Business

Innovate or Perish

[RANT] I am sick and tired of reading articles and blogposts that scream out

“… doomsday – the sky is falling, the music industry is dead – it was killed by the internet. Blah, blah, frikkin’ blah!”

Enough already!  It’s just so much crap!  The music industry isn’t dead.  IT’S CHANGED!  What’s dead are the companies that refused to change with it.  And I am just so over the reporters and bloggers who are much more interested in talking about doom and gloom.  What’s failed, dead, dying.  Instead of looking at what’s actually working now.

In The Recession-Proof Business: Lessons from the Greatest Recession Success Stories of All Time, Victor Cheng gives us specific guidance about how to create a successful business in the midst of great upheaval and change.

And I think we can all agree that the last 15 years has been a time of great upheaval and change for the Music Industry.  The last 6 years have been a time of great upheaval and change for all industries.  This is old news.

So what’s my point?  We can whine and moan about what’s past and gone.  We can doom and gloom about how HARD its going to be for you to create your successful business given the challenges of the time.

innovation, music business, music industry is deadBut I say – To HELL WITH THAT!  What does that give you?  It certainly doesn’t help you move forward towards your goals and dreams.  Instead of focusing on all of the obstacles and challenges:

  • Look at who is making their business work for them.
  • Look at who your specific target market is and what their needs are.
  • And look at where your fans are currently spending their money.

“Forget the overall macro economy numbers; look for where the money is flowing to and position your business to piggyback off it.” Victor Cheng

And then innovate.  How can you uniquely solve their problems?

Apply your creativity to creating a promise that will not only solve your target market’s problems, but shows them how deeply and clearly you see them, understand them and serve them.

In my class “Internet Marketing & Social Media – a Complete Waste of Time or the Key to Your Success“, I use Jonathan Coulton and Amanda Palmer as case studies of 2 artists who did exactly that.  They saw the opportunity of the internet and social media and put themselves in front of that wave.  There are companies and artists who are making a fine living in this world.  I say find them, study them and then apply their lessons to your unique voice.

You can either ride the wave of the future or be wiped out by it.  What will you choose?

 

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How to Manage Your Marketing – The Contact Management System

Artists MBA, Professional ProgramMarketing is creating an environment in which people feel comfortable enough to buy from you,  over and over again.

Sounds like a great idea, right? But what exactly does that mean in terms of day to day actions?  And how do you systematize creating that environment?

Does this sound familiar?

  • You’ve got a pile of business cards on your desk, but you don’t really know what to do with them.
  • Picking up the phone to make marketing calls is terrifying because you don’t really know who to call or what to say when you get them on the phone
  • You know you promised somebody something, but don’t remember who or what or when
  • A prospective customer/client/fan tells you to call back in three months and you promise to, but you know you won’t remember

These are all symptoms of a poor contact management system (or CRM – Customer Relations Management System)!  There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s the system that is lacking!

In this class you’ll learn:

  • Why you need a Contact Management System (and why your memory isn’t enough!)
  • The Key Components of an effective Contact Management System
  • How your Contact Management System feeds into and energizes your larger Marketing Plan
  • A review of some of the 3rd party apps out there and how to choose the right one for you

Additional Resources for this Class:

Prerequisite Class:

Listen to the Class:

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Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
to access this class today ($5 for first 10 days/$27 per month Tuition):

Read the Class Transcript

(Transcript coming soon.)
Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Click Here to Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today


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Next Class:

Copyright and Trademark Basics an Interview with Jeff Fabian

artists-marketing-business-academy-interview-with-expertsTrademark and copyright protection are fundamental components of a sound business strategy for all artists and professionals in the Music Business, Visual Arts or Film and Television Industry. But do we have to be lawyers to understand the basics? Jeff Fabian says “NO!” and he is going to going to prove it to us in this month’s Interview with an Expert!

 

In this class you will learn:

  • The difference between Copyright and Trademark and how it pertains to you as an Artist
  • How to protect your rights as an Artist
  • How to avoid costly errors when using other people’s intellectual property (e.g. covering a song)

Protecting your work and your brand identity is critically important to your success.

Additional Resources for this Interview:

Listen to the Interview:

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Professional, Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Read the Interview Transcript

(Transcript coming soon)
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Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Professional Program to access this advanced class today ($39/month):


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Jeff Fabian

Jeff Fabian is the owner of Fabian, LLC, a boutique law firm that assists musicians, creative industry professionals and entrepreneurs in trademark, copyright and contract matters. His experience includes copyright registration maintenance and licensing, trademark protection and enforcement, and contract drafting and negotiation for record deals, music licensing agreements, online music distribution, and more. Visit fabianwrites.com for more information, or follow Jeff on Twitter: @fabianwrites.

