How to Successfully Set Goals As A Musician

Setting goals may not have been the main reason you wanted to do music. However, it’s important to realise that being organised and setting goals is part and parcel of being a musician. By setting goals as a musician, you ensure that you’re doing the best you can to achieve your version of success. Don’t know where to start?

Here are 5 tips on how to successfully set goals as a musician

Understand SMART goals

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound. While visionary, a general goal is difficult to achieve. Therefore, when you set goals as a musician, they must be specific: “I want to perform at this specific venue in my city.” Measurable means that you can measure whether you have achieved that goal or not. If we take the venue case as an example, booking and selling out a show at that venue is a measurable goal.

Next comes achievable. Is it feasible to book this venue at this stage of your career? Or should you wait a year or two until you have a better fan base? A solid team that can help you determine whether your goals as a musician are achievable or not is beneficial, as it helps you build a solid career foundation. The same applies when determining whether a goal is relevant or not. Would this particular goal actually help you advance your career? Does it align with your overall timeline?

“Time-bound” deals with the “when”. For example, when would you be able to perform at this venue? Add a rough idea of how long your goals will realistically take to achieve them.

Differentiate between short-term and long-term goals

You’ve undoubtedly heard about long-term and short-term goals, but might not know how to differentiate between the two. Simply put, long-term goals are things you want to achieve over a long period of time or in the future. Long-term goals require a lot of time, energy, and planning. They’re not something you can achieve in a day or a week.

These can be abstract things, such as what you want your music to represent, or tangible targets, such as playing a high-profile festival like Coachella. Undoubtedly, they require a lot of hard work. That’s where short-term goals, or actionable step goals, come in.

These are essentially the small steps you need to take to actually achieve these long-term goals. This can range from recording a single to sending an email to a promoter in the next city, to posting a post on social media. These goals are relatively easier to achieve, but they are necessary to push your career forward.

Write down your goals

Putting pen to paper is a good way to hold yourself accountable. Whether it’s a digital spreadsheet or an old school diary, writing all your goals helps you keep track of what you’re doing and what you still need to do. If you are haunted by writing goals, using a technique like the KonMari Method can help you organise yourself and declutter your brain.

Work on a timeline

Working on a 12- to 18-month timeline may seem daunting. But it’s actually a good way to achieve your short-term goals as a musician and see progress. It will also prove useful when approaching industry professionals, such as booking agents, labels and management. They all want to see that you are serious about your craft and have a solid plan.

Make a daily to-do list

Making a daily to-do list may sound super burdensome. However, it’s definitely helpful when it comes to achieving your goals as a musician on a daily basis. The best time to write your daily to-do list is the night before, so you have a clear idea of what to do first in the morning.

Don’t overload yourself! Limit your to-do list to a maximum of 6 tasks, and give priority to what you should do first. If you feel overwhelmed by work, delegate activities to your team or bandmates. After all, one person can only do so much! Therefore, knowing where to stop is important when you’re setting goals as a musician.


Janelle knows a thing or two about the music industry. Having been involved in the industry since the age of 13, she's now involved in a variety of music-related projects and is always keen to share industry tips 'n' tricks with fellow musicians.