The following is a comprehensive business proposal for the curation of a music- based blog called ‘A Window to Our World’. It will provide readers with music industry updates, reviews, interviews, and other such features mostly for free. This will be different from other music blogs because it will feature behind the scenes content from gigs, festivals, and interviews to create a deeper connection with the audience and allow them to experience the industry in a unique way. A podcast and interactive forum will be incorporated into the blog by the end of the first year to provide consumers with an alternative medium, and this will be available for a small monthly subscription fee which could be cancelled at any time.
I will be the sole managing director of the business due to its size and the skills and knowledge I have gained through my degree and experience writing for music blog Tap the Feed. Working with me will be a professional photographer to take photos and videos during concerts and interviews, and he will initially be a voluntary contributor, though he will eventually take a share of the business’ profits. We each have a portfolio of relevant experience in our respective fields that will aid in the business, and we plan to fill in any gaps in our skillset by taking any necessary courses.
A full breakdown of financial projections is showcased and discussed below. It is predicted that the blog will make a small loss during its first year, but it is expected to begin making a profit by the end of year two due to increased blog traffic and the subscription feature being launched. Initial funding requirements are expected to be roughly £2069 with revenue being generated from several sources, which will increase as the blog grows. These figures were reached based on personal experience, extensive research into the expenses and various avenues of revenue generation for blogging, and a certain degree of estimation.
A Window to Our World will be based on various aspects of the music industry. This will include live music, festival and album reviews, photosets, interviews with artists, commentary on music industry news, and interviews with other music industry professionals. Additionally, there would eventually be a section to document the time spent at such events through visual and audio- visual mediums to showcase exclusive content. This will be the blogs’ unique selling point as it will allow a deeper connection to be formed with the audience and provide them a resource to learn more about the wider music industry (Lush Content, 2019). Once a solid readership level has been achieved, a podcast would be created to be featured on the blog to provide an additional medium to publish interviews, in addition to featuring discussions on current industry events with a range of people involved in the music industry, such as artists, managers, and label representatives. The idea for this came from the existing industry podcast called Metal Break (MetalBreak, 2019), but it will differ as it will cover a range of musical genres and topics. Initially, the business would start as a small independent venture that would focus on two or three genres to ensure workload and targets are manageable, for example, metal, rock, and pop. This would then be expanded as the blog grows in popularity and generates higher income.
The idea for this business has been in progress for several months due to a strong interest in photography and journalism. It would be owned solely by myself as it would be a personal project to begin with. At present, the blog is still in the planning stages, however, I have a range of experience and contacts (Appendix 1.) which can be applied through my degree at BIMM, and an internship with music blog Tap the Feed. This provides a strong advantage in terms of access, content creation, marketing, and editing, among other things.
The content of the blog itself will be free with revenue being generated from advertisements and sponsorship, so the audience can gain information and entertainment whenever they wish. As it is planned to be a purely digital platform, the business can adapt and grow to changes in technology, and readers’ wants and needs easily. For example, it would be possible to potentially incorporate virtual and augmented reality with live events as this grows in accessibility and popularity among the general public. Such technology has already begun to infiltrate the live music sector with Live Nation announcing in 2016 they would be teaming up with various companies to create live VR events (Smith, 2017). This presents an interesting opportunity for music journalism to progress.
There are, however, a number of issues with the business idea, some of which will be explored further in other sections. For example, I do not have any personal experience with creating and running a website or podcast, and there are already a countless number of music blogs, such as Metal Injection, in existence so it will take a lot of work to make this one stand out. It is therefore important to create a detailed project plan and analyse areas of strengths and weakness accordingly.
Initially, the only person running the blog will be myself, although there will also be a photographer, Tom Welch (App. 2) to take and edit photographs of gigs and artists when required. As the blog grows, I would bring additional journalists, photographers, and editors on board to distribute work- load and create more content to keep up with website traffic.
As the managing director of this business, it is important that I possess the necessary skills to kickstart the business venture. Having spent three years studying a Music Industry Management degree, my existing management skillset is comprehensive and well rounded. My studies have included financial management, people management, digital marketing, social networking, content creation, and many other relevant areas. I am also a customer and trading manager of a busy supermarket, which has enhanced these skills and taught me additional aspects of business management which can be applied to this venture.
Furthermore, according to the Myres- Briggs Type Indicatior, my Architect INTJ personality (App. 3) type naturally leans towards the management role and is particularly effective when working alone or in small groups (16 Personalities, 2019), which is optimum for a business of this size. I also have experience working with Tom successfully in the past, and his INTP Logician personality type (App. 4) fits well in our dynamic. However, such personality tests may not be valid, and it has been suggested that there are inconsistencies that mean one should doubt the conclusions drawn from the MBTI (Pittenger, 2005, p216). We also both work full- time which may cause issues with hitting targets, and Tom’s experience specific to gig photography is limited. That being said, our working relationship has been successful in the past, he is an experienced photographer with relevant training and qualifications, and he already possess all the necessary equipment. Tom would also take a training course to learn more about this area through Nikon School (Nikon, 2019), with whom he has existing connections.
