How To Deal With Rejection

Rejection Feature

By Johnny Dwinell

Rejection

Ugh.

We all fear rejection, we all could learn better ways on how to deal with rejection.  Men especially fear not only rejection but also commitment.  As the buyer, a man is reluctant to purchase anything out of fear of commitment.  As the seller, a man is afraid to ask for the sale because he’s afraid of rejection.  If you think about this for a second, it’s amazing that men ever get any business done at all!!  How in the hell did we ever evolve to this level of society with these common social traits?!?!

Rejection LogoTruth is we all have to deal with rejection every day with every aspect of our lives.  I thought I would share a couple (hopefully) helpful ideas, strategies, and anecdotes that you may use as “social tools”, for lack of a better word, to aid you in dealing with rejection.  Once put in the appropriate light, once put in the proper frame of reference, rejection really isn’t so bad and actually becomes quite easy to deal with.  It is truly freeing to your soul.

 

We all want to be loved; ESPECIALLY artists!  We all need acceptance; ESPECIALLY artists!  It’s such a primal human need that it is literally the cornerstone to all social media companies and all social media marketing; create a tribe.  So I definitely get that what I’m about to describe to you may feel quite difficult to execute on a daily basis; maybe downright incomprehensible.  Good News; it’s literally a muscle and the more you use it, the stronger it gets.  Before you know it, you are behaving subconsciously at a higher level than most and you feel far better about yourself; you will have more clarity.

I submit to you that while I am quite sure there are thousands of studies, published papers, and blah, blah, blah, I am writing strictly about my own experiences in life on this one.  I LIVE by these ideas every day.  I believe that in some instances they keep me from climbing a tower with a gun!  They have always been SUPER effective for me in that I don’t lose sleep over someone rejecting or being aggressive towards me and I have become quite adept at diffusing such situations which just makes for a happier existence.

 

NO ONE can make you feel like an A-hole without your permission

When I first heard this idea articulated to me in thisdevon 012 language, it clicked.  Confucius says “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” so maybe I was ready to receive this information.  It’s quite amazing (and in some cases entertaining) to watch people’s reaction when you DON’T react to their attacks.  When someone comes at you verbally and you say nothing while simply staring at them with a “What-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you” look on your face, they will inevitably spin out even more; especially if it’s the first time you have behaved in such a way to a particular person.  Listen, when you are being belittled or attacked, simply remind yourself, while the panic starts to set in, that YOU are giving them permission to make you feel bad.

Ask yourself, “Am I coming from a good, honest place?”

Ask yourself, “Do I owe this person some kind of apology?”

If you answer “yes” to the first question, and “no” to the second question, your attacker is trying to get over on you.  This is how attackers get people to perform for them; intimidation.  It will continue to go on throughout mankind as long as it continues to be effective.  It’s only effective when people allow themselves to be manipulated.  Don’t grant the permission and watch them perform for YOU.

 

The whole world is made up of essentially 2 kinds of people:

Rejection 2 Kinds of PeopleSome people get their energy organically; from the Earth, Sun, moon and water.

Some people get their energy from other people

Sadly, this truth while not fair, is real and you have to understand it to survive; especially as an artist.  We feel better, we thrive, and enjoy being around people who add to our lives, our creativity, our energy.  We deal with, suffer through, and find ways to tolerate and spend even more energy justifying the people who take our energy.  I have always been naturally protective of my energy.  I won’t just give it away; it’s mine and I only have so much of it.

STOP!

Right now all of you have begun to categorize some people that you interact with on a regular basis!  You see, recognizing this kind of person is half the battle.  Once we can identify those who exist to consistently take from us we simply know them for who they are.  Dealing with a sack full of Pit Vipers is totally doable once you have identified them as Pit Vipers.  When you stick your hand in the bag and you’re surprised they bit you, it’s confusing, hurtful, scary, and difficult to process.  This totally helps when it comes to rising above any kind of rejection.  Once you have learned who and what they are you can adjust your approach and the amount of stock you put in their opinion.  That’s KEY to your sanity, because someone who takes your energy will NEVER have a supportive opinion for you, it would be detrimental to their livelihood and their energy.  Think about that.

Knowing how to identify these people helps when it comes to denying permission for them to make you feel crappy.

They Have an agenda, what is it?

Everybody has an agenda.  YOU have an agenda as well.  Often times we are being rejected because our agenda isn’t harmonious with someone else’s.  Once we can determine WHY exactly the agendas aren’t similar, it turns the sting of rejection into the peacefulness of understanding.  How nice would that be for you?

I have an example.  I used to work in the electronics manufacturing industry and my clients were the top Aerospace and cutting edge electronic companies.  I worked for a small company who’s founder, David Jacks, was a GENIUS; before he started his company Zephyrtronics, he was the Director of Engineering for Rubbermaid (a 7 billion dollar conglomerate) at the age of 27.  He was the one who taught me this lesson about agendas.  David and his partner had invented a super smart machine that would remove and replace these new processor chip packages called the Ball Grid ArrayRejection BGA Package imageAll our competition’s machines were complicated to operate (requiring 1 week of training even!) due to the cameras and X-ray technology on board: these behemoth machines cost around $150,000 each.  David’s machine was so smartly engineered I could get any receptionist with ZERO assembly skills to operate it successfully the first time and it only cost $14,000.

Easy sell right?

Well my first day of demonstrating this machine I had 3 appointments; I also had 3 HATERS.  WTF?  These guys were ruthless!  I would have a room full of assembly techs who were fascinated by how easy and smart this machine was and 1 guy constantly throwing me under the bus every chance he could get.  When my day was over, I was so confused I called David and vented on the phone.

David picked up the phone eager to hear my first report on his new baby, “How did it go?”

I replied, “Freaking TERRIBLE!!”

David quipped, “Let me guess, you had haters.”

I said, “WOW, how did you know?  These guys were terrible to me! I don’t know if I can sell this thing!  I feel like I wanna drive off a cliff right now!”

David responded, “Calm down, calm down!  Johnny, I need you to think, what was their agenda?”

I said, “F**K their agenda I wanna KILL those A-holes!!  I do not understand how we have a process that is smarter, FAR less expensive, easy to operate, SO MUCH better for the company and these guys not only don’t get it, they are aggressively undermining my attempts to demonstrate it and screwing their company in the process!!”

David said, “Look man, THOSE are the guys who just got their companies to purchase the $150,000 machine!  You get it?  They HATE you because even though you are coming from a good place and trying to help them you are also embarrassing them in front of their colleagues; maybe in a career ending way.  FYI, you are going to have one of those at every stop.  Even if we are coming from a good place, we can inadvertently push people’s buttons and they get wound up.  So one must think when one is coming from such a good, helpful place, what is it, exactly, that would get this person so insane with hostility?”

