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Sunday, July 29, 2012

It Starts With Music, But Ends With Business...

So you wanna be a "Rock Star" huh? Well let me tell you, being a "Rock Star" isn't what it used to be. The fame, the sex, the drugs and all the rock n roll have been replaced with business meetings, Google analytics and social media strategies. In the ever changing music industry, the managers, agents and label reps that allowed our idols to run wild in the rock n roll adventure by taking care of every minute business detail, are all quickly disappearing. One by one by one. 

Today's artist has to be their own star, booking agent, manager, label and A&R rep, marketing team, graphic designer, webmaster, publicist and career strategist. Why? Because of the digital revolution, the record labels and associated industry businesses are making less and less profit. Instead of evolving with the times, they continue to drag their feet like stubborn mules. They want the same profit margins as they had 20 years ago. And to get it, they cut jobs in  order to pay less people. Jobs and positions that were once vital to the development of artists. 

So we are left to do it ourselves. At least until we are seeing the profit margins that the record labels once did. Then they will fall all over themselves to sign you. Now, here comes the kink. Most young musicians think if they look the part of a "Rock Star", play the part of a "Rock Star" and the very worst of them all, act the part of a "Rock Star", fame & opportunity will come knocking. But most musicians completely ignore the one thing that will make that exact thing happen. BUSINESS. 

You want to know who the real Rock Stars are (Note the lack of quotations)? See the pictures below:

Sir Richard Branson, Sean "P Diddy" Combs and Buck Cherry all took music and treated it as exactly what it was... A business model. As a DIY artist in a DIY world, you have to do the same thing or your chances of attaining your dreams are going to be slimmer than slim. We're talking Kate Moss slim. 

So I am begging you, before you do anything else, start treating your career like, well, a career. Set up your infrastructure. Take a business course online, learn how to market yourself properly, do case studies on your favorite DIY bands and artists. Learn how to run your band like an entertainment company. Then, learn how to do it from a mobile platform. 

As the one who will certainly be wearing all the hats for most of your career, you are going to have to learn how to juggle your business and touring duties. As a business owner you have to have a constant, real time connection with your consumer base through social media and your website. You will need an organized system for carrying and handling documents like contracts, itineraries and agendas. Not to mention a way to sell AND track your merchandise. Do you have a credit card machine? Proper inventory sheets? These are all very important steps, among others, in assuring the success of your business. But before you can do it properly, you have to have the tools. 

I personally for the last few months, have been using the Motorola XYboard with Verizon 4G LTE and it has made my life soooooooo much easier. Before I was using a combination of my mobile phone and laptop. Depending on where I had service, wifi or internet, I would have to switch between the two and it was a nightmare. We're talking Kate Moss fighting over the last cheesy poof in the bag  nightmare. I now have a way to handle every business need both on and off the road. In a way that's fast, reliable, professional and, because we all know I'm a "stinkin' tree huggin hippy", green. 

So in short, I as an artist and budding business entrepreneur, would highly suggest that you learn how to run a business and then invest in the tools you will need to run that business properly. Believe me it will make your life and career go a lot smoother and you will see those profit margins grow at a much faster pace. Which in the end will almost certainly turn into a record deal. Then you can worry about throwing T.V.'s out of 12 story windows or what ever it is "Rock Stars" do these days.