How To Avoid Burnout As a Musician: 11 Effective Strategies
Today’s emerging artists aren’t just musicians… They’re content creators, entrepreneurs, and managers all wrapped up into a single role. While the freedom to build your brand as an artist comes with many privileges, it can also be incredibly overwhelming.
Burnout as a part-time or full-time musician is more common than many of us would like to admit. Thankfully, there are some strategies to help you cope with exhaustion and avoid burnout altogether. After all, mental and physical health comes first – if you’re not feeling your best, your art will reflect that. We’ll share 11 strategies for avoiding burnout as a musician below.
11 Strategies For Avoiding Burnout As Musician
Without further ado, here are some strategies for keeping your mental well-being in check as a musician. Don’t forget that what works for you may not work for someone else and vice versa. Take the time to experiment with different strategies to find your go-tos.
1. Set Yourself Up For Success
One of the biggest reasons musicians and other ambitious creatives frequently feel overwhelmed is the lack of tangible goals. Yes, having lofty dreams is one of your most valuable assets as an artist.
However, it’s just as important to back up these goals with small stepping stones that will get you closer to where you want to be daily. Try to incorporate a short and consistent practice into your routine to further your career. This practice could be as simple as “producing for 20 minutes every day” or “reaching out to 3 new people in the industry”.
The goal isn’t to get everything done in a night; there are rarely true overnight success stories, anyway. Instead, set yourself up for success by making a creation schedule that’s manageable enough to commit to.
2. Be Realistic and Optimistic
As the outside world often reminds us, succeeding in the entertainment industry is incredibly hard. Don’t dismiss these concerns entirely – to make music; you need to be able to reliably stay afloat. However, at the same time, practice optimism and believe in your small, helpful habits that bring you closer to your seemingly impossible set of goals.
Also, don’t be afraid to redefine who you want to be within the industry. You don’t have to pay your bills solely from music to be considered a musician. You also don’t have to sell out arenas to become a full-time artist.
Give yourself the freedom to dream big, but remember that it’s going to take a lot of small steps to get there. In the meantime, remember that staying secure and taking care of your overall well-being is only going to help you get there faster.
3. Take Breaks and Schedule Your Return
Taking a break as an artist can be a wonderful thing and is sometimes necessary. Your ears naturally become fatigued to nuances after listening to a piece of music repeatedly, so your fresh perspective can easily diminish the longer you spend producing or mixing a track.
Feel free to take a break, but also remember to schedule your return. This way, you can fully relax and recuperate on your break without worrying about leaving your track hanging. Try to spend your time away doing something outside of music, like taking a hike, catching up on your reading, or wasting the day away on the couch guilt-free.
4. Be Kind To Yourself
There’s no denying that we are our toughest critics. It’s easy to burn out when you feel like everything you create doesn’t meet your expectations. This state of mind isn’t something you can always shake off entirely, but do your best to be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack.
Pursuing music and putting yourself out there is no small feat. Even if you’re not happy with where you are now, try to frame it as a stepping stone to where you want to be.
5. Stay Hydrated
This may sound silly, but make sure you’re well-fed and drinking plenty of water before you sit down to make beats. Its been proven time and time again that dehydration alone negatively impacts cognitive performance, so taking the time to take care of yourself can undoubtedly lead to better art and less burnout.
6. Take A Break From the Analytics
In this industry, it’s easy to play the comparison game. With so many artist analytics at our fingertips, many of us try to quantify our success. This data is undoubtedly valuable for enabling indie artists to market their music; it can feel overbearing at times.
Try to check in with yourself and notice when analytics transition from a tool to something that’s staggering. Take a break from checking your analytics to help reset your music mindset for the better.
7. Make Content in Batches
In order to connect with fans as an indie artist, it’s a good idea to consistently post on social media platforms. However, content creation doesn’t come naturally to many artists, and the endless cycle and evolution of algorithms can be exhausting.
Instead of trying to keep up with a new idea every day, dedicate a couple of hours on the weekend to creating batches of content. This way, you can just post throughout the week without having to worry about running out of ideas. Instead of dividing your attention, you’ll be able to focus on one thing at a time, whether that’s making or marketing your music.
8. Outsource Where You Can
If you’re fortunate to have the financial means to do so, don’t be afraid to outsource some of your work as an artist! So many of us are prone to burnout because there are endless roles that come with being a creator.
Any business thrives when they’re able to successfully offload workload where it makes sense. Make sure you’re not doing more than you have to in order to further your growth.
9. Make Time For Life Outside of Music
It can be challenging to build relationships outside of the sphere of music, but doing so might help you put your projects into perspective and avoid burnout. Remember that your music is an aspect of who you are, but there are plenty of other parts of you that are worth exploring. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, take time to nurture those other parts of yourself so that you can come back with a vengeance.
10. Head to a Live Show
There’s something about the magic of live music that’s awe-inspiring. If you find yourself feeling burnt out, take this opportunity to go consume other artists' work in a live setting. This isn’t always possible in the age of COVID, but even attending a live-streamed performance amongst other like-minded fans can be the refresher you’ve been searching for.
11. Remember How Far You’ve Come
It’s easy to lose perspective as an artist when you’re putting so much time and energy into your craft. When you’re feeling burnt out, take a second to look back on the years and see how much you’ve accomplished.
Even if your audience hasn’t grown, you’ve probably become a much better creator with more refined ideas, and that’s what counts. Your younger self would be proud of you, and you should be too!
At the end of the day, remember that even the biggest artists experience burnout as musicians. Talk to others about your experiences, and use these strategies to get back on track. If you put time and energy into your mental well-being, the music is destined to follow suit.