The Path to Music Business Success: Be the Leader of a Tribe

Best-selling author and marketing guru Seth Godin.

Best-selling author and marketing guru Seth Godin.

Recently I read the transcript of a speech by marketing genius Seth Godin titled “On the Future of the Music Business.” Click here to read the transcript.

The speech inspired me to really think deeply about what it takes to succeed in the future of the music business. So to help you navigate music business 2.0 I took notes of some key ideas from Seth Godin’s speech and added my own ideas and interpretations to share with you here.

Apply these ideas and concepts to your music business and I am confident that they will lead the way to increasing levels of success  in your career:

  • Large numbers of people want to be lead. They want to join a tribe. This idea of a tribe (a term created by Seth Godin) involves finding and connecting like-minded people and leading them to a place they want to go. Show them (the tribe) a path and they will want to follow you.

  • People care about tribal identification – Who sits next to them at concerts and attends other events with their tribe? These are the people they want to feel connected with.

  • Tribal management is the music business model of the future. Make people in the tribe delighted to know each other. These people will trust you to find (or make) music for them once you have proven that your tastes are their tastes.

  • The primary job of record labels in the future is to curate for the tribe(s) of artists on the label. By doing so the label brings value to the tribe and to the artists. When you bring them value like this then the tribe and the artists need you!

  • Tribe leaders are the artists and the labels. Leaders need to make it easy for tribe members to communicate with each other and with tribe leaders.

  • Forget about market share and worry about making a tribe (or group of closely related tribes) happy.

  • Take care of your tribe and they’ll be passionate about everything you do. Over time they will want to pay you for taking care of them so well. Be patient and do not rush to sell them anything. Your market will let you know when it is ready to buy from you because the demand for your products (and/or services) will rise along with the buzz surrounding you.

  • Make music that people love not just like. People spread word of mouth only with things/products/ideas that they love. In order to truly connect with audiences your music has to come from a sincere place. Your songs also need to have a sense of forward momentum throughout that keeps listeners engaged to the end. If you can do this then audiences will listen to your music again and again.
  • Stop looking for listeners for your music and start looking for music for your listeners. To do this you must identify the tribe(s) who share your interests, tastes, and goals and lead them. Once you find your tribe you can make (or find) music specifically for them. Since your tastes should be very similar to your tribe’s then making music they love won’t be nearly as difficult as trying to get uninterested people to listen to and love your music.

  • Today and in the future the key factor for audiences (tribes) will be: Is there a story behind this artist? Is there a story behind this person?

  • Audiences want to develop a connection with artists and brands. That connection must be created and nurtured by communicating with your tribe, showing them your personality, being honest with them, and inviting your tribe into your life. They want to be apart of your life. Let them.

  • To succeed in the future record labels and artists must innovate in the way they interact with people. Open up a sincere dialogue with your tribe and they will respond positively to you.

  • 2-way communication is very important! DO NOT spend the majority of your time online promoting yourself to your tribe in a self-centered way or trying to sell to them because they will quickly become disinterested. This is precisely the mistake made by most Myspace musicians who wonder why they can never sell any music or retain the attention of their “fans.”

  • Value comes from providing information and resources to your tribe that are useful and helpful to them. Spend time giving your tribe real value in their lives and they will thank you for it with their attention, their loyalty, and eventually their money.

Reader Input:

Have you experienced frustration and a lack of success looking for listeners for your music instead of looking for music for your listeners?

Do you agree with this idea of tribal management as the music business model of the future?

Do you believe that record labels will subscribe to this idea and provide this service to their artists in the near future?

Please share your thoughts in the comments section.


Dexter Bryant, Jr. (DbryJ)
DbryJ Music Media


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