Here’s an interesting question that I found in my inbox recently:

“I’m a keyboardist but my vocals are not the greatest. What part of the industry should I be looking to get into? And how?”

This is the kind of question that a LOT of musicians are asking. So it’s important for me to address it.

But what I want to point out about it is the fact that this is fundamentally the wrong question to ask.

First of all, this question is laden with false assumptions. 

If your vocals are not the greatest, that doesn’t automatically disqualify you from doing what you want to do and relegate you to being assigned to a particular part of the industry by someone else.

It may just mean you need more vocal training.

Secondly, I’m not here to tell musicians what they should be. 

That’s not my bag, baby! **cheeky British accent**

I’m here to help you realize your full potential in doing what you WANT to do. That’s where satisfaction and happiness come from.

Let me tell you a story:

I should NOT have been an athlete.

I come from a long line of short, chubby, nerds. And I’m not particularly coordinated. “Clumsy” is pretty accurate.

But after watching Greg Louganis dominate the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, I KNEW I wanted to be a diver.

We didn’t have any youth diving programs in my area so the opportunity didn’t come until I got to high school, where we had a team but no coach.

The older divers taught the younger divers. And we watched the training video “World Class Form” pretty much every day.

Needless to say I didn’t become a world class athlete in high school. I became proficient (at best) on the 1-meter springboard.

Then, when I decided to go to the University of Michigan for college, I wrote the diving coach a letter asking if I could walk on to the team there. 

I had no idea at the time that I was writing to one of the most renowned coaches in the history of the sport. Dick Kimball coached divers in EVERY Olympics between 1958 and when he retired in 2003. Including several gold medalists.

And I definitely wasn’t at a skill level that warranted joining the winningest team in NCAA history (in ANY sport).

But Kimball didn’t care. He only cared that I give it my full effort, and was coachable. So he graciously allowed me to join the team and he treated me just like anyone else.

By the time I graduated, I had not only learned to do the same dives as the Olympians on the 3-meter springboard, I had come to specialize in the 10-meter platform. 

I finished as high as 4th at the Big Ten Conference Championships and as high as 17th at the U.S. National Championships. (I bet you didn’t see THAT coming)

Kimball even told me that turning me into a REAL diver was one of his proudest accomplishments.

Of course none of that would have ever happened if I had asked somebody else which sport I should participate in. They would have probably told me to join the mathletes or the debate team. 

I decided to pursue what I WANTED to do and worked with a great coach who helped me realize my full potential. And I accomplished a lot more than I ever thought was possible.

I realize that’s a pretty long-winded answer as to why I can’t tell you which area of music you should pursue. So I’ll keep the answer to “How?” short and sweet: 

Work with a world-class coach who helps you realize your full potential.

Which is exactly who I am to musicians in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program.

Are you ready to pursue your dreams?

http://schwillyfamilymusicians.teachable.com/p/musicpreneurapprenticeprogram/

Over in  The Schwilly Family Musicians Facebook Group I was asking about what excuses people are allowing to hold them back.

As it turns out I’ve had a LOT of the same excuses hold me back over the years. So I reckon it would be useful for you to know how I put them behind me.

Interested? Here we go!

1 – I’m Tired/Out of Shape:

This one hits REAL close to home. On a road trip last summer, I got to the point where I couldn’t even sit in my car comfortably. And every time I ate, I felt an unearthly pressure in my chest. 

At one time in my life I was a near Olympic level athlete. And my wife was antsy to start having kids (our first is due THIS December!). So hitting a low point like that was a real eye-opener.

One thing I can truly attest to is that “you ARE what you eat”. That didn’t mean so much to me when I was in my 20’s. I must have been eating steel and adrenaline. But now that my “grown up” body has taken over, it’s time for me to think in longer terms as far as my health.

After I got home from that trip I discovered a book called “The End of Dieting: How To Live for Life“. And this book has changed my life. Within a few days of eating the recipes from Dr. Furhman’s website my CONSTANT heartburn, which had been plaguing me for decades went away. I also lost 20 pounds and gained a TON of energy within the first month after changing my diet.

