In any business, a good manager should be able to tell you the ‘end-date’. The end-date is a hypothetical day in the future when cash reserves will run dry if expenses continually exceed revenues. Knowledge of the end-date is a huge (negative) motivator. When the boss says: "We need to generate X by next Thursday or else...", people respond like soldiers going to battle.
I am going to argue that bands and projects need end-dates to succeed. Far too often, as music industry participants, we begin things with no end-date in mind. We enthusiastically invest our undervalued time, and we keep doing so until the project crumbles, until a bandmate unexpectedly quits, or until the van breaks down five hundred miles from home. This is no way to run a business. Pick an end-date on day one. Print it, hang it on the wall, and let it serve as a motivator for everyone. If you haven’t reached your goal(s) by the end-date, then end it.
There’s another great reason to pick an end-date. The end-date should serve as the date when the founders officially acquire their ownership in the band or project. Think about it: it’s actually silly to allocate ownership to anyone on day one. Instead, participants should sign simple agreements that stipulate that ownership is acquired on the end-day (e.g.: two years from today). If someone leaves before the end-day, then a pro rata share is allocated to the missing person (by days and/or depending on the terms of the agreement).
What happens after the end-date? The end-day is a time to assess if you met, exceeded, or undershot your goals, it’s also a time to evaluate the assets and the liabilities that you all have created. And if everyone agrees to continue onward, it's a great time to pick another…end-day.
The post above originally appeared in "The 360 Deal", a collection of genuinely helpful advice for people starting out in the music industry.