Wow

That changed the whole game and my life.  Once I knew who they were and what their agenda was, they just didn’t upset me anymore.  I was prepared for them!  Extrapolate that to your situation right now.  I’ll bet you have haters because you still believe you can be an artist and the haters gave up; so they really aren’t mad at you even though they are venting on you, they are upset with themselves.  The words coming out of their mouths are for them, not you.  Try pointing that out to one of them mid rant…whoa, be prepared for an explosion!

Rejection From Different Agendas:  Don’t Take it Personally

The other kind of rejection is simply where the agendas are different.  As artists we tend to deal with this one often when we are trying to get a record deal or submitting songs to artists or publishing companies.  Simply put, the label or pub company is looking for “blue solo cups” and you are a “red solo cup”.  Artists tend to get mortally wounded upon rejection and we begin spin out and think “why wasn’t my music good enough” when it had nothing to do with quality and everything to do with the fact that you or your song just wasn’t appropriate for what they wanted.  Think of it like buying a guitar.  If you go to Guitar Center and you prefer Gibson over Fender, it’s not because Fenders suck it’s because you are looking for a Gibson.  I think this concept is important when approaching the post mortem analysis after any rejection.

Haters Don’t Really Hate You

So now, when I encounter a hater, the first thought that goes through my head is that I am not going to Rejection FACT Hater imagereact and immediately give this person permission to make me feel bad unless they can demonstrate some way I inadvertently hurt them or did them wrong, in which case I will rectify the situation and apologize.  The next question I ask myself is what kind of person are they?  Are they rattling my chain to try and steal my energy?  If yes, I blow them off, they can’t have it; it’s not their energy to take!  If the answer is no, then I ask myself what is their agenda?  What am I missing that’s so profound this person feels hostile enough to hate on me or be aggressive?  I almost always can ascertain a reason after a few quick questions (which are always effective when someone is hostile at you) and while it almost always diffuses the argumentative situation and saves me from suffering emotionally, it sometimes even helps the aggressor realize why they are behaving so poorly.

I was thinking about this as I walked my dogs this morning.  I hope it helps you.

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5 Ways To Find Artistic Courage

Artistic Courage feature

By Johnny Dwinell

 

cour·age

[kur-ij, kuhr-] Show IPA

noun

1.   the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.

I wholeheartedly disagree with this definition of courage that I pulled from Dictionary.com.  I know I am quite courageous; however I have never been without fear.  I have never taken a huge risk in any aspect of my life, whether it be business-wise or artistically, without some level of fear.  What I chose to rely on was my gut instinct, some intelligence on the risk factor (aka a plan of some sort), and my ability to execute job requirements needed to move forward; but never fearlessness.  I also know for a fact that every brave act, if articulated honestly by the doer, was not without fear, there was some greater cause or duty that had to be done that overrode the “Fight or Flight” mechanism of the Reptilian part of our brain.  Therefore, I would redefine courage (and artistic courage) as the bravery or ability to move forward and experience difficulty, danger, pain, etc., in the face of fear.

Artistic Courage

Courage is simply mission-critical for any artist; I just don’t see how any art can be created and ultimately shared without some level of artistic courage.  The first sign of artistic courage presents itself when we first get onstage in front of people; we are absolutely vulnerable at that moment.  We are courageous when we let anyone listen to our songs as they are our thoughts, feelings, secrets, our TRUTH; again we are vulnerable.  We are quite vulnerable in the face of some kind of perceived judgment on our songs and/or lyrics by critics, or industry professionals.  Some artists deal with this necessity for courage well, and some suffer incredibly every time they need to be courageous, but they still show up.  The artists we know and admire must be courageous otherwise we simply wouldn’t know about them, right?

I think, to a degree, we are all capable of artistic courage but some of us need a little support and momentum to begin really believing; in ourselves, which will ultimately be interpreted in our art.  I truly believe that winners, to be successful, MUST read because knowledge is power; so empower yourself.

Here are 5 ways to jump-start your artistic journey and build up a little more courage, by reading them and then considering some different perspectives on life, work, and the huge undertaking of our artistic efforts.  If you ask around your inner circles, you will probably be able to get your hands on most of these.  If you can’t, I have included links to Amazon so you can get started right away.

 

“The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Guide To Higher Creativity” by Julia Cameron–

Artistic Courage Artists way imageThis is a book, actually a program of sorts, and when you purchase it you must also get a blank journal; all total about a $25 investment.  When it was presented to me, I was told, “Don’t start this until you can commit to the whole program of 12-weeks”.  It was one of the most amazing journeys of my life.  It requires about 1 hour a day where you write your “morning pages”.  This exercise of writing 3 pages per day essentially teaches you to “get out of your own way” artistically and shut off the censorship component that we all have inside of us.  I LOVE this book and require every one of our artists to read/participate in it.  Every writer here in town has gone through this program and they all speak highly of the experience.  You can purchase this book in any big retailer like Barnes & Noble as they usually have them in stock; it’s pretty popular.  I have provided a link HERE to get it online.  Remember, get the blank journal too!

 

“The Craft of Lyric Writing” by Sheila Davis –

This book was recommended to me by a Artistic Courage The craft of lyric writing imagefriend back in 1995 who is now a serious hit songwriter.  Again, this book is revered by so many top writers it should be issued to any aspiring songwriter/artist; and YES Kelly and I require all our artists to read it.  I remember finishing this book and completing about 20 or so songs that had been “on the shelf” so-to-speak.  I had been shoving “10 pounds of sand into 5 pound bags” because I was trying to add sections to these songs where the structure didn’t require these sections.  Once I learned about all the different kinds of song structures, it was like an epiphany of sorts.  BOOM!  They all got finished.  I hope you have a similar experience.  This book isn’t as popular as The Artist’s Way so it typically isn’t stocked in the bookstores.  I recommend purchasing it online.  You can get it HERE total investment is about $18.00

 

“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” by Steven R. Covey –

This book has been a best seller for decades.  It was published originally in 1989 and has sold over 15 million copies; because it will change your life!  Think of this book as a tool box for learning how to take care of business and stop procrastinating; then apply these lessons to your artistic endeavors.  HERE is the Amazon.com link.  Investment ranging from $3-$7.  Book retailers will almost always have a copy in stock as well.

