Join Steve Rennie for an in-depth discussion in this video Start-up companies, part of An Insider's Guide to Today's Music Biz 03: Treating Your Career as a Business.
- In today's world, many of the most successful entrepreneurs have become folk icons. People like Steve Jobs Apple, Bill Gates from Microsoft, Sergey Brin and Larry Page from Google. These Silicon Valley entrepreneurs have become the new rock stars of today. Most of the companies they started, started with a very simple idea. In many cases, these entrepreneurs were trying to solve a problem for themselves and in doing that, figured it out for lots of other folks who had similar interests or needs.
A great example of that in today's world is GoPro Action Cameras. GoPro founder Nick Woodman didn't set out to redefine digital imaging. Nick was a huge fan of surfing and he just wanted to find a way to capture his greatest surfing moments so that he could relive them over and over. It turns out, lots of other folks wanted to do the same and now GoPros have become part of today's action sports culture. In many cases, these ideas were fueled more by a passion to do something fun, rather than a motive to profit financially.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg started a website to help connect with other students at Harvard University and if you believe all the Internet folklore, to help him meet some girls. Successful entrepreneurs work tirelessly to build these businesses. In the early days, they managed to work around a million obstacles to give life to those products that built these companies. For most of them, building that startup business was a personal obsession. All of these entrepreneurs were on a mission to do something great and to make a difference.
Their strong vision for what they wanted to do attracted other talented folks who helped turn those ideas into something bigger and better than they could possibly have imagined. For artist and music professionals, building a career in the music business is not much different than building a startup company in the business world. Most artist's decision to pursue a career in music is fueled by a sense of passion as well. It's not necessarily a rational thought. More often than not, they do it because they feel they have to.
Like those entrepreneurs, making music or being involved with music borders on obsession. Like those entrepreneurs, successful artists and music professionals are able to attract other talented people into the mix as well and together, they help turn that art and music into a business. If you are contemplating a career in music today, then it's important that you adopt that startup mentality and understand that building a career in the music business is no different than building a startup from scratch.
It starts with a big idea and the will to make it happen, no matter what comes at you. I think in today's music business, artists and entrepreneurs share a lot of common ground. Entrepreneurs are individuals who organize and operate a business and take on huge financial and personal risk to do so. Artists and musicians are individuals who create art and music and take on huge financial and personal risk as well. There are easier ways to make a buck and choosing a career in music over more traditional career paths, most often means accepting that you could go for a long time without making any real money.
Entrepreneurs are innovators who have a penchant for shattering the status quo of existing products and services. People have been taking and waiting for taxis for years, but then Uber comes along and rewrites the rules for something that's been done one way for a very, very long time. The greatest artists are innovators as well. who follow their own path or are unaffected by what others are doing. They follow their own true north. They answer to their own muse. While entrepreneurs and artists share an instinctive nature to follow their gut, I find that most entrepreneurs also have a tactical side.
They understand more easily the business concepts that help them build successful businesses. Artists, on the other hand, think a bit differently than business folks. Their scorecard is usually more about feel, than results. They're less comfortable with structure and process than entrepreneurs. I find that most artists are uncomfortable even talking about business, but I think if you're an artist or music professional in today's music business, you'd be smart to think more like an entrepreneur and treat your music career as both a mission and a business.
Making that transition from pure artist to artist/entrepreneur gives you your best chance of success in today's music biz.
He talks about hobby versus career and the key elements of success in the business world, from distribution and marketing to management and finance. He gives you some thoughts about how you apply those things to your music career. Since successful businesses don't happen overnight—they develop over time in identifiable stages—Steve also covers the stages of development in the business life cycle and how that applies to your music career. Last but not least, he offers tips on drafting a band agreement that will keep the relationships professional and strong.