To-Do lists can be a lot like the “Bog of Eternal Stench”!

The longer you spend on them, the deeper you get…

As I was building my business, I was constantly taking in new information and applying it.

Although taking in as much information as possible is important at a certain stage, it will eventually sink you.

I found out he hard way that there is FAR more information on the inter webs than you could ever possibly apply.

I reached a point where I was rolling out of bed at 7am and heading straight to my computer. Then I would sit there, zombified, ticking off things from my to-do list until 11 at night.

Not only that… 

Since I was subscribed to ALL the music biz blogs, podcasts, and websites I could find, my to-do list was longer by the time I went to bed than it was when I got up!

I didn’t eat well. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t spend time with my wife. And eventually I sunk into a deep depression that nearly ended my career. 

Even though I was making a living, I wasn’t living life. 

But I WAS able to climb out of The Bog and solve The Labyrinth.

And now I get more (important) stuff done in 6 hours than I used to in 16 hours.

Here’s how:

1: I Unsubscribed From Almost Everything. 

I figured out which source of information was giving me the MOST powerful information and unsubscribed from everything else. 

There were some good sources that I came back to later. But I made it a point to focus on learning from one teacher at a time. 

That way, I wasn’t spending time on redundant or conflicting strategies. And I stopped adding more things to my to-do list than I was able to check off each day.

2: I Set Time Limits.

I STILL have an egg timer that I have on whenever I’m Facebooking. It starts at 30 minutes when I get up. And when it reaches zero I’m DONE Facebooking for the day.

I also set up an 8-hour timer. When that ran out, I was DONE working for the day, whether things were finished or not. 

It freed up time to actually take care of myself and enjoy life. It forced me to look critically at my to-do list and delete a LOT of stuff I realized didn’t need to be there. And it helped me stay focused and stop procrastinating.

It helped so much that now I’m down to 6 hours per workday 😉

3: I Started Planning Ahead.

Instead of looking at my list each morning and cherry-picking what I was in the mood for, I started taking time at the end of the week to look at my list and slot tasks into my schedule for the entire upcoming week. 

That way, I couldn’t get distracted by the easy (and usually unimportant) stuff. I knew WHAT I had to get done each day when I got to my desk and HOW MUCH time I had to do it in.

Within a couple of weeks I was able to accurately predict what I could get done in a week. It also helped me knock a BUNCH of other pointless stuff off my list.

4: I Prioritized.

I decided on 4 things that were crucial for me to get done on a regular basis and created a system to reward myself for doing those things using a wall calendar and fun stickers.

Those are the most important tools I used to get my to-do list under control and take back my life.

Of course I go deeper into the all of that and a LOT more in vivid detail in the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program

Time Management is an overlooked subject in most music biz (or ANY biz for that matter)courses. Which is why I’ve dedicated an entire module to it in the MAP 2.0, which is set to release next month.

The price of the MAP will also be going up when 2.0 get’s released. So if you’d like to get in for the 1.0 pricing (and the free upgrade when I launch 2.0) you can join us here:

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

Here’s a question I’m starting to hear quite a bit:

“What’s the difference between the Musicpreneur Apprentice Program 1.0 and the MAP 2.0?”

There are actually a few differences. So here they are:

1: The lessons in the MAP 1.0 were presented as live webinars and currently live as replays in the classroom. For 2.0 I’m breaking down those lessons into smaller, bite-sized bits and recording more polished (scripted) videos.

2: There is a LOT more homework. Each lesson will include an assignment. They won’t be graded. Rather, most of them will be submitted for peer review in our Student Lounge (FB Group) so that we can ALL learn from and be inspired by each other’s efforts.

The community aspect of the MAP is one of the key benefits that makes it stand out from any other program. So this is a great way to leverage that advantage.

3: I have updated the lessons based on over a year’s worth of learning from dozens of MAPers testing out and improving upon our ideas.

