Wait: What’s Linkin Park Doing in the Harvard Business Review?

Not only are they a band, but Linkin Park are well-advised venture capitalists. This is from the Harvard Business Review.

How do musicians make money today? Album sales are down 14%, single downloads are down 11%, and only the streaming services are up, 28%.Technology has forced music artists to completely rethink the way they approach their businesses. We’ve all had to adapt.

The most successful artists in this new landscape have begun to look at new business models and new industries to strengthen their existing brands. They’re extending their brand into areas like technology, gaming, fashion, and lifestyle content — essentially becoming entertainment platforms.

Here at Machine Shop, the wholly owned innovation company of the alternative rock band Linkin Park, we identified the need to think differently years ago. Machine Shop was born in drummer Rob Bourdon’s living room in 1999 when the band was packing CDs and stickers into boxes to send to their very first fans, long before any of their music had hit the radio waves. The band was distributing its self-produced first album, having created buzz for it in online forums and chat rooms and building a community there (this was several years before Facebook and Twitter transformed social media). Jessica Sklar, then the band’s intern and now Machine Shop’s Chief Strategy Officer, evolved the online discussions into in-person meet-ups and events at concerts, developing what came to be known as the “Linkin Park Underground.” This fan club gave the band a deep understanding of the importance of direct relationships. Today, Linkin Park is one of the biggest bands on Facebook, with over 63 million fans across the globe, and is particularly popular in Japan, India, Brazil, China, and Germany (and the U.S., of course).

For more than a decade, Linkin Park and Machine Shop enjoyed success and continued to innovate. The band put out new albums regularly and experimented in video games, art, and video content, among other things. Machine Shop began to offer its grassroots marketing services to other bands, film studios, TV networks, and brands. But by 2013, Linkin Park and Machine Shop had to address the fact that digital music (first downloads and then streaming) had changed the business dramatically. So they began to prepare for their next decade.

Smart guys, those Linkin Park dudes. Read the rest of the article here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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