrument or taking lessons?

Personal Health – So your performance is better – exercise, eating  etc.

STEP 2: Write Your Goals Down

•  Write each goal as if it is already happening – use the present tense

• Give dates by when you want to achieve each one

• Your goals should involve you and only you (they can’t be contingent on someone else)

•  Make them so they are realistically achievable

• Start with small goals so I can get them checked off the list and get in momentum fast!

• Make sure they make you FEEL MOTIVATED to complete!  Derek Sivers wrote great commentary on this:

STEP 3: Look At Them Everyday

I highly recommend writing your goals neatly on paper or creating a vision board that illustrates them. Use colored pens or make a collage that brings them to life and hang them in a place where you can see them everyday.

Keeping them within your sights will keep them in your mind

Carla Lynne Hall at Rockstar Life Lessons has a fabulous guide on how to create a vision board on her blog:


1. Start With An Easy Goal And Complete It

One of the main reasons people don’t end up achieving their goals / keeping their new years resolutions is they set themselves up for failure by choosing goals that take a lot of discipline and time to achieve. There is nothing wrong with having big goals however, here’s what I recommend to overcome this issue…

Choose a simple goal and get it achieved within the next two weeks. This will start your momentum and get you feeling like you are in full forward motion.

Think of a small, achievable goal that only takes four to five hours to complete.

Choose something like:

  • Organize cluttered studio
  • Clean off desk
  • Delete unwanted files from computer & emails
  • Recycle last years unwanted papers
  • Write one new song

Next, set a date when you will get it done by and go for it.

Now that you have achieved a goal within the first two weeks of the new year, the rest of your goal setting will seem a lot easier to accomplish, and you will be able to get things off your plate.

2. Make Lists To Stay On Track 

• Make daily lists of what you need to do to get your goals met – the night before! Do the hardest thing first in the morning – don’t procrastinate.

• Do something everyday that moves you towards the goals

• Delegate the little activities that waste your valuable time to other people (you would be amazed what you could do with 4 hours it takes to clean your house).

• Don’t overload yourself – studies show that 6 tasks is the maximum you can achieve in one day!

3.  Get Help

Build a TEAM to help you!! Get an intern or two – log on to and read for inspiration and post as an employer seeking interns – you will be amazed at how many bright young people would like to get their feet wet in the business.

If you are not comfortable with the idea of an intern then ask a friend or a family member to help you.  Schedule just 2 hours a week with that person to attack the goals and get them in motion.

4. Structure Time to Achieve Goals

They won’t happen unless you have time to make sure they do!

Make sure you set aside time and stick to it with pigheaded diligence

5. Remember You Can Change The Goals As You Go

Goals should be looked at as beacons and guiding points for you to keep yourself on track along your journey.  I would not recommend changing them every week but the music industry is changing so rapidly it’s hard to know what goals are reachable in this landscape. So if the course of the year your goals change its OK to cross one off or modify as you go.

6. Write Down 5 Successes Each Day

I’m inviting you to write down five little victories a day for this entire year.

I learned this powerful technique years ago from T. Harv Eker.  Once you start getting into this habit, you are training yourself to put the focus on the positive and get your brain to stop being so critical.

So put a notebook in your gig bag or next to your bed and each day write down 5 things. Make one or two of them music or band related.

Here are some examples:

1. Went to gym.

2. Wrote lyrics for a new song.

3. Called three clubs for potential booking.

4. Did the dishes.

5. Posted a blog.


This is a process intended to take a whole year and you will have your days where you may get frustrated, and you will start to beat yourself up (sound familiar?)

Self-criticism will interfere directly with achieving your goals and dreams.  So, the next time you are making yourself wrong, take a step back and instead acknowledge the good, and celebrate your achievements.

Another thing that will stop you is not taking time for YOU so schedule time to reflect and take it all in.  Maybe that’s a walk in the woods, maybe that’s cooking yourself a decadent meal, or maybe it’s spending time with people you love and turning down your power for a few days without the pressure of a holiday or an event….

Here’s to your success in 2012!



I wrote one :-)

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Each book comes with My Cyber PR® Mastermind Forum –  Get goal support for $27.99 (ebook) $29.99 (physical book)

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Reader Comments (4)

Great article Ariel.

Here's another planning tip I use. Create a long view by mapping out the big things you want to achieve over, say, a year. Then plan in detail the chunk of time coming up immediately ahead of you, eg one month, two mionths, etc, up to six months. As you get to the end of your current detailed plan, look at what you've achieved and what's coming up and create your next detailed plan. Keep doing that until you achieve your goals!

Here's to a successful 2012!

Eliza, The Fan Formula

Thank you for the very nice post. Organization is a key element to any success, but success is not the only reason to be organized. Being prepared for changes in our daily lives is also part of the formula to reach your goals. You should be aware of the many paths there are to reach those goals. You must be ready and willing, to adapt to changes that are presented to you. A structured enviornment will keep you prepared for all those 'twists' and 'turns'. Good luck!

January 27 | Unregistered CommenterAlan Salus

Nice article Ariel !

I think one of the key items I would suggest is to have a mentor or good friend whose opinion you value. Talk with them about your goals or touch base with them periodically about where you are with working towards them.

They can help you be accountable and give you a fresh perspective, particularly if you feel like you're not making traction.

Thanks again!


Really like this post Ariel, it was along the same lines as a post I was writing for Indielab so I've put a link back to your post as further reading for people. If your interested it's at Ideas for Musicians : Get a Plan

The mechanics of exactly how you put a plan together is something that seems to be unique to the people involved because everyone seems to need something different. Some people work well with rigid deadlines, other people need more aspirational goals. However the one thing that is universal is the benefits of articulating where you want to go and how you think your going to get there.

February 22 | Unregistered CommenterAndy @ Indielab

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