Dotted Music Blog

The Mindset Of A Musicpreneur

Aaron Bethune is a music business consultant, manager, author, and the founder of PlayitLoudMusic, Above the Noise and JAM, among a number of other projects.

In this conversation for the Music Growth Talks Podcast, Aaron shared the amazing story of how he started in the music industry, talked on his (not less amazing) current ventures, and mentioned one cool “niche” music business case study. And, of course, he talked about his book called “Musicpreneur: The Creative Approach to Making Money in Music”.

Listen to the interview to learn the mindset of doing business and networking like a true Musicpreneur.

Listen to the episode below:

Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts, or by searching “Music Growth Talks” in your favorite podcast app.

Some of the topics covered in the podcast episode:

  • Aaron’s road to a professional music industry career.
  • Figuring out ways to distinguish yourself from others.
  • A case study of a musician/yoga teacher.
  • “Your band is a brand” and what it means to you.
  • “Build relationships before asking for anything.”
  • Networking outside of the music industry.

A few notable passages from the episode

Do Something Unique

A lot of artists spend their precious time looking at what other artists do. In some cases it’s fine, but most of the time they look at what others do with their music careers as a way to follow them, assuming that's going to bring them the same success. Here’s what I find rather funny about that: these are starving artists not making much income through music who are trying to do the same things as other starving musicians that are also not making that much more income with their music. In the meantime, there's always someone who has found success, and that's always the first person doing whatever it is that they're doing, whether it's wearing a meat dress, or whether it is a style of music.
Whatever it might be, there’s always a first person, a leader, and then there are followers who come afterwards. You can find their “recipe” for success, and you can follow that same recipe, but the one ingredient that you will always be missing is the difference. Because the more you repeat something that was different originally, the more it becomes the same. So that difference disappears, and now you don't really stand out.
You don't really want to be the next Taylor Swift. You want to be the new you. And that takes an incredible amount of self-confidence and belief in yourself to be able to say: “I'm going to do this, which nobody else is doing.”
Let me give you an example. I'm a juror and we get a lot of artists applying for these grants. It gives me an opportunity to see many different musicians, what they're doing, and how they plan to market their music. There's this guy, from Canada's West Coast, who essentially is a yoga teacher. He's got a lot of charisma, and his yoga classes completely sell out. He does these yoga sessions where he also sings; it's like Broadway meets yoga. He travels the world giving these yoga classes. I've seen a video footage of him teaching, and there's like 800 people in Japan, then he goes somewhere else in Asia and teaches to another thousand people. So this guy promotes his music career through his yoga classes. As an attendee, you get this unique experience while you're going to the yoga class, and at the end of the day you are able to walk away with his album and replay it while you do yoga at home.
I haven’t heard of anyone else who had this unique format of teaching yoga, singing, and then selling their music. This resulted in him building a brand for which he also has a clothing line, by the way. Again, it takes a lot of confidence to say, “What is it about me that's different, that I could pursue, and that no one else is doing?” Then, finding that difference, and understanding who the demographic is for it.
As another example, and referring to yoga again, there's a West Coast band, we analyzed their superfans, and they were mainly women aged 27 to 37. Looking into the interests of these women, we found out that what united them was their lifestyle. It wasn’t all about the music they listen to, but the lifestyle, which happened to incorporate yoga, vegetarianism, and this kind of almost cliché West Coast thing. We were not thinking like, “You're in an indie band, what are all the other indie bands out there doing?” It was more about asking ourselves: “What is it that all of these superfans do that connect them between themselves, and how can we tap into that?” And the answer was yoga, and everything related. So we looked at a company called Lululemon. They make clothing that the people who do yoga like to wear. We looked into how they were marketing their product, and where they were marketing it. And we realized that we needed to market the band in the same places and in the same ways as Lululemon.
Guess what? There really weren't other indie bands going down that path. They were all trying to figure out how to be in that indie music magazine, or that radio show, or that venue. But as soon as you start realizing what makes you different, and more importantly who your audience is, then all of a sudden you can open up venues, partners, sponsors, who are absolutely unrelated to the music industry – like yoga, in our example. You get the ability to go to these companies and influencers and say, “Hey, we’ve got this audience, these are the people who listen to our music, and they overlap with the audience that you're trying to target with your products. We can partner up and make an impact.”
The key point here is: if you do something different, you're probably doing it right.
Andrew Apanov is the founder of the Dotted Music digital marketing agency, and host of the Music Growth Talks podcast.
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