5 Simple Music Marketing Tactics

Music Marketing Tactics

By Johnny Dwinell

 In my last blog I really dug into the difference between distribution and marketing because I have had way too many conversations with artists who feel they are marketing their music by having it on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, their website, etc.   Once again, that is electronic distribution; that is definitely NOT marketing.  In today’s blog I’m going to get into some serious music marketing tactics.

Music Marketing is Influencing Buying Decisions

Marketing is the art of influencing buying decisionsBuying Decisions Music Marketing TacticsFor Instance, when you and your friends are in a disagreement as to which movie to go see, each side serves up their best reason to spend money on their preferred movie choice; this is marketing.  Granted, it doesn’t seem like marketing and it doesn’t feel like marketing but y’all are EXACTLY marketing; you are trying to influence your friend’s buying decision on the movie.  Effective marketing influences buying decisions which, in turn, drives traffic to whatever distributors are selling the product like cars, or iPhones, or Tide detergent, or your music.  This means the ultimate goal of marketing is to drive traffic to where ever you are selling or streaming your music.  Once you get the traffic online you will get a mathematically predictable amount of sales.   This is cool, because if you want more money, you just have to drive more traffic.

I’m always telling you guys to think like a record label; so, let’s start there.  When you have a major label deal, the label will try to use radio as their main form of promotion.  They will have distributed your product (aka your CD) to the very same electronic distributors that you can get on your own, with the difference being they will also have companies like Anderson Distribution placing physical CD’s into Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, etc.  They will use PR (Public Relations) and Radio to expose you to the general public and ultimately influence their buying decisions.  I think the magic number is 7, so once John Q. Public hears your song 7 times (if he ever does) the song is in his brain and that’s where the buying decision is influenced.

You have to think like a record label and understand your main goal is to influence buying decisions after the record is made.  Let’s discuss 5 different ways to market your music and drive traffic to your cash registers for a purchase.

  1. Twitter – This is undoubtedly the most surgically effective marketing tool.  We use Twitter to Twitter Music Marketing Tacticsindoctrinate our future fans by creating relationships and letting the music do the talking; we give away the single.  Well, we give away the single in exchange for their email address via a squeeze page.  I say surgical because we have an Outlaw Country artist named Craig Gerdes (@craiggerdes) who has a single called Haggard Fan (Haggardfan.com).  Merle Haggard has 90,000 Twitter followers and growing; are you kidding me?  That one is like shooting fish in a barrel.  Everybody LOVES “Haggard Fan” from that lead source.  We are firing up a marketing campaign for an artist named Jeremy Calley (@jeremycalley) whose record Kelly and I mixed.  Jeremy is a good looking Texas Country rock & roll guy; the ladies go crazy over him.  I went right to Brantley Gilbert’s Twitter following for Jeremy.  We are growing everyday and the lead source is predisposed to love him.  I could also go to Luke Bryan for the same effect.  Get it?  It’s so perfect, but it’s not everything.
  2. YouTube – If you’re thinking like a label, you need to think of YouTube as your radio source; YouTube Music Marketing Tacticsespecially if you have amazing performance talent.  Artists like Karmin, Noah, and Macklemore have been launched into the stratosphere from YouTube.  Karmin and Noah used a clever strategy of recording artistically stylized cover songs with their talent that eventually blew people away and created viral videos.  Karmin’s biggie is at 84 million views now and Noah’s was around 18 million last time I checked.  When you start getting that kind of traffic there are many ancillary cash registers that will pay you money as well (see my blog on 6 Ways To Create Cash Flow On You Tube).  Macklemore release a killer single with a KILLER video and blew up that way, but he blew up on YouTube.  Remember last week’s blog where I spoke about strategy and tactics?  YouTube is a great strategy, but you have to put in the work.
  3. Live Shows – Live Show Music Marketing TacticsThis is probably one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your cash registers.  First of all a CD from a live show where a fan loves the band is a souvenir as they are (hopefully) intoxicated with the emotion of your live show.  Indie artists like Anthony Orio (AnthonyOrio.com) play over 200 shows per year and move 7,000-10,000 units a year from the stage alone.  Do the math 7,000 x $8 (avg price) = $56,000; that’s enough to record the next record, y’all; and for a bunch of you, that’s a huge step up.  There are some great tactics to push product (aka your CD) at your shows.  Anthony or his bass player Chris will literally hold up a bunch of CD’s in their hand for 3 songs straight while some other band member does a little portion of their endless 4 hour set.  When the first CD is sold, they get which State the buyers were from and start a competition; works every time.  “We just got a sale from KY!  Who’s gonna kick KY’s ass??” get it?  Another tactic was to get the bar owner to agree to give away a $25-$50 bar tab (which costs the bar $6-$12 in booze) in a raffle environment.  To qualify, fans just have to go to the roadie at the merch table with a computer or their smart phone to opt in to the squeeze page.  The artist gets email confirmations from people who opted in and chooses a winner at the end of the night.  Who doesn’t want to trade an email address to a band they like for a shot at winning a $50 freakin bar tab?!?!  Anthony shoots out these really inexpensive rubber wristbands you can purchase for like .09 cents each with his website on them.  Cool little free souvenirs that have a call-to-action on them.  Google search to find tons of competitors for these rubber wrist bands, the company we use is http://24hourwristbands.com/
  4.  PPC Campaigns – PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click if you don’t already know that.  When you PPC Ad Music Marketing Tacticsare on gmail or Facebook typing about lawnmowers in an email to your mother, did you ever wonder how lawnmower deals magically pop up on the right hand side?  Those are PPC ads.  You only pay for them if someone clicks on them.  If someone clicks on them they immediately jump to your squeeze page get a free track which jumps them to your store and puts them in the sales funnel.  These are a bit more advanced as it’s not too difficult to spend too much money, but they are quite effective once you get your head around it.  PPC is an amazing marketing technology that allows you to reach a more targeted audience.
  5. PRWeb.com – Look, this costs money, but for $250 you can purchase a 1-time Press Release PRWeb Music Marketing Tacticsthat will go to tons of music magazines, music blogs, radio stations, newspapers, etc.  The more places you are seen the more traffic you will drive.  On this note, you may consider a PR firm, especially if you’re touring, this can be quite effective especially for the beginning of a marketing campaign.

There you have it.  Hope this helps you get your head around marketing a bit more

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How to Avoid Artistically Starving to Death

Artistically Starving To Death

I have amazing conversations with artists and songwriters every day; I love my job.  Some of those conversations are with beginners, some with intermediate artists, and some are with professional indie artists whose careers are well on their way.  I have to say with the exception of the pro artists, the beginners and intermediates suffer from the same disease; they lack marketing knowledge.  I should say they seem to lack the very concept & definition, never mind the methodology of marketing.  Simply put their artistically starving to death.

