6. How to organize your organization?
In establishing an organization, questions like: Why are we doing what we do? How are we realizing our aims? What exactly is it that we want to do? will be addressed.
Estimated reading time 13 minutes
In this chapter we view the organization in ‘wide screen’. It is a form of collaboration in which the participants deliberately perform certain actions, using various tools. An organization is not the same as a company. A company is an organization that provides (digital) products or services to third parties, persons or companies. So, a company is an organization, but an organization is not always a company. This can muddy the water. In establishing an organization, questions like: Why are we doing what we do? How are we realizing our aims? What exactly is it that we want to do? will be addressed. By restructuring their organization, DJs and event producers have to evaluate their business model as discussed in the previous chapter.
The digital world is the world
The world is what it is. It is both off and online. The digital world is just part of the world. Brands can only be a success when they add value to the daily lives of fans or clients, establish a relationship with fans or clients, and win the trust of fans or clients. The internet ecosystem is the place where this trust is won or lost.
The digital world facilitates a slew of new options for DJs and event/festival producers; its importance to their success will increase with time. Amsterdam is an example of this phenomenon, its conglomerate of creative industry, gaming industry, music industry and festival industry thrives. Its working environment is profoundly shaped by the digital world. Expertise is exchanged, common ground is developed. More examples: the graphic industry in relation to 3D-printing; big data creating new opportunities.
The up-to-date organization of the DJ or event producer must adapt to profit from these new opportunities. This does not come easy. In establishing an organization, questions like: Why are we doing what we do? How are we realizing our aims? What exactly is it that we want to do? will be addressed. By restructuring their organization, DJs and event producers have to evaluate their business model as discussed in the previous chapter.
In this chapter we view the organization in ‘wide screen’. It is a form of collaboration in which the participants deliberately perform certain actions, using various tools. An organization is not the same as a company. A company is an organization that provides (digital) products or services to third parties, persons or companies. Both the DJ plus his management as well as the event producer are a company. An organization is not always a company, yet a company is an organization by definition.
An organization is by name an entity that functions as an ‘organizer’. In this sense, the organization is an activity. For example, in this context: ‘He is in charge of the organization of such and such festival or event’. Or: ‘He is in charge of setting up the DJ tour of so and so’.
There are many ways in which an organization can operate and that is the topic of this chapter. Often, the ‘modus operandi’ of an organization has come about in an organic, non-deliberate way, not as the result of a well thought-out plan of operation. Both the specific accommodation of human and non-human resources, as well as the specific realization of business management, is often ill considered when the organization of a DJ or event producer is established. It is the organization that is transformed in the adaptation to the new business model. The way to go about it is to view the organization as a platform.
It is vital for the DJ or event producer to create a business unit that is dedicated to the organization’s involvement with the internet ecosystem; this business unit regards the internet ecosystem as a ‘business ecosystem’. Operating separately, it enables the creation of new value models and new income models.
When a DJ or event producer becomes actively involved with the internet ecosystem, he or she does best to regard his or herself like he or she is a platform. This platform comprises of his (her) web environment i.e. the website, social channels, service channels (such as iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud, ticketing and assorted e-commerce channels) plus the offline context in which the DJ performs or the event occurs. The business unit that is responsible for the platform and its interaction with the internet ecosystem must be self-supporting via earnings generated. In fact, it must function as a profit center. To achieve this, an action plan must be formulated.
The action plan is an extensive elemental document that formulates the crucial issues in the development of a digital strategy. The action plan details various aspects:
- Elaboration of the research results, plus calculation of the effort to achieve these results, measured in time units;
- The requisite level of quality, plus the required measures to safeguard the quality (quality control);
- The organization, including the people directly involved and their time behavior;
- The communication required;
- The dependencies and risks, and how to deal with them;
- The project’s budget;
- The to-do list.
What plan is a good plan?
What is the secret of a good plan? How do you make a feasible plan? A plan that really works? A good plan delivers and energizes. A good plan that works can have a powerful effect on the people who make it happen, it’s like a drug…
What is the purpose of a plan?
