How to Set Realistic Goals for the New Year (A Guide for Mixing Engineers and Musicians)

By December 31, 2017 Business Advice, Mixing
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A new year is upon us which for many will naturally inspire us to put ourselves under the microscope for an intense review. Many popular resolutions revolve around diet and exercise, religious and spiritual goals, family or a love life, etc. But I’m here today to hopefully inspire you towards setting and more importantly attaining your goals as they relate to your music career.

Let’s start with step 1:

Identify Your Long-term Goal (Major Goal)

Do you aspire to become a famous mixer? Maybe fame doesn’t matter to you, but you’d like to provide for your family (or future family) through music. Perhaps you’re already making it in music, but you know there’s another level waiting for you if you could just get your stuff together and turn your weaknesses into strengths.

Whatever it is, I want you to grab a pad of paper or flip open your favorite task app (I use Wunderlist religiously) and write down your major career goal as it relates to your music (mixing, mastering, producing, etc.)

*A quick note… This same process works for your overall life goals as well as any financial, relationship, spiritual goals. Give it a try! For now, back to the music… 😉

Self-Evaluation

Now that you have a clear end goal let’s do a quick self-evaluation. If you said you’d like to become a full-time mixer with a full calendar of clients, what do your mixes sound like? What’s the word on the street about your work? Are people talking? Bragging about you? Are your clients coming back for more and often?

It’s critical that you’re honest with yourself here. Positive change will only be possible if you can recognize your areas of weakness and then begin grinding away until reaching your ultimate goal.

Do a quick self-evaluation and identify your areas of weakness. A few examples may be mixing quality or even more specifically, low end management. A big one I get a lot from subscribers is business skills such as marketing, generating buzz, etc.

Jot down a few areas needing improvement, and then we can move onto building a roadmap.

Building a Roadmap

Now that you’ve identified some areas of weakness, let’s reverse engineer (I knew you’d like that) your primary goal and break things down into smaller/short-term goals. Remember to keep these REALISTIC and ATTAINABLE. Writing down that you want to become the next Manny Maroquin within six months won’t get you anywhere. If you’re anything like me, you’ll need to see progress throughout your journey to keep you motivated towards success. The more you break things down, the better.

Some examples for my mixer friends may be to study and learn how to manage the low end better. Maybe you struggle with using effects? Vocals… Definitely vocals, right? 😉

Whatever it is (skill or business related), write down as many things here as you can think of. We’re going to break them down even further in the next step.

Done? Awesome.

Setting Priorities. Going for the Big Wins!

Now that you’ve identified weaknesses and made a list of the areas to improve, I want you to take a step back and think about which of these tasks will make the most significant impact. If your quality isn’t up to par then what specifically will improve your mixes or productions the most?

Maybe your mixes are solid and quality isn’t your issue, but knowing how to generate income is. In that case, your efforts should be concentrated around finding clients and building a buzz around your business. NOT learning new mixing tricks.

Prioritize your list of tasks and then set a realistic date that you can accomplish it by. I know I’ve said the word realistic a few times now, but this is key to your success. If you set unrealistic goals you’re going to fail at these short-term goals and failing with the short-term will almost definitely discourage you and ultimately result in failed long-term success. 🙁 No fun.

Measuring Your Success

It’s important to set goals that you can measure. This can be tough with music because art is subjective, but you should be able to tell if more clients are coming through the doors or whether or not your low end is hitting nicely. Something I used to do was to frequent my portfolio folder and listen through my mixes from past projects. Again, an honest self-evaluation can help you create and/or modify your existing goals. Set a reminder to do this every couple of months.

Ask Yourself “Why?”

Something I learned years ago from a brilliant pastor is to ask yourself WHY over and over again until you get to the source of your motivation.

Let’s use becoming a successful mixer as an example. I’ll do the exercise similar to how I did this many years ago to demonstrate.

Me: I want to do the Pro Tools certification course.

Why?

Me: To prove that I can operate Pro Tools effectively in an intense studio setting.

Why?

So that I can find a good job working in a studio.

Why?

So that I can make money…

Why?

To provide for my family and pay the bills.

Why?

Because I love my wife and children and want to be a responsible father/husband.

And on and on… Don’t stop asking why. Go deeper with it. This will ensure that you find your ultimate sense of motivation and there’s nothing more powerful than that.

Final Thoughts… Accountability

Personally, I’ve had a rough go recently so I’ll be putting these steps into action as well. If you’re interested in finding some likeminded folks to help keep you on task, I can’t recommend our private Facebook group enough. There are some incredibly talented musicians and engineers inside and I can personally attest to the amazing support that they offer.

The last action item is to join the FB group and post your music goals as we’ve worked through them here. Feel free to tag me and we can help each other stay the course.

Click here to request access to the David Glenn Recording Private Facebook Group.

Happy New Year and God Bless!

-David

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