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Advice From Music Industry Entrepreneurs

Dark SuburbWe asked extraordinary people in the music industry for their most valuable words of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs and artists alike. This article provides some great perspective and insight into success in today’s rapidly changing music business.

Working primarily with emerging and established businesses in the music industry, we’ve often find that the issues discussed in this piece reiterate much of the advice and guidance we give to our clients as they navigate their ways through this industry. Where some look at the shifts in the music business pessimistically, we see nothing but untapped opportunities daily.

The music business “pie” will one day be bigger than it has ever been, though we may be sharing that pie with a larger number of people, given the combination of home recording technology, digital distribution, and social media.

Here are 10 pieces of advice from 10 music industry entrepreneurs.

1. Focus on what works now

“We are no longer subject to what was, only to what works. We can honor what came before us, but at the same time we have to be constantly aware of how fast this new generation moves. The new does not have to be scary and it’s allot less risky than it ever was. It just looks radically different than it ever did and we have to embrace that. Yesterdays fans are not coming back and so we should simply stop trying to find them.”
– Benji Rogers, CEO, Pledge Music

2. Nothing speaks louder than an amazing product

“Nothing speaks louder than an amazing product. Focus on that, and “buzz” usually takes care of itself. Also try and get one marquee client on board per vertical that you’re going after. For example, after Madonna came on board in 2009, we had a much easier time selling in the music business. This was the same for sports after we began working with the Miami Dolphins.”
– Michael Schneider, CEO, Mobile Roadie

3.You don’t need investment

“If you launch a startup and think the only way to grow is by getting outside investment from venture capitalist or angel investors, you’re like a band that thinks they need to get signed by a major to have a chance at success. Focus on on building a product or service that has real value for the users and they will pay for it.”
– David Dufresne, CEO, Bandzoogle

4. Get in front of your customers at industry conferences.

“Get your idea out there in front of your prospective customers as early as possible through industry conferences like Midem or SXSW. We entered FanDistro in MidemLab’s 2013 Start-up Competition and when we were named a finalist in the marketing and social engagement category, the resulting industry attention opened doors that would otherwise have taken months or years to crack open.”
– Michael Penfield, CEO, Fandistro

5. Business is not about money

“Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself. Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself.”
– Derek Sivers, Founder, CD Baby

Sauti Sol6. Put your focus on engagement and revenue

“Put your focus on two things – engagement and revenues. Engagement is driven by a great product built by an outstanding team; revenues by a solid business model which is tough especially in the music space. Be persistent and don’t forget to enjoy music as a source of energy for yourself.”
– Hansjoerg Posch, CEO, Moosify

7. Understand the new channels of marketing and adapt as needed

“From a label perspective the state of the music industry has gotten as intriguing as the A&R process. Every part of a release has become a truly creative force. Just as music styles change, the same has been happening with all facets of the business. Learn and understand the new channels of marketing, promotion and distribution and adapt as needed. In other words, follow the same guidelines as the artists by continuing to evolve, explore and experiment.”
– Andreas Katsambas, CEO, The End Records

8. Reality is different to the perception of early adopters

“The reality of the global music industry is different from perception of us early adopters. 36% of US teens have purchased at least one CD in the past year. In Japan, the world’s 2nd largest music market, over 75% of music sales are physical.”
Meesha Shafi– Matt Younkle, CEO, Murfie

9. Your biggest challenges aren’t those in the industry

“Don’t let your perception of who you think you are limit who you can become. Your biggest challenges aren’t those within the industry, they’re the walls you build in front of yourself with limiting beliefs, lack of confidence, fear of the unknown, and having the wrong priorities. Fill your days with an endless pursuit of chasing your passion, taking tiny steps each day to push you progress further, and your persistence will pay its rewards. Exceed expectations, be remarkable… and people will notice.”
– Brian Thompson, Founder, Thorny Bleeder & The DIY Daily

10. Learn the rules of the game as if you had to teach

“You can do great things when you learn the rules of the game as if you had to teach it. Do your homework and be visible all the time. Be authentic and honest too and as much as possible, be true to yourself. Passion trumps perfect. Your enthusiasm will be infectious and inspiring to those around you. Continuously  and approachable. These things apply to anything you do in life. Learn something today, tomorrow, and the day after that will develop your knowledge in your area of expertise – and learn it as if you had to teach it.”

– Samuel Osei Mensah, Founder, Pivot Digital Media


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