How to Conduct an Artist Strategic Analysis

In order to know what direction to take your career, you have to understand the environment in which you operate. We all know that throwing mud at the wall and hoping it sticks isn’t effective. Which makes conducting a strategic analysis essential for artists hoping to formulate a clear strategic plan.

Strategic analysis helps you identify the goals or objectives which will help purposefully drive your career forward. It lays the foundation for achieving the goals or mission you set for yourself within the music business. By knowing what you want to achieve you can prioritize your decision-making capabilities. This further contributes to the smooth running of the team you’ve built around you, who after all, are there to most effectively support you. 

Now that you know why strategic analysis is key for you as an artist, let’s take a closer look at what’s involved and the approach you can take to conduct your own strategic analysis.

Where to Start?

Start by building out the structure for the core aspects of the strategic analysis first. These will be addressed further below, but consider them to be the market analysis, the SWOT analysis, and the competitor social media and website analysis. To some degree, the structure of a strategic analysis is somewhat like a business plan, but without the depth of financial planning of a typical business plan. You can find many templates available for free online that you can download for use.

Then, begin building out your broader template: an ‘executive summary’ (which includes product information, artist biography, basic fan - aka customer - data, label and publisher information, a list of assets, and lastly, identifying the goals, milestones, and future plans of the artist entity). Bookend this by inserting a section ‘overall recommendations’ (which can be added to each time you identify a gap as you build out the below information). Now, you have the framework for your strategic analysis. 

Next, add in your artist entity description: outline your team (artist or band members, management, publicist, label, publisher, lawyer, business manager, etc) and identify whether there are any key roles missing. Here you will also outline the legal structure of your entity (again, identifying whether any legal actions such as registering the entity or trademarks are required).

Under ‘market research’ include any key industry research, a more detailed description of your fans (demographics, likes, behaviors, and interests), and briefly outline some of the unique advantages of the organization.

Next address your ‘service line’: outline your products and/or services (touring, live streams, fan clubs, recordings, etc), the pricing structure for each product or service you offer, your revenue for the year prior, as well as your product lifecycle (name and timings of releases to date) and any intellectual property rights owned by the entity. Close this section out by identifying a rough outline of any and all research you should conduct. For example, if you don’t have a lot of fan data on hand to accurately describe your customer base and build viable fan personas, your research action item could be ‘to conduct fan-based interviews and build 8-10 fan personas’.

In the marketing and sales section identify your growth strategy, the avenues and ways in which you communicate with fans, as well as how you sell to the fans. This section should include the ‘competitor social media analysis’, ‘competitor website analysis’, and your artist ‘SWOT analysis’, that you earlier outlined.

Like with business plans, there are many templates available online for competitor social media analyses, as well as website analyses. Simply find one that best suits your needs and implement it. You may need to sign up with a social media posting platform to access some of the data required to build your analysis, but many platforms offer month-to-month accounts giving you the opportunity to try before committing longer-term.

Types of Strategic Analysis

There are many types of strategic analyses but the one we’ll focus on here is an internal analysis. 

An internal analysis involves looking inwards at the organization to define its strengths and weaknesses. This allows you to then identify what resources will be useful to you in leveraging those strengths or improving upon the weaknesses you find. Overall you’re going to look at the performance of the organization, which in turn will allow you to identify the growth opportunities at hand.

In an internal analysis, you conduct a SWOT analysis, an exercise that helps you hone in on the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the entity. Much like the social media analysis, there are numerous free templates available online, just google to find the one that’s right for you. 

However, in this section, rather than focusing primarily on competitors, focus on the strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities as they directly relate to the artist or entity. For example, a strength could be that ‘Key ‘company’ assets are registered and in place, including trademarks’ whereas a threat may be “Covid-19 impacts upon touring, performing, and capacities in live venues, which in turn impacts the ability to have engaging fan experiences (which drives word of mouth and excitement for the artist)”. As you have done throughout, add any key action items which arise from your SWOT into the ‘overall recommendations’ section of the strategic analysis.

Your Path Forward

With all of this information on hand, you begin to develop a clear understanding of the current status of the artist’s “business” entity as well as your potential path forward. You have a defined list of research areas, as well as your overall recommendations (aka your upcoming project plans). You are now ready to prioritize your recommendations into an action plan and implement accordingly in line with marketing strategies for upcoming releases, touring, or the development of new revenue streams. With the help of this strategic planning, your future programs - and your potential for growing your revenue - have been made immediately more effective.

Author Bio: Dayna Young has 15+ years of global experience in music, entertainment, and leading creative teams to success. She is the Founder of Fred & Augustus,  and an expert in music marketing and digital artist development. Ultimately, what gets her up in the morning is the knowledge that she’s creating opportunities for artists.

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