Daily Management Review

Linkin Park to Launch a Fund with Help of Harvard


The popular rock band Linkin Park turned to Harvard University for help in drawing up a business plan, and then launch its own venture capital fund Machine Shop Ventures.

There’s no way musicians can earn a lot today, given that album sales were down 14%, digital sales of singles fell by 11%, and only streaming service revenues increased by 28%. Technology forced musicians to rethink their approach to business – so Linkin Park had to adapt as well.

There are cases, when successful musicians began to engage in new business unrelated to music environment, or in a related industry, which helped musical brands to survive. Technology, the game industry, fashion - that's the most popular fields of activity which musicians usually select.

Company Machine Shop was founded by Linkin Park in 1999, the year when the group has not yet sounded on the radio and CDs had been packed manually in the living room of drummer Rob Bourdon. Among the problems at that time was part of the independent distribution of products, promotion on forums and in chat rooms, in order to create a network fan. Twitter and Facebook have not yet managed to ensnare the world with their social networks, so Jessica Sklar (then trainee and now - Director of Strategic Affairs in the Machine Shop) had to maintain discussions, moderate the community, develop the portal, which later became known as "Linkin Park Underground." By the way, now Linkin Park community on Facebook has 63 million people and is one of the largest social networks.

Over the years, Linkin Park and Machine Shop have developed quite successfully. The band has a new album coming out, video games, art, and music videos. Machine Shop began to offer services to other teams, studios, brands. But in 2013, Linkin Park Machine Shop and had to accept the fact that the digital music industry has changed dramatically music consumption, and therefore needed a new business model.
The band Linkin Park, together with Harvard Business School professor Anita Elbers and her students learnt new ways of doing the music business and increasing profits during the semester. They went through many examples, ranging from rapper Jay Z’s enterprises to actor Jared Leto’s investment in technology start-ups. Beats Music, Vice Media, and even Red Bull got under scrutiny too.

So, the final recommendations for Linkin Park were ‘to build a differentiated brand ecosystem, attractive for partners, diversify its sources of income for several businesses, mitigate financial risks; cooperate with the wider community, or a network of opinion leaders.
In practice, the results are described more simply - to restructure Machine Shop Ventures in a company that is engaged in investing in b2c-startups, video production, souvenirs, partnerships and so on.

The fund has already financed four companies - a travel service Lyft, a platform for the purchase of shares Robinhood, Bottle Coffee startup and a project for delivery Shyp. In the next two years, the team plans to make 15-20 transactions more.

As admitted by the participants of the musical group, they are inspired by the atmosphere of the Silicon Valley:
- We are surrounded by smart people who are engaged in the creation of advanced technologies - it's amazing. I feel like my home here, - says Linkin Park vocalist Mike Shinoda.

He said that diving deeper into the technology industry has always been his dream, and the marketing director of the group Demarti Ryan believes that the establishment of the fund will help the group not to be depent on the sales of their records and devote themselves to songwriting.

source: ft.com