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How to Set and Reach Your Music Goals

The fifth term of my “Music Marketing 101” class at recently wrapped up. The twelfth and final assignment asks students to create a 12-month marketing plan they can use in the real world.

Most students do a great job with it. But it amazes me how many include goals such as:

Book a lot more live shows.”
Sell a buttload of CDs and music downloads.”

Hmm …

Let me ask you: Exactly how many is a “buttload”? How do you know when you have arrived at buttload status? And how much is “more”?

For goals to be effective, they must be …

  • specific
  • measurable
  • with a deadline

You must have a clear target and be able to know whether you are moving closer to or further away from the target.

Fuzzy goals lead to fuzzy actions and fuzzy results — things that won’t serve you well.

 More concrete goals would be:

Book 3 live shows every month in Atlanta.”
Sell 100 physical CDs, 200 single downloads, and 50 album downloads by June 1, 2009.”

These goals are more effective because you will know right away if you reached them, exceeded them, or fell short.

So get crystal clear about what you want. That specific destination will influence the focused actions you take, which will lead to results.

And when you effectively evaluate the results — which you should do often — the insight you gain will help you adjust your plan and your target.

That’s right. Goals and plans aren’t set in stone. But having one to begin with sets you on a definite course of action. And action is what you need to make progress with your music career … and your life.

-Bob Baker

P.S. Another helpful post you should read is Ariel Hyatt’s “Musician’s Guide to Setting and Achieving Goals in 2009.”

Reader Comments (9)

Hi Bob,

I took a look at Ariel's article as well as yours and I agree with everything you guys are saying. My father is a fairly successful musician and music producer in his own right. I have noticed one thing about his daily efforts since I was very young. He follows a routine, he has always had recording studios and sometimes they were in or attached to our house. Yet he still woke up at a certain time, and remained in the studio recording, composing, giving lessons or cold calling just like as if he worked for a 9 - 5 company. He always kept plugging away steadily and it always had results, eventually.


January 27 | Unregistered CommenterHakim Callier

These are tried and true time management techniques that very few musicians seem to understand. It's important to treat your music like a business and market it as such. If you want to be a DIY musician, you really need to learn the skills that record labels use to sell music, including measuarable goals. Great post!

January 27 | Unregistered CommenterMatt Rodela


Nice, simple post to show what it takes to get things done. I use something similar called SMART....Specific, Measurable, Achievable and Real easy way to do exactly what you are talking about. The only difference is the 'Achievable' part that can sometimes derail people. Without realistic goals that are achievable they turn into 'New Years Resolutions' rather then goals.

Andy Malloy

January 27 | Unregistered CommenterAndy Malloy

Hey Bob,

As with the rest of the Berklee course, some wise words here that I definitely plan to adhere to and build upon. Setting specific goals can be a bit daunting, and some realistic research may be required. But once you have them, and realise that with hard work and determination you can achieve them, they become a great motivator!

- Lee.

January 28 | Unregistered CommenterLee Jarvis

Great post! I am adding you to my subscriptions. My current goals are to have my current solo album done by the end of Feb. I'm currently mixing the songs. I also have a goal of doing a show over in London, Japan or any where else over seas by the end of this year. I guess you have just inspired me to post my 2009 goals in my own blog tonight! Thanks for the help.

Del Rio

I agree! It's very important to be clear about your goals. This is where many people struggle, because they don't even write down their goals. The chances of accomplishing your goals are far greater if you write them down!

Redefining Andy Malloy's SMART anagram, one i've always used in business as SMART, Specific, Measurable, Acheiveable, Realistic, And Timely. Also remembering that an unreached goal is not a failure but a learning experience to retool your methods and try again.

February 18 | Unregistered CommenterNava

Thank you. A more detailed guide to writing a marketing plan for music would be really helpful. Something along the lines of what goals are REASONABLE. Its probably important not to set goals that are too lofty, or too limited. Thoughts?

February 20 | Unregistered CommenterEthan

Excellent site and I am really pleased to see you have what I am actually looking for here: this .. as it's taken me literally 3 hours and 58 minutes of searching the web to find you (just kidding!) so I shall be pleased to become a regular visitor :)

March 4 | Unregistered Commenterurgegargo

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