Wha?

Marketing vs. Distribution

Yeah, that’s right, the concept and definition of marketing.  I’ll ask and artist “how exactly are you marketing yourself?”

iTunes logo Artistically StarvingThey will undoubtedly answer, “Well, we are up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc.”  I then wait for their retort to continue, and it doesn’t.  Now I think, What the?!?!

Let’s go back to some good ol’ plain common sense for a second.  Why do record labels have promotion and marketing departments?  I mean if marketing meant getting the music up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc., would actually move product why the HELL would a broke record label keep paying the people in the marketing department?  Any moron can place music up on all these sites; right?Spotify Logo Artistically Starving

How about this perspective:  When you used to go into a record store to buy an album or CD, did you always walk in and magically get attracted to some piece of shrink-wrapped plastic or cardboard spend your money and then leave?  NO!!  You already knew what you wanted to buy which is why you were there in the first place; this is called marketing.  Marketing is the art of influencing buying decisions.  The outlet that is available to sell the product to the person whose buying decision was influenced is the distributor.

Pandora Logo Artistically StarvingGet it?  Just having it “on the shelf” isn’t enough.  In fact, I propose that this is actually part of the problem in today’s music industry; no accountability for product that doesn’t move.  This will never change, but if it did, you would find every artist quickly learning the difference between distribution and marketing; necessity is the mother of invention.

 

Let me explain.  Anderson Distribution is (I believe) the largest music merchandise distributor in the country right now.  They are an awesome company.  They handle the distribution of all CD’s toAnderson Dist Logo Artistically Starving Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, and Best Buy stores to name a few.  When a Label wants to put product (aka your CD) on the shelves of a Wal-Mart, they go through Anderson Distribution and they need to ensure that the marketing of the product (aka your CD) is already underway or the label gets screwed.  This is initially exciting because to get product (aka your CD) on a Wal-Mart shelf, the minimum order is like 100,000 units.  Do the math, if the retail price is $11.99 then Anderson is probably buying the product (aka your CD) from the label for $6.99; $6.99 x 100,000 = $699,000.00!!!  YEEHAW!!!  Um, er, wait a minute…

Let’s back up and do a little more math.  Anderson doesn’t send you a check in advance for this order, just like every other major corporation their accounts payable is on a Net-60 day basis, or in this economy probably a Net-90 day basis.  In plain English, the record label doesn’t get their quote, $699,000 check, end quote, for 90 days.  So that means that the label is going to front you, the artist, $50,000 to manufacture 100,000 CD’s (this is JUST manufacturing of the CD and they get them for .50 cents each because of the large order, you can too if you order this many) this does not include the cost to ship them to Anderson Distribution.  Now, here’s the tricky part.  Anderson is a business.  Their business is DISTRIBUTING PRODUCT (aka your CD) and if the product (aka your CD) is not moving, Anderson Distribution is not making money.  Get it?  In fact, if the product (aka your CD) is Burning money artistically starvingnot moving Anderson Distribution is LOSING MONEY.  There are a limited number of spaces to place CD’s on a shelf in Wal-Mart, I don’t know exactly what that number is but they are only going to put product on those shelves that will MOVE and make them money.   So, the label essentially has 90 days to sell enough of that product (aka your CD) to show Anderson Distribution that it’s a product (aka your CD) that already is or will be a money maker for them.

What’s the exact number?  I have no freaking idea, but this is just common business sense, if you think about it.

What happens if the label doesn’t move enough product (aka your CD)?  Then the Net-90 payment the label will get from Anderson Distribution will consist of a check in the amount of exactly how many of your CD’s they sold minus the shipping cost to return the rest of the product (aka your CD) that didn’t sell.  YIKES!  You read that correctly.  If you sold 1,000 units, you would get a check for $6,900 minus the cost of shipping the remaining 99,000 units back to you.

Does the label put the product (aka your CD) on the shelves of Wal-Mart and say, “we marketed it because it’s now available to be purchased”?  NO!!  You see, this is where the real fight begins.

What exactly are you doing to win this fight with your music?

So, let’s put that in terms of your music.  Websites like iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and your site; these are storefronts, man, not marketing strategies.  They are an online place to stock product (aka your CD) where interested parties can easily purchase it.  Yeah, yeah, you will get a few sales here and there by just stocking product (aka your music), but you will never get enough to repay the cost of recording and manufacturing.  So after (or even before) you stock the product (aka your CD), you need to market it!  You need to expose it to the world and drive business to these storefronts; then people will buy because their buying decision was influenced by your marketing or sometimes by your music!

Good Marketing = Not Artistically Starving!

Are you picking up what I’m putting down?  If you ask yourself, “what am I doing to market my music” and the answer is “I have it up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and my website” then you have already lost the fight.  Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” states that every battle is won or lost before it’s ever fought.  Think about that for a second.  Internalize some of these Sun Tzu quotes real quick.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Sun Tzu Art of War Artistically Starving Which one are you?  If your music is up on iTunes and you have no marketing strategy then you are the latter; an already defeated warrior going to war first and hoping to win.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Sun Tzu, The Art of War

This is huge.  Strategy is defined as a plan, method, or series of maneuvers or stratagems for obtaining a specific goal or result.  Tactics are defined as the maneuvers themselves or any mode of procedure for gaining advantage or success.  In plain English strategy is the plan, tactics are the methods & procedures used to implement that plan.  So a plan to market your music without procedures is the slowest route to victory.  Employing methods or procedures without a plan is wasted time & energy before certain defeat.  Apply this concept to making sandwiches to get a simple perspective on marketing your music.  If you have a strategy for making a sandwich but never get off your ass to go to the kitchen and make one, you can think about it all you want but the sandwich won’t make itself; you go hungry.  If you go to the kitchen and begin preparing to make a sandwich without strategizing as to exactly what kind of sandwich you want you will waste energy pulling out all the breads, mustards, different lunch meats, lettuce, cheeses, etc for no reason because you haven’t decided on the mission critical strategy; what kind of sandwich you want to make.  Until you actually decide to make a specific sandwich your best efforts are fruitless; you go hungry.  It seems so stupidly simple because it is.

Marketing music is no different than making sandwiches, there are just more details to learn.  The smart artist is going to simplify the idea just like this, and start strategizing and creating/learning tactics.  All the information you need is on the web or in a mentor’s brain for the artists who seek it.

One of my favorite movie quotes is from “Auntie Mame” and it says “You’ve got to live, live, live!  Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”  This is a perfect quote with regards to today’s music marketing because there is literally an embarrassment of effective online marketing methods available right now; and their available to everyone.  Many of these methods are FREE OF CHARGE like Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc.  If you were forced to prepare before you put product (aka your CD) up on iTunes for fear of product returns and non-distribution after a certain amount of time, you would be pretty focused on marketing, wouldn’t you?