 

“Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill –

This is NOT a book about getting “rich” per se.  Artistic Courage Think and Grow Rich imageNapoleon Hill was commissioned to write this book by steel tycoon Andrew Carnegie back in 1908; it was subsequently published in 1937; that was a 29-year research and writing project.  Andrew Carnegie granted Napoleon Hill access to hugely successful business men like himself, Henry Ford, J.P. Morgan, John D. Rockefeller, etc. to find out if there were similar traits that made these people more successful than others; and as it turns out there were.  This book is about eliminating negative energy, honoring your imagination, positive thinking, persistence, and several other common traits that contribute to success no matter what your line of work is.  This was an amazing read that is just as relevant today as it was when it was originally published 76 years ago.  You should probably be able to pick this up just about anywhere.  HERE is the Amazon.com link.  Total investment $9.67

 

“The Power of Positive Thinking” – by Norman Vincent Peale

Best quote: “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Artistic Courage The Power of Positive Thinking imagePerhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.”  I think that about sums this book up, don’t you?  My translation you may recognize, creativity is like cooking pasta, throw the spaghetti against the wall, if it don’t stick, KEEP COOKING!  HERE is the Amazon.com link brand new paperback for $7.47

 

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10 Worst Song Demo Mistakes

Song Demo Mistakes feature

This week I got the call to produce new record for an artist on a NY label.  It was a rush project as they wanted it “in the can” by 1st week of December in time to ship for Christmas.  Mostly the songs were already chosen, however, at the last minute, the label decided they wanted to add 2 more songs to the project.

We put out the word amongst the writing community here that we needed songs quickly as we were planning on cutting in under a week.  Usually this song request process manifests itself in the form of a “Pitch Sheet” of some sort.  The tip sheet will dictate the kind of songs styles and lyrics styles that are needed for any particular project like “Up-tempo party songs” or “Mid-tempo island country grooves” or “ballads” or lately we have seen a lot of “AC/DC songs with country lyrics”.  The tip sheet will also tell the reader who the artist is along with a few other dos and don’ts about song submissions for that particular artist, etc.  Since we didn’t have time for a tip sheet we personally called or texted every writer we knew with specifics on the artist, kind of songs, melodic ranges, and lyric content needed.

After roughly 48 hours, we received just over 250 songs. I sat down this past Saturday to dig into the task of listening. After hearing the first 2 songs, I knew what my next blog was going to be about. I want to share the experience that I had going through all these songs to give you a perspective from the producer side as we try to do our job. I thought this might help you on your future pitches! The intent here is to reveal what goes through a producer’s mind as we have to trudge through so many songs to cut the list from 250 to 15 or so that we present to the artist who then chooses the final list of songs that will be cut on the record. FYI, this is not the most fun part of our job, this part is busy work that we would just as soon get out of the way as quickly as possible. Every job has this component in some fashion or another.

_DSC6357

As a producer, I am very familiar with the artist brand and voice. We’d better be, right? We understand the vocal range and we understand the kind of songs the artist gravitates towards. Matter of fact, I was so clued in that I predicted the very two songs we thought would make the record out of the 18 that I presented.

10 Worst Song Demo Mistakes

  1. Long Intros SUCK – all we are thinking about during the vetting process is the DSC_2314melody, lyric, and vibe of the song; and isn’t that what you are selling?  For the life of me, I cannot understand why ANYONE would have a song demo with a 45 second intro; it seems like a lifetime when you have 250 to listen to. If they all had 45 second intros, that would be 187 MINUTES (just over 3 hours) of time we wasted waiting for the damn songs to start! Think about it! What’s the purpose of a long intro on a SONG DEMO? You are trying to sell the SONG, not blow people away with your producing skills. Why make us wait? This is such an annoyance; we had probably 8 songs like this. Every single one of them pissed us off immediately (because we could tell it would be a long one). To some extent, we rendered a poor judgment on the song before we even heard the first verse. Fair or not, this is what happens; foretold is forewarned.
  2. Crappy/Cheap Production – We did come across a (very) few songs with horrible production, cheap demos. We just laughed and ripped on them. They provided a welcome comic relief from the work load we had to complete. How does that make you feel? I will tell you honestly, that you have to compete and compete intelligently in your marketplace. From the first note of crappy production, we are ripping on the demo before we even get to the song. Poor production certainly colors our opinion. Food For Thought.
  3. Wrong Song – READ the tip sheet or LISTEN to the instructions on what the project is requiring. If the producer asks for up-tempo party songs, don’t send ballads. If the tip sheet has an artist with a limited vocal range, don’t send huge songs no matter how good they are. Who’s gonna sing them? Don’t use an opportunity to pitch a certain song as a vehicle to send the producers every song you have. We don’t care (not right now, anyway). We are only looking for the songs we need for THIS project so we can get on with producing it.
  4. Vague/Missing Email Subject Lines – As you might imagine, in about 48 hours I added 250 emails toSong Demo Mistakes my regular daily allotment. As a sender you definitely want to put the name of the artist pitch into the subject line so your song doesn’t get lost in all the traffic. The subject line is how the receiver will find a song among so many emails. That’s called common sense.
  5. You Didn’t Research The Artist Before Sending Songs – In the case of this particular artist, his songs have a very positive message; they are on the bright side as opposed to darker themes. We came across a couple songs about heavy drinking, sex, and adultery that just wouldn’t be right for his brand. Clearly, the writers that sent those have no clue about the artist and simply wasted our time. This doesn’t make a good impression on us about your songwriting no matter how good the song is. In fact, it makes a bad impression on us that you didn’t listen to what we really needed.
  6. You Chose The Wrong Singer – Choose a pro singer for your demo, NOT someone who is your friend or who is half-price. Unless you’re an artist, don’t sing it yourself to save money. FYI, suitable vocal ranges to the intended pitch are very important. It is really hard to hear a big, high, soaring melody an octave lower. We try, but it really is difficult, especially in the face of a 250-song listening session. Those demos with poor singers or inappropriate singers (with respect to the artist) are ignored immediately. Sorry. I strongly suggest that if your song would work down in a low octave as well as a high soaring vocal performance, demo it twice, or at least cut a second vocal so you have something that clearly represents both vocal ranges.
  7. Your Lyrics Aren’t Strong Enough We listened to some GOOD songs with average lyrics up throughSong Demo Mistakes the first chorus. However, the GREAT songs with KILLER lyrics kept our attention through the second chorus…because we just couldn’t wait to hear what the writer was going to say next. Simple artistic curiosity kept us inside that song.
  8. You Don’t Honor The Purpose Of The Recording – What is a song demo supposed to do for the writer, EXACTLY? It is supposed to sell the SONG – specifically the lyric, melody, and vibe of the song. Anything more than that production-wise and you are doing yourself a disservice and frankly wasting money on your demo.
  9. You Over Produced Your Demo I understand the impulse for any writer or artist to do this. It’s really almost a rite of passage. I guess we ALL have to learn “less is more” by doing it. For writers with very little studio experience, you tend to get caught artistically somewhere between a song demo and an epic album track. Stick to the song demo side. DO NOT OVERPRODUCE your song demo! Put BGVs only where they are obvious to lift the chorus. DO NOT put Oohs and Ahhs and fill in some holes with BGVs. Your taste may not be the taste of the person you are pitching to. Don’t add too many guitar tracks or color instruments; keep it as clean and sparse is possible. You really want to leave room for the producer to do their job and take the song to another level. Remember, this should be a solid blue print for a song, not a production idea for a record. Another good reason not to overproduce is that tastes and trends change constantly. We definitely heard a few older demos (like more than 10 or 15 years) with production that was cool and in style 10 or 15 years ago but not cool now. In those cases, the production choices personally took me out of the song for a second or two. If the dated production values were not present, the demo will certainly be more “durable” over time.
  10. Bad Vocal Tuning – Holy cow we had a demo where the damn vocal tuning was borderline Cher! It’s unbelievably distracting! Hire a pro singer, y’all, it really is the way to go if you are trying to compete with the big boys.

