Project fatigue is quite a secret killer in your music strategy. One moment everyone is excited and motivated. However, before you can think twice you’re facing this massive low.
This is crazy, project fatigue is a super common phenomenon. Nevertheless, not many people working in the music industry are aware of this. What is more, not many take active precautions against project fatigue.
In the first place, project fatigue means that in a long-term project, the team is hitting a massive low in the middle. This is crazy, most projects in the music industry don’t really have a dedicated end date.
For one thing, if you are starting a new YouTube Channel, the project never really is going to be over. The idea is that you upload videos twice a week for the rest of your career.
Also, if you are working on Spotify playlisting, that is again a task that is never really over.
This factor brings a unique challenge to music business projects. Nevertheless, there are things you can do to fight project fatigue.
What is project fatigue exactly?
Firstly, the best medicine against a diffuse problem like project fatigue is getting to know the problem. When you encounter this the first time you might feel overcome.
Also, in an environment like the music business, it’s hard to differentiate your own being and expertise from hick-ups such as project fatigue.
Since you don’t know what’s going, it is super easy to take the blame. More so if you are the main musician with a team around you, working towards promoting you.
However, it is really important to understand that project fatigue has nothing to do with the quality of the music or your level of investment.
On the contrary, project fatigue can happen even to the most successful and famous people.
Here’s the thing: the more you learn about project fatigue the better equipped you are against it.
Some degree of project fatigue is likely to occur in almost any long-term project.*source: John Spencer
Long-term projects have three distinct sections
Long-term projects have three distinct sections. Firstly, you have the ‘Form & Storm Phase’. Here, you get to know the team. Generally, you start the project with a lot of enthusiasm as well as an eagerness to see results.
Very often, the first forming cycle is swiftly followed by a stormy period. Here, the teams’ focus changes from tasks to relationship questions.
Perhaps someone is not happy with the hierarchy of the project. Also, after the first period of getting to know each other the real temper of everyone shows through much more strongly. This can cause discord and frustration.
One first action you can take to tackle this problem is enstalling very clear communications within every team member. The more people have the feeling that all cards are on the table the better you can move on.
However, if you keep unsettled problems from this phase than project fatigue might happen quicker and hit harder.
The Midpoint Phase bears the most danger of project fatigue
The second phase is the ‘Midpoint Phase’. Everyone has settled into the project and is aware of their tasks. However, in the middle of the project, it is the hardest to stay motivated. For once, you might have the feeling that you still have plenty of time before the end.
Also, if a team member is not working in a motivated manner you can quickly fall into the same pattern. You might say to yourself, well if this person or that person is not working super hard why should I?
Projects in the music business require a lot of self-responsibility from everyone involved. Music industry projects such an album release require multiple experts to work together in order to get the best results.
However, if you have a record label manager, artist manager, radio promoter, distributor, digital consultant and the musicians or band work together each and everyone needs to rely on the other sides.
This is crazy, the middle point of a project is hard to pull through because of the lack of accountability. You really need a lot of trust in the other parts to do their job.
One trick to staying away from any pitfalls is to have a regular team meeting. The best is if one of the team members is writing a protocol. Likewise, having a clear agenda communicated before the meeting can ensure that everyone on the team is satisfied with the meeting.
From my experience, nothing lures project fatigue more rapidly into a team then bad team meetings. Human beings are naturally curious beings. We need constant motivation in order to keep our concentration on one project.
However, there’s no better excuse for diverting your concentration than if you feel your time is wasted with insufficient meetings and broken communication.
End of the project can relive energies
The end of the project is in sight and you might find that most people pull themselves together in order to meet the deadline. However, there might be people that have underperformed all together and instead of being honest start to blame everyone else for their failure.
All of a sudden the pictures aren’t good or the colours you have all agreed on are too bright. Make sure to disarm those people as quickly as possible.
The worst thing that can happen to your project is to have project fatigue kick in right before you have to finish your release your marketing campaign, for example.
Anti project fatigue action plan
Here’s the kicker: preparation is key in order to tackle the trouble on its roots. For once, just being aware of a possible project fatigue happening can help a lot. The sooner you spot it the sooner you can fight it.
Also, if you harness the whole team for this task the more everyone feels involved and valued. Make sure to have clear goals and have solid expectation management in place. This means, making sure everyone understands what can be achieved but also what obstacles lay in the way.
For example, if you want to start a brand new YouTube channel you might have enough advertisement budget on paper. However, perhaps you are playing in a tiny niche. Even the nicest ad money can’t magically pull more people out of your hat that likes your niche.
What is more, setting tasks that are small enough to be achievable but big enough to feel like an achievement when finished.
What can you do when project fatigue has already hit?
- Rework your expectations:
Here’s the thing, the internet is an ever-changing system powered by algorithms. Hence, a change in the said algorithm can have a big impact on your work. Don’t be mad if your expectations aren’t met as quick as you thought. Make a reevaluation of the situation and reassess what it is you can do and what lays outside of your powers.
- Encourage a feeling of accomplishment:
Especially in those never-ending music business projects, it is vital to encourage a feeling of accomplishment throughout the timeline. This means, to have clear milestones in place. You’ve hit the first 100 YouTube subscribers? Celebrate your accomplishment!
Encouraging a feeling of accomplishment can really help the fight against project fatigue
- Understand different project demands:
When you are promoting a musician or band you’ll likely work on multiple projects for this at one time. Perhaps your artist has already a great Instagram following but no subscribers on YouTube. Also, you might be working on the 5th album and now try and break TikTok. That means that you can be confronted with different project demands. Maybe one project is nearly finished whereas another project is lightyears away from completion.
- Always have your WHY in mind:
One thing that can really help to fight off project fatigue is to always remind yourself of your WHY. Why is it you are making music? Why did you start the YouTube channel? Use your Why as your Northstar and follow its path!
- Simply acknowledge that you’ve hit project fatigue:
This is crazy, all it needs sometimes is to acknowledge that you’ve hit project fatigue. This might sound crazy but honestly can be a huge revelation for some. Also, by admitting that your team has hit project fatigue you can open up the conversation. Most of the times team members actually know at the bottom of their hearts what’s going wrong. Be brave and ask your team what resources would help them to overcome project fatigue.
Don’t let project fatigue get into your way of success!
I hope I made it clear that project fatigue can happen to everyone and every team. However, there are many things you can do against it. Don’t let project fatigue get in your way of success.
It is ok to be tired of a long project, but again don’t let project fatigue be the reason you kill off your project. On the contrary, let it be your motivation to get your strategy onto the next level and fight off project fatigue for once and for all!