ARTISTS & RIGHTSHOLDERS: What Is Your Product?
Take a moment. Right now. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, then open your eyes.
What is your primary revenue generating product?
It’s probably not your recorded music.
Don’t worry, that’s not a bad thing - it shouldn't be. I’m not about to talk about perceived low streaming payouts, market saturation, media consumption habits, or anything else of the like. Those are all fickle, fleeting conditions that are constantly in flux (I need topics for future missives, after all).
Art, as a product, is a luxury good. Any monetary value we place on works of art is purely arbitrary and speculative. Art has value because we say it has value, not because it has concrete economic value. Any value investor worth their salt will tell you this, and will advise not to invest in fine art if looking solely for economic gain. Stay with me. What, then, does a wise value investor (a la Warren Buffett) prefer? Underlying tangible value, and rock solid business fundamentals.
Any artist can create a sustainable business ecosystem around their art if they build around two simple tenants:
Make the absolute best art possible
Don’t rely on that art to pay for the creation of that art
The art should be what captivates the minds and spirits of your fans - every line of lyric speaking to their heart, every note moving their minds and souls.
Leading with the quality of art, it is then the job of the artist’s team (if you’re a DIY indie this still applies, as you fulfill multiple roles on your team) to then monetize and subsidize that art in every way tastefully possible.
Traditionally, this includes:
Merchandise (T-shirts, posters, etc.)
For those who wish to exceptionally capitalize, this includes:
Vertical and horizontal lifestyle supply chain alignment
As easy as it would be for me to cite examples, I’d rather you audit your own brand as an artist or label and identify value streams that are consistent with your brand and the lifestyle of your fans. Identify the products, goods, and services that are in line with both your and your fans' lifestyles, and then find a way to provide that recurring value IN ADDITION TO the cultural value of your art.
Never rely solely on your art to pay for your art. Make the best art you possibly can, and find any way possible to pay for it. Audiences will always follow great, relevant, timeless art. Focus on the art, get it in front of an audience, and provide them with additional value. The larger the resource pool you grow adjacent to your art, the more resources you have to draw upon to make more art. Rinse & repeat.
Thank you for your attention