EDUCATION IS FUNDAMENTAL
If there is one key ingredient lacking in the indie community; it is the amount of artists, producers, managers, promoters and everyone else who have not taken the time and effort to truly educate themselves on the music business - much less business itself. From the CEO's of still unregistered corporations to the middle-men ticket promoters who claim events they did not fund as their own; it's become a whirlwind of pseudo-entrepreneurs and, frankly, the world is a bit tired of all the lame acts.
Learning how the business works and how it should be structured allows an individual to identify legitimate versus half-baked partnerships. Setting up needed accounts for encoding, copyright and performance rights organizations: along with filing necessary items in a timely manner are simple tasks that can go a long way towards creating an income.
Another helpful step would be to embrace the music business as a whole and get involved with workshops and showcases that do not just deal with Hip Hop; rather, the marketplace as a whole. It's wise to remember that a huge part of this business is the relationships we create with RESOURCEFUL people. Anyone can know 5,000 people on Facebook; but do you know the 3-5 people who can help you push your business model into a new revenue bracket?
FIND THE DO-ERS AND NETWORK EXCLUSIVELY
Everyone gets annoyed by that person who talks for 15-20 minutes about the great idea they have just to be followed with no execution… EVER. The need for people who execute is absolutely critical when you're trying to push your business out of the hobby phase, and the rarity of this resource is what cripples most local networks. Everyone likes the vibe of the music, the shine of the lights and the applause of a crowd. But when it comes to the tedious paperwork, emails and hustles to get merchandise; those same people are most times nowhere to be found. It creates a need to sift out the chaff from the fold, and create a circle of executioners who are focused on individual and collective goals that complement one another.
The hardest part is dealing with close friends and family who are culprits of bad business. Keeping them around and rising through the ranks of success with them may be your intention; but the need to grow as a business and not lose everything you worked for in the process requires a more serious approach that leaves a bit less tolerance for weak links. The need to collectively commit to goals and hold each other accountable takes more tenacity than anything else in the process; and it also requires some seriously thick skin. One lesson to pay attention to along the way is learning how to set ground rules PRIOR to engaging in business so it doesn't relate to your relationship as much as it will relate to a contractual agreement all parties agreed to. This will keep all the extra drama out of the business.
KEEPING THINGS IN CHECK AND WHAT TO DO WHEN IT HITS THE FAN
So, what about the people who just don't get it? What happens when things hit the fan, and there is no way to reconcile the work with the agreement made? In most instances, blame games begin here; and the breakups of groups, manager/client relationships and affiliations are at a high risk. There are a few strategies that can help minimize those issues and sustain bridges rather than burn them.
Creating an environment that is both blunt and constructive can help create an acceptance towards accountability. Learning how to be direct and leave the emotions outside the boardroom is something most business professionals would say is required in a successful venture.
The ability to accept constructive feedback can make or break a business; and all parties have to be willing to receive it as much as they are giving it. There has to be a balance that is held together by a consistent push and pull of each party. Most people fear the worst in that dynamic because it often creates tension; but if internal tension cannot be sustained, it's pretty obvious the business won't outlast the pressures of external factors. Don't fear tension, learn to embrace it as a necessary motivator.
When things do go wrong, and you properly address it, sometimes it's hard to work with that same person again; but there are such things as mistakes, so it's probably wiser to assess the severity of that mistake and create ways to reconcile business if at all possible. While a lot of people would rather just not go through that headache, the reality is that a relationship that has gone through its fair share of trials may possibly outlast one that has never had to face ANY challenges. Reconciled business relationships sometimes mean a clearer expectation of one another; but one must weigh the pros and cons in this. That same reconciliation may do more damage; so find ways to identify when it's a good idea and when reconciliation is just not worth the journey.
KNOW YOUR STEPS. INVEST WITHOUT QUESTION
One major component to business is a budget. In order to gain a budget, you must invest or find investors. Investments should never be taken lightly, as they are the action behind the words, "I BELIEVE THIS CAN WORK." But in order to believe that a plan can work, we have to make sure we have filled all the gaps and create contingency plans for when things don't go as mapped. It's never a bad idea to poke holes in your plan before executed, so poke away and find ways to maneuver the tides of uncertain results. Make them certain and turn that "I BELIEVE" into an "I KNOW."
When a person or team gets to this place, investing is no longer a question; and the efforts are much more targeted towards results than blindly jumping into business with no plan at all. Learn how to see the big picture, but LIVE in the journey along the way. The small details of the day to day will always reveal invaluable lessons. It will force you to ask question you never asked yourself before, while associating the answers with your overall strategies.
Question everything and diligently find answers. There's never a bad question to ask as long as you are willing to take the time to seek out its answer. Don't allow the tide of bad business to guide your own journey in business, but pave your own path and surround yourself with those who seek to do the same. Deal honorably in business and set standards and processes that help get things done. At the end of the day, if nothing's getting done, it's not a priority. Make it your priority.
These kinds of practices will help create opportunities and sift out the nonsense in a world of misguided opportunists. If we can navigate these aspects appropriately, it creates the bridges one would need to succeed while filtering out the nonsense we encounter today. To rise from the ashes of bad business would create an impact on the indie market that would boost not only its bottom-line revenue, but its value both to the consumer and entrepreneurs of the music industry.
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