Manage for Success: Year End Actions, Newsletter #44, December 2004

"Manage for Success" is a free monthly newsletter for record label executives who want to operate their companies efficiently and successfully. It's published by Keith Holzman of Solutions Unlimited, a management consultant, troubleshooter, and trusted advisor, and is based on his many years as a senior executive in the music industry.

Copyright 2004 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Many subscribers found last December’s newsletter to be very helpful, so here it is again, with some revisions and a few additional ideas.

As we approach the end of the year, the opportunity exists to close the books on what you did this year, and plan for next year. While doing so, try to eliminate or alleviate some of this year’s problems. If, however, you've managed to sail through the year with no difficulties of any sort, please call and tell me your secret so I can let other readers in on your methods!

For the rest of us mere mortals, start by being sure you’ve thoroughly worked out your strategies for next year’s business. This assumes you’ve designed a comprehensive set of plans for how you want to operate. You’ve decided on what you’ll be releasing -- give or take an addition or two to your artist roster and release schedule. You’ve budgeted the recording costs, and conservatively estimated the potential for sales. You’ve projected marketing costs for each release and have developed a projected profit and loss statement with cash flows and balance sheets.

Assuming you’ve done all of that, take the time to review it and make any updates or corrections you deem necessary.

If you haven’t done it, I think it’s essential that you do so. You might want to take a look at how to do this in my newsletter on budgeting from May 2001, which explains the process.

<http://www.holzmansolutions.com/articles/01-may01.html>

This is also an excellent time to think back over the current year and determine what you’d like to do differently in the New Year. It’s quite satisfying to be able to end the year by wiping the slate clean, starting all over with full knowledge of how you'll go about making things better.

It’s also the time to review your staff and consider any changes you might want to make. Contemplate promoting anyone who’s really contributed to the benefit of the label, and replace any person whose performance is not up to your expectations. Think about whether you need to add staff to any critical department, such as marketing. Will adding someone increase the label’s efficiency, and result in sufficient income to cover the cost of the new hire?

How are you doing with office space? Will you need more at some time in the near future? If so, it might be wise to start looking while things are relatively quiet, because when you get busy in the first quarter, you may not have the time.

This is also the time to project a need for such equipment as computers, printers, phone systems and other office essentials. If you know you’re going to add to the staff, be sure you’ve budgeted for the additional furniture and gear.

Do you have an inventory of all office equipment with serial numbers and location? If not, this is an excellent time to assemble one. It can be a simple list in a spreadsheet, or a more elaborate database.

Sort through your files and consider weeding out any that are obsolete. You might be able to shred or toss them, but consult first with your attorney to be sure you’re not violating any laws. If they must be kept and if you’re tight for space, they can me moved to an outside storage facility, or they can be microfilmed.

The same holds true for old computer files, but rather than completely destroying them, consider copying them on to CD-R disks and filing them in a safe place. That keeps the data available, but frees up space on crowded hard drives.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Need a last minute stocking stuffer for a music-business colleague? Consider a gift of my book, "The Complete Guide To Starting A Record Company" which can be ordered as a downloadable eBook (in Adobe Acrobat® PDF form) at $29.95, or as a printed, spiral-bound book at $44.95. You can read the complete Table of Contents and download the Introduction for free at              <http://www.recordcompanystartup.com/>.

It makes a great present!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Get a handle on the whereabouts of your session multi-track and master tapes. Be sure they’ve been removed from the studios and have been properly logged in your recording tape database. You do have one, don’t you? Then see that are safely stored in a secure, climate-controlled off-site facility designed for that purpose.

At the end of the year, obtain a count of your entire inventory at your pressing plants and duplicators. If you own the product at your distributors -- it may be there on consignment -- be sure to get a complete tally from them as well. And then count what you're storing in your office or any outside warehouse you may be using. It's a lot of work, but it's extremely important to know what you own, and your accountant will thank you.

Review your methods and procedures used during the past year. Are they working smoothly and efficiently? If not, the coming year is an excellent time to make changes. If you need advice in this area, I might be able to help you. I counsel record industry executives on how to manage their businesses more effectively. I've been doing it successfully for my clients for many years, so enlist my support if you need counseling in management or administrative matters. As a trusted advisor to many companies, I treat all clients and all assignments confidentially. Call me to see how I may be able to help you.

Check the integrity of your computer network. Do you have a functioning firewall that's able to keep intruders from trashing your computers and files? And do all of your computers have virus protection software? If not, install them as soon as possible.

Are your backup systems functioning properly? I'm assuming you've taken my advice in previous newsletters and instituted a comprehensive backup program? If not, start one at the very beginning of the year -- if not sooner!

Review your artist agreements. Conceivably they could be simpler and more artist-friendly in tone, and in fact.

Take a look at your pricing policy to see if it needs revision.

Are you reaping all of the extra income possible as a result of licensing your music to films, television, and commercials?

Have you protected your valuable property by filing SR Forms with the Register of Copyrights for all of the year's releases? If not, get them in right away.

Take a good look at your web site. Is it completely up to date with lots of information about all of your releases? If not, make it so.

End this year and start the next with my mantra -- "Plan Ahead!"

And finally, let me take this opportunity to wish you all a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Until next month,

Keith Holzman -- Solutions Unlimited

Helping Record Labels Manage for Success.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

You may use or reprint the above article provided that you include complete copyright and attribution with a link to this web site. Please let me know when and where the material might appear.

You can subscribe to "Manage for Success" by clicking here.

Most important, should you have a topic you'd like me to address in future newsletters, please email: mailto:keith@holzmansolutions.com

Copyright 2004 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.