Well, you get the nickname, ‘The Baker’, and note the inverted quotations because you also flip the music industry like a pineapple upside-down cake. This is Carl Hitchborn’s journey in a nutshell. He’s a baker, turned innovator, turned music industry pro. And it all started when Carl realized, “no one in the music industry knows what they are doing.”
He elaborates on this by saying, “the music industry is cracked, because it is controlled by individuals who don’t have the artists’ best interests at heart.”
As Carl will tell you, most artists feel that they are successful when they get signed — they believe they’ve just achieved “the dream moment.” But when you look at the average earnings and percentages, the numbers don’t add up. Artists earn anywhere from 10 to 16% of the revenue from their music, their merch, and even their own sound.
Where does the rest go? The majority of the money artists work for goes to the record label, streaming services, and those pesky lawyers. How is Carl’s philosophy different? He created his own record label, High Time, which offered artists a 50/50 split right down the middle and that label was just the beginning for Carl.
From Baking Buns to Making Beats
Carl knew he could not impact the world the way he wanted to by being a baker in his family’s business. So he took what he learned from baking buns and applied it to making beats.
He says, “it’s easy, I have a simple philosophy from years of working in a bakery.” His three rules for baking are the same three rules he lives by in the music industry:
- Make sure your product is viable in the market and you are giving people what they actually want
- Don’t scrimp on the deal — this hurts suppliers and could impact their loyalty or motivation
- Make your key captive audience the target for your marketing
With these rules in mind, Carl set off to shake things up, often ‘going for broke’ to make it big.
Break the Bank to Make Bank
Now, while Carl may like to roll the dice on risky deals, he believes in the quality of his product first and foremost. Remember, rule number one from his baking days — the quality control of your product is how you ensure success.
When he launched The Hunna, an English rock band, he didn’t have any spare cash, so he took out three credit cards totaling £15,000 ($20,585 USD).
What did he spend that money on? Social media marketing and then BOOM — overnight success.
Between his first signed band, Coasts and then The Hunna, he reached 500,000 followers on Facebook and his mailing list easily surpassed 100,000 people. Many believe ’The Baker’ has a secret sauce to influencing the industry.
In Carl’s own words, “there is no secret formula. To be honest it’s much simpler than that. To me and my clients, it’s about commitment and knowing what the fans want.” That’s why Carl believes you need to think like a tech company.
Think Like a Tech Company
We live in a digital world where most artists can easily release their own music directly to the music provider (Spotify, Apple Music, Soundcloud, etc.), so the middle man of a label isn’t needed. But one of Carl’s specialties is in brand management and social media strategy.
He hires people who think differently and music industry experience isn’t a priority for him. This is because in his experience, Carl has found people in the industry often slow down rapid growth. Even in the early stages, Carl prioritized employing a software developer as well as building a creative team. He also has a knack for finding quality talent to back up the quality of his artist’s products.
“The data will reveal everything you need to know about the fans, especially what their current likes and dislikes are.” Then, you amplify that and you have a formula no one else in the music industry has managed to tap into.
After seeing how broken the music industry actually was and with the early success he had with his own record label, Carl developed a new vision:
To build the biggest and fairest music company in the world, and in the process, create a brand new music industry — where artists don’t just survive, but they thrive.
His vehicle for this ascension is a project he calls Escape Ark, which includes a key component centered around the education of artists, so they understand the power of their voice. He has always wanted to make an impact on the world and give people access to tools, so they can be the key that unlocks their careers.
And this is atypical in the music industry because most record labels use contracts that control the artist’s ability to have their own voice, which in Carl’s opinion, “is a bit ironic when they’re creating music.”
’The Baker’ continues to bake up great ideas that turn the music industry on its head — just like a pineapple upside down cake.
About Carl Hitchborn: Carl Hitchborn, CEO and Co-Founder of Escape Ark, is building the biggest and fairest music company in the world. He has been featured in Music Business Worldwide and Music Week. For more information and to join the community, please visit https://www.thebakersays.com/.