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The New Artist Development Model: Growing your Brand from the Ground Up

B.J. Jansen By

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So you are a jazz musician trying to navigate the complex path to build yourself into a sustainable brand?

Where do I begin? What are the steps in the New Industry Model? How can I move forward? How can I survive? How can I cut through the clutter?

These are all common questions I get constantly from artists and industry veterans alike, who are just overwhelmed by this new environment. So, it is from you that I became inspired to attempt to map the new path out. Mind you, this is just my first attempt so this model will evolve over time.

Before I begin, however, let me preface this conversation with a quote from Irvin Berlin, who correctly observed that, "talent is only the starting point."

So you are a musician trying to navigate the complex path to build yourself into a sustainable brand?

Here is a road map, that begins in extreme complexity and ends in strong monetization like any other successful business—and, if you possess the raw talent, drive, heart, savvy and ability to find investment capital along the path, you will keep your ship sailing forward and create a sustainable brand. Remember that, ultimately, it is the strength of your brand's ability to emotionally bond with your fans that will bring you any sort of success. Without fans you are nothing.

Step 1: Cultivate Initial Direct-To-Fan Relationships And Social Media Attention

Step one, by far, is the most complex step of this whole process. The bottom line is that you have the long tail theory of internet commerce as your mortal enemy, threatening to banish you to perpetual obscurity. In addition to that, you must come to terms with the fact that nobody, except you, truly cares about what you are doing. You must find your niche, successfully using other peoples' audiences, to gain some initial traction for your efforts. At this step, you will still need some initial capital investment, like any other business, to outsource in areas where you are weak. DIY (Do It Yourself) doesn't mean for all things, or forever, so remember that you need quality above all quantity, whether that be fans, or your initial project efforts. This is where the seeds are sown for the rest of your career, and where your brand is cultivated. If you are able to connect on an emotional level with enough true fans then you can proceed to step two.

Step 2: Successfully Crowdfund a Project

Step two simply establishes your brand's ability to monetize. It shows that you possess enough fans that actually care enough about what you are doing to successfully fund a project. This achieves brand validation.

Step 3: Regularly Draw 100+ At Live Performances Inside And Outside Of Your Home Market

Step three is really your next serious milestone. If you are able to fill small and midsized venues regularly, inside and outside of your home market, then you have truly monetized your brand. Further, you now have a proven track record to approach outside corporate investors for co-branding opportunities.

Step 4: Co-Brand with Mid-Level Corporate Tour Sponsorship

Now that you have a proven track record with your brand, you can approach corporate brands to co-brand and sponsor your tours and specific projects. Once you are able to close one of these deals you have achieved your co-branding validation.

Step 5: Major Co-Branding and Venture Capital Investment and Collective Brand Marketing

Once you have a proven track record, major brands will find you. It is at this point that you will be able to find significant capital investment in your projects. You will find yourself a part of a major collective brand marketing unit, that will assist you in scaling your success and will provide you with the mass media portals to do so. In my next article I will outline what I see as the future structure and function of these future business cooperatives.


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