Your Band is a Startup

Your Band is a Startup

By Kevin Franco

Have you seen the TV show, Silicon Valley? It chronicles a tech startup from its conception through to its meteoric rise to enormous heights and then, well... spoilers and all that.

Having spent a good part of my life chasing the entrepreneurial dream and taking more than a small part in the startup world, I noticed many similarities between launching a startup and launching my band. Both are an incredible amount of work, both require dedication and continuous learning and both can be an emotional rollercoaster.

Unlike bands, startups receive financing to grow their business, which means there's a lot of published best practices and proven techniques that we might sample. And, unlike in music, this sample won’t require any documentation.

 So, unless you're Supertramp and have received financing from some wealthy investor to get you going, here are some tips we can borrow from the tech bros:

Discovery. Startup founders spend a lot of time talking to people and understanding where their product may fit.

 This sounds tricky from a music standpoint, but think of it this way, have you ever heard someone say they don't like music? No, that would be weird, right? But, some say they don't like certain kinds of music. Interesting, so all music is not the same to all listeners.  The discovery process for a band should be trying to find where the people are (physically and online) that like your style of music, not your music, but music similar to yours. Don't spend time where your audience isn't, find out where they are - and be there too, or be there instead.

 Validation. This is iterative, continually trying new things and using the data from the results to improve. As a band you can try things, and you should try lots of things - but measure them, be calculated in what you do.

If something doesn’t work the first time, make an adjustment and try again, you can do this with everything you do. This should lead you to understanding what works and what doesn’t. The goal is to lean into the things that work and ignore the things that don’t. Be relentless in measuring the effectiveness of what you do.

 Scale. One challenge for the tech crowd is scalability, they need scale to be successful, but often the tools for scale have to be built by them or they have to figure out how to leverage the market for scale.

 For musicians, scalability is inherent in the streaming platforms we use. The only part we can't scale so easily is live performances, but many artists are using online tools like Instagram to do just that. So, we’re continually trying to leverage the audience for scale - more streams, more likes, more follows. Use the validation tips to do this.

 Now, if none of these things work for you, you can always add a suffix to your band name, such as -ly, —ify, -o, -ator and go pitch a venture capital firm, tell them you’re using AI or a middle-out compression algorithm, who knows, maybe you’ll get some of that elusive VC dough.

Kevin Franco is the singer/songwriter/producer for The Muster Point Project


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