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Musician burnout

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10 Tips For Avoiding Musician Burnout

  • Damian Keyes
    Damian Keyes
  • Oct 14th 2021

Burnout is real.

For many musicians, it can be a career killer if not managed properly.

It can hurt on a personal level to all of a sudden lose all passion for something that you were so previously enveloped in.

Burnout is one of the biggest reasons why artists don't get to where they want to be.

What Is Musical Burnout?

Every single artist experiences burnout, from those starting out to those headlining stadiums.

Your creativity becomes drained and the very thought of picking up your instrument is an absolute no-no. You can very quickly lose your enjoyment and spark for playing and creating music.

It happens when you don't have enough headspace away and you're working without a plan, hoping that something will just happen along the way.

A few ways to help to avoid musical burnout include scheduling your time better, not working for numbers, changing up your environment, and listening to your body when you need to stop.

Here are 10 ways that musicians can avoid that dreaded creative burnout!

1. Appreciate That Being a Musician Is AWESOME

This is a mindset shift that musicians and artists should constantly remind themselves of.

Music is awesome.

Playing music, creating music, and just being surrounded by anything musical is what we live for.

It's in our blood.

Remember why you started playing music, to begin with?

I bet it wasn't for any particular goal, pressure, or measure of success in the music industry.

It was because you just loved playing.

As soon as you stop loving playing from musical burnout, suddenly nothing feels fun.

Wake up each day and feel gratitude for your craft.

This is so important because it sets you up for the rest of the day.

Being grateful allows for a positive mindset for the rest of the day and minimizes frustrations appearing.

Drummer high energy

2. Keep Learning

Hitting a plateau with your music career can coincide with a lack of motivation to keep learning.

Successful musicians have to be thirsty for knowledge.

Recognizing your weaknesses and making time every single day to learn something new is how you maintain growth in music.

Whether this is practice on your instrument, learning more about music marketing, or spending more time on yourself and practicing finding your headspace, it pays to pay attention to continual improvement.

Without taking on new knowledge and skills, you can burnout really quickly doing the same things over and over, without any noticeable progress.

You just need to get 1% better every day.

Just 1% a day.

That’s it.

It’s consistent actions, consistent behaviors, and small changes that create real progress.

Guitar pedals practice

3. Take A Break

Work can become an obsession.

In music, it can be very difficult to say no to work or gig opportunities.

You have a duty of care to look after your passion.

Burnout is easy in music so make sure you take the time to look after yourself, so you can create the best you possible.

Not working 24/7 doesn't make you lazy or less worthy.

Enjoy your favourite hobby or activity, away from music.

Of course, hard work is necessary to achieve your goals in music. But you simply cannot work 24 hours a day. This is how musicians lose their love for what they do and become less passionate about a project, writing songs, or putting their music out into the world.

The best music and work comes out of feeling energized.

Take a break. Listen to your body.

Look after your career and your career will look after you.

Walk outside break

4. Create Social Media Content In Batches

Being a creative means burnout is just around the corner as you have to be on top of so many different things.

Being a successful musician means more than just writing and releasing an album or a bunch of songs.

You have to look after admin, social media, booking gigs, getting your music on Spotify playlists, advertising, rehearsing, creating content, and so much more.

How are you supposed to wear all these hats at the same time?

The secret is by managing your content creation and social media in batches.

It can be an exhaustive process trying to manage all of this at once.

Tackling social media for music effectively is one of the best ways of building a fanbase for your music.

But takes hours of hard work and constant creativity to create and publish content every day.

Make your content in batches and schedule it ahead of time.

Not only will this help you manage your time more effectively throughout the week, but it also means you will have more time to live your life, spend time with friends and family and do all the other things that help you avoid burning out as a musician.

Musician singer

5. Do Things at Your Own Pace

Think about how long it took you to learn your first instrument.

Learning to navigate the music industry is the same - its long-form growth.

Take it one step at a time and grow your music career at your own pace.

Musicians often get frustrated by how slow their route to success seems to be taking. It can feel like achieving your dreams is an eternity away and that you aren't moving fast enough.