 2 – I Don’t Know What to do Next:

Who HASN’T been there? Especially with the OVERWHELMING amount of information online, it’s way too easy to get stuck in “learning” mode, which ultimately prevents you from taking action.

If you don’t know what your next step should be, look around for someone that’s where you want to be and follow their lead. 

You can ALWAYS ask me what your next step should be. And I will ALWAYS have an answer for you. So the only question that remains is: “Will you listen AND take action?”

3 – I Don’t Have Enough Money

Hey, you’re talking to a guy that was homeless and unemployed when I decided to take ownership of my future. I KNOW about not having money. It’s practically my scientific speciality 😉

How did I do it? I sold my blood plasma to pay for my website and email list. Then, I got a job. Yes, a J-O-B! And instead of getting an apartment, I continued to live in my van and invested that money into a $1,000 training course on how to build entrepreneurial businesses online and OTHER business related investments.

Call center jobs are pretty easy to come by in the U.S. and they are pretty easy to leave, which makes them GREAT opportunities for Musicpreneurs.

And even if there weren’t any call centers in my area, I would have sold fruit by the side of the highway or showed up at the Home Depot parking lot at 5am everyday to stand in line with the rest of my people looking to improve their lives.

Why? Because I wanted it THAT bad. How bad do YOU want it?

Already have a job, but a bunch of bills and responsibilities to go along with it?

Here’s a little something I learned more recently that made it so I had the $3,500 I recently invested into my business: PAY YOURSELF FIRST. It’s pretty simple. For EVERY dollar you make, AS SOON AS it hits your bank account, take a dime (10%) and use it to either pay down a credit card or stuff it in a piggy bank until you need it for your business.

It will force you to get creative about fulfilling your other financial obligations. But they will still get met AND you’ll have money to invest in yourself when you need it.

4 – I Don’t Have Enough Time

There was a point when my business was growing but I was still tethered to my day job to make ends meet. So I hit a glass ceiling in the growth of my business because I didn’t have enough time to put into scaling it up. Then I discovered “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss. It’s seriously the best $15 ANY entrepreneur can invest in their career. Within 4 months of buying that book I left my last-ever day job for good.

Also, “Pay Yourself First” applies to time just as much as money. Before I do any client work, or marketing, or even write you these emails, I spend 1-2 hours working on building my business. Currently I spend that daily time working on the 2.0 version of the “Musicpreneur Apprentice Program”.

If that means taking a later shift at the factory, do it. If that means getting up at the butt-crack of dawn, do it. Again, how bad do you want it?

5 – Location

Technology trumps geography. Anyone with an internet signal has access to BILLIONS of potential fans.

Sure you can move to Nashville. But you’ll face an INSANE amount of competition in a horrifically “cliquish” environment. 

OR you can set up a comfortable music space in your home out in the forest and use the interwebs to grow > engage > and monetize your fanbase. 

I love my home and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. And I certainly didn’t leave the backbiting, childish, political, corporate world just to get into the same type of environment. In fact, I stay away from anything “Music In-DUH-stry” related as much as possible. I’ve personally found that success is much more attainable without all that BS.

6 – It’s Not Perfect Yet

In an artistic field, like music, perfection is an illusion. It’s entirely subjective and everyone who consumes your music has their own idea of what “perfection” is.

As a Musicpreneur, you don’t have to get it perfect. You just have to get it going. 

Lack of ACTION is what’s holding you back, not lack of perfection.

7 – Technology is Hard

Seriously? You’ve probably already learned to operate musical equipment and recording programs that are MUCH more complicated than WordPress.

Sure, technology might have been “hard” in the 90’s. But nowadays it’s quite user-friendly and any software company worth their weight in bubbles has Tech Support and Customer Service that will help you overcome any obstacles you encounter.

