The Musician's Action Plan

by Kathy Brackley - Katcall Creative Studio

Why am I here? Where am I going? How am I going to get there? These are some of the important questions you should be asking yourself. As with anything in life it's a good idea to set goals for yourself and have a plan of action.

One of the things I often see are musicians who are looking for a quick fix. "I've made a CD and it's soooo good that it's going to sell itself!" ...think again. You could be the most talented musician..the most "kick ass band"....but your CDs are not going to sell themselves. Nor are A & R people going to show up on your doorstep if they don't know you exist.

Take the time to create an action plan, not only will it will help keep you focused - you'll know exactly where you are going and how you are going to get there. Let's use baseball as an example; the players do not just go out on the field and play - they have a game plan. If their game plan doesn't work, they re-evaluate it and make adaptations. If they didn't have a game plan, what do you think would be the result?

Before you begin, it's a good idea to know what your rights are as a musician and how to protect your music. These factors will likely come into play while you are promoting yourself and your music. If you are not sure, I highly recommend taking the time to do some research.

The attached Musician's Action Plan Workbook (PDF) includes:

Action Plan WorksheetFollow Through WorksheetCD Tracker WorksheetAction Plan Review WorksheetExample Action Plan

STEP 1: DEFINING YOURSELF The first thing you need to do is sit down and do some serious thinking. You should have a binder or notebook where you can keep all of the information you are about to accumulate. Before you start, print a copy of the Workbook (PDF Download). Ask yourself the questions below and write down your answers in the workbook. When answering the questions be as specific as possible. I've included an Example Action Plan at the end of the Workbook for your reference, use this as a tool to help you get started. Below you will find the list of questions which are included in the workbook along with some examples.

1. What is my idea of success? e.g. Is it just playing music and simply being happy with that, getting a record deal, selling 100,000 copies of your Cd, being world famous, etc.

2. What are my goals? What do you hope to achieve? Keep your goals realistic and specific. e.g. This year I want to sell 500 CDs.

3. What can I do to reach my goals? Now that you've set your goals, how can you help yourself to reach them?

4. What is my plan of action? Now that you have clearly defined your goals and things you can do to reach them, how will you set them into action?

5. What am I willing to sacrifice? This one will require some thought. e.g. time, your values, your music, etc.

6. What am I *not* willing to sacrifice? e.g. your values, your music, etc.

7. What am I willing to compromise on? Look at your list of things you would not sacrifice, is there anything that you might compromise on?

8. What resources do I have at my disposal? List all your resources; you may not realize how many you actually have. Resources can be people, information etc.

9. Where can I find the information I need? e.g. This can be your resources, or places you have yet to explore.

10. What am I going to need help with? What can't you do yourself that you'll need some assistance with. This could be anything from mailing out your CDs, to promoting them, creating a press release etc.

11. Who are the people that can help me? List as many specific people as you can.

12. How much money am I prepared to spend? How much money are you willing to spend on the goals you've chosen.

13. How much time am I willing to invest? This can be a specific amount e.g., two hours, a day or it can be general - whatever amount it takes to achieve your goals.

14. How and where can I make contacts? Again look at your resources and the people that can help you. Do some research, find online discussion lists, message boards, etc. then list them here.

15. When do I plan to reach these goals by? (date)

STEP 2: FOLLOWING THROUGH There is no point in having an action plan if your not going to follow through. Now look at the part of your action plan where you answer "What is my plan of action?" Now it's time to start doing these things. Keep a notebook with the following information, add in any other information you'd like to keep track of. (There is a Follow Through Worksheet included in the Workbook.)

1. Today's Date:

2. The Date of Contact:

3. Contact info:

a. Name: b. Company Name: c. Address: d. Phone Number: e. Email Address:

4. What was the end result of this contact? Example: Company X will take three copies of my Cd to sell in their store.

5. Notes: i.e. What did you think of this company/contact? Did they make a comment that stood out in your mind? What was your overall impression?

STEP 3: FOLLOWING UP Keep tabs on who is selling a lot of your CDs and who isn't. It's a really good idea to keep a notebook and write down: the name of the company, how many CDs they requested, how many they have sold, the date etc. There is a CD Tracker Worksheet included in your Workbook.

Also, it never hurts to follow up after some time has passed. Approach the people who passed on your CD. A great way to do this is if you have something new happening like a gig. i.e. "I'll be playing at the Five and Dime on April 5th". Now that you've made a few contacts, joined a few discussion lists etc. you will probably have new places and ideas that might work well for you. Keep track of them, contact them if it interests you and then follow through. (step 2)

STEP 4: MEASURING YOUR SUCCESS When you completed your action plan, you wrote the date you'd like to achieve your goals by. When that date arrives, it's time to look over your action plan and see how you did.

Below, are some questions to refer to. Again, write down the answers and keep this together with your action plan. After you've answered the questions you can begin to build a new action plan or expand on the old one. Your goals may have changed through the process.

1. Did my plan of action work?

2. Did I reach my goal(s)?

3. What didn't I do that I should have?

4. What worked for me?

5. What didn't work for me?

6. What have I learned in the process?

7. What have I accomplished/gained?

8. Were my goals realistic?

9. Additional Notes:

CONTRACT CHECKLIST When considering entering into a contract, agreement, or potential offer, you should always consider all the pros, cons and find out exactly what exactly they are offering you. This includes any website offering to sell your CDs or artwork, record labels etc.

1. What are their fees and are there any 'hidden fees'?

2. How will they promote me and my music?

3. How much time are they willing to invest in me?

4. How will this help further my career?

5. Do they help protect my rights as an artist?

6. What are their credentials/background?

7. What are their goals?

8. Do they have a good track record within the industry?

9. Who are they affiliated with?

10. What are their affiliates credentials?

11. What are the other options available to me as an artist?

12. How do they compare?

13. What are the pros and cons of all my options?

14. What are the legalities involved?

15. Do I have to sign a contract/agreement?

16. If yes, how long am I tied into the agreement/contract?

17. Is their offer non exclusive?

18. Do I understand the terms of the contract?

19. Have I researched all possible avenues?

20. Do I have enough information to make a sound decision?

21. Am I getting good value for my money?

The attached Musician's Action Plan Workbook (PDF) includes:

Action Plan WorksheetFollow Through WorksheetCD Tracker WorksheetAction Plan Review WorksheetExample Action Plan


Kathy Brackley has had a passionate interest in the arts since childhood; particularly music and writing. In addition to providing Music Publicity for Indie Musicians and Labels (Katcall Creative Studio), her current adventures include being Editor-In-Chief of Artists Studio Magazine, freelance writing for various publications, and advancing her studies in Public Relations/Marketing. In her spare time she feeds her passion for music by playing flamenco guitar.

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