In 2001, when I joined forces with my business partner, fellow emcee, and close friend Evaready RAW and started the group First Team, our perceptions of the music business were the same as most that come into it. To get a hot product, get radio play, hire a manager, get signed, have a booking agent, and become millionaires within a couple of years. Lol. Suffice to say, after about a year the reality of the game slapped the shit out of us.
We had a pretty good product but was still recording. Our efforts to get play on V-103 and Hot 97.5 (now is 107.9) weren’t working. We realized that most people that say they were managers knew less about the business than we did, and the few cats that did know what they were doing couldn’t be trusted to walk more than two feet in front of us (the subject of next month’s entry). We weren’t signed. Booking agents wanted a tour history, which we didn’t have. We had no clue of what it would take to succeed or, at the very least, properly function as artists and entrepreneurs in this industry, but I was going to find out.
The beautiful thing about huge bookstore chains is that they let you just sit and peruse the inventory for free, and since money was short, I took full advantage of Border’s Books hospitality. Matter of fact, for 6 months I was there almost every day from open to about 7 or 8pm. Two books that I did purchase were This Business of Artist Management by Harry Blumenthal and Oliver Goodenough and Everything You’d Better Know About The Recording Industry by Kashif and Gary Greenberg. In these two publishings I was able to grasp the true nature of what we’d stepped into, which was a cesspool of tomfoolery; however, they also gave me a better idea of how to navigate through that cesspool by talking about compensation; roles of mangers, booking agents, and other music industry professionals; and what to expect from labels and production companies.
So now that we knew what we were into, we then needed to figure out how to beneficially apply that knowledge to us. So we sat down with a pen and paper and asked ourselves some questions. Who is our audience? What did we want from music? When would we have a finished product? Where do we fit in? How do we succeed in the over-saturated market? What are our strong points? What are our weak points? Who are some of the people that we would like to work with? What are we willing to sacrifice to make this dream a reality?
After we figured all of that out, we then began planning. First, we started with goals. We put down our lifetime aspirations for our group. Then, by using our lifetime goals, we came up with or 5 year goals. From the 5 year goal came the 1 year goals, and from the 1 year goals came the 6 month goals. From the 6 month goals begat our Quarterly plans. From the quarterly came the monthly, and from the monthly, weekly goals were added. We review each at the end of the perspective periods and tweak what we need to.
Then the next thing that we did was to come up with a business plan. I know some of you may be wondering why you would need to have a business plan as an artist; however, I believe every artist should look at themselves as a business, whether you are registered as one or not. It gives you a realistic idea of what you can, will, and should accomplish. Where goals are what you want to do and the things that want to own, your business plan is the who, what, when, where, and, why. A very good plan is your complete career path, even providing possible bumps in the road that may come along.
We made our plan, then rewrote it again, and again, and again, and again. We kept writing it over until we came up with a valid map for us with little or no loopholes. From beginning to end, it took us about 8 months, and we weren’t done there. I review it every year to update and alter when necessary. A couple of times I completely redid the entire plan to fit the what we saw as future market trends.
Below is some key points of our current plan. Read it, and hopefully you could get some great ideas about it.
Mission statement- To be the world’s leading hip hop music management company by innovatively connecting our artists with their audience.
Our primary objective is to create brand name status and longevity for our artists by:
Music is not the lottery. Not everyone is going to get a big break and luck is a figment of the imagination. If you want it then plan it. Peace. Next issue out Monday July 6th
Quanstar is an American underground hip hop artist, indie filmmaker, comic creator, and self published author from Atlanta.