One thing is clear, when you are in control of everything in your career there is a lot to do and you need to have different brains for different days.. your ‘creative brain’ for all the artistic side of your music, marketing and artwork etc But the ‘organised brain’ for arranging everything from managing musicians, networking, gigs & tours and implementing strategies… The list goes on!
So being on top of everything and staying focused on the big picture while also being bogged down in the detail and micro management is very tough. Setting targets is important to measure what is working and what isn’t but with no boss who are you answerable to? You might have a manager which is helpful as they can take care of more of the big picture while you manage the detail however most musicians and bands don’t have this privilege.
As a musician, but also someone who builds businesses I have no boss and like you am in control. I have to take responsibility for everything, so every 2 weeks I see a life coach for an hour to discuss what I have been doing and how I’m feeling about everything. I use that time with her to be accountable to myself however having her there as a mediator is necessary so I don’t make excuses and she’s very good at asking the right questions.
I’m not suggesting you hire a life coach as it’s doubtful that would help you however it does help to have someone you trust to whom you are accountable. Someone who will tell you honestly when you’re avoiding something because it’s un-fun or your being lazy etc. Someone who will question you if you aren’t hitting the targets you have set and how you are going to fix it.
A ‘Mentor’ is invaluable in an industry as competitive as the music industry where there is so much subjectivity and you are in control of both the creative and the organised management of your career. A mentor needs to be impartial to your situation because friends and family have a role in your life to support and love you. Their emotional attachment to you means they can easily reinforce your excuses instead of calling you out where appropriate so you can do something about it.
Many bands are accountable to each other however I personally think the best ‘mentors’ have no emotional tie-in’s to the people or project, which is why in business there is a role for a ‘non-exec director’ or sometimes consultants. Someone who can take a step back from the closeness of the detail and see the big picture and then help with direction, strategy or even just inspire or whoopass if needed!
Where do you find someone who is prepared to help and has experience in your field?
You are not looking for someone on a full time basis, this is someone you can chat to every few weeks. They aren’t there to listen to every demo, and help you chose artwork. A mentor is there to discuss the big picture and hold you accountable so you don’t stray from the path and you don’t go missing for periods of time. So with that in mind, it could be someone with experience in coaching, a music industry professional, or even an ex-teacher you trust to be impartial that you can chat to every few weeks.
You don’t even have to find people in your area. With Skype, phone, email etc its so easy to communicate with professionals all over the world. So do some research and go through your contacts, approach someone you know who won’t bullshit you and has the time to have a chat. Make yourself accountable, even if it’s someone who can ask the right questions and allow you to be accountable to yourself. Find a mentor and look after them because hopefully they will be on hand to offer support and advice forever.