The Music Success Formula - Rough Cut
March 4, 2011
Derek Miller in band strategy, marketing

So I got the idea of creating a “back of the envelope” formula that will be a quick way to determine a band’s potential of “breaking through” to the next level, however they define it. This is the potential to be very useful to many musicians, but I need your help refining the idea. Please, poke holes in this so we can strengthen the idea!

What I’ve developed so far is based off the simple equation for force (force = mass X acceleration) except replacing the variables with things related to bands. It would measure, on a scale of 1 to 10, the band’s potential to reach their “fan goal” (which goes into the equation).

You’ll notice music quality is not the central focus of the formula. The reason for this is, due to the subjective nature of music, there are many variables which contribute to whether the music will sell or not. The goal of this formula is to get bands to focus on improving their strategies of getting their music out to the world by focusing on variables under their control This formula makes little distinction on the music itself, it’s up to you to ensure your art is as polished as it can be.

Band’s Potential of Reaching their fan goal (Scale of 1 to 10) = quality of the band X quality of promotion.

This is broken down further into: 

Quality of the band = music quality + music production quality + live show quality + merch quality

Where each item would be on a numerical scale:

-Music quality (how developed is your art, from 0 to 3)

-Music production quality ( 0 = home recording, 1 = midrange quality, 2 = professional)

-Live Show quality (0 = embarassing, 1 = crowd interaction & presence, 2 = effects, light show and excellent crowd participation”, 3 = Lady Gaga sized production)

-Merch quality (0 = no merch, 1 = some OK-quality T shirts, 2 = staffed by merch person with lights and pro-level products)

Quality of Promotion = {current draw at shows + (fans contacted monthly X conversion rate X 12)} / the band’s fan goal.

By plugging in the relevant information, the band would know what their relative chances of meeting their “fan goals” within a year are.

I need your input! This could help MANY people if we get this refined!


Derek is an MBA who teaches business skills to artists, runs his band Onward We March, and builds hot-rod bass guitars. He posts every thrusday on

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