Horizontal vs. Vertical Strategy

I touched on this in yesterday’s post, but wanted to elaborate on when I claimed that premature expansion was dangerous. As a new artist/band, the variety of areas available to pursue often feels unbearable. Here are just a few possible priorities:

  • Writing music
  • Creating Facebook, YouTube, Soundcloud, Instagram, Pinterest, and Bandcamp profiles
  • Holding consistent Twitter conversations
  • Designing merchandise
  • Rehearsing
  • Configuring Facebook apps
  • Booking shows
  • Designing logos, artwork, etc.
  • Recording
  • Filming music videos
  • Booking photo shoots
  • Determining image

A common mistake is when a new artist tries to do all of these things at once. This “horizontal” approach leaves you dabbling in each area, without seeing or feeling a true sense of arrival.

The alternative to the horizontal approach is, as you may have guessed, a vertical approach. With the vertical mindset, you begin by identifying the core areas you want to focus on. Once identified, create a thorough plan – both long and short term – for each area, and then devote all of your time to executing that plan, while consistently adjusting, learning and improving. [It’s important to note that the key to all of this is a combination of patience and focus. It might take a year before you are successful enough in one area to pursue the next.]

As you begin to see results in these first few areas, you can then stack a new piece onto that, and focus fanatically on the success of that specific layer. As this unfolds, you will find yourself making a large splash in each field, rather than dipping your toe in the water and seeing if anyone notices a ripple.

Water Ripple


2 thoughts on “Horizontal vs. Vertical Strategy

  1. Some interesting points. I can definitely relate to the problem of wanting to sign up to every website but not feeling like you have enough time to spend on them. Choosing a few things at a time and doing them well, much better idea!

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