20 Mar 2018
March 20, 2018

Slow Down To Speed Up


We live in a face-paced society where everyone seems to want everything RIGHT NOW, if not yesterday.

  • “Lose 30 pounds in 30 days!”
  • “Get 10,000 fans in 1 week!”
  • “Make a Million dollars in 15 minutes!…while you sleep!…Guaranteed!”

(OK, maybe that last one is a little far-fetched. But you get my drift. And I’m pretty sure I’ve actually seen the other two claims…more than once.)

I admit, these claims have a definite appeal. And if there was a magic lantern to rub or a wand to wave that would make all of my wildest dreams spontaneously materialize, I’d be the first one in line!

But reality is, it’s probably going to take more than 15 minutes or even 30 days to get you to your goal. Especially in the music business.

So, let me ask you this: How long is too long?

If I told you it was going to take you 3 months of working hard, would you still be excited? I’m betting yes and that you’d want to start that 3-month timer right away.

But, what if I told you it was going to take a year? or 3 years? or 10?

Would that be too long? Would your dream be worth that much effort? Or would you simply give up before even trying?

I see musicians give up or burn out all the time. And it’s usually due to frustration and/or sheer exhaustion from chasing that instant-gratification fix over and over again. They’re trying tactic after tactic looking for that magic-wand moment that will make them an overnight success.

It totally breaks my heart. Because the frustration, exhaustion, and burnout are all avoidable. And the success — while not exactly “overnight” — is completely doable.

In fact, in most cases, the secret to reaching success faster is to slow down.


Yeah, that was my reaction too when my business coach first introduced me to the concept of “slow down to speed up.”

We’ve been brainwashed into believing that nothing should take a long time… 

  • Throw a video up on YouTube and it goes viral.
  • Get a song on a popular TV show and you’ll get discovered.
  • Or win American Idol for an instant career!

But tactics like these don’t work for everyone. They are the exception. Not the rule.

The rest of us need a more reliable and predictable way of creating a long-term, sustainable, and successful (meaning profitable) music career.

And that means, creating a plan and a strategy behind your music goals, not just throwing a bunch of marketing tactics at the wall to see what sticks.

It means taking the time to ask the big questions – like Who your ideal fans are, Why you do what you do, Where is it that you want your music career to go and What do you want it to look like.

It means allowing yourself real down time.  (Can you say VA-CA-TION?)

And it means allowing yourself time to explore, ponder, ruminate, and dream. Without any obligation or a goal in mind.

Most creatives ignore these types of “activities” shrugging them off as “NON-activities,” “not important,” or just plain “too time consuming.” Because, let’s be serious, they have things to do. Actions to take. Promotions to launch. And goals to achieve!

But taking a step back allows you to see the bigger picture and make sure you’re on the right track. And that, in turn, allows you to make faster, bigger, better progress in the long run.

In fact, in a Harvard Business Review study of 343 businesses, firms that “slowed down to speed up” improved their top and bottom lines, averaging 40% higher sales and 52% higher operating profits over their “go, go, go” counterparts in a three-year period.

So, what about you?

Are you on the go, go, go, full-speed-ahead plan but feeling overwhelmed or like you’re spinning your wheels?

Then maybe it’s time to try a different approach.

Take a step back. Slow down. Give yourself a break and some time to reflect. Ask yourself the big questions. Come up with a strategy and make a plan.

You might be surprised how fast your career can change.

What do you think of this “slow down to speed up” idea? Have you heard of this before? Tried it yet? Let me know in the comments below.


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About the Author

is a singer/songwriter, artist development coach and co-founder of Azalea Music where she teaches and mentors musicians, singer/songwriters and indie artists how to activate their "inner music mogul" so they can change the world through music! She specializes in working with the not-quite-mainstream and those "second-timers" coming back to music after a long hiatus. She's even been known to work with actors, writers, storytellers, and other creatives because the principles of pursuing a creative life are often the same regardless of the medium. She believes that the world needs to hear you and your music...whatever it is...because we would all be less without it.

11 Responses to Slow Down To Speed Up
  1. Hey Nancy & Fett 🙂 LOVE this article and philosophy. I’m going through it right now, so your email is timely, appreciated, and confirms my instincts to pivot and try a different approach. I’ve been doing the ‘go-go-go’ for 15 years, touring Colleges for a living, doing all the booking/routing, booking summer festivals, etc, and went through 2 managers (that did nothing) 2 booking agents (that booked nothing) and a bunch of indy-label offers over the years (that offered almost nothing according to my lawyer). So I’m finally going to try Patreon, because a couple friends keep encouraging me to try it. I like the ‘questions’ you encourage us to ask ourselves. Anyhoo, appreciate what you guys do, and if I ever end up moving to Nashville, I’d def like to work with y’all. Your friend from Los Angeles. Michael

    • Hey Michael! Wow, 15 years is a LOT of time for go-go-go. Sounds like you could use a little R&R! 🙂 Just one clarification…this doesn’t mean you have to give everything up entirely. The slowing down part is to allow you to get clear and to perhaps find a way to do what you’re doing in a more strategic, beneficial, and profitable way. There are lots more questions…but those are good ones to get you started. Glad you like them! And hey…you don’t actually have to live here to work with us. Most of our clients are actually outside of Nashville. So, let us know if there’s any way that we can help! Great to hear from you! – Nancy

  2. Good article, Nancy. I used to think I had to write something for EVERY Taxi listing in my genre–or close to it. Those expectations of myself generated a lot of pressure and a lot of feeling of failure. I began to see that the same type of requests come around again so I could relax and spend more time creating something I liked and was proud of rather than something that justt kinda worked.

    • Ahhh yes! Perfect case in point. We think we have to go-go-go because of the deadline…but the deadline is often our OWN deadline. “Relaxing into it”…another good way of saying “slow down to speed up”! Thanks Laurel!

  3. Yup! In the “time management” class I presented at the Rally, I told people about a counterintuitive trick to being more effective with your time. One of the ideas was to take a break one day a week where you don’t work on anything. Not only does it refresh you, but it also makes those other 6 days a week seem more precious, and causes you to utilize them better instead of wasting them.

  4. Perfect timing, Nancy! I’ve got so much to learn and have been throwing myself at everything, wearing myself out, getting frustrated. Time to slow down and reassess. Thanks so much!

    • Hi Kathy – yeah, I bet if you just took a break like Russell suggested, you’d refresh and start to think clearer! Don’t beat yourself up about this, though. I STILL find myself doing the go-go-go things at times. Most creatives I know need to be reminded of this occasionally. Welcome to the club! 🙂

  5. My Maths school teacher used to say to me in Latin “Festina Lente” meaning hurry up slowly so yes I can relate to this. Mind you life does through us some curved balls so we do the best we can.


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