4: I have added new modules based on things that we have learned and discovered are important over the last year. The new modules include:

-The Musicpreneur Mindset

-Time Management

-Repurposing Content

-A Greatly Expanded Monetization Module

-A Pilot Program For Patreon

5: More Bonuses! In addition to the bonuses offered in the MAP 1.0 I will be adding:

-MORE One-On-One Coaching

-1 Year of Free Access to TweepMaster (our “SFMers Only” Twitter App which handles targeted growth, auto-dm, AND advanced messaging like nothing you’ve ever seen).

-Discount on Web Design Services

Yeah, the MAP 2.0 is going to be a pretty big deal. I’d say about twice as big of a deal as the MAP 1.0. And the price will reflect that.

Anyone who’s part of the MAP 1.0 will get upgraded for free.

If you want the extra bonuses, wait until I launch the MAP 2.0 in December to join.

But if you’re happy with the current bonuses and want to get in at a lower price, time is running out to join the MAP 1.0.

The door is closing on October 31st so that I can spend November putting together the final touches for the grand reopening!

Join us here:

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


So…

You’ve done some playing and singing. You’ve written some songs. You’ve got this whole “music” thing down to some degree, and now you’re thinking about gigging or recording.

But you’re bewildered. You don’t know how to get started with the maddening, intimidating, even terrifying pile of hardware and software that gets used in modern production. This series is for you. It should help you understand a little more about what’s going on, so you’re not as mystified.

We’re Going In!

Obviously, what we’re working with is sound – a vibration in something physical that we can hear. Any real dive into the physics of sound is beyond the scope of this series, but you should be aware that all sound:

1) Has an intensity, or amplitude.

2) Has a rate of vibration, or frequency.

Sound has other properties as well, but these two will be the most important for a basic understanding.

Now, then. The fundamental key to all audio production is that we MUST have sound information in the form of electricity. Certain instruments, like synthesizers and sample players don’t produce any actual sound at all; They go straight to producing electricity.

For actual sound, though, we have to perform a conversion, or “transduction.” Transduction, especially input transduction, is THE most important part of audio production. If the conversion from sound to electricity is poor, nothing happening down the line will be able to fully compensate.

Mr. Microphone

Transducers come in various forms, but the most commonly recognized sound-to-electricity transducers are microphones.

Microphones come in a large array of sizes, shapes, and behaviors. They all derive from one of two basic flavors, though:

1) Dynamics, which use wire coils and magnetism to generate current.

2) Condensers, which create a “variable capacitor” to produce current.

You should be aware that there are sub-categories for each basic flavor, such as moving-coil dynamics, dynamic ribbons, “active” dynamics, electret condensers, tube-amplified condensers, and whatever else the industry can cook up. However, in the most common scenarios, what you can keep in mind as a baseline is that dynamic mics don’t fundamentally require a steady supply of electricity to work, whereas condensers do.

Another generalization that can be made is the overall character of the microphone flavors. Although all microphones react quickly by human standards, dynamic microphones have moving parts which tend to be “heavy.” The moving portion of a condenser microphone can have far less mass, which makes for a vibration sensor that can start and stop moving very easily. Condenser mics are a common choice for the transduction of quiet, “delicate,” or “complex” sounds, and condensers can more easily be extremely accurate – but this does not necessarily mean that condensers are correct for what you need to do. There are plenty of dynamic mics which sound very pleasing on a tremendous variety of sound sources, and they tend to be more resistant to accidents and mishandling (although dynamic ribbons can be very fragile indeed).

Microphones also differ from one another in terms of their directionality, or the relative sensitivity of the microphone at different angles around the microphone element. This is also referred to as the “polar pattern,” in reference to how this directionality is commonly plotted on specification sheets. In terms of the basic microphone types, any directionality is possible. There are omnidirectional dynamics and ultra-selective condensers, and the opposite is also true. A list of common polar responses includes:

1) Omnidirectional, which has essentially the same sensitivity at all angles around the element.

2) Figure-Eight, which is sensitive to the front and rear, and tends to reject sound from the sides.

3) Cardioid, which is highly sensitive to the front, somewhat less so at the sides, and has a point of very low sensitivity at the back.