So why aren’t you?

Just because you don’t have any repercussions doesn’t mean you shouldn’t approach stocking product (aka your CD) the same way.

This final Sun Tzu quote is actually my favorite because it’s so inspirational.

“Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
Sun Tzu

In other words, the more you dig in to this marketing thing seriously, the more opportunities you are going to uncover.

The more money you are going to make.

This in turn, means you make more music; because you now make a living as an artist.

Think about it.

 

Stay in Tune

 

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What if the Label Says YES?

Label YES

So Kelly and I are at a private party with Anthony Orio & friends and we end up in a conversation over beers and cigars about artist development and the damage that happens when artists and/or songwriters get their lucky break too early.  What if you get the opportunity of a lifetime to take a big step towards your dream and you’re not developed enough, ill prepared, or  worse, searching only for fame?  In short, what if the label says YES?!?!

That’s right, I said it.  What if the record label or publishing company says “yes”?  Are you ready?

Do you know where you’re going artistically?

Are you prepared to fight for your vision or will you be lost in the crowd with your hat in your hand?

Do you understand the hustle of the business and how to operate intelligently within it so you can capitalize on the coming momentum?

The NFL has classes that all rookies are required to take to deal with this instantaneous rise in the players brand awareness and cash flow, but they certainly DON’T offer this in the music business.  In fact, they would prefer you don’t know; more money for the powers that be.

You can’t just stick your toes in the water; you have to be ALL IN.  To make a living, you have to be a student of the game.  If you don’t know your business, you’re being lazy.  Trust me, THEY WILL know your business because they’re professionals and you will suffer for your lack of knowledge one way or the other.

What if the Publishing Company Says YES?

Label Neon YES imageOne of conversations we had was centered on the 3 discussions or so we have every week with beginning songwriters.  Often beginners are understandably apprehensive about spending too much on their dream (which they are inevitably conflicted about) so, in lieu of a proper/professionally acceptable demo recording, they go “shopping” for the best deal A.K.A. the cheapest demo price.  I hear it all the time, “I just want to stick my toes in the water to see if anyone cares.  I want to see if anyone is interested before I spend more money.”  Just like any other industry there are people here in Nashville that cater to that market; and just like any other industry, you get what you pay for.  Now, many songwriters are just doing it for posterity to get their music recorded which means the only person they need to impress is themselves so this is a pragmatic approach; this makes sense.  However, the songwriters with serious professional aspirations have to impress the professionals, so they are screwing themselves with a crappy demo recording.  Paying for a $350/song demo in Nashville (which $100 of, will go to the pro singer) will get a guy that is going to play all the instruments on that recording and he’s going to cut it in his basement, and MIX it in his basement: it’s the only way he can afford to charge that low price.  Next, that songwriter will shop the song to song pluggers.  These song pluggers are true professionals so don’t fool yourself, they will instantly be aware that the writer cut corners on this demo (because of the sonic nature of the recording) which immediately makes the writer look unprofessional; 99.999% will not pay attention to the song and pass because that’s a red flag that they’re not ready yet.  If hit songwriters and publishing companies could avoid using live bands on all their demo tapes to save money, believe me they would!  But let’s say that for some reason the song plugger really listens to an amazing song and says YES.  What do you think will happen next?  They will tell the songwriter, “I LOVE this song, man, but I can’t sell this recording of it; so go back and re-record it.”  You see, this “dip your toes in the water” approach has only 2 outcomes for an aspiring professional songwriter:

  1. Most likely they hear a “NO” and alienate the very people they need to bring their product to market because they look unprofessional; you never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  2. They hear a “YES” and by the grace of God, the plugger is willing to overlook their naiveté, but the songwriter added $350 of needless extra cost to their first product in a start up business (which could be put towards another song demo to build the catalog).

Everybody has a dream.  Tons of you have dreams of “making it” as a songwriter or a recording artist; but if you’re not somewhat prepared, a “yes” could be the beginning of the end, or at the very least extremely expensive and emotionally exhausting.  To me, “making it” is defined as making a living doing what you LOVE to do.  There are different levels of “making it” based on volume and revenue generated; but if it’s based on making a living doing what you love to do, it’s a solid foundation.  Fame is annoying.  I get why people seek it because I did initially, they shove it down our throats and we consume it like crazy.  I can tell you that fame is a herculean pain-in-the-ass, even in the context of my small-time regional fame; it’s creepy.  Everybody is in your business or is talking about your business like they know you when they don’t have business with you and they don’t know you.  You only get to find this out when you get a little taste.  Eleanor Roosevelt said “Big minds talk about ideas, medium minds talk about events, and small minds talk about people”.  So the search or need to only be famous is an exercise for small brains.  Those who only seek fame come off to me as green (green like inexperienced and green with envy) and therefore somewhat delusional.  You have to do the work, man, or you’re Paris Hilton; a cocktail party joke with a crappy sex tape.

If you want to be iconic, you have to put in the work.

If you want your songs to be timeless, you have to put in the work.

Fame as a byproduct of supreme artistry is a result of great minds, vision, and hard work; it’s no freaking accident.  We all have an image of some super famous entertainer that we feel doesn’t have enough talent and we’re baffled by their fame; they’re famous because they were prepared, they take it more seriously, and work harder than you do.

Real success in the music industry is about tons of preparation and experience over years of time.  Real success rarely happens overnight and when It does, especially in the new music business, it’s “here today, gone LATER today” and usually disastrous to the artist.  So the slow growth will last longer and be worth more in the end…unless you just want to be famous.  Expecting or dreaming about a big break without the work is like expecting to walk into a Major League sporting team for a tryout and getting awarded the top spot on the team; you need your 10,000 hours first.

So, What if the Record Label Says YES?

 

Label Record exec Pig imageIf you get a major label to say “YES” these days it’s because you have generated some kind of attention, a brand, and a following on a reality show, or vocal talent show (where the label feels they have a guaranteed market of sorts) OR you have created real momentum on your own through touring, twitter, Facebook, trackable record sales, sold out concerts, etc., and maybe you’ve managed to fund a Kickstarter campaign with at least 1,000 backers or $100,000 in funds.  Let’s dissect the latter first.

In this scenario you will have turned down several label offers already and the conversation starts with you saying something like this, “What are you guys going to do that I haven’t already done for myself that warrants me giving you MASSIVE percentages of my revenue from record sales, merchandise, publishing, ticket sales, etc?”  This is called leverage at the negotiating table.  Believe me when you are seasoned with momentum you come to the table with a “heavy hammer” and YOU WILL BE PROTECTIVE OF YOUR SMALL PROFITABLE BUSINESS!!  You’re eyes will be open to the many ways a label can screw up your future and in this case all the hard work from your past that put you in the seat at that very negotiating table.

