These Grammy Nominees Learned Key Business Lessons. Can you Guess Them All?

Making it in the music business is no easy task – and these days especially, success demands a deep understanding of both the artistic side and the business side of the industry. Here are a few Grammy nominees with exceptional professional capacities that can be valuable to any business owner.

1. Know how to market yourself: Taylor Swift

Nominated For: Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year, Best Pop Solo Performance

TaylorSwiftSwift turned 25 about a month ago, and is already worth $200 million. When her album “1989” came out at the end of October, it made up 22% of all U.S. album sales that week. Those kinds of accomplishments don’t come without a developed understanding of your business. From a series of branded programming initiatives to a massive ad campaign with Diet Coke, she was quick to break out of her country demographic and expand her fan base. Through it all, she makes a significant effort to connect with her fans on social media, responding to them directly on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The singer even held “Secret Sessions” (private listening parties where she sang the album and baked cookies for her fans) at her homes in New York, L.A., London, Rhode Island, and Nashville. This level of personal interaction makes her more relatable and authentic to her fans. The takeaway? Engage your audience early, and create opportunities for them to get excited about your product.

2. Be open to collaboration: Pharrell Williams

Nominated For: Best Pop Solo Performance, Album Of The Year

Pharrell WilliamsThe music/fashion/media mogul has enjoyed a wide variety of success by absorbing the ideas of others and fusing them with his own. In a profile with Fast Company in 2013, Williams attributed the secret to his success asto “being open to the kinds of peripheral ideas that lead to innovation.” From his collaborations with Robin Thicke (Blurred Lines) and Daft Punk (Get Lucky), Williams boasted both the No.1 and No. 2 spots on Billboard’s Hot 100. In the same year, he produced albums for Miley Cyrus and Jay-Z, and began a partnership with eco-friendly textile company Bionic Yarn. Since then, he’s launched many other collaborative projects, including partnerships with Adidas and Uniqlo, a co-composer role on The Amazing Spider Man 2, and the founding From One Hand to AnOTHER (a modern take on the community center concept). Next time there’s a collaborative opportunity for your business, consider the value that multiple inputs bring to the table.

3. Take innovative risks: Katy Perry

Nominated For: Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, Best Pop Vocal Album

Katy PerryIn June of 2012, Billboard posted a gallery of Katy Perry’s 50 Most Outrageous Outfits. Numerous other publications have detailed her “style evolution” since her breakthrough in 2008. This level of reinvention shows that Perry has a talent for keeping things fresh and interesting. And it’s not just limited to her clothes. Year after year, her performances and public image are reimagined. New themes, new colors, new stage designs — all to keep her fan base engaged. Many businesses aren’t willing to spend on revamping their product over time, and they find themselves losing both relevancy and customers. Try adding new services and features to keep your customers coming back. Their continued business is almost always worth the expense.

4. Be authentic in all of your communications with customers: Lady Gaga

Nominated For: Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album

Lady GagaWith nearly 44 million Twitter followers, Lady Gaga has the sixth most followed account on the social network. Madonna, on the other hand, with all her years of widespread fame, boasts a mere 500,000 followers. Why the discrepancy? Madonna’s Twitter is clearly operated by her brand team, while Lady Gaga’s posts are directly from her to her fans. But that’s not the only reason why Gaga has so many avid fans. Gaga enthusiasts (whom she calls “Little Monsters”) have become a devoted fan community that thrives on the singer’s “community first, customers second” attitude. Projecting an authentic personality in all aspects of business – from writing your tweets yourself to engaging with your customers on a personable and human level – can help create a deep sense of trust between you and your customer community.

5. Know your target demographic: Miley Cyrus

Nominated For: Best Pop Vocal Album

Miley CyrusWhen Miley performed her infamous dance at the VMAs, most of the harsh criticism came from people over the age of 40. But does that really matter to the singer, her PR team, or her sales machine? Not one bit. They’re solely focused on the demographic they can sell to — teenagers. During the week after her now-notorious performance, Cyrus sold a quarter of a million tracks and added 226,273 Facebook fans and 213,104 Twitter fans. The lesson? Know who your customers are, know what they like/what they’re looking for, and play to their desires.