Episode 014 – How to Create a Powerful Musician’s Mission Statement


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Welcome everybody to another episode of the Rip’s Music Podcast: Where We Make Your Music Your Business. 

Today, is the 2nd episode of season 2 of the podcast. And, we’re doing a series of short actionable episodes for you to start the new year off right.

At the time of this recording, the new year is just a few weeks away. This is usually the time people start making resolutions.

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I’ve done this for many years and it usually doesn’t stick. The problem with most resolutions is they address surface issues.

I want to lose 20 lbs.

I will practice more this year.

These statements are based on either appearance or performance. But, there’s a third layer of behavior change – your Identity.

The person you believe you are has a profound effect on embracing change and creating and sustaining new habits.

Writer and researcher, James Clear, has an entire website dedicated to habit formation and behavioral psychology. Here’s a quick takeaway.

The recipe for sustained success:

1. Decide the type of person you want to be.

2. Prove it to yourself with small wins.

Here’s an example:

My desired identity:  I am the type of person who researches and helps other musicians create the careers they love.

Small wins: I have 14 podcast episodes and several blog posts dedicated to this topic. I also started a mastermind group a gained my first few coaching clients.

Or, another example:

Identity:  I am immersed in music and share my art with the world.

The small win: I teach drums 4 days a week and perform every Friday and Sunday. I have the privilege of playing with a roster of over 40 musicians. I record and post those performances online too.

Those are just 2 examples of how to reframe your goals or new year’s resolutions to reflect your identity.

But, let’s back up a moment. How did I know to create that identity for myself?

What gave me the insight to even move in this direction?

It all started with a mission/vision statement.

I know what you’re thinking “mission statements are for business people” Well, if you want to be a pro musician why not think like a business person? A mission statement can be a useful tool for your career and personal life.

If you want to be a starving artist then skip this step. But, if you want to grow your career to new heights then, you need a mission statement.

A mission statement helps identify what you want your career to look like. It also acts as a filter for what you DON’T want it to look like. This statement is specific to how you want to live and work. How you create your identity.

In my journey to turning full-time in music, I discovered this simple concept while reading some leadership books from Dave Ramsey and Seth Godin. They all referred to the mission statement as being critical to their success. So, I wrote my own. It reads:

Rip’s Music Mission Statement

I am dedicated to helping other musicians make better art and to teach them how to support themselves while doing it. I will build a business and a community around this core vision while simultaneously boosting my music career through teaching, coaching, writing, speaking, performing and collaborating.

Writing this has helped me make decisions about my career with more confidence. All the projects and goals I have are filtered through my mission statement. And, I make decisions faster.

  • Should I take this gig or that?
  • Do I teach more or write?

All possibilities now go thru this filter.  I’m able to focus on things that really matter to me and not get caught up in someone else’s vision.

So, why should you write a mission statement?

  • It creates clarity for your music career.
  • How does your ideal music life look like?
  • How will you get there?

***  How to write your mission statement  ***

Author and career coach Dan Miller says a good mission statement should include 3 things:

Skills and abilities (what you like to do)

Personality traits (how you operate)

Values, dreams and passions (why you want to excel)

Here are a few steps in creating a powerful and personal mission statement:

1. What is your “core idea?” A core idea is your secret sauce — it informs every aspect of decisions.

I want to make enough money to support my family and be home for them. All while leveraging my strengths of strategy, ideation, music and business knowledge.

All decisions ultimately go thru that filter. If an opportunity comes up that does not fit that criteria, I don’t do it.

So, a $50 gig that’s an hour and a half away that lasts 6 hours won’t cut it. But, the recording session that pays $200 for 4 hours of my time works fine.

Same with teaching down the street or using conference calls so I can be home during the day.

2. Be specific. What exactly do you want your career to look like?

For me, I want to teach pro musicians about turning pro. I want to share knowledge about budgeting, scheduling, marketing and more. I also want to teach drums and perform, sharing my unique approach to creating and learning music.

But, I focus more on creating content for professionally minded musicians and less on making the next jam session.

3. Have singular focus. There are many opportunities for musicians. But, the more options we open ourselves up to the more they can rob us of our intensity and focus.

I have a friend who won’t do any gigs. Instead, he teaches up to forty hours per week. At first I thought this was a waste of his talents, but after further reflection, I think it allows him to be a much better teacher.

He has over 80 students and his retention is incredible. He’s able to enjoy his life and not worry about whether he’s going to make rent.

While the rest of us are scrambling for the next opportunity he’s enjoying his connections with his students and still playing music.

Let’s recap –

Your mission statement must include your:

  • Skills and abilities
  • Personality traits
  • Values, dreams and passions

When writing your mission statement be sure to include your:

  • core idea
  • be specific
  • and have singular focus

Finally, write a mission statement that fires you up! When you read it you should feel proud. Add clarity and motivation.

Refine your mission statement over time. As I accomplish more, I learn what’s most important to me. I update my mission statement to reflect what is most true about what I want.

Now, frame your mission statement and put it next to your work or practice space. Then, tell people about it. You’ll be surprised how powerful this can be.

Start living your mission statement fully and your music career will take on a deeper and more meaningful direction.

In our next episode, I’ll talk about dream lines and how to create goals and objectives that will help us live our mission.

That’s it for today’s show. If, you enjoyed this episode, please share it with a friend. Getting more people to listen and subscribe is the best way to help me bring you the best content. I’m here to help Make Your Music Your Business.

I’m your host Rip Phelan,

Thanks for listening.

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