Category Archives: entrepreneurship

Lean Startups in the Music Business

Came upon this article I wrote via someone else’s FB post (strange world/times in which we live). I continue to be impressed with the impact Eric Ries’ book The Lean Startup is having generally. However, I also continue to be discouraged by the lack of adoption of these principles by the music industry/artists (examples to counter my opinion are, of course, welcome).

Here’s an excerpt from my article that attempts to give an example of what I mean with respect to artists applying LS principles:

Access to quick market feedback begets the idea of the ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP), a key concept for Ries. A product or service should take the least amount of money and time to develop, but it must be viable, i.e. at the very least it must be of a quality level that allows for actionable feedback.

For musicians, the idea of an MVP is refreshing. Today, anyone can create an MVP, i.e. a demo. The days of sub-par MVPs are in fact long gone. There is less need to spend a lot of money on a studio prior to testing the hypothesis that a song will be well received in the marketplace.

Consider, for example, the ease with which an artist could create two songs, put them up on Bandcamp or other website, and immediately begin the collection of feedback. An artist, of course, can elect to do whatever they want with the information. However, even the mere act of gathering download and streaming quants or collecting qualitative comments should be enough to break a habit of ‘random acts of improvement’ — actions which, while not bad in and of themselves, do not adhere to any type of concerted, measured plan. The goal is to move towards a more thorough and tested approach.

Read the entire article in The Music Business Journal.

Speaking of Eric Ries, do check out this talk from Eric Ries, from the invaluable A Total Disruption Site, discussing another important concept from the book: The Pivot.

Overlap values, compliment skills

Too often I see young companies begin with a group of people who, while having similar values, also have similar skills.

This makes sense. You start companies with your friends/acquaintances, and, axiomatically, these people tend to share your values. This is good.

What’s not so good is that too often these same friends share your skill set.

Just like a band wouldn’t come together with multiple bass players – even if all the bass players share the same values with respect to music – companies shouldn’t form when there are redundant skill sets amongst the partners.

This tends to be made visible when you talk to a startup about who, for instance, will be handling development. They will tell you that so-and-so is the “marketing person,” and so-and-so is the “sales” person, etc. While I’m frequently skeptical about what qualifies so-and-so to do his/her job (and what the difference is between, for instance, “marketing” and “sales”), what almost always is lacking when it comes to roles being filled is the development/tech role. Typically, this is “answered” with “we’ll hire someone/outsource it.”

Good luck with that.

Ever wonder why so many successful companies have as one of their partners a “coder?” Put another way, “Ever wonder why so many coders are original partners of successful companies?”

See where I’m going?

In any case, when considering whom to partner with make certain that your values overlap, but that your skills compliment each other, and are not redundant.

In other words, make sure that you think each of your partners are doing “The Hard Stuff.”