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How to Write the Dreaded Business Plan

Artists MBA, Professional Program“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Benjamin Franklin

We’ve all heard this quote, and yet, we struggle and resist against writing a business plan. For most artists and creatives, there’s the myth that the plan will cramp your creativity. But what my private clients discover over and over again, is that the plan empowers your creativity and just makes life easier.

To be clear – the method I’m teaching won’t result in a 60 page business plan to get financing from a bank or Angel Investor. This is a plan you will use to guide you to create your successful business. If luck is truly when opportunity meets preparedness, your business plan is the first step to prepare for success! In this class, we’ll explore:

  • Why you want to write a business plan
  • The key components in your business plan
  • How to use a business plan to move forward in your career

Additional Resources for this Class:

Prerequisite Class:

Listen to the Class:

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Professional, Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
to access the following classes today ($5 for first 10 days/$27 per month Tuition):

Read the Class Transcript

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today


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Next Class:

Systems Creation – Work Smarter, Not Harder

Artists MBA, Foundation ProgramDefinition of Systems:
A set of detailed methods, procedures, and routines established or formulated to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, or solve a problem.
BusinessDictionary.com

Underlying your productivity (or lack of it) lies the effectiveness of your systems.  Many creative people struggle with business, not because they don’t know what to do, but because they haven’t created systems that operate in the ways they organically think.

Creating systems for your business will allow you to:

  • Streamline your methods and maximize your time
  • Create repeatable and sustainable results
  • Keep your promises to yourself and others
  • Reduce your stress!

In this class, you’ll learn:

  • How systems facilitate (not limit!) creativity and set you free
  • How to identify good candidates for systems creation
  • How to design and implement systems procedures

A system will take time to create – but once created will save you time every time.  And the biggest advantage is that once you’ve created a system for an activity – you will be able to delegate it and know that it’s being run the same way you would run it!

Resources for this Class:

Prerequisite Class:

Listen to the Class:

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Foundation, Professional, Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
to access the following classes today ($5 for first 10 days/$27 per month Tuition):

Read the Class Transcript

(Transcript coming soon)
Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today


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Next Class:

Venues and Artists – A Complex Relationship

Last week, an interesting conversation erupted on a music list-serve that I participate in.  I think there is much to be learned from this both by the Venue Owners/Bookers and the Performing Artists who depend on those bookers for their gigs.  I have removed all of the names/locations because the real issues here are applicable across locations, genre and venue size.  If you are a performing artist looking to book gigs – I strongly recommend you read on – don’t make these mistakes yourself!  And if you are a venue owner or booker – you may also find this informative.

First an edited excerpt of the initial post from the booker:

I need some guidance or at least some constructive feedback.  The email text listed below was forwarded to us by multiple attendees of our [events].  This message was sent as an email to everyone who signed up for this artist’s email list when they performed at our [venue] about 18 months ago.

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Transitioning to Full-time With Your Art/Music Business

Artists MBA, Foundation ProgramWhether you’re working a day job in the corporate world or teaching within your craft to sustain yourself, many artists and musicians dream someday they will earn enough to go full-time with their art. And just as many have given up on that dream, because it seems out of reach.  Or because they tried to go full-time but ended up having to return to the day job, because they just weren’t earning enough to sustain themselves and their family. I’ve worked with many private clients in different lines of work to make that leap from part-time to full-time in their businesses.  And I’ve found that the process for success through this transition is similar no matter what business you’re in. In this class, you’ll learn:

  • The 3 biggest mistakes to avoid during your transition
  • The 3 things you MUST have in place before making the leap
  • How to know when you’re ready to make the transition
  • How to sustain your new level once you’ve made the leap.

If you think you know what it will take to succeed as a full-time artist, join me in the class.  You might be surprised!

Additional Resources for this Class:

Prerequisite Class:

Listen to the Class:

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Foundation, Professional, Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Foundation Program
to access the following classes today ($5 for first 10 days/$27 per month Tuition):

Read the Class Transcript

Thank you for your interest. This content is visible to ArtistsMBA Mastery Program members only. Click here to access.

Enroll in the Artists Marketing & Business Academy Mastery Lab to access the transcript of this class today


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Next Class:

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Taylor Swift – Is Her Career Over?

I wrote this to Bob Lefsetz in response to his rallying cry for Taylor Swift and against the almost universal online and mainstream media bashing.