Now let’s dissect the artist who gets a deal after skyrocketing to fame on a TV show or from some other crazy, massively publicized anomaly.  This artist doesn’t really have a heavy hammer at all.  If you win next year’s American Idol, who cares; it’s the 13th season and there are more winners residing in obscurity than there are current, relevant artists.  This is what every up and comer seems to dream about because it looks easy; it’s typically a mess.  Yeah, yeah you get to feel like a Rockstar for a hot second and you hang with all the big names and feel like you’re somebody but then what?  I’ll bet you couldn’t name 5 of the 12 American Idol winners if I put a gun to your head and you’re reading this because YOU’RE IN THE BUSINESS!  They are literally here and gone to the mass public eye.  It’s easy to spot the artists on American Idol that have a true understanding of who they are and the ones that don’t; aka the developed artists as opposed to the undeveloped artists.  For an artist who is green and thrust into the public eye that fast it’s equivalent to starting at McDonald’s on the fry line and getting instantly promoted to a corporate Sr. VP level; you’re instantly promoted to the point of incompetence.

The more hard work you do on your own, the more traction you get as an artist on your own, the less likely you are to sign a major record deal because it just won’t make sense; you’re already making money!  However, if you do choose to sign, your deal will be far more advantageous to you, the artist, than anyone getting a deal off of American Idol.

Your music is everything, man, right?  DON’T CUT CORNERS!Label Cutting Corners image

You need to pay your dues.

You need to be mentored.

You need to be developed.

The Universe is always as it should be.

 

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6 Songwriter Business Strategies

Songwriting Business Strategies feature

By Johnny Dwinell

When the game is over, the king and the pawn go into the same box.” – Italian Proverb

Songwriter Business Strategies Chess Box image

This can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To me, in a way, it means that life is just a game and we are all relatively equal players who are capable of creating our own futures. As long as we believe we can achieve. As David Lee Roth so eloquently put it, “Life is a full contact sport; nobody gets out alive.” Then we all go into a box when it’s over. So this game requires strategy, some serious, deep, thought followed by action to play it like a king as opposed to a pawn. One of the things I like about professional chess competitions is the timer; it requires action.

So what is your strategy? It’s amazing to me how easy it can be to put together a winning strategy when you have accurate information and common sense.

My next question would be what action will you take to execute this strategy? The timer in your game is ticking; make a move.

The good news is that in the entertainment industry, strategy and action are more important than your talent; thatSongwriter Business Strategies Chess Timer image is to say, a killer strategy and the fearlessness to take action are often THE most important talents an artist possesses. I’m quite sure you all have a few examples swimming around in your head right now of hugely successful artists that you feel have zero talent; you know I’m right. Now you know why. It is a fact that when Kelly and I are considering talent to develop, we will take a mediocre talent with unstoppable drive and massive work ethic over some artist with a HUGE talent who is lazy and wants to press the “easy” button to succeed.

 

I’ve compiled 6 steps that songwriters can use to create a real strategy for success.

 

Strategy 1:

Always be writing with no censorship; never pump the brakes on the creative flow of ideas. After you fill up 3 pages Songwriter Business Strategies No Censorship imageof possible lines, then you go back and pick or cultivate the strongest lines to put them together in your song, but you never censor before you put pen to paper. Always be writing because writing is a muscle that needs to be developed. The more you work it out, the stronger it gets. I highly recommend that you purchase The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Don’t let the “Spiritual” part of the title scare you; there is nothing religious in there. This book offers up a 12 week program that will teach you to get out of your own way artistically when it comes to writing. The link I provided is one retailer, you can find this book anywhere so I provided one link to get you started. J

 

Strategy 2:

You should be writing with as many different people as possible. Common sense says that the more people you workSongwriter Business Strategies Co Writing Session Image with the more your circle of influence will expand; consequently so will your rolodex. In other words, more people are going to hear your work, which creates more opportunities for your songs on an exponential level. You will always pick up different little tools from different writers that will help your productivity in a writing session.

 

Strategy 3:

Go Where the Food Is – If you are trying to be a serious songwriter from Des Moines, IA, then the talent pool is Songwriting Business Strategies Sam Kinison understandably going to be shallow; again, common sense. I know this is true because all the serious writers from Des Moines live in LA, NYC, or Nashville.

Why don’t you? After all, this is where the business is happening. One can’t go shark hunting in Des Moines, because there are no sharks, right?

 

Strategy 4:

Songwriter Business Strategies Always Someone imageWrite with people who are better than you. You need mentors to mentally expand your grasp on the craft of songwriting; and it is a craft. These mentors will mentally expand your understanding of the business end as well. If you are working with people who are not as serious about the work as you are, you have stopped moving forward. You have to set up your game to achieve momentum. I promise you will not achieve momentum through the mail.

No publisher is going to hear the song you sent in and call you in your little town to deliver the good news; this is a fairy tale, not real life. In real life, ANY progress in ANY industry is built on relationships. All Ford automobiles come with Firestone tires because of a 100 year old relationship between Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. Relationships with other writers, with publishers, with music supervisors, with artists, with producers, with label executives, etc, are what is going to create opportunity and momentum for you. BTW, publishers are no longer developing writers just like labels aren’t developing talent. That was 10 years ago. The only way anyone gets a publishing deal these days is if they have some sort of social proof that their songs have value in the marketplace, i.e. a hit song. Before you get yourself a hit, you are not going to get a publishing deal.

 

Strategy 5:

You need to write with as many artists as possible. Be a student of the game. Think like a king, and you’ll play like a Songwriter Business Strategies Student of the game imageking. Thinks like a pawn, and you’ll play like a pawn. Record labels are not developing talent because they are no longer making money on the records. Labels need other revenue streams. Back in the 90s, artists like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Garth Brooks, who didn’t write their own material, could exist and thrive on a major label because the labels made millions off of record sales. If you really look at country music in the last decade you will see that all the newer successful acts write or co-write their own material (Lady A, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Brantley Gilbert, Jamey Johnson, etc.). Major labels have gravitated towards this business model of signing artists who write or co-write their own material because they can demand publishing from an artist who has it to give. Thus, labels create a very important revenue stream that is integral to the 360 record deals.

Creating real relationships with up-and-coming artists is now the way you are going to break yourself as a songwriter. Hell, it’s the way many artists like Jamey Johnson have broken themselves, through writing hit songs with other artists. Does this make sense? You want one of those artists to get some traction with your song; it just takes one and then everyone in town will think you mean money.

