Time Management for Musicians

time management for musicians

Yesterday I was filming with a music producer friend of mine who was has worked with Sir Paul McCartney, Ray Charles and Mariah Carey. We were doing an exclusive interview for the students of the Music Business Kit program and the issue of time management as a critical skill for musicians came up.

A musician today has two jobs; creating and communicating. 

Creating is about honing your craft as a musician. Communicating is about learning how to market and sell what you have created. It’s why we call it the Music Business. Music + Business.

However all the best music business strategies and tactics are pointless unless you are creating something that excites you and others. How much time are you actually dedicating to creating as opposed to communicating?

I’ve worked with some artists who spend 80% of their time creating and only 20% communicating. This can make for great art but a terrible living.

The songwriter who spends years in his bedroom writing songs but who never performs or lets publishers hear them is in this camp.

Then there are the artists (including some successful ones) who devote all their time to communicating; to hustling, doing interviews and being active on social media. They haven’t created anything exciting in years because they are only about the business.

Today’s lesson is simple. I’d like you to keep a diary for the rest of the week and note how much time you spend creating and how much time you spend communicating.

Creating can range from working on that new song, recording some ideas for a future project, practicing a piece you plan on playing live or brainstorming on your plans for the future.

Communicating is the time you actually spend doing emails, phone calls, research, social media, speaking to promoters, publishers or other people in the industry.

I advise artists to try to find a balance between these two different roles. Artists like Sting will actually spend a year creating, writing new material and recording and then another year getting out there, doing the media interviews and selling themselves and their music. That’s how they achieve balance.

One very successful artist I’ve worked with does his creative work in the mornings and spends the afternoons on email and on the phone taking care of business.

So try to discover your ideal blend of creating and communicating. Often when an artist hits a plateau in their careers it’s because they are out of balance in this area.

P.S. There is a great free app called RescueTime that will track a lot of this automatically. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll discover about how you spend your time. Get the app here.