Sunday, June 30, 2013

Running A Rockn' Company

For those who don't know, in addition to working as a multimedia consultant, I also "moonlight" as a Blues Guitartist and have fronted a Blues Band for almost 20 years!  I started in the early 90s was fun and I enjoyed playing.  It still is and I still do, but it also grew into more than that.  It became a lesson in how to run a small business.  You might be surprised, but running a "conventional business" is just like running a band!

  • Be Prepared:  For the band, this means practice, practice, practice until you have your songs down pat. Before the Beatles ever played the Ed Sullivan Show, they had played their songs thousands of times throughout England and Europe, mostly in small clubs. For every other business? It means practice, practice, practice until you have all your employees have all your procedures own pat! 

  • Make Your Product or Service Stand Above The Competition:  When I get ready to record our first CD, I was going to record cover songs which we played during club gigs, but  a president of a nearby Blues Society convinced me to ditch that idea and instead write as many original songs as possible for the CD.  That way, we'd stand apart from the thousands of other bands.  He was right.  I also found I had a knack for songwriting which I never knew I had!  In regular business, you have to do something to make you stand apart.  Whether it's a better product, or service, or an aspect of how you do business which stands apart and gives customers a reason to choose YOU over your competition!

  • Make Pleasing Your Audience A Top Priority:  For the band, this means playing the material the audience wants, if you can, and if you can't, try to give them something close to what they request!  Treat them with respect and let them know you have a genuine interest in them!  One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was "There are 2 types of musicians: Those who play for the people, and those who play for other musicians!"  Nothing wrong with the latter, but since I'm not that great of a musician myself, I choose to play for the people.  I'll never forget playing at a Festival and seeing a B-list star treating his own fans with distain at times. That's the reason he never became an A-list star, and in fact is now a C-list star! The same goes for any business.  Without customers, you HAVE NO BUSINESS.

  • Be A Pro: I once had a club owner tell me he noticed my band never drank a lot and partied when we played there, like so many of the other bands. I told him, "We're not here to get drunk. We're not here to get women.  We're here to do the best show we can for your customers, and then get paid and go home!"  He laughed, nodded his head, and he got it.  We were just like him.  It's important for employees to have a good time at work, but it's also important to keep it professional!

  • If They Do The Work, PAY 'EM: Good, dependable musicians are so worth keeping. It's a load off a band leader's mind to know that he doesn't have to worry about his own guys, and can concentrate on other aspects of running the band.  It's the same with regular business. Once you find good workers you want to hang on to them! Good workers are an advantage you can have over your competition!
  •  Market Your Service: This means having the best publicity release and marketing plan to get your band noticed and get better shows, along with advertisements.  You'll want to know how best to place ads in conventional media and work your social media to deepen your relationship with your fans.  The same goes for regular business.  You have to treat your marketing just like another employee:  One whose job it is to spread the word about how great your product or service is!
  • Take Care Of Business:   Make sure you maximize your profit while charging a fair price, and then add new revenue streams.  In my case, that meant sometimes standing my ground over a fee to perform, and making sure we were registered with performance rights organizations to get as much revenue as possible.  After all, if we didn't claim the money, it would just sit there, or go back to the performance rights organizations.  There are so many bands which don't go after this money, which is just sitting there. Sadly, many times, the best artist, are not the best business persons.  I'm happy to say, I've been able to mentor several to show them how to get this money.  After all, it's money they've ALREADY EARNED!  The same goes for regular business.  You have to maximize your efficiency to maximize profits and constantly look for new ways to increase revenue.
The music business is a fun business, even when it's a small business, but above all, it's just like any other BUSINESS!   When you're doing things right and getting your fair return, it's even MORE FUN!