Reclaiming time to be a musician

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time clock

You may have noticed that I’ve been very quiet last week. I didn’t publish any blog post and was off the social media agitation. Well, I had an awesome week trying to prioritize my tasks and redefine the way I manage my time. My workload has consistently increased in the last years and I just piled tasks and new activities without thinking about consequences. And little by little, life became insanely complicated and cluttered, my long term views became blurrier and I inexorably became forever swamped with tasks that had little to do with the Arts.

Time management is a big issue for independent musicians who desperately try to find the right balance between being a manager, a marketer and an artist, which are all full-time jobs. Over the years, I noticed that the first two were seriously gaining weight and getting in the way of my musicianship. So part of last week’s job was assess the situation and identify the damages this crazy workload generated, so I can take informed decisions and redefine the way I work to focus on what’s important.

We all know how the manager’s tasks ended. But marketing, that’s another story. The budget to hire a solid agency is just not here, so I have to roll up my sleeves and do it myself. Little resources and little time means I have to focus on pushing my core projects.

Today a vast amount of time and money (yes, creating content for social media isn’t free!) is spent on maintaining and engaging fans daily on various platforms. After having kind of experimented with many things on social media, through different platforms, I can only come to the same conclusion as many marketers: social media has never driven much sales.

Don’t get me wrong, social media has been good to me in plenty other ways but definitely sucks at being profitable. I know, I’m stupid and I’m probably doing it wrong. We’re all probably doing it wrong.

So what now? Am I going to delete all my accounts and get back to the top of my pianist’s ivory tower? Nope. I like talking to people and sharing great content with them. But I’ll shift that time, energy and budget I spent on disposable content back to creating long-lasting meaningful macrocontent (take that dumb microcontent!). I’ll use social media in a different way, on a more limited number of platforms and ditch the networks forcing me to pay to reach the audience I spent time developing.

Over the last decade, lots of experts advised us on the business aspects of our art and have made us better marketers and managers. We needed that, but it happened at the expense of our craft. I heard countless musicians complaining about spending more time behind their computer than in front of a score. Above all else, we are musicians and should focus on music and our music-related high quality output. It’s about time we reclaim time to be a musician. Just ask yourself what will be more important in twenty years: a million followers on Twitter (if the service is still up then!) or an groundbreaking and fascinating recording, book or film?