My personal area of expertise lies in the writing itself as I have experience as a published music journalist with Tap the Feed (App. 5). This has involved attending and reviewing gigs and interviewing artists, which is exactly where my business will be starting. I have also taken music journalism classes over the past year to gain additional training and experience. Although, as previously mentioned I do not have any experience in starting or running a blog or podcast, but I would overcome this by taking a CPD approved training course to fill the gaps in my skillset (Reed, 2019). A full list of personal strengths and weaknesses can be found in Appendix 6.
Timeline and Project Plan
A preliminary project plan and timeline has been created using the SMART target system to help identify specific goals, and how and when they should be achieved (SAMHSA, 2017). This has been split into short- term, medium- term, and long- term goals with an ultimate end goal to be achieved through completing these steps (McKay, 2019), which can be seen below in Figure 1.
Prior to beginning to embark on this venture, myself and Tom would have taken the relevant courses to ensure we can start with all of the necessary skills and knowledge. The first six months will then be spent setting up the blog using WordPress, which was chosen for its value for money and range of features, including podcast implementation (Winn, 2019). The blog would later be transferred to my own website once it has gained enough monthly traffic, which will then enable me to use advertisements and affiliate links to generate revenue (Paterson, 2019).
Having the creation of the blog as the first step is the most logical, even if there is no content to post at that stage, because it can take several months for a new site to be visible on Google (Ceri, 2019). Therefore, this allows time for the blog to be released from the sandbox whilst I complete the other necessary tasks. Furthermore, the early target of posting one weekly article is realistic as it has been found that posting at this rate is around two times more effective than publishing less frequently (Crestodonia, 2018).
Focusing on writing article without a podcast element for the first year will allow me significant time to develop my brand and readership, in addition to putting sufficient time into promotion, branching out of the local music scene, and designing the podcast itself. The podcast has become increasingly popular over the last few years and Burns and Matthews (2018) suggest this is because it provides a way for people to access media without scrolling through pages of content. It will therefore be necessary to ensure all features on the blog are mobile friendly.
Ultimately, the end goal is to become a recognised music industry resource across the UK within five years. After this has been achieved, I would then begin to branch out further to optimise opportunities worldwide.
Despite having a time- bound plan in place, there is the possibility that things may go wrong, or take longer to complete than initially planned. A SWOT analysis has therefore been completed to identify potential threats and weak points, as well as opportunities for future expansion (Figure 2.).
Initially, the blog will be marketed primarily through social media, specifically Instagram and Facebook due to the ability to embed posts, personalise hashtags, and import content directly into the blog (Ramsay, 2019). The two platforms can also be integrated together, and they both allow the use of paid for advertisements to and sponsored posts to reach your target audience. In this case, my target market is 18- 30-year olds and students. My personal Facebook (App.7) and Instagram (App.8) profiles have a reasonable following, so I can use these to promote the blog to people I know, in addition to circulating its social media profiles due to these platforms having easily sharable content. However, surveys have found that social media is the weakest method of blog promotion (Crestodonia, 2018), thus I would need to incorporate other marketing methods. Social media influencers were found to be the strongest method in promoting blogs (Ibid), so this is something I would implement as soon as possible to increase awareness and traffic. Word of mouth marketing is arguably the most important method during the early stages, with 92% of people claiming to value recommendations from friends and family over other forms of marketing (Whitler, 2014). Working with local acts and industry professionals, will help to circulate the blog and build my reputation, as will my existing industry contacts, family, and friends.
Furthermore, it is common in the blogging community for authors to work together and promote each other (Scott, 2009, p211), so I would reach out to other bloggers, and comment on more established blogs to further circulate my name. Finally, the use of search engine optimisation will be vital, and this would be done by making my blog aesthetically pleasing with well-structured posts and including key words in page titles (QuickSprout, 2019).
Budget and Cashflow Forecast
There are a range of start- up costs to be considered when starting this business, and these will ideally be covered through a small loan. For example, I would need to be pay for the use of WordPress Business which was chosen due its Google Analytics Integration, SEO tools, social media integration, and the ability to monetise the site (WordPress, 2019). The use of analytics will be important in monitoring traffic in terms of location and time, so I can target my blog and social media posts accordingly using the advanced social media option. I would also need to purchase tickets to events, and various equipment to record and edit podcasts so I can start that element of the blog as planned. This could cost as much as £750 as an upfront cost followed by £225 per month (Gray, 2015), but further research has led to a more cost- effective way of setting up and running a podcast. A full breakdown of start- up costs and 12 and 24- month forecast can be found in Appendices 9 and 10.
Initially, revenue would be generated through advertisements and sponsorship from local artists and business like The Fleece. This is likely to yield a low income, so I would begin to implement affiliate links to well- known brands like Amazon as soon as possible. The use of affiliate links yields commission and can be set up easily with a company called Affiliate Window (AWIN, 2019). One of the best ways to generate revenue for a niche blog is to use advertorials, which are articles written by advertisers that include images or embedded videos (SeedingUp, 2019). They are written in the same style as the rest of the blog and work on a fixed fee basis that I decide and are often very popular with readers (ibid). When the podcast element is live, I would then implement a subscription feature with a small monthly fee to generate further revenue. As the blog becomes a more recognised name, more options to monetise will likely become available and higher traffic will mean higher revenue. Due to the small amount of income for the first two years, the business would not need to pay income tax, and VAT on business expenses would be claimed back at the end of each tax year.
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