And there’s always the option of hiring some help with all that money you saved by paying yourself first.

8 – No One Buys Music Anymore

That’s a myth. I just bought some music TODAY. But don’t take my word for it. Here’s Vlad’s comment from that post: 

“I believed this for a long while. Oddly enough it’s when I started CHARGING for my music that I realized it wasn’t true at all. Someone paid me $20 for my $3 EP on Saturday. And a majority of buyers have paid OVER my asking price. People are awesome.”

Welp. I’m out of excuses. And I hope you are too 😉

A while back, I went out to see a hard-working Schwilly Family Band at a venue near my house.

They dazzled the crowd with grace and charisma in a way I hadn’t seen before.

They get booked a lot, playing about 300 shows a year.

They had one of the most diverse and interesting merch setups I’ve seen in a long time. ALL homemade stuff. Even the CDs.

They were truly impressive in every way, so I figured they must be making some pretty decent money.

But alas…

As it turned out, they were still struggling to make ends meet and to make sure they had enough gas to make it to the next city.

It only took a short conversation in front of their awesome merch table to get to the bottom of it.

They had implemented the genius idea of DIYing their merch. Really beautiful and creative stuff. And a GREAT way to save on costs.

But then they undid their efforts by WAY underpricing their stuff.

Here’s the deal:

DON’T try to be the “Walmart” of music. They have to move a LOT of volume to make up for their small profit margins. And you’re not ever going to move that kind of volume.

You make premium art, which should be reflected in your pricing.

If you have the time and creativity to make your own merch (or anything else related to your business), that’s great! Use that as an opportunity to lower your costs… NOT your prices.

Otherwise you’re just undercutting other musicians, undervaluing your own work, and reducing the perceived value of music in general.

And worst of all… you’re being your own slave labor!

Put a value on your time. Account for that in your pricing, and pay yourself for your work.

I promise that REAL fans will be happy to pay what your stuff is worth. And those who aren’t, must not be that into you. So there’s no reason to cater to them.

It kind of reminds me of an unsubscribe message I got recently: “Thanks, but I’m trying to save money”.

I didn’t bother to respond to her, since she has opted out of receiving my free advice.

But I’ll happily give that advice to you…

“Saving Money” and “Making Money” are two VERY different goals. But it’s a LOT easier to save money when you’re making money (as opposed to saving it as a way of avoiding spending it).

As Adam Carolla (an actual rich guy who started out poor) says:

“Focus on making dollars, not saving pennies.”
When I was working for “The Man” just to make ends meet and living from paycheck to paycheck, my savings account was full of dust.

But now that I MAKE money and pay myself first by funneling 10% into a secret savings account before I even touch it, I have enough in there to cover a few months worth of expenses if anything goes wrong.

If you want to learn REAL business skills (which are often at odds with conventional wisdom), that’s exactly what I teach in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program.

If you want to start MAKING money so that you can start SAVING money, the best thing you can do for yourself is invest in an education that will teach you how.

Click Here To Join The Musicpreneur Apprentice Program

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I’ve got good news and bad news for you.

Which do you want first?

I hope you said “bad news” because that’s what I’m starting with.

It’s a difficult truth that a lot of musicians have a hard time swallowing. But an important part of my job is delivering difficult truth’s and helping musicians move past them.

Here goes, like ripping off a band-aid:

You will never be able to only make music if you want to make a living at it.
I know it sucks to hear that, so let’s get on with the good news:

As soon as you swallow that pill, you’ll be able to start moving towards a profitable AND fulfilling music career.
If you ask anyone in the music in-DUH-stry they’ll most likely tell you that the sky is falling and it’s practically impossible to make money as a musician anymore.

The truth, however, is quite the opposite.

What is becoming impossible is the sustainability of large corporations with huge overhead in the music in-DUH-stry.

All of the non music-makers and middlemen that have been banking on the
“traditional” music in-DUH-stry are having the rugs pulled out from under them and scrambling for the last pennies of a dying business model that’s based on “mass marketing” and “mainstream appeal”.

