Updated: Dec 27, 2021
Doing business online within the music industry is one of the greatness things that has ever happened to artists and producers alike. How you present yourself online is in my view just as important as it is with an actual brick and mortar business.
In the real world we can physically interact with a business or its product and make a decision based on our natural senses. The online business market is limited to a visual experience mostly. So how do we know for certain whether an online business is legit or can be trusted?
As a business owner it’s up to you to build a virtual skyscraper that promotes as much trust as a physical one. To make things more interesting, within the online music industry, business interactions can get really shady really quick. Your online presentation is an absolute key to having a great reputation. That’s what we’re going to discuss in this B(L)og entry. So without anything further, lets get right into things.
Why Should You Know Anything About Business?
If you feel that you’ll be able to participate in the music business without being a business person; You’re in for a costly surprise.
“I don’t do this for the money. I do it for the love man! My manager handles all that business stuff!”
No problem. You may not be making music for the money; But you are in business nonetheless. And business is by definition “the practice of making one's living by engaging in commerce”.
No matter what, it will always benefit you to know what’s going on in any aspect of your life where the transaction of currency is involved. Put another way. If you don’t make money. Money is going to be made off of you! Unfairly I might add.
10 Things To Do & To Not Do
If you’ve considered starting an online business centred around music. Here’s some things that you should do and some that would be best for you to avoid doing.
1. Get A Logo & Business Name
You ought to have one of these to identify your company at a glance. In many cases your company is not you. You may control its operations but a company by nature is its own entity. If you’re not into having a picture of yourself. No problem a company logo is acceptable. You can design one yourself or you can pay an illustrator to design one for you.
2. Get A Mailing Address
Again your business is not personal. Get your company its own residence. You can keep it simple with a PO Box. Or you can get a virtual office with mail and parcel handling facilities.
3. Get A Domain & Website
Just get one! Don’t rely solely on social media to host your business.
4. Let People Know Who You Are?
I admittedly used to have a problem with this. I wanted to hide myself from potential weirdo stalkers online. Here’s the kicker though. If people don’t know your real name or identity. You’ll be difficult to trust. Why? Because the internet is full of weirdos and you’ll look exactly like one of them if you appear to be hiding who you are.
5. No Anime Avatar
I get it. You like anime. You identify with its ideals and it makes you feel encouraged about life. Not only that. You’re a grown up now and you can stay up late and watch all the anime that your heart desires. No problem. Have at it. However, when you take this interest to the extent that it spills pointlessly into your music business relations?............. You look crazy! You come across as someone who’s out of touch with reality. Not only is it very difficult to take you seriously, the level of your maturity comes into question as well.
“But Yohance! My clients like anime too! It’s part of the culture!”
Okay. Do you own the rights to use your preferred anime avatar on your IG or website as a company logo?............ I’ll wait. Maybe I won’t because I already know the answer. Here’s what it boils down to. Your personal interests in toys & cartoons has nothing to do with your music from a business standpoint.
Now if your business is strongly tied to anime characters, that makes sense. An example would be if you did a deal with a company within the anime industry to license or better yet create your own anime character to represent your company. But if you simply feel that you are in fact an anime character?!........... No thanks!
I'm not into anime but I do appreciate animation. So much so that I designed an animated video "An Offensive Escape" based around the characters I created in my E-Book “The Gradient Texts”. Ongoing chapters of this book are accompanied with my albums “Tau” the main character is now used as a logo/emblem for all of my mailing stationary! All are tightly connected to my music and company on a whole. They were created for that purpose.
"An Offensive Escape" Official Music Video By The Daydream Sound
6. The Visual Experience
You’ll most likely be on camera at some point or another whether for an online video conference or for your own creative content. Your appearance online is very similar to how you should present yourself in the real world with the exception of a few things. The difference is that online is forever and online is “Zoomable”. That means Hyper groom yourself. Snot in your nose, extra dry skin or crust in your eye is not a good look. Especially when it’s in 4K!
If you’re going to be online. Present yourself with this reality in mind. Also treat your surroundings the same way. Inappropriate room décor counts negatively towards how you are judged. Dirty laundry in the background is not an appropriate backdrop when you’re conducting a video conference. Keep it clean. Keep it professional.
Whatever product or service that your business offers, make sure that it looks aesthetically pleasing. Make it look like something that someone would feel comfortable buying. If your offerings look lower tier, that’s exactly how your business will be perceived. This is something that you’ll always have to work on. Styles change over time so keep your business looking as fresh as you can.
7. Written Communication
How you type is equivalent to who you are online. So for the love of all things good. Leave the emoji’s right there on your phone when you’re communicating on behalf of your business. Furthermore, when you want to create a dialog online, while social media is good for a quick reach out; Email is still the most professional and lasting form of communication for business.
Lastly do not speak in slang and do not assume that your jargon is understood or appreciated by the business entity on the receiving end of your correspondence. Of course there’s room to be loose, especially when you are completely familiar with the people you’re speaking with, but overall your emails are a documented record of your business conversations. Be professional. Speak professionally.
8. Respond In A Timely Fashion To Business Inquires & Correspondence
Your clients and business peers aren’t interested in the fact that you had a hang over from the night before or that the battery on your phone was down to 0%. Answer your emails. Return missed calls. And do it in a timely fashion!
“What’s timely for an online business?”
