This is an eight-step document designed to help the bands in the Haitian music business to reach the threshold of success. These bands or musical formations are so poorly structured and managed that it must not surprise anyone that they are not doing as great as they should. But there is a chance for them to turn things around; they just have to be flexible and adaptive to reform.
If you are a band owner or someone who is planning on putting a band together, here are the things I think you must do to prevent your business from falling in the hole of failure and chaos most of these bands in the business have been:
- You must have a name to represent and identify your band in the business. Some people think that the choice of a name for a business or product is simple; it is not that simple. This could be the most difficult step. When choosing a name for a business, that name must be meaningful (it must mean something), short, easy to pronounce and easy to remember. It must also be a name you can easily use to create slogans with to help the business in its marketing strategy. If the consumer can sing or repeat the name of your business in a simple slogan, it will stick with imagery.
- You have to determine and identify your target markets. That means you have to ask yourself this simple question, who do I want to produce this product for or who will be interested in buying it? Unless you are a dumb investor, I don’t know one person who would invest a capital to produce a product knowing that no one in the market will be interested in buying it. This is a VERY important element. Let’s be honest with ourselves. The entertainment market is so fragmented that it tends to be extremely difficult and even impossible to try to satisfy everyone at once. It is not that there is an industry norm that says you cannot do it, but it will be way better and easier for you to zero on some specific and clear segments of the market. If you identify your target markets early in the process, that will help you to focus on your strategies to reach your goals.
- You must have a startup operating budget. Money is everything, especially in the entertainment world. I don’t give a damn how great your band plays; if you don’t have money to finance your operation or execute your plan, you are wasting your time. And my advice to you is to go do something else. Well, if you love being exploited or taken advantage of, you can choose to have someone finance your operation and get paid chunk change while he or she is raking all the papers. It all depends on what you want. Music production costs money -regardless your location on earth. It is a lucrative endeavor; therefore, people want their shares of the pie.
- Your lineup must be on point on every front -music, look and style. Try to hire professional and career musicians, not a bunch of amateurs. Experience saves you time, and time is a major factor in the entertainment world as it is an ever-changing landscape. In the look and style department, if your guys need help, and I believe they do, have a stylist on board in your staff or working for you as a consultant to work with them because they have to look appealing and mainstream to the segments of the market you are trying to target. In other words, they have to be trendy. Being trendy has nothing to do with wearing expensive clothing; it has to do, rather, with attitude, charisma, style and confidence. You can have the most expensive garments on and you look like a “gwo soulye,” a “gwayil” or a “madigra mal maske.” So you have got to get it right because what people see does impact how they think and behave.
- Take your time to drop a banging product. Don’t be rushing to come out empty-handed. Let your product introduce you to and position you in the business. Brand identity and brand differentiation are two important concepts in marketing. Your product is your resume. It tells a lot about who you are (your identity) and your qualifications (your potentials or what you are capable of doing). So you have to come out with your resume in your hands for the market to take you seriously. That’s how you make impact.
- Your marketing must be tight. In addition to points 1, 2, 4 and 5, being all elements of your marketing strategy, your promotion must be exemplary for its aggressiveness. Promotion is all about making noise by any possible means necessary to garner expected positive results. You have to use every single medium out there to promote your brand and product. If you want to maintain a competitive edge over your competitors, you must be willing to go the extra mile and do the things they are not doing. Use your imagination and your creative ability to captivate the attention of the market.
- Maintaining media discipline in your media relations strategy is something I often talk about. It is how you deal and interact with the media. The media is very powerful; it can make or break your business in a matter of seconds. You have to be very careful in your dealings or interaction with them. So you have to have someone in your staff or working with or for you as a consultant to be the mouthpiece of your business. You have to maintain discipline within your ranks, meaning you have to be able to control your troops. You cannot have 8 members in a band and each and every one of them thinks they can seize the podium or spotlight at any given time and say things to create PR faux pas and, as a result, place your business in a very uncomfortable position -where you will be spending countless amount of time doing damage control. That’s why you must have one person to talk on behalf of the business. Should someone have to come out to give an interview, that person must be coached and prepared for the event by the PR person. Impression is everything. If you want the market to respect your business, you start off by respecting it first.
