Here’s a question I get every now and again… and again:
“What does ‘Schwilly Family’ mean?”
The short answer is: A “Schwilly” is the ultimate community oriented music super-fan.
A bunch of us used to reek havoc across the midwest music festival scene. ESPECIALLY Hookahville. At some point along the way, someone announced, “We’re a family of Schwillies!”
The name of my business is a tribute to where I came from and, more importantly, a constant reminder of WHY I do it.
When I gave one musician that answer to his question, he proceeded to tell me about how is wife busted out laughing at the name.
Well, that’s ANOTHER great benefit to the Schwilly Family “brand”! It comes with free smiles included 😉 And it’s a HECK of a lot catchier than “Music Marketing This” or “Music Business That”.
Remember: You’re not really building an “audience”. It’s more like you’re starting a club, a group of soon-to-be friends, or found family. Isn’t that a MUCH cooler thing than trying to be part of an “industry”?
The MOST IMPORTANT element of a “brand” is a feeling of belonging to an EXCLUSIVE group of people you respect and appreciate.
A LOT of people told me I was crazy for using “Schwilly Family” as my brand. And the truth is, it’s NOT for everybody. And it’s not meant to be.
It’s for YOU.
And I KNOW that being “Schwilly” has become a part of your identity and a badge you wear with pride. That, my friend, is what creates a TRULY great “brand”.
The fact that outsiders have no idea what it refers to is irrelevant. Because creating a brand that is MEANINGFUL is much more valuable than creating a brand that is instantly recognizable.
“Apple” certainly didn’t become synonymous with “computers” overnight!
If I had to sum up “branding” in once sentence, I would say: “Branding is NOTHING MORE than figuring out what you’re all about and learning how to express it.”
It can also be summed up (even better) by a quote from Simon Sinek:
“People don’t buy WHAT you do. They buy WHY you do it.”
One of the biggest problems with the educational resources you come across online nowadays is a tendency to overcomplicate things.
Many educators feel that, in order to provide value that equals the price they charge, they must to give you 10 hours of videos, complete with excessive jargon and complicated explanations…
…as if the harder it is for you to learn, the more valuable it is.
I have figured out that I can provide more VALUE in 5 minutes by giving you information in a way that you understand, which you can apply and see RESULTS from on the same day I give it to you.
Pretty much everything we do in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program contributes to building your “brand”. But you’ll probably never hear me use that word again.
Musicians can be the targets of a LOT of harsh words.
It sucks when coming from strangers. But it cuts EXTRA deep when they come from “supposed” friends.
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
“Are you enjoying your hobby?”
“Honestly, I think your band sucks and I’d rather be dead than caught on a stage with you.”
“You’ll never make money doing that. When are you going to get a REAL job?”
“You’re just a singer. Not a REAL musician. Besides, you’re only a woman so you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You can’t fill a phone both with people that want to hear YOUR music!”
“You’re a musician, right? Can I get some weed from you?”
“Where are you playing next? So I can NOT be there.”
“Your music sucks!”
“You look like Muhammed Ali’s retarded cousin when you rap!”
“Gosh you’re so talented! Why don’t you put on some makeup, you know, fix yourself up a little, lose some weight and do some songs people actually know?”
Or one of my personal favs:
“Dude! If I hear another self-promotion about your shytty band I’m gonna fyck you up! Yes, I watched your videos and you can’t sing worth shyt! You give Utah a bad name and image, the only reason you’re ranked on ReverbNation is because ALL YOU DO is sit home and are an internet slut, do you play anywhere besides Fats?? Mishell is too nice to say no. I am going to message every bluesman in town and let them know you’re a fraud and if it weren’t for the internet you’d be unheard of! Every time I log in I get raped by 10,000 of your posts! SHUT THE FUCJ UP BEFORE I POST PUBLIC HOW SHYTTY YOU REALLY ARE STICK TO ART YOU TONE DEF FRAUD!”
My standard, practical advice normally consists of “Haters are a sign of success” and, “That’s the beauty of the internet, you can block those people”.
But the other night, during office hours for the “Musicpreneur Apprentice Program” we dove a bit deeper and I shared some advice that I’m sure you could use as well.
It comes from a book I recommend called “The Four Agreements”(by Don Miguel Ruiz). It’s a practical guide to personal freedom and inner peace, based on Ancient Toltec Wisdom.
There are 4 agreements you can make that will give you immunity to such cutting remarks. Fortunately, you make these agreements with yourself, so there ARE within reach:
Be Impeccable With Your Word
Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using your words to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.
Don’t Take Anything Personally
Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and action of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
Don’t Make Assumptions
Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama, With just this one agreement you can completely transform your life.
Always Do Your Best
Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to when you are sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.
Of course I, myself, have not yet perfected these agreements. But anytime I feel down, I review them to see if I am breaking one of them. It always turns out that I am. I now have the tools to undo the damage that is done to my psyche by harsh words from others, AND from myself. And I want YOU to have these tools at your disposal as well 😉
Can YOU make these agreements with yourself? I believe that you can!
