Academic Study: The Essential Skill Young Bands Are Lacking in Order to Succeed

Strangely enough, it has little to do with the music itself, but instead with "business communication."

Ultimate Guitar

A brand new study conducted by a team of researchers from the North Carolina State University singled out what they see as the primary skill that young bands these days are lacking in order to succeed, focusing on the domain of "business communication."

Researcher Stephen Carradini pointed out: "I found that rock musicians, particularly those without major label support, face a unique set of challenges.

"The musicians had to communicate with a lot of audiences - fans, potential fans, booking agents, record labels, etc.

"They also needed to write in a wide variety of formats, from business emails to social media posts for fans to advertising materials aimed at attracting new fans.

"First, they have to build an audience - identifying and attracting fans on a consistent basis. This is fundamentally a communications challenge. How do you reach people who aren't fans yet?

"Second, musicians have to be prepared for slow growth - meaning that it will take a long time and a lot of work to reach a point of being economically self-supporting, rather than working multiple jobs.

"This slow growth means it's difficult for musicians to hire people with relevant skills to help them with their professional communication challenges. And that limitation is itself one reason that growth is slow."

Further focusing on the matter, Stephen added: "Musicians can rarely turn down gigs - even lousy gigs - because there are a finite number of venue bookers in any given region. And musicians can't afford to alienate people who control their access to venues.

"This means that musicians have to learn a very particular type of business communication skill - how to negotiate from a weak position.

"The work highlighted in this paper shows that the music business is distinct from other industries, but it's still a business.

"People who want to go into music would be well-served to find training in at least the basics of business communication, in college or elsewhere."


29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Translation: You need the thing most bands want anyway, a record label to pick you up.
    Why would you want a record label to pick you up? They will just reduce the income flow.
    Its easy to get a record deal. They will gladly take your profits. There is no money in music. You have better chance of making an NHL team.
    It's absolutely NOT easy to get a record deal, as most labels have requirements that 99% of young bands won't be able to meet - proving that you can actually make good money as a band is one of them. Which is quite ironic, as bands that make money don't really need label support.
    Well, personal experience speaking here(also been playing for 20 years), Its not hard to get a record deal. Its all relative to the music you make, of course. I've turned down many offers, but I guess that's not a normal situation for everybody. A record deal has only as much meaning as the contract associated with it. They're typically looking out for their own financial interests.
    Yeah, the label is most probably going to screw you over, but only after you've proven you're worthy of them screwing you over. It's not worth getting picked up by a label these days, unless it's a major label. Lesser record deals won't provide you with anything you can't achieve on your own and they're usually not worth the cost.
    Actually had a business communications class in college with a couple dudes who were bandmates. Kudos to those boys for wanting to get well versed in their communication skills. It helps to know the ropes and how to cut a deal, in any trade really.
    julielee11 · Oct 05, 2016 09:33 AM
    I'm not really angry about it, since it is normal to do so, but I find it ironic that a paper that could be really helpful to those of us trying to "make it" is hidden behind a pay wall " You may purchase this article for US$36.00" the average guitarist could buy 5 or 6 sets of strings or groceries for a couple of days for that kind of money...just saying.
    I mean, scholarly articles cost money. It's the norm. You either subscribe to a journal or database or pay per article.
    the hard part that people of art are mostly if not all introverts and mostly lacking in not just business communication, but also social skills. and in business you can summarize a deal into one rule always find a win win situation. what can the corporate benefit from you? only then will they strike a bargain
    What a waste of data.
    Arfing Thumb
    It sounds like something absolutely obvious, but I've seen a lot of promising bands never succeding, just because of their lack of communication and business understanding.
    A lot of bands just want to play music. Fuck the money. If you want cash, go get a good paying job. Keep music art.
    This is overlooking why this type of article is needed - the artists are, to become self sufficient, needing to be involved in these things and that does not make what they do not art - it means they have more than just the art to deal with. Generally speaking you are not likely to find a group who will handle this for you without money. Especially not now.
    I thought it was going to be: The skill of writing good songs with dynamics, flow, pace and soul.
    I would say its because there are to many distractions out there today than there were in previous generations, and not as many people are as desperate as they have comfy jobs and lives. And they just enjoy playing.
    No they need to learn how to write music. Instead of copy catting off of actual trash. Real music sells platinum because the music is so good and timeless it would be wrong not to have it. If youre music isnt good enough to sell during a depression/resession it isnt good music. (the platinum + thing isnt a grand line of the good though. Some bad artists do sell high numbers without actual merit due to advertising and being pumped with money)
    It has almost nothing to do with writing timeless songs. Access to an audience, and outreach is everything. Something like 90 percent of Spotify artists have fewer than 1000 listens. Out of that bunch, there aren't some good writers?