- You must have a competent staff working with and for the band. I already stress the importance and role of two staffers -the stylist and the PR person.
- You also need an event bookkeeper. That person’s responsibility is to go out there to connect the band with the promoters or event planners to find and create events for the band to showcase. That person has a huge responsibility. He or she will have to handle the band’s schedule to make sure there is no overlapping in the schedule. He or she is also responsible for making travel arrangements for the musicians so that they can be at their locations on time to perform. You can call that person the point man or woman in terms of who to call to negotiate gigs with or book the band for events. That’s a very powerful position to hold. He or she is like the band’s official salesperson.
- You will also need an accountant to account for all the cash inflow and outflow for the administration. Whenever there is money flowing around, in whatever line of business, it is always recommended that there is an accountant on board to keep record of all the financial transactions. It is the best thing to do for accountability purposes. That person can be an in-house staffer or an outside contractor. He or she, in due time, can also play the role of a financial adviser to monitor the market and give the manager the best possible financial advice in terms of looking at the pros and cons of making a specific investment.
- You need a knowledgeable business/entertainment lawyer. You can outsource the service of that person as it could be costly to have such cadre permanently in your staff. You will need to seek legal advice on key legal matters (issues having to do with contract litigation, copyright infringement, so on and so forth). So whenever necessary, you can always have that person to consult with in your decision making apparatus.
- You must have a band leader, music director, maestro, or however you wanna call him or her. That person is critical for the success of the band. He or she has two important functions –administrative and technical. He or she is the one to go out to recruit musicians to bring on board to meet the vision and objectives set forth by the manager of the band. He or she is the chief of the technical staff of the business –the musicians. His or her job is to technically prepare the band’s schedule for rehearsal sessions, select the songs that will be in the band’s live repertoire, work in the studio with the musicians on the structure and making of the songs to be featured on the band’s album and outsource (if necessary) the musicians to contribute to its production, call on the dress code for the musicians for each event, and decide on the point and time of rendezvous as to where and when the musicians are to meet for a specific event. He or she is the only musician to have a permanent seat in the band’s management’s staff meetings to serve as informant or liaison between the musicians (his or her team) and management. This person must have leadership, administrative and technical skills. He or she has to be just as knowledgeable in music structure as he would be in administration and leadership.
- Last but not least, you need an astute, skillful and professional manager. This person’s responsibility is extremely huge. This is not someone you hire because he or she claims to have a few dollars in the band, is a good friend or relative of the band’s owner, is a “big boss,” or claims to be influential in the business. He or she must be placed in that position for his or her astuteness, skillfulness, professionalism and leadership skills. He or she plays the role of a coordinator and resource allocator to facilitate the responsibility of each and every staff member. He or she sets the path or objectives in terms of where the band should be heading. He or she endorses, approves of, or appose his or her signature at the bottom of every single administrative decision having to do with the band’s business. Nothing should bypass him or her, for he or she has his or her eyes on every aspect of the business. He or she calls for weekly staff meetings to inform his or her staff and be informed on the band’s activity and operation. Like that, everyone will be on the same sheet of music and playing the same tune. He or she is the leader or the band’s CEO. That person’s sole responsibility is to manage the band as a complete and compact entity and make sure every member of his or her staff does exactly what is expected of them.
I think we need to be doing things differently, meaning the way we are supposed to in this Haitian music business. How can we be competitive when we are doing the same old and archaic things over and over and expecting different and better results, especially when the entertainment world is an ever-changing environment? It is impossible, is it not? We are living in a very competitive global market; therefore, if we cannot be playing right and smart, we are going to be outperformed continuously. And like that, as always, we are going to hold that we are doomed and destined to not be successful in anything, when such is not true. It is our approach to doing things that is preventing us from getting ahead. There is always one right way to do anything. Let’s learn how to do things right and apply what we learn the correct way (without resorting to shortcuts); we will then be amazed to see how exponentially we will progress. I hope this blueprint for success, while it is not perfect, does help all of you to embrace the music business with a revolutionary and winning state of mind.