 

Strategy 6:

Be realistic and aware of the market you are writing for; a KILLER song where the lyrics are outdated is not going to Songwriter Business Strategies Market Awarenessget any attention because those lyrics aren’t currently selling. For instance, country songs in the 90’s were very story oriented like Tim McGraw’s Don’t Take the Girl. in the first verse the boy is 8 years old, in the second verse, he’s 18 years old, in the last verse he’s 23. Compare that to one of Tim’s more recent hits, One of These Nights, and you can see a definite change in the lyric style. These styles trend like anything else and staying on top of the trends will help you increase opportunities for your songs. The fact is while Don’t Take the Girl was a #1 hit in the 90s, it wouldn’t fly in today’s market.

People will always tell you that you need to get lucky, even hit writers in this town will say that. The reality is that Songwriting Business Strategies Prep Plus opp imagethose hit writers and you will have created their own luck. Have you ever heard the old adage “the harder I work, the luckier I get”? Luck is defined as: preparation meets opportunity. Strategically speaking, you need to ensure that you are not only preparing, but preparing intelligently, i.e. moving forward and learning from good professionals. If you position yourself in an environment that is rife with opportunity, your day will come; you’ll get the lucky opportunity and be prepared with the perfect song to take advantage of that opportunity!

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HOW TO RECORD A COVER

Demo Cassette Tape

I was reading the Lefsetz Letter (which you should ALL be doing Lefsetz.com) and I learned something really cool. Those of you that know me better are aware that I have a long history with the Allman Brothers Band. It was Bud Snyder from the Allman Brothers camp that brought my hair-band from Wisconsin down to Florida back in the day; he really catapulted us into the higher levels of the music business. I should say that before we met Bud I just wanted to get on MTV. Bud gave us INCREDIBLE access to the ABB; I was privy to countless recording sessions,How To Record A Cover ABB imagerehearsals, and shows. When I saw (and still see) Dickey Betts and Warren Haynes playing guitar I realized I didn’t know shit; I was hair farmer that had to rethink this whole music thing. “Dreams” might be one of my favorite songs from the Allman Bros (also the first song Greg ever wrote, btw) and I always enjoyed the Molly Hatchet version of this song because they changed it so much. Well, I learned from the Lefsetz letter today that it wasn’t Molly Hatchet but actually Buddy Miles that totally messed with that arrangement and made it his own. Molly Hatchet ripped off Buddy Miles and brought the cover to larger audience on rock radio which was thriving at the time.

 

So this information got me thinking about cover songs.Covers can be an AMAZING way to connect with a larger How To Record A Cover Karmin RS imageaudience because the melody and lyrics are familiar to people. So many acts have covered great songs that actually broke them, exploding them into the mainstream awareness; Van Halen’s cover of the Kinks “You Really Got Me” comes to mind. Covers on YouTube have been quite effective for acts like Karmin and Noah who have used this medium and their super creativity/talent to garner millions of views, creating massive awareness; thus, launching their respective careers. Many acts have done HORRIBLE unimaginative covers that were shoved down our throats on radio and sadly, made those acts money as well.

 

Here’s what I want to talk about today since radio is dead to us, we can’t make bland, uninspired cover song recordings and expect them to break us or even create the slightest amount of momentum in today’s online marketplace.

 

How do we record a great cover?

As an artist, it is mission-critical TO BE AN ARTIST when you record a cover! You need to look at your strengths and weaknesses and strategize as to the best way to adapt this cover to your lane.

This is How To Record A Cover

For instance, check out the incredibly talented Karmin on the Lil Wayne, Chris Brown, and Busta Rhymes, track Look at Me Now. Karmin and her husband create a super simple keyboard arrangement and let her do her thing. WOW, just amazing how she nails the Busta Rhymes parts. This video has 84 million hits! That’s more exposure than a hit song on national radio people and they did it for free! Check out the original version HERE to compare arrangements and the feel of the two tracks.

Let’s study Noah’s KILLER adaptation of the LMFAO song called “Sexy and I Know It”. Here is the LMFAO Version first. Now, look how Noah combined his highly distinctive voice along with a super artistic guitar arrangement that brings the enchilada into his specific lane HERE I LOVE THIS KID! Listen to how he explains the 2 or so weeks it took to create an arrangement that would work for him. And did it EVER WORK FOR HIM with 18 million views! Notice how Noah took some artistic license to change the melodies in a couple places to suit his strengths.

How about an artist that doesn’t have a gift from God in their voice? How would they change a cover to make it their own? Check out Marilyn Manson’s version of the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams“. I’m not a huge MM fan, but DAYUM this is a fantastically unique cover that is all his own! In case you’re too young to know the original version HERE it is.

While we are on the topic of dreams:

Check out Allman Bros “Dreams“. Then check out Buddy Miles version HERE. So cool how the Allman Bros have a dreamy hypnotic feel to their track and Buddy Miles gave it a Rock & Roll pulse of sorts completely changing the vibe and feel…so FREAKING COOL! Love the horn arrangement in the Miles track btw!

How about the drastic and amazing differences that Johnny Cash did to Nine-Inch-Nail’s ‘Hurt”; btw, I think How To Record A Cover Johnny Cash imageJohnny tracked this from his death bed y’all. HERE is NIN’s version. HERE is Johnny Cash’s. Again, notice Johnny’s artistic license on the vocal melody in the choruses.

Here’s a GREAT one! Talk about changing lanes!! Here is Jay-Z’s “99 Problems“. Now check out Hugo’s Version. Here we can listen to how Hugo REALLY took artistic license just using the hook and completely changing the lyrics in the verse. (I love this btw because it’s BADASS)

Compare the original version of “Take Me to the River” by Al Green to the incredible cover that The Talking Heads did HERE. Notice Al Green’s groove is bouncy with an R&B style in the structure of the song. The Talking Heads change the feel to a more plodding decisively rock beat with tons of space. Also, check out how they expertly restructured the song to fit a more pop style to ensure they would reach their audience. AWESOME!

How To Record A Cover Manfred Mann imageHere’s another good example of an artist taking liberties with the arrangement and lyric content. Check out Springsteen’s “Blinded by the Light” from his 1st record and compare to what Manfred Mann’s Earth Band did to it which turned it into a #1 hit. MMEB started with the hook, and put in tons of kick ass counter melodies along with the “chopsticks” piano arrangements at the end. How cool is that?

LAME COVER RECORDINGS

OK, so a bunch of these made TONS of money but only because there was radio and these covers were force fed to us. This shit won’t fly online. And YES, I definitely have a hard-on for bands that take the exact same feel, same arrangements, with no iconic vocal talent or artistic signature and just “rev up” an old song by adding heavier guitars. Come on, man!!

