It’s easy to be hardcore when you’re a young musician. I remember those days well. You’re willing to play any gig at any time, drive as far and in whatever weather as needed, compromise your own comfort and income, drive a beater, live on ramen noodles and cheap beer, and to do anything else required to live the life you love, because, deep in your heart, you just KNOW that it’s going to pay off. You are gonna write that song or create that sound that sets the world on fire and it’s all gonna be gravy after that. You just need a little more time.

So time passes. Some musicians do, in fact, set the world on fire. Not you, though. High school turns to college, twenties turn to thirties, and the same lifestyle grind continues. You’re not that old yet, right? You may have picked up a spouse and/or kids by now, which changes the game a little, but you will just pick up some cover gigs for cash and maybe teach some lessons and all, you think, will be good. But it isn’t. Your original music isn’t paying the bills, so you go full on cover band. At least you’re a working musician, right? Not so bad, you get paid, and more time passes, enough time to notice a crucial difference. Where before you played to get past local gigs to the next level, now you just play a circuit that keeps you busy, hopefully, but leads nowhere. Maybe you’re in your forties by now, day job and all, and, one night on stage as you bash out “Mustang Sally” or “When I Come Around” for the millionth time while an over-served girl pukes on the dance floor, you start thinking that being a live juke box for suburban drunks isn’t what you signed on for, and maybe it’s time to adult up and quit this nonsense for good. I mean, you tried, right?

You might have lived out a variation of this tale. I know I have. I ended up so far away from where and why I started out that I forgot, for a while, why I ever did this music stuff in the first place. I learned a whole lot about the game of music and about myself over thirty years in the rock and roll trenches and I today want to share a few tidbits of that knowledge with you, Gentle Reader, in hopes of improving your mental game and saving you a step or two. Here goes nothing!

TIDBIT #1 – THE REASONS WHY WE PLAY ARE IMPORTANT!

We all must be who we are, as musicians. We have to accept our deep, inner identity because that is the part of us that made us start playing. If you had a burning desire to write songs when you were sixteen, part of you probably still does at forty. You have to honor that or it will drive you crazy. That was the big mistake I made. I started as a songwriter but got seduced by cover band money in my thirties and gave up writing for over a decade. I only made music for money. Thing is, music is not only about money. If you need both money and creativity to be happy, a balance between is needed. Cognitive dissonance is your enemy and will breed resentment. Keep your reasons alive!

TIDBIT #2 – BAR BAND LIFE SUCKS AFTER A WHILE!

Let’s face it, playing in a four- set-a-night bar band is not for everybody. It has its moments, to be sure, and is great for your chops, but it gets old fast for some of us. It’s a world away from life in a one-set original music band. No one dreams of getting old playing hours and hours of overdone material to an often indifferent or even hostile crowd of drinkers. Combined with a day job and a family, this life can be a spirit killer. Some folks are fine with it but, if you’re not, admit it to yourself. A gig is most definitely not a gig. Play in projects and venues that inspire you to do it again, not to just get drunk.

TIDBIT #3 – NOT QUITTING IS ALL ABOUT MORALE!

People quit things that they have lost enthusiasm for. The more years you spend in the game, the more vital it is to nurture your enthusiasm and positive morale in order to keep playing it. If you lose those things, you’ll be phoning it in forever and people will know. No matter what gig you’re doing, you’ve got to want to be there and feel good about it. Dig out your inner teenager again and remember why you first joined a band. As long as you can feed that inner teen with what he or she needs, your outer adult will be able to get through the tough nights and low points that come with all levels of music. Your mental game really is everything. Play it well.

I’ve come through these lessons and many more and am happy to be a fifty-year-old original music artist. My cover band days are probably done. Writing and recording music is why I’m here and always has been. I’m still hardcore, and I’m totally ok with with what I now do. To hit that point is to truly master The Art of Not Quitting.

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.

I saw a discussion on Facebook the other day. A bunch of musicians were discussing whether it’s better to release singles, or to wait and release a full CD. The answer is, of course, there is no pat answer. It depends.

But one of the musicians brought up the following points about releasing singles.

  • Too many releases could get annoying
  • People would take some of the songs for granted since there’s no expectation or anticipation.
  • It’s too predictable and doesn’t build interest/wet the appetite of potential fans.

Who Is Your Favorite Musical Artist?

I know a married couple that goes to Bruce Springsteen concerts, every chance they get. They fly to different cities to see him. Recently, when he was on his book tour, the woman couldn’t make it to see him in Seattle, where she lives. So, she went to Portland to have a chance to meet him.

