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How To Be The Next Music Business Unicorn [Kedar Fredric]

3As an independent artist, there's a lot to be learned from the startup world in relation to how you manage your career. here Kedar Frederic illustrates some valuable principles from startup culture, and how artists can effectively integrate them with their careers.

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Guest post by Kedar Frederic, VP Business Development, TuneCore

If you were launching a business would you want to build a mom-and-pop shop or the next hot company like Lyft or Tesla? If you’re an independent artist who wants to be the next music business unicorn, you can learn a lot about managing your career from the startup world. I’m lucky to have had experience both building a startup and helping musicians build their careers and there are definitely valuable lessons that apply to both.

From the beginning, any startup looks for opportunities where they can succeed through finding great product-market fit. They need to build, iterate and market-test products that people want. While you might not be inclined to think of your music in such a manner, when you are putting together that first track it’s important to ask, “Will anyone want this product?”

Always be innovating

You need to make sure you’re not going to be bumping up against prevailing trends, but rather, complementing and adding to the existing culture. An artist should be a cultural omnivore, keeping an ear to the ground and exploring the world around them. Watch movies and TV shows, read blogs, get obsessive about social media to help you stay as current and relevant as possible.

The only way to be a true innovator is to see the road ahead. Think of Lyft, Tesla, or any companies you admire. They have hundreds of people, vast technologies and budgets dedicated to hoovering up insight to try to anticipate the future and what products people will want. You need to do the same to consider what your audience will want next.

Always be beta testing

Don’t tailor your sound to try and fit a specific audience, but always strive to be relevant in some way, shape or form. Just like a startup, you need to beta test new products in the market. Try experimenting with an existing idea and adding a few new elements. Don’t commit to a full album with your new sound; instead float a couple of tracks out there and test the response. If you get positive feedback, that’s market validation. And, if you’re finding that there’s an audience out there that likes your style, there's probably an even larger potential fanbase awaiting.

Fail to plan and plan to fail

Every business needs a plan, and so does every independent artist who wants to succeed. Start with your concept and your style, as we discussed above. Then plan your product launches just like a business, even if you’re itching to get your tracks out to audiences the minute you finish them.

Nobody is in a rush to listen to your music. Of course it’s different if you already have a million fans (which also means you don’t need to listen to my advice), but in general, no one is on the edge of their seat waiting for your next track to drop.

Take your time, make sure you run through the checklist of everything you need to do to ensure a successful release: distribution to digital platforms; taking advantage of promotional opportunities; and preparing a marketing plan. Companies like TuneCore help independent artists with digital distribution, promotion and revenue collection. I see every day how critical it is to make sure each track is packaged and released correctly. Just like any business, unless an artist properly plans their releases just like product launches, they’re essentially setting themselves up for failure.

Before joining TuneCore, Kedar Frederic co-founded HardHill Media and the artist discovery service DropKloud. He also served as the Vice President of Sales and Business Development for Melville Candy Corporation. Kedar has a rich history in music production. He built and ran two studios, a promotional company, and managed R&B and hip-hop talent on the East Coast. He also continues to be a songwriter and producer for independent artists.

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