YMI Consulting

Getting down to business


We all want to make a living doing what we love.

Most people only dream of doing the thing they love to pay their bills, as well as establish residual income. Others are persistent, tenacious and driven to make the thing they love doing most pad their pockets. A skilled cook who spends every free moment baking, boiling, frying and grilling has the potential to run the kitchen of a successful restaurant. A young programmer that loves tuning Hondas comes up with the genius idea tuning performance chips for people across the country for a fee.

I haven’t met a single musician that would decline an offer to get paid for creating music. The majority of the Portland area musicians I’ve spent time with are pursuing careers in the music industry. The rest have given up, for one reason or another, and perform as a hobby.

Managing a band is just like running a business. You have expenses and you (attempt to) generate revenue. At first, you may be in the red — investing more money in your band than you receive in return. That’s okay; don’t be discouraged. As you create a higher quality product –your music– and market the product to expand your customer base –your fans– you will generate more demand for your product and accessories to go along with the product (merchandise). Ideally, you’ll result in having revenues exceed expenses.

Every band has a hustler. Typically, that person will be one of the band members when the band is young. As the band grows, the people involved in creating the product need to focus all of their attention on the product. Another resource is needed to focus on revenue generation. This could be a single manager, a management company or promoter. Take note that adding a resource will be an expense, so be sure that this resource adds value to the organization and results in revenue growth.

Sell, sell, sell. To put it bluntly, stop giving shit away. Yes, giving a few free copies of your new album to select people, like media and leaders in the industry, is a great marketing tactic. Remember that you spent your time creating your product and you believe that it holds value. Before you give away an album, think, ‘will this person turn around and inform people of my music, which could lead to album sales, or will this person lose the CD in the backseat of their car tonight?’ Fans who value your skills will pay for your work. They don’t leave a restaurant without paying for their dinner, do they? The same applies to merchandise– someone who really wants a shirt will pay for it.

I’m expecting that someone will argue that in the age of digital music, people don’t believe that they should pay for music. A lot of people don’t pay for their music, it’s obvious. They never will. They don’t appreciate musicians. Those people aren’t your customers (fans). They don’t value your product.

I know that some bands’ strategy is to get their music to as many people as possible, so they give it away. That works in the short run as a go-to-market tactic, but you’ll never leave your day job in the long run, unless you’re picked up by a major label. Even then, if you can prove to be a profitable band, you’re more likely to attract the majors. They are, of course, in the business of making profits from music.

Here’s a clever idea from Kid Pistol Music: give away every other album as an appreciation to fans who purchased the previous album and will purchase the next album. Also, there are plenty of plugins that allow fans to name their own price when purchasing music online.

I approach many things in life from a business perspective. I love local music. I’ve set my sights on helping local music communities become profitable and helping bands that call Portland home to make a living from their passions in music without turning to the majors. Let’s change the industry together. I’ll be posting more ideas around the business side of music on my music blog. If there’s something specific you’d like me to discuss, email me: yuriy@portlandpick.com.


About the Author

I Get Things Done. Let's grow your business together!
I Get Things Done. Let's grow your business together!