Music Management Skills: Prioritize Your Day

I’m not going to try to convince you that I’m the most organized person in the world. However, I can tell you that making an effort to prioritize the actions you take every day can make a huge difference in your music management career.

Developing an artist doesn’t just take time and patience, it takes the ability to focus on the most important activities in your day despite near-constant interruption. If you’re the kind of person that likes to schedule your entire day in advance, music management might not be the right kind of gig for you. That’s because a crisis will find you, like a heat-seeking missile, at the very moment you’re planning on doing something else.

  • Trip to the day spa? Expect a call from the venue about the fact that your band was supposed to bring their own P.A.
  • Afternoon with the kids? Publicist’s going to want to know how the latest batch of headshots got smudges on them.
  • Romantic dinner with your spouse? Client’s calling from the gig, from the hotel, or from jail.

Those aren’t even the most exaggerated examples I can find. However, with the right frame of mind and the right tools, you can prioritize your day in such a way that you spend most of your time “in the flow,” really directing your artists’ careers from the highest level.

Here are some tips and tools that have worked well for me:

  • David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done, emphasizes the need to keep information flowing through a central inbox and a trusted organizational system. Thinking about a task’s real impact on your goals can help you better decide how to process it.
  • The wonderful Jen White left us too soon, but her Work Less, Make More book impacted me in a major way. By creating “zones” in your schedule to focus on different kinds of tasks, you can stay in the flow more often. It’s really like taking David Allen’s concept of “context” to the next level, except you exert more control over what context you’ll be in at any given time during the week.
  • Telling you to read Stephen Covey sounds like really boring advice for a budding music management professional. Yet, the simple idea of Covey’s “urgent vs. important” message is a crucial lesson for anyone trying to prioritize their actions. Allen and White both reference Covey, and you’ll want to know a little more about how these ideas evolved. I will warn you, the book is dry and a little hard to read. The downloadable audio of Covey’s lecture is much more engaging and easier to understand.

As a warning, it’s easy to get caught up in a web of “productivity pr0n.” It’s not about having the right day planner or the right web app or the right notebook. It’s about giving yourself permission to say no to the things that don’t move your artists forward.