Strategies

My Crazy-Ambitious 2019 Goal

As of this morning, this post is serving double-duty as an introduction to my Patreon page. I can’t promise that my approach will prove successful, or that it will help you with your own promotional efforts. I’m sharing it here in the hope that you’ll consider becoming a patron. If it inspires you to set your own crazy-ambitious goal, even better.

Ten Good Years

I started running after college, but I didn’t start running seriously until 2011.

Since then I’ve immersed myself in the online running community: the science, the shoes, and the stories.

One story I see over and over again is this: middle-aged couch potato takes up running and, within a few years, surpasses lifetime athletes. For example, John Shaw took up running at age 59, and is breaking world records at 65.

The commonly accepted explanation is that runners have ten good years. Those that run hard through high school and college aren’t likely to be winning ultramarathons in middle age.

Why am I talking about running? Because I think the same thing holds true for my favorite recording artists. With few exceptions, their best material was recorded within a ten year span.

I started making music after college, but I didn’t start making music seriously until 2019.

Up until now, I only worked on my music when I finished working on other people’s music. Oftentimes that meant taking months off for a big project. You can see it in my pre-Patreon release dates: 2003, 2008, 2010, 2016.

The past three months have given me a taste of life as a full-time recording artist. In that span I’ve written and mostly recorded an entire album. You can read through my process here.

With your help, my goal for 2019 is to quit my day job. That doesn’t mean I’ll never work on other peoples’ music again, but it will allow me to be selective about the projects I take on, and to put my music first.

Loathe as I am to admit it, I’m going to turn 50 at the end of this year. The clock is ticking. It’s now or never.

It won’t be easy. For the past 20 years, people have expected to get digital content for free. Last year I spent far more on advertising than I made in sales, despite the fact that my music reached more ears than ever before. The only consistent income I get is from Patreon.

As of today, 165 patrons support me to the tune of $581 per month. Looking at the cost of producing a song relative to what I need to make in a month, I’m setting a goal of $3000 per month.

Crazy? Maybe. Putting that number out there definitely makes me feel uncomfortable, but what’s the alternative? Waiting a few more years?

When I launched my page there was an abundance of confusion, and in some cases, outright hostility. Since then most of you have come to understand the concept of Patreon, and their mission to empower artists to support themselves while dedicating their lives to what they’re most passionate about.

The results speak for themselves. Look at what we accomplished in 2018 alone.

Of course I’m not asking for a handout. There are a variety of rewards, including exclusive tracks. But most of all I’m offering an experience you won’t get anywhere else.

2019 promises to be the biggest year yet for Color Theory! I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Learn more and become a patron here.

With appreciation,

Brian.

If you’d like to hear more of my promotional escapades, be sure to subscribe to my How I’m Promoting My Music This Month email newsletter.

Photo by Christian Joudrey on Unsplash

6 Comments

  • Reply
    karolyn
    December 8, 2019 at 2:09 pm

    As we’re almost at year end now, how did your 2019 project go?

    Putting the music aside, I think your biggest obstacle to achieving your goals is your age. It’s not fair but the industry and the buyers who consume music are, on the whole, ageist. I can’t think of a single example of a recording artist who has had their initial meaningful success past 50. Yes, the Stones and similar folks can lug themselves around at 50, 60, 70+ but their initial success was as younger adults. Susan Boyle was discovered in her late-40s but you can probably count examples like her on one hand. The odds of even modest success as a recording artist are incredibly low. Add in the age issue and the odds decline to nearly zero. It’s not fair but selling original popular music is a young person’s game. Hopefully you’ll find a way to navigate around this.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      December 8, 2019 at 2:19 pm

      I’m not sure how much that applies these days, at least to guys like me who aren’t angling to perform the Super Bowl halftime show! My definition of success is likely different than yours.

      I’m not quite 50 yet fwiw. 😉

      My Patreon grew a little bit, but nowhere near enough to reach my goal. On the plus side, I learned that declaring an income goal wasn’t much of a rallying cry for my fans!

      It was still my best year yet in all the metrics that come to mind other than sales (let’s see… approaching $1300 on Bandcamp year-to-date). I made more than double that on 715K Spotify streams. But of course I spent a lot too! Otherwise I wouldn’t have much to write about.

      • Reply
        karolyn
        December 9, 2019 at 12:56 pm

        I think even if your definition of success is taking in $40k a year, after all expenses, from songwriting between patreon, spotify, bandcamp, and the others, the above still applies. I’d like to see one instance of a pop songwriter basically starting at over the age of 50 and achieving this. I’m sure someone out there has done it but it’s like catching a rainbow.
        People who listen to the music of established artists who are now older are imagining them as the young artists they were, not the older folks they’ve become. When people are hearing music for the first time they want to associate it with a fresh young face or at least someone that is hip or cool, whatever that means. Even if you don’t play live. Doesn’t matter. Once you’re over 40 I think it’s very hard to cement the right image in listeners’ minds.
        I’m in my late 30s so I can relate. I don’t really care too much as music isn’t my job. But it is kind of interesting how listeners process music and integrate the artist’s image, looks, and so on into their opinion of the music itself.

        • Reply
          Brian Hazard
          December 9, 2019 at 7:26 pm

          What you’re saying may be true, but I haven’t experienced it. Maybe it works against me and I just don’t know it. I have a much bigger audience now, with lots of new fans over the past couple of years, than I did 20 years ago.

          Personally I listen to plenty of artists on Spotify that I have no idea how old they are or how they look. But image was definitely a big factor in my tastes growing up.

          You have the option of targeting people your own age, who are more likely to resonate with your experiences, and less likely to devalue them.

    • Reply
      Juliano Agertt
      January 23, 2020 at 9:50 am

      Nowadays people buy/listen to music without even knowing the artist´s face. I love Kygo for example, but I did not know how he looked like until very recently. I do not measure success by the number of times someone appears on TV, but how people react to an artist´s product which is his music.

      • Reply
        Brian Hazard
        January 23, 2020 at 12:36 pm

        I’ve listened to several Kygo tracks and still don’t know what he looks like. Great example!

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