Jim Mathis

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Songs and the Show

My good friend and ace guitar picker, Bob KW reminded me this week that Sky Blue is all about the songs and the show. That got me thinking about the business of music. Music is really retail. Especially as independents, we take the product directly to the consumer. This applies whether it is secular or Christian.

In retailing the two most important ingredients are the products and the showroom or display. The comparably items in music are the songs and the show.

First we have to either to write or find good songs. From my 35 years in retailing, I know it is very hard to sell junk. But even if you have good products, they have to be displayed in an appealing manner if we expect people to buy them.

As musicians, our repertoire is our inventory. We need to decide what to put out, when and how to display it in such a way that people will buy it. If not literally in the form of a CD or download, at least “buy” it in their hearts and remember it.

When we are trying to find gigs, we are really just looking for a place to show our wares. Even more important is having high quality, unique products that people want, presented in a manner that they want to see.

Taking this idea a little further, If you are a mouse in the same room as an elephant, your main job is staying out of the elephant’s way. In retailing the elephant is Wal-mart. The first step to success in retailing is to go to Wal-mart, see what they have, and don’t sell anything they sell. Just stay out of their way.

This is a contrarian approach. Music business experts will tell you to just listen to the radio to see what people like and write music like you’re hearing on the radio. To me that is like a small boutique butting heads with Wal-mart and K-Mart. Doesn’t it make more since to listen to the radio to see what is bland and ordinary and try to do something else?

What do you think?