How musicians can stay productive while social distancing
By Cheryl B. Engelhardt April 27, 2020
The Complete Guide to Productivity During Covid-19
There is nothing like working from home. I’ve done it for over a decade. It requires discipline, a routine, and getting out of my pajamas (most of the time).
Working from home provides me so much freedom and peace as I create my days however I want. Of course, there is the stress of having to generate every single penny, connection, and gig on your own. But for me, the benefits far outweigh the stressors.
But working from home when the rest of the world is too? It’s a different beast.
It’s tempting to fall into the Netflix binging zone, knowing that most people are also just… waiting.
Here’s what I think: I think the majority of the world is going to get bored really soon, and that they are going to turn to art. Not just movies, but books, music, podcasts, and visual arts.
Creative people have a huge opportunity to serve. To come out on top. To shift the habits of how we work at our careers.
To successfully move forward, I suggest a structure like the one laid out in this article. I also suggest a community. I host an online mastermind for musicians, open to anyone. Normally it’s monthly, but for now, we will meet every weekday.
We succeed only if we can create structures that support us in moving forward and not lie in wait like the rest of the world.
Here is the guide I use during holidays and down times to keep myself moving and to bring some things that get pushed to the back burner to front-of-mind. I like to keep weekends free for complete relaxation, reading, and movies. If I know that a weekend of nothing is in my future, it’s much easier to move through these five days and truly Crank with a capital C.
Clearing can mean a lot of things. It can mean ditching a toxic relationship to make room for a healthy one. It can mean clearing off your desk of old papers. It can mean emptying your inbox, doing laundry, or making space on your phone for new photos.
Essentially, clearing is the process of removing something to make room for something else. (Note that day 2 is “Create” – we cannot create something new if there is no room for it.)
Think about your physical space and your digital space as places to start clearing. Here are a few ideas to get going. *Pro Tip: Schedule two blocks of 2 hours in your day to tackle the two biggest tasks that have been looming. Don’t try to do them all! You’ll always have next Monday!*
Clearing in your physical space
- organizing papers
- putting away books
- doing laundry
- cleaning surfaces
- organizing and sanitizing the entryway
- decreasing clutter / create a box to donate
Clearing in your digital space
- put random files on your desktop into the appropriate folders
- manage space on phone and computer
- empty your inbox by replying to emails
- organize photos
- delete old unused files to increase storage
- add metadata to your tracks that you want to license and organize them
Get dolled up. Make some videos. Finish that song that you’ve been dying to finish. The first week you do this, just create the stuff that’s been on your mind. Finish that pet portrait you started. Write the poem that creeped into your head.
The second week you do this, start to be mindful of the milestones you’d like to reach in your career and create content that will support those goals. For example, if you want to increase your Spotify followers, consider creating a Spotify audio ad.
Here are just a few other ideas for content you could create:
- Write a new blog post.
- Start a podcast.
- Write a song.
- Try your hand at drawing, poetry, or short stories.
- Update your website (or create a new one- I’m a fan of the all-in-one platform Kajabi (inthekey.co/kajabi) where you can have your email list, sell your music and merch, and have a website all in an easy platform. If you’re on a super budget, I suggest Bandzoogle inthekey.co/makeasite.)
- Record yourself performing a few cover songs, post to youtube.
- Create new instagram posts on canva.com to promote your music that you can plan on posting in the future.
- Create a spreadsheet where you collect links to other cool articles and content to post on social media.
- Create a series of videos on how you came up with some of your song titles.
- Make a video just for your fan list checking in and saying hi.
This one is simple: collect contacts and collect knowledge. Essentially, use today as research.
Research the emails of people you may want to pitch the future. Use this spread sheet, hosted in Airtable (it’s like excel on pretty steroids) to start getting organized with contacts for venues, licensing agents, blogs, press, playlists and more.
How many online courses or books have you purchased to improve a skill, whether email marketing, playing the guitar, or running Instagram ads? If you have, go dig up your username and login info and finish that program.
If you haven’t recently taken on learning something new for yourself, now is the perfect time to invest in yourself and gain a skill that can increase your bottom line! (I strongly suggest becoming a master at your email list – growing it, connecting with subscribers, and monetizing it. If your’e doing email correctly, you’ll know: you’l be making $1-2 per subscriber per month. Not you? Then check out this free training on how to master your email list. If you’re already great at email marketing, learn how to powerfully pitch anything to anyone and get a yes! Try this quick course: inthekey.co/perfectpitch)
Today is simple- we ask for the things!
Send your pitches to the people you researched yesterday. Implementing the pitching course (inthekey.co/pitch) will have you ready to rock and roll those pitches.
You can also send an email to your fan list- let them know how they can support you. Be clear and make sure they have all the information they need to support you. (Asking them to stream your music on spotify? Give them a direct link and share a screen shot of what they need to click to follow you!)
Additionally during the Campaign day, you can create some ads through Facebook or found.ee (my favorite non-facebook ad platform) as well as show.co to promote your music, social sites, or any products you have. If you used the Create day to make some videos for your ads, you’ll be all set.
(I loved my friend Ari Herstand’s program on ads for Spotify and Instagram growth: www.inthekey.co/iggrowth. He walks you through how to make videos that convert on instagram stories.)
It’s definitely important to connect with people throughout the week, but let’s be really intentional about this today.
Reach out, personally, to your superfans, past clients, people who continue to hire you, and of course, friends and family.
I like to do this on Friday so that I can have the weekend to rejuvenate and reboot without worrying about who I need to call or shift my energy for.
You can also be thinking about scheduling your social media posts that you created or collected for next week. I like to schedule out my posts on buffer.com. All week long, I save links to great articles and cool content, and come Friday, I schedule one post a day to my social sites for the next 7 days.
This is the time for self care. For dropping the ball. For catching up so you can start Monday again.
- Meditate for an hour. I use the app Simple Habit (inthekey.co/habit) as well as Insight Timer and you can find my own meditations and positive “I am” affirmations on both apps. You can also stream my new record for mindfulness, peace and growth, Luminary, on all your favorite platforms. Click here to learn more about it: www.iamaluminary.com.
- Try cooking a new meal.
- Binge-watch a show that makes you happy.
- Take a nap.
- Take a bath.
- Write in a journal. Or on a napkin. Don’t be afraid to explore your own shadows. Whatever that means to you.
- Drink tea. Or wine. Or whatever floats your boat.
I hope this helps create some structure for your weeks in social distancing times. And maybe in times when you just want to Crank, with a capital C.