A good plan will have lost its function when the project is finalized. Its digital version will repeatedly be revised and adjusted. Why? Because it is put into action! The plan is not a swiftly drafted memo, it requires serious preparation and ditto dedication. After all, it plots the course the organization will follow for the foreseeable future.
Realizing the plan
The benefit of a good plan is that it enables you to turn ambition into reality. That is the project. And this is where the secret of a good plan lies. Two invisible, yet powerful forces are more important than whatever the plan entails: the reason for existence and the involvement. Only when the reason of existence of the fundamental concept and the involvement of the team is warranted, will it be possible to make the plan work for an organization. Collaboration and mutual trust are at the core of success.
Without a valid reason for existence and lacking the unadulterated involvement of all participants, the best of plans will fail to become reality. Both are fundamental for the plan to succeed.
Text, audio, video and illustrations (photos, infographics) are the internet’s lifeblood and may even determine its vitality. Without content, the internet would be an empty, superfluous technology. Blogs and online magazines, streaming services for video and audio, download services, online radio, applications, social channels, and so on, constitute content. Internet and content have become inseparable.
DJs and event producers are content producers. Apart from the music and videos they create, the event itself produces a barrage of new (at times not-commissioned) content before, during and after the occasion. This content can be curated and redistributed via the internet in numerous ways, thus creating an income model.
The content produced by a DJ, in a live situation or otherwise, is unique to the DJ and makes him distinct from the rest or stand out. This content usually entails entertainment, infotainment and music. Apart from festival programs, artists and event producers can generate other forms of relevant and unique content to be distributed online. By offering this content via multiple channels, the content message becomes more powerful and thus will intensify the fan relation.
Furthermore, the content can be exploited cross-medially and commissioned for a new income model. The information supplied by the fans’ social media behavior may result in perceptions that allow for new content products and new income models. Content nurtures the fan (or client) relation.
Content is available at anytime, anywhere, in various forms. It is an integral part of the digital economy and generates crucial information for all sorts of internet companies (search engines, social media, online retail and distribution) and technology suppliers. The data collected by these companies must be stored, analyzed and referenced with the data (i.e. information) owned by the organization. Content generates additional fan data and thus a more complete fan profile.
In the future, fans and clients will require more fan (or event) related experiences and inspirations; it propels them to the DJ’s (or event’s) online environment. The younger generations of fans and clients, in particular, expect more than a handful of posts or an austere e-commerce functionality. In order to serve both today’s and tomorrow’s fan (or client), the DJ has to smarten up his online promotion and sales channels.
Most DJ online environments are still stand-alone silos that do not cross reference the generated data. After (re)structuring all online activities in order to create coherence, effects will be easier to gauge. The results are: more peace for the organization and all its business relations, plus a more flexible organization that is better equipped to adapt to future changes that will surely come. It will improve the results of the internet strategy and secure the value proposition.
Each DJ – and every event and festival as well – is actually a brand, that is, a platform. What to do in order to realize striking online presence and ditto value? For the DJ operating in the digital world, proper branding entails:
- The DJ’s website must be detached from the record company’s website; it serves as a central hub for all information and content.
- The DJ’s website must include ordinary e-commerce facilities, for example a basic web shop offering music, merchandise, downloads and tickets for sale.
- The DJ’s website, social channels, apps and additional platforms must be interconnected.
- Pre-orders are the key to maximizing digital turnover. All digital and/or physical albums and singles must be available as pre-order items.
- The distribution of single and album releases via all relevant online retail channels must have global coverage.
- Leaking WAVs, MP3s and mixes (DJ sets) to bloggers, podcasters, DJs, radio and journalists.
- A digital PR team that contacts internet radio, podcasters, bloggers, journalists and DJs and compiles online promotion packages.
- Images of all MP3 and mix releases. These are present in the search engine directories of Google, Yahoo, Bing and DuckDuckGo in order to generate traffic.
