7 things every musician should do before 2018

7 things every musician should do right now
3306 4

Don’t waste your downtime this holiday season.

For musicians, the holidays can be a time of either frenzy or famine. You may find yourself rushing down the freeway from your tenth corporate gig of the month to your fifth holiday house concert, finally getting a second to to check the Spotify for Artists app to see how your new Christmas single is doing while stopped at a red light.

Either that, or you’re on the couch in a food coma while A Christmas Story loops endlessly on the TV, longing for the New Year to arrive so you can put this holiday haze behind you and start playing club gigs again.

Whether December provides you with only a few free moments or gives you all the time in the world, there are a handful of important things you should do as a musician before the end of the year.

An end-of-year checklist for independent musicians:

1. Professionalize your publishing rights

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “songwriter,” you ARE one if you create original music.

As a songwriter, you’re owed publishing royalties for the usage of your music, including mechanical royalties for global streaming and international downloads, performance royalties for radio plays and live shows, and more. But these kinds of royalties are not usually paid through a distributor, and only a portion of them are collected by Performing Rights Organizations such as ASCAP and BMI.

If you don’t have a publisher or publishing administrator working to collect these royalties, you’re missing out on YOUR money.  But there’s a simple fix: CD Baby Pro Publishing!

Sign up or upgrade your releases to CD Baby Pro Publishing and we’ll make sure you’re paid everything you’re owed.

2. Get verified as an artist on Spotify

Spotify is the dominant player in the streaming world, and they give you a number of tools to boost your music’s profile on the platform. But not if you aren’t verified. If you’re a CD Baby artist, we’ll help you get instant access to your Spotify for Artists account. Go HERE.

If you’re not using CD Baby as a distributor, Spotify verification is still a pretty easy process. Go HERE to learn how to get verified, what you can do as a verified artist, and how to build your following on Spotify.

3. Create a Show.co account (it’s FREE!)

Show.co is a super elegant suite of music marketing tools that have been used by major labels and major artists like Maroon 5, Tove Lo, OASIS, and more.

Show.co campaigns give you a way to turn casual fan interest into concrete, action-driven results. As a CD Baby artist, you get to use Show.co for free to boost your presence on Spotify, grow your email list, drive views or subscribes on YouTube, and more.

Claim your Show.co account and launch a campaign in minutes by logging into your CD Baby members account and clicking “Free Marketing Tools.”

4. Buy your early-bird ticket for the DIY Musician Conference

It’s our event, so this might sound hyperbolic (or at least biased), but we’ve heard it from so many attendees: The DIY Musician Conference can be career-changing, giving you a super affordable opportunity to learn from experts, get one-on-one mentoring, meet reps from important music and tech brands, network, showcase, and make friends that will support you for the long-haul, because they understand exactly what it’s like to be committed to a life in music.

Our fourth annual DIY Musician Conference will be happening in Nashville from August 24-26, 2018, and tickets right now are only $79. Get ’em before the price goes up.

5. Sign up with SoundExchange

SoundExchange collects royalties for the digital transmission of a sound recording. Think satellite radio or Pandora. These royalties are paid to the artist, performers, and label — not the songwriter and publisher — so if you’re the artist and/or label, you can collect these in addition to any publishing royalties generated for the use of the underlying composition.

Like lots of royalties, if they go unclaimed for too long they’ll disappear, so register with SoundExchange today to collect what’s yours.

6. Submit your set lists for 2017

If you perform original songs live, you can earn publishing royalties for your shows (in addition to whatever fee the venue is paying you).

In order to collect, you must file your set lists with your Performing Rights Organization. HERE are the deadlines.

Keep in mind, some venues you perform at might not be doing things by-the-book, meaning they haven’t paid any fees to the P.R.O.s. If you file a set list for such a venue, the P.R.O.s might come knocking on that venue’s door. That puts you in a weird spot. On the one hand, that venue SHOULD be paying songwriters and publishers for the very music that brings in customers and gives them a reason for existing as a venue in the first place. On the other hand, you don’t want to be the person the venue blames when they get a threatening letter in the mail. So use your judgement, and don’t be afraid to ask venues if they’re paying one or more of the P.R.O.s before you play your show.

7. Make a plan

5-year goals are great, but c’mon; we’re musicians. We usually can’t see past our next gig. That’s why the holidays are a great time to plot out some small, medium, and large goals for the coming year. It forces you to give some shape to your efforts, set some metrics for success, and something even more important: get excited and inspired to put in the work.

Book a tour, launch a crowdfunding campaign, shoot a video, whatever. Set the goal, plan accordingly, and do it. 

See you in 2018!


What are your goals for 2018? I’d love to hear in the comments.

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • KRNichols

    Great article. The plan is to do #s 3,4,and 7. Others don’t apply (playing live etc, but part of the 2018 plan) or already done (tracking royalties,etc). YouTube videos, releasing singles for the 2018 album are on the to-do and CDBaby will be there! Thanks for consistently great articles for songwriters.

  • Mark Hughes

    Some good ideas here. Thanks for the article 🙂

  • Lori Bonati-Phillips

    I just wrote 4 new kids’ songs and I plan on turning them into an EP recording AND a children’s book (with CD inside the book). I’d never written children’s songs before. They make a pretty cool gift.