Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tip of the Day - "No Big Heads Allowed"

Like the church, a successful artist requires an entire “body” to operate properly. In this age of the do-it-yourself mentality, many musicians and those involved with them sometimes take this concept a step too far. At the end of the day, it’s virtually impossible to be a self-contained unit capable of handling every process necessary to advance a musical career to a national level. Even the Lone Ranger needed Tonto. If a music team only consists of a head (artist) trying to take on all the responsibilities related to building a successful career (i.e. the full complement of label and distribution duties), the head will grow too large and, eventually, there will simply be one big, enormous head lacking a substantive body to support the weight. As you have probably guessed, the end result will likely lead to a remarkable implosion ironically comparable in nature to a star collapsing inward upon itself. How apropos. The same analogy that applies to the church also applies to the music industry. As a Pastor needs a staff to effectively minister to the body of Christ, an artist needs a team to service the body of fans nurtured through significant effort. To use another analogy, why spend time preparing a gourmet meal if you’re never going to serve it or if the patrons leave for another restaurant because the meal takes too long to arrive at the table? The more successful artists become, the more help they need in order to be a good steward with the opportunities God places in their path. Music is ultimately an impulse buy which is exactly why iTunes has been so successful. If your product is not readily available in all desired formats, the consumer will move on and find another artist to follow. In business, it's very hard to win over a customer yet frighteningly easy to lose one.

Service providers exist for a reason. They exist to help build a team capable of achieving the ultimate goal – the creation of demand and fulfillment of the demand in a timely manner. Every industry contains symbiotic elements which work together in harmony to achieve the given mission. Fundamentally, two simple truths are clear in relation to the music industry: (1) distribution without proper marketing and promotion will result in limited sales opportunities and (2) marketing and promotion without proper distribution will result in a great deal of wasted potential, effort and financial investment. Alexis Kelley, founder of LiveWire Entertainment Sales and Marketing states, "hopefully you can now see why distribution is a necessity, not a luxury, in marketing your recording to the masses. Do your research and put together a great package that demonstrates you not only have excellent music, but that you are a serious businessperson and also know how to market and sell your recordings!"* Excellent advice, indeed, if you're seeking to maximize your potential.

So the question is this - are you being a good steward with the opportunities God has placed in your path or are you just a big head with no body to support the weight of your success? Part of being a successful musician (particularly a Christian musician) is remaining humble and honestly assessing what you are and are not actually capable of. As your music ministry/career grows, so should your team. Find solid, competent team members to support your efforts in order to avoid being a big giant head in an industry where big heads simply can't survive. Don’t waste the opportunities God blesses you with by failing to see the wisdom in using available resources to their fullest extent. All parts of the body contribute to a healthy and successful career.

* Quote from the article "The Hows and Whys of Distribution" by Alexis Kelley