It is the first day of February, and you may be realizing that things are often easier said than done. In that first blush of 2023 (gasp… can you believe we’re here? I started writing these things over 10 years ago!), many of us made those hastily-scribbled lists of things that we would certainly accomplish this time around.
Now, you may have stuck to your New Year’s resolutions. If so, kudos! But something tells me that the crowds at the gym are starting to thin out and your resolve to take the musical world by storm might be flagging as well.
I certainly support you in all of your resolutions, but together we’ll be focusing on your goals related to your arts career. So this doesn’t mean you need to stray away from your other responsibilities nor start studying to take another theory entrance exam. Those Neapolitan six chords can take a hike.
It just means that for each day during 29 Days to Diva we will be focusing on a specific aspect of the professional musician. I can’t guarantee that reading along for this month will have you dying of consumption on the Met stage this season, but I can guarantee you’ll be wiser and better prepared to handle your career.
The arts world can feel fiercely competitive and also somehow extremely isolating. But, just like with physical fitness, we’re going to focus on our own growth. The only one I want you to compete with is the you-from-yesterday. These posts are short by design. But, you’ll get the most out of them if you budget time to read and complete the tasks covered.
Your 29 Days to Diva – Day 1 Assignment: Complete your diva audit
A good business, no matter its size, must keep good records to measure performance. As your star rises, it’s important to take stock of where you are and the goals you have accomplished along the way. 29 Days to Diva is all about those little challenges designed to help you feel forward momentum in your professionally creative life.
Take a look at the past 365 days
Completing a self-assessment exercise at the outset of our 29 Days to Diva work will help you evaluate what’s going well and identify areas for growth. This is an opportunity to reflect on your current values, priorities, and goals as an artist. Reflect now on the road you have traversed in terms of finances, messaging, pricing, marketing, tracking, monitoring, and testing. Perhaps you reviewed your essentials, in the last year, like resume and bio. Or, you polished your overall branding as a professional musician. Maybe you re-evaluted your pricing for gig fees and/or teaching lessons. As you examine your past year, some areas may spring to mind that still need a little tender, loving care. Good. Keep those in mind for our questionnaire below.
Be unflinchingly honest with yourself to get the most mileage out of this exercise.
- Are you working at your arts career full or part-time?
- Would you like to perform/compose/teach/create more, or less, than you do?
- If more, what types of work would you like to add?
- If less, what isn’t serving you, your business, or your goals about past work/projects?
- Would you like to pitch/submit/apply/ask more than you do? or less?
- What are your personal skills?
- Think about soft skills like networking, positive work ethic, adaptability, honesty, and cooperation.
- What are your business skills?
- Remember skills like graphic design, website production, copywriting, speaking foreign languages, photography, database management, grantwriting, and bookkeeping.
- What are your musical skills?
- Do you have a niche? A special knack for drop-dead gorgeous Bel Canto singing? Coloratura that’ll knock their socks off? Be as specific and honest as possible.
- What office/studio equipment do you own or have access to?
- Think about what physical equipment you need to be a professional musician.
- How do you feel about your promotional materials?
- Biographies – 100, 300, 500 word bios? Program specific customizable bios?
- Longer website copy such as program offerings, workshops/masterclasses, artist statements?
- Recent headshot,
- Audio/video recordings: Do they represent the work you want to get hired for?
- Pull quotes & reviews?
- Recent interview?
What do you need to work on immediately? What isn’t making the grade?
- List the specific skills you need to develop.
- In which areas would you hire a professional, seek assistance, or add to your singing team?
- What personal contacts do you have who can assist you with your performing career?
- Do you have a lawyer you could turn to for legal, business advice?
- How good is your messaging? Is it resulting in the kind of work you want?
- Do you have a clear voice and message throughout your professional materials?
- Will strangers be able to glance at your copy and know what you do and how to hire you?
- How are you getting most of your gigs?
- How are you marketing to existing clients/students/collaborators?
- How could you make this area of life better, easier, and more efficient?
- What mode of transportation do you use?
- Where are the big opportunities that are missing in your current work?
Think about money as a non-emotional marker of size, scale, and scope of your creative business.
- Does your current financial situation allow you the freedom to pursue your performing goals?
- If yes, are you budgeting/projecting business expenses for three years in the future?
- If no, have you determined how much capital you need to get started or make the changes to your situation you desire?
- If no, have you considered financial sources that might be available to you? What are those other sources? (i.e. parallel careers, onboarding more clients/students, loans, savings, grants/residencies)
- Where do you make money? How much do you make? Do you want to make more or less in the ways that you’re currently making money? (Reminder: Making a lot of money, or none at all, is not the only indication of success or failure.)
- Where are you throwing money at your professionally creative life without thinking critically about the investment and its return?
- Who is spending their money, attention, or energy on you and your craft?
- Do you need to change your prices/fees?
- What three things do you want to change about how revenue is happening in your life right now?
What changes do you need to make in your current situation to allow for growth in your arts career?
- In six months:
- In one year:
- In two years:
What’s that? You haven’t done my 20 Year Goal Exercise? You might want to check it out if you’re ready to be “the cartographer of your future self.”
You are in charge of your future.
The entire point of doing an audit is to see where you have been and what you could be doing more effectively in the future. Take your findings to make tweaks in the short term as well as set up long-term strategies. It still surprises me to talk to musicians who feel like their futures are up to chance and not something they have agency around. Doing periodic audits of your professionally creative life helps you feel that agency.