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Music Advice: 5 Things to Do When You’ve Reached a Plateau

By definition, a Career Plateau is a high point in one’s career where the probability of, or motivation to, progress is low.

This is not limited to collared jobs and 9 to 5 workers. It can be experienced by anyone who has a big goal in whatever it is s/he’s doing. A by ‘big goal’ I do not mean merely getting the job done and getting a good salary at the end of each month to pay the bills. It’s getting a higher position, higher salary, more projects, more gigs, more recognition, in a certain amount of time. It’s constant progress.

If we imagine a chart, the lines should always go in upward direction. If it’s in a flat, horizontal line for a long time, then yes my friend…You have hit a plateau in your career.

When you’ve hit that point, here are the things a musician should do right away:

Don’t panic and start grabbing whatever options you have just to avoid the plateau. Hitting the plateau is not always a bad thing. Maybe the plateau is a phase you should maintain for a while to establish something. Maybe this is part of the grand scheme of things and shifting gears will not be too helpful. The moment you feel bored and unmotivated because of this plateau, don’t make impulsive decisions. Instead…

Assess your Goals. Talk to your band and ask them if they feel the same way as you do. Tell them you feel like you’re “not growing” as a band that’s why you want to know where you are right now in your goals. You simply have to know whether you need this steady phase right now or you are ready to move on to the next phase. If the plateau is not necessary, then you have to ask yourselves what is causing this plateau. This talk is also necessary so you would know how feel about your band.

Determine the Cause. Now, if it’s not really part of the plan, then you should know what’s causing this plateau. Lack of funds? One band member is too focused on his/her other band? Lack of marketing skills? Time management? Write everything down. Note: Make sure that everyone’s in a good mood while you’re doing this. And don’t be too serious and bossy. Just make it fun and light.

Change some things. Once you’ve determined the causes of this plateau, look for possible solutions. I suggest you start with the easiest ones since you’re already at the top of your game (or near it, based on the definition of plateau above). Keep doing whatever it is you’re doing and start doing slight improvements (on your website, promotion, etc), then once you get the hang of it you can go for bigger tasks.

Prepare for change. Since you’ve made some changes, be prepared for it. Are you available for more gigs, interviews, rehearsals? You also have to prepare for the kind of change that you don’t want to happen.

My take on this is that when you’ve reached a plateau, assess before you shake things up. And when you decide to shake things up, start small. Lastly, be prepared for the results- good or bad.  Good luck!


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