I use a variety of sources to research the modern music industry to ground the story properly. As an acquaintance who is a musician in a metal band and a booking agent (yeah, Nathan Carson 😉 ) asked right off the bat, “Is the band going to toil for decades with a glimmer at one point or is this a lucky break story?”
It’s a bit of both. The band is struggling, they trip across an older rock idol in self-imposed exile who has connections. He throws his money and remaining connections into the mix to get them rebooted with a retreat and some choice gigs with the help of a former bandmate. After that it’s roller coaster time – ups and downs, they’re making money, they get ripped off and go in the red, they snag a international set of gigs, do they stay indie if someone offers them a contract, do they end up indentured slaves because of it? What if someone wants to go their own way for a while? It isn’t just a “zoom bang top of the world”.
So, I use contacts in the business for anecdotes, I bled my eyeballs reading a dozen biographies from the 80s through last week (Oddly, it was Pat Benatar, Ozzy, Chili Peppers, and Slash that I found most useful), I used two reference books in particular:
David Byrne’s “How Music Works”
Donald S. Passman’s “All You Need to Know About the Music Business”
That was just for the working setting. As for Portland, OR — I live here and know the city fairly intimately, making it easy to slip imaginary locations in between the real ones. My Portland readers say they half expect the band to round the corner downtown now. Road trips and travel? Yeah, the Internet is a great thing between Maps, nightlife, clubs, even club floorplans. In Volume Three, the band gets a gig that takes them south to north in Japan. I know the train schedules, what kind of trains, the connections, methods of moving bands around there, the restaurants, hotels, clubs (what clubs like which music) and the rock festival, of course.
The characters themselves – Blar, Tsika, Glycerin, Kpau, and the rest … I’ve been using them for 30+ years in roleplay games, computer games, short stories, etc. It didn’t take much work to set them in a rock’n’roll story. I storyboarded the entire epic, I spent a year writing rough drafts and passing those by a select group of beta readers on a forum I frequent. I have five books planned – one is published, the second is days away from publishing, the third is complete in rough draft, the 4th and 5th are outlined.
This is just how I approach writing. Other people do it differently. I happen to like immersion and I hope my readers enjoy it as well.