9 Productivity Hacks for Musicians
As a DIY artist, you need to manage every aspect of your music creation and marketing. At the same time, your audience’s attention span is shortening, so you feel the pressure to be MORE productive than ever.
It can be a grind. So how do you get things done, on time, every time, without burning out? Here are nine productivity tips to keep you on task.
1. “Batch” your short-form video creation
Set aside one day per month to shoot a bunch of short-form videos for platforms like TikTok and Instagram.
Creating in batches can save you time because you’re already in video-making mode. If you’re doing something more produced, you set up your camera, space, and lighting once and get to work. It can be more efficient than spending hours setting things up multiple times per month.
Even if your short-form videos appear casual and DIY, it can help to create in-bulk because you’ll be “in the zone.” The tools will be familiar. You’ll have your camera face on.
Just be sure to keep notes throughout the month any time you get a content idea. Then create the best of those concepts on the one day you’ve dedicated to shooting and editing video.
IMPORTANT: You should NOT post all those videos at once though! You can use a scheduling tool like to spread out your content publishes.
2. Record one song at a time
Working on more than one song at once can make you scattered. With multiple songs taking your focus, you don’t feel the pressure to make final decisions since you can always jump to another song you’re working on.
When you commit to working on one song, you focus everything on that track. You stay on-task and make tough choices before moving on to the next song.
Advances in home recording technology have made it possible to take all the time you need to perfect a song. No time or money restraints means you can focus without worrying about studio time running out. It also means you can experiment and try different things with a song.
But, ya know, don’t take too long. “Perfection” can be its own trap.
3. Make every event multi-purpose
If you’re on tour, in the studio, or shooting a video, you want to be in-the-moment and deliver your best.
BUT… your time is valuable, and if you’re making the time commitment already, you might as well get even more out of it. In the form of “content.”
Plan to capture video and pictures of any big event. Document as much as you can, or ask a friend to come along with their camera.
Again, you don’t need to post these right away.
When you do post them, they don’t necessarily need to be tied to a particular concert date or studio session. But good photos and videos will help you tell some additional story that would otherwise go untold if you’d hadn’t kept the cameras rolling.
4. Templatize your vibe
Set aesthetic limitations for yourself upfront.
Choose your brand colors, fonts, and logo — and stick with them.
Pick a photo filter you like and use it on every post for an entire year or album cycle. This will establish a mood for that era in your career. When that era is over, every image will have had a consistent brand feel, and your evolution into the next phase will be all the more noticeable.
You can also employ literal templates as well. For instance, you don’t have to start from scratch editing video each time. Save the session settings as a template in your video editing software so it’s set for each video you make.
Leaning into vibe guidelines you’ve already set for yourself can simplify your decisions when creating content. You don’t waste time on basic questions and can spend time deciding on the important things.
Build your world!
5. Get organized with a project management system
Project management tools help you manage your music, booking, and marketing workload. They help you break big projects into smaller components and tasks. “Making a music video” sounds daunting, so you might never get started. But individual steps are more easily tackled – “come up with a concept,” “ask Dan if he’ll be the camera-person,” “borrow strange costumes from Aunt Hilda,” etc.
You see the work in front of you and get it done.
Trello, Monday, Asana. There are tons of project management tools out there. Pick one that makes sense for your budget and team/band. Then list every task you need to accomplish, no matter how big or small. Be sure to include all those less exciting things.
You might not be “inspired” to get those things done, but a task-oriented system will at least make it harder for you to ignore them! And there’s definitely a sense of achievement in checking things off the list.
6. Be on only two social platforms
With all the social media platforms available for musicians to use, choose only two (or maybe even one!) and focus your energy.
Don’t stretch yourself thin being on every platform. Do something really well on one or two. You can also stay in touch with an audience better when you commit your time to fewer platforms.
How do you choose a platform? Look at where your fans are and what platform you love being on. You’re likely to post and engage more on a platform you enjoy using.
Fewer platforms. More effective engagement. More time for writing and recording.
7. Commit to recording limitations
Limitations can be the mother of invention. Too many options can leave you indecisive.
Do you have a backlog of compositions? Record them as stripped down acoustic versions. That way you get songs out there that have been sitting around for years, and you get creative in your approach.
Record an entire album with one guitar, or one synth, or one effect. That way you really lean into that one thing.
Only let yourself do two overdubs. Avoid using cymbals. No vocal harmonies except on the bridge.
There are endless rules you can make for yourself. Find one that feels like it’ll help you make progress while also challenging you in an exciting way.
8. Say “no” to things
Staying productive means saying “no” to things that might distract you from your priorities.
Look at what you really want to do and decide if something you’re asked about is a benefit or hindrance for that main goal. Decline things that might put you off your path, like playing lots of shows if you’re trying to focus on writing and recording instead.
9. Stop writing long email newsletters
Don’t overload your readers with information in your marketing emails. They might stop reading, or even stop opening.
Make it simple. Choose one topic and stick to it. Keep it short and get to the point, and if you want them to take action (you should) get to the CTA quickly.
This allows you to send more frequent, short emails instead of one long email each month. Continue engaging with your audience and staying in contact. They’re more likely to read your emails if they know they’ll be short.
BONUS TIP: Put down your phone!
Stop wasting time on your phone. Eliminate distractions.
Screentime, Netflix and other distractions are all time you could spend creating music.
Learn how to be more productive
Want expert advice on how to make more music than ever before?
Listen to our full podcast episode about “Productivity Hacks for Musicians.”
Credits: 9 Productivity Hacks for Musicians