10 Business Lessons from One of the Greatest Live Rock and Roll Bands in History

by · May 21, 201310 comments

I was absolutely enthralled by a recent article about a band that, since 1988, has been near and dear to many of us here in my home town of Telluride Colorado, Phish. Phish ranks among the greatest live bands in rock and roll history, and a sizable subculture of Phishheads would argue that there’s been none better.

Here’s a couple of summarized takeaways from the article, The Business of Phish:

Over the past 4 years Phish has generated $120 million in ticket sales, yet by more typical measures of a band’s success (album sales – Phish’s are minuscule, Billboard Top 10 rankings – none, radio airplay – limited, hit songs – out of the 883 songs Phish has performed none have been hits, and music videos – they only have one and that was heavily mocked)  the band isn’t popular at all.

“Phish doesn’t make money by selling music. They make money by selling live music, and that, it turns out, is a more durable business model.”

The lessons that Phish’s success offers to business owners, CEOs and Marketing professionals are fundamental, yet brilliant.  Their success as a band and as a profitable enterprise should be discussed in every business school in the country; it’s pure genius.

Here are the 10 business lessons that Phish’s success teaches us:

1. Don’t be afraid to build a business or revenue model that plays to your strengths, even if it’s non-conventional.

2. When opportunities don’t present themselves in a timely manner take calculated risks.

3. Slowly, organically build your audience. Be willing to gain a following slowly, steadily, one fan/customer a time.  Look for a place to start your business where it will be relatively easy to get it going.

4. Bootstrap if you can.  Don’t be in a rush to get third-party investors.  You will have more control over things and can do things your own way when you don’t have to please others.

5. Work harder and create a superior product.  As Malcom Gladwell notes: “Deliberate practice” to achieve virtuoso status explains genius.

6. Take the time and put forth the effort to learn how to work together effectively as a team.

7. Don’t just deliver content, engage your audience with it.  Create opportunities for your fans/customers to get together and have fun.

8. Create unique, not boiler-plate products, services and experiences.  When your fans/customers realize that they could miss out on something unique and special they won’t want to miss it.

9. Encourage and reward fan sharing.

10. You will be more profitable if you maximize the value of your existing fans/customers rather than always having to chase after and depend on new ones for your ongoing success. Cater to your existing fans/customers.

“Phish is wildly eclectic, endlessly resourceful, and ever unpredictable, They were at the forefront of a movement, an organic alternative to the mainstream status quo that caught the imagination of millions.

Now wouldn’t you like to say the same for your company?

For more on how Phish lived and prospered from these lessons, be sure to check out the complete The Business of Phish article.

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About Jim Berkowitz

Jim Berkowitz

Jim is a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) industry analyst and technology consultant who assists organizations in planing for, selecting and succeeding with technology designed to get, keep and grow customers. As an Industry Analyst and CRM Technology Coach with CRM Mastery, Inc., (a company he founded in 2004) Jim provides technology selection services to enterprises across the country seeking to invest in CRM technology solutions. In addition, as a Digital Marketer, Jim provides web site design and development as well as internet and social media marketing services to small businesses and celebrities in Telluride, Colorado and beyond.

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  • http://twitter.com/CrackMarketing Crack Marketing

    This band and their story is inspiring! Perhaps business and music are not so different.

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    experience is a good result. I have to thank a lot.

  • http://www.signalhq.com/ Signal

    You’re forgetting the part about letting your customers distribute your content freely, without worrying about making a profit at it. (Or was that just the Grateful Dead?)

    • http://crmweblog.crmmastery.com/ Jim Berkowitz

      You are right! That’s #11. Phish has and does let people have free access to their content, as did the Greatful Dead. I saw the Dead at Red Rocks a few years ago… the day after the show I was able to download an MP3 of the entire concert onto my PC for free.

      • http://www.signalhq.com/ Signal

        Masters at content distribution.. that’s an entirely different blog post! Nice post, Jim.

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    that experience has helped us achieve better results

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