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5 Strategies That Guarantee Success

Strategies That Guarantee Success feature

By Johnny Dwinell

Artists are mostly brooders; we are, let’s face it.  We worry too much.  We are constantly tripping about where we should be and therefore look down on ourselves about where our careers currently are and as a result, we get depressed, crotchety, upset, and some of us get downright mean.

I got news for you, this mental process is breaking the 10th commandment; THOU DSC_0059SHALT NOT COVET.  This isn’t a religion thing; it’s a great piece of 2000 year old advice.  Somebody already articulated the damage and ruin that Coveting creates ages ago!

Coveting is a killer of artists, creativity, and careers; oh, and a completely nonproductive exercise.  Yeah, yeah, I know, most of us can’t help ourselves; it’s what makes us artists!  However, mastering the art of avoiding nonproductive thinking and behavior is what makes us successful in whatever endeavors we choose to pursue.

It’s what makes us mature.

It’s what makes us true professionals

It’s what puts food on our table

It’s what makes us ready!

Here are five Strategies that Guarantee Success

  1. Don’t Look In The Rear View Mirror: David Lee Roth summed it up best by saying “If you Strategies That Guarantee Success rearview imagekeep on looking in the rear view mirror, man, you will drive off the road and keep on going.”  We can grasp a simple calming perspective by internalizing the fact that our past is EXACTLY that; the past.  There is literally NOTHING you can do about the past, so spending 1 second of energy on it is an EPIC fail and a colossal waste of time.  The past is what got us here; our successes and failures are part of who we are so we have to embrace them.  I mean, WTF else can you do with them that will help your future?  When I was a pro artist and depressed, my manager, Barbara Strauss, used to make me sit down and think about how far I have come and everything I accomplished to get where I was.  I highly recommend this mental exercise as it always helped me kick the blues.
  2. Focus on What You HAVE Instead of What You Don’t Have: I promise the answers to all our future career questions and successes lies within the blessings we currently have, NOT in what we don’t have.  Think about that for a second, it logically HAS TO; every artist that we know did not break and become the icons we love by getting something they didn’t have.  Simple math really.  Any thoughts we entertain about what we don’t have is a cop out and quite damaging as it only sets up excuses to quit; negative thinking will never help us succeed, so STOP IT.
  3. You Can Only Control RIGHT NOW: Strategies That Guarantee Success Let's do the work imageThe past is the past, the future is the future the ONLY thing you ever have control over in your life is RIGHT NOW.  So worrying about the past is a waste of time.  Worrying about the future a fruitless search.  We have to take action and work TODAY…RIGHT NOW!!  Think about that, it’s the ONLY way we can possibly succeed and realize our dreams.  Huge selling artists like Motley Crue, Brantley Gilbert, Florida Georgia Line, Ratt, and the Zac Brown Band thought this way.  They all had success and record sales LONG before they had record deals, y’all.  They went to the negotiating table with the majors that ultimately signed them with a ton of leverage.  How could they have achieved all the record sales and success they did BEFORE they got signed if they were sitting around saying, “if we just had a record deal so we could get paid, then we could be stars.”  They didn’t wait for anything.
  4. Work: Work creates momentum.  We have to work.  When we are feeling really down about where you are there is literally no better remedy for the artistic blues than redoubling our efforts towards our careers.  I get it, you don’t want to get out of bed when you’re depressed, but often times the simplest task of working on SOMETHING that advances your career will create the feeling of momentum in your head and make you feel better; the depression starts to subside.  Motion creates emotion!  Working out doesn’t hurt either!  Physical exercise is a GREAT remedy for depression
  5. Ignore the Haters: Especially the most powerful hater which is our own internal negative Strategies That Guarantee Success Haters make us famous imagevoice!  Again, listening to that voice or any other hater only leads to one result; an excuse to quit.  Hollywood will tell you that if you are an actress, you need to be beautiful, perfect and really young to break.  Try telling that to Sharon Stone who didn’t “break” until she was 35 and went on to an amazing career including an Oscar for her role in “Casino”.  Try telling that to Rodney Dangerfield who had a family and sold aluminum siding up until he broke in comedy at age 45.  How about Joaquin Phoenix who overcame a hair-lip and a hump back (which he still has btw) to become a star.  How about Melissa McCarthy who is obese but still a brilliant successful Hollywood comedic actress.  Every label in town passed on Van Halen TWICE before they finally got signed to Warner Bros.  Nobody wanted to sign Winger until their producer went to bat for them.  Etc, etc, etc.  I promise you for every reason you and your haters can create to predict your failure, I can find 10 people that overcame the same hardships and succeeded.  It’s all up to you; nobody else.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post y’all!

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Are You Failing or Conceited?

failure Is not an option SIZED

A reporter came and asked Thomas Edison, “How many times are you going to fail at creating the light bulb?” Mr. Edison replied, “Son, I haven’t failed! I’ve simply discovered another way not to invent the light bulb!”

Are You Failing or Conceited?

“Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don’t work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.”
Thomas A. Edison

Genius!Are You Failing or Conceited? Thomas Edison image

Thomas Edison was an artist

He was an artist because he had more grit than anyone else; thus, he remains an icon in our history even though he didn’t invent the first light bulb.  (He did, however, invent the first incandescent light that would last and was practical)

Edison had enough grit to contradict society when they laughed at him, chastised him, tried to embarrass him, and publicly accused him of failure with regards to his creativity/inventions.

Do you have this kind of grit?

Edison had enough grit to push back on thousand-year-old beliefs like religion and government; he cared not what anyone thought of him, he only kept creating and making sense.

This grit, this unshakable attitude, is what I feel must be at the core of all TRUE artists.  You must have this outlook to keep creating and ultimately succeed or you will certainly fail at it.  The world needs your art!

