StartUp = Band Pt. 4: The Lean Years
Back in the 90’s, the “Golden Years" of the band Everything, (aka the years that found us packing seven sweaty dudes into one cheap motel room), we were a lean startup before we even knew the concept. Roughly twenty years later, Craig and I would study the methodology–iterate, build, and release quickly, then capture consumer feedback in order to create the product(s) that your market wants.
But back then, we just lived lean. If you have a spare hour and a half, here’s proof.
Each night in clubs from Maine to Colorado, we would BUILD (a set list, new songs, jams), TEST (observe how people reacted), and LEARN (wow, everyone left the dance floor when we went into that slow song… let’s put that somewhere else in the set tomorrow).
We used this lean methodology for everything from our album releases to our marketing efforts–aka how to get the word out to your fans, pre-Facebook, pre-smart phones. (Crazy, I know…!)
Here’s a metric–over the course of more than 1,000 shows, we sold 30,000 albums through our own mail order and at shows. By paying attention to the energy in the room, (aka the wisdom of the crowd, aka no parking on the dance floor), we became lean music experts. Oh, and we also worked, toured relentlessly, and never gave up. Most of what we learned, from esoteric creative eurekas to basic road life skills, came from doing it every wrong way until there was nothing left but the solution.
Slowly, steadily, we grew a following of fans, friends, and freaks who believed in a song-centric, genre-bending jam band that put on high-energy, body-moving shows. Eventually, we found funding–a boutique record label called Blackbird, complete with an uplift deal with Sire. In Jim Ebert, we found a friend and a hit producer who helped us birth a truly authentic record in this pre-Civil War mansion down the road from the band house. There we tracked our 11 best songs that had been shaped across a decade of playing (aka testing) in front of people. A bit of the ensuing success of that album I’ll give to luck/timing, but most of it was due to hard work, lean style.
Here in 2015, the new ORO Hooch app is simply the next big milestone on our long, lean music path.
– Steve, CEO and founder