Adaptation Is Key For This Successful Startup
James Glasgow found his love for music at a young age. The son of a musician, he grew up learning how to play anything that he could get his hands on, from the piano and guitar to the cello and saxophone. When he went to college at SUNY Geneseo, he double-majored in mathematics and music composition, as his favorite thing to do with music was to “make up new things.”
Eventually he dropped the music composition major when he transferred out of Geneseo, but that did not stop him from writing music throughout the rest of his college career. About ten years ago, a friend of his who was in a choreography class asked him to write music to correspond with her dance routine. Her professor, Andy Horowitz – the director of dance company Galumpha – enjoyed Glasgow’s composition so much that he brought Glasgow on to write music for him.
However, as is the case with many artists, Glasgow felt that he would not make it in the field, so he dropped off with music for a while in an attempt to focus on other things. That did not last particularly long though, as a traumatic experience that he went through led him to travel up and down the east coast for three months and record an album on “a laptop studio that fit in his backpack.”
“The way I was doing it wasn’t very sustainable,” Glasgow said of his nomadic lifestyle and laptop recordings. He wanted to find a way to do what he loved and still be able to pay his bills, the dream of many people across the globe. He decided to actually try writing music as a career, something he had never really committed to before. He created a Kickstarter to help his publish the album he created and fund his music writing business. From there, Strange Fangs was born.
He decided to keep the branding of Strange Fangs, which was “meant to represent the weird way that people latch onto each other,” and turn it into the music composition company he founded and has now owned for a little over three years. Having that branding helped him reel in business, as he said the “best thing I did was present myself as an established composer with a composition business” as opposed to just introducing himself as “Jim who writes music.”
“I’m good at what I do,” Glasgow said of how he sells himself, “and what I do is add music to make the ‘you’ show more powerful to your audience.”
As with any small business owner, Glasgow learned many lessons over the past three years, from making sure one gets everything in writing, to refusing to work for free, and the importance of social media marketing. However, his main takeaway was learning how to adapt to the market and making sure he was focusing his energy in the correct places. Originally having gone in with the belief that Strange Fangs would be his full-time focus, he realized that it was not able to be yet and began splitting his time between that and conducting the Therapeutic Music Program, of which he is also the founder. The program came about after a friend of his at another agency approached him with the idea. Inspired by how he created an album to help him cope with his traumatic experiences, Glasgow now helps the people who come to him – usually children or young adults – put their pain into words and create music from it. “It’s the same idea as the ‘you’ story, but it’s letting these kids telling the ‘you’ story, and they never told it before,” he said. “If they don’t tell it then it’s going to eat them up inside.”
Glasgow says that really, it was just about the opportunity presenting itself, and then acknowledging how strong of a response the Therapeutic Music Program, recently rebranded as Song Factory, received. “If I were selling two sandwiches,” he explained of the program versus Strange Fangs, “and my customers loved this one sandwich and people were lining up to get it, why would I keep putting all this time and money into getting this other sandwich out there?” It would take an extreme increase in outreach and networking with Strange Fangs to match what he brings in with Song Factory, and on top of needing more time and potentially more employees to execute that, he would also need more funding – of which the music program is helping provide. While he still loves his composition work, he is willing to slightly push it to the backburner in order to commit to his other business, and in doing so provide a stronger monetary and social foundation to eventually help propel Strange Fangs forward. It also helps that he loves what he does with Song Factory and is on the trajectory to expand the business across the country.
Currently, he runs the program in Binghamton and will soon be offering it in Orange County and Poughkeepsie. As well, he is looking to bring it to New York City and eventually to other states, after having discovered through his research that there really are not many other programs like his available throughout the United States. With that said, Glasgow is aware that he, unfortunately, is only one man, and to expand Song Factory in such a large capacity would require “a lot more Jameses.” While he is not looking for more employees immediately, he is plotting out his plans to bring more hands on deck for the program and what the most efficient way to do so would be. “I think it’s easier to teach the active listening, the validation, and the working with a human being that has gone through some crises … than it is to give someone all of the training of composing music on the spot,” he said. In that vein, he would be eyeing people who potentially already have some background in music, but more importantly are already compassionate and empathetic.
For now, he is enjoying conducting Song Factory in upstate New York and watching it become more successful. With his music composition, he says, a lot of the success is subjective – he can receive good reviews, but he also has to make sure he is performing at places that would lead him to receive good reviews. When it comes to Song Factory, however, there is “more room for the quantitative tracking of results,” meaning that the numbers objectively show how successful the program is, and he is able to provide those numbers as evidence of the program’s success.
“Just by me doing my job, amazing reviews come out,” he said. “It is so much easier. It promotes itself.”
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About Strange Fangs and Song Factory.
James Glasgow is the founder and owner of both Strange Fangs and Song Factory. With the success of Song Factory, Glasgow has been able to take on other projects that previously he may not have been able to. As well as working on expanding this program, in the upcoming months he will be working on a sculpture installation for Burning Man in August titled Windchest, a music compilation with poet Mario Maroni to be featured in London also in August, and a collaboration with award-winning high school poet Nathaniel Hylton.
Know what you don’t know; a piece of advice that is applicable to almost anything in life but can be particularly helpful to budding entrepreneurs. While it certainly is possible to create a successful business without any outside help, it cannot hurt to try and make...read more