In this installment of our Small Business Spotlight series we’ll be highlighting Matt Jacoby of Eleven Music Career Center, which offers music career coaches, as well as a team of virtual assistants to help musicians, DJs and producers develop business skills. They also provide more services, but I will leave those for Matt to describe below.
I’ve known Matt for years, and he has a true knack for business and music, so I wasn’t surprised to see Eleven Music manifest into reality.
In case you’re not familiar, our spotlight series always highlights amazing artists and small businesses that stand out from the crowd for their all-around awesomeness.
So, let’s get to know more about Matt and his business …
1.) WHO ARE YOU?
My name is Matt Jacoby. I am one of the 3 co-founders behind Eleven Music Career Center. Eleven provides music career coaches and a team of virtual assistants to help musicians, DJs and producers develop their business skills, build a virtual business team, curate the array of tools and platforms available today, generate more revenue, and be more successful and happy in pursuing music as a real job.
Outside of Eleven, I give private drum lessons in the Sun Prairie / Windsor area to keep my own music skills fresh and help develop the next generation of drummers.
On the family side of things, I am a husband to my wonderful wife Emily and a father to our three beautiful children: Carter (9), Devin (6), & Aleyah (2).
Ever since high school, I have followed my entrepreneurial spirit and always had a side hustle. In high school I taught myself how to build websites and landed a volunteer role in building our high school’s first website ever (1999 baby!). Throughout college and beyond I funded a lot of my extracurricular activities and fun expenses with website clients. In 2013, I started a new job as a website developer for a local pharmaceutical company in their marketing department. From there I was introduced to HubSpot and digital marketing automation platforms. Since then, building websites and deploying marketing automation solutions have gone hand in hand for me.
From 2004 on, I also started exploring how my musical interests could work with my entrepreneurial interests. This lead to a small handful of music startup organizations in the Madison area that I started either alone or with colleagues. It was from this trial and error period that I built a collection of sticky notes and digital notebooks that eventually started to help us shape Eleven Music Career Center in 2018.
2.) WHAT DO YOU DO?
Currently the only business founder / partner in Eleven that is able to make Eleven most of my focus as a day job (the other two still need their day jobs and make Eleven a side hustle for now), I have been busy educating myself with the Business Made Simple business operating system and the StoryBrand marketing frameworks. These tools have allowed me to get excited about starting yet another company from the ground up and has given us the time and runway to figure out what Eleven should be, who it can serve, and how we’re going to do it.
What this means is that I’ve spent the past year developing our leadership strategy, our core mission and characteristics, our financial model, our music career coaching program, and have recently started developing our virtual assistant program. My passion lies in working on a business, not so much in it. I feel I’m at my best when I am sitting in the pilot’s seat in the cockpit, steering the plane in the direction it needs to go. However I still have to perform some of the “in business” tasks, such as acquiring new customers, taking care of existing customers as a coach or a service provider, marketing, and manager duties for our existing contractor team.
What we do for Eleven right now includes career coaching and mentoring, Patreon fan club management, tour and event management, content creation, email marketing, livestream moderating, web development, project management, graphic design, and some music publishing assistance. We have other service ideas in the works but we want to make sure the need and demand exists.
3.) WHY DO YOU LOVE DOING IT?
Like I said earlier, it has been the perfect marriage of my “self employment ambition” and my music background. As a drummer of 26+ years with 3 bands on my resume, I saw a lot of creativity but not a lot of business savviness. The music industry has changed a lot in the last 20 years and the traditional music industry was built to confuse musicians. Corporate record labels and other services grew up around the artist community to help them “get signed and get famous”. In my opinion, this industry grew around the artists’ ignorance of how they should conduct themselves, how to negotiate and how not to lose control over their own work.
Luckily the Internet has challenged the traditional industry’s model and allowed more and more artists to find some level of stability and success on their own with direct-to-fan access. The only problem with that is that artists now had to learn what record labels and other industry services could do faster due to their expertise. So while artists can now go straight to fans and influence via multiple online platforms, they still aren’t very skilled at handling their business affairs that strengthen their creativity.
Most music businesses who help musicians still focus on their careers from a “music first” mentality. Eleven Music Career Center approaches artists as small business owners first, building a more traditional small business that has music, merch, tours, and more as its products and services.
The last point I will say here is that we are focused on building a service that helps an artist get 100% of their revenue and then it’s up the artist if they want to continue working with us or not. We operate under short term contracts, either 1 year or month-to-month. This makes Eleven an investment in an artist’s business rather than a expense or debt that is difficult to repay or find value in.
4.) HOW DOES IT HELP PEOPLE?
The stereotype is the “starving artist” for a reason. The whole world has come to assume that if you go into music, you are passionate about being in poverty. It’s assume that music is never more than a hobby except for when you are Taylor Swift.
We find that a lot of tools and platforms that launch in the music industry claim to be the magic pill that will fix the music industry. However, the only thing they are doing is adding another tool or platform to the music industry that will ultimately confuse the very audience they are trying to help. At this point music creators don’t need another tool or platform. They need a partner to help them navigate the sea of options, figure out a clear plan for their music and their life, and get re-focused on what is important: their career and their music.
One of my business partners, Nick Venturella, came into this business relationship with the idea that music can be a middle class employment opportunity just as much as being a store manager, doctor, manufacturer, or construction worker might be. We like to think that Eleven is here to help make more middle class musicians. You don’t have to achieve Taylor Swift fame to make it in music. You just have to build a business that finds its audience of people, just like any other business in this world, and if it can make enough to build a sustainable lifestyle on, that should be the American Dream for music. I know plenty of middle class musicians who have found music to be their primary or only source of income, some right here in Madison. They buy groceries, pay their mortgage and utilities, and remodel their house using music. That is what we want.
5.) FAVORITE BAND OF ALL TIME
That is hard to answer! My tastes in music and choice of different genres over the years has greatly impacted my ability to choose just one. But if you are going to make me narrow it down, I guess I would have to say The Offspring. I discovered them in high school and they are the primary reason I was able to develop speed while playing the drums. They were a major influence in my musical development, and to this day I still listen to them and keep them in my practice routine. I’ve even used some of their songs to teach my drum students here in the area. 🙂
Learn more about Matt and ElevenMusic, or his drum lessons.
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