Rise above the plateau[This article was written by Dave Kusek, founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music book, and a member of the team who brought midi to the market.]

Every single musician has experienced it at some point – the dreaded plateau. After seeing some great success you just feel stuck, like you don’t know what to do to step it up to the next level. It’s not all bad – you have built up a good fanbase, you’re selling singles and albums, your gigs are a success, but you still feel stagnant.

Luckily, with the new year just around the corner, this is the best time to break out of your box and step it up. In this article, we’re going to be talking about 3 ways to take your music career to the next level.

1. Try Something New

You’ve seen success. You know your current system works, but if you don’t try anything new – be it a new tool, a new social media strategy, or a new approach to your music videos – you’ll never know how much further you can get. In today’s music industry, there’s no one-size-fits-all model. A strategy that doesn’t work for someone else may be perfect for your music career. You never know unless you try.

Not everything you try will work. In fact, a lot of them will probably fail, but eventually you’ll stumble upon one really great idea and it will rocket your career up past the plateau you’ve been battling with. Jack Conte said something in an interview that really stuck with me. “If you’re going along with the status quo you’re probably not going to fail as much. But it also means that you’re not really doing anything that interesting.” Don’t be afraid to try new things and experiment. In the end it will get you further than just banging your head on the same wall.

Jack Conte shared a lot more insightful tips in this free webinar. He also discusses his new company Patreon. If you’re looking for a new tool to try out to help take your career to the next level, Patreon is the one you should check out.

2. Find Out What Your Fans Want

At this point in your career you’ve probably built up a decent social media following and email list. Use that to your advantage! Instead of just blindly trying new ideas, ask your fans what they want. Send out surveys to measure interest in new products or experience ideas you have. Experimenting with your strategy can be a scary thing, but this significantly reduces risk. Not only that, in helping with these decisions, your fans will feel like they are a part of your career, therefore forging a deeper connection.

Another approach is to try new things and use analytics to determine what your fans want. Maybe you want to add an end screen to your YouTube videos to try to drive more subscribes and mailing list signups. Release it, give it the same amount of promotion as your other videos, use smart urls to track clicks, and compare.

Blindly making changes is the last thing you want to do. You want concrete data either before you try something new, or by analyzing what you do try – or better still – both. One of the pitfalls of asking people what they want is that sometimes they don’t know. Steve Jobs famously said “people don’t know what they want until you give it to them” and I think this is true. Always measure the results of your efforts to see what is working and what is not working. Without this you cannot hope to adapt and improve.

3. Don’t be Afraid to Pivot

As a musician, you probably have a goal or a grand idea of exactly where you would like your music career to be in the future. However, sometimes our goals and the reality of our current situation don’t match up. The fact of the matter is, if you keep your blinders up and stay focused 100% on that goal, you will miss out on other opportunities. These opportunities may not lead to the goal you had in mind, but they could take your music career in an entirely new and exciting direction.

Shannon Curtis thought that her music career would look like a traditional solo artist – she would write an album, promote it, go on tour, and maybe get a record deal down the line. However, after doing a few house concerts she found a new direction for her career. She saw the results, she did a complete 180 degree pivot in her approach, and she has been extremely successful. Now she only does house concerts and has developed a strategy that makes them much more successful than traditional gigs. If she had stayed focused on her original goal, she would have missed this life-changing opportunity.

I recently did a webinar interview with Shannon Curtis. She shared her inspiring story and went step-by-step through her proven house concert strategy. You can watch the entire webinar for free here.

Of course, career development is an ongoing process. In the New Artist Model online music business courses you’ll learn how to turn your music into a successful business – a business where you are in control! You’ll create an actionable and personalized plan that will help you achieve a career in music, and you’ll be able to do it all with the resources you have available right now.

You can see a free video mini series here on creating communities of super fans, developing meaningful experiences for your fans that they will crave, learning how to monetize your audience again and again, and how to use power networking to create the connections you need for success. If you’d like to learn more Shannon Curtis’s house concert strategy, you can watch the entire webinar here for free.

[hana-code-insert name=’marketing-spread-the-word’ /]