Maybe you have a band that you love as much. It might be an indie, or underground band, and not somebody huge. Whoever it is, would you mind if they put out a single every month? Or would you want to wait 8 months or a year, for a full CD? How often would you like to be contacted by them? Is once a month good? Maybe once a week? Or would you like to see their living room, watch them record, know what they had for dinner, have an online Q & A with them, watch them play scrabble on the tour bus?

The answer is of course, that it depends. But most superfans like to be contacted more, rather than less.

One Superfan Is Worth How Many Lukewarm Fans?

A superfan will share your music. A superfan will like, comment on and/or share almost every Facebook post, watch every YouTube video, and read every tweet. They will buy nearly everything you put out. They are invested in you.

A lukewarm fan will like a few of your Facebook posts, but they probably won’t share them. They’ll say, “Nice job!”, or leave a smiley face. Maybe 10% of them will buy your CD when it comes out.

Although the percentages may not be exactly 80/20, that old rule applies. A minority of your fans will be responsible for the majority of your success.  So, you should be set up to please your superfans, not your lukewarm fans. And you should be doing things that turn your lukewarm fans into superfans.

Who Should You Nurture?

Nurture your superfans. Give them as much content as they want (if you can). Don’t worry about the rest, too much.

I run an internet business (unrelated to music). I have an email list of several thousand folks. Whenever I get an email from one of them, especially a complaint, I check a couple of things right away.

  1. How long have they been on my email list?
  2. Have they ever bought anything from me?

If they’ve bought something from me, I know they’re invested. We have a relationship. They’ve demonstrated their commitment. I take their concern seriously, and address it as quickly as possible. If they’ve been on my email list for a couple of years, but haven’t bought anything, I take what they say with a grain of salt. The chances are., if they haven’t bought anything from me, or interacted with me in a memorable way, my message hasn’t resonated with them.

Here’s my point. If you try to please everyone, you won’t please many. You’ll move away from what you’re passionate about, and then everyone loses. If you do more of what you’re passionate about, you will attract those that resonate with it. Then, what do you do about people who aren’t quite into what you do? Well, don’t worry about them. They’re not who you should focus on.

You Need Regular Fans, Too

Not every fan is going to be a super-fan. While super-fans will probably be responsible for maybe half of your success, you need regular fans too. You might have an email list of 10,000 people, and only 500 of them are super-fans. But the 9,500 that are left, will make up the rest of your success.

My suggestion is to do your best to convert regular fans into super-fans. Beyond that, just keep engaging with them. The least of your worries should be contacting folks too much. If they aren’t that interested, they’ll remove yourself from their list. If you lose people, it won’t be the dedicated fans, it will be the lukewarm ones.

How Often Should I Contact People Who Like My Music?

One of the ways you can avoid over-contacting people is to have different channels that you create content for at different intervals. You can tweet 4 times a day, post to your Facebook fan page 4 times a day, send to your email list once a week, and post a YouTube video every two weeks (I’m just picking numbers out of a hat — it’s not a suggested schedule).

If somebody wants less contact than once/week, they’re not that interested. If that’s all they can handle, they can sign up for email. If they’re a super fan, they may want to be involved in all your doings.

But at a bare minimum, I’d suggest contact once a week. It doesn’t always have to be a new piece of music. You can talk about writing, what song you’re working on, the recording process, your journey as a musician, a cause you find important, or your cat. Less than once a week, and people will lose track of you, and forget who you are.

Singles Vs. CDs Or EPs

A lot goes into the decision of whether to release music as singles, or wait until there’s enough fro a CD or EP. Personally, I lean toward releasing singles, and then when you get enough, do a CD. Singles give you a chance to engage more often. Maybe, once you get enough tracks for a CD, you can do some live versions and remixes for the CD, and add a couple of tracks that you don’t release as singles.

Also, if you don’t have a big backlog of recorded material, singles can be a way of getting started delivering music to fans, without waiting months for a larger project.

Of course, I record at home, on a computer. When you’re recording a full band in the studio, it’s going to be much more economical to do a bunch of songs at once. It means you’ll probably only have to set up and mic the drum set once, for instance. You can still release the songs as single though, if you want.

At coffee, I run into everyone. Our town only has one coffee shop, so it’s easy to find everyone there. I ran into a couple of musicians that I’ve jammed with, and I dig their tunes! Well, like me, they signed up for Distrokid – and like me, they have the eternal musician’s struggle: Record, listen, hear the mistakes, re-record, listen, hear something “lacking”, re-re-record, listen – and so on.