At Daredevil Production, I like to instruct our artists that creating is just like food-pasta-bolognesecooking spaghetti; you throw it against the wall…if it don’t stick…KEEP COOKING!  In other words, we EXPECT a certain level of failure to achieve success!  We EXPECT pot holes, pitfalls, challenges, and huge hurdles, and we RELY on them to get us one step closer to greatness!

 

All great achievers in our world will admit that they have failed more than they’ve succeeded.  It was all the lessons they learned from the failures when applied to their famous achievement, that guided them down the correct and most productive path; thus producing the triumph.

Whoa, think about that!

Here’s another thought to ponder, “The ability to make good decisions come from experience, and all experience comes from making bad decisions”.

I freaking love that one!

In plain English, let me save you the suspense, you are going to fall off your horse in front of everyone.  You are going to make mistakes.  You are going to fail along the way; people you know and people you don’t know will be MORE THAN edited IMG_8002HAPPY to point out these failures!  Knowing this, we need to shift our energy away from WORRYING about failing to LEARNING from the INEVITABLE mistakes and moving forward!

Belief and execution of this thought process absolutely gets us artists one step closer to greatness!

Here are some AWESOME Thomas Edison quotes that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and consuming to write this post.

How do they specifically apply to the thought process of your music career and your art?

Have they or will they change the way you approach your art?

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts so leave a comment!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
Thomas A. Edison

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
Thomas A. Edison

Are You Failing or Conceited? miss opportunity“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”
Thomas A. Edison

“Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
Thomas A. Edison

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
Thomas A. Edison

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”
Thomas A. Edison

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.”
Thomas A. Edison

“Vision without execution is hallucination.”
Thomas A. Edison

“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
Thomas A. Edison

“What you are will show in what you do.”
Thomas A. Edison

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
Thomas A. Edison

“i never did a day’s work in my life. it was all fun.”
Thomas A. Edison

“There is no substitute for hard work.”
Thomas A. Edison

“Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.”
Thomas A. Edison

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”
Thomas A. Edison

“To do much clear thinking a person must arrange for regular periods of solitude when they can concentrate and indulge the imagination without distraction.”
Thomas A. Edison

“There is time for everything.”
Thomas A. Edison

“This problem, once solved, will be simple.”Are You Failing or Conceited? The problem
Thomas A. Edison

“Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability…. We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.”
Thomas A. Edison

“Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.”
Thomas A. Edison

“There’s a way to do it better – find it.”
Thomas A. Edison

“I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.”
Thomas A. Edison

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing”
Thomas A. Edison

“Nearly every person who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”
Thomas A. Edison

“There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the real labor of thinking.”
Thomas A. Edison

Are You Failing or Conceited? hell there aint no rules“Hell! there ain’t no rules around here! We are tryin’ to accomplish somep’n!”
Thomas A. Edison

 

 

 

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Are You A Sellout?

Sellout feature

By Johnny Dwinell

What is the tribal dynamic that we encounter when other artists and purists admire a great artist (and for that matter great art) upon discovery and reject them (or at least get sour) after the work ascends into the stratosphere of pop culture and begins making pant-loads of money?

Should You Sellout?

Why is there an implication that this kind of popularity somehow degrades the quality of the art and artist? How exactly does this kind of regard or esteem for a certain piece of work really make the artist less of an artist?

Sellout Neon sign imageIs this because a mass audience cannot truly experience the same art in the same way with the equal intensity as a fellow artist and/or original fan would?

Who cares? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As an enthusiast, I only need to be concerned with the fact that I LIKE the art, not how or why other people like the same art and certainly not how many other people like the same art. I would also need to consider the fact that If I was an artist with my finger on the pulse of the community, or if I was an original fan, I was simply EXPOSED to the brilliant work earlier than everyone else; after all, if its REALLY good its REALLY good, why wouldnt I expect everyone else to react in a similar fashion?

Is there some kind of grief, sorrow, or sense of loss that arrives when too many people join a group or tribal experience that we like to associate with? Is there a psychological dilution of perceived value (or ownership) in this artwork to the (early) beholder when mass quantities of people are exposed to it and hop on the bandwagon?

I know that I feel the closest to God when Im creating, so as an artist, I would define Heaven as the ability to create whenever the muse arrives unencumbered by monetary responsibility. In plain English, man, I wanna create when I wanna create and not have to worry about paying the bills.

But wait

Make a Living Creating

The only way to really accomplish this (my) idea of Heaven is to actually make a living creating; otherwise the production has to wait until Im done with my crappy job and any other hurdles, challenges, and/or speed bumps that life is going to throw my way today.

An artists job is to create, emote, and continually improve the quality of the works, right? By this definition then, an artist is truly improving everyday they are making a living at it. My artist experience was GREATLY improved and elevated the very first time I went on the road. Up until this point we had lots of rehearsals and maybe 1 or 2 gigs a week at the most. Then, BOOM, we did 28 shows in 28 days. WOW, we were a different band after that run, truly professional because we had the luxury of applying any knowledge, mistakes, epiphanies, and creativity to the very next performance which was happening today! That was an artistically amazing growth experience.

I would argue then, that If the ultimate purpose of art is communication, and artistic communication is derived from the sharing of said art, then isnt an artist becoming more of an artist the more people are exposed to the art?

More exposure means more communication is happening, right?Sellout exposure image

More exposure means more people are being moved by a brilliant piece of work, right?

How then is someone who wants to make money as an artist, presumably constructing an environment allowing them to grow into a better artist, to be considered a sellout?

Is it jealousy amongst the have-nots?

Thou Shalt Not Covet!

On the inside here in Nashville, I can tell you the true artists understand the ups and downs of an entertainment career. They understand that there are fluctuations in success AFTER they begin having hits, AFTER their mainstream career has diminished and thus, appreciate any successes of any artist because they know its special when it happens. I also feel this is good karma, man.

I get that some artists get to that elite top-tier status and begin creating art to satisfy the pressure from the suits (and ultimately their own spending habits); thus, making art for the purpose of making money. I agree this degrades the quality and intent of the art. But thats their trip, not ours. As artists, we alone are responsible for, and therefore must control the quality of our art.

Extraordinary art is a gift!

I propose we all take a breath and just experience the art in front of you. Open up to it. Learn from it. Feel it. Grow from it. And keep the negativity to yourself.

Id love to hear your thoughts on this!

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What Is The Best Predictor Of Success?

