The phrase "feast or famine" dates back to 1732. It implies either too much or too little of something.
The music industry and maybe all of the freelance world seems to experience this phrase in real life. Some weeks everyone wants to work with you and the next month it's as if no one even knows you exist. I have experienced this over the last four years of doing music full time. Some months are full of abundance and some months feel like the whole business will collapse.
A feast is tempting. Whenever I am in front of a lot of food, my brain always screams... "Eat it all!". I have to be disciplined. I have to remember that if I over indulged it will make me unhealthy, lethargic, and will impact me long term goals. This applies directly to business.
When there are times of feasting, make sure you put away something in order to prevent a real famine. This is one of the most crucial things you have to learn to do if you want to be self employed.
In life you will hit dry times, you will have competition come in and take clients, you will have clients who stop making music, I have had studios shut down that once kept me busy and now they don't exist. This is all apart of business. A lot of it is out of your control, but what you can control is how you spend your money and time when you have a feast or famine situation.
My wife and I have a budget that is bare bones survival, then a budget that is comfortable, and then a dream budget that may or may not ever happen. Knowing what you have to make to survive is important. I run into a lot of people who have no idea what they spend each month, they are floating along and if they hit a famine it paralyzes them. They either have to go get a different job again, pick up where they left or do something they hate doing. There is no shame in working, but a lot of people lack the discipline to put something away when they have abundance and a lot of people don't realize they have an abundance, they just spend too much money on things that are not really important.
November thru January has been "slow" the last three years. The industry drastically slows down in the winter normally and this can create a famine. My busiest times have always been spring and fall. Learning this has been important as it allows me to prepare for times of famine.
When you experience a time of feasting, it's important to stay focused on your long term goals. It's really easy to get an inflated ego when the work keeps coming in. It can sometimes make you feel like you should go explore new areas, new gear, or splurge. The majority of the time these things will end up coming back to bite you. You want to already know where that extra money will go when you have a great month.
You have to keep working hard when you have a feast. There is zero time to slack on your quality or product if you're super busy. When we get too busy we often get sloppy, this in return can cause a famine the next month. I see this happen all the time. People have great momentum and then they get overwhelmed. Soon projects are late, over budget and what once was a feast has turned into a plague.
During a feast you have to continue to have good communication with all your clients, not just the ones that are currently feeding you. When the current projects are done, you need to know what your other clients are up to and whether or not they will have something for you. Simple check ins that take five minutes can give you great insight into the next month. It also shows that you care about your clients.
Don't over estimate or get too optimistic when you have an abundance. I want to hit on this again. I have seen guys have an incredible few months or even year and then they increase their budget and expenses. They view a feast as a time too expand and grow when in reality they haven't prepared for any sort of slow time. Be realistic with yourself and make sure you have something stored up for when you encounter a slow time.
The last thing that has helped me out a lot in dealing with this is being brutally honest with where I am at and the amount of clients I have. Being brutally honest with the fact that I work in a super competitive industry that is always changing. I have to spend time educating myself on new trends, new competition, and if computers will replace my job eventually, (this is a real thing). To ignore the industry and the changes that are happening is naive.
These simple things have kept Moses Mastering floating and growing over the last four years. It took me a long time to learn these things so hopefully this will help you! Be disciplined and stay focused on your long term goals. Know that life is full of seasons and change. By not over indulging during the feast you will not grow lethargic and find yourself starving in a famine.