An artist’s duty, as far as I’m concerned, is to reflect the times. — Nina Simone
What role does artistry play in culture? The artist has the power to move and mold human communities. People understand society through artists' offerings.
CREATE/OS's mission takes root in supporting artists, from the power of their voices to the business that allows them to continue creating.
We believe the future of the music industry will be driven by eight principles that rely on the efforts of managers:
The open sharing of information and institutional knowledge promotes a healthier ecosystem for creators and the people building businesses around their creation.
Outside of natural born talent or years of training, professionals working in the creative industries are constantly looking for secret ingredients to navigate the music industry’s complexities and make their sauce special. One of the best ways to find these ingredients is by participating in the open source community that drives innovation. In tech, open source philosophy encourages open collaboration. If you take, you must give. The more you give the more you become inspired. The more you teach, the more you innovate.
Practical education and training are the foundational components for fixing the music business.
While there are plenty of books about the music business, the trial-by-fire nature of the industry often leaves aspiring executives and creatives alike without nurturing mentors or clear philosophies and guidelines to follow. Some corners of the business actively shun question-asking. This atmosphere primarily promotes learning through constant observation and osmosis. To make matters worse, the industry’s cratering at the start of the 2000s meant the firing of many who could have passed on institutional knowledge (and the retention of employees who may have hoarded information or resources in hopes of fending off their obsolescence).
Determining the value of an artist’s catalog and related businesses is impossible without properly managed data and good data practices.
Data lies at the heart of many of the industry’s issues. Few comprehensive tools exist for organizing metadata, contract information, or consumption statistics. The lack of tools that unify and connect this information only makes it more difficult for managers to properly keep track of their client’s work and understand its full value.
There are better ways to organize your contacts and keep track of your communication, leading to more meaningful and functional relationships.
Other industries use Salesforce to tremendous effect to both organize and act on relationships. In music, we’re mostly left to emails, texts, and tools like Slack and Asana to hack together solutions for managing and developing connections. Nothing will ever replace genuine connection and deep, long-standing personal ties, but our industry lags behind others in our understanding of relationship management.
Good project management means tools that provide unity and clarity of a project’s logistics; streamlined information at this stage means smoother transition from creation to release.
Hand-in-hand with collaboration technology, managers need tools that better enable them to understand budgets, project goals, paperwork, deliverables, and project progress. Like so much information in music, these pieces often live scattered across email accounts, Dropbox folders, text exchanges, and accounting programs. It’s difficult to get a comprehensive overview of a project’s logistics in one glance and to make informed decisions on the best ways to proceed.
Technologies that ease the organization and execution of the creative process are paramount to preempting problems that happen later down the supply chain.
We spend tremendous energy coordinating musical collaborations and cataloging the fruits of recording sessions. Good data practice begins at the source—from the point of creation when producers and engineers are capturing musical ideas, labeling them, and ultimately keeping track of the people involved in the process of making a song. Seepage often begins here, as collaborators may be forgotten, intentionally left off, improperly listed, or, just as commonly, have disputes about the extent of their involvement in a song’s creation. While certain advances have been made for software that captures music after the process is complete , it’s still as difficult as ever to accurately capture the creative process from beginning to end. The weight of this inefficiency often comes crashing down on managers left to pick up the pieces as they scramble to put together releases.
The current music business landscape demands better accounting technology—tools that enable artists and managers to get quick, intelligible snapshots of the state of their business and, perhaps most importantly, to get paid faster and with greater clarity.
As managerial titan Shep Gordon put it, “the three most important things a manager does...one is get the money, two is always remember to get the money, and three is never forget to always remember to get the money.” While plenty of accounting tools and software exist, little is tailored towards the music business in a way that provides a comprehensive overview of revenue streams, royalties, collected money, owed money, budgets, and expenses. It should go without saying, but in order for managers and artists alike to properly navigate a career, good business management practices should be implemented early. Without simple, unified tools, it’s difficult to create a clear picture of an artist’s cash flow and, more importantly, the worth of their work. Furthermore, these tools should be more achievable and available in a digital world.
The ability to target and also maximize the reach of music content and build businesses around an artist requires tools that provide best practices and recommendations for the various situations that arise in an artist’s career.
The industry’s existing “standard” for insights has proven largely superficial—statistics that loosely sketch demographic info without digging too deep into audience member specifics or consumer behavior. While Spotify Artist Insights and Soundcloud’s back-end can certainly help an artist understand their fan base broadly, these public programs stop short of providing the kind of deep dive artists and their teams require in the quest to identify and connect directly with their audience. On the business end, no tools enable creators and managers to make decisions based on historical information and past decisions—a log of a manager’s choices usually exists in emails and as a kind of refined gut instinct, occasionally informed by data. The result is an alarming number of decisions that are still made on feel and outdated precedent, untethered to real consumption numbers or a nimble negotiating touch.
