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Organizational Structure & Accountability

In todays blog we talk about organizational structure theories, artists being CEOs, and how this ultimately relates to artists taking accountability.

Line-Staff Organization

Henry Mintzberg’s Organizational Structure theory is a popular and effective way to organize a company or business. To equip you with a better understanding of how to move as a CEO. We’ll give you an example of how Mintzberg’s theory is often applied. One of Mintzberg’s frameworks is called the line-staff organization. A line-staff organization is organized in the following, familiar way:

Basic Organizational Structure

The owner and/or CEO is in charge of the company. The owner or CEO shares their vision with Management, who assist in developing that vision and help turn it into actionable steps. Management establishes standards for the quality of the work and deadlines for employees to execute. They communicate these expectations to the employees.

Management then delegates the execution of these steps to various teams. It’s the teams responsibility to meet those expectations in the assigned time. The employees are typically divided into separate teams for production, marketing, and distribution or sales. A marketing team often hires a third party, such as a graphic design agency, to create branding for a product or to create branding for the entire company.

This chain of command is what Mintzberg called a line-staff organization. Authority and responsibility moves downward, and accountability flows upward.

So How Does This Apply To Artists?

The artist created a product (music) and is attempting to sell. This means the artist is now a business owner. We advocate for artists to approach themselves as entrepreneurs and CEOs.

This all boils down to taking responsibility and accountability. In the chain of command, authority and responsibility moves downward, and accountability flows upward. That means the CEO has the highest responsibility and is only held accountable by themselves. At artists are CEOs, we encourage artists to take responsibility and take charge of their own careers. No one else is going to do this for you, so it’s important to take accountability for your own successes and failures. That means taking on the role of the CEO as an artist. To take on this role, we must first understand it.

Take Shawn Carter for example (that’s Jay-Z’s real name, in case you didn’t know). There’s different roles for Shawn Carter and Jay-Z. Jay-Z is the artist, Shawn Carter is the ‘owner’ of Jay-Z. Jay-Z is simply the name of Shawn Carter’s public persona, his business and product.

“I’m not a businessman, I’m a business man” - Jay-Z

Basic Organizational Structure For Artists

Shawn Carter sets goals, decides what products to push and creates and sustains the management and staff teams that are able to execute that vision. Shawn Carter puts people in position to succeed on his behalf.

The core difference is that the bottom layer of this business model often consists of third parties working alongside the artist on a variety of different contracts, instead of employees working nine to five jobs. Because of this, the artist themselves should always be active participants on every level of the business.

Because Jay-Z is the face of the business, Jay-Z is at the core of the marketing, branding, sales and production teams, which consists of Jay-Z and third party graphic designers, photographers, videographers, etcetera. If Shawn Carter does not project a vision or take the lead, Jay-Z will be less able or even unable to perform as a result, because the third parties will be left without instructions & leadership, and will likely prioritize other clients.


We personally know a lot of artists who are only concerned with the bottom layer of such a line-staff organization. The one thing all those artist have in common is that they are unsuccessful in the music industry (by monetary standards), even when they’re making fantastic music. These are artists solely focusing on making music, paying little to no attention to branding, marketing or even contracts with third parties.

If you're an artist, and you treat your artistry like a hobby and want to continue to do so, then by all means, don't let us tell you otherwise. But if you want to learn the business and create a pathway to financial freedom through your music, the Artists Are CEOs platform is definitely for you.

In the music business, there is no business without music. This goes both ways though. Without business, there is just music, without real results. It all starts with the artist. The artist is in charge, and should behave as such.

As an artist, you are an entrepreneur. You are the most important person in your career. It’s up to you, as the CEO of your artistry, to create chances for it to be seen and heard.

Too many artist expect to one day be saved by an ‘industry-angel’ that blows up their music and business overnight. DM-ing and e-mailing successful people asking for a hand out. Only to be ignored and forgotten amongst the thousands of messages these people receive every single day. For 99,99% of artist, the industry-angel never arrives to save the day. Even when it does happen, the artist often ends up feeling slighted. Because if a talented, marketable artist is not already fulfilling their CEO position themselves, a third party is likely to take advantage. Besides that, a well functioning artist management agency or record label is unlikely to take a gamble on an artist who lacks vision and professionalism.

This is not a classic tale of how dangerous and treacherous the music industry is, because contrary to popular opinion, we don’t find the music industry is like that at all. There’s assholes and sneaky people to be found in every industry, and we don’t believe the music business is any different from other industries in this regard. The core difference is education. In the music industry, as soon as you make music and put it out there, you are an entrepreneur, a new party viable for business. No education required. This makes you an easy target for predatory people. Whereas in other industries, you often need an education just to get an entry-level job. And if you start your own business in any other industry, it's usually direct to consumer, without using third parties like labels, management agencies, booking agencies, etcetera. So you're less likely to come across a predatory person trying to take advantage.

Good people work with good people. So let’s just focus on becoming good first. Let’s stop playing the victim, cut out the victim mentality and take charge and responsibility of our careers as artists. This means educating ourselves and others, taking care of details and allowing no room for error on the artist’s behalf. It means taking branding and marketing seriously, reading contracts before signing them, analyzing the contracts, cross-referencing them and having multiple trustworthy and knowledgable people check them out. Never be afraid to ask questions, ask your questions to different people, take in all the answers, and then decide what's best for you.

Get the feeling out of your head that the music industry is about glitz and glamour. The industry is about making money through supply and demand, just like any other industry. Except demand is not regulated by an actual need, more so by your ability to consistently reach an audience and form an emotional connection with that audience. Attention is the new currency. If you can hold peoples attention, you will have a viable business.

Besides all that, artists are entrepreneurs, CEOs if you will, and work for themselves. So do most producers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, artist managers and more. There simply aren’t a lot of nine-to-fives in the music industry. The music industry is an industry of entrepreneurship. Knowing this, you have to realize that every single person is just trying to get the best deal for themselves, as they should. The downside to this is that not every single person is cut out to be their own boss, causing some of them to turn predatory and others to become victims. At Artists Are CEOs, we intend to change that.

The Artist Business Model

We’ve mapped out the complete business model for artists with all roles and third parties involved. You’ll find that in reality, one person will often occupy multiple roles within the business. Our map includes different revenue streams, events, roles, companies and other relevant parties. The map is available in our online store in the ‘systems’ category.

If you read any unfamiliar words, check out our free Music Business Terminology Cheat Sheet, available in our online store in the 'guides' category. It’s basically a dictionary for the music business and will help explain any unfamiliar terms you may come across.


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