Zero To One
As mentioned numerous times already, your plan should be to create something really unique and outstanding.
This is not only what all of the Masters Of The Past have been doing and what made music in the Golden Age Of Popular Music so great, in fact this is what every single highly successful business has been doing. It’s also what Apple, Google, Facebook, and other tech companies have done – they started in a niche and created those great innovative products that so many people love today.
This is how products that change the world are being created.
Unfortunately the record companies are doing exactly the opposite, as they not only avoid innovation, but also create a large number of products (artists and records) that all sound the same, which makes them all irrelevant and puts them all into competition at the same time.
Author Peter Andreas Thiel, who was one of the co-founders of PayPal and Palantir, as well as the first outside investor in Facebook, detailed the strategy of how to become successful by creating a unique niche product in this book Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. Thiel was ranked #4 on the Forbes Midas List Of Top Tech Investors of 2014 with a net worth of $2.2 billion, making him one of the most successful investors and businessmen of all times. So just forget about the fact that he supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, and acknowledge that he knows what he’s talking about when it comes to successful project management. He is also more successful with his strategies than anyone working in the music industry.
You don’t necessarily have to read the book, and I tried to implement the basic ideas behind it right into this manual, also adapting them so that they can be applied to music and art. In his book Zero To One, Thiel outlines the idea that there are basically two kinds of products:
- Products that are incremental improvements and that are very similar to existing products.
- Products that are completely new and revolutionary.
Startups creating products that are incremental improvements will not change the world, and the problem with them is that they will have to face great competition from both existing companies and from other startups offering similar incremental updates. Such startups will usually fail, and they will probably not be remembered. Doing incremental improvements means creating clones that are only slightly different, which will not attract a large number customers, as people want something new instead of something they already own.
Producing and promoting irrelevant clones has been the music industry’s strategy for the past 20 years. Your strategy, however, should be to create something NEW and REVOLUTIONARY.
Creating something new is what Zero To One (Thiel’s book) is implying. Today’s musicians sound like version 1.02 of the music that already existed 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years ago. And this is even true for Coldplay, Adele, and all of the rest of today’s better artists.
Even today’s best artists aren’t revolutionary anymore. There are no game changers, and that’s what makes today’s music so different if we compare it to pre-2000s music.
You should try to create something like version 2.0 of popular music – or version 1.0 of some really new style and sound, if you want. Nobody else will do what you will be doing, which means that you will not have to face any competition in your niche. That’s our strategy here.
You cannot be an incremental update, you cannot just be a clone of something that already exists. You need to sound unique, you need to play on a new level, and you can’t be boring. As said before, you will need to be a GAME CHANGER.
That’s the plan. If you start a music project – no matter if you’re a solo artist or a band – then it’s almost the same as founding a startup company. You have an idea (your style and sound), you want to create products (your records), and you want to become successful with them. It is important to understand that the rules will be the same, even if you will be creating art, and not some tech product. Those rules also apply to all of the past’s greatest artists, even if many of them probably didn’t have to worry about any rules as they had managers and producers moulding them and giving them advice. But for now you’re on your own, and you even won’t be able to rely on the music industry, as they no longer follow the rules of success.