You could grind away crafting your first album, release it, and embark on a tour of the main centres. If you're lucky enough to make a second album, you might make it to Australia.
If the gods are really smiling, you save all of your NZ on Air grants and busk on Queen St on Friday nights, you could make it to Europe on the back of your third album.
America? Unless you're Lorde, that might not happen at all.
In the past that seems to have been the logical progression for many a local artist.
But that status quo seems to be changing. In fact, many Kiwi acts are giving the good old middle finger to those bog-standard career progression points and doing things differently.
Broods in San Francisco.
Like Broods, the Nelson brother-sister alt-pop duo who recently performed sold-out shows across America and Canada, but have just one local show - at New Year's festival Rhythm & Vines - to their name.
Despite being newcomers, they recently recounted stories to the Herald about overseas fans travelling entire days to see their shows, and others who claimed their music (Broods released their debut six-track EP in January) had saved their life.
"The privilege of seeing first-hand the impact you can have on a stranger's life is, hands down, the most humbling feeling ever," said singer Georgia Nott.
Like a Storm have also skipped the local music stepladder. The North Shore siblings with angled fringes are far from a major name at home but have been touring America solidly for several years, including opening slots to tens of thousands of Creed and Nickelback fans.
Says bassist Kent Brooks: "By the end of that three months [opening for Creed] we'd played in just about every American state, just about every major city, and in the biggest arenas. It was the most ridiculous thing."
Then there's The Naked and Famous, who had just one album - 2010's Passive Me, Aggressive You - behind them when they upped sticks and shifted all of their operations to Los Angeles.
That the Auckland five-piece recently performed on Coachella's main stage to rave reviews, on the back of last year's excellent second album In Rolling Waves, proves the move more than paid off.
"We were spending so much time in Los Angeles, had so many friends and so much industry support there, that the move didn't feel that difficult," frontman Thom Powers tells TimeOut.
"It's nicer than England as far as the weather goes, and it was simply like, 'let's do that then'. The idea of just picking a place to go, especially somewhere we had been all the time, didn't seem so daunting."
Powers told TimeOut the benefits included being closer to major cities and festivals, meaning shorter flights and travel times, as well as having easier access to industry experts.
He believed the move hadn't influenced the band's sound.
"I think your imagination should be able to move above your environment.
"We're from New Zealand so there's this self-alienation thing you can't get away from. You're always just like, 'a Kiwi abroad'.
And as the band's bassist David Beadle points out: "We are who we are and where we're living isn't indicative of the music.
"Passive me, Aggressive you doesn't sound like Thom's mum's house in Browns Bay."
TimeOut checked in with a bunch of Kiwi artists this week to see where in the world they are this week.
Liam Finn in New York.
To celebrate the release of his third album The Nihilist in America, Finn has been on the warpath, performing on New York studio The End's rooftops before heading to Los Angeles for an album release party- this time in a venue with a proper roof.
Her first week back from illness has been an odd one: she performed at the 139th Preakness Stakes horse race in Baltimore, before picking up two awards- including Top Rock Song for Royals - at the Billboard Music Awards. Next up: the Netherlands, Germany, France and the UK.
If there's a New Zealand music workaholic award, Six60 probably deserve it: the Dunedin-based act have just finished shows in London, Dublin and Scotland, and are heading to the Netherlands to wrap up their European tour. After that?
Well, they deserve at least a week off.
Gin Wigmore in Richmond.
The whisky-voiced belter has been a little quiet of late - however, with very good reason.
She has been in Richmond prepping her third album with none other than Chad Hugo - Pharrell's buddy in The Neptunes. If you're following her progress on Instagram, be warned: her chair-on-top-of-car-rooftop antics are ill advised.
Mr Finn did something he'd never done before this week: perform in Dubai. The career-spanning set was well received too - Gulf News called Finn's performance "lush", "boisterous" and said he "delivered on every enduring song". Perhaps it won't take him another 55 years to return.