4) Super-Cardioid, which is highly sensitive to the front, less sensitive than a cardioid at the sides (with a particular side angle which is very low sensitivity), and has some sensitivity at the back.

5) Hyper-Cardioid, which is like super-cardioid, but narrower and with a more pronounced “sensitivity bump” for sounds coming from behind.

In many applications, mics with strong directionality are often preferred and even necessary. However, omnidirectional transducers see quite a bit of utilization as well, especially when accuracy is needed or tonal consistency at varying distances is required.

Contact

To close this installment, it’s worth talking about another kind of transducer, the “contact mic.” Contact transducers aren’t really microphones at all, in the sense that they are not designed to work well with sounds in air. Rather, they are intended to be fixed to a vibrating surface, which causes the element to deform or flex and thus create an electrical current. This is a piezoelectric effect, and so these pickups are often referred to as piezos.

Contact transducers generally sound rather artificial when compared with microphones, but most microphones aren’t in direct physical contact with a sound source. At the same time, piezo pickups can be very handy for dealing with certain problems, like instruments which need to be made disproportionately loud with minimal feedback.

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 😉

Back in the heyday of the Grateful Dead, a special sub-scene emerged: The Tapers. Not to confused with tapirs, an exotic animal, Tapers would record the live shows to share with other people later.

Does that sound familiar?

I would argue that, in many ways, livestreaming your show is a new form of taping. It’s an attempt to capture part of the experience so as to give something to your current audience, and hopefully reach some new enthusiasts as well.

The thing with taping or livestreaming is that the physics and logistics have not really changed. Sure, the delivery endpoints are different, especially with livestreaming being a whole bunch of intangible data being fired over the Internet, but how you get usable material is still the same. As such, here are some hints from the production-staff side for maximum effectiveness, at least as far as the sound is concerned.

1) Directional microphones are your friend.

While it might seem like a good idea to grab a wide, or even 360 degree soundfield, you will generally get a better result overall by being selective. Especially if you’re streaming from a bar or club, it’s really not a great idea to capture all the conversations, room reflections, and general disruption happening around you. A full-on shotgun mic probably isn’t necessary; Just find a decent cardioid or super-cardioid and point it at what you want to hear.

2) Keep your gear out of the way. Super out of the way, actually.

Audiences have an incredible ability to walk into, stand on, swat, and otherwise mess with your recording setup, often without even trying. Endeavor to find a spot where your streaming goodies are protected from the general public. The audio human’s spot can be pretty good for this. Just remember to ask politely first.

3) Run your own gear as much as possible.

As a sound operator, I am (as a rule), happy to help by pressing record on your device. However, it’s important to understand that the start of a show can be a bit like getting an airliner off the ground: A lot is going on that requires my close attention. I may end up forgetting to hit the little red button. If you can do it yourself, that’s much better.

Also, if there is any complexity at all to getting things rolling (beyond just pressing the aforementioned button), you really should take care of it yourself. It’s THE way to ensure success.

4) A direct feed might sound better, but…

…remember that many direct feeds are just a split from some output, often the main bus. There are many rooms and situations where the main bus is carrying a ton of vocals and just a touch of a few other things. Unless the PA is truly doing all the heavy lifting, you may find that a line-level feed isn’t musically balanced.

I like clean audio as much as anybody – maybe even more – but I can also recognize when “clean” isn’t necessarily the best capture of the show as a whole.

(There are some ways around this conundrum, but they are beyond the scope of this article.)

5) If you want a feed, please do your advance work.

Find out the day before, or earlier, what kind of connections and signals might be available to you. Sometimes, it’s easy for a sound tech to get something sorted out for you…and sometimes, it’s nearly impossible. The difficulty generally rises as the amount of time before the show decreases.

And please, please, educate yourself on the different kinds of audio connections that you might run into, and have your own adapters. Again, when speaking for myself I can say that I’m happy to help out in whatever way I can – but it’s always best when YOU are “Johnny On The Spot” in terms of having what you need to make your own gear play nicely with everything else.

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!