So in case you don’t know already, I run Whiskey Kisses Promotions which, so far, has been a Roots, Country and Americana gig promotions company based in Leeds.
The decision to start WK came after an intern role I had at a London-based company who put on gigs across multiple genres and exposed me to the organising-only role. Of course, being an artist, I had previously booked and ran gigs for the bands I was in, but had never done it just as a promoter. This experience was a breath of fresh air as the extra pressure of performing had been taken away and I found it really enjoyable.
After a while of running shows in London, I then moved up to Leeds and broke into the Country music scene. That’s where the more direct path to WK really started. There weren’t many Country artists coming through Leeds, most stopped off at Manchester and missed my city out. Thing is, there is a vibrant music scene and a huge amount of amazing venues in Leeds and, later proof came, there is also a fan base. So I decided to take the reins into my own hands and start my business.
Aaaand this is what I’m getting at. What does it take to start a (music) business? As much as I wish you could, you can’t slap a logo on something and call it a business. Things might seem like a breeze on the surface but once you start digging a little, you’ll probably find that running a business independently (in any industry) is not easy!
Chances are if you’re wanting to start a business, you already know what you want to do. So, if you want some confidence in your business, you want to do some market research, see where you stand in the market, is there a gap you can fill? Who are you competing with? Do they do something you can do better? Do you have anything unique about yourself? Are you in the right location? Do you need a location, or are you online only?
Already there are a few things to think about before you even start designing that logo… but that’s just a tiny part of it.
When you’ve got an idea of that, then you need to position yourself, work out your branding, what’s your story? How will it bring people in? How will you reflect your story in your brand and what ethos are you working under?
For example, you might be an artist starting a business and making it artist-friendly, understanding the struggles of the music industry first-hand. Positioning yourself there to help ease some of those pain points.
Marketing is arguably the 2nd most important part of running your business, aside from doing the thing you do really well. Because that’s how you reach your audience!
But then that’s also something to think long and hard about. Do you do your thing well enough to charge people? Especially people with limited budgets such as artists.
It took me years to decide I wanted to take the step to start my own business and that was after A LOT of research into what it took because I wanted to make sure I gave the best service and experience possible to my customers. As great as having the motivation and passion to start a business doing something you love is, it’s worth doing some deep research into what it actually means to take on that kind of work. The last thing any business wants to do is let down their clients by not providing the service they expect or pay for.
This is without entering the question of finances, taxes, technology needed to run your business, insurance if you need it, contracts and so much more.
What I’m basically saying is do your research first.
Hobbies are so much fun, but if you turn yours into a business without researching the full extent of what that means, you might just ruin your enjoyment of that hobby. I think independent businesses are amazing and I love love love supporting them but I don’t want to see anyone lose their love for something because they were in the dark about what running a business is really like. No it’s certainly not all doom and gloom, the creativity you get to use and satisfaction from seeing your vision come to life makes it so rewarding and worth-while, provided you are ready to smash your head against a wall a few times along the way!
That’s my two cents.
P.S. I know some of these are unpopular opinions, but it is worth having a reality check before you start sinking money into something. Make sure you want it badly enough you are willing to sit, learn and make sacrifices to achieve it.