01/12/2018 – A few years ago I started tracking my music earnings month by month in a different way than I had previously been doing. Before, I would list all of my show earnings line by line in a spreadsheet. It was mainly to keep track of my earnings for tax purposes. It was a basic list of numbers for the entire year. However, one year in January, I decided to look at my earnings differently grouping them by month. To that, I added my estimated earnings for the year based on gigs I had already booked in my calendar. It was a small change in the way I looked at my earnings, but it made a world of difference. Seeing that data in this new light allowed me to take more control over my earnings. Instead of looking at my earnings after the fact, I was able to take a more proactive role in how I ran my music business. I ended up giving myself a significant raise that year and each subsequent year after. I’m about to show you exactly how I did it and I’m also going to share with you the spreadsheet I used to do it.
Take an inventory of last year’s monthly earnings
Firstly, it would help if you looked at your earnings from last year. Separate your earnings along with the corresponding gigs you did by month. This will give you a picture of how much you’ve made in the past year, month by month. Having quick access to this data throughout this process will help you stay close to reality. We would all love to give ourselves the maximum amount we can get, but the trick here will be to be as realistic as possible. Otherwise you’ll just be spinning your wheels and setting yourself up for heartbreak and disappointment if you don’t meet your goals. Don’t do that.
Create a new spreadsheet for the upcoming year and add in your gigs and earnings from the previous year as a placeholder. You are creating a hypothetical gigging calendar. The next thing you will do is increase the amount of gigs you will play for the year…
Decide how much more revenue you want to generate
If you already have some shows booked, go ahead and add those to your spreadsheet. Tally up those earnings together with the earnings from your placeholder shows by month. You’ll end up with a base estimate of what you’ll be making for the year assuming you’ll be able to book shows to the ones you did last year. Look at the total earnings by month, and look at the total earnings for the year. Now that you have these figures to look at, you can set a new earnings goal that will give you more money. You can do this by adding in hypothetical gigs along with their corresponding earnings…
Figure out what gigs you need to add in order to get it
These gigs can be more of the same gigs you currently have, or you can try your hand at different types of gigs. You could even try adding a new side hustle related (or unrelated) to music. The possibilities are endless. For example, if you have been doing coffee shop types of shows, try adding a self-hosted, ticketed show a few times in the year where you’ll earn an extra $200 for those months. Maybe you can do some busking at a park once a month. In my case, I added Thursday to Sunday weekend tours to cities within driving distance of my home base each month and that increased my potential revenue enough to meet my goals. Consequently, we did a lot of touring that year. As a musician, you should think of yourself as a business owner. You’re the manager, and your product is you and your music. A good business owner is always looking for ways to expand their business, position their product in a new way, and increase sales in order to meet their revenue goals. In the same manner, you should be looking for new things you can do each month to generate the revenue that you are hoping to earn. What gigs can you add to your monthly schedule to increase your earnings? This process is extremely simple, but the hard work comes in planning the tactics to achieve your revenue goals…
Come up with a strategy to get those gigs and EXECUTE IT!
Now that you’ve added hypothetical gigs to your calendar to raise your music income, you need to work on getting them or making them a reality. If you simply added more of the same types of gigs you’re already doing, then you need to increase the number of booking inquiries you normally send out. If you’ve added new types of shows to your calendar like house concerts for instance, then you need to reach out to house concert series and hosts and your fans, to start booking house concerts for the year. I have a few tools to help you with house concert booking here and here. This process was a game changer for me. It completely changed how I went about earning money by giving me more focus. I was able to set realistic goals for myself and I knew exactly how I was going to go about achieving them. If you use this system, you will too! Now that’s how you do new year’s resolutions!