These days, it’s not enough for a musician to be a gifted artist. To make it to the top, they need to combine musical skill with business savvy. And entrepreneurs can learn a lot by paying attention to the strategies of our successful musicians.
Here are four important success lessons from rock and pop superstars:
1. Know What You’re Worth--and Ask For It
In 2014, with a whole lot of fanfare, Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify. Some saw this as a cocky move for the young star, one that took advantage of her power and influence in the pop music world. But this was really a case of Swift recognizing what she was worth and what her product was worth, and not settling for anything less. This is an important lesson to up-and-coming entrepreneurs. Swift recognized that she could get a better deal with online streaming platforms than what Spotify offered. She thought that Spotify’s freemium model would make people value her product less. She knew that her music was a draw, and she leveraged that power so that she could get what she was due.
While many entrepreneurs might not have Swift’s influence and star power, there’s still an important takeaway here: don’t settle for the first deal that comes your way. Recognize the value of what you and your business offer and find partnerships and investors who share your vision and values and will support you for the long haul.
2. Be a Branding Rockstar
Pop stars and rock stars are masters at branding. The most successful musicians are often the ones who combine musical chops with an unforgettable image. Think of Michael Jackson’s glove and moonwalk, David Bowie’s unforgettable turn as Ziggy Stardust, and Kiss’s iconic makeup. These artists have the sound and the look to capture an audience–and keep that audience loyal.
Become a branding rockstar by developing an iconic image and aesthetic. This will ensure that your customers won’t just remember you--they’ll identify with you. And they’ll come back for more.
3. Surround Yourself With Talent
Take a tip from the likes of the White Stripes’ Jack White: Surround yourself with awesomely talented people. White has worked with luminaries like Jimmy Page, Loretta Lynn, U2 guitarist The Edge, and members of Queens of the Stone Age, to name just a few. And his music gets better when he works with gifted collaborators. When you’re looking for staff or partners, remember that the partners, mentors, and employees you choose can make or break a business. By recruiting gifted people who share your ideals, you can make sure that your startup really sings.
4. Stick it out
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’s "Thrift Shop" was one of the huge viral hits of 2013--but it took months to get there. The song was released in August 2012, and it wasn’t until five months later that it topped the Billboard charts. It was a sleeper hit: it took months of careful build-up before the song exploded into the public consciousness.
The lesson you can take from this? Don’t expect your enterprise to go big right away. Success takes time and careful planning. With commitment and dedication, maybe your business could be the next sleeper hit of the startup world.