Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Leadership Styles In The Music Business

“Real leaders are people who help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.”

Sometimes, a leader has to push for perfection. I learned this lesson after several years in the military. I found that I was routinely calling on certain individuals to perform critical tasks, because I knew that they would get the job done. What I did not realize was that there was a certain resentment building up amongst these individuals, because they felt overworked. It was not until I explained Wallace’s theory (or my own version of it) that I gained cooperation.

Simply letting people know why I was using the authoritarian leadership style netted great gains, and I still use it to this day. When a new artist comes into my studio, I tell them upfront: “if it sounds like [stuff], I’m going to tell you it sounds like [stuff], because I know you can do better, and I ask you to do the same.”

However, the music business is one that thrives on the participative management style. Whether it is a band situation, or an artist-producer arrangement, everyone benefits by listening to new ideas. I have learned things from my clients and my mentor that I would have never known if I was not promoting a brainstorming-type of environment.

We all know the delegators. These are the “idea” people, with grand visions and minimal execution skills. They talk a lot, but do very little. There is a place for them in the music business, because the industry is starving for new ideas. However, musicians do not respond very well to them. Giving them an idea with absolutely no strategy for accomplishment leaves them feeling abandoned. At the same time, it is sometimes useful to delegate a task to a client in order to judge their commitment to achieving success.

There is a need for all three leadership styles in the music business, but the participative one generally yields the greatest results.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Your Email Address Has More Value Than...

It cracks me up when I come across musicians who want to “give” you free songs upon sign-up to their website simply by providing your (at least) email address, sometimes your name, or even better, your street address.

After spending countless hours in a recording studio and potentially thousands of dollars on engineering time, why in the hell would an artist “give” you their music?

The answer is simple: their music has no value in 2015. If you want it bad enough, you can find it for free: check SoundCloud, ReverbNation,YouTube, or just search their name or the band’s name on the Internet. It is there. Trust me.

But your email address and other personal information has a TON of value to them. It is connected to your purchasing power. So, after you get your “free” songs, you are going to be inundated with emails regarding merchandise, show tickets, or whatever else they might entice you with, including just a simple click on their monetized video.

Musicians are going to have to think about the next phase of SEM if they are to survive in an increasingly saturated entertainment market.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Alternative Funding Sources for Your Business Startup

Depending on the nature of your enterprise, there are numerous sources of alternative funding available to help get your enterprise off the ground.  I have focused on two in this post: Micro Enterprise Works, and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, because they can be utilized by for-profit organizations.

However, if your startup aspires to help boost a community's economic development, renovate a neighborhood, or serve the Native American population, there is a plethora of other alternative financing sources available.

So, what is “alternative funding?” Essentially, it is not relying on a bank loan to start your enterprise. Banks are the most often thought of sources of funds by entrepreneurs, but are the least likely benefactors of startups. Banks loan money to established enterprises with a history of positive cash flows and income. They simply want to know that you can pay back the principal and interest on a loan without fail.

Alternative funding sources are those that are willing to invest in your company’s idea. They come in a variety of forms, and Martin Zwilling points out a number of them. Most involve your own personal investments, those of friends and family, or those generous Internet people that are willing to toss a buck or two your way, because they relate to your idea and expect virtually nothing in return except a “thank you.” These sources of funds are particularly difficult to come by in the saturated entertainment business market.

If you cannot afford to fund your entertainment business company through personal resources, do not give up on your idea. Organizations like Micro Enterprise Works and the U.S. Economic Development Administration are still available to help. Both organizations, however, will require a formal business plan, and the willingness to divulge certain personal information.

The bottom line: loans are difficult to come by for startup companies. If you cannot afford the company yourself, be prepared to “give away” some equity ownership (and thus control of) your idea. Remember, however, that competitors are right on your tail, and partial ownership of your idea is better then none at all.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

SEO Services: How Much Do You Need?

In his article How Much Should You Spend on SEO Services?, Jason DeMers does a fantastic job of describing the various types of SEO payment models, typical costs, concerns, and helpful reminders.

Having just completed an SEO project for a non-entertainment business company, I wanted to relate a couple of Jason’s points to that experience. 

If a company has a website, SEO is the highest ROI for every marketing dollar spent. I do not care what your business sells - everything sells on the Internet.  Baby boomers are running around with smartphones and laptops. I have met 77-year-olds with iPhones. A fully optimized website will out perform all print, radio, and television advertising on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

SEO takes time, and things change.  If you are the SEO-er, you are going to have to repeatedly remind your clients that optimization does not happen overnight, and that even when achieved, goals can be eroded by the competition over time. SEO is not something you do and then walk away. Like every aspect of a business, it is a process, and it must adapt to change.

“You get what you pay for, and you don’t get what you don’t pay for.” Some small businesses will attempt a “go-it-alone” SEO approach in order to save money. As Jason points out in his article, however, very few business owners have the skill necessary to do there own SEO. Even if they do, every hour spent SEO-ing, is an hour lost running the business. Most businesses get the biggest bang for the buck by establishing a working relationship with an SEO agency.

DeMers, J. (2013). How Much Should You Spend on SEO Services? Retrieved from: