Monday, June 11, 2007


The Band IS a Startup

I read a blog post the other day by Darren Herman. It's called "The Startup as a Band" and Darren uses the post to draw analogies between a business startup and the Dave Matthews Band. He assigns each of the members of DMB to typical board roles of a startup, i.e. Dave is CEO/President, Carter is Sales Guru, Stefan is Technology Guru, Boyd is Marketing Guru, and LeRoi is Financial Wizard. Been mulling this over, being a bit bothered by it in an odd sort of way - people can make whatever analogies they like; it's no skin off my nose - but here's my revelation - A band is already a business, so while each band member can be assigned particular business "roles," in actuality there is no analogy to be made because band members are already serving as the board of directors for their organizations.

Being an artist and writer, I know how often people expect creative people (including musicians) to give away their talents - to become starving artists. So many bands struggle for beer money we forget that those who make it big, like DMB, are fronting massive organizations comprised of managers, roadies, producers, sound technicians, set designers, costume and makeup people, artists, photographers, caterers, marketers, bus drivers, pilots, etc. etc. Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but my dictionary says that an analogy is "a resemblance in some particulars between things otherwise unlike." A band IS a startup, thus the comparison is between apples and apples, thus no analogy.

It's difficult to be this crass about bands, especially those whose music we personally connect to, but there it is. The arts are big business. Minnesota Citizens for the Arts has released two studies about the economic impact of the arts in Minnesota. One, called "Artists Count!", polled individual artists and found that their economic impact as far as spending goes is $295 million. The other study, "The Arts: A Driving Force in Minnesota's Economy," shows that nonprofit arts and cultural organizations contribute $838.5 million to the state's economy and employ 22,000 people. Minnesota tends to be #3 (after New York and California) on arts spending, a haven of sorts for the creatively gifted. We, musicians, writers, artists, actors, etc., have a lot to offer society, and not just in the peace, love, beauty, quality of life categories. We're talking cold hard cash, baby. And DMB has leveraged it well as leaders of their corporation.

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