When we think of how well a business is going, we all look to the share price. In Australia, we get all of the financial analysts on TV or in the press, telling us when to buy and when to sell. The whole Motley Fool organisation is built on this model. Everything is based on the commercial outlook.
But the share price is all about putting money back into the shareholders pocket. It doesn’t really state what the business is doing or what innovations it’s creating or how big or small the reach is or how loyal their base is.
And in music, an artists career is based on the money they have made selling albums (the share price) which is all about putting money back into the record label (the shareholder).
Are today’s top 10 artists better than the top 10 artists 40 years ago?
Remember that Black Sabbath or Deep Purple or Kiss didn’t have an album that went to number one in the 70s but they still sell more tickets than all the artists in the Spotify’s Top 50 Streaming list. Nor did any of these acts get classed in the top 10 of any Billboard chart.
When we measure success on just one metric, we are entering a territory of absolutes.
The first is that if it doesn’t sell, it is shit and that the artist is behind all of the other artists that do sell. It’s an unbalanced comparison but having the one metric is easy because it gives the artist a ranking like an EA game, a hierarchy, like it means something. And if the artist cares about status then they will strive to play the commercial metric game.
But if the artist gets the sales or streaming target, will that make them happy?
Meeting a sales target does not equal fan base retention. It will give you a boost but if the next song or album does not meet the sales target, does it mean that the song/s are shit.
Create your own metrics and remember that each listener forms their own emotional attachment to a song. It’s unique and no “one size fits all” business model is able to capture it.