10 Step Project Planning Guide

Don't let your big break turn into a big disaster.

Picture this: You've just landed a collaboration with a top-charting artist, or maybe you've been chosen as the opening act on a major tour.

Perhaps an investor has seen the fire in your vision and decided to bankroll your next big project 🔥 

That initial surge of excitement is electrifying—this is the break you've been waiting for!

But as the adrenaline fades, reality crashes in.

Now, you're staring down the barrel of a massive opportunity that you can’t afford to mess up.

It's time to step up and become the project manager your music career demands.

You need to nail down what needs to happen, pinpoint when it should unfold, and identify who can help you get it done. And then, the real challenge—keeping a tight leash on all the moving parts to steer your project to victory.

That’s called project management. But before you can manage a project succesfully, you must PLAN the project with clarity and intention.

So let’s start with a 10 step planning process to make sure that your big break doesn’t turn into a big disaster.

Project planning might sound boring, but let's cut through that—this is about making your dreams happen without dropping the ball.

Remember, before you start planning your project, you need to make sure you have the right strategy to take you where you really want to go.

How do you know this is the right opportunity for you?

Review my last post Strategic Thinking 101 to make sure!

10 Step Project Planning Guide

Step 1: Define Your Project

Start by carving out the what and why of your project.

What’s your end game?

Is it an explosive album launch, a nationwide tour, or a groundbreaking music video? Set your sights on clear, tangible goals.

Think big but specific—what exactly will success look like?

Defining this early on sets the tone for everything that follows. This isn’t just about setting goals—it’s about envisioning your success down to the last detail.

Remember, make your goals SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Better yet, make them SMARTER goals by leveraging everyone in your network and revisiting your goals every day.

Make sure your dreams feel believable to you. You must believe it to achieve it. That is why mindset is so important. Read the post Three Mindset Shifts for More Health, Wealth, and Wisdom from our Nashville Ayurveda newsletter if you would like some ninja level mindset hacks!


Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.

– Napoleon Hill

Step 2: Identify Project Requirements

Now, gather your arsenal. What tools, people, and skills do you need to bring this vision to life?

List out every person and every piece of equipment… from studio time and session players to videographers and marketing gurus. Every great show needs a great crew, and knowing who and what you need from the get-go is crucial.

This is about laying down the groundwork to ensure you’re not caught off guard.

If you’re hitting the road for a tour, you’re thinking about venues, travel arrangements, equipment transport, and more.

Step 3: Scope Out the Project

Do your best to draw clear borders around your project.

Knowing what your project will and will not include is absolutely imperative. This clarity prevents the notorious scope creep, where projects bloat with unplanned new tasks, diluting focus and inflating costs.

Where will you draw the line—what's in and what's out?

This isn’t just about limiting distractions; it’s about sharpening your focus to a razor’s edge. Define boundaries to keep the project tight and targeted.

Say you’re producing an album; go ahead and decide whether you’re keeping it digital or also pressing vinyl, as this impacts everything from costs to timelines.

Step 4: Break Down the Tasks

This is where you chop up the monster into manageable pieces.

Segment your mammoth project into bite-sized tasks.

As we recently covered in the post Levels of Attention and Commitment, Every project is a series of steps—write them out.

For a tour, that means detailing everything from hotel bookings to merchandise designs. This isn’t just busy work; it’s about creating a blueprint that everyone can follow.

Assign each task a deadline and a leader. Who’s doing what? Who is in charge of each segment of the project? When's each step due?


A dream written down with a date becomes a goal.

A goal broken down into steps becomes a plan.

A plan backed by action makes your dreams come true.

- Greg Reid

Step 5: Allocate Resources

People need resources to accomplish tasks.

Resource - a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization in order to function effectively.

Definition by Oxford Dictionary

Allocate your resources wisely—your budget, your people, your time.

Stretching resources too thin is a surefire way to make things break down, so allocate with care and precision.