Success feature

By Johnny Dwinell

 

Answer:  True Grit

Success True GritFor months now I have been telling y’all that you should be reading the Lefsetz Letter.  Bottom line, if you’re in the music business, Bob Lefsetz always provides and intelligent perspective for indie artists backed up by real data.  I REALLY want to share this blog that Lefsetz posted in September (I just got around to reading it last night as I caught up on all my blog subscriptions via a nasty bout of insomnia) regarding a study about how grit trumps talent.  I’m gonna offer up a few comments and strongly suggest you read the Lefsetz post and subscribe if you already haven’t.

Success Study Shows Grit Is The Best Predictor of Success

The headline here is a study done by University of Pennsylvania psychology professor Angela Duckworth where 100% of the 2,800 subjects studied showed that grit, which is defined as passion and perseverance over long-term goals, is the best predictor of success.  Wow, read that again because it’s so important!  Grit is the best predictor of success even when negatively offset with poor/mediocre talent!  (I proved this my damn self, LOL)

I can tell you with absolute certainty that my experiences as an artist, songwriter, and a producer constantly confirm that in the entertainment world, sticking around longer than everyone else is willing to, will pay off eventually.  Frankly, the longer you have to wait for the “big break” the more prepared you will be to handle it emotionally and business wise.  .

Truthfully, in my artist career, I wasn’t going to EVER win a vocal talent contest; I was a very mediocre singer.  I was really pitchy and I took tons of lessons to get my voice to a point where I could pull it off live without driving people out of the club; I literally clawed my way to “middle management” as I like to say.  Since my voice was mediocre, that meant I had to write good songs with lush background harmonies in the choruses, have a KILLER band around me (all of whom were better musicians than me), and be fascinating on stage to offset my ho-hum vocal ability.  It was time and perseverance that allowed me to learn my lane (i.e. my strengths and weaknesses) and adapt to formulate my portion of our act that was going to keep people coming back.  We were 4 kids from small towns in Southeastern Wisconsin who somehow managed to make a living touring for the better part of 6 years; all because we had grit.

We took risks.

We weren’t afraid to fail.  Did we fail?  HELL YES!  FYI, our first Midwest tour in 1988 lasted about a year and grossed around $120,000 (about $240,000 today)…it cost $128,000!!!  After that, we KNEW how to be profitable; we LEARNED from our mistakes and continued on.

Admittedly, back then, speed bumps pissed me off.  I was so damn negative in my head (like mostSuccess True Grit artists) but we still moved forward.  We all learned to EXPECT challenges on a daily basis and eat them for breakfast.  We learned that negativity was nonproductive; focusing on exploiting what we had instead of bitching about what we thought we needed turned out to be far more productive.

Ya know something else that comes to mind?  Grit spawns at least 1 immediate tangible benefit; respect.  When we moved to Florida to be developed by Bud Snyder with the Allman Brothers, we were blessed to be the recipients of constant good will from every angle simply because people respected that we had the balls to move down to Florida to follow our dream.  Many mission critical favors were handed to us simply because people knew or felt that we had grit.

Winston Churchill said “Responsibility is the price of greatness”.  The longer you continue to pursue excellence in the music business, the more you learn about how much responsibility is required to make it happen; the closer you get to greatness.

I hope you take a few minutes and read this post from Lefsetz.  I hope you realize that despite the negative voices in your head, which we ALL have, you can make a living in the music business.  Job requirement #1 is grit.

How bad do you want it?

Get to the Lefsetz post HERE.

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How To Successfully Produce Yourself

produce yourself Producer Wanted image

By Johnny Dwinell

Ok, ready for the answer??

YOU DON’T.

At least most of you don’t and shouldn’t.

Why would you produce yourself?

Money?file000819242154

Huh?

I mean would you home school yourself for college to save money and claim you’re an economics major? Then go forth unto the economics world with a “home spun” degree and try to impress people and try to get a job with it?

No?

Does that sound preposterous?

Why, EXACTLY, does that sound preposterous?

Are you afraid a professional might see you for what you really are…A home schooled novice with a lot of heart? But they see a novice nonetheless.

Why is everyone so misguided in thinking that they can produce themselves musically?

I think of the lines from John Mayer’s “No Such Thing”

Produce Yourself John Mayer image“So the good boys and girls take the so called right track
Faded white hats
Grabbing credits
Maybe transfers
They read all the books but they can’t find the answers”

This is so important because the answers aren’t in a ProTools book or at a recording school, or at your best friend’s home studio.

The answers are in the doing – the experience. The answers are in the journey. The answers are in 10,000 hours of experience to be exact (reference Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Outliers”).

Would you trust your brain surgery to someone whose third cousin’s dog-walker has a best friend who knows a guy who owns some surgical equipment? (Insert clip of Jeff Spicoli HERE. “Relax, my old man is a television repair man. He has this ultimate set of tools!! I CAN FIX IT!”)

It still baffles me how so many artists and writers I speak to every week behave like total SERIOUS artists with regard to the care and sensitivity they put into their creative process only to trust their future career to some local hack button-monkey with a crappy home studio to render the project in the form of a final mix. Yes, that hack may be you if you have the home studio. THEN, inevitably, they take the substandard recordings and put them up for all to see in the world while they suffer (like every artist does when it’s time to reveal their art) because they are always concerned about what the world will think. All of us artists suffer during the reveal stage. Personally, I always took comfort in knowing I worked with some stellar cats so if someone didn’t like the music it was a taste thing, it wasn’t because they were turned off by the inadequate recording.

I know some of you are very green and simply can’t hear the subtle differences between a great track and a crappy track. That’s my point! Making records is not taught at engineering school. That knowledge comes in only one form: on the job training. You HAVE to be able to hear the difference, man. You HAVE to be able to hear if the bass player is playing behind the kick drum. You HAVE to be able to hear if the drummer is keeping a pocket of some kind. You have to understand SPACE. You have to HEAR these things first before you even start making decisions on the arrangements.

“You’re playing exactly 15 milliseconds behind the kick drum”

This reminds me of a hilarious and famous industry story of an intern engineer working at a world class recording studio here in Nashville. This engineer went to school for ProTools and still hadn’t mastered the art of LISTENING (or keeping his mouth shut for that matter) which is what you had to do with analog tape before we had ProTools. This engineer makes a comment to one of the most famous and well-respected bass players in the business. The engineer says, “Hey man, I’m looking closely at your bass track here (referring to the ProTools clipboard) and I noticed that you are actually playing exactly 15 milliseconds behind the kick drum hit. I’ll be happy to ‘clean’ that up for you, dude.” Everyone in the session gasps; there is a huge awkward silence.

The bass player responds, “Hey, MAN, it took me my whole f**king life to learn how to play EXACTLY 15 milliseconds behind the kick drum, but if you feel you need to ‘clean it up’ and scoot that track forward, be my guest!” and he walked out. Of course, the session broke out in laughter and the engineer felt like a moron, mostly because he was.

