For an independent musicians, the challenge is always to stay on top of the latest opportunity for marketing, promoting, and/or recording your music. Sometimes taking on that challenge comes at the cost of sacrificing both personal comforts and personal necessities like sleep and groceries. This often is my experience as a musicians and singer/songwriter. I experience times when there are lots of opportunities to take advantage of, but only the usual seeping financial flow as sustenance. In those times, unfortunately, the first things to be sacrificed for those opportunities are indeed sleep and groceries. Those stressful times are usually followed by times where there are fewer opportunities and my resources have a chance to replenish. It is during these times that I, personally, have a chance to regroup and recover as well! At this beginning part of my career and at the beginning parts of many artists’ careers, there seems to be little or no way around this cycle – the ebb and flow, the influxes of work/opportunities followed by dry spells.
The “dry spells” are prime times for self-evaluation, relaxation, re-couping, re-assessing and overall reorganizing of your material and resources for the next influx of work. In my last dry spell, I went back and looked at a graph that I made for myself years ago to help me prioritize my life better. I, as a musician cannot live by the graph 24-7, but it is helpful to refer to this graph when tempted to over-work and over-extend myself. For what it’s worth, here it is.
A “dry spell” is a great time to return to this set of priorities. During influxes, try to keep it up as best you possibly can.
First Priority “Personal Physical Health” – Eating, exercising, and sleeping habits fall under this category
Second Priority “Personal Emotional Health” – Relaxing, grieving, prayer and/or meditation falls under this category.
Third Priority “Personal Financial Health” – Balancing your accounts, working business costs into your budget, etc. falls under this category
First Priority “Relationships with Family” – Making sure you touch base with your family members to see how they’re doing falls under this category
Second Priority “Relationships with Friends and Significant Others” – Hanging out, sharing experiences, learning from close friends, etc. falls under this category
Third Priority “Career and Giving Back” – Musical and Philanthropic endeavors have a chance to soar!
As you look at the graph, feel free to modify it according to your needs and keep in mind that it is just a guide to use in avoiding the dreaded “burn out”. The “burn out” is a state of exhaustion that leaves you both incapable to work and incapable to rest. Let’s, us musicians, avoid the “burn out” at all costs and structure our lives as much as is realistic in this industry so that we can keep making music for all to hear that will eventually make us money!
Since she was 5 years old, Tavonna Miller ’10 has been making her mark in the music industry. A native of Los Angeles, CA, she began singing with the children choir at church and soon ventured out to sing not only for her own church, but also for other churches and church events. Tavonna has been afforded the experience of working with both locally and widely acclaimed gospel artists like Kurt Carr, Judith Christie McAllister, and Tonex who is currently known as Brian Slade. Tavonna Miller encountered her greatest learning experience studying the discipline of classical voice at Fullerton College (California) before furthering her pop/jazz vocal studies at Berklee College of Music. Tavonna is known for her moving musical expression in the gospel genre and now branches out to sing not only gospel/Christian, but also R&B, jazz, soul, and classical. In addition to strictly vocal performing, Tavonna Miller has graduated with a degree in Songwriting from Berklee College of Music and performs nightly at manly local live music spots in Boston like The 6B Lounge, The Savant Project, The Lizard Lounge, The Milky Way Lounge, Midway Cafe, and All Asia. She looks forward to a long, successful career as a musician and songwriter who make music that she can respect and celebrate.