In the music world, this might mean making sure that you don’t ask your front of house audio engineer to also run lighting for you (although I have seen this work with a lot of planned programming).

Step 6: Create a Timeline

Every project needs a timeline.

What are the milestones? When do they need to happen to keep the project on track? You can use tools that help you visualize the timeline, like Gantt charts, but honestly that is not necessary to get started.

Just think through the big milestones and put dates on them. As an example, you could lay it out in a shared Google Doc or a spreadsheet like this:

  • [DATE] - Venue Bookings Confirmed: Confirm all venues and tour dates.

  • [DATE] - Logistics Set: Arrange travel and accommodations for the entire tour duration.

  • [DATE] - Technical Rider Finalized: Ensure all venues have your technical requirements for sound, lighting, and stage setups.

  • [DATE] - Merchandise Ready: Finalize and produce merchandise for sale during the tour.

  • [DATE] - Promotional Campaign Launched: Begin all promotional activities, including social media, press releases, and local ads.

  • [DATE] - Rehearsals Completed: Finish all pre-tour rehearsals to polish your performances.

  • [DATE] - Tour Kickoff: Start the tour with your first performance. It might be rocky so make sure you conquer the jitters with deep breathing. You got this!

  • [DATE] - Mid-Tour Review: Evaluate the tour's progress halfway through and make necessary adjustments.

  • [DATE] - Final Performance: Complete and CELEBRATE the last show of the tour.

  • [DATE] - Post-Tour Debrief: Review the tour's overall success, gather feedback, and discuss improvements for future tours.

Seeing the project timeline laid out like this, from start to finish, helps keep your eyes on the prize and everyone synchronized.

Step 7: Budget Management

Money is the lifeblood of your project, so manage it with an iron fist.

Budget for everything and keep a sharp eye on cash flow. Know what you’re likely to spend, and keep track as you go.

Include a buffer for the unexpected—because surprises happen, especially in the music biz.

Overseeing a budget means more than just balancing numbers; it’s about ensuring your creative vision doesn’t hit a financial snag.

Step 8: Plan for Risks

What could go wrong?

Maybe your lead guitarist gets the flu or part of your funding doesn’t come through. Think about these things now, and plan your workarounds.

Being proactive here can save you a lot of headaches later.

Step 9: Communication Strategy

It is of utmost importance to keep everyone in the loop.

Decide how you’ll update each other, and stick to it.

Set up regular check-ins, establish clear channels for updates, and make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Whether it’s through weekly team meetings, a shared digital workspace, daily emails, or a dedicated group chat, communication is the glue that holds your project together.

Good communication doesn’t just share information—it builds trust and teamwork.

Step 10: Expect the Unexpected

Be flexible and ready to pivot. The only constant is change, especially in the music industry.

Stay on your toes. As your project progresses, be ready to tweak your plans based on what’s working and what isn’t.

Regular reviews and adaptations to your strategy are crucial, especially when dealing with creative people and processes that can evolve unpredictably.

Be prepared to make tough calls and have tough conversations if someone on your team isn’t pulling their weight.

Even with the best plans, things change. Regular reviews let you adjust on the fly, ensuring that you’re always moving towards your goal, even if the path shifts along the way.

Remember - flexibility isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s agility, and it could be what gives you a competitive edge over the rest.

Final Thoughts

Taking the leap from creator to project manager can seem daunting, but it's really about channeling your creative passion and power into structured, actionable paths that others can follow with you.

It is about empowering your team to help you achieve your vision!

It's about not just dreaming big, but also following through with precision and finesse. Seizing a big opportunity in the music industry requires more than just talent and luck; it demands meticulous planning and coordinated execution.

By transforming yourself into a project manager for your career's pivotal moments, you equip yourself with the tools to not only navigate but also capitalize on major opportunities as they come along.


You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.

- Zig Zigler

So, embrace the challenge—your career’s next big win is just one well-planned project away!