Survival is something that all bands struggle with. A lot of bands cover up and mask their mistakes pretending like they never happened. Instead of covering up the struggle for success, we are encouraging musicians to share their stories with each other. Here are some stories from music industry professionals about how they incorporate planning into their projects. Most of them were collected for my 2009 survival guide BUZZ: Plan, but they are still relevant now.
BITE OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW AND CHEW IT. PLAN MORE THAN YOU CAN DO AND DO IT! – Justin Alexander (Vocalist)
NAME YOUR BAND: Think of a band name that is original and easy to search with Google. If you pick a common word or phrase for your band, like “The Chevrolets” it will be hard in the future to search for write-ups about your band because you will only find cars. If you search for “Radiohead” or “Arcade Fire” you pretty much only get material from those bands. – Anton Patzner (Composer)
MAKE A BLUEPRINT: Planning is important because that’s how you lay out your blueprint for getting shit done! Bands must plan that everything takes more time than you think. Bands must plan to practice a ton if they want to sound good. Bands must plan to not underestimate how beneficial it is to talk about goals, visions, dreams, and ideas. – Grant Goodrich (BATTLEHOOCH)
THE GRUNT WORK: It is good to establish which band member is taking on each task/job in the band. Your band is a business and you don’t want only one person taking on all of the grunt work. For example, one person should be in charge of merch, another tackles flyers, someone should be on top of the social networks, and finally, the leader should make sure shows are booked. I think it’s important to plan out who is taking on what task cause if one person is pulling all the weight it can lead to the ultimate break up of the band. Being in a band is like being business partners, lovers, and creators. Being in a band is hard, vulnerable work, but it’s lots of fun. If there is no communication and responsibilities aren’t set in place, I think it can crush a band. There has to be “give and take” and a group effort down to the last action. – Olivia Parriott (Video Production)
BE MORE SPECIFIC: Planning is super important but I think the thing that has helped me the most is the way I plan. You need to evaluate your goals and then break them down. Let’s say your goal is to “be a successful band.” Okay, that’s a start but it’s an awfully vague goal. Everyone has a different definition of success and you should think about what you, as a group, really want to accomplish. This also helps align everyone’s intentions within the band. – Zen Zenith (Event Planner)
YOU PROBABLY SUCK: Most important is to create an effective marketing plan to get your music out there. Start small and build your way up gradually so you can gauge your audience and get feedback on your music. Fans make themselves known and if you are not getting feedback or building an audience you probably suck. – Peter Arko (Professional)
SOUNDS EVOLVE: Planning is important. If you’re going to take your band beyond jamming and do something like a tour or record an album, it’s a BIG undertaking. That said, you still have to let a lot of stuff be spontaneous and flexible. In a previous band, we had a big plan to promote our first EP. However, our sound evolved after we recorded it. So rather than work really hard promoting, as we had planned, we switched gears and put time into our new material. – Alex Neuhausen (Web Developer)
FUCK THE ABSTRACT: Collectively deciding what the band intends to be and how far it wants to go is the first thing your band should plan. Do people want to tour relentlessly? Be in a prolific studio recording project? Get famous as fast as possible no matter the cost? Just hang out in the garage and smoke dope? (In the latter case, I’d recommend no planning. Planning is a total buzzkill.) If various members have wildly differing goals, it’s good to get that established up front. This way people don’t find themselves wasting their time on the wrong project. Get together early and deciding on some group intentions. If everybody in the band has the same goals, everybody should be able to pitch in somehow. In an ideal world, this will help bands avoid stagnation and aimlessness, and hopefully, keep everybody interested. – Damon Larson (Musician)
You just experienced the feedback of 8 music industry professionals. Their opinions are unique, but their approach is standard. They all agree that your project needs a plan if it’s going to be successful. Take their advice and establish what is that you want to accomplish and write it down.