Grab those streamers and all your closest friends, because it is officially time to celebrate the end of another year! And I do mean celebrate. I know this can be the time of year we look back and self-pityingly think of all the things we didn’t do, or how we thought we’d be further along but I want to stop you right there and say if you’re feeling that way, it doesn’t mean you’re a failure. In fact, all it means is you and I, we’re incredibly ambitious and we won’t stop until we change the world. And I’m alright with that.
So to make 2020 the best it can possibly be, we need to first be able to take stock of what worked, so we can apply those lessons to the new year. It only makes sense that in moving forward, we must look to the past and evaluate our behavior, our strategies, our successes, and the things that we wish had gone better.
Presumably, this will be the last time you look back on 2019 in this way, so take a deep breath, grab your pen and paper, and let’s make this one count.
Think about what brought you the most joy
Take a second to reflect on what you had the most fun with. Was it playing shows? If so, what about those shows made it so memorable? (you might find you enjoyed a certain set because they were in a specific city, at a certain time, had a certain energy, set list, etc). Or was it the writing process? Or was it engaging with fans?
Don’t overthink this, just go with whatever your gut reaction was and write it down. This is what you’re going to do more of this year. You’re going to schedule in the time for it (like, right now, in a planner) and make it happen.
If you loved co-writing, I want you to start reaching out and setting dates for that. If you loved touring, I want you to put it on the calendar when you’re going to start planning your next tour. You’re making this happen, and marking the calendar is your accountability.
…and what you could never do again
For every one thing we love there’s usually 10 we could live without ever doing again. What were those for you? Was it doing your own booking? Writing press releases and pitching outlets? Creating graphics?
Knowing the things that sucked out your energy out doesn’t mean you won’t ever have to do them again, but it does mean you can get an idea of where you might want to begin creating a budget to hire out. If you hate booking, hire someone to book your tour. If you never want to send another press release or pitch another blog or Spotify playlist, hire a publicist.
Yes, this requires a budget, but which would you rather—finding the money to hire someone to help push your career forward so you can focus more on what you love (see above), or continuing to burn out and feel resentment towards your career because you’re trying to do 20 things at once?
Look at what brought in the most income
Take a good hour or two and figure out where most of your income came from. It’s ok if you don’t have all these things just yet—it’ll be a good reminder to keep better track next year.
But for now, try to figure it out the best you can. Was it from playing shows? If so, which ones brought in the most? (which venues, cities, supporting bands, etc). Was it from merch? Which merch item did you sell the most of? Paying attention to what your fans are demanding the most of is an important step to crafting your plan for the new year.
What did fans ask for more of?
Fans will always tell you what they want—you just have to listen. So think back to what you heard fans say the most this year. Did they go particularly crazy over a certain song? A certain social media post? Did you have a strong turn out at a certain show or city? Start paying attention to the comments—even and especially the most subtle ones, and keep a running doc of what fans are saying. This will be great for not only reflection but ideas for tours, merch, and content.
Ask yourself “what do I want 2020 to look like”
Amidst all the planning and running around, it can be easy to lose sight of the most obvious question we should be asking ourselves, which is—what do I actually want this year to look like?
If you want it to be full of touring, start planning! If you want it to be a year of writing and building your fan engagement, then that’s what you need to make a plan for.
But the key here is to make a plan. Once you know what you want the year to look like, it’s up to your to create a strategy to get there—decide on a goal and then reverse engineer it to decide what you need to do in the weeks and months leading up to make that happen.
2020 is going to be an awesome year for you—and I can’t wait to see what you come up with, so don’t be shy, and don’t be afraid to drop a comment and let me know what your big goal is for this coming year!
We’re just getting started! If you’re looking for more tips on increasing fan engagement then join me for my free Masterclass ‘How to gain your next 1,000 fans. 3 simple steps that lead to higher engagement, sold-out shows, and life-changing opportunities’.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.