Manage for Success: Planning Ahead Revisited, Newsletter #61, May 2006


"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 2006 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.

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


This starts the sixth year of writing these newsletters, and I must say I’ve enjoyed it, although the hardest part is coming up with a topic of interest to a majority of readers. Therefore if you have a subject that you’d like me to discuss in a future letter, and that I’ve not already addressed, please email me at the address below. All sixty prior newsletters are posted at

<http://www.holzmansolutions.com/articles.html >


I find in talking to my clients that not planning ahead is one of their biggest pitfalls. I guess it’s because many of us creative types have difficulty putting things on paper, don’t have the inclination for any substantive planning, and don’t have the time (or think we don't have the time) to place rear end on seat and just get to it. In fact, as I state in my book, "The Complete Guide to Starting a Record Company," planning is one of the absolute essentials in effectively running a record label. I just took a glance at the PDF file of the book and Adobe Acrobat shows me that the word "plan" or its derivative occurs some 206 times in the book! That's how strongly I feel about it.


By the way, you can have your very own copy of "The Complete Guide To Starting A Record Company" which can be bought as an eBook in PDF form, or as a printed, spiral-bound volume. Read the complete Table of Contents and download the Introduction at <http://www.recordcompanystartup.com/>. Then buy the book at the same site.


I firmly believe that carefully detailed planning is essential to the success and well being of any business -- especially a record label -- if it is to succeed!


I addressed various aspects of such detailed preparation in many of these messages during the past five years.


The financial aspects of planning ahead were discussed in Newsletter #30 of October 2003 and #53 of September 2005. They addressed year end planning though preparation of an A&R and marketing plan that ultimately leads to a preliminary but comprehensive operating budget for the following year. This budgeting process requires you to think through and examine virtually every aspect of running your business.

<http://www.holzmansolutions.com/articles/30-oct03.html >

and

<http://www.holzmansolutions.com/articles/53-sep05rev.html >


One example. Do you have a clue near the end of each year as to the artists and projects you’ll likely be releasing in the following year? Or at least the artists you plan to pursue and hopefully sign to the roster? Or do you just trust to chance that someone will come along? If you don't know about your A&R future, this is one of those areas you should be dealing with.


When you’re about ready to send an artist into the studio, have you agreed on how the money will be spent, and have you prepared a recording budget? Is it outlined in a spreadsheet or other method that allows you to project recording costs and then track and control those costs?

<http://www.holzmansolutions.com/articles/06-oct01.html >


Do you routinely develop comprehensive marketing plans for each and every project many months prior to street date? And then do you implement them and track their effectiveness and cost? This was discussed in Newsletter #9 of January 2002.

<http://www.holzmansolutions.com/articles/09-jan02.html >


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


Planning and budgeting is a complex and never-ending procedure, and some of us are better at it than others. I've been doing it successfully for many years -- for my employers, for my own label, and for many of my clients. Enlist my assistance if you're not well organized, are numerically challenged, need guidance in approaching planning and budgeting for your label, or even if you need counseling in other management or administrative areas. As a trusted advisor to many record companies over the years, I treat all clients and all assignments confidentially. I look forward to hearing from you.


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


I addressed strategic planning -- a more comprehensive form of thinking ahead, in Newsletter #34 of March 2004.

<http://www.holzmansolutions.com/articles/35-mar04.html >


The words "strategic planning" might make you think that this is something only large corporations get involved in. On the contrary any business, if it is to thrive, should use such methods to protect its future.


And it's not just an attempt at "running the numbers." All aspects of your business should be analyzed with a long-range view of how it should function in an idealized, yet very real, future.


As I wrote a few years ago, long-range planning involves amplifying on short-range goals, extending them out a few years -- perhaps as far ahead as five, although three may be easier to work with until you've had fairly extensive planning experience.


Finally, I addressed contingency planning -- planning for what you hope will never happen --  in Newsletter #42 of October 2004. It discusses what happens in the event of fire, flood, hurricane, etc. And don't think it can't happen to you. I remember the civil unrest of the L.A. riots, and the earthquake of 1994 which kept people from getting to the office. Perhaps more difficult was dealing with the mess it created.


The events of September 11, 2001 had a major impact on much of lower Manhattan and its ripples reverberated throughout the country for a very long time. And let's not forget what havoc Hurricane Katrina wrought in Louisiana and the Gulf States. So having a contingency plan for dealing with such a crisis is a lot more important than you might think.

<http://www.holzmansolutions.com/articles/42-oct04.html >


Part of your planning effort should be in seriously thinking about what might happen to your company if you or one of your key people becomes incapacitated, or is made unavailable for an extended period of time. Is there someone on staff capable of filling in during such an emergency. Such a form of redundancy and advanced planning can get you out of a very bad scrape.


Take advantage of occasional "down time" to start thinking about yourself and your label's future. Plan on how to cope with all manner of potential problems, so the day some crisis occurs -- and it probably will one way or another -- you'll have a fair handle on how to deal with it, but more important, be able to keep your label on a solid footing.


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.


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 2006 by Keith Holzman, Solutions Unlimited. All rights reserved.