roll over and look at the stars

The other day, it was about two months ago, I created a whole new plan with regard to my Patreon and Bandcamp subscribers. At the moment there are nine people who are supporting me via Patreon, and none yet on Bandcamp, since I didn’t yet launched that option there. But ever since the option on Bandcamp was there I wanted to review and restart the whole thing with subscriptions and patronage.

My biggest problem with this system, which in essence is ideal for me and I love it immensely, is that I am unable to stick to the plan, to regularity (there are complex reasons behind this). I opened Patreon page in January 2016 with a lot of plans, but at the core of it all was a more or less regular monthly music release. I managed to release three times in 2016 and one time 2017, two releases in 2018, and one in 2019. I have sporadically posted updates to my patrons, and all this seemed far too little for me to promote my subscription to anyone with any real confidence. All the updates and releases seem just too far apart to constitute anything I want to promote (not in a bad way) to anyone.

So few months ago, I went back to the drawing board (I literally used my studio doors to write on with erasable whiteboard pens) and created an ambitious plan with clear weekly and monthly cycles of updates, behind the scenes videos, early access updates, newsletter mailouts, blog posts, and monthly releases of music. It all miserably fell into the water very very quickly. I could not keep up.

A very important question is – why? I think it’s a combination of multiple factors: a) I tend to fall into (not too deep) episodes of depression, b) there’s other freelance work that sometimes unexpectedly demands my full attention, and c) I tend to procrastinate rather often – I have a huge problem with things I have to do and I just run away into some instant-gratifying surfing on YouTube or something like that. However I think in the last decade or so I have learned a lot and improved a lot. But I’m still terribly unrealistic when I create a plan, and terribly inconsistent with keeping up to it. So I keep failing and it just makes me less and less confident in my vision. I just need to keep pulling myself up and that’s really hard work, emotionally and mentally.

After this last failure with planned Patreon 2020 RELAUNCH however, I kept thinking about it, I just didn’t throw in the towel surprisingly. Also, here’s the coronavirus epidemic and all the troubles, and just being next to my hardworking partner made me think about how much I depend on her, how much I contribute to our communal life and in what way. It just seems that one of good ways forward would be to establish an independent ongoing online ‘project’ that is supported mainly by my audience. Regular music releases for subscribers, supporters, patrons. Already since 2015 I thought that would be perfect, if I’d succeeded at something like that.

So, I have returned to the drawing board yet again.

If the main problem is regularity, I thought, perhaps I can look at it as a habit. Encountering the idea of “atomic habits” (I have not read the book, no) I created a new roadmap that goes slow, that starts with small but regular and expands only after the regular habit is firmly established.

An atomic habit is a regular practice or routine that is not only small and easy to do but is also the source of incredible power; a component of the system of compound growth.
Changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them for years.

“Atomic Habits” by James Clear, via Book Summaries by Samuel Thomas Davies

I feel like the core of what I’m good at is simply making music, producing tracks. So I wanted to start with that in the sense that all communication does not make much sense if there’s no solid “product”. So, the first habit to establish is the regular production of music, and if I need to start small, let it be one or two tracks per month. And nothing else. No obligatory updates. For at least three months (and pretty much forever from then on) I want to produce a single track, or two-track EP and release it every last sunday in a month. This first phase (of many) includes daily work of one hour (and possibly not much more) per weekday. It does not sound too difficult. And perhaps that’s good.

The whole roadmap revolves around this idea of compulsory consecutive three months realisation before adding activities. Concretely this means I want to first establish a habit of finishing at least one track/piece of music for Patreon/Bandcamp every month for three consecutive months before I add another regular activity within this project. So, next, I want to write weekly updates for next three months within the frame of dedicated two hours of work per weekday before I start making also monthly behind-the-scenes videos. However these I would start to make only if I make about 300€/month from subscriptions – a fact which could already be a subject of promotion to attract new subscribers (“hey, help me start making these BTS videos by reaching 300€/m”). This third phase also raises amount of hours/week that I dedicate to this work to 15.

And so on towards 3-or-more-tracks releases/EPs, weekly live streaming of the work processes, a music video for each release, and finaly, monthly, and then weekly, performances streamed live. That is 8 phases all together, each at least three months long.

This plan – a roadmap – is different from the somewhat megalomanic project (not a roadmap) that I usually tried to establish pretty much immediately (now, next week, next month!). The approach is different in the graduality, moving from phase to phase as the whole project grows and perhaps even includes audience in the process.

I want to keep reminding myself I will still need to jugle other current projects in my daily/weekly scheduling in a smart and attentive way, but I feel like if I really start tiny and fence out small corner of a day for my sub°department (department for subscribers / subfrequencies / subculture / subgenres / subgenders), take care of time I dedicate to it, and also income (based on which I can say no to other less necessary projects) I have slightly bigger chance at succeeding in establishing the regularity that is so elusive in my personal case.