For more wisdom, advice and inspiration for independent musicians, subscribe to my email list using the link, wherever it may be.
If you know any musicians that have been on the receiving end of such harsh words, which by my calculation would be EVERY musician you know, please share this with them. That’s all for today 😉
Let’s talk about the “Music Industry” for a moment.
What IS that?
According to one un-subscriber who told to me: “You don’t know S@!T about the Music Industry”, I’m not qualified to answer that question.
And the truth is, I don’t.
I don’t care to. I don’t need to. And you don’t either.
What I DO KNOW are: Music and Business. I studied them separately and built a BRAND NEW bridge between them. And that bridge is a LOT easier to cross when you don’t have a herd of greedy trolls weighing you down.
I’ve never worked for a major label, or publisher, or any of the other corporate, conglomerate, or otherwise congealed entities that make up the “Music Industry”.
If I had, I might be just another cog in their machine. Perpetuating the GREAT LIE in music: That YOU need THEM!
They do everything they can to make you believe that in order to achieve success (which I’m sure they would define differently than us Musicpreneurs), you have to spend the the Gross Domestic Product of a small country on building your audience. Or that you need connections ONLY THEY can provide in order to receive opportunities.
Well I’m here today (everyday, in fact), to call B.S. on the music industry’s GREAT LIE.
This LIE causes countless musicians spend crazy amounts of money on all the wrong things, just because they are trying to emulate the antiquated “Label System”.
Well I’ve got news for ya… That system never really worked. DEFINITELY never in a FAIR way.
Musicians gradually lose support from their families and friends as they miss important events and flush unimaginable of sums down the toilet for the slightest chance at “getting discovered” only to find dissapoinment.
Can you blame them? They hate to see you suffer. And so do I.
Now that we have tools like email and social media that help us connect DIRECTLY with our fans and other music professionals, there’s no reason to follow such a treacherous path anymore.
The path to making money is: Growth > Engagement > Monetization.
You can’t skip any steps. And you MUST do them in THAT order.
Releases (like albums), are for Monetization. If you don’t have anyone to sell it to, it makes NO business sense to spend lot of money recording one REGARDLESS of what the elite, uber-expensive, studios tell you. Their interest is vested in convincing you to spend money.
Releases (like videos and other things that aren’t for sale), are content for Engagement. It makes NO Business sense to spend a lot of money on video production if no one is going to see it REGARDLESS of what the fancy videographer or “music industry insider” tells you. Their interest is vested in convincing you to spend money.
Releases are not very useful for growth.
EVERYDAY I watch in horror as as musicians pour ridiculous amounts of money into trying to force releases to stimulate growth, while COMPLETELY overlooking ACTUAL growth and engagement.
The BEST growth costs time. MUCH more than it costs money.
For example: The exception to the rule about videos that I mentioned above is “Cover Songs”. Since YouTube is a major search engine (2nd only to Google), if you post videos of songs that people are ALREADY LOOKING FOR you’ll get some growth. Well-targeted growth at that!
It doesn’t cost any money to do that. But it does cost more time than many musicians seem to be willing to invest. PROBABLY because the GREAT LIE has convinced them that they must, instead, spend money.
The path I’ve forged to “Success in Music” is simple and MUCH more cost effective than the GREAT LIE would want you to believe. Especially for those of us who have “real life” and “day jobs” to manage along with our musical ambitions.
In early 2017, through my upcoming “Musicpreneur Apprentice” program, I’ll be able to take you by the hand and lead you down the path to “Success in Music” at a cost to you that will make music industry insiders HATE me.
A while back, one of our Schwilly Family members, Adam Price, wrote me an e-mail to tell me how he is making a living playing music in nursing homes. I thought it would be a great idea to share with you all, so I interviewed Adam to find out how he got started and where it has led him. I know you’ll get some great information out of his answers!
Thank you very much, Adam, for sharing this idea with us and taking the time out to answer my questions. Let’s start at the beginning. Why did you start playing in nursing homes?
Actually, life threw me a curve ball. I was a marketing consultant working 18 to 20 hours a day and it nearly killed me. I had no time for music or for anything else except the business. After a time, I fell ill and was sent to the hospital. While I was there in the hospital, I realized that at least I would be able to get out, but many of the people there had only one way out and that was in a box. These are people who have built our local cities, business people, doctors, white and blue color workers, and many of them were lonely and didn’t have anyone.
While I was in the hospital, I LOVED seeing a new face. Being in isolation is extremely hard and lonely . . . and that is my WHY. The joy I give to the people in the nursing home is the joy I get out of playing my music to them.
What did you do to get started?
When I first started, I got in touch with the homes and quickly found out I needed to ask for their “Activities Director.” Many homes have more than one, but I speak to one and go from there. I needed to be ready to answer questions such as:
Where are you from?
