How I Won and Lost in 2022

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, but I do set goals. Big dumb goals that pull me forward, even if they don’t get me where I’d hoped.

Before I decide where I’m headed I want to look back on what I said I’d do in 2022 – and what I actually did.

There are many highlights from the year that I didn’t plan for. My $6000 fundraising campaign to make a new album in 2023. My performances with Anna Tivel. My trip to Asheville and chance to play for the Glen Workshop community. My East Coast house show thanks to Blue Acres/Darrell Cameron. My third-act plot twist buying a new house with a new studio.

For this post, I’ll set those great surprises aside and turn to progress I did or didn’t make on the goals I set this time last year.

You can read last year’s list of 8 Big Goals here, but here’s are the eight goals I set out to accomplish;

  1. Learn Piano
  2. Become a 3/4 Time Musician
  3. Release Music Monthly
  4. Grow Where My Fans Are (Spotify, Instagram and Email)
  5. Play New Venues
  6. Return to Podcasting
  7. Build Community
  8. Grow My Soul

Let’s see how I did, goal by goal.

Goal 1 – Learn Piano

Outcome: WIN

In 2022 I joined an online piano community called Pianote and I did alright with follow through.

I did learn to play a few songs (I can now fulfill inevitable Hallelujah requests on piano) and I finally started to understand theory. Something has begun to unlock. I learned to play some things with two hands, including scales. I learned how to build chords and even inversions of chords.

Then I got real busy in November and forgot a lot of it.

I’d call this one a win because I moved the needle, but I’ve only just begun.

Goal 2 – Become a 3/4 Time Musician

Outcome: TIE

When I posted this last year some astute musical readers asked if I’d only be playing music in 3/4 time in 2022. Nope. What I meant was that I’d spend 3/4 of my work time in the music biz.

I specifically wanted to learn about where to begin with writing jingles but there I came up with nothing really. After fruitless local Google searches I’ve decided I’ll need to take this into my own hands and make a reel to shop myself out – likely online beyond my local market. I may or may not.

Looking at the bigger picture, this goal was about transitioning towards a career fully in the music industry, rather than the hybrid freelance marketing and design slash musician career I’ve built.

I didn’t make my goal, but I’d call this one a tie. I ended up taking the Artist Entrepreneur program through Canada’s Music Incubator for the entire month of November. This program taught me a LOT about how to run a small music business and inspired me to move into the music industry 100% immediately.

I learned what it takes to submit my music for film and television and even met a music supervisor.

I didn’t expect this as 2022 began and it will have a massive impact on my 2023.

In the coming weeks I’m transitioning all of my freelance design and marketing work into an artist services offering called Small Enough, launching any day now. I’ll be offering consulting, marketing support, music production and recording services, release strategies, graphic and web design and video services for musicians.

But that’s a 2023 thing.

Goal 3 – Release Music Monthly

Outcome: WIN

I wanted to improve my writing, recording and production chops by releasing something every month in 2022.

And I did. Almost. In truth I think I missed a month in summer but I’d just released a 5 song EP so I’m OK with that.

This helped me become a better producer and taught me to work faster. I also gathered some momentum on Spotify but less as the project went on.

I think the pace of releases was self-defeating and I won’t do it again this year.

A song-a-month is just too much content to promote well. I basically had 2 weeks to say “a new song is coming” and then it came and I had 2 weeks to share it, before the cycle began all over again.

The result is that a lot of music I’m proud of didn’t get the audience it deserves. Yet anyways.

I say yet because my biggest streaming numbers last year came from songs. that came out back in 2021 and landed on some great playlists.

Moving forward I’ll be slowing down with official releases, building up a little world around each one for you to enter into with me.

This will give me time to prioritize my upcoming album, Dumb Hope and to work my back catalogue a little harder.

Goal 4 – Grow Where My Fans Are

Outcome: LOSS (with a side of WIN)

This one makes me laugh because not only did I miss my targets by a fair bit, I also did something I said I wouldn’t do.

“I will continue to ignore TikTok completely” I said.

I’m on TikTok now.

To my surprise, TikTok has evolved and matured into something more than memes and dances. I’ve discovered communities centred around music production and home recording. I’ve found people processing spiritual the same weird evangelical baggage I’ve carried from my past lives. I want to be a part of these communities, and the current cultural conversation that TikTok has become. So here I am.

