Celebrating the innovators, risk-takers and change agents that are building the products of the future within large organizations.

Intrapreneurs in the Music Industry

A common theme that has emerged here in the Intrapreneur Alliance Journal is that new and innovative ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes ideas come from within a company, other times from outside sources. This is also true when it comes to evolving industries. Sometimes innovation comes from the main players, sometimes it comes in the form of disruption from the outside, and sometimes it comes from the people we least expect.

The music industry has always been very interesting when it comes to innovation. There are multiple people from both within and outside the industry trying to innovate while keeping music fans happy and consuming music in a profitable way.

There are the music industry folks, who have traditionally been the ones to make most of the money and would like to keep it that way, so they tend to innovate very slowly-making sure they maintain full control over everything. Then there’s the tech disruptors, the people that are trying to bring music to more people in new ways that work for their new modern lives (think music streaming services like Spotify or Soundcloud). Finally, there’s the actual artists. These are the people that want to create music that connects them with their fans. They’re always searching for the newest and best ways to do this, and may also be the ones creating the most change from within the industry.

Colourful Music Notation Staff

In the past, if artists wanted to “make it” in the music business, there was a path to follow: Get discovered, sign a contract with a label, record an album, release a single, go on tour, then repeat steps 3-5 as many times as possible and get popular. However, thanks to the technology disrupters mentioned above, that no longer needs to be the case. Artists are exploring new and interesting ways to make a name for themselves.

Here are two interesting ways that artists themselves are innovating and changing the industry from within:

Signing with a label is no longer mandatory

Before the days of the internet, the only way to get your music out to the masses was to sign with a label that could help you get distribution. However, the emergence of the web has allowed for anyone to have worldwide distribution with the click of a button. Upload your music to YouTube or Soundcloud and instantly people all over the world can discover and access it. It has created a world where needing large companies to connect you to the masses is no longer necessary. If you have talent and can promote yourself well enough on your own, people will find you.

Chance the Rapper

One of the recent examples of this is Chance The Rapper. Chance is a talented producer and rapper who decided to forego the traditional label-signing route and did it all himself. His talent helped him bring in some big name collaborators from the music world, which helped him with promotion. Because distribution is now easy and accessible, he released his own music on hip-hop mixtape sites, YouTube, music streaming platforms like Apple Music and Spotify, and other channels. And without the help of a large label, his music became so popular that he was nominated for seven Grammys this year and won three of them.

Chance the Rapper took a chance himself to try something that hadn’t really been done before. He found new ways to achieve success while disrupting the model that had been in place for decades. His innovation in the industry makes him a true intrapreneur.

Albums don’t matter anymore

Innovation doesn’t always come in massively disruptive ways as the example above. Sometimes just tweaking the way something works is innovative and can only be seen by true intrapreneurs.

In the traditional music model, fans had to purchase an artist’s full album so they could hear the single they really wanted to hear. However, technology has again given artists a way to disrupt this model. Thanks to streaming and video sites and services and video, music fans can access any song they want at anytime. This can mean that some fans will listen over and over to the big hit songs while mostly ignoring the rest of an artist’s album.

Chainsmokers

One music act that realized this and took advantage of it is the EDM group The Chainsmokers. The group released their now very well-known track #Selfie in December of 2013. While it took a while to reach the masses, it became one of the most popular songs of 2014. With their newfound popularity, The Chainsmokers then continued to release songs one at a time every few weeks for almost three years. Each single would gain attention because fans were hungry for music from them but were only being given it one song at a time. The group quickly became one of the most popular acts in the world without ever releasing an actual album.

In April of 2017, the group finally released a full album of almost entirely new music, but the album received very little attention. Fans already knew who they were and lived for their singles. The group could have probably gone their entire career without ever going the traditional route of releasing an album, because they innovated and found a new way of doing things that worked for them.

These are just two examples of how innovation and intrapreneurship can come from anywhere. We’re always on the hunt to find more examples of innovation from within and people who are embracing the intrapreneur lifestyle. Know someone doing this? We’d love to feature them here in the journal, so please nominate them by clicking here.

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