The REAL truth is that there has never been a better time in the history of music to be a professional musician. Demand is higher than ever, and opportunities abound…

IF (OF COURSE there’s a big fat “IF” attached to it)…

IF you are willing to LEARN HOW TO and DO THE WORK OF building your own entrepreneurial business around your music…

In other words, IF you are ready to become a Musicpreneur.

You still have to make great music. But that’s just the entry point. There is more great music happening right now than ever before.

Contrary to popular belief, that does NOT mean that there is more competition. What that actually leads to is more demand for a greater variety of music.

Think about it. You’re not selling cell phones. People aren’t just going to pick one and then be satisfied for 2 years.

You’re making music. And the digital age means that people can literally (not figuratively) carry around all the music that their hearts desire.

What REAL music superfans WANT is to connect directly with music, and musicians who inspire them, heal them, and give them permission to be themselves. And REAL music superfans are STILL happy to pay for it.

So the only questions that remain are:

~Are you willing to let go of the traditional music industry model and start creating your own rules?

~Are you ready to learn what it takes to build and manage your own business, focusing on creating the music you want to create, and serving a community that loves what you create?

~And are you willing to do the work?

If you answered “yes” to ALL THREE questions, then you’re ready to join the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program. So click here to enroll!

For most of human history, musicians have been community leaders. Creating connections, opening minds, and giving harmony to the voice of the people.

People would gather around them and rally behind them.

Celebrity is relatively recent. It’s about a lot of people loving you from a distance. It’s a product of large-scale, corporate marketing.

The internet, and the content that we’re able to share with it, gives us the ability to go back to being community leaders.

It’s about a FEW people loving you up close. And about those people being enough.

With the “celebrity” model, 1% become super-rich while 99% either remain destitute or have to maintain a “day job” to support their families.

With the “community-leader” model, being a musician is a respectable middle-class job where anyone with enough musical and entrepreneurial skills can make a place for themselves.

Which kind of musician are YOU trying to be?

I was talking to a musician last week who was complaining about how, although he’s a well-respected musician in his local area, he can’t get anyone he meets online to take him seriously.

“I’ve got a website and a link for people to subscribe and get free music. I’m giving away 7 of my BEST songs! But I can’t get anyone to sign up. And the few that do, never buy anything,” he told me.

I checked out his music and he plays quite well, actually. So I know it has nothing to do with his skill.

The next obvious culprit was his online presence. So I took a gander at that and some of the reasons he hasn’t yet become an internet sensation were glaringly obvious.

First of all, giving away 7 polished studio versions of your best songs attracts the wrong type of fans. That’s the kind of offer that attracts “freebie-seekers”.

Those are the people who will gobble up all the free bonus content that you give to your community and then submit a spam complaint when you make on offer to buy something.

You don’t want those leeches in your “fanmunity”. And it’s up to YOU to curate a community that will support you financially.

That’s why I rejoice whenever someone that unsubscribes complains about how my emails have no value and I’m just trying to sell them crap. Those people obviously don’t appreciate what I have to offer. And all of my solid advice is wasted on them.

So I’m glad to see them go.

You should have the same standards for your own fanmunity. You deserve it. But its up to you to take ownership of making it happen.

The other problem with his offer is that fact that when you give away 7 songs from your studio albums (even if they are from a mix of albums) you devalue your music and take away their incentive to buy it.

I know music biz teachers who will tell you otherwise, but the truth is that there is NOT a “magic number” of songs that will make your subscriber bonus attractive to the kinds of fans you want.

There IS, however, a “magic word”.
The next thing I looked at was his website. The first thing I always look for on a musician’s website is the squeeze page. And he had no such thing. In fact, the subscriber opt-in form was all the way at the bottom of his site in the footer.

NO WONDER no one was signing up! They couldn’t even figure out where to subscribe if they wanted!

