Another year is over, so it’s time to make some resolutions. Giving stuff up is for quitters; this year it’s got to be all about the music. Below we’ve listed 5 resolutions we think will help make the year ahead a musical success…
1. Play your instrument every day
Whether it’s for 5 minutes or 5 hours, make sure you give yourself a moment at least once a day to play your instrument, be it an acoustic guitar, a synth, or a laser harp. Don’t call it “practising” – that sounds boring – call it “playing”; playing’s fun!
Don’t worry about what to play, just play. If you can set aside some regular time – say 30 minutes before you go to bed or when you get back from work – all the better.
2. Record a song every week
A song can be written in 5 minutes – as country and western singers are proud to proclaim, all you need is “three chords and the truth” – so setting a target of one song per week shouldn’t be too hard. Make sure it’s a proper song, though: it has to have a title, a beginning, a middle, and an end. Don’t concern yourself too much with how it’s recorded; if you’ve got an audio interface and some recording software, great, but if not, get a basic recording app for your phone or just use e.g. the iPhone’s included “Voice Memos” app. At the end of the year you’ll have 52 songs. That’s at least 5 albums. How cool is that?
3. Play live every month
It’s easy to get a gig – most bars and pubs are crying out for some kind of entertainment to keep people drinking and, since the relaxation of the licensing laws, they have no red tape to jump through to make this possible. Although there is much talk of musicians not playing for free, sometimes that is the only way to get your foot in the door. Think of it as marketing: show the venue why they need you and then, once that’s clear, start charging them. The trick is not to feel shy about asking for money once you’ve proved your worth; you deserve to be paid as you are offering them a service which has real value to them. If it doesn’t have value to the venue (e.g. if whenever you play, everyone leaves), then you don’t deserve to get paid!
Can’t find a paid gig? Go along to an open mic night – there are loads, and they’re always up for checking out new talent. If you make sure to have a live gig of some sort every month, you’ll start to crave playing in front of people, and it’ll help you hone your performing abilities.
4. Find new people to play with
Whether you’re in an established band or are strictly a bedroom musician, it always helps to play with new people. You will pick up new ideas and techniques, and you will be forced to change and improve the way you play in order to gel with them (whatever their playing ability).
You don’t have to end up in a band with them (though it wouldn’t be so bad if you did), you just need to get yourself out there and play. Open mic nights are good places to find potential jamming partners, or check the “musicians needed” notice boards in your local music shop.
5. Make the most of online resources for musicians
Be it SoundCloud, ReverbNation, Bandcamp, Myspace (remember that?), Facebook, or any of the other masses of free online tools for musicians, sign up for all of them, and check into them at least once a week to make sure you’re using every tool that they offer. Remember that they only work if you properly engage with them – just setting up a profile isn’t enough – so make sure to update your status / post new tracks / comment on other people’s work etc. as much as possible.
These ideas should get you started. Can you think of anything else? Let the world know by leaving a comment below…