What Musicians Can Learn from Ray Kroc

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Do you know who Ray Kroc is? Do you know what McDonald is?

Ray Kroc is the business genius who bought the McDonalds franchise from the McDonalds brother and developed his empire from the systematic burger assembly line. Yet, they didn’t invent burgers so what is it about Ray Kroc and McDonald’s that made this burger joint so special? It was a simple system of duplication of business owners.

Once Ray Kroc owned the rights to McDonalds he began franchising other locations and training all the owners how It a while but once he was set up he created a system to serve the masses and he did. At first he was still in the small business category because he was having to go around training all the business owners in order for the training to be consistent. So, he created Hamburger University for new Franchise Owners to get consistent training independent of Kroc. Yet, once all the training was consistent and it started to go national, all the different meats and supplies had no consistency which hurt the brands equity. So, crafty Kroc partnered with Sysco to be the sole supplier for all McDonald’s products.  Today, McDonalds grew Sysco to massive proportions and McDonald’s has over 35,000 locations worldwide and the Kroc family now have Legacy money, money that will never go away, that will grow in perpetuity, and that is passed from generation to generation. Below is a chart which shows Kroc’s franchise model.

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So what can we learn from Ray Kroc as musicians? It is very simple. It doesn’t matter whether offering burgers or music Ray Kroc taught the world how to make a big business which can truly free you from your 9 to 5. It is our job in our music careers to utilize these big business concepts of systematization, duplication through business owners, partnerships with a larger supplier, and the value of consistent training. Systematization creates profitability and quick growth. Partnerships and duplication from mentoring others results in multiplication of your efforts. Many hands make easy work.

Understand that as a musician in the 21st Century you must where all hats and in reality you are trying to build a big business with over 500 employees from your music. Understand that the first people you are privately franchising your career to is your band members, producers, managers, and initial fans. These are the advocates that will help you build a network of people enjoying your music and your story. The more systematic way you can find to mentor these people in growing your organization the quicker the idea of your music can manifest into cash. Think of the biggest in the industry right now, Drake (singer who raps), Taylor Swift (Pop Singer with a hint of country), Lady Gaga (Lil Monster Revolution), and Iggy Azalea (Very Fancy); all of the largest artists and bands built an entire big business and brand around their music. They found a need they were satisfying with their story and then everything about their marketing, crew, product lines, all center around that concept and through duplication they created an organization that can run independently. Do you think Dr Dre wakes up in hot sweats wondering if the new Yelawolf song is going to hit numbers? NO! Dr Dre has duplicated himself through other artists, producers, business owners, and product lines so that he makes Legacy money, money that you make in your sleep, money that you can pass down to your kids, and money that can give you the freedom to just live out your dreams in music. Looking forward to feedback, Much love music fam! FREEDOM!

Get Your Music Heard on College Radio

            Last April, College Broadcasters organized a moment of silence in which over one-hundred colleges simultaneously shut-down their broadcast for a moment. The purpose of the silence was to bring awareness to the lack of university radio funding and the need to adapt to an ever-changing music discovery environment. Stations such as NYU’s WNYU have added their broadcasts to be online as well as on FM stations to expand their relevance. Despite the changing environment in the music industry, college radio remains an excellent promotion channel for the indie universe. The Music Director from WNYU explains that, “We’ve been credited with proliferating numerous bands into nationwide popularity, and with good reason: alternative radio has been, and continues to be, a crucial launching pad for independent artists. The service is inexpensive, if not free, and can serve as vital promotion for a new artist—the trick is getting the MD on your side.”

            Here are four crucial tips for getting your band’s music heard on college radio.

Physical Versions Are Better

I know we all thought digital killed the CD star, but the fact is that most DJ’s prefer to have physical copies in front of them to listen to the music directly. Also, the added benefit of submitting physical demos or albums is that it will enable that radio station to archive your band and your music so that future generations of the station will continue to play and promote your  music.

Know the Station

If your music fits into a particular genre the best thing to do is submit it into a specific program on the station. If you are familiar with the particular DJ from that program, submit to them directly. This is one of the most basic ideas of any communication; know your audience. Knowing your audience can get your music to relevant decision makers and DJ’s more quickly and give them more confidence that you understand the alternative radio submission process.

If You Don’t Have a Distributor Seek One Out

These promoters do more than assist in checking on the status of your submission, whose playing it, and its number of plays. An independent distributor will likely already have an in with the elusive music director you are trying to contact. This independent distributors prior relationship can increase your likelihood and frequency of plays of your song.