The thing that a lot of us (musicians, writers, artists, people) do is that we work hard on whatever our passion is, look at it, and then find everything wrong with it. Even when it’s someone like me who LOVES the little mistakes (read: “nuances”) that make things imperfect, I constantly hear things that need to be fixed. Even when a recording is produced and polished, I love having a little something that is off in it, but it has to be just the right kind of wrong.

So many of us keep shelving things because of those little mistakes. The wrong drum hit at that moment, a wrong note hit, a line of lyric misspoken – more and more things make us keep our music/art to ourselves.

 

WRONG

 

Listen to some of the great recordings of the past. Listen to Zeppelin live at The BBC, listen to Tom Waits’ recordings in a barn (or his amazing VH1 Storytellers), listen to BB King live, or John Fogerty! They all have these moments that the rest of us struggle with! And, what do they do? They keep going! They released the music, they let the art out! Sure, a lot of artists rely on the beauty of our technology to help produce a “perfect” track…. No comment.

So, what do we do? Do we allow our mistakes to be a little part of our performances and recordings? Do we keep all of this wonderful music, writing, art to ourselves out of fear of our worste critic (it’s ourselves – The Storyteller), or maybe we just do something crazy like emphasize the mistake?! Whatever we decide to do, just get the art out there! Perfect or not, just bloody let it out!

Someone once asked the rhetorical, “what if Hendrix had left his music on a tape in the studio instead of releasing it or playing shows? What about Kurt Cobain or Joe Cocker? What about Janis Joplin? They all made mistakes, hit “wrong” notes, they were all perfectly human on their recordings – so why can’t you be?”

That was the thing that pushed me over the edge. Sure, I still want things mixed and sounding like they do in my mind – but if there’s this or that on there – a dog or car in the background, or a note that doesn’t quite go with the tune, or even a ragged vocal moment – I let it sit for a while before I say I need to try again. And, as I let it sit, they grow on me and I learn to love those little moments in the songs. Even the hiss of the amp can sometimes add another dimension to what I’ve been working on.

It gets worse (or “less perfect”) when playing live. When I was playing with a band, I would mess up a lot, I mean a lot. Now that I play solo shows… I mess up even more! It doesn’t matter to the audience how many things I have to think about; which pedal should be pressed, what distance I should stay from the mic, switching from a barred aug9 chord to an open min7th… Most audience members don’t ****ing care. They only care if it sounds good and they’re having fun. So, I’m learning (yes, still in the process) to roll with the punches of messing up on stage. In fact, a few of the screw-ups I’ve made on stage gave me ideas to change the songs for the better! How cool is that?!

So, let the mistakes be heard! Maybe do something crazy and accentuate them! Don’t do a million takes to try and make it perfect, you’ll never be satisfied – I know I’m rarely satisfied at the first dozen listens. I’ll always have the struggle of the musician who loves the sound of raw music and emotion mixed with a person who is, in many ways, a perfectionist about how I want things to sound or be presented. I’m letting the former win the fights more and more just so I can get the music out there. Even if only one person hears it and enjoys it on any level – that’s better than none.

So, I will continue to release music, wrong notes and all.
 

Now, while I appreciate all forms of music, I think that these classic jazz musicians nailed it with their quotes:

“There are no wrong notes; some are just more right than others.”
—Thelonius Monk

“It’s not the note you play that’s the wrong note – it’s the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.”
—Miles Davis

“There’s no such thing as a wrong note.”
–Art Tatum

“Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”
—Miles Davis

“There are no wrong notes, only wrong resolutions”
—Bill Evans

“I played the wrong, wrong notes.”
—Thelonious Monk

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 😉

Onward!

Truer words have never been spoken.  That is why I’m using this quote from an interview, I recently watched, as the title of this article.  The quote is from my good friend Nate Compton, front man of ELISIUM, a national touring indie band.  In the interview, which you can watch below, Nate talks about his experience traveling the country playing music and tries to answer a question he is asked a great deal.  How do you know it’s the right time to quit your job and go on tour?  This very question is one that I have wrestled with many times and am wrestling now as I write this post.  

But, who am I?

My name is Greg Barrett.  I play drums for a regional touring act on the verge of going national.  For the past three years my band has been the proverbial weekend road warrior.  I also do session work for a local recording studio from time to time.  I’ve worked my entire life to get to the point where I’m currently at musically, and I honestly believe that I was put on this earth for the purpose of playing music.  It was obvious from the time I was three that I would be following this path and chasing the dream.