What they don't realize is that musical domination won't happen overnight.

The sooner you accept this and start focusing on consistent actions and growth is how you win and promote your music effectively.

It's a marathon, not a sprint.

Don't chase instant gratification.

It only leads to negative growth.

In fact, moving 'slower' can actually be helpful. It allows you to plan for the long term. Creating exponential growth and focusing on value first.

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6. Manage Your Music Career Expectations

Don't shoot the messenger but...

You're not going to hit 1 million streams in 2 weeks.

Too many musicians set their expectations way too high to begin with, only to burn themselves out later on when they struggle to meet those same expectations.

Write down attainable musical goals, don't set yourself up to fail.

Trying to take over the universe with your band or solo artist project may feel exciting initially, but you are setting yourself up for failure quickly if you are expecting success instantly.

When you don't meet your goals, it can drain your energy.

Be realistic with your expectations and goals.

Then when you hit these goals, it keeps you motivated.

Your musical journey is exactly that. A journey.

Change the goalposts for yourself, your songs and your music career. Focus on the things that matter. Your growth, providing value, and creating amazing content.


7. Stop Playing The Comparison Game

Comparison always leads to despair.

It’s so easy to look at someone else and think that you’re not good enough, especially in a creative industry.

But it ruins your progress as you end up not creating because you’re worried that it’s not going to be as good as someone else that you don’t even know.⠀

You never know the full story.

People only share the best of themselves on social media. You are comparing your struggle to somebody else's highlights.

Stop focusing on the wrong person.

It's just the wrong place to put your energy. Your energy should be placed on propelling yourself forward and not thinking too much about others and letting it affect your path. You only have control over one life - yours.

It can truly stop your enjoyment and causes many musicians to become paralyzed by perfectionism in their career.

Don't let this be you.

production music

8. Build A Great Team Around You

Successful businesses do this all of the time.

If you are serious about your music and running your music project like a real business, it can help to delegate certain tasks.

When you're in a band, it is a bit easier as you can share the workload. You can find bandmates that are willing to do this.

If you're a solo artist, ask your family and friends to help you with your goals and outsource elements that are outside your skillset.

Musical burnout can be easily fixed by not doing everything yourself.

Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and do the hard things to get what we want.

But there are certain parts of managing your music and everything that comes along with it that you simply might not be very good at.

And that's okay.

This is where it’s smart to get help and delegate these tasks out to people who can help. Experts in those specific fields such as a music manager.

It means you can spend less time on the things you aren't good at, and more time focusing on making great music and content for your fans and followers.

We already spoke about how a musician has to wear many hats and spin plates. Every once in a while, hand off one of those plates to someone else and save yourself the stress.

Your mental health and your music career will thank you in the long run.

Band on tour

9. Don't Work For Numbers

We are all guilty of this. If you are focusing on numbers, it can take a massive toll on your mental health if it's not going your way.

Use numbers to guide your musical growth and content but don't let it consume you.

Art comes first, always.

Chasing numbers as a musician is just chasing the ethereal. Those numbers are meaningless. They aren't 'real'.

Instead, try making real connections with real people.

Don’t just chase the follow or the like. Take real interest and you’ll be surprised with the results.

Making music is about making a positive impact in someone else's life.

Listen to your audience, be present and be authentic. That is how you can propel your music career to another level. The numbers are a distraction.

Happy singer

10. Change Up Your Environment

Self-care is important in any walk of life.

If you are struggling with consistently burning out as a musician and losing your flow, break things up a bit.

Changing your environment can completely change your mood. It can be quite lonely as a musician working on your projects on your own. At least once a day take a walk, or if you can, take your laptop and go and work somewhere new.

Writing and producing music is quite a solitary exercise.

Not only that, marketing your band or solo project means that you will be spending a lot of time staring at a screen, your phone, and consuming internet 'white noise'.

If you don't break up this process, it can mess with your head and cause havoc in your daily life.

You need a balance.

Write or practice your music elsewhere for a bit. Listen to some new music. Talk to someone different today.

You can come back refreshed and ready to focus on some new musical ideas.