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It's High Time the Music Business Got Obsessed With People Metrics
The case of focusing on artist development on a human level and avoiding vanity metrics...
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On my journey to now, through working with artists at different levels, I’ve come to understand that being successful is much more about the mindset and the 'heartset' of the individuals than it is about the talent.
I would go as far as to say that the talent component only equates to 20% of what is required to be successful.
This belief has been compounded by the work I have done to connect with artists through the sale of my book ‘Zero to Record Breaker’, which has seen me personally undertake over 5,000 one-to-one video calls with artists (and people who work with artists).
I've come to a place where I now readily talk about mindset and heartset components as being 'People Metrics' and so as you read ahead, I'll be referencing this term extensively.
The music industry is (and always has been) incredibly focused on vanity metrics, to the point where there is little to no consideration of the artist’s ‘People Metrics’. Today artists will get signed because they had a viral moment on TikTok, who, from a 'People Metrics' perspective are not ready to truly embark on building a career and making the biggest possible impact with the art they create.
This approach, alongside the short-term perspective of the music business and overall lack of care towards 'People Metrics', leads to a situation where, figuratively speaking, the wheels fall off the bus at some point.
What it means in real terms is that the artist has had a breakdown.
Such a breakdown will have manifested itself physically and mentally, oftentimes meaning the artist can no longer continue or they need an extensive break - which leads to a massive drop in their overall momentum, making it hard or sometimes impossible to recover.
The traditional music business doesn't care much about this, because the exploitative nature of their business model, means that they always have plenty of other artists who will make up for artists who drop off the radar.
We unfortunately still live in a world where the mention of the word 'self-development' are often met with a negative reaction; be it through a lack of belief that it's important or worse that it's a sign of weakness if you admit that you need to spend time on your 'self-development'.
Further, the music business is by design, driven by a culture of 'ego control', meaning that artists and indeed everyone who works within the business are constantly subjected to situations that create vulnerability and feed into the human instinct of feeling important.
This culture is powerful for the big machine because it creates the perfect recipe for exploitation.
Some great initiatives are happening within the music business toward trying to improve the situation and it's fantastic to see people like Babyshambles drummer and artist Adam Ficek work to tackle the problem head-on.
However, most of these initiatives are focused primarily on tackling the symptoms and like with many things within the music business, I believe that trying to change a system and culture, that simply does not want to change, is fighting a losing battle.
Developing a ‘People Metrics System’
The only way to create significant change is to build from the ground up and create an entirely different ecosystem from the one that exists already.
If you've read my first written post here on my Substack:
You'll know that I am on a mission myself to turn High Time into an ecosystem that achieves the impossible - to create a situation that is truly fair, ethical, and nurturing to artists and everyone who works within it.
As I embark on this journey, I do not doubt that the development of a comprehensive 'People Metrics System' is the foundation for making this mission a reality.
This 'People Metrics System' will define and govern the culture of the ecosystem at all levels, from the artists themselves to every team member and person who works with artists within it.
Fundamentally, the 'People Metric System' will be at the heart and center of the artist development process for artists who come into the ecosystem, not just for those who are in the early stages of trying to build a sustainable artist business, but also for those who are already having a great deal of success in doing so.
This is to say that the self-development of artists in the ecosystem will be the most important component of it.
The rationale behind this is a simple one: people who consistently perform to the best of their abilities on a human level, both in terms of the action they take themselves and in how they interact and connect with others, are putting their best foot forward toward achieving their goals.
An artist who is trending at the highest level in the 'People Metric System', will have a much higher chance of being successful, even if their talent levels may not be as natural in an abundance of another artist, who is trending at the lower level of the 'People Metric System'.
This idea isn't a new one, it's prevalent in other fields, especially in sports where the 'Moneyball' approach to developing players to become elite level in their specific expertise is now one that is commonplace in many sports teams.
The 'Moneyball' approach is focused as much on the 'People Metrics' of players as it is on physical and skill development.
Further, the notion is that when it comes to winning, elite-performing players are the ones you want in the team vs those who have talent but do not have the mental strength and fortitude of their elite-performing colleagues.
Proving The Ideas in Practice
In the past four years, I've been working extensively toward proving that the 'People Metric System' idea has legs.
This has been very much a hands-on process, working closely with a select few artists focused on helping to take them from trending low in my rudimentary 'People Metric System', to be in a place where there would be some who were trending at the top level.
Based on work I've done previously in artist development, I hypothesized that 1 in 10 of the artists I supported in this process, would rise to be in a place where they had one prerequisite component to forming a deeper partnership with them.
That one component is door-opening songs capable of connecting to a lot of people.
This part has proven to be true.
The unknown component was how many of the artists I worked with, would rise to trend at the top level in their 'People Metrics'.
One thing is sure, is that self-development of any kind is hard, and the level of commitment an artist needs to show in this area of the system is beyond the levels that most people are capable of achieving.
The exciting thing is that I have two artists who have risen to the top level.
Having already had success with artists, who on reflection, would have scored low in this 'People Metric System', it is my belief, that partnering with these two artists represents a near to risk free investment opportunity - one that has close to zero downsides, and unlimited upside potential.
These two artists are both in different life situations, however, they both have the foundational qualities according to my rudimentary 'People Metrics System' to excel, if they had they were backed at a level to help them maximize the impact they can make with their art.
Getting to this point was and is a monumental moment.
Getting here has been the trigger point for me to take the action I have now taken, toward rebooting High Time, to prove that the 'People Metric System' will first result in undeniable proof ahead when the team I am assembling in High Time breaks these two artists on a global scale and secondly, starts to output more and more artists trending at the top level in their 'People Metrics'.
Artists who will also represent a risk-free investment opportunity.
I believe that the 'People Metrics System' in High Time will result in us flipping the success rate of the music business from 1 in 30, to a success rate of 1 in 1.
In other words, High Time will create commercial viability in every instance of partnering with artists on their careers.
The reboot is happening exactly two weeks today when I will be opening up spaces for artists to join the development system I've spoken about briefly in this piece, as well as releasing the first single featuring both of these artists in collaboration.
What do you think about the idea of a 'People Metrics System' being at the heart of the music business?
Let me know in the comments.