In this piece, music business entrepreneur Kam Lal shares some key pointers on how to make sure your music projects move steadily from finish to finish.
Guest contribution by Kam Lal by Soundfly’s Flypaper
As a software developer, music producer, and founder of a music technology startup, there are a few things that have enabled me to advance projects and move forward. I draw parallels and insights from all three roles. But I find it most rewarding to apply the lessons learned from all three to every creative project I work on – music, software, or business.
What is the goal or the vision?
Small tasks are often tied to a bigger goal or vision. I started Notetracks with the vision of becoming a hit record producer. That was the ultimate goal – and it still is!
Along the way, I’ve also set myself another goal of being the founder of a successful music technology startup. These are often growth and career-oriented. I want to be the best artist, record producer, mixing engineer, video creative, educator, collaborator, team member, project manager, entrepreneur (etc.) in my industry.
You have to be able to answer why you are doing something. A bigger “why” helps you break your goal down into smaller tasks. If you’ve never seen this video before, start with the why of Simon Sinek, worth seeing!
Have a reward system in place?
Most of the times I’ve made progress toward a goal, there has been a reward system.
Having general goals helps with the overall vision. But a rewarding result is a powerful incentive to deliver results. There can be many rewards for completing a creative project, such as:
- Be part of a cooperation project
- Achieve project success
- Showcase your talents and exposure work
- Build your portfolio
- To be the best that you can be and great at what you do
- And even make money!
+ Read more on Flypaper: “How to stay motivated, even when you feel like the biggest potato sack of all time.”
Let yourself be pushed by other amazing people
Whether a team is counting on you or who you are delivering the project to, it is important that others help you move forward. In the music world, it could be a label or a client and a team of artists, producers or engineers that you’ve worked with. An example in the software industry would be the introduction of a project or product with a well-known industrial partner.
The power that others give you does not give you an opportunity to slow down or turn back.
Another important tip is to find the best team players for the tasks. They say that teamwork works the dream and that is not a lie. When you have great friends, consultants, team members and partners who support you, you are in very good hands and have more chances of project success.
When is the deadline?
Everything has to move forward and be completed with a deadline. If there isn’t a specific deadline, things can stay in what I call “iterative mode”. In the end, they are refined over and over again. This is sometimes for the wrong reason and makes matters worse.
I’ve seen this in music, software, and business development. There was a post I read where someone mentioned that “Art is never finished, it’s just the time to be released to the world”.
One of the best experiences I’ve ever had was creating music for clients and music competitions. Why? They included deadlines that allowed me to focus and complete without thinking that I had all the time in the world to perfect it. On the flip side, when I was making music for fun, I was practicing, making little snippets, and collecting a lot of unfinished work that was going nowhere.
The same goes for software, if there is a release date (preferably given by someone else like a strong partner who gives you a strong incentive), you have no choice but to do the things that absolutely need to be done.
I also learned that from fundraising for our startup. We were fortunate to receive government grants that were time-bound and clearly had strong incentives for the company (developing our software, staying afloat, etc.). When it comes to investor conversations in the fundraising community, the same rules apply: if you don’t have a deadline, you can be in conversation forever without it leading to anything.
Our first investment in the company was made by an accelerator in Nashville, Tennessee. Guess what? You had an application deadline.
Deadlines shape the project, eliminate losing track of things and provide a laser-sharp focus on achieving the desired result, goal or goal.
+ Learn production, composition, songwriting, theory, arranging, mixing and more on Soundfly – whenever you want and wherever you are. Subscribe for access!
What is the plan?
Now you have the “why”, sufficient “reason” and “date”. Let’s talk about what it takes to get there. They don’t call it a roadmap or game plan for no reason. While I feel this may be a standalone project management post, I will do my best to summarize the best practices that I have experienced.
With a reason and a date, certain questions and tasks already take shape.
You need to list and brainstorm all the tasks to be done and then prioritize them by importance. If you run into bottlenecks, you may need to delegate or find team members to help you quit.
What I find best is having a project management platform to keep track of tasks and break them down by weeks before that launch. That could be a Asana or Trello Plank. It helps get everyone on the same page. You can also use simple notes for yourself and communicate with team members in whatever way you think is best.
Here are two examples of quick goals:
Goal 1: Four weeks to shoot a marketing video for our new brand.
Things to do:
- Get a videographer
- Date of recording
- Find people to be in the video
- Music that has to be in there
- Obtain and evaluate feedback
- Publish to a marketing site.
- Promote it!
- Find people in the video (if we don’t have people, there is nothing to shoot) – assigned to Amanda.
- Get a videographer – assigned to Kam.
- Photo taken – assigned to Amanda.
- Music that has to be there – assigned to Amanda.
- Music that has to be there – Kam assigned.
Goal 2: Four weeks of software launch with partner to acquire new customers.
Things to do:
- Gotta get the page ready
- Have to prepare marketing materials
- Must test
- Must be encouraged
- The site needs to be prepared – assigned to developers.
- Must Be Tested – Assigned to Quality Assurance Leads.
- Have to prepare marketing materials – Assigned to the marketing team.
- Funding Required – Assigned to the partner.
Always have a bit of a buffer in the run-up to deadlines. I like meeting my weekly Friday deadlines. If deliveries are late, they can leak over the weekend and be there on Monday.
Track and refine.
Whatever phase you are in, you need to keep track of everyone involved and provide feedback if necessary. I saw that projects weren’t as strong as they could have been because of a lack of follow-up communication or feedback. If you don’t know how to improve, you cannot improve.
For little back and forth feedback, there are tons of tools – email, Slack, and SMS – all of which come to mind to get the job done. For some industries like creative work there are tools like Invision or Notetracks Pro.
Despite all of these tools, sometimes a face-to-face meeting or video call works best. Getting a reaction or feedback with a thumbs up is easiest than going back and forth via email.
+ Read more on Flypaper: “Our 7 most popular collaborative music-making apps.”
Celebrate the victories!
When you’ve delivered the project, take a moment to celebrate! Celebrate, good times, come on!
People who deliver projects usually quickly jump to the next after a project has been successfully completed. I think it’s important to pause and celebrate the success and thank all responsible team members and stakeholders. It will recharge its batteries to tackle the next task.
With that in mind, I thank Amanda for pushing me to write this post, with a strong inducement that it may be of value to you readers out there. Thanks also to the great friends, consultants, team members, freelancers, contractors and partners who supported our projects from day one. I will celebrate this post with a fresh new cup of coffee!
Kam Lal is the founder and CEO of Notetracks. He lives in Montreal and has a passion for music and technology.
Owen Davie on March 8th, 2021 in DIY | Permanent link | Comments (0)