by: Brandon Countee
Sometimes we look at music as the genre and we don’t consciously associate music with the entertainment business. At times, we see music as this isolated continent that has unique and mysterious vegetation and wildlife that exist. Surprisingly, there are many inspiring artists who say they know and love music, but put very little thought into the business part of music. While I will admit that the music industry has pitfalls and mountains that you can't find anywhere else, the industry functions like any other industry.
1. Profit is the name of the game
No successful business intends to spend money with the intent of never making more in return. You spend $1 on your widget, you sell it for $2. That’s called profit and every industry, including the music industry lives off this. Every record label, publishing company, radio station, etc. exist to make a profit. Always remember that. If you can't make money than what is the point of having you? Talent is important, but talent that doesn't equal money is pretty much worthless. I have worked with people who believe in the power of mixtapes, but don't realize that they are made to generate income, but a free marketing tool. If you are not in the entertainment industry for financial gain, then why are you in it? Artists who want to treat it as a hobby, you simply do not need a manager.
2. Artists are the assets
What are the valuable assets of British Petroleum, Exxon, and Phillip Morris? Give it 10 seconds. Ok if you said oil and cigarettes, you’ve answered wrong. While oil is important for BP and Exxon, their assets is the drilling rights on oil rich lands or property that they own with an ocean of black gold underneath it. With Phillip Morris, it's not the cigarettes, but the tobacco fields where the tobacco can grow successfully. With music it’s the artists that are valuable. You are the patch of land and your music is the oil that is waiting to be harnessed. Ten years ago, I worked with a client that made the ultimate mistake. We were in minor talks with a major label that took notice after a very successful marketing campaign for his latest project. He (without consulting me) agreed to a publishing and production deal for little of nothing and no guarantee of a record release for $3,000. The issue wasn’t the money or the deal (which sucked), but that he didn't value himself and negotiate for what he was worth. Deals was signed and I dropped him soon afterwards as a result. If you sell yourself short today, you sold yourself short for the year. You have to always look at the long term and if the short term fits it. I had to learn that.
What is especially important about what I'm saying is that reading a book about the music industry and not knowing how the music business works is the worst thing that an inspiring talent manager can do. If you want to know what is valuable in the music business, first understand business.
Brandon Countee is the founder and Chief Design Director of Majestic Raven (MR). He specializes in branding and marketing, along with artist management and artist development.
by: Brandon Countee