Do you see the dichotomy here? How can you possibly be so sensitive towards what the world thinks about the final rendering of your project when you know you TOTALLY cut corners on the production just to save money? You treated your musical project budget like a third-world surgery effectively getting a surgical procedure in a back alley at midnight in the ghetto because it saved you money.

Now you don’t know. You don’t know if they didn’t like the music because of the amateur recording or because they didn’t like the music. YIKES! At least with a pro recording you can eliminate some things for people to turn their nose up at!

Here’s some TRUTH to ponder on.

Engineering is an ART FORM in and of itself.Produce Yourself Artform image

Producing is an ART FORM in and of itself.

Mixing is an ART FORM in and of itself.

Mastering is an ART FORM in and of itself.

Quite often a professional project will have separate people responsible for each of these art forms because it is rare to have someone who effectively and professionally handles two or more; there are many people who make good livings just performing one of these tasks. Think about that for a second.

A good engineer does not guarantee a good producer or mixer.

A good producer does not guarantee a good engineer or mixer.

A good mix engineer does not guarantee a good producer or tracking engineer.

All these professional recording engineers, producers, and mix engineers were MENTORED at some point. They learned from constantly being around other people who did it for a living and then applied their own unique spirit, creativity, and work ethic to that knowledge to become who they are today

Why wouldn’t you wanna learn? Why wouldn’t you be excited to get around some professionals just for the education of it all? Why don’t you wanna know just as bad as you wanna make it? Even if that education means you can afford two songs instead of ten. Thinking like this will only improve your art, ya know? Watch how many people take you more seriously with a KILLER product.

Look, maybe it’s just me, but I remember getting my first shot at becoming a professional musician with the opportunity to sign with a HUGE regional booking agency that would put my band on tour. The FIRST question I asked was, “Who’s your best band?” I HAD to know what the competition looked like! Who we gotta beat, man? I just wouldn’t ever settle when it came to my music; I wanted it to be GREAT!

Always shoot for the stars!! If you miss them you’ll hit the moon!

The other part of the brilliance of this approach is connections. Every single industry in the world is built on connections. Your current occupation is built on connections. Hell, half of y’all reading this probably got your current job through a friend or family member; think about that. People get ahead because of who they know. Life is not fair in ANY industry so why pretend it is here in the music industry? The money you spend on a pro producer is going to pay off ten-fold. You will develop friendships, connections, information resources, mentorships, and you’ll get a KILLER sounding product with which to go forth as a sheep amongst the wolves.

You’ve got to LIVE, LIVE, LIVE! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!

Produce Yourself Auntie Mame image

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Professional Artists Don’t…

Professional Artists Don't

By Johnny Dwinell


Professionals Artists Don’t – Talk about being professional because they are.

Professionals Artists Don’tProcrastinate

Professionals Artists Don’t – Let life get in the way of their mission

Professionals Artists Don’t – Make excuses as to why they can’t be professional.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Have to win every creative debate/argument, they are in search of the truth, not superficial, short-term, self-perceived accomplishment.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Get swallowed up in the speed bumps of life, they see them for what they are, simply speed bumps.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Put friends who aren’t professional in charge of their artistic vision, they work with professionals.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Live a pain-free life, they suffer just like you.Professional artists STOP Making Excuses image

Professionals Artists Don’t – Ever get bored of being professional, they reside in a constant state of wonder, curiosity, and excitement with regards to their art.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Play naively.  They know the game, the players, the costs, and the strategy; they may not like it, but they ARE aware of it.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Play from the cheap seats, they move to where the action is so they can actually be professional

Professionals Artists Don’t – Survive without professionally creating their art.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Ever stop growing, changing, and adapting.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Behave like amateurs.  They spend money on their product, they seek out collaborations with other professionals, create relationships with other professionals who help market their art so they can afford to be a professional

Professional artists Big Break imageProfessionals Artists Don’t – Sit at home waiting for the one big break to make them feel professional.  They are constantly working because they realize that when the one big break comes they will need a catalog of work to capitalize on the momentum.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Choose their collaborations based on their bank balance, they choose their collaborations based on what is best for their art; even if that means producing less product with better quality to fit their budget.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Stop practicing.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Avoid networking and creating relationships, because they know this is where the real business takes place.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Let haters bring them down.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Get mortally discouraged by rejection, they lick their wounds, recover, and press onward and upward; they know rejection is part of the deal.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Need to be famous, some of them get famous as a by-product of their professionalism.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Believe that there is an EZ Button to professionalism, they work Professional Artists No EZ Button imagetheir asses off.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Cut corners on the creation of their art to save money.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Let fear alter their artistic course.  They are courageous, which means they step up and move forward in the face of fear.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Like to feel professional by surrounding themselves with people who are less talented then they are, they ARE professional because they surround themselves with people who are more talented than they are and they LEARN.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Choose to live in a fantasy world, they choose to work.

 

Some Professional Artists

 

Some Professionals– Make $40k/yr and live beneath their means so they have a life, just like people you know in your town

Some Professionals – Make $40k/yr and live paycheck to paycheck so they will struggle when the gig ends, just like people you know in your town

Some Professionals – Make Millions of dollars per year and live beneath their means so they have a life, just like people you know in your town

Some Professionals – Make Millions of dollars per year and live paycheck to paycheck so they will struggle when the gig ends, just like people you know in your town.

Are you a professional?

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20 Worst Indie Artist Mistakes

20 Worst Indie Artist Mistakes

By Johnny Dwinell

In my job, I get to speak with many indie artists who are at different points in their journey.  They consistently make these common major mistakes.  Changing your approach will change your career.  I made this personal to drive the message home

 

Here are the 20 worst indie artist mistakes!

