Imagine, if you will, that you are Cecily Strong and Keegan-Michael Key of Schmigadoon, lost in the backcountry, and struggling to make sense of things.
But instead of coming across a musically inclined village, you stumble into something that sounds like a SXSW panel featuring author, podcast host, and musician Ari Herstand and musician Ritt Momney (Jack Rutter), discussing goals, work, and the current state of the industry. The conversation would share pathways for musicians and possible next steps in their careers. And you, as a potential musician, suddenly have the next steps and the trail ahead of you, courtesy of Fender’s newest resource.
Well, it’s not a musical number; it’s real.
Enter the new Fender Artist Playbook, a collaborative effort between Ari Herstand and Fender. The guide is for artists of all skill levels and experience eager to jumpstart or focus their musical careers. The Playbook is complete with checklists and details (down to how to label columns in a Google Spreadsheet), and rocks a colorful 60’s vinyl feel. It’s a guide for-the-now; a response to the overall current musical climate and available for immediate use. In fact, Herstand believes it will be outdated in two years.
“Musicians are just trying to figure out how to make a career happen with music, how to build fans, how to make a livable income with their music, [and] how to play shows effectively that people will show up to them,” Herstand shares.
From NFTs to social media to an album release checklist, the new resource runs the gamut in terms of material, and is centered on helping musicians do what they want to do: create music, and get paid to do it. And, that goal requires the business side. “This playbook is very business focused. Creating the music is the fun part. That is when you don’t have to think about the business or worry about the numbers. The only reason that we have to focus on the business is to be able to keep doing the thing that we actually want to do, which is making the music. We’re just trying to figure out a way that we can get paid for that, that, that we can just make a living doing that, “ Herstand explains.
While the Playbook focuses on how to keep track of numbers and data, Rutter was quick to add that human connection should still be at the forefront of music creation. “The cool thing about music is that human connection; communicating your emotions and touching people. And that’s super easy to forget. It is a business and if you want to make a career out of it, you need to treat it like a business sometimes, but…if you want to have a successful career…keep that as your main priority.”
One of the features of the new guide is SMART goals, an acronym borrowed from the business and management world, that focuses on definable, actionable, and time-based ideas. One example of a time-bound and realistic goal that Herstand gave during our conversation is: I want to sell out that venue, with a 250 cap venue in six months.
While hearing about SMART goals, and listening to Herstand share more about the Fender playbook, Jack Rutter came to a few live realizations over Zoom. “What’s the next step in my career?” Rutter pondered with us. “What am I working towards? This isn’t just for people just trying to get started. I haven’t been like, really working towards any goals recently. “
Together, Herstand and I clarified that SMART goals can be small and can be done any time. “Jack, I would encourage you to set the goal. Goals can change at every stage of your career.” Herstand gently guided.
Goals can give you direction and purpose. With a free tool like the Playbook, musicians may no longer be lost on the pathway.
As for Rutter, he will find immediate use of this new playbook.
“I’m gonna read through this. This is really cool,” Rutter shared at the conclusion of our chat.
If you, too, would like to read through the Fender Playbook, it can be found at: https://www.fender.com/articles/how-to/artist-playbook