In the interest of kick-starting some book reviews/flashbacks here at the RT, one of the first ones that we wanted to make sure got un-earthed is The Indie Band Survival Guide by Randy Chertkow and Jason Feehan. Not only is it (as the book’s sub-title states) “The Complete Manual For the Do-It-Yourself Musician” – it’s also an incredibly invaluable resource for techies, writers, bloggers, social/digital media folk, producers, editors, and just about anybody else with an interest in Indie/DIY culture.
Before we get into the book itself, it’s a must that we first give some background on the authors. Randy and Jason are founding members of the Indie band – BEATNIK TURTLE (based in Chicago, IL). By day, Randy is actually a technology professional (yay!), and Jason – an attorney. The band has produced over eighteen albums, written music for TV, films, and comedy shows, and has also licensed material to ABC Family – all without a label. Total DIY rockstars.
This is perhaps what drew me in to this book so quickly, when I first decided to buy it. Because these guys are actually teaching what they’ve lived. And the entire book is almost totally derived from the experiences, travels, and problems that they’ve encountered over a ten year career as DIY Indie musicians.
This book clocks-in at over 330+ pages of pure kick-ass. And there’s an ungodly amount of other appendices, lists, links, and additional resources all throughout.
And even while this book was originally released back in 2008, it is still a complete modern day manual book – in every sense. Sure, some of the technologies have changed/advanced a bit since over the past couple of years. Sure, some new lingo and terminology has surfaced. Sure, some of the newer social web concepts continue to change and evolve. But the greater majority of the fundamental idears here are absolutely still relevant. It really, truly is a must-own book for not only DIY/Indie musicians, but ALL musicians (and for all of us techie/behind-the-scenes type folk just as well).
WHY WE LOVE IT
Randy and Jason don’t mess around with this book – at all. They make it clear as glass right up front, that this is a book about doing. And they proceed to throw the entire kitchen sink at you with each and every step involved as an Indie band/musician. Soup to nuts. No joke. From getting started, to getting noticed, being heard, and winning fans (and making money) – it’s all covered. And they cover it in easy-to-read bite-sized chapters and chunks.
WHY IT ROCKS
Along with the obvious…this thing is just loaded for bear. There are so many other references and resources, step-by-step lists, techie tips and tricks, legal/licensing wisdom, the whole nine yards (and then some).
Frankly, I don’t know how two guys, or even a full band would ever have the DIY time to actually do all of the stuff that Randy and Jason outline. But I think it’s equally important that this stuff is laid-out for us – especially for the aspiring DIYer.
The nuts and bolts are absolutely covered – in depth. But there’s also a heaping helping of other various little tips and tricks that some might not always think about at first, too. Things like email marketing, SEO and building your web presence, tips for leveraging your social networks, re-purposing material, gaining exposure, fundamental crowd sourcing concepts, etc., etc.
It packs a serious punch – for sure.
WHY YOU NEED IT
It’s just an outstanding (and essential) written piece of DIY music industry education for the digital era. Artists and musicians need this book. But so do the support folks who are working with the bands and brands behind the scenes.
This is not one of those books that you need to read straight through cover-to-cover. It’s written like a manual – so that you can easily jump to certain sections or chapters that you might find more relevant.
Depending on which piece(s) of the overall puzzle you’re spending most of your time on – you’re likely to find some parts less exciting than others. But having the awareness about the greater most of it – is the bigger key here. And if you’re treating your Indie band like a business – there are a pile of hidden little tips, tricks, and industry secrets embedded in here that you’ll need to know about.
This book is targeted toward music-industry folk, sure. But many of the teachings and concepts in here can apply to just about any type of Indie/DIY project. And it’s easily written so that one could shift a few industry terms around and make it just as relevant to your specific type of project.
It’s absolutely comprehensive, and absolutely practical. It’s all in here – from networking, promotion, touring, navigating the Inter-webs, distribution, publicity, legal – the whole nine yardbirds.
Highly recommended – for not only musicians, but for anyone and everyone living DIY. An invaluable resource, and an extraordinary wealth of wisdom. Click HERE to find The Indie Band Survival Guide on Amazon.
October 2012 Update: This book is now available in a 2nd Edition – released September 2012. You can also find The Indie Band Survival Guide on iBookstore below: