Are You Building A Band Or A Business?
This guest post comes from Jason Spitz, a marketing & ecommerce expert with a serious music obsession. Follow him on Twitter at @jasonspitz.
If you want to make music, start a band. If you want to make money, start a business. It's that simple. Bands and businesses are two different entities with different objectives.
If your goal is to play music, by all means, go ahead. But if you want to earn a living from your music, you should view that goal as a separate enterprise -- one that takes careful planning and hard work. Any band can screenprint some t-shirts, set up a Bandcamp page, and start making a little money. That's alone is not a business-- it's the equivalent of a lemonade stand. Think like an entrepreneur, and look to other independent artists for inspiration.
So, what's the key to building a business with a band at its center? The audience. These people are the most valuable asset to both your band and your business. Fans who like your music will become customers who buy your products. And the nature of this relationship actually gives you a huge advantage over other businesses. Think about this: most companies that sell stuff must first convince people to buy their product, and then hope that if they like it, they'll keep buying more. But fans of your music alreadylike you, which makes it easier to convince them to buy your stuff -- and far more likely that they'll remain loyal customers.
The challenge is figuring out what products your audience wants to buy. Here's where the band/business gap comes in. Your band makes music, but people won't purchase music itself (or at best, they won't spend very much money on it). So your business needs to offer things that fans value. Things like limited-edition packaging, hand-made artwork, and autographed posters. Or better yet, unique items & experiences like private concerts, personalized songs, or video chats with the band. The past five years of direct-to-fan campaigns have proven that if you offer value, people will pay money, some will pay lots, and many will pay repeatedly. It takes some trial & error, a bit of creativity, and a lot of smart work & patience. But just like any other entrepreneurial venture, slow steady growth and a top-quality product are the keys to success.
Your business drives the growth. Your band generates the quality product. If you can do both, you win.