Published on January 7th, 2015 | by Dylan Lott0
5 Things You’re Wasting Your Time On As A Band
You kids and your damn money. Too often I meet people just getting into the music industry that think that spending money will make them bigger or that people will only take them seriously if they spend money on this and that.
Wallets don’t make careers. Money doesn’t make you, you make money.
To be fair, you do have to spend money, and sometimes it’s a lot, but learning what to spend your money on is one of the biggest skills you’ll pick up, and you need to hone that skill quickly.
On that note, you need to recognize that time is money, too, and you need to stop wasting time as much as you do (yes, I know you waste a lot of time, I don’t need proof of it).
These are the most common offenders. When I see people doing these things, I can’t help but think they’re just seriously misguided.
You have a limited amount of time. 24 hours per day, 7 days per week. The average person has about 30 to 40 hours of free time per week if they’re working a full time job and showering regularly (which you should be, you fucking caveman).
Those 30 to 40 hours a week are precious. Don’t waste them. Ration them out and work with them accordingly.
The whole idea here is that you should work a few hours a day, but make them incredibly productive hours. I like to work in small bursts of 1 – 2 hours per day, and then take a break. Go play video games. Hang out with your friends. Decompress. A good walk is incredibly helpful to set your mind straight. After you’ve taken your break, go back to it, and work a little bit more.
All this being said, here’s what I see a lot of time being wasted on.
1. Business cards
Are you only a week deep into your management career? Then don’t get business cards made up. Chances are, you’ll either find a shitty template online or have your designer friend make you one for free. (I’m not sure which situation scares me more.)
This isn’t to say you never need business cards, because that’s inaccurate. What I’m saying is, all too often I see people getting business cards that don’t have a single band on their roster, have never booked a tour, and have never released an album through one of their bands.
“But dammit they’ve got business cards, they must be legit!” – Said nobody, ever.
When do you need business cards? When you start getting asked for them regularly. And this brings me to remind you: Don’t buy 1000 of them because “They were three cents cheaper a piece if I bought a thousand instead of a hundred!”
That’s stupid. Pay slightly more per piece and don’t have hundreds of unused business cards lying around. I bought 50 business cards last year and have only given out a few of them. I promise, you won’t need nearly as many as you think.
the biggest problem with this isn’t even the money you’re spending: It’s the flaw in thinking that business cards matter, or that you’re spending time on something that doesn’t matter.
See what I’m getting at here?
2. Fluff emails
This is a huge time waster. When you read that sentence, I know you thought about exactly what you feel wastes time. Replying just “thanks” to someone via email, replying to someone about the fact you can’t help them, etc… It gets to be too much. Sometimes you have to clear that shit out.
The key here is to only answer emails for an hour a day. Do it in one big chunk, and get through them as quickly as possible.
I like to batch my emails into an hour chunk every day at the end of the day. This way, I know who I need to email and what I need from them for the next work day. It gives them a chance to get back to me, and it makes it so I sort of relax after my work so I can get to bed easier.
Recognizing fluff emails is half the battle. Ask yourself “Could I not reply to this? If I didn’t, what’s the worst that could happen?”
If the answer is “Nothing” or “Not much” then you shouldn’t worry about replying to it in my opinion. If you honestly ask yourself this question, you’ll find that about 80% of your email load can probably be eliminated.
3. Busy work
If you hated busy work at your fast food job in high school, then you should hate busy work you put on yourself ten times as much.
Busy work clogs up your head, put unnecessary stress on you, detracts from the important tasks that you should be focusing on, and makes it so that you have bullshit bogging your brain down.
If you think something is busy work, it almost always is. This ties into emails like I mentioned before, but extends out to a lot of other stuff, too.
The common perpetrators of busy work disguised as real work are:
- Social Media
- Fluff emails / emails that you don’t need to send
- Work that doesn’t directly benefit you
Is it busy work? If you have to ask that question, it probably is. It’s hard for me to tell you what is and isn’t, because it is entirely dependent on what your situation is. Just remember to ask yourself this question often, and you’ll be 95% better at spotting it anyway.
By leeches, I mean the people that only suck time and resources away from you. You don’t have time for them. Stop making time for them. Stop pretending you do.
I don’t mean stop helping out friends – Friends are good, you should help them, and you shouldn’t expect anything in return. Friends aren’t leeches, though. Friends give when they don’t have to and help you out when you need it, too.
The problem lies with people that wouldn’t do anything for you even if you asked and only have their hand out expecting to get things from you. Fuck those people. Like I said, you don’t have time for them.
If you’re going to succeed in the music industry, you need to drop weight like this.
5. Over Managing
You should have a list of 4 to 5 big things to be working on at all times. One thing I see too often is people spending too much time “managing” their projects. By that, I mean I see too many “to do lists” and “6 month plans” with shit that never gets done and ideas that never come to full because they never got acted on.
Your to-do list should be small enough to list out the items on one hand. If it’s any bigger than that, chances are you won’t get it all done.
What You SHOULD Be Spending Your Time On
1. Get More
Whether youre a touring band, a manager, a booking agent, a label, or a band just starting out, get more.
Set a goal, and start to work toward it TODAY.
- Hit X number of cd sales
- sell $Y worth of merch
- get Z amount of organic Reach on Facebook.
- Tour with THAT band.
Whatever your goal is, set it, write it down, and reach it as soon as possible.
Have a deadline for it, too, and track your failures. I like 1 to 2 week deadlines for this purpose. It stays fresh in your head, and you can see it happen which motivates you like hell.
2. Get Everyone Involved
If every member of the band is actively pushing and promoting and booking, you will start to grow incredibly quickly and regularly. Every time I’ve ever dealt with a band, there’s one (maybe two) member who actively stays interested in the business side of everything. The other 2 or 3 members just sit around and do literally nothing.
If you’re in a band, you need to rally and delegate shit to your other members. If they can’t hold their end up, kick them out. Like I said earlier, if you want to get anywhere in music, you can’t have any dead weight.
Hold them responsible, and get shit done.
3. Start Hearing “No” More Often
As a band, as a manager, as a label, whatever it is that you are, you need to be hearing no on a regular basis. A very regular basis.
There’s a common saying in business that goes something like “If you’re not being told no, you’re not trying” This applies just as much to the music industry, if not even more, since the entire industry is often sort of informal. (this is a good thing, it’s what I love about music)
Being told no is a good thing in many cases, you just need to learn to see it like that.
It means that a) that you actually tried something, and b) that you know something isn’t an option, allowing you to try a different route to get your desired end result.
Never underestimate the power of a no. They can be just as good as a “yes”.
Tie It All Together
I want you to seriously think about what you did yesterday. List it all out.
How much of it was spent doing things that actually furthered you in the music world? You probably woke up, showered, ate breakfast, went to work, got home, played some video games, etc….
Be absolutely, completely, BRUTALLY honest with yourself. My guess is, you did next to nothing. Probably less than 5% of your time yesterday was spent working on something to further your band or make you a better manager.
Don’t be ashamed to admit it. Admission is the first step, right? Good, admit it, tell yourself you fucked up, and don’t let it happen again.
Final Pro Tip:
Never have a zero day. Never put your head down on your pillow at the end of the day without doing something to get you closer to your goals. That’s all that matters. That cliche shit about “Big journeys start with small steps” It’s true.