Bob specifically gave Taylor the following advice:

Everything’s got to come out.  Honesty is the best policy in a crisis.  We’re a forgiving country.  Tell the backstory, the true story, of how Scott spent so much to make Taylor happen.  Not as a tale of millions spent, but as a father doing everything to make his daughter’s dream come true.  Release video of Taylor singing at twelve.  Show the arc of her development.  Make the Grammy appearance part of her development.  Instead of the end of the story…

This is serious business.  Just look at John Edwards.  The aforementioned Tiger Woods.  There are people who specialize in handling these crises.  Hire one.  Because the team in control of Taylor Swift’s image is woefully overmatched.  I wouldn’t call it a public relations offensive but an explanation, a bringing of the public into Taylor Swift’s heart.  Don’t throw stones at your enemies, hug them tight, by admitting your faults and showing that you’re reasonable, and dedicated to solving the problem.

Thought you might be interested in my response to Bob’s email:

Dear Bob,

I so agree with you.  And all she’s got to do is say – “Whoa, I’m 19 (or whatever age she is, I don’t track these things).  I’m working with a vocal coach.  I’m working with a guitar teacher.  I’m always working on and improving my songwriting skills.  When you’re an artist you must always be working on and improving your skills.  I know I’ve got room for improvement.  Who doesn’t?”

Being able to sing on key, support your breath, harmonize – these are skills.  Some people are born with a large amount of talent.  The rest of us need to build our skills.  And the truth is, it is more likely the people who have to work very hard to achieve high proficiency are more likely to be successful in the long run, than the folks for whom it comes easy.  Because those of us who have to work hard all along – become used to hard work.  So, when the going gets hard, we just buckle down and get to work.

It’s also extremely rare for someone to be hugely talented across the board.  You’ve said yourself, she’s a talented songwriter.  I agree.  I also think she’s a talented performer and producer.  But she needs to build her skills in other areas.  Hey, she’s young – give the girl a chance, will ya?

Your Music Business Coach,
Debra

Debra Recommends John Braheny

Debra Russell recommends, John Braheny, Craft and Business of Songwriting, Music Business

From left: Joann Braheny, Debra Russell, John Braheny

I met John Braheny and his wife Joann several years ago at the West Coast Songwriter’s Conference and they introduced me to Michael Laskow, CEO of TAXI. When I recommend a place to get expert feedback on your songwriting – John is always one or two or three names on the list.

John is in demand as a top consultant for songwriters, performers and industry entrepreneurs. He is a consultant and screener for Taxi.com, the worlds leading independent A&R company and offers valuable feedback on songwriting craft and business and career strategies for performers.  He is one of the most respected people in the music industry, and, more specifically, in the songwriting community. He is referred to as “the songwriter’s best friend” for his tireless efforts to create education and discovery opportunities for songwriters, to help bring public attention to songwriting as an art form and to champion songwriters’ rights. His activities in these areas include:

It is with devastating sorrow that I give you the news that John Braheny has left us.  On January 19th, 2013, John died of cancer.  He will no longer be able to teach you songwriting in person.  He will no longer be offering in person songwriting and music business advice to songwriters.  But his brilliance lives on in his book and the videos he did for TAXI TV.  And in our hearts.  We miss you, John.

John’s book – Craft and Business of Songwriting

John’s Website – http://johnbraheny.com/

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Debra Recommends Music XRay

music business, A&RI have recently been listed as an expert – under career coaching for Music Xray.

Music Xray is a resource for both musicians, composers and the buyers of music to connect in a professional and transparent environment.  Music industry professionals use Music Xray as the preferred, direct and transparent method for interacting with artists.

Music Xray is developing unique applications, patent-pending methods and user interfaces that leverage the cutting edge of Music Information Retrieval Science.

Music Xray also funds, licenses and commercializes research, development and patented technology created by several of the most prestigious universities that are engaged in expanding the science of music information retrieval.

Music Xray is currently providing related products and services to notable legacy and startup companies within the music industry. Technology and services provided by Music Xray enable:

  • Music consumers to obtain accurate music recommendations.
  • Music industry professionals to make accurate and informed music investment decisions.
  • Artists and music industry professionals to measure, monitor and more easily grow market demand for music.

Music Xray’s technology and services are designed and developed to radically minimize the effort currently required to quickly connect any artist/song to both intra-industry and consumer audiences.

Music Xray plans to end the need for artists to engage in inefficient, pre-popularity promotion.

Check out Music Xray

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