• Philip Marsden

5 Ways to Make 2021 Your Best Year Yet as an Artist

It's got to the time of year when we start planning our new years resolutions and thinking about how much better next year will be (especially after this one).

We don't know when things will get back to normal yet, but we do know that out of crisis comes opportunity. Right now, music is almost paused. There are a ton of artists out there just waiting for their moment to burst out into the industry, releasing music and playing shows as soon as the chance arises. Whenever that moment is, there is going to be a surge of new music and to stand out, you'll need to be better, faster and more organised than the artists around you to make to most of the opportunities that come your way.

Today, I want to give you 5 actions you can take right now, to make sure that 2021 is your most successful year yet as an artist.


1. Reflect

You can't expect to move forward in 2021 if you don't reflect upon 2020. The easiest way to do this is to right a simple list of what worked and what didn't throughout the past year. This almost sounds too simple, but it will get you mentally into the right place to plan what's ahead in the most effective way possible. Think about everything you surrounding your music - Your branding, your songwriting, your production, your marketing and content, your audience, your performance skills.

What pushed you forward and opened up opportunities? What did your audience love? Be proud of yourself and keep doing these things in 2021.

What didn't work so well? Be totally honest with yourself. For each of these things on your list, either ditch it and double down on something that pushed you forward, or analyse it, figure out why it didn't quite work out and plan a different approach to take into next year.


2. Set a Goal

If you're only going to do one thing on this list, make it this one. Your goals define how you should approach everything you do as an artist. If you blindly take each day as it comes, you'll never know if you're heading down the right path. Your release strategy, budget allocation and daily routines should all depend on what you want to achieve.

Are you aiming for top editorial playlist spots, national radio play and major festivals by the end of the year? Then you're going to need top studios, an incredible marketing team and a lot of time to work on every aspect of your music career. Are you focussed on maximising your streaming numbers? Then maybe you'll want to release regular singles and set aside a good chunk of your budget for marketing. Or perhaps you just want to make a great sounding record for you own enjoyment? Then you'll want to put more time and money into the writing and production.

Think about the time and money you have available to invest into your music career and set a realistic, achievable goal for the year ahead. Push yourself, but remember that your time, budget and your goal must be in perfect harmony to achieve results.


3. Get Planning

Now it's time to take the goal that you've set and reverse engineer it. How will you get there? Open up your calendar and start planning your routines and key dates for your music in 2021. Start with your exact release dates and fill the gaps. What will your daily routine look like and where does your music fall into that? When are your recording? Are you batching your production or spreading it across the year? When will you create content? When are you rehearsing? When will you have a photo or video shoot? How much time each day will be allocated to networking? Once you have all of this laid out in front you it's much easier to take action and see the path to success.


4. Get networking

At some point in 2021, we're going to be allowed live music again and when that happens, there's going to be a ton of competition out there for you. Gig slots will get snapped up quickly and you can't afford to miss out. One of the best ways to make sure opportunities come your way is be top of mind for those offering them, so get networking now and you can be ahead of the game! Get out into your local music scene and meet up with the artists, the promoters, the producers and the local venue owners near you for coffee and form (genuine) relationships. This will ensure that when a fitting opportunity comes up, you're the first person that pops into their head.


5. Have a Backup Plan

If there's one thing we've learned this year, it's that you always need a backup plan. The unexpected can and will happen. If things aren't back to normal when you expect them to be, what are you going to do?

Chances are you're at least going to have a few gigs cancelled in 2021, which will leave you with some free time. Whatever you do, don't waste it. You were going to use that time for music anyway, so double down on something else productive. Write more songs, learn more about marketing yourself as an artist, network more, release more music. 2020 has shown us that even with restrictions and limitations, there's always something you can do to move forward and those who carry on despite the friction, will see progress and growth in both their music and wellbeing.


I hope this post has motivated and encouraged you to set some goals and plan ahead for next year. You could probably get most of this together in a day, so set aside some time over the holidays to sit down and figure out how you're going to crush it in 2021!


Looking to grow your fanbase on Spotify? Download my free guide - 7 Steps to Getting Playlisted and Maximising Your Music on Spotify here.