When I started playing in my first band 13 years ago, my main motivation was “MUSIC IS AWESOME.” I think this is about as fine a motivation as one can have for playing music. However, since I thought music was awesome enough that I wanted to make a career of it, I started trying to figure out what that took to “go pro.” Being a professional wasn’t easy then, and it isn’t easy now. Learning how to be a professional wasn’t easy then either, but it’s thankfully much easier now.
Still, even if the information is out there, it needs to be accessed. Here’s a short list of places I go for information on how to conduct music business right now.
1. Musicians’ Desk Reference. This comprehensive online portal walks musicians through the steps of a career, from starting a band to booking shows to managing PR to licensing and way, way more. It has to-do lists with checkboxes. It doesn’t treat you like an idiot, but it does start from absolute square one. It is an indispensable guide for anyone trying to make their way through the industry. MDR is currently running a Kickstarter as a relaunch for some big plans they have; it’s totally worth it to jump on this.
2. Indie on the Move. IOTM aggregates a wide variety of musicians, authors, bloggers, music professionals and more to create short, helpful content about the day-to-day actions of being a band: “How Do I Follow Up with a Venue That Hasn’t Returned My E-mail?“, “How to Submit to Pandora (Without a CD),” and “Building Your Professional Team” are all recent articles at IOTM. You’d be pretty knowledgeable if you started from zero knowledge and then read every article on the blog, but I use it primarily to supplement my basic knowledge with new trends and ideas.
3. Grassrootsy. IOTM occasionally cross-posts from Grassrootsy, but there’s a lot of exclusive Grassrootsy content too. Thoughtful pieces about how to get things done as a DIY band.
4. Local scene. The original DIY information aggregator: if you’re playing music in your town, talk to other people who are playing locally, regionally, or nationally. Pick their brains about how they did it. Even if they’re in other genres than you, talking to them about how they did it and what it took can be invaluable. If you’re a metal band, talking to members of a country band that are working and living as musicians can often be surprisingly valuable. Talking to record label owners, venue owners, and other music professionals is helpful too–just e-mail them and see what happens.