Here is Alien Ant Farm’s version of Smooth Criminal. Here’s the original from Michael Jackson. I mean really? Did AAF just get the multi-tracks session from MJ and re-cut everything track by track?? How much more UNIMAGINATIVE can they be? “NONE MORE” (to quote Nigel Tufnel). I feel like AAF would have ripped off the cool super leaning dance step you see at 8:20 into the video if wasn’t for Michael Jackson having a patent on the shoes required to pull it off.

Here is Sheryl Crow’s LAME version of Sweet Child O Mine. It’s gonna take more than a big string arrangement and How To Record A Cover Shery Crow imagesome color fiddles to distract me from the fact that not only did Sheryl rip off every single one of W. Axl Rose’s vocal licks from the original track, but they even ripped off the melodies from Slash’s guitar solo as well. WTF? Here’s the original Guns & Roses version. Sheryl also covered Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” (she just can’t help herself) and this is a bit more inventive production wise but I’m still pissed cuz u just don’t cover Skynyrd without getting grilled. What is anybody gonna bring that’s more interesting to the track than the original? Sometimes, the original band just flat gets it right!

Godsmack’s version of “Rocky Mountain Way” is well. is it the same version as Joe Walsh’s with heavier guitars? Huh? Oh, there’s the inventiveness the My .38’s loaded I’m ready to crack line. Ahh, thank GOD they kept Joe’s solo note for note and tone for tone with the wah-wah pedal. I don’t get it? When did Godsmack become your average bar cover band? Was that the goal? This version is so cheap.

Bottom line; if you can’t bring something NEW to it then don’t! I played plenty of covers as close to the original recording as possible to make a living playing live in a band; it was effective. You don’t want to take this same approach to record a song that will have some definitive effect on your artistic signature; that’s so boring.

 

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5 Things You Need To Know To Cut A Killer Track

Killer Tracks 2

Artists today need their tracks to compete with what they are hearing on the radio; there is just no excuse for a

Killer Track Trident imagecrappy sounding track. In fact, if you’re track sounds like shit, then it’s our first red flag as to just how lazy, un-resourceful, clueless, and out of touch you are with the music business these days; kinda like showing up to a gun fight with a butter knife. Today’s music is consumed so fast and there is so much of it available that YOU HAVE TO BE FREAKING AMAZING in every way to stick out. Why on earth would you cut any corners on your artistry?? I mean, aren’t you the one always complaining about how crappy music is on the radio and how YOUR band could do so much better? If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Here are 5 really good concepts to internalize before you spend any money recording anywhere that will hopefully help you rise above the fray and cut a killer track!

 

Good Demos Are For Songwriters!

Demoing your songs as an artist used to be an essential piece of the puzzle to getting a record deal; nowadays, your demos are more a private process of crafting your songs and arrangements to prepare for a master recording Killer Track Demo CD imagesession. Unless you are a songwriter trying to get an artist to cut your song, you are WASTING YOUR MONEY with demos no matter how much cheaper the process is compared to cutting master tracks! Forget publicly pushing/presenting demos! Record Labels stopped developing talent a decade ago; so they don’t care about your demo no matter how good your songs are! They care about your momentum, how many tickets, CD’s, Merch, and downloads u sell. If you only have $2,500 and you find someone to demo your 8 songs for that price, you wasted $2,500 because that budget will not have been spent on any activity that will create momentum for you. Relax and save more money or cut fewer songs.

Don’t Be Naive In Your Strategy

It’s FAR better to spend your limited budget on 3 or 4 GREAT tracks than 10 mediocre cuts. For the love of GOD if you seriously are trying to make a living in the music industry, do your music right or don’t do it at all! It’s so easy Killer Track Naive imageto freak out on what it costs to really make a great record these days, I get it! The cold hard reality is that you are going to have to spend some money to get this dream of yours going. The more you cut corners, the more you make it an expensive hobby; so don’t be frustrated because you are the one getting in your own way. I think of one of our artists named Tanya Marie Harris from Canada. I remember our first phone conversation, and she said, “Johnny, for what you and Kelly are charging me for 2 songs, I can cut a whole record up here” and my mind went to the pre-programmed response of thinking that we weren’t going to be able to help her, but before I could open my mouth she finished her sentence, “of mediocrity.” She approached her project with us as if it was the end of the world and it HAD to be done right. We ROCKED those 2 songs of hers and she is now blowing up major radio in Canada because she has 2 KILLER tracks. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ends up with an investor very soon, because she has created real momentum! Bottom line, her approach has opened WAY more doors for her as an artist.

It All Starts With the SONG

This is probably 80% of your problem, your songs suck; or some of them are good and the rest are weak. If you Killer Track a great song imagespend $25,000 recording a lame, crappy song with Mutt Freakin Lange, it’s going to be the most expensive, slickest sounding crappy song on the planet (he would never cut it, but you get my point). Get some co-writes with some seriously talented writers! If you are now saying, but I don’t have any of those where I live then MOVE! Like Sam Kinison said, “GO WERE THE FOOD IS!” It’s quite possible that your songs are very good but maybe just need a little tweaking here is where a good outside ear can make the difference! Which brings us to our next point, Producers.

Get a Producer

Make sure that your Producer has a killer engineer or IS a killer engineer; LISTEN to what they have done. ASK Killer Track Producer Wanted imagewho they have worked with. Your best friend who just went to school for a recording degree is NOT going to deliver for you this time; he/she needs their 10,000 hours before they are going to be able to get anybody to the next level artistically. Since you are responsible for your own development now, you have to think like a record label would think. After you sign with a label, if you are ready to record the next step is PRODUCER SHOPPING so why the hell would you skip this step on your own project? Do you really think a Major Label would allow your buddy right out of school to produce your first effort?? HELL NO!!! I recommend using your buddies with the cool home studios for your creative demo process; use them to craft arrangements and songs, but don’t rely on them to deliver expertise because they have none, or they would be working with professionals already. Kelly went to school and got a recording degree; then he wiped his ass with his diploma and moved to Nashville to learn how to make records. I was an artist right out of high school and learned to make records in a trial by fire kind of method. A good Producer is going to help you pick the songs. A good producer is going to tell you, “NO” to the songs that aren’t ready to be recorded or shouldn’t be recorded at this level. A good Producer is going to have heart to heart discussions about your lane and then service those collaborative decisions musically. A good Producer is going to have relationships with the studio musicians and ensure you don’t get run over by them. A good Producer is going to have the psychological skill-set to push you and your band to artistic performance heights you never thought possible. A good Producer is going to be just as excited about your project as you are!

