“Seduction” Business Model of the Arts

By on 3-08-2009 in Music Business Insight

by Gary Powell

Gary Powell, artistIf you finally get the call for the job or the opportunity you’ve worked for, it might be a good time to realize that healthy business relationships are born of mutual understanding, mutually earned respect, mutual reliability and mutually earned loyalty. Notice the omission of the word trust. These new business relationships are never born from a bilateral adoration of you, the artist. If you really believe it is all about you, then prepare to stand in a very long cue while enjoying a very short career on the latest thrill ride called SEDUCTION. Next, order any one of these books written on the topic of “One Hit Wonders” before your story ends as a chapter in the latest edition of one of them.

Most of our early opportunities in the performing and creative arts come to us by way of the often used seduction business model. Perceiving how you are being seduced now in business should help you identify the dangerous patterns within your future business offers. Recognize the pattern and be conscious of how new business proposals couch illimitable opportunities. Keep in mind that seduction is nothing more than the act of using influence to excite hopes and desires without regard to fair and equitable returns for your participation. Any business relationship that honors your contribution should offer you a financial participation bearing some resemblance to how your work has effected their bottom line. Of course, this is also after you acknowledge and place a value on the risk and expense that your employer is taking. But then, and maybe after briefly enjoying the flattery, take the deal or don’t take it, but always try to understand who is doing what to you, why they are doing it, and for how long they intend to keep doing it. It is your job to understand these strategies and it is your job to take care of yourself. Be armed with the knowledge of these common practices in order to make prudent decisions that will yield you uncommon wealth and happiness.

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One Comment

  1. I strongly agree with you on this claim of seduction being a business model that lures many people in for little in return, but from what I am coming to understand, in order to have the greatest chance for commercial success musicians often need the support of a record label. In my opinion record labels are the epitome of the “seduction as a business model” trap, yet as a musician I know it will be near impossible to get my music on mainstream radio without the backing of a label. It seems the politics polluting the music industry make it nearly impossible to achieve a high rate of commercial success without having an entity that will go to the plate for its artist – or rather to ensure that the label makes its money.

    If a band does not have the funding to create their own label – as the Grammy-Award Winning band the Civil Wars did – then what alternatives might you suggest other than the self-serving major/independent record labels? Obviously there is the option to just avoid a label altogether and possibly look into a distribution deal, but then artists lose the tour support funding, album funding, etc. Even for an artist to explore the option of financial advances from something such as a co-pubishing agreement they have to produce a qualifying album while affiliated with a major label, so what I am getting at is this: Is there any way to equivocate the seduction models in the music business from the start? Or does an artist just have to muscle through them until he/she can retain more leverage and bargaining power?

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this Gary.

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