Do you have insurance and tax forms for payment?
How much do you charge?
Do you have a criminal background check?
What type of music do you play?
Very early on when I first started, there was no payment for such gigs, only a $10 or $20 gift certificate or perhaps some money for gas. This is where some artists might think, “Oh, there is no money in nursing home gigs,” but over time I built a reputable name for myself as a professional entertainer who specializes in aged care and senior concerts.
After about 2 years of building up my name, I told them I couldn’t keep going without payment. When I set up a price range of $80 to $100 for an hour show, they were happy to oblige since their residents were already relying on my shows.
I also approached local businesses and got sponsorship from those who wanted nursing homes as their clients. Music was the perfect gift for the business to give to the residents and their business cards were left with the homes: A win-win situation for both (and for me).
Sure sounds like it. So, let’s get down to specifics. How often do you play? How long is a normal set? What is your audience like? How much do you get paid now?
I play 10 shows a week at nursing homes, mostly on weekdays. This is now a full-time income for me and makes up the bread and butter for my music career in between gigging on the weekends.
Typically a show goes for 1 hour and fits in with the nursing home schedule which is usually from 10:30 to 11:30 in the morning or 1:30 to 2:30 in the afternoon.
In a nursing home, typically you’ll have anywhere from 20 to 50 residents attend, but if you’re new, don’t expect too many to come. But over time, as they grow to like you and your music, they don’t want to miss your shows.
But it really varies. I’ve sung for a room with three elderly citizens in it (two of them dozing off to sleep but waking up to clap at the end of each song—hilarious!), and I’ve also sung for a room of 200+ seniors in local clubs where morning tea shows are held and attended by all the nursing homes in the areas.
At the moment, my rates are as follows:
Weekday shows – 10 am to 4 pm – $80 / hour
Saturday shows – 10 am to 4 pm – $100 / hour
Sunday shows – 10 am to 4 pm – $150 / hours
The important thing is to have a rate card ready, but DON’T talk turkey until after they’ve at least heard you play or you will shoot yourself in the foot and possibly close the doors before they even open.
I did shows for free to a very little ($30) for the first year or so to get booked solid, then I told them I needed to up the ante to $50 / show for the following six months. After that I increased prices slow to get to where I am now.
Great! Now, tell us what kinds of adjustments you need to make in your show when you play in a nursing home.
You really need to think about repertoire and how you can get the residents (especially the high-dementia patients) out of themselves and reacting to the music you’re playing.
It is important to remember that it’s not about you or you music in the homes. It’s all about how skilled you are at holding their attention, interacting with them and making them come alive. If you do this, you’ll gain a place in the hearts of the nursing home activities directors and the managers as someone who is therapeutic to their residents, and you’ll NEVER be without paid work.
As far as volume goes, always ask the activities director if the volume is OK. I crank the volume up at some places but others need it at a whisper. But you will find that residents with hearing aids will cover their ears, not necessarily because you are a bad singer but because the loudness hurts their ears.
As for pace, do a mix of slow older songs (Frank Sinatra, Andy Williams, Englebert Humperdinck) and then mix it up with some faster rock ‘n roll and country rock—anything with a good beat they’ll like once you connect with them.
For interaction, do singalong songs such as “Let Me Call You Sweetheart”. Look up singalong songs on Google and you’ll find tons of them. The key is to ask the residents what their favorite songs are. You’ll get golden nuggets of songs you’ve never heard of before, but when you learn the song and sing it for them the next time, their families and staff will be amazed at how they “wake up” to their favorite songs.
That must be an amazing feeling to see that. Another question: have you been able to book other shows as a result of playing in a nursing home?
YES . . . Weddings, 60th to 100th birthdays (mind you, 100th birthdays play BIG TIME, like $1,000s for a couple of hours), engagement parties, special event days, etc . . . All of these facilities have staff and the residents have family members who have seen you play.
You can also take CDs/DVDs to sell at these places and they will buy them by the bucket load at some of them. At others not so many, but it all adds up.
Great ideas! I know that the Senior Center here in town has music for their lunch hour and many different holiday celebrations. I imagine that is similar to the morning tea shows you mentioned before.
Yes, any place or activity where seniors are specifically invited can be a potential gig. I would like to add, though, that it takes a special personality to get along best in this type of venue. You must be someone who GENUINELY cares about senior citizens and their well-being and who likes the crooning songs, old time favorites, and singalongs that they enjoy.
I once got some feedback about a band that said to the audience, “Don’t sing. We are the singers and you should be listening to us.” If you’re one of this type of entertainer and don’t want to hear the residents singing or yelling out of tune back at you, then DON’T DO nursing home shows!
One of the funniest times of a show is when the nursing home staff get involved and dance and try to sing along with me. The residents absolutely LOVE it when the staff they know get involved in a show, and so do I!
Thank you so much, Adam, for the great information. Do you have a website or e-mail address where other musicians might get in touch with you if they have any questions?