Last night, in giving advice to an entrepreneur on a pricing model, I introduced the concept of first principles.

I think of first principles as reducing any component to its most fundamental truths.

For example, if you’re using a cell phone service provider, they serve as an intermediary, but what if you were to operate the service yourself?

If you wanted to operate your own telephone line, purchasing the cellular towers may be the principle cost, but financially, it wouldn’t make sense. However, in other cases, such as when Elon Musk builds rockets, first principles enabled SpaceX to cut rocket manufacturing costs by 10x the industry standard.

While it’s easier to utilize first principles when discussing physical products, the thought process applies to every industry, including music.

Take how how we plan our artists’ schedules as an example.

Since we know everything takes multiple times longer than we think it will, if nothing is more important than the music (which 95% of the time is the case), we as managers need to ensure our artists have the time they need to create greatness in the studio.

So as we plan for the future, we can use the first principle of time to make decisions in evaluating promotion vs. creation. Often times, promotion feels imminent as it is imperative to the success of the current project, but is it more valuable than the opportunity cost of creating the next project in time for the fans? Usually not.

First principles are a great way to ideate marketing campaigns – What are the necessary assets? From there, how can you create different variations of them than what is already in the marketplace – Will it be a different style? Or even bolder a different format or delivery method to convey the same information?

For example, a few years ago when ZHU launched his Neon City tour, instead of rolling out a simple tour video or flyer, he used this sound bite of a call with a scalper from almost two years prior to alert his fans his tour was on sale. To my knowledge, this was one of the first times soundcloud audio was used to announce a tour. By choosing to switch the format of announcing his tour, he created a lot of hype with his fans and a sold out tour was the result.

Lastly, creating plans for artists can be a daunting process, especially for young managers, but a great plan can be created by simply reminding oneself of first principles and their simplicity!

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