I’m still focussing more on Instagram than any other service, and that’s been good though not nearly as good as I’d hoped. I’m nowhere near the 4000 follower mark I set for myself. But I have grown and I’m working on shifting towards participating and engaging with others, rather than just using my social network spaces as billboards to talk about what I’m doing.

Looking at Spotify, I grew from 417 to 516 followers. Followers are awesome because they get my new released delivered to their Release Radar playlists automagically.

I’d set a high bar to have a month with 10,000 streams and I didn’t get there, but I did have a month early in the year with around 3000 and I’m averaging at least 1000 streams every month. I’m seeing sustained growth over time and gaining some traction on the platform. My song If I Could Have now has more than 12,000 streams and three of my top streamed songs came out in 2022.

Now about that email list.

I wanted to grow my list in 2022 because it’s one of the most valuable assets I have as an artist.

Email may seem old school, but my 200 email list members are awesome. I could tell you who most of them are and I’ve met most of them in person. Email is is the one place where I have direct contact with my listeners and the one community I have control over if TikTok gets banned or Elon Musk buys Instagram or – who knows?

I have big plans for this email community in 2023 but that’s for another post.

Goal 5 – Play New Venues

Outcome: TIE

I’d hoped to play 2 new venues and 2 new festivals in 2022. I made it happen on the venue side – not so much with festivals.

In 2022 I played large theatre shows in Westlock and Drayton Valley – both new for me. I played Calgary’s King Eddy in December and Assylum for Art with Anna Tivel in the summer. Both of those were firsts and I made time to hit up open stages at The Attic and The Ironwood, too. I played a lot of summer shows at community events around town thanks to Curbside Concerts.

Festivals are a tough nut to crack.

This feels like a big heavy door that hasn’t been opened to me – but I’m still knocking. I did have a major breakthrough opportunity lined up last winter, but that evaporated with a COVID resurgence. That was a tough one to take.

In the meantime I continue to apply and have started to attending some of the festivals I’d love to play. It was so good to join thousands on the hill at Edmonton Folk Festival and discover a new favourite band, Bonny Light Horseman.

Goal 6 – Return to Podcasting

Outcome: WIN

I made 9 episodes of Song Stories that I’m really proud of. I decided to break for the summer and haven’t yet resumed but I plan to. I really enjoy meeting new artists this way and sharing their songs and the stories behind them.

I have other ideas too. Some may come this year and others later. This is still a space I want to be involved with.

Goal 7 – Build Community

Outcome: WIN

While I never did launch the “Make It Small Together” support group I dreamt up last January, I did experiment building community on Discord and learned a lot about what it would take to have an online community flourish. I think I’m getting near a place where that effort makes sense for me and ties into everything else I’m doing. I sure gained a lot from that group while it was active.

I also met online East Coast music friends in person as my wife and I got to visit PEI and Nova Scotia in June. I’m so grateful to be building music community across the country and my new friends out East mean a lot to me. I’m hoping for some musical collaborations soon, too.

At to all of this my Scholarship-funded return to the Glen Workshop to build community around “art, faith and mystery” and my month long stint with a dozen wonderful musicians in Calgary in November and I’d say community building was really my 2022 headline.

Goal 8 – Grow My Soul

Outcome: TIE

Last January I wrote that “my faith remains complicated and a big part of me kind of wants it to stay that way.” I’m not so sure I still want it that way. My wrestle with Christian faith has only intensified over 2022 and I’m feeling uneasy about it.

I set out to set aside time for reflection and growth and I did take a private weekend retreat in the spring, attend the Glen Workshop in the summer and had hours to myself (some with COVID) in a small Calgary apartment in November.

All of those experiences were valuable … and yet.

I want more from my spiritual life.

Or perhaps it’s time to walk away completely? Perhaps need to let go?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the past couple of weeks. It’s been months since I’ve been in church or read the Bible. I don’t know if I miss it much. I wish I missed it more. I miss missing it. I miss missing God.

Faith seems to me something impossible to conjure for myself. The closest I can come is longing.

Maybe faith IS longing?

Maybe this is growth?


If you’ve read this far I applaud you. This processing is always a good exercise for me – I discover my own journey as I recount it to you.

With looking back out of the way, it’s time I set some new goals looking forward.

But not just yet.

Not today, not tonight.

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