Business Savvy Creatives – A Revolution in the Music Industry

 Business Savvy Creatives – A Revolution in the Music Industry

We are all witnesses of one the biggest industry disruptions of our time. The music industry is falling apart: the businesses built around fame and record sales are dying a slow and painful death. Nielsen’s mid-year US music report from 2014 already showed 15% percent drop in album sales and a 13% drop in sales of digital tracks. And all this while millennials are listening to more music than ever and making music a gigantic part of their identity.

One thing becomes clear – it’s harder than ever to be a musician. And while all musicians want to do is being creative and playing good music, they spend too much time worrying about next months’ rent. So how might one innovate in this space?

A group of music lovers and musicians saw this huge problem and started Zoo Labs – an accelerator program for musicians. The Oakland-based Non-Profit organization helps music making teams becoming better, business savvy versions of themselves. Participant TEAMS (mostly bands) go through a 12-day residency program and work on their goals (including financial and business goals!) – just like a Start-Up.

Clearly, the artists who’ve gone through the residency program love Zoo Labs. Everything they need is there: a cool crew of like-minded people, an army of mentors within and outside the industry (business savvy ones), etc. And it only gets better! Zoo Labs lives in an 8,000 square foot building complete with living spaces, co-working spaces, and 3 world-class recording studios. In addition to the access to a recording studio a musician’s heart is dreaming of, they also become business savvy.

We thought this was brilliant and decided to help them! Recently we packed our design thinking toolkit and came together with the Zoo Labs leadership team. We assessed the current business model with them and scoped out some options for the future. They have a big vision. Zoo Labs is re-imagining the music industry by building a bridge between music and business. And, like any vision, it needs an action plan. Using a tool made to help with this strategic conversation, we made the bold steps toward realizing Zoo Labs’ vision ultra-tangible. Further, we co-created a specific action plan for the next weeks to test, validate and implement crucial elements.

Picture above: The Zoo Labs Team (Vinitha Watson, Brandt Williams, David Watson) & the Queen of Business Models Maaike Doyer working on the 5 Bold Steps.

Right on! Keep rockin’! @Music Industry – Get ready for an army of business savvy musicians.

If you know anyone who’d be interested in learning more about Zoo Labs, please feel free to reach out. I’d love to make the connection for you! Also, if you need help defining a vision for the future and really making it tangibleBusiness Models Inc.can help! And lastly, if you’re looking for inspiration and tools like the 5 Bold Steps Canvas we used with Zoo Labs check out our new book: Design a Better Business.

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 Maaike Doyer



Responsible for finance and global clients. Located in Amsterdam and San Francisco.

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