Planning Ahead Panel Recap

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Contributed by AMF Intern

 

We recently hosted our first panel for the New Year covering the basics of planning ahead and getting your priorities in order. Thank you so much to everyone who came out. For those who couldn’t make it, you’re in luck because we’ve got the highlights!

Now, for those of you starting to write this off as a subject that doesn’t need your attention, think again. No one ever tripped into success. Most of it is preparing, of course, with a little bit of luck sprinkled in. Even the bands that you think are not that great on the radio had a great plan (because, well, they’re on the radio).

UNDERSTANDING THE PAST

To start, before you formulate goals for the future, you’ve got to reflect on the past. Think about what went right, what went wrong and what those things can teach you. If you made a mistake – make sure you don’t make it again. If something awesome happened – think about the moves you made and understand why they went right so that you can repeat those actions.

We cannot stress enough how important it is to understand what you have to work with before you ask how you can do something better. Some helpful tools for reviewing your past endeavors include Facebook Insights, Google Analytics, and YouTube Analytics. These tools will help you figure out what types of content got the most engagement and what times of the day work best for posting. More importantly, these tools give you insight into who exactly your audience is, who’s buying merch and who’s making your career happen.

PLANNING THE WHOLE PACKAGE

If you have a handle on who you are and what your brand is as a musician or band, you’re way ahead of the game. If not – your number one focus for 2014 should be making sure your branding is on point. Your look, sound, and band members need to be uniform and make sense. In order to check yourself, go through every post on Facebook, every picture and every song you have. Ask yourself: “Is this who I am and the message I want to deliver?” If there’s a picture or song that doesn’t represent you well, toss it.

It is so vital that every band member is on the same page in terms of branding and dedication. If there is an uneven balance of dedication or you all don’t share the same goals, it just won’t work.

MAPPING IT OUT

Once you are ready to set goals, remember that they need to be realistic goals with realistic timing. If you want to book a festival that takes place in April 2015, for example, you’ve got to work backward from there and put mini-goals on the calendar in order to make the end goal a reality. Simply creating a goal of booking a festival in 2015 is not enough. It takes serious planning with multiple checkpoints to create an album, book a festival, find a manager, etc. Make sure each checkpoint is treated as progress towards attaining your end-goal; this will help you break up a seemingly daunting task into smaller, more manageable items.

Another important realization you must come to in order to be successful is you can’t accomplish everything all at once, or even in a year. Prioritizing each goal and setting deadlines for things that are most important is a must. A common mistake is for artists to try and book shows at venues in new regions before they have their website or press kit up and running. We understand that you are wearing a ton of hats and it can be easy to jump from one thing to another without fully completing anything, but this can be overcome by simply being organized.

You need to hone in on just a few things at a time and crush them before moving on to the next goal. This will prevent you from being overwhelmed by your to-do list. Just remember to take things one step at a time, concentrating on one task at a time. The goals you create are not just for 2014. There should be 1-year, 2-year, 5-year and even 10-year goals for you or your band.

BUDGETING

When we talk about planning, this, of course, means more than just planning your goals. If you have a goal of releasing a new album at the end of 2014, you need to work backward financially as well. Put an end number on how much money you’ll need to produce and design the album, then work backward and know how many shows you’ll need to play and how much you’ll need to come up with so that you can still have some breathing room at the end of it all. Some great advice that Ruby Dee shared at the panel was dividing each paycheck your band receives into portions for each band member, plus one more for the band itself. If you have three people that makeup your band, divide your paycheck by four and put the fourth portion into a fund that will pay for that album you want to release.

NOW, WHAT?

Once your goals are created, go back and check that they fit your image/brand. Put them through the test we mentioned before, “Is this who I am and is this the message I want to deliver?” If they fit, make sure you have your goals written down somewhere where you can see them on a daily basis. If you’re in a band, make sure everyone can see the goals so that you hold each other accountable to them! Be organized, dedicated and driven. Tell everyone what you want to achieve and watch the opportunities arise. Finally, be adaptable. We can plan our lives out all we want but in the end, you have to plan on change. Change is the only constant.

For more resources on planning ahead and a template you can use as a goal-setting starter, click here.

If you need more help or have questions, AMF is here! Feel free to schedule a consultation by calling our office at (512) 542-0077 or send an email to info@austinmusicfoundation.org.