And, just like my buddy Nate was a few short years ago, I’m standing on the edge of the cliff trying to decide whether or not to jump?  Should I quit my job, to do what I love, or continue to work full time.  Should you?  Nate did, and believe me it’s a hard but fulfilling road.  But don’t take my word for it, after reading this article, watch his interview.

First off, let’s cut to the chase and determine if you/your band is ready to take to the roads.  Have you established yourself in your home market?  Are you getting good enough guarantees and positive feedback in your home market to warrant branching out into new radius based test markets?  Assuming you already have merchandise, are you moving it well at your live shows?  Is everyone in your crew on the same page?   Is your branding on point?

Branding?   What’s that?  We’re a band, not a business… WRONG!!!

The list could go on and on and on, but all of them are legitimate questions that need to be addressed.  All good topics to revisit in later articles, especially branding.  We’ll cover the first few for now.

Welcome my friends to indie touring!  

Is everyone in your team on the same page?  They had better be if you’re planning to spend days, weeks, or months at a time in a smelly, cramped, van.  You will all be running on minimal sleep and a diet of who knows where the next meal is coming from.  Hotel rooms will be a rarely afforded luxury, so you’ll be mostly sleeping in the van, and showering at truck stops and gyms.  The gym option is a great choice!   Let’s face it, who couldn’t use some exercise?  Just make sure to join a national chain.   Needless to say, the last thing you want is to be out midway through a tour, 900 miles from home and a member decide the road isn’t for him/her.  Everyone in that van should have the same drive, determination, and work ethic.  Everyone should have a designated job to do and be pulling their weight.  You are about to leave the happy-go-lucky and comfortable world of music as a hobby and enter the realm of full time, always on call, real deal music is my JOB.  Is everyone willing and able to completely uproot from normal life, sell off most everything not needed to be as debt free as possible and not get paid often?  You had best be finding out!  Unless of course you are loaded to the gills and able to just finance or bank roll a tour, a bus, or accommodate your crew every night with lodging, food, and pay.  Or, you already have major label backing and enough leverage in your deal that they provide for all of it.  Even most of the signed bands out there are lucky to be provided with a 15 passenger van and trailer.

Lets focus on your home and radius markets.  

Your home market is your first anchor.  Assuming that you’ve established a healthy following already in your hometown, you should be drawing sizable crowds, getting reasonably good venue guarantees, and be moving merch well.  These two latter points will be key to survival in new markets where you will be working to replicate that hometown market all over again.  This never stops.  Each time you win a large following, that market becomes an anchor.  You should be working to establish these anchors roughly 3 to 5 hours apart for weekend strings and as far out as 9 plus hours for tours.  Guarantees in new test markets will, in all likelihood, be minimal at best if any at all.  There will be a lot of times starting out when fuel and food between stops is a luxury only afforded by your merch sales.  That’s where those anchors come into play.  Routing more than a couple test market stops between your “meat and potato” anchor stops WILL break the budget.  So will running out of merch… DON’T DO THAT!

Survival on tour is all about budgeting and being prepared for whatever gets thrown at you.  You can never count 100% on getting paid your full guarantee or being paid at all for every date booked, even with signed contracts.  This is especially true when you’re working new rooms and contacts.  Any tour that ends up breaking even should be considered a success.  If you do turn a profit after all the expenses, then that’s a huge success!  The real objective is to get your name out there in new markets and build that following.

The whole landscape of the music business is shifting and constantly changing.  A recent topic of debate among many of my peers has been, is touring profitable anymore?  I have many friends on both sides of that fence.  Some who got in the game when venue pay and general attendance were high, which allowed them to generate large enough national followings to still warrant hefty guarantees, are now in the catch 22 of “always on tour”.  They simply can’t afford to not be on tour full time now.  On the other side, with guarantees way lower, it may be more profitable to tap into other revenue streams, than to try to stay out on the road all the time.  The bottom line is, touring is still the most effective means of developing a strong following.  People still love to see a killer live show and actually meet the artists.

Don’t let me discourage you, but be aware of what you are about to do.  Making the jump from hobby to career is no smooth path.  It’s a lot of work.  Touring can actually be fun, rewarding, and give you a whole new perspective on life.  It will broaden your horizons, make you laugh, cry, and open your eyes to that big world outside of your box.  Nothing beats the feeling of knowing you left every ounce of yourself that you had to give on that stage night after night.

