What's Your Model?

I read a lot of articles about music industry issues, and when I recently read this headline: "How Many Subscribers Does a Digital Music Service Need to be Profitable?", something struck me. Before I could even get to the body of the piece I thought: "Oh, another article about their music business model—but, what is your music business model?"

If you're a musician (or any entrepreneur for that matter), stop and ask yourself that question. What is your model?

I've heard the music publishing business described as "a business of pennies"—but that is now true more generally. Nobody has to point out that the music business is an increasingly fragmented marketplace, and so, capturing every available revenue stream is (or should be) every musician's goal.

As an artist manager and record label consultant I ask myself the same question on behalf of my clients every day.

A musician's profits are increasingly derived from multiple—but separate—revenue streams, yet all of them have one thing in common: the musician at the center of the business. The key is to identify the revenue streams as they pertain to you, the musician, and then develop a plan that exploits your talents in ways that will not only leverage those streams, but make them work together and form a coherent business model. What kinds of merch do your fans buy? Would sheet music sales generate new income? Is there a market for a limited-edition version of your next recording? These questions are vital to anyone's business and by asking and answering them you can zero in on what it is you do and how that will make you money.

So, what's your model?