Be Persistant Without Being Annoying  

My final tidbit of advice is to be persistent with trying to get your music on without driving the music director crazy. This was general advice given to me by Bruno Del Granado (Ricky Martin’s manager) a few years back with anything in the music business; and it holds true for college radio as well. You need to understand that the university music directors are intensely busy and have lives of their own. Don’t send a million emails and 100 phone calls in two days, you may not get a response that quick, and you may end up irritating that director to the point that he wouldn’t play your music if you were the next Jimi Hendrix. You need to be persistent with your goal, and be patient with the response. I am currently trying to get rotation on WVUM for the band I am managing. So, I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to track down the music director and get them to respond to your emails. Remember, persistent yet patient. It’s a balance between sending enough contact to make sure your band doesn’t fall through the cracks of the MD’s busy day, and being patient enough to let them consider your music for airtime.

Using these steps can greatly increase the likelihood of your band getting airtime on college radio. Can’t wait to hear yall on the airwaves!

Cause Marketing Helps To Sell More Music and Tickets

Cause marketing is when a business aligns with a charity for mutual benefit. The best example of this type of cause marketing in recent history is Product(RED). Product(RED) partners with manufacturers to sell products with half of the sales going to the Global Fund to fight AIDS  in Africa. To date, the “Red” campaign has raised over 170 million dollars for the Global fund . This concept encourages purchases with the added value of helping a good cause.

So how can this help Independent artists? The most simple way to use cause marketing for your music is by donating a small percentage of sales for certain shows and album releases to a charity. Also, the power of cause marketing is increased when a relevant or current problem is addressed.  For example, 11 days after the Japanese Earthquake the major labels decided to work on a benefit album for Japan. Max Hole, Universal Group International COO, describes that they rushed to get “clearance and rights and . . . everything done for a March 24th release. This album reached the number five spot on the Billboard 200 shortly after its release. Tadateru Konoe, Japanese Red Cross President, responded to the incredible music sales in saying, “The kind thoughts of the people making this album and buying this album will . . . give great encouragement to the people affected by the earthquake and tsunami. On behalf of the people affected by this disaster, I sincerely thank the artists and music companies…” This is a perfect example of how charity can create music sales.

Another example of cause marketing for music products is the recent partnership between GoodWorks and MusiCares. The companies printed special apparel designed by artists such as Jack Johnson, Slipknot, Sugarland, Tim McGraw, and Sean Kingston. The profits will aid the MusiCares Foundation, which helps musicians with financial needs.  This has been a successful campaign and you can still get the shirts at www.shopmusicares.com. Whether it is merch, music, or tickets, cause marketing can grow your sales.

For ideas, supporting music education is always relevant to music lovers and disaster relief charity is usually relevant to everyone.

The 4 P’s of Music Marketing

“Oh The Times They Are A-Changin

                                                                  —Bob Dylan

Thinking again of your music as a brand, there are Four P’s to Marketing Your Music: People, Product, Place, and Promotion.

  • People: Think of the target group of people, whether in age, behavioral, demographic, etc. that would appreciate your music and how your efforts will attract and expand that fan base.
  • Product: Define the unique benefits of your musical product to the consumer. Physical products include the obvious– like albums and concert tickets. Yet, your music as a brand represents a certain need from your listeners. Whether that need is to laugh, dance, cry, think, or question, is for you as an independent artist to decide. The better you understand the need you fulfill for your listeners, the greater appeal your musical product has. 
  • Place: The places where you sell your product. This can include concerts, street corners, CD retailers, or digital/online platforms. Some people say that ‘Digital Killed the Radio Star,’ but digital media simply provide a new means to sell. Take advantage of this new opportunity and be creative with ways that online platforms can expand your number fans. Recently, a popular independent artist named Mikey Wax offered his new album as a free download through Facebook in exchange for importing Facebook contacts into the fan page. Another independent band, featured in Billboard magazine last month, conducted a photo contest online for fans to get band stickers in the craziest places and post the pictures on the band website. The winning fan won a special signed album, merchandise, and tickets. It is unique ideas like this that allow independent artists to fully exploit the new place for music that the internet provides.    
  • Promotion: Promotion is the various marketing techniques used to advance your music, whether in printed advertisement, public relations, direct marketing, or social networking.

In a changing music environment it is vital to maintain multiple diverse revenue streams. Also, these revenue streams can help build a band fund which pays for recording time, concert expenses, and further promotion efforts.

  • Both online and physical sales of music, merchandising, and concert tickets, music Subscription and other music royalties, ad revenue sharing, cobranding, and benefit concerts expand awareness while creating revenue for your band. These revenue streams are all utilized by major artists to maintain their financial success.

In an ever changing music industry, it is critical to remain up to date on the most recent changes and developments in the industry. Subscribing to music magazines and following blogs, as you already do, are great ways to stay in touch with the industry. Additionally asking friends, family, fellow artists, music engineers, artist managers, venues, and whoever else will listen, opinions about your music is extremely valuable. The fact is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Therefore, you never know how a person’s assistance or insight from any background, musical or otherwise, could help you in getting your music heard. Remaining open to criticism is how an artist is able to continually grow. Taking the best advice on your music and integrating it into your own unique style can take you from indie to legendary.