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The Musician Career Plan

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So we’ve covered the fact that many musicians don’t know the next steps they should be taking in their career and many more don’t have enough time to get everything done. Now, we’re going to address both of those problems with a method commonly used by entrepreneurs – a business plan, or in this case, a musician career plan.

I know, most of you probably didn’t get in to music to write a business plan, but if you’re really serious about making a living off your art, it’s an invaluable resource that will help you succeed. Think about all those choices you face everyday. How long should you spend on social media? Which social media channels should you be on? How much time should you dedicate to touring? Is crowdfunding the right way to fund your album? If you have a plan in place that states where you are, what you’re focusing on, and where you want to be in the future, these choices become a whole lot simpler.

 

Here are some of key points of a musician career plan. To see all 10 points, check out the video. By signing up for the mailing list, you’ll also get access to free lessons from the New Artist Model online course.

1. Business Structure

You probably don’t think of your band as a business, but that’s exactly what you are. A lot of the professional bands and musicians out there even go so far as to organize themselves into a Partnership or even a Corporation. You don’t have to go that far quite yet, but you need to think about what everyone’s roles are within your business and how each moving part works together to make one whole unit. How do you communicate with each other? Is one person responsible for decision making or does the whole group vote? Talking about these things up front will make everything run a lot smoother and more efficiently.

2. Revenue Streams

There’s more revenue streams out there beyond just selling albums and singles. Of course, the revenue streams you draw on depend entirely on your career focus. A songwriter will pull from different revenue streams than a recording artist. The main point here is to be creative with it! The music industry is ripe for innovation. Sponsorships and brand partnerships have grown exponentially lately. Some musicians even make money from exclusive membership sites.

3. Booking Strategies

Playing gigs shouldn’t just be something you do on the side. It should be part of your overall strategy. Depending on your goals, you can use your live show to forge a deeper connection with your fanbase, spread awareness for your music to a new city, or meet new collaboration partners.

What’s your plan?

Characteristics that will Destroy your Startup

A “startup” can be anything from a business making a new product to a starting band looking to make it in the music industry. And, no matter what your startup is, there are certain characteristics, such as stubbornness and arrogance, that will doom you to failure if not addressed.

1. Stubbornness

Entrepreneurs become passionate about their topic and to some degree that’s critical to success. However, when the passion keeps you from being flexible and open to new ideas, you may as well start ringing the death-knell for your business.

It is important to remember that your idea may not be what your customers really want. If a new song is just not receiving positive feedback from fans no matter how much you push it, perhaps it is time to move on. Similarly, if every focus group hates your product, adapt and accept that, although you loved your idea, it may not be right for the market.

2. Arrogance

You know the product or service inside and out; you’ve been formulating it forever! You have a vision and you feel certain that you are the best person to carry it out. But if you think you know it all, you’re in for a bumpy ride.

Being an entrepreneur is a learning experience, and the most important thing to accomplish along the way is the creation of a good team. You cannot know everything about your particular field of business – no one can. If you try to learn and know and do everything yourself you will surely not have enough time for what you do best, be it making music or running your business.

To see the full list, visit Inc.com.

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Build a business around your personality.

I am often amazed at how much today’s musicians can learn from the past.  We all think that we are in the age of digital music and the old rules no longer apply and that there are only new models to develop and pursue.  Wrong.  Instead, we can all learn a whole lot by looking backwards and trying to map the successes of the past to the future.  Lets take a look at the late Dick Clark’s career and see what we can learn.

Dick Clark capitalized on the integration of music and television long before “American Idol.” But his legacy extends well beyond the persona of the laid-back host of “American Bandstand” whose influence can still be seen on TV today.

He was the workaholic head of a publicly traded company, a restaurateur, a concert promoter and real estate investor. Clark, who died of a heart attack in April at age 82, left behind a fortune and is the model of entertainment entrepreneurship.  He was ahead of his time, creating a business empire built around his personality and interests that led the way for many other musician/ entrepreneurs to come.

“Work was his hobby,” said Fran La Maina, the longtime president of Dick Clark Productions Inc.

La Maina started as the production company’s financial controller in 1966. He estimates Clark amassed a fortune that reached into the hundreds of millions of dollars. “He had this never-give-up attitude. He was a great salesperson and a task master,” La Maina said.

Clark was one of the early pioneers of the idea that a public company can be formed around an entertainer’s personal appeal. By the time La Maina went to work for him, Clark already had three shows on air: “Swingin’ Country,” “Where the Action Is,” and, of course, “American Bandstand.”