Be Realistic About Your Band’s Musicianship

You would be surprised how many members of your favorite rock bands didn’t actually cut all or any of their tracks in the studio; the ones that did were AMAZING musicians. In Country music, most professional live musicians, asKiller Track musicianship BW image Godlike as they are live, do not cut in the studio; it’s just a different animal because live is here & gone already and the studio recording is forever. All too often I see bands come in determined that everyone in the band is going to play on the record. If your drummer sucks, then we are going to have to manufacture the performance in Pro Tools to get the track in time and find a groove. If your drummer sucks then your bass player is NEVER going to consistently lock up with the kick drum and this spells S-H-I-T; which means we are going to manufacture the bass performance as well since the drum track has been altered. You see where this goes? It becomes a hot mess and your record sounds, well, MANUFACTURED. You would be better served to make the best recordings possible and let any weaker musicians grow into the role; sorry to say it, but if their feelings are worth the whole record budget you have a problem.
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6 Ways to Create Cashflow On YouTube

Create Cashflow On YouTube spicket image

By Johnny Dwinell

Josh Rice is a monster on YouTube. He is having a hell of a time doing what he wants and loves to do; making music and writing songs. He started posting songs on YouTube in 2009 and has grown that initial artistic spiritual risk into a regular business with at least 5 or 6 cash registers that when combined, make him a decent living.

Wanna give a shout out to Jason Jerzewski for turning me on to this. THANK YOU! LOVE IT!

I just watched this video of Louis Howes interviewing Josh about how he is making a living as a writer and a musician on YouTube; HE BREAKS IT ALL DOWN MAN. He starts from the beginning and lets us all in on what he had to do to INVENT this future of his. I LOVE this kid!!! FYI, Josh doesnt know squat about the internet, HTML, coding, etc., hes just a singer and a writer.

This means you can do it too.

Heres the video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxfRqNvI-sw&feature=youtu.be

I dig that hes not waiting around to be discovered.

I dig that hes not letting the disintegrating music industry become a speed-bump on his journey to artistic success.

I dig that hes INVENTING his own future as an artist!

This is what YOU need to do.

Too many of you are not grabbing the bull by the horns here. You are basing your future on the dying business model of the old record industry. You dont need a label, you dont need to be discovered, you dont need to wait for your big break; you just need to write and/or sing! JUST DO IT. Create your own artistic business. Build it and they will come! Josh Rice is proof that this is really possible! I love how Josh was raised in Washington State, and moved to New York City, then Los Angeles, before ultimately landing in Nashville to pursue his musical dreams; he wasnt afraid. In the new music business, artists careers will be built from the bottom up, not the top down. Its a harder road, but the reward is the journey.

Look, I KNOW how artists think, so if your success as an artist or writer is dependent on ANYTHING that you feel is outside of your control, you are consciously or subconsciously using that as an excuse to wait; to protect yourself from the unknown. Think about it. Yeah, now you are admitting to yourself that you really need not wait for anything or anybody.

This video INSPIRED me, man! I LOVE IT when somebody pulls the curtain back on all this new Wizard of Oz shit and shows us how they succeeded.

This video interview is 43:45 long and if you want to be a player at all you should watch the whole thing. Partly because the information is so vital to your artistic success, but MOSTLY because this Josh Rice is so much like you and me!! This kid is just using a little fearlessness, hustle, and common sense to make a living with his music. If he can YOU CAN TOO!

Again, you should watch the whole thing because its worth it, but I broke down some of the key points for yall if your pressed for time.

4:50 he gets into collaboration with other huge YouTube stars and how that helped him grow a following. Remember when I said you need to surround yourself with people that are smarter and farther along than you? Boom! This is a perfect example of how that helps you flourish.

7:30 Josh discusses how many times he was rejected by some of these YouTube stars and how that was good karma. He CONTINUED to create relationships.

9:20 he discusses how he had to learn everything. He goes into how his first videos werent even synced with the audio so they sucked but he didnt care, he just kept on getting BETTER. He learned the audio program by himself and actually took an online course to hone his video editing/production skill-set.

11:05 he reveals numbers. He talks about his subscriber numbers and how many views he has had.

11:38 he discusses how his goals changed once he got into working his plan. I huge reason was that he kept writing songs and they were being hacked. So he changed his plan to adapt to problems that were occurring.

16:00 REVENUE STREAMS Josh discusses the different revenue streams he has created and how none them look very pretty by themselves, but put together he is able to make a good living. Those revenue streams include:

  • iTunes sales of his own music
  • iTunes sales of covers that he has licensed.
  • Ad revenue from the hits on YouTube
  • Streaming revenue
  • Merchandise Revenue
  • Mechanical Royalties from the cover songs

22:44 Josh Discusses how he was able to obtain more traffic to his videos.

24:00 He discusses how he did it RIGHT. The YouTube, Twitter, and Google algorithms are constantly evolving so the old tricks of putting porn keywords into the metadata no longer works. The key is to put out REALLY GOOD material! That will go viral.

25:25 Keywords process / promotion strategies

28:00 Website to drive traffic.

29:10 Psychology behind driving clicks

30:00 How often he is posting videos

31:10 Approaches to building a brand and working on YouTube.

36:30 Strategies behind likes, comments, favorites, and subscribing.

39:20 Related videos, gaming the system, all this doesnt matter anymore with search rankings.

40:30 How YouTube is ranking now.

Hope this provides some inspiration for Y’all!

BE FEARLESS!!

 

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DIY Artist Development

Artist Development Artist development image

By Johnny Dwinell

D.I.Y.

I am really beginning to disdain the term D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself). It should be rephrased to say what it really means which is do it without a record label because nobody does it themselves; which makes that term extremely Artist Development DIY Blackboard imagemisleading. Thats worth repeating, NOBODY makes a living in the music industry all by their lonesome so DIY is misleading. Lets break that down some more. In todays music business YOU are responsible for your development as an artist, as an act, as a business; therefore, YOU are responsible for your own team building. Maybe we should change DIY to BYOT (Build Your Own Team) or DYOA (Develop Your Own Ass) LOL. Since YOU are responsible for ultimately taking yourself from obscurity to a place where you are making a living in the music industry (either as a writer, musician, or artist) the smart people are going to look at the professional approaches that the major labels took to developing acts and try to recreate it. After all, these methods were effective, yes?

You Are Responsible For Your Artist Development

So lets look at how to recreate it. The good news is its easier than ever to recreate it. The bad news is YOU have to recreate it; YOU have to recreate some kind of development pipeline to ensure that you are competing at a professional level. Common sense very simply says that if you do not approach your career this way than you are NOT competing at a professional level; which means youre an amateur. This, in turn, means you suck and you make no money. Btw, if you think that EVERY artist who signs a major label deal isnt dealing with this conversation right here, youre delusional. Welcome to the music business.

YOU need to ensure that your songs are simply incredible.Artist Development Live Show image

YOU need to ensure that your recordings are simply incredible.