Artist sovereignty is the capacity to shape your world. To shape systems around you as you see fit. A state of self-determination.
When creators and business people alike speak of independence, they’re seeking the ability to assemble infrastructure that suits their needs without forcing them to compromise their vision. This principle governs the elements surrounding creation as much as creation itself, extending to mental health and wellness, all the way to understanding how contracts work and the evolution of how we interact with them.
Listen to artists.
Artists are not just “content creators” or “talent.” Artists are creatives. Artists are singers, dancers, managers, lawyers, designers, A&Rs, architects, etc. Artists are integral to the entire system. Their opinions matter. If you want a better understanding of your enterprise or of any creative enterprise, listen to the artists at the center. Include them in your process. Be willing to learn from them.
This is easier said than done. At CREATE/OS we practice Nonviolent Communication, which focuses on the idea that all humans are creative at heart and therefore have a need to be seen and heard for who they are and what they have to offer. In the Information Age, being “seen” and “heard” still comes down to something more than quantifiable exposure. It’s about real connection between real humans, which requires healthy communication. Communication is the gap between what we see (or envision) and what we are able to say. What we say ultimately becomes what we are able to produce.
Artists are in command.
It all comes down to this:
We are a team of artists who practice the art of entrepreneurship. As a result of our practice, we have learned to appreciate and prioritize our creative voice. The more we recognize our own creativity, the more we see it in others. We honor their creativity by listening to them and lovingly bearing witness. We use the Mastor Craft, Nonviolent Communication, NLP, and the Law of Attraction to reflect what we hear and ask for consent. So do our products. When we have consent to collaborate, we can provide knowledge. Through knowledge, we enable accountability. The knowledgeable, accountable artist is the agentive artist. When we know what we want, we can move forward. We can make our own decisions. We can get things done. CREATE/OS is in the business of getting things done with a fiduciary responsibility.
Get consent to collaborate.
Some creative blocks are built-in. Many of our inherited business practices are fundamentally non-consensual. For instance, many artists enter into creative collaboration even though they do not have enough information to reasonably consent to the terms of exchange. Consent is the explicit agreement to do, engage, give, witness, or receive something. When we have healthy communication, we can ask for consent. When we have consent, we can collaborate. If we do not have consent, we are not collaborating -we are coercing one another. We can recognize consensual collaboration by the presence of cooperation, communication, empathy, mutuality, understanding, trust, and equality.
At CREATE/OS, we like to say that we are “of service” to our collaborators because we intend to be of practical use to everyone we work with. This means the value we bring to the table is actual, active, and evidence-based. We measure our work by recognizing the creation of value. In this way we are called to recognize our own creative value and be realistic about where, when, and how we choose to offer it up. Our self-awareness makes it possible to respect our own autonomy as well as the autonomy of others. We know that when we bring our best selves - our whole selves - to the table, we are embodying the autonomous future of creativity for artists.
Knowledge enables accountability.
When we are empowered to identify and ask for what we need, we have a real basis for accountability. This accountability fosters responsibility, accessibility, transparency, and honesty in our collaborative relationships. Put simply, when we know what we’re getting into, we can be responsible for whatever we’re getting out of it.
Collaboration enables growth.
When we value labor and prioritize consent, we simultaneously commit to access to knowledge, because humans need access to information, resources, and people. So many of us do not know where to start, who to turn to, or which questions to ask. Teaching is all about guiding people toward the questions that matter and the resources that are relevant. This makes all the difference, especially for artists. When artists know what to ask for and where to learn, they become aware of what they actually need from themselves, from the people around them, and from the teams they agree to work with.
Learning is a commitment, an investment in our collective health, well-being, productivity and potential. What we invest in is what we pay attention to. What we pay attention to grows. CREATE/OS's commitment to learning will empower artists for years to come.
Community equals harmony.
When we value art we honor the struggle we all face as humans to express ourselves and open our hearts with empathy towards others. With that in mind, we feel it’s important to use our platform to call attention to systemic issues that matter to the many people who are oppressed, marginalized, disenfranchised, and discriminated against. We commit to do everything we can to:
- Identify and invest in initiatives that will influence the allocation of capital from government funding sources and privately held or publicly traded companies to organizations that focus on civic learning, the humanities and mental health development.
- Invest in and support businesses owned by women, descendants of American slaves and other marginalized minority groups.
- Identify and invest in local civic and political initiatives that can influence social and criminal justice reform.
- Develop a strategy to Influence the re-allocation of Police funding to empathetic scenario-based training, implicit racial bias testing and policy requirements or to the defunding of criminally lead and corrupt police organizations.