- Photos and/or videos of performances and concerts; documentaries on the DJ and his (her) career; clips of tours; and interactive web activity must be used to engage (the relationship with) the fan.
- Provide mobile convenience. Create a mobile app (for all operating systems: iOS, Android, Windows and BlackBerry) that is frequently updated, or remodel the website and make it ‘responsive’, i.e. indiscriminate functionality for laptop, tablet and mobile phone.
- Open accounts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to bolster fan engagement. Consider accounts on more recent channels such as Pinterest and Vimeo.
- Customized banners on various social networks that link to the DJ’s website.
- Publish an Electronic Press Kit (EPK) with biography, photos and videos (for example, MP3s, clips, mini documentary, release information of the complete discography, buy-button, info on airplay, performing highlights, upcoming events, potential audiences), that include links to the DJ’s primary channels (website, Facebook, Twitter, iTunes, Spotify) and the correct contact information.
- Create a fan base. Publish a ‘sign on’ field or include a ‘sign on’ button – for example, for a newsletter – and invite fans and visitors to subscribe.
- Use the email list for frequent mail outs; the mail out service is equipped with an ‘autoresponder’
- An event calendar is included on the DJ’s website; it can be copy-pasted by third parties.
- Information on collaborations vis-à-vis strategic partnerships and sponsoring for cross-promotion releases and client recruitment.
- 24/7 digital radio dedicated to priority releases. It should be available to the website of the record company, the DJ, high traffic internet radio directories, plus music channels of cable and satellite services. This radio station is the DJ’s official radio station.
- A basic digital platform for licensing user rights and copyrights for movies, TV, multimedia and advertising agencies. Applying and approval should take up a minimum of time. Study operational music license platforms for reference and research basics and best practices.
DJs must be – and stay – connected to fans and clients. To effect the set of recommendations listed above the DJ must be encouraged to engage proactively in the marketing of his digital brand. That requires a camcorder, or a smartphone with an accurate lens, external hard drive for video storage, plus tablet or laptop. These gadgets are imperative for DJs who aspire to a credible career in the digital music business. The costs are negligible in relation to the profits that can be generated via personal content.
For each DJ, creativity in order to create and distribute content, and personal commitment to the fan, are the top priorities. Musicians will have to tune their strategy to the fan relation. This relation is rooted in the DJ’s personality, his (her) image and the extent to which he or she is partial to sharing their inner secrets. The Holy Grail is to personalize the fan relation. After all, fans crave a personal relation with the object of their adoration, so it is up to the DJ (and his management) to build that relation, in any shape or form. Disregarding the fan’s appetite for any idol-related content will result in loss of turnover and missed opportunities.
Anything that applies to the DJ is relevant to the event and festival producers as well. To fans and clients, the event or the festival is a brand. Simply substitute the festival or event name for the word ‘DJ’ in the list of recommendations outlined above.
If the event producer or the DJ manager sticks with an outdated strategy and continues to be self-centered, he will run into problems: he is not able to adapt in a swift and pro-active fashion to the shifting dynamics of the music market. A mistake frequently made by self-centered organizations is to focus exclusively on cost reduction when sales are dwindling. This practice will provide only temporary relief that delays the sales slump. In the long run, the company will languish when it refuses to refashion its business model and its organizational structure.
Rigidly hierarchical organizations are fading from the business playing field, there is no future for them in the digital world. Pillars, cocoons, silos, power games in the board room, and self-occupied management layers that stifle innovation are increasingly a thing of the past. The DJ and event producer must structure their organization horizontally. A solution that can work miracles, increasingly practiced by companies, is simply to cut the ties between the directors and the board. The general director and a hand-picked team of company representatives manage the departments. This will only work by delegating trust and responsibility to middle management and project managers.
An alternative to the hierarchical organization is the network organization. It is made up of semi-independent entities (‘modules’) that connect in a non-hierarchical fashion; every module has its personal relation to the surroundings. This set-up comes with benefits: it can quickly respond to changes in these surroundings and questions from clients. The modules operate independently, and are facilitated, more so than managed. Network organizations are characterized by clear-cut relationships between the bidder and the contractor; (self-managing) teams; facilitating management; and more know-how at employee level. Network organizations make do with fewer managers. Employees manage themselves, whether in (self-managing) teams or not.
