By Viviana Guzman
As any self-employed person, whether you are an attorney, a massage therapist, or a flutist, the number of items and tasks to keep in order can be a bit overwhelming. One must be incredibly self-motivated and highly organized. There is no room for slouching. I warn you, this is kind of schedule is not for everyone. Some people thrive with someone telling them what to do every day. I am not one of these people. So this is why I chose this route. For me, the trade off is being able to have the freedom to do and decide what needs to be done rather than taking on a “normal” job on “their” terms and “their” schedule. But like any entrepreneur, one must been driven and structured. Following I have outlined 4 Tips that have kept me going throughout the years as a successful touring, self-employed artist.
You have to have a map.
You must sit down and have a clear vision of where you want to go. If you are hungry, you have to make some decisions in order to satisfy the hunger. What kind of food do you want? Will you go out or cook at home? Will you drive or take the bus? One must have a clear plan of what one wants to accomplish in life. I have always kept journals with A) my life goals B) career goals C) ten year goals D) 5 year goals E) 1 year goals D) 1 month goals. I even make lists of lists! The important thing is to be clear. This is where I use my meditation practice to gain clarity on which way I should move next.
For example, as a multi-genre artist, I just released a new cross-over album, "Let There Be Flute" which features film and popular music. After 14 albums, spanning classical, world, tango, meditation, latin, and flamenco, this is a new direction for me. After I get off this tour of Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Costa Rica, I need to market my CD, send out press releases, set up interviews, follow through on the social media plan I created. Immediately when I land back at home, I know exactly what to do because I already have mapped out my plan.
Set aside time for the two most important tasks for any musician.
Business of music and Your Craft (practice). I prefer to work out first thing in the morning: swimming, biking and/or pilates. Then I practice, and THEN I have my business hours. You should have a set outline with your tasks for the day, and the goals for the day. I prepare an outline or my "To Do List" the night before. I use my phone to set alarms to keep me on schedule. Every two hours, I shift onto a different task. I love this because it keeps me focused, engaged and fresh. If I were to sit an practice for 8 hours, like I used to do when I was at Juilliard, I find that now it doesn’t work so well for me any more. I do best with the short, 2 Hour Task System. Perhaps some of you would prefer 1 hour segments, or 3 hours, etc. Find what works best for you and stick with it. When I was a student, my number one focus in life was PRACTICE. Once I started touring and running my own business, I steered towards BUSINESS and balancing the practice. Again, everyone is different, but this is what has worked for me.
Learn to Delegate
I have always had agents or managers who have booked my concert tours. I have been very lucky in this area. Thankfully, they have always kept me very busy. Straight out of Juilliard, I was picked up by Community Concerts, the touring arm of CAMI, Columbia Artists Music International. Although Community Concerts is long gone, I have managed to be able to manifest an agent whenever I needed one. I have hired and worked in conjunction with several PR firms and artist managers. In fact, I am currently looking for a virtual assistant to handle my correspondence when I’m on the road. Currently, I work with someone who handles my social media posts while I’m on tour. I have worked with several record labels through the years. I have also released several albums on my own. I work best with a team and I encourage you to find your own Business Team. Start with small tasks, say 2 hours a week. Work closely with your assistant, communicate often and clearly. Write out a job description and list the tasks that need to be fulfilled. Create a Google Spreadsheet and list the tasks at hand. Using Google Studio allows for all parties to contribute and make sure everything is in order.
Find someone who can hold you accountable.
I have done this exchange for years. I have a fellow artist friend with whom we exchange our TO DO items as well as what has been accomplished everyday. This has been key in keeping me focused and driven. I keep a constant log of what needs to be done the following day. At the end of the day, I tick off what gets done and send the list to my friend. In return, she does the same back to me. Not only is this fun but really keeps me motivated, too.
In short, I believe one must have a clear idea of where one is going. Throughout the day, one must be clear as to the steps to achieve the task at hand. It is important to start early with developing a team, people to bounce back ideas. Having someone to report back to, keeps one focused and conscious of the goal.
I hope these tips inspire you to move forward with your music business plans. If you have any additional tips of your own, please leave them in the comments below.
Viviana Guzman is an internationally touring multi-genre artist who has performed in 127 countries. Her album “Traveling Sonata” received a GRAMMY Nomination. She has presented 3 TEDxTalks and her album "Song of the Whale" received a Global Music Award, Gold Medal. A graduate of The Juilliard School, currently she teaches flute at the University of California Santa Cruz Follow her on FB, IG and Twitter.