Time management for music producers. It’s a skill we all struggle with and love to hate.
There’s an old saying “there’s never enough time in the day.”
Do you agree? We certainly do.
The thing is, there’s usually plenty of time in the day, you just have to have decent time management skills and manage it correctly, while ensuring that you do not burn out.
At the start of most musicians’ careers, they’re normally forced to juggle “real life” with their musical aspirations. “Real life” can refer to their job, family, household chores, and whatever other responsibilities keep an aspiring artist occupied. Being in such a position is overwhelming, and could eventually make someone resent and ultimately give up on their side gig of songwriting or producing music. We’re here to tell you not to give up yet!
What if we told you that managing your time as an aspiring music producer or artist didn’t have to be stressful? Sure, it won’t always be easy, but by learning to organize your time, you can pursue a meaningful and manageable career in music.
There are a lot of moving parts to pursuing a career in music–marketing, social media, bookings, PR, merch, producing, fans, networking, etc. All of these things exist on the same playing field of importance, but as one person, how could you manage everything?
In this guide to time management for music producers, DJs, and music artists, we’ll discuss the importance of:
- Setting priorities
- Getting help from a manager, coach, or virtual assistant
- Using a calendar
- Staying positive throughout the process
Time Management: What does “manage it correctly” mean?
Well, that depends. You have to define what’s correct for you.
In terms of work, sometimes when you’re forced into high gear, that’s the best moment to adapt and learn how to manage your time.
I recently had a situation where I had a handful of clients with job due dates converging at or around the same date. I had a lot of work to do to get the finished product delivered. The fact that they were all “due” at the same time forced me to figure out how I was going to accomplish this. I figured it out and was able to deliver on time. That also taught me how to avoid winding up in this same situation at a later date.
Musicians: How are you currently planning to use your time?
Do you plan daily, weekly or monthly? Do you plan at all? Don’t worry if you don’t… I was one of those people for a long time.
I still struggle with planning. When things are going well, it can feel like planning is unnecessary. But that’s really an illusion.
Subliminally, you are planning even if you’re consciously not aware of it.
Your body is planning to send you to the restroom in an hour.
The alarm clock you set is part of your plan to wake you up, and so forth.
So what do you do when things don’t go as planned?
Setting Your Priorities
The first step to getting your time organized is setting priorities.
For example, if you’re starting to secure bookings, you should focus heavily on networking with promoters as much as possible to keep the momentum going. Even if you’ve also been dreaming of releasing your first EP, working on it requires so much of the little time and energy you have to grow your music career.
Table the EP and shift your energy into the parts of your growth that are working for you–the bookings. Once you’ve reached the point in your career where you can enjoy freedom and flexibility, give your EP the love and time it deserves.
In a perfect world (or with a manager), you could have both. Unfortunately, when resources are slim, you need to allocate them wisely!
Get a Music Manager (or Music Career Coach!)
We know, this one’s easier said than done. If any rising artist could just “get a manager,” things would be much simpler for them. There’s no formula for connecting with a manager, but there are ways to make the process more efficient. Here are some steps to take if you’re looking to get involved with a music manager:
1. Be Ready
Make sure you’re at a stable point in your budding career before attempting to bring someone else in. You don’t need to be perfect, but you need to show something for yourself. A manager invests their time and energy into you, with hopes to grow alongside you. Be patient if you’re not there yet. If you’re a total mess, you might have trouble convincing someone to take a chance on you.
2. Be Willing to Grow With Your Manager
Ideally, you would find a manager with experience managing other artists. However, it might be easier to connect with someone who has no artist managing experience. That’s not to say they’re starting from scratch–this person should at least have the industry knowledge and motivation to develop a successful career alongside you. So, don’t remove someone from the pool just because they don’t yet have the credentials.
Growing your network in the music scene will allow you to connect with more potential managers. Join Discords and Facebook groups, follow people on Instagram with who you have mutual friends, and be friendly at dance music shows. You don’t need to necessarily be seeking a manager during this step, but you do need to get connected to fans and professionals in electronic music. You never know what opportunities lie just beyond your immediate reach.
4. Reference Managers of Similar Artists
Look at artists on the same playing field as you (similar following and genre), and find out if their managers are looking to take on new clients. If the answer is no, they might be able to pass you along to another industry friend who could help. You do more harm by not asking than asking!
5. Formulate Your Pitch
Artist-manager relationships can come about in many ways. Sometimes they find you, and other times you find them. Either way, they’re not going to get involved with you unless they see the financial potential, to be frank. Pitch your brand as something worth their time and effort. Show them why working with you is a smart move. Demonstrate professionalism, dedication to your craft, and person-ability.
Hire a Music Virtual Assistant
Not at the point in your career to take on a manager, but still looking for help? Consider hiring a virtual assistant. You can pay a virtual assistant either hourly or by project to help take care of the tasks you don’t have time for.
Let’s say you have “reach out to music venues” on your to-do list. You can hire a virtual assistant to take care of those mundane, repetitive tasks so that you can focus your time on refining your brand and creating music. If you have the money but not the time, this one’s for you!
Use a Calendar App or Planner
One of the biggest rules of thumb to staying organized is using a calendar. Yet, so many people (in all industries) think they don’t need one! Even better, use a calendar that allows you to create time blocks. This way, you can block time off weekly or daily to focus solely on your music career.
Having time set aside for certain tasks will help you stay focused on your goals and accountable for your growth. Operating with the idea that you “don’t need a calendar” is just silly! Plus, keeping a calendar can better help you look back on what you’ve accomplished.
Using Google Calendar is always a great option, but a physical calendar or planner will suffice if you’re old-fashioned. We like this one for planning and goal tracking.
Stay Positive and Have a Growth Mindset
Getting organized is tough, especially when you’re juggling your current job with your aspiring music or production career. The most important thing, however, is to set reasonable goals and stay positive about your progress. If you don’t complete a task on time, that’s okay. Don’t be so hard on yourself, and be proud that you’ve taken the leap to pursue your dreams.
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