Although strategy consultant Ouke Arts had seen many businessess and business models before – he had a hard time figuring out how the model of Sellaband exactly works. How does their model differentiate from the established music industry players? Who are the clients of Sellaband? What are their activities? How do they sell their services? What are their core assets and how do they make money in the end?
Ouke could not imagine he was the only one trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Would it be an idea to visualize the business model? Ouke contacted Sellaband owner Johan Vosmeijer to arrange a meeting to explore their business model. I (Patrick) joined Ouke and together with Johan we put the post-it notes in the Business Model Canvas. Interesting. We understood the business model is a Multi Sided Platform. This means that Sellaband brings together two or more distinct but interdependent groups of customers. Such platforms are only of value if the other group of customers is also present (source: Business Model Generation book by Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur). In this case the Believers, Artists and Music Buyers. Johan got excited about the results of the session and said: “I would love to put the visualized model in my room so I do not need to explain it all the time.”
Together with Wouter Boog (JAM) we worked on the visualisation of the model. We translated the Business Model Canvas with post-it notes to visuals. According to the visual design process JAM developed, we first understand what the several elements are. Then we try to understand their relationship. The Canvas helps as the 9 building blocks are put in the right order. By means of several discussions and feedback Wouter drew the first version.
Ouke and I went back to meet Sellaband with a big poster drawn by Wouter. Now we had a meeting with Sellabands’ General Manager Dagmar Heijmans. We put the poster on the table and started a discussion. Can you explain us your business model? Are there things missing? We had a very interesting discussion how Sellaband is working on his business model from the start, creating various prototypes, learning by doing. But what is the advantage of this visual? “Let’s bring the other colleagues to the table” Ouke said. Dagmar invited his colleagues and the discussion started again. “Wow!”, one of the new colleagues said. “Now I know exactly how Sellaband is making their money.” “Very powerful tool!” We concluded that Sellaband now has a common language when it comes to their business model.
We concluded ourselves that the model of Sellaband is a very good example of how a complex business model at first sight can be easily explained through visualization with the canvas. The Sellaband model now serves as a case study in the Business Model Generation book that will be released in September 2009. You can read all about it in the book.