He promoted more than 100 concerts a year back when promoters, not bands, called the shots. His roster included The Rolling Stones and Engelbert Humperdinck. In the 1970s, he launched shows like the “American Music Awards” and “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” – shows that are highly valued by advertisers because fans still want to watch them live in an age of digital video recorders.

At one point, he hosted shows on all three major TV networks, including “The $20,000 Pyramid” on ABC, “Live Wednesday” on CBS and “TV’s Bloopers and Practical Jokes” on NBC. All the while, he was hosting shows “Dick Clark’s Countdown” and “Rock, Roll & Remember” on the radio and running a business.

“He had boundless energy and a remarkable ability to do innumerable things at any given time,” La Maina said.

By the time it went public in 1987, Dick Clark Productions had several thousand employees, had launched a restaurant chain with Clark’s name on it, and ran a communications-promotion business. Revenue exceeded $100 million a year and the company was profitable.

His daily schedule was daunting, even when Clark was in his late 50s and 60s, according to longtime board member Enrique Senior, a managing director at Allen & Co. who helped Dick Clark Productions go public. “It frankly was the schedule of a 20-year-old,” Senior said. “This guy was a dynamo. I’ve never seen anybody who would be so personally involved in everything he did.”

What can be learned?  Work hard, diversify, promote, be personally involved, build a great team around yourself, dream, and go for it.

Read more here from Ryan Nakashima at the Associated Press.

Ian Rogers – CEO Topspin / Daisy

Ian Rogers, CEO of Daisy and Executive Chairman of Topspin, is a music and technology industry veteran with roots in defining the way artists and consumers promote and experience digital media online. The Topspin platform has been used by such artists as Chester French, Eminem, Arcade Fire, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Beck, and the Beastie Boys. Ian has been building digital media applications since 1992. Prior to joining Topspin, he was Vice President of Video and Media Applications at Yahoo!, where he oversaw the strategy for products and services, and was also a principal at the Beastie Boys’ record label and lifestyle brand Grand Royal. Ian just recently joined forces with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine to lead the efforts for Beats Audio and their new Daisy digital music streaming project.

Mike Dreese – CEO Newbury Comics

Mike Dreese is CEO of Newbury Comics, Inc., a company he co-founded in 1978 with his MIT roommate and which now operates over 25 stores throughout New England. As an early specialist in the burgeoning new wave/punk music scene, the chain grew rapidly. In the early ’80s, Mike cofounded ModernMethod Records, an imprint to Boston’s emerging punk scene, and in the ’90s helped launch Black Wolf Records. He currently serves on the boards of Berklee College of Music and the National Association of Recording Merchandisers (NARM), and is also a partner in Subversion Media, a Boston-based high-definition music video production firm that has worked with artists such as Coldplay, New Order, and Gnarls Barkley.

Mark Holden – Executive Hip Digital Media

Mark Holden is the former president and CEO of Hip Digital Media. Mark has over 30 years of experience with strategic technology & media development in the music, entertainment and film industries. Previously, Mark was Vice President of iTiva Development Corp., an interactive internet content distribution company. Previous to iTiva, Mark was responsible for content acquisition and development at E-Zone Networks. As part of the executive team he grew E-Zone’s valuation in excess of 100 million dollars from inception. Mark was the co-founder of Msound International, the first company to develop a digital sound card for PC’s.
As a successful musician and engineer, Mark has worked internationally as a music producer and recording artist. Mark also plays an active role in cultural and community development and has held various directorships and board positions. Mark is a competitive triathlete, and is also involved with numerous charities and is actively involved in fundraising initiatives for the Canadian Cancer Society.

Lou Plaia – Founder / VP Reverb Nation

Lou Plaia is the co-founder and VP of Artist Development at Reverb Nation. He is a music industry veteran, logging 12 years in marketing at Atlantic Records before he was handpicked to head up the Marketing and Artist Development departments of the newly formed Lava Records. Lou has handled marketing for such artists as Kid Rock, Simple Plan, Uncle Kracker, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Unwritten Law, Skindred, Cold, The Click Five, Antigone Rising, O.A.R., Nonpoint and many others.

Matthew Daniels – VP Strategy R2G

Matthew Daniel is the VP, Strategy Development, of R2G. He is a 15-year veteran of the advertising industry and made the transition to the online space in the early days of the dot com boom with the then leading web developer Organic after which he went on to lead the interactive and strategic planning disciplines for Y&R Wunderman in Hong Kong and China. His combined interests in new media technology and digital music platforms then led him to be part of a pioneering group at R2G.
At R2G Matthew plays a key role in shaping business models for the monetization of mobile and full-length music, and also in the acquisition of content. He is also deeply involved in product development strategies which involve music and advertising.