Great question. An online business is a little different than a brick and mortar business because for the most part you’ll be dealing with people from all over the globe spanning multiple time zones. As this is the case 1 minute to 24 hours at max is an acceptable window of time to respond to an email or call. At the start of my business day I’ll often have a few messages from people that are an entire day ahead of me. When I respond I do realize that it may be “tomorrow at midnight” in their world. Which is why I make an effort to be as prompt as possible. Ideally 1-2 hours but in the case where I’m actually sleeping, in a meeting or recording music 24 hours is my max.
“People who reach out to you for admittance to your products, services or time for free are not business conversations. These people are not entitled to your expeditiousness.”
Now if you’re going to be “Out of the office” for a few days? You can create an automated email response so that people know that your reply time will be longer than normal. This is another reason why email accounts are ideal.
There may be times when a simple answer isn’t possible and time is needed for a suitable reply. In a case like this don’t wait until you have the answer to respond. The best thing to do is to contact the person, acknowledge that you’ve received their message, state that you’re going to look for an answer/solution to the inquiry and follow-up with an answer. By doing this you’ve essentially covered all your bases. You’ve responded in a timely manner. You’ve let the person know that you’ll be sourcing out an answer and; You’ve promised to follow-up! Remember, in business proper communication alleviates all doubt. Especially online.
9. Don’t Be A Weirdo/Stan
Do not under any circumstances contact people to argue and debate with them. Especially if you intend to do business with them or if you’re reaching out on behalf of your business. This may seem like common sense but do you know that people from well known companies frequently contact me just to challenge and debate me? Unsolicited by the way. That’s unstable weirdo behaviour. Please don’t do this.
If you’re ever in a mood where you think that this is a suitable way to impress and thereby display the level of expertise you have within your profession; take some time out and remember these words………. You’ll look like a WEIRDO! In addition, don’t stalk the people you want to do business with. Just relax. You can’t “Stan” your way into a business relationship!
Make sure that your business reflects its business. In other words, do not use your company to represent things that have nothing to do with it. Normally things like political views, personal issues and religious topics are best left alone unless they can easily be tied into your business. You’ll know whether this type of representation is appropriate by the financial response it garners from your client base.
The Reality Of Business
It’s been 3 years since I’ve taken an early retirement from my previous corporate career to become a recording artist. - To hear how I was doing last year at this time have a listen to
Episode 69 - Music Full-Time 2 Year Early Retirement Update To find out how I’m doing now listen to Episode 116 - Music Full-Time 3 Year Update
Here’s the reality according to me that might help you in preparation for what to expect.
Some days or months you will not accomplish any thing significant. You might feel like you’re wasting time. This is normal. Unless it’s your natural temperament you’re not going to be firing on all cylinders all the time. Consider these stints actions of retrospective progress. Use that time to plan things out. As a matter of fact, a lot of the time you’ll find yourself at a standstill because sometimes you’ll simply have to wait until it’s time for any given project you’re working on to be ready. Once again don’t panic and don’t be lazy. Don’t let your business fall into dormancy. People are checking for you whether you notice it or not. It’s just a different mode that you’re gonna get accustomed to over time. I definitely had to!
Don’t be too concerned about what your peers in the industry say or appear to be like online or offline for that matter. It’s none of your business! Focus on your own affairs. When you work for yourself you’ll have to find a way through sheer analytical and creative thinking! There’s no time for you to mind anyone’s business but your own.
“Comparison is the greatest thief of joy” ……… and progress!
- Theodore Roosevelt (with a little addition from myself)
Do what is required ethically (unless you’re really about that life and prepared to endure the consequences) to grow your business. If you have to get a room mate, move in with your girlfriend/boyfriend, your parents, downsize or get a part-time job. Do it! Don’t do this forever of course! Your goal is to grow your business to a point where it can restore you to your previous standard of living and beyond as soon as possible.
If you’re somewhat ashamed of taking this action, consider how large scale companies (the Apples, Googles & Amazons) got their start. It only happens a few ways:
1. Investors/Loans/Public Trading = Flat out asking for money!
2. Saved money or Inheritance = Using what you have.
3. From nothing. = Growth from scratch by reinvesting aka flipping.
I’ve done all three of these. I’ve also done a combination of them at times. In my experience, the option that leaves you with the least amount of comfort by putting the responsibility on you to grow your business is the one that you’re going to learn the most from. Conversely it also takes the longest time to grow.
Q: How long does it take to grow a business?
A: A long time!
A1: Truthfully it depends.
If you’re dialed in and you progress without making any major mistakes and there’s an audience already waiting for you; You can be successful almost instantaneously. If this is you, your major problem will most likely be sustaining that level of success.
Realistically it typically takes awhile because you will most definitely make mistakes. You might spend a lot of time on a project or area of the business only to find out that it’s not profitable. What ends up happening over time is that these mistakes naturally help you get dialed in to your business and your customer/client base. Over time you’ll make less mistakes therefore maximizing your time and accelerating the rate of growth of your company.
That’s kinda how it goes. The mistakes and mess-ups are part of it. If you’re not privy to the failures you’ll encounter going in, you might be inclined to pack up and quit prematurely. But trust me when I tell you. All companies experience major failures. Don’t lose sleep over it. You’re not the first and you won’t be the last to experience the heart wrenching reality that something you thought was gonna be a hit was actually amiss.
What you do from there is what’s most important. Learn what went wrong and why. Correct those errors and move on to the next project with your newly acquired insights under your belt. You can’t pay for that type of experience. You have to live through it and master it. That mastery is what’s going to make the product or service you’re selling a top tier one.
Again, as you progress you’ll get really good at identifying potential problems before they happen, mitigating the need to actually bear the expense of failure. You might not realize it right away but this type experience translates into trust and confidence in your online business by those interested in your creative endeavors!
Thanks for reading!
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