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A How-To for Artists & Music Entrepreneurs

It’s safe to say the music industry has changed.  Clearly, this holds true for just about any industry, really.  You can’t expect to tackle any business with the same mindset and strategy as 20, 10, even 5 years ago.  Technology is rapidly shifting the way we discover, consume, and even desire goods, services, and entertainment.  It can seem scary to some, but for the forward thinker -the innovator– it’s really a great time to think like an entrepreneur and make amazing things happen in a big way.  While speaking with aspiring artists on a daily basis, our team seems to run across a lot of the same concerns. The most common being how to get a “manager,” (a term many don’t fully understand), and a “label,” and “exposure.”  It still seems, after all this time, many artists still revert to the thinking that a “manager,” “label,” or anyone who will just take them “under their wing,” will help them immediately reach this “exposure” they swear will solve all their problems.  However, when it really comes down to it, in this age of the music business, it boils down to YOU, THE ARTIST, learning how to up your own value to the point where you either get the label or become it.  Now, keep in mind that a brilliantly talented, freak-of-nature prodigy will likely be a separate case, BUT, otherwise, to do this, you need one of two things (after great songs, of course): 1-Followers or 2-Finances.  Let’s break it down…

FINANCES: Your hard currency.

starting a record label

For the most part, this one is the most cut-and-dry.  But, let’s explain further.  Grab a sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. On the right side, write all the ultimate goals and dreams that you know will fulfill you in this lifetime.  Now, on the left side, write down how you’re going to finance them.  At this point, you’re probably thinking, “Wait.  Isn’t my dream of becoming a successful singer supposed to bring me the money?”  Not to say that that doesn’t happen at all anymore, but if you already take your first step thinking that way, you’ll likely be in for a loooong and bumpy ride ahead.  Pretty much everyone knows that Arnold Schwarzenegger is an immigrant success story, but, did you know that he got rich off of real estate before ever landing his first role as an actor?  This isn’t the only way to do it, but it sure does take the “struggle” out of “struggling artist.” To better understand this, try asking yourself these questions:

-Was I born or have I married into money?  (And by “money” we mean “wealth,” not shop-at-your-local-fancy-mall “money.”) If you answered yes, you’ll likely have your family invest in you, and if, and ONLY if, you play your cards right and hire the right team of people, could you make enough of a move to either be fine as the record label (or subsidiary of one), or get to the point where you hire the label services directly from a major company like ADA/WEA (see Macklemore & Ryan Lewis)  and take you project to the highest level.  If you answered no, proceed to the next.

-Can I pitch my project to an outside investor and get funded?. We’ll tell you right now that the answer is: Highly unlikely.  This is not in any way to be pessimistic.  This is because you have to consider that the music industry is like the flashiest casino you’ve ever seen.   It is the investor’s equivalent of a night out of drinking, which leads to a heightened sense of invincibility, which then leads to half a mill on red 27.  It’s a gamble. It’s a high-roller-who-gets-the-free-hotel-room kind of gamble.  Now, it is easier to entice someone to take this gamble if (a) they have it to lose, and it’s no big deal if they do (b) they have an emotional investment in the product or an extreme passion for music, or (c) the product has been proving its value in the form of another currency, a.k.a. our second favorite ‘F’ word:

FOLLOWERS. This is your social currency.

get the lable

Do you realize that in the early days of the music business there was no way to know if the artist you so whole heartedly believed was a winner with a hit record would really sustain and monetize?  It’s tricky because there are soooo many factors to making the entire recipe of a musical product function well enough to bake the perfect cake that everyone wants to stand outside in line for.  It requires a whole series of moving parts to work in perfect order.  However, we now have actual proof of an artist’s social value before investing a single dollar or hour of time, thanks to the amazing age of social media and analytics!  This doesn’t mean that things don’t still have to work in perfect order to hit the jackpot, but it does mean that, now, we can already know who has potential to engage and convert super-fans into dollars. Which leads us to this question:

-How can I up my social value? There are many ways.  Take courses! Learn! Watch tutorials.  Get your mind right first. Then, start getting creative.  Think about the one (or couple of) thing(s) you have that people respond to the most. Keep in mind that these people should be strangers, not your closest family and friends.  Get a real gauge on what is engaging whom.  Don’t buy followers.  Engage followers with the wittiest, most clever, most unique content, but don’t break your head trying to come up with it first because you’ll never get it done.  Start by documenting yourself, and narrow your way down from there.

The key to making any of these things work is knowledge.   It’s all there waiting for us.  We’re creating it right here on our website for you, too.  Waiting on a golden nugget to fall from the sky is detrimental to your progress.  Try not to rely on other people-at first. Naturally, you will need the right team eventually, however, throw a rock in the pond and start making ripples now.  Those ripples will expand outward and create other ones until you’re up to tidal wave status.  Also, go out there and look for like-minded people with the same work ethic and goals as you.   They’re all within reach on Instagram, twitter, at meet-ups, in social circles.  Once you find them, you can make a lot happen.  If this is not a hobby for you, then it is a business first.  Be smart, use your gut, and work smarter!  Tweet us @allaccessida if you have questions and always keep us posted.  We want to hear your success stories.  Now, go fill up your left side and start checking off that list.  The right side will follow.