The New Artist Model is all about looking at your music career in the same way an entrepreneur looks at a startup company. You are a music entrepreneur! And there’s no better entrepreneurial book out there than The Lean Startup. I would recommend everyone giving it a read, but Ed Rex, a musician a CEO of Jukedeck, has laid out a few of the main points in this article. This is just an excerpt, but you can check out the full article on Hypebot.
Create Minimum Viable Tracks
It used to be the case that software companies would spend a year or more working towards a big release, moving through various phases of development one at a time and launching into the unknown with a ‘no going back’ approach. This is known as the Waterfall method. It’s now been widely replaced by Agile, which involves building fast, releasing a Minimum Viable Product as early as possible and learning from feedback.
A composer might spend years on a piece, working in complete solitude until the last note is in place. What if, at the premiere, no one likes it? Shouldn’t that have been found out sooner?
Enter the Minimum Viable Track. When you’re recording an album, why not play the first takes to as many people as you can, before you embark on weeks of editing and post-production? If no one’s going to buy it, doing that post-production is a waste of time — time you should be spending writing new tracks. And you need to find that out as early as possible.
Iterate & Pivot
Startups are obsessed with iterating: constantly trying new things and experimenting with new features until one proves popular.
There’s no reason, as musicians, we shouldn’t do the same — that is, once we’ve got the early versions of our music in front of our audience, start responding to their feedback. If there are bits they like, concentrate on those — if there are bits they don’t, scrap them and try something else in their place. I tried this recently with a song I’m writing — instead of spending months working on it on my own, I put together a rough and ready demo on my iPad, sent it to a couple of people, and immediately found out there were a couple of lyrics they thought let the rest of it down. So out went those lines, and in came a series of new ideas, which I kept changing until they had the desired effect — the approval of these early listeners.
What if you find from your early demo that people basically don’t like what you’re doing, full stop? While this is never nice to hear, it’s better to find out early than keep going with something no one will like. In this case, in the tech world, you’dpivot — that is, change course and try something entirely new. Pivoting isn’t a sign of failure — it’s a badge of honour, a sign that you’re willing to take tough decisions to get to a product that people actually want. Indeed, some of the biggest tech companies out there performed early pivots. Twitter? Originally aplace to subscribe to podcasts. Starbucks? Started out selling espresso makers.
So if your early feedback tells you you’re writing music people don’t like, why not try something else? There’s nothing wrong with pivoting.
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