Of course you SHOULD have an opt-in form on your website. But NOT in the footer. Make sure it is visible near the top of every page so people can see it without scrolling.

But if you’re really serious about growing your email list, you NEED a squeeze page. The sidebar opt-in form is small potatoes compared to what you can do with a squeeze page.

Let me put that into numbers for you:

For the standard sidebar opt-in form that you see on most musician’s websites, about 2%-4% of the people who see it will subscribe to their email list.

A squeeze page, on the other hand, will convert more like 30%-40% of the people who visit it into subscribers. Especially if you set it up how I show you.

The next thing I looked at were some of his social media profiles.

And they were pretty plain. Certainly not optimized to help him get any email addresses. His header image and profile pic were basically a picture of him playing guitar on a background of a different picture of him playing guitar.

He hadn’t even filled out his bio!

Optimizing your online presence is crucial to be taken seriously as a musician online.
No matter how well you play, no one is going to hear you if your online presence makes you look like an amateur.

That’s why “Online Presence Optimization” is one of the first modules in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program.

And for those of you who are considering joining, I’ve decided to make the replay of the webinar I did on that topic available for you to preview.

In it I tell you all about the “magic word” and how to attract the RIGHT kinds of fans…

I show you what a squeeze page is and exactly how to make a great one…

I even show you how to set up your social media profiles in a way that directs traffic toward your email list…

And a bunch of other important stuff, too.

Click here to check it out…

And if you’re ready to take ownership of your career, go ahead and…

Click here to enroll in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program.

A lot of music biz teachers will tell you that you should commit time to releasing cover songs on YouTube because you’ll get all kinds of organic growth and attention.

I’m not saying that they’re are lying to you. But I will tell you that they’re not giving you the whole story.

In fact, as far as I’m concerned, they’re sending you on a wild goose chase. And there are MUCH better things to spend your time on.

It’s true that YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine. So if you post songs that people are ALREADY looking for, you can show up in those searches.

So your Lady Gaga covers might get some traction. But your TOTO covers probably won’t.

(Interesting side note: “TOTO” is also a brand of toilets in Japan which caused major confusion during their first Asian tour.)

Now back to your regularly scheduled programing…

In order to REALLY make that strategy work, what you have to do is cover POPULAR songs as soon as they are released. I’m talking the DAY they are released or within a few days at most.

Remember when Adelle released “Hello” and everybody and their cousin covered it on YouTube?

The problem there is that you put yourself in a situation with a LOT of competition…

…AND you’re playing someone else’s songs.

So if your goal is to build an audience for your ORIGINAL music, before you put anymore time into YouTube covers you should try something different.

Just trust me…

And follow my instructions exactly for a 7-day Facebook Live challenge.

Here are the rules:

Each day go on Facebook Live and play one of YOUR songs.

Don’t do it from your fan page. Do it from your personal profile. More people will see it that way.

Before you hit “Go Live” add a link to your squeeze page in the video description.

Mention 3 different calls-to-action during the broadcast:

1: ”Please turn on my live notifications.”

2: “Please share this video or invite people to join.”

3: “Please subscribe to my email list.”

That’s it.

I promise that if you do that for 7 days in a row, you will not only get MORE subscribers and engagement out of it than your last attempt at a YouTube cover, you’ll do it playing your own songs.

For extra credit try it out on other platforms where you can broadcast live like: Periscope, Twitter, Instagram, & YouTube.

Not only will it help you identify which social media platforms are the most responsive for YOUR original music, you can also repurpose the videos as blog posts for your own website and put them into rotation as content that sends traffic there!

In the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program we not only talk about how you can use Facebook Live to grow your community, we also go into great detail about how to MONETIZE it.

Just ask Bad Mary, a punk band from New York who made a couple hundred bucks the FIRST time they broadcasted a rehearsal on Facebook Live.

You in? Here’s the link to join:

http://schwillyfamilymusicians.teachable.com/p/musicpreneurapprenticeprogram/