#8: The Time I Worked At Disney, And How To Innovate The Music Biz

Get the fan experience right…

The actual business model for Disney, by Walt Disney (at least at the time of writing it)

When I was 18 and in college I took a job at Disney World to make some money. I sold toys in Downtown Disney, at a store called Once Upon A Toy. At the time, I wasn’t really great at my job. I made a bunch of sales by playing with the toys and kids, joking around with parents, and not paying much attention to the “Disney way” of doing things. I’d probably get in trouble once a week, and I hated going in because of it. Managers were so strict with the rules, down to way you’d point someone in the direction of the bathroom. At the time, I didn’t get it. Years later, I do.

The reason Disney was so specific with everything was because they were looking to protect the fan experience. If you’re an artist, manager, label owner, etc., you’re in the fan experience business. The photo above may seem like a crazy mish-mosh of shit, but it’s actually an outline to how character brands get built, and how those brands are monetized through various fan experiences. They don’t all need to be in person at a theme park. In fact, most of the experiences aren’t. The actual experience goes across all platforms and content that touches the fan/potential fan.

Think about how relatable that outline really is. Disney created brands through content (TV/Film/Music). Once those brands were big enough, they created mechanisms to sell/license the premium content in various ways. From there, you could buy merchandise or physical product of the brands that you liked, diving into their world. After all of that, you could take a trip to the place where these brands exist and live in their world for an extended period of time. That’s content creation, content distribution, merchandising, D2C, and live shows. All with an elevated experience tailored to the audience they’re looking to grab. Sound familiar?

The big issue a lot of artists have is how little they care about their fans, and the experience they receive when jumping into their world. The bigger issue is how little the business people realize that this is the real business that they’re in. If you are in any way, shape, or form, a person working on the entertainment business side of things, you aren’t doing anything groundbreaking without caring about the fan journey.

Most people think about point of entry content or awareness. They care about how captivating the music video is, or what blogs picked their record up. All positive things to worry about, but what comes after that for you? What are you posting on social media that let’s the person that just discovered your music relate to you? How many times are you popping up in peoples feed reminding them of that? To everyone that asks me “how do I get more followers/engagement on social”, that’s the answer. Post more, on brand, relatable, shareable shit.

Dive deeper now. How do you convert that awareness and retention into an audience that fucks with you on a much deeper level? How do you take that audience and mobilize them whenever something comes out? The answer is all in the experience that you’re giving them. The better the content, the more they wanna follow you. The more you engage with them, the more they want to support in real life. The better the premium content you give them, the more they want to buy. They better the experience at the show, the more they want to invite their friends out the next go around.

The way we need to be thinking…

The best innovators in this business look at the world like nothing is finite outside of death and taxes. Every detail can be examined, and your creativity can lead you to making it a better moment for the fan. If you’re an up and coming artist or manager, I challenge you to ask yourself what you’re doing to create an actual end-to-end experience for anyone that gives a fuck about the music you’re pushing. If you’re someone in the business and seeing success, I challenge you to overlook the details of any income stream you have built and ask how you can make that process better for the fan.

It’s time to stop doing the norm, and start to actually innovate in this business. Let’s raise the fucking bar!

(To anyone that is taking the challenge that I outlined in the paragraph above seriously, text me at (347) 514–9418 with details of your findings. The more feedback on the process, the better.)