New Year's resolutions for the true music lover
New Year's resolutions for the true music lover
Courtesy of Allen Foster, used with permission.

Don’t think of January as the time of year to make a change, think of it as the time of year to try and do better. Executing a complete one-eighty might sound like a great plan, a way to wipe the slate clean so you can start over, but enduring traits evolve in increments, not grand gestures. Whether it’s your diet, your exercise, your spending, your vices, or whatever, don’t be drastic, be gradual. Do little somethings that can become part of who you are. Create new habits.

As far as music is concerned, you might not believe it, but your habits shape the music business. Industry trends do not dictate, they follow – they follow your listening habits and your spending habits. You have the power to make things better for artists. And, since we’ve just decided the start of a new year is all about making things better and picking up some of those good habits, here are 16 New Year’s resolutions for the true music lover... because a true music lover respects the artist.

Listen To Something New Each Week
First and foremost, listen to more new music. Something new each week is a great start! Not just a three-second excerpt, then jump on to something else, spend some time with it and get to know it. Music is very much like a person, there are layers that do not reveal themselves until later on in your relationship when you’ve grown closer.

Venture Outside Of Your Genre
You’ve been a lifelong classic rock fan. Nothing is going to sway you from your devotion to those great bands you’ve been listening to since high school. There’s just something about the sound. Well, a lot of that sound is still being created fresh in Nashville. Certain shades of country music are pretty much the new classic rock. Also, there’s a cool California movement that is bringing those classic elements back into music, too. Take a step outside your comfort zone, invite surprise, and expand your musical horizons.

See More Live Shows
Music was meant to be experienced live! It’s exciting! There’s an energy, a thrill, and a charge that elevates the songs to a higher plane when you hear them at a concert. And these extra concerts do not have to be huge arena performances. In fact, you could probably swap out one high-ticket show for two or three more intimate experiences.

Arrive On Time
Some of the most incredible, unforgettable performances you’ll ever see are not those of the headliners, they come from the opening acts. Why? Because those artists have to try harder. It’s not typically the opener’s crowd, so they are putting on a show designed to wow and win over new fans. Plus, there’s that bragging right that you’ll have the following year when you say, “Rachel Platten? I love her! You know, I saw her when she opened for...”

Get A Shirt
You get the music for free, or at least at no cost to you. Most all of the money the artist makes from the ticket sales goes to the venue, crew, travel, lodging, and a multitude of other expenses. T-shirt’s and stickers are no longer just icing on the cake for a touring artist, moving those items are essential to their livelihood. Think of it this way, if you went to a doughnut store and could get the doughnuts for free, wouldn’t you want to at least buy the coffee to ensure that the store would be able to keep making your favorite doughnuts?

Tip The Band
Whether it’s a guy with a guitar, singing his heart out on a street corner or a 4-piece rock ensemble putting on a blazing show at a local venue, stuffing money into the tip jar is more than a nice gesture, it’s directly supporting the band. Make the day of the artist who makes your night!

Sign Up For Mailing Lists
A mailing list is how you let an artist know you will be there, right there, for the entire journey. You might not realize the impact it has on an artist, knowing there is a loyal community just an email away, but it matters. In fact, there are entire sites like NoiseTrade where the artist will give you exclusive material simply in exchange for your email address. And the best part of it? Even if you are flat broke, you can still sign up because it’s free!

Host A Concert
Want to be a real hero? Host a house concert. In a nutshell, you invite an artist to perform right in your very own home. There is no downside to this because you typically become friends with the artist, your friends get turned onto some great live music, and the artist can make more money at one successful house concert than possibly an entire short tour of local bars, cafés, and bookstores.

Stop Streaming
Okay, to be honest, at this point in the game, not streaming your music is kind of ridiculous. You can still stream. But start making it a practice to purchase a physical copy directly from the artist, first. Whether it’s a CD, vinyl, or even a vintage cassette, you will own an item that you can have autographed at the artist’s next meet-and-greet, and you can stream away guilt-free knowing you’ve actually bought the doughnuts!

Give The Gift
It’s the thought behind the gift that matters. Giving the gift of music can be a life-changer. Think of that song you used to listen to, the one that got you through that really rough patch. Remember all those late-nights spent in tears knowing that no matter what else was crashing and burning in your life, at least the song understood you. How wonderful to be able to lift someone up in such a remarkable way!

Support A Kickstarter
It doesn’t have to be a Kickstarter, it could be a pre-sale, or any kind of fundraiser that helps the artist make their art. You might think, “Gee, why does an EP or an album even cost anything? I can record an audio file on my phone for free?” Well, that song that is your jam came from a lifetime of experience and musical training! And not just from the artist, but from the engineer, the mixer, and the producer, as well. Think of it this way, you’re not paying your doctor to say, “Relax, it’s only a sprain,” you’re paying for that lifetime of knowledge and experience that allows your doctor to make that decision with confidence. So go ahead, send your favorite artist a tiny portion of those much-needed funds. Maybe you’ll even wind up listed in the album credits! How cool would that be?

It might not seem like much to you – and it often only takes a minute, at most – but winning a contest can really open doors for an artist. It can be the catalyst for future success. Winning sends a powerful message of “Hey, this person can move people enough to inspire them to act!” So, the next time an artist is pleading with you to help them play a festival, get on a tour, get their song in a movie, or get their music airplay or exposure, don’t groan, tap that index finger and help create a lasting career.

Get Social
This goes for both the virtual world and the real world. Like, comment, review, and share! In short, spread the news. Passionate testimonials are an artist’s best friend. And if you’re really serious, join a street team and become part of the network that really makes things happen! The power is at your fingertips and in your words.

Make A Fan Page
Anywhere! Tumblr, WordPress, Facebook, Webs. Start a Twitter fan account. The point is not to hijack an identity, it is to spread the love.

Share Your Own Talent
If you have a gift... share it! Whatever it is that you do. Are you an aspiring musician yourself? Make a YouTube cover. Are you a dancer? Choreograph a routine. Are you handy with words? Write a review. Are you a graphic artist? Create art! Doing this, not only are you helping to create a legacy for your musical hero, but there’s a good chance the favor will be returned with a heartfelt, “Hey guys, check out what this fan did!” Suddenly, your work is now being seen and enjoyed by an expansive network of people. It’s truly a win-win situation!

Say, Thank You!
Often, it is the littlest things that have the greatest impact. Most artists are driven to do what they do because of an intense need to communicate. Getting a “Thank You” or a message of how a song lifted you up or changed your life means the world to a creator. It can be the key that keeps them going, keeps them strong, and inspires them to write their next great masterpiece. It is possibly the most powerful way of giving back and showing that you are, indeed, a true music lover!