Music Business Models. Case Study #1: Warhol Oliveira

WWarhol Oliveira is an Argentinean acoustic pop musician. But not just any kind of musician. He loves poetry and often writes songs inspired by it. He’s also a cook. Warhol loves treating his friends with Argentinean delights, such as the famous Argentinean pizza, dulce de leche (think of Nutella, but way better) and picadita (an appetiser).

Warhol Polaroid

How did he make a profitable business combining his skills? He created what he calls the ‘Argentinean Pizza Supper Club’, which is essentially a pop-up shop in London. Warhol creates an experience.

The concept is fairly straightforward: his pop-up shop runs only on Saturdays and Sundays. Location is disclosed only to those who purchase tickets. 25 diners per night, preferably meeting each other for the first time. (It can get quite intimate!) Oli cooks (appetiser, main course, desert). Wine is on the house. The host also entertains the attendees, breaking the ice with jokes and acoustic songs, and speaking with his Latin American accent. And, as you may guess, this experience can cost more than a normal meal.

Did Oli made dining more interesting? Or did he turn his music into the centre of a multi-faceted experience? You choose. Either way, he’s always sold-out weeks in advance and has been featured in various famous major publications. Diners tell other foodies about his supper club through word of mouth, which means that Oli’s marketing targets the right people.

Let’s break down Oli’s inventive ideas and find out what the takeaways are.

Music Value Propositions

Warhol sells an experience instead of a musical product. Yes, the standalone pop-up is interesting, but the music is the element that makes the difference. The music helps his diners connect and socialise. They break the ice and laugh. The music creates an intimate atmosphere.

This is the main MuVaP: the Argentinian Pizza Supper Club connects diners in an intimate and exclusive experience. It makes sure strangers around a table actually talk to each other. Music plays a central role in this gathering.

As a secondary MuVaP, Warhol inspires the attendees with his personal stories (often expressed through his music) and sparks conversation by posing questions and creating interesting social objects. Warhol’s mission is not to just offer another dining experience, but to inspire people and infuse them with new ideas.

Customer/Audience Groups

The people attending his pop-up shop are young,creative professionals who can afford the ticket to such a happening and who love new experiences. Other attendees include people from Warhol’s inner social circle – people who embrace his project and love his spirit.

This creates a spicy mix of people who love new ideas, musical poetry, humour and the kind of intimate experience that takes them away from the busy urban landscape of London.

The last group is food magazines and blogs who love featuring such experiences for their audiences. Warhol helps them do their job: to offer interesting content to their readers.

Revenue $treams

Warhol’s way of making money is pretty straightforward: ticket sales. But it’s very profitable. Every event he puts up is sold-out and pre-booked weeks in advance, which creates a kind of predictable revenue.

If you also add limited & personalised merch offered for purchase during the night, themed for various occasions (a new release, supporting a seasonal cause etc.), the business becomes highly profitable. Oli doesn’t offer the latter option yet, but in future it could be a valuable addition (afterall, people love bragging about the memorabilia they’ve collected).


Warhol has an interesting approach in his communication: automated ticket purchases through, semi-canned newsletters for his mailing list, personal communication for the diners and fans (there is a myth that he is the only person who loves answering email!), and software-based targeted following/un-following for Twitter (although he engages with everyone personally).

His commercial relationships are usually one-off, due to the small number of people able to attend each dinner. (Although many want to return!) Since Warhol has built a passionate community, a fan club of patrons/subscribers could be a useful addition.

Channels of Communication

Warhol communicates his project through his own website, Twitter and personal discussions (he’s a social guy, so this comes naturally). He also organises home concerts (sometimes even for free), letting the attendees know about his interesting business.

His main marketing channel? Word of mouth. The supper club opens after office hours, so that working people can attend. This is the main reason why such an audience grows organically: they enjoy the experience, then talk about it (or, to be specific, brag about it). Magazines and blogs are also great marketing channels.

Career Assets

Warhol couldn’t thrive without his community and brand.

He has cultivated a compelling culture around his events (enhancing both his personal brand value and that of the Supper Club), as well as a following of passionate diners who love poetry and inspiring ideas. Two indispensable pillars for every business.

Another asset is his entrepreneurial approach, which doesn’t compromise his artistic integrity.

Essential Activities

If you wonder what Warhol’s day looks like, I can give you a sneak peek.

He composes, records and mixes new music. He communicates with his fans and friends (through social media, phone and email). He plans, organises his ventures and researches more opportunities. He creates posts and content to be published online. Finally, he spends some time in isolation so that he can come up with his next big idea.

An intern to help him with admin and research would be an ideal addition.


Such a venture could not succeed without the right partners.

Oli collaborates closely with the venue that hosts his pop-up shops, as well as local communities focused on poetry, musical concepts, dining experiences and creative ideas. They’re all part of his desired audience, after all.


The supper club’s expenses involve ingredients for the food, the costs of renting the space, his assistant and payment processing. Warhol also has costs when he records and mixes music in a studio, as well has the Twitter software he uses to increase his following.

All in all, his supper club’s profit margin is excellent, allowing him to invest more money on his other activities and improve the experience.

Warhol Experience Music Business Model

Warhol Experience Music Business Model

Key components

There are certain components of a music business model that are more important than others.

First of all, there is a strong concept: all the events are interesting (people talk about them), sold-out (enhancing social proof), scarce (thus in demand), profitable (with a high profit margin) and personal (thus unique and un-duplicable). Secondly, there are the elements that constitute a solid brand: Oli’s fun music, strong personality, sense of business, vision, imperfect accent and grammar. Finally, it’s an experience, not a product. One that everyone understands: eating with others.

Find more info about Warhol’s business: and

The next day

What can you do next?

  1. If you want to get in depth about the concept of Music Business Models, read my previous essay: MBM (101 | Design).
  2. Please get in touch with me at if you think that you or an artist you know has an interesting business model.

Most importantly, since you read this all the way to the end, you’re probably interested in music business models.

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Tommy Darker is the writing alter ego of an imaginative independent musician and thinker about the future of the music industry. His vision is to simplify scalable concepts and make them work for independent musicians.

He is a writer about the movement of the #Musicpreneur and founder of Darker Music Talks, a global series of discussions between experts and musicians. He and his work have been featured in Berklee, TEDx, Berlin Music Week, Midem, SAEInstitute, Westminster University, Hypebot and Topspin Media.

Find him on Facebook and Twitter.