Is there ever going to be a “right time”?  Probably not…

But, as my friend Wade Sutton from Rocket to the Stars says, “Sometimes you jump. Sometimes you get pushed.  Either way, you’re going to learn to fly.”

Alright, there’s my two cents, now watch Nate’s interview, and go start planning that maiden tour!

Greg Barrett is the drummer for the indie rock band Seasons of Me, session musician for The Sound Asylum Recording & Mastering Studio, and follower/student of trends and marketing strategies in the new music industry.  You can read his bio on his artist page at the Saluda Cymbals web site and check out his band at their official site using the links below.

Greg Barrett at Saluda Cymbals

In the entertainment business, think of yourself as a spider. Your web is your life. It shelters you. If you have a poorly constructed web, when the rain comes, you will be washed out. It feeds you.

A spider with no web, catches no flies and thus, will starve to death. Spiders weave their webs with purpose to attain certain goals for themselves. They do not build webs for other spiders.

Think of your web as the network you build.

A strong web has strong anchor points. The professional contacts that you make, and relationships you forge with them, are your anchor points. Strong anchor points are developed by conducting yourself and your business as professionally as you can at all times.

The intersecting strands of your web represent your fan base. These strands are equally as important as the anchor points. With a larger fan base comes bigger and better opportunities with greater frequency, which allows you to continue to grow your network.

Spiders never stop maintaining and building their webs. Don’t make the mistake of trying to cheat or shortcut in this area though. By purchasing likes, follows, views, etc. for your social media pages you are only tarnishing your credibility. It’s not difficult for those anchor points, that you are working so hard to gain, to figure out. It only takes a few clicks of the mouse.

A good example is a Facebook page with 10,000 likes and a corresponding YouTube channel with minimal views, or a Twitter account with 25,000 followers and a Spotify profile with minimal plays.

Your REAL credibility lies in your ability to put REAL bodies in REAL venues on a consistent basis. In short, it’s better to have 1000 real fans than 10,000 fakes. After all, you can’t market your music or your merchandise to fake fans.

And, while it may look good to a few venues when you are starting out, word will quickly spread among talent buyers and other industry professionals (Yes they do talk to each other, they call that networking) that you are the artist with the bogus fan base, who can’t draw a stick figure.

Guess who is not getting invited back?

What you need is a fan base comprised of legitimate and highly targeted real people. Furthermore, you can’t just try to sell to these people constantly. You must interact with them and get to know them first. Be easily accessible, open a line of communication, and treat them like friends.

You’ll catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

You should be using your social channels to attract and entertain people, and to direct them to your website. Why?…

Because your website should be geared at getting them to sign up for your email list, which you should also be pitching at your shows, on all of your social channels, and even on your videos. Yes, the age old email list is still one of the most effective marketing tools that you have at your disposal.

Think about it, your email list is your direct link, that only you control, to engage and market to your targeted audience on a personal level.

Also, consider this, if someone is interested enough in you (and or) your music to grant you access to their inbox, the potential for future sales to that person is considerably higher than say the average person scrolling through their news feed. They are essentially giving you permission to directly contact and market to them.

The key lies in building relationships and trust from your subscribers and your ability to consistently deliver the relative content they want to consume. Ask questions in your emails and when people respond, follow up. Make your correspondence as personal as possible. Make them feel like they are included in your journey and not just being sold to. It will go a long way in developing trust and interest in your BRAND, if the people on your list feel like they are a part of your life, your family; As opposed to cattle being funneled into the barn for milking.

All of the social media platforms are constantly changing the rules on who sees what you post, when, and how often. You spend countless hours, days, weeks, even years building an audience for your page. Then, in order to reach all of that audience, the platform wants you to pay to advertise to your own following. You may own the page or account, but THEY own the network and THEY make the rules.

This is why it is so important to build your own network. One where YOU make the rules. If you’re a spider, the people on your email list are your flies. Ultimately, the spiders who weave the tightest webs with the strongest anchors catch the most flies.

Nope, that’s not a typo… Branding is a topic I’ll cover in a later article.


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.

Who am I kidding, they ALREADY hate me 😉

But in the meantime…

If you’d like to receive DAILY tips, advice, and inspiration from me, all you have to do is click here and subscribe.

Now keep in mind that I do email pretty much every day. So if you’re just gonna unsubscribe later and complain about to many emails, don’t even bother.

I’m only interested in musicians that want to think about their careers every day. And that want to turn building their business into a daily habit.

So if that’s YOU, come on in, and I’ll see ya there!