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They Mayor of Margaritaville

I have posted about Jimmy Buffet before. He is the epitome of genius and invention when it comes to mixing music and commerce. There is so much to learn from him.

“The title of his most popular song is showing up on restaurants, clothing, booze and casinos. Among the products he’s involved with are Landshark Lager, the Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise restaurant chains, clothing and footwear, household items and drink blenders. The Margaritaville cafe on the Las Vegas strip is said to be the top grossing restaurant in the nation. Buffett writes best-selling novels. There’s Radio Margaritaville on Sirius. Even his recording career is booming as the music industry tanks: His recent album, “License to Chill,” was the first No. 1 album of his career.

“He wants to be known as an artist and musician, but he’s an extremely savvy businessman,” said Brian Hiatt, an associate editor for Rolling Stone who covers the concert industry.

Buffett is somewhat unique among aging crooners in that his fan base is broad, and is not tied solely to a string of past hit songs. For most of his career, Buffett had only one Billboard Top 10 hit, “Margaritaville,” in 1977. What he offers his fans is an accessible fantasy. “Anyone of any age could imagine retiring to a tropical paradise and drinking margaritas,” Haitt said. “There is something extra-musical about the whole thing.”

You don’t have to go to a concert to buy his stuff. Margaritaville boat shoes and flip flops are found in shopping malls. Margaritaville Foods sells salsa, hummus, tortillas and dips in Wal-Mart and other stores. Landshark is sold in grocery stores, and Margaritaville tequila is in liquor stores. And concert tickets sell out in short order, despite prices that run well over $100. The Buffett brand is on a growth spurt, usually as a result of marketing deals.”

Read more from Starpulse here.

I had the great fortune to interview Jimmy earlier this year. Lets see what he has to say about the Future of Music.

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Profile of 50 Cent – music business empressario

A great profile by Paul Resnikoff.

Get past the street-tough imagery and braggadocio, and 50 Cent is actually one of the most well-run, well-conceived business entities in music. And like Jay-Z, he also one of the most wealthy.

Spawned by Dr. Dre and Eminem and one the highest-selling rappers of all time, 50 Cent is actually less a rapper, and more a company. In fact, he is one of the most highly-successful examples of a 360-degree artist today, and a template for future artist business models.

In an earlier era, artists would shy away from advertising and sponsorship deals. A tie-in with a major company was usually viewed as a sellout, and often resulted in a major credibility hit. That has changed dramatically, though rappers were never haunted by that sellout demon.

Instead, the opposite is true – rappers are often unabashed capitalist warriors beating the system, and rapping about their exploits. And 50 Cent – who famously survived nine gunshots at close range – recently entered a monetary stratosphere that few enjoy.

Sure, 50 is a mega-platinum seller, and a staple of popular culture. But the rapper, and those orchestrating his career, are mostly focused on pursuing revenues through any channel, instead of simply maximizing record sales. And the moneymaking possibilities are only limited by the creativity of the entrepreneurs involved.

In fact, during the past twelve months, 50 Cent netted $150 million, according to a Forbes estimate. A major percentage of that payout came from an interesting deal with VitaminWater owner Glaceau, purchased by Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion. 50, as part of a broader sponsorship deal, cashed Glaceau shares for an estimated $100 million after taxes.

That adds to an existing stable of other business divisions, including a G-Unit clothing line, a boutique recording label, and even a stab into gaming. “The financials of the music business have changed to the point that we have to find ways to make money in other places,” 50 Cent brand manager Barry Williams recently told Forbes. “I didn’t think six years ago when we started trying to sell music that we’d be selling VitaminWater and shoes and clothes. Now we’re moving into other directions, and four or five years from now, it’s exciting to think about us looking at natural resources and raw materials and other businesses.”

The natural resources discussion could potentially produce a 50-branded series of platinum jewels. The rapper is now entertaining a deal with South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe, another creative exploitation of the 50 Cent image that goes way beyond a simple album release.

Of course, 50 Cent is unique entrepreneur and performer, and an extreme example of success. And every successful, 360-degree artist forges a unique business model, one that plays into the strengths of the artist and considers the target audience carefully. But in the modern music industry, the ultra-successful artist is one that successfully exploits a broad portfolio of revenue generators, and approaches the situation like a diversified business. That is the reality of the modern music industry, one that demands just as much business ingenuity as artist creativity.

More info from Forbes here.

Digital Music News.