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10 Tips For Emerging Indie Musicians: Planning For Survival & Success

Buzz-planBuzz: Plan is the first digital release in the series Buzz - A survival guide for emerging indie musicians in the San Francisco Bay Area. This free ebook is a creation of Stefan Aronsen of SF Intercom. Though it does have some specific SF-related content, the majority is focused on the needs of indie musicians everywhere and includes 10 tips on planning, something that many indie musicians don't think of till it's far too late.

Buzz: Plan is available as a free download for a limited time but Aronsen informed me that the limits are most likely a matter of months rather than days or weeks. It's a graphically compelling document that includes, in addition to some pretty pictures, tips from a variety of Bay Area musicians on getting started, planning and journaling. There are also short sections on busking, legal issues and road trips.

Yes, it is a bit of a hodgepodge but an entertaining one that brings the SF Intercom perspective to an ebook. Tucked away near the end are 10 tips on planning that can also be found in SF Intercom's Buzz Guide and are abridged below.


1. CREATE A GAME PLAN: It is important that all members of your band know what the goals of the band are. Get input from your band and write down your goals.

2. KEEP YOUR PLAN IN A JOURNAL: Create a system for keeping your thoughts organized. What is important is the paper trail of ideas.

3. KNOW WHO YOU ARE BEFORE YOU TELL OTHERS WHO THEY ARE: Establish who you are. Know what your goals are, where you've been, and where you're going. Others will see this, and refer to you as a band that has direction.

4. TAKE A RISK, BUT DON'T BE RISKY: There comes a time in every career where you need to take a leap of faith but make it a calculated one. Don't take leaps when a tiny step was the only thing your band required.

5. DON'T BE CHEAP OR YOU'LL LOOK CHEAP: Many bands lean towards using cheap alternatives to the more costly commercial products. The down side is you look cheap! You didn't realize you were being judged but I received your lame flyer/cd/poster and instantly judged you.

6. DON'T SPEND MORE THAN IT'S WORTH: You are not the first band that needed a cd and you're not the first to create a website. Use other bands as a resource when making big decisions such as these.

7. DON'T CREATE MORE THAN YOU CAN SELL: Don't get duped into purchasing more than you can sell. You may save one dollar per cd, but money in hand is better than money in a plastic disc.

8. DON'T MAKE THE SAME MISTAKE OTHER BANDS HAVE MADE: Learn and grow from other bands mistakes. Before starting your next project, do your research! Find out how others have done it and make your choices based on that.

9. DO NOT LIMIT YOURSELF, EXPLORE ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS: Band "A" makes fliers, band "A" posts shows on Myspace pages, band "A" is not you! Your fans might not go where band "A's" fans go. How are you going to reach them?

10. EVALUATE AND RE-EVALUATE YOUR PLAN REGULARLY: Be prepared to change, change and re-change your plan. You must be flexible and ready to adapt. Keep track of changes and your new plan in your journal. It is always possible that you will return to your original plan.

Like any list of tips, these aren't to be taken as gospel but rather as a way to help you step back and consider what you're doing. But even if you reject the very notion of planning ahead, Buzz: Plan has content of interest for any indie musician and it's full of nice graphics for enjoyable browsing if you get sick of the words.

Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.