Once you have some music ready to share with the world you need to learn how to navigate the modern world of music. No doubt you keep hearing about the “new and unlimited opportunities” for musicians without the need for a recording contract, but how do you take advantage of these opportunities? The best source of information and step-by-step instruction is The Indie Band Survival Guide. This is THE guidebook for any independent (i.e. “unsigned”) musician or group, regardless of style.
The book begins by telling you how to get prepared to use all of the services that are available to you by assembling your team and networking, setting up a “brand” that will identify you in many different places and circumstances, and most important of all, getting to know your rights. Many musicians leave a LOT of money “on the table” because they don’t know to ask for it, or in some cases demand it. After this you are ready to use their strategies for getting gigs and making money selling your music and related merchandise. If you are not already familiar with the companies that will sell your CD’s as well as “merch” to your fans on demand, then you are missing out on a potential goldmine and probably spending money that you don’t need to. In exchange for a cut, there is a whole network that will package and sell music in whatever form, T-shirts, ball caps, anything that identifies that brand you set up while getting prepared. Yes, you give up some money but do you really want to get into the manufacturing business? Or be an order-taker? These kinds of deal let you stick to the music while your brand gets around and you get cheques from your merchandising partners.
You will need a marketing strategy, and these days a web presence is essential. Social media is a must to interact with fans and potential fans, and an official site can be invaluable in getting the word out to fans about new music and gigs as well as turning people who are just browsing into fans. The authors show you how to set up various internet services, some specially for musicians and others that you can tailor to your own needs. They even provide a web site that keeps the information in the book up to date, so that as new services appear you will know how to take advantage of them. And then, of course, you become a fan of Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan for providing this service for you. A nice example of practising what they preach.
The flip side of this new accessibility for indie artists is that more and more people are getting out there. Chertkow & Feehan give you great advice on getting heard and seen through all of the competition. All you need is some talent, music that you want to share, and the motivation to do what it takes to find and connect with your fans. These guys know what they’re talking about, having run a successful indie band for years, while keeping their day jobs as an IT expert and a lawyer. No matter what style you play, no matter how big you want to get or small you want to stay, if you want to make money in music, this book will pay for itself many times over. It belongs in every musician’s case, dog-eared from being read over and over.