  1. Your Songs SuckConsumers will instantly click past a crappy song on thousands of online radio stations until they find a good song that really moves them in the first 10-20 seconds. You better have GREAT songs. It’s a CRAFT; it always has been. Treat it as such. You need to seek out a few mentors to teach you what they know about their CRAFT and apply your unique vision and perspective to that knowledge. Easy to do with all the online writing societies.
  2. You’re Producing YourselfHave you ever wondered why a record label would NEVER let you or your Indie Artist Mistakesfriends produce your own record? Have you ever wondered why most of the iconic superstars STILL use producers? Why aren’t they saving money by producing themselves? Surely a producer at that level is pretty damn expensive! Get it? Just because you can work Pro-Tools or Logic doesn’t mean you can or should make a record. The label would put you with someone who is not only experienced at the entire process of making records, but a way better musician than you. The smart artist always thrives being around true pros who are better than them to soak in the education and grow to a new artistic level and be fearless of the journey. Most artists will tell people why they can’t or won’t afford a producer and then turn around and spend their money on their 25th guitar and new plug-ins for the home studio thereby avoiding the journey. Do you want to make great records or collect gear?
  3. You’re Not Marketing…At ALLPutting your music on iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby, ReverbNation, etc.Indie Artist Mistakes is digital distribution NOT marketing. Marketing is the art of influencing buying decisions. Having your CD available for purchase “wherever it’s sold” isn’t influencing buying decisions. Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Live Shows, Music Blogs, Indie Radio, Internet Radio, and PR are the marketing tools you need to master. These tools create awareness and drive traffic to your squeeze page where you get the consumer’s email address. It’s through their email address (and the communication that you send there) that you will influence their buying decisions.
  4. You’re Operating With An Out-Of-Date Business Model – You are still trying to cut cheap demos to shop to a record label to try to get a deal. You still think radio is the key to marketing your music. You still think that radio will be a powerful marketing tool when you do get your deal. You still think the labels make money selling records. You still think that if you get a deal that’s when you’ve made it. Wake up. That ship sailed a decade ago; you have to develop yourself, today.
  5. You’re Not Thinking Like A Record Label – If you got signed today, the label would surround you with people who make a living writing songs, engineering, producing, doing public relations, marketing, promotion, booking bands, image consulting, photographing, etc. All these people would be highly professional and much more dialed in to the market and process than you and your friends. If you’re thinking like a label, you are looking for a team of people to help you with at least some of these important items.
  6. You’re Not Selling Your Music On Your Website – If you were truly DRIVING traffic anywhere to purchase your music, you would drive them to YOUR site and take all the money. Everyone needs a presence on iTunes, CD Baby, ReverbNation, etc., but why on earth would you pay someone 30% of your record sales to do what you can do with a free plug-in on your WordPress site? If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.
  7. You’re Not Posting Regular Videos To YouTube – YouTube is your new radio with an amazing potential for reaching millions, no wait…now BILLIONS, of people and you don’t need to spend one million dollars to bribe a freaking Program Director for a CHANCE at getting a few spins. The “shelf space” is unlimited (unlike radio) and they pay royalties and advertising revenue. “I don’t get it because I just want to make music” is a cop-out. Why aren’t you learning everything you need to learn about this amazing opportunity?
  8. You Suck At Project Management – If Steve Jobs had approached the first products from Apple the Indie Artist Mistakesway most of you approach managing your musical projects, he would have died homeless. Jobs was a true artist. The first computers he and Wozniak made looked good, worked well, were packaged well, and were made in his garage. Instead of making 500 crappy computers with the limited budget they had, he made 50 AWESOME computers and the market place responded. The opportunities that came from the first run of AWESOME computers provided the momentum they needed to reach the next level. If you want to find someone to cut your songs for $300/song, I PROMISE you will find them. Record your 3 BEST songs for the same price as what you would have to spend on 12 and do it RIGHT with a TALENTED TEAM. It’s gonna cost money, so think of it as an education. Then watch the market respond!
  9. You’re Waiting For Your “Big Break” – Deep down you wish it was the old music business because, on Indie Artist Mistakesthe outside (from the cheap seats), it seemed easier when the labels took care of everything. Well, they did and you would have paid dearly for that “EZ Button.” I got news for you, the superstar artists who are still around today never let the labels take care of everything. They worked smarter and harder than that in a sea of sharks. You have to create your own opportunities, your own momentum. There’s no way around it. Nobody gets “discovered” anymore; so get off the couch, put the bong down next to your baggage and get to work!
  10. You Still Think Record Labels Develop TalentRecord labels don’t develop talent like Coca-Cola doesn’t repair cars. They don’t care about your music, they care about your current cash flow, and how many fans with whom you have a measurable connection. They care about what kind of market you created for yourself and if they can make money by adding fuel to the fire you already started. Think YouTube and Google. Google didn’t develop YouTube, they purchased them. Those smart guys at YouTube had to PROVE that their idea had value in the market place. So do you.
  11. You Don’t Think Of Your Music As ProductUntil you do, nobody is going to hear your art.
  12. You’re Self-Sabotaging – This is the most common and most destructive mistake of them all. Let me save Indie Artist Mistakesyou the suspense: you’re gonna make mistakes. You’re gonna hit speed bumps. You’re gonna be rejected. You’re gonna have to get over it! You have to get out of your own way and just move forward. Stop making excuses. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got. PERIOD. Make a change and watch massive amounts of energy quickly flow your way.
  13. You Are Too Sensitive To Take Constructive Criticism – You would be amazed how many of your favorite superstars were brutally schooled by the label on their first record. They were green just like you! “Go back and write us a single we can promote on the radio or we’re gonna drop you.” If you’re too dumb to know that you don’t know a whole lotta stuff, you’ll never make it. Be professional and LEARN. It’s always better to stay quiet in a room and appear stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
  14. You’re Listening To Haters – When you do start to get momentum, people you don’t know and, sadly, many that you do will spit poison into every part of your life. Get used to it. You are doing what they can’t.
  15. You Haven’t Defined Your Lane – You are afraid to pick a genre because you write in many. Consumers need ONE lane to connect with you in. Just because you pick one doesn’t mean you are ignoring the others. Get some traction in one lane first. That traction will help expose a project in a different lane to more people. Think John Mayer with his first few pop records and then he did a blues project. That blues project got a TON of exposure because he was now John Mayer, the pop star.
  16. Your Live Performance Sucks – Nothing is more disappointing than seeing a decent band with great songs and listening for harmonies but nobody sings background vocals. Okay, maybe worse would be a crappy band with crappy songs and everyone is singing crappier background vocals.
  17. You’re Not Capitalizing On Your Live Performances – Today’s music market is about endless Indie Artist Mistakescontent and email addresses. You should have constant video footage to market on social media. You should have boatloads of email addresses after every show. You should be moving product from the stage at every show. You should be gaining Twitter followers at every show…THEN you can get laid.
  18. You’re Putting Too Much Stock Into Your ReverbNation Ranking – A #1 ranking for your small town or big city on ReverbNation + $2.54 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. How are you getting paid for your songs?
  19. You Don’t Know What You’re Doing On Twitter – Twitter is a simply amazing surgical marketing tool that allows you to SERIOUSLY target your specific market. When done correctly, your following will constantly grow. One year from now you could have well over 10k followers. Then you would have the means to drive tons of traffic to a squeeze page, or to a YouTube video, or to….Get my point? Your fans are out there, go find them.
  20. You Think It’s All About Music, Not Marketing – The truth is that it sure is nice when they expertly market a killer record, but if it was only about the music, there wouldn’t be any crappy songs on the radio. Think about that for a second. Without marketing, nobody cares about your music because they haven’t heard it.

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