YMI Consulting

Only Constrain One!

I’ve decided to postpone the four-part series on what it takes to launch a music endeavor to reinforce the foundation (I know, I’m only one-part in, but I have a point here.) As the year draws to a close and the New Year is only days away, people, in general, give themselves unrealistic goals. Overly-optimistic musicians are notorious for setting overly ambitious, yet admirable, goals for the year, only to be led to disappointment at the end of the year. It’s similar to those who start a new diet or exercise plan in order to get back into shape, only to fail three months in –I’ve been there.

In my last post, I went over the value in research and planning, and the best way to go about it. I dabbled a bit in creating SMART goals for your musical career and I figured it’d be a great time to dig a bit deeper, especially since this is the time of year we all reflect on the past and set ambitious goals for the future.

Focus on what you can control11707331_1093728657308573_5617751643244792219_n

There are really only three things you can control with a project: scope, time, and resources (primarily money.) The caveat: only one of these three things can be constrained. Regardless of where you are in your musical career, you must consider all three aspects of a project in order to get to where you want to go next –the next level. Let’s go through all three in a bit more detail, then I’ll explain why only one can truly be constrained.


This is where musicians tend to get ahead of themselves. Scope is the extent of the project. Think of it as how big you’d like the project to be, or how big you’d like your music career to be, or how big you’d like your band to get. It’s really easy to think and dream big and I highly encourage it. However, I take the dream and scale it down to a workable scope, based on the time and resources currently available.

Charley’s addition: You can keep the bigger goals in mind, but it is wise to break up the steps into smaller projects which can be achieved. Every big goal is the sum of it’s parts, so if you’re able to figure out what each little step is, which may end up as an entire project in itself, you’re that much closer to achieving the bigger, larger scope.


No definition or explanation needed here. Yet only one comment: musicians tend to overlook the idea of time. This is where time management skills must be learned and time management must be applied. In other words, musicians dream big, but do not realize how much time must be invested in order to achieve even the simplest goals. Taking advantage of your time and adhering to a schedule is important, as it’s easy to let a project run away with your time without realizing it.

Resources (money) 

Money is in parenthesis because with unlimited amounts of money you can buy unlimited amounts of resources. Resources can range from people to instruments, consumables, like gas, and availability of recording studios. Notice that time is segregated from resources, although some argue that time is a resource. Time is not a resource as it is truly limited and you cannot get it back, thus, time needs to be given particular attention.

Again, scope, time, and resources are three variables in which you can control, but only one can be constrained. Why? To elaborate, let’s say a musician had unlimited amounts of money. If this was the case, then the scope, or dream, of the musical endeavor, or how quickly you’d like to achieve it would have to be constrained. The dream (scope) could be huge, like selling out the a stadium like Madison Square Garden, but then you must constrain that with time. Otherwise, you’ll never do it. On the other hand, you can constrain the scope (the dream,) in order to achieve it more quickly, and then build on that achievement with the next project.

Realistically, independent musicians will need to constrain resources, as money is typically questioned when pursuing a new musical endeavor or building on a career. Maximize your scope (part of your dream) with the resources you can acquire and wrap it with a flexible timeframe. Don’t let your scope run away from you. The scope needs to be achievable. In the long-term, your dreams will progress only if you focus on what you can get done with the resources on hand, within a specific timeframe.

Thoughts, questions, want me to elaborate on a point? @YuriyM on Twitter or yuriy@ycmsquared.com.

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I Get Things Done. Let's grow your business together!
I Get Things Done. Let's grow your business together!