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Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?

Success Planning
for Musicians and Bands

“Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice.
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where . . . ,” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Lewis Carol – Alice in Wonderland

Planning is for

┬áDreamers who decide it’s time to start doing.

People who are feeling their lives are out of control

People whose to do lists are several pages long.

Entrepreneurs who wear a lot of hats and are juggling lots of duties.

People who have discovered that what they are doing isn’t working.

People who are at a major transition point that they need to reevaluate where they are, where they want to go and do now such as times of catastrophe when you might be having a hard time setting priorities such as after Katrina, a band member quits or you have a new baby or when something major breaks in your career such as one of your tunes being featured in a commercial.

Planning will

help you face each new challenge with confidence, clarity and success.

get you thinking

help you generate more ideas, clarify your thoughts.

generate excitement, enthusiasm and motivation

act as a catalyst for your ideas.

quickly and concisely crystallize your vision.

help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, obstacles and problems, opportunities, set priorities.

help you order your thoughts, set goals and identify milestones.

help you use your time more effectively

help you decide whether you are doing the right thing

get you moving on your dream.

Help you avoid mistakes and wrong directions

Help you succeed.

A plan is like a song

Luckily, most musicians are already used to transcribing something from their head to paper – lyrics, a tune, an arrangement. Yet, they often fail to write down the most important words that will let them succeed – their master plan.

Writing something down makes the intangible real. Musicians know that a song in your head, like a breeze through your hair, is useless beyond the fleeting sensation of emotion and memory until you write down the notes and the words. The next step might be to record a rough version into a tape recorder. Then you go back and tweak and refine. Then you record it for real and voila – you have a song that other people can experience and reproduce and play along with. Planning is the same process.

Why You Need a Plan

Musicians make music, businesses make money. Like it or not, musicians must also act like a business if they want to make money making music so they can keep on making music. Bands and musicians operate with a combination of luck and planning.

Musicians often confuse dreams and hopes with plans. A dream is something in your head. Hope is an emotion. Neither is a strategy. The plan is what makes the dream a reality. Hope is what keeps you going.

There are many types of plans. The typical business plan, written to obtain money, is what we usually think of. But that doesn’t fit most musicians’ situations. Most traditional business models don’t translate well for the music industry, although many of the concepts must and should be considered and followed. Most business plan tutorials start you out with the question “What business am I in?” This may sound elementary and common sense, but doesn’t quite fit the musician or band model because musicians are in a lot of businesses, and that’s where typical business plan models break down. The musician is not only the singer and guitar player, he is the record producer, the promoter, the website developer, the marketing director, the roadie, the tour manager.├é The musician is pulled in twenty directions at once, often unprepared and uninformed about what is involved, what his options are and even how to start.

Myth: Business plans are long tedious documents filled with numbers and projections.

I’m sure someone told you somewhere along the line that you needed a business plan. Unfortunately, as you started learning how to write a business plan, you probably were confronted with instructions on writing pages and pages of economic projections and market analysis. While these can be important things to know, most musicians don’t need this, and won’t do it, and don’t care.

A strategic action plan, on the other hand, is intended to be an internal document created to focus and guide you. It is a repository for your ideas and resources, and, if integrated into your daily activities, is a powerful tool along with your guitar and computer.

What you really need right now is some direction to get you on track, keep you on track and help you achieve your dreams. Do you need to just tweak what you’re already doing? Or do you need to find a whole new direction and literally change how you’re doing things?

Right now you need to

  • get focused fast
  • figure out where you are going
  • identify what you need to do now and later to get there
  • figure out what NOT to do

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