I’ve been in a cappella groups for the past 10 years of my life. There’s something really special about performing with other talented people who all share the same passion.
However, over those past 10 years, I’ve realized a very important lesson: It takes much more than musical talent to be a part of a successful a cappella group. I’m not referring to the level of success that the Pentatonix have reached (millions of views on Youtube, a record deal, and multiple international tours). I’m talking about being able to do what you love with people that you care about.
With my current group One Too Many, we just recently reached a point where we are doing bigger gigs for more money. You may be thinking, “That’s great. What does this have to do with the title of this article?” Well, for those of you who are patient enough, I’m about to connect some dots.
These dots are starting (and sustaining) an a cappella group and doing the same with a business idea. Both of these dots include two major passions of mine: performing a cappella music and taking an idea from concept to execution with others.
I’ve been fighting to separate these two facets of my life for quite some time now. However, I’ve realized that not only are these two things similar, they can actually help inform each other.
It all started with a late night conversation 3 years ago in my friend’s kitchen about how we both missed performing. He missed singing in a group and I felt the need to perform in front of others again.
Identify the problem or need.
We talked through our current options (reaching out to college friends, doing open mic nights, drunken karaoke) and realized we had local friends who also had a cappella experience. When all was said and done, we had a perfect mix of tenors, baritones, a bass, and a beatboxer.
Form the team.
Once we gathered the necessary people and went through the typical stages of building a team (forming, storming, norming, and performing), we started to practice more and hone our craft. We were hitting our stride. Build the MVP (Minimum Viable Product).
After a few practices, we came across an opportunity. One of our group members shared that his mom’s company was needing entertainment for a corporate holiday breakfast. Not the sexiest gig, but we were ready to test our newly-formed group.
Go to market.
After that first gig, we had the chance to sing for a private holiday party. And then another one. And another. We quickly realized we had created something that people want. In order to fulfill this sudden demand, we started practicing regularly each week and decided to unify our look. We also started tweaking our song choice based on our audience.
Learn and improve the product.
After a few years of weekly practice and sporadic gigs, we were approached by a local cabaret owner. He watched us perform and wanted to help us create our very own cabaret. This sounded amazing, but it would also mean a lot more work. We took this opportunity to start writing our own scripts, singing harder songs, and ramping up our overall performance level.
Scale your business.
At this point, we’ve made some organizational changes in order to make the most out of the time we have together. We now have one business meeting a month to discuss overall direction, set next steps for each group member, and to keep the business out of our musical practices. This has already made a major difference in how productive we are week-to-week.
Learn and improve the business.
Looking ahead, we’ve set long-term organizational goals that help guide why we do what we do. From recording a CD to booking larger local gigs, these help us align the group and work towards common goals.
Continuously align all members in your business with common goals.
Like I mentioned, forming and performing in a singing group is eerily similar to doing the same with a team pursing an idea. At the end of the day, it’s all about connecting with others and using the skills you have to create value in the world. If you can have fun along the way, even better.