The DJ and his management must set-up their team as a network organization, foregoing hierarchical arrangements. Networks ask for a different management style without formalized links. Not ‘he is the boss’, but ‘I accept his or her leadership’ or ‘I accept that he or she is responsible for a specific task or part of the job’. It is about shared leadership. In fact, the team identifies its informal leader. His (or her) main objective is the peace and harmony of the team. The struggle for power is irrelevant.
The DJ’s management must evolve from a humiliating machine into a flexible and horizontally structured value creating network. The creativity, dedication and problem-solving qualities of the people that comprise the DJ’s organization make his or her position in the music business sturdier.
The DJ’s management and its first-line partners (records companies, music publishers, booking agencies and the like) must co-operate on equal terms, realizing goals by exploring options in close collaboration.
Co-operation, complementing competitions, trust and shared ambitions are fundamental characteristics of the new organizational form. The people that comprise the network organization work independently, and are facilitated rather than managed. The very same applies to the event or festival producer. The organization and its various in-house modules and outside partners (creation, production, communication, sales, legal and bookings) must work as equals towards a common end. The formation of a steering group is imperative, an ‘organic’ consequence of the process.
The DJ’s management or management of the festival producer should cultivate a steering group. Its mission is this:
- The steering group gives advice to the network organization on its policy, its strategy and its tactical approach.
- The steering group assists the network organization in word and deed at realizing its aims.
- The steering group is focused on raising support for the network organizations policy and strategy; it functions as its sparring partner.
Remember, in order to function properly the steering group requires expert advice from outside parties. In essence, the steering group will have to be steered in turn. Most directors would feel a latent sense of desperation without the advice and support by experts. It is horrifying to imagine managers who intervene in processes without having any understanding of the practice.
DJs and event producers are compelled to reinvent their business model in order to become part of the internet ecosystem. The traditionally organized company with its hierarchical structure is not in sync with the digital reality. The market develops its own dynamic; it is hardly impossible to identify how things came about.
A success factor of the new business model for DJs and event producers working in EDM is the restructuring of their organization. The organization must be designed in the form of a collaboration, a so-called network organization, an often informal collection of co-operating modules that signals practices, developments and current plus future bottlenecks regarding awareness, knowledge, policy, implementation and regulations; arranges who tackles these issues and how; and communicates these matters to all parties concerned.
A network organization must be regarded as a an organizational format in which members of organizations (so-called nodes in the network) collaborate to realize both common and individual targets.
The proper project aligns congenial energy towards an ambition or theme, and thus strengthens all contacts and relations between the various persons and organizations that are part of the network. The structure of a network organization appears to be informal, yet the set-up functions in a compelling fashion due to the ‘give and take’ principle, mutual dependencies and bilateral agreements. The organization comprises non-hierarchical modules and teams that have their personal relation to the surroundings and are able to respond quickly to changes in the surroundings or questions from fans and clients. The modules operate independently; they are facilitated rather than managed.
What other conditions must be met?
The rules of the game by which the new organization plays must be crystal clear (great communication skills for both internal and external communication);
- There must be a convincing and substantive future vision regarding the new business model, so all involved are working towards the same goal;
- Keen assessment of all members of the network organization and their achievements;
- Member of the network organization must be coached on professional abilities and skills, intensively so if necessary.
Network organizations make up an important part of our daily lives. Without realizing it, we are part of various networks, consisting of a variety of goals and people who we interact with in order to make more of our lives. In the future, these organizational formats will have an even greater influence on society than they already have today. The arrival of the internet has made the potential of information service seemingly limitless and there will be initiatives that are completely different from the hierarchical structures that have been the dominant format—and to an extent, still are. It is necessary to adapt to this new reality and restructure your organization so it services that brand that you, the DJ or the event you produce, are.