YOU need to ensure that your live show is simply incredible.

Then you need to ensure that you have a marketing pipeline and you are moving product. If the song and the recording are really INCREDIBLE people WILL respond. Its that simple (did u like my word structure there?).

THIS EFFORT is going to require a team. I cannot think of one artist EVER in the history of the music business that did it all themselves. They had mentors; they were surrounded by people who were better than they were that showed them the ropes. YOU need to do the same. YOU are green, lets face it. I mean GREEEEEN. I dont care how long you have been playing, have you done 30 shows in a row; in 30 days? No? Then youre GREEN. Your live show will transform after an effort like that. Do you have any hit singles? No? Then youre GREEN. Do you have any Cuts? No? Then youre GREEN. Everybody starts out green. John Lennon and Paul McCartney admit that their first 150 songs or so SUCKED; they were figuring it out, man. Then the Beatles went to Hamburg where they played 8 HOURS A DAY for MONTHS to get their 10,000 hours because they were GREEN. The Rolling Stones first 3 singles were cover tunes because they were GREEN. Their first 2 records were mostly cover tunes because they were GREEN; it wasnt until they wrote Last Time and it became a single that they even thought they could really write well!

If you really want to be a serious artist, you better dive into these records and LISTEN to the development so you can get a real 30,000 foot perspective on what your mission is as an artist with regards to the ART. This task will help you grow.

It will give you validation that #1 you can do this, and #2 you have a lot of work to do but it CAN BE DONE!

All artists need to be developed; they need to be encouraged and inspired to mature. Inspiration comes in many forms, but as a former artist, I can tell you that oftentimes when it comes it takes the form of someone pushing you beyond your comfort zone and it tends to PISS YOU OFF. Jesus, did I get wound up sometimes, but the people pushing me were right; if I wasnt uncomfortable then I wasnt trying anything new, which means I wasnt growing.

If youre not growing youre not serious; period.

Dont get comfortable.

Lets take Bruce Springsteen for example. His big record was Born to Run which was his third record. Most Artist Development Born To Run imagepeople dont remember the first 2 records which were Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. Most people DO remember Manfred Manns Earth Band #1 hit Blinded by the Light which was written by Bruce Springsteen and appeared on the Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. record. I remember listening to an interview with the singer from Manfred Mann where he was asked why he stopped covering Bruce Springsteen songs (they also did a version of Spirit in the Night) and he said that after the 2nd record, Bruce had gotten so good at the writing he really couldnt mess around with the songs and make them better anymore. BTW, Bruce wrote Blinded by the Light and Spirit in the Night AFTER he submitted his first record to the label and Columbia said go back and write some songs that can be played on the radio SO YOU CAN COMPETE PROFESSIONALLY (pushing him out of his comfort zone). He was forced to play ball or lose his deal. Are you approaching your career this way? I encourage you to go and listen to the first 2 Springsteen records and write down the lyrics and then see for yourself how he gets it right on the 3rd record; he developed. BTW, the second verse of Blinded by the Light was all about his frustration with getting people in the bars to pay attention to him during his performances proving that he didnt walk onstage for the first time as a ROCK GOD; he developed. Similarly, check out the first 2 Bon Jovi records and compare them to the 3rd record Slippery When Wet. The difference is Polygram (his record label) understood his raw talent and put him with a hit songwriter named Desmond Child to improve the quality of the songs on the 3rd record; consequently Bon Jovi, Sambora, and Child co wrote You Give Love a Bad Name and Livin on a Prayer. These became the 1st 2 singles for the record and they would both go to #1.

You get my point here? YOU ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS! The question is what are YOU doing to behave like the record label? What are YOU doing to surround yourself with people that are BETTER THAN YOU so you can improve?

WTF ARE YOU DOING TO DEVELOP?

I mean youre smart, right? So why would you approach your music any different than, say, a construction gig? You have a vague or nave idea of how to properly frame a door but somebody on the site shows you EXACTLY Artist Development Craftsmanship imagehow to do it; there are tricks to getting it right, there is an art behind crafting that door frame flawlessly. The first day on the job you suck, but then you learn and get better as you acquire knowledge. Music is no different; songwriting is a CRAFT! NOBODY is born a great songwriter. They are born with a need to be artistic and are TAUGHT not to settle for shit. They are TAUGHT not to be lazy! I remember reading an interview with the great Joni Mitchell where she described how she took her songs to her parents and they would say Thats great, baby, now go back and figure out a different way to say it; make it better So make sure you are trying to get with craftsmen to learn the trade! If you feel like you have nothing to learn than you have already failed. Most of you KNOW you have a lot to learn but youre scared; get over it! Its a full contact sport!

Artist Development Requires Mentorship

If you want to be professional (which means if you want to make your living at it) you need to work with professionals.

So why arent you? Where do the professionals live? Why arent you living there? Im sure you all have many reasons why you are not doing these things and the harsh reality is that they are all excuses. My dad always said excuses are like assholes, everyone has one and they all stink. Maybe they are valid excuses but valid excuses are still excuses. If you are going to be professional you better get rid of the excuses as these are just reasons to get in your own way; these are reasons not to do a good job. I have so much respect for our artists like Tanya Marie Harris and Neill Skylar. Both of these ladies have young children (less than 3 years old) and STILL they FIND A WAY to come to Nashville and get it done right!! This is what its all about, people, doing it RIGHT! These girls are on a freakin mission, man, make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT!!! Sheesh, Im just glad theyre on our side! LOL

We now have established that you need to seek professional mentors to help you grow as a songwriter. Lets face it; it all starts with the song. It amazes me how many people feel like if they record a shitty song better that it will make the song better; clearly not true.

Your next task is to then take these incredible songs that COMPETE with all the songs you love in your genre and record them properly. Recording them properly requires a killer engineer and producer (sometimes they are both but beware sometimes engineers are ONLY engineers with no artistic input whatsoever.) YOU are responsible for finding your team.

The team is more important than the studio.

Artist Development Team Building imageThis is true because you are taking your songs and creating a product with them; whether you like that reality or not. If your product is 2nd rate, nobody is going to care; you wont sell anything. If you dont sell anything you wont make a living; so you have a vanity project. Your team will help you decide what songs make the record which means they have the unwelcome task of telling you, the artist, which songs arent cutting it. Your team will help you define your sound and your lane. They will help you decide what keys to record those songs in; keys that are appropriate for your voice and put you in the best light. Your team will then cast the appropriate players to deliver the sound that everyone has agreed upon. Your team should be enthusiastic towards your project; if they are not you have a problem. Nashville is full of burnt out players with great studios who will take your money to press the record button and thats it. Nashville is full of people who dont care about the product anymore; so, I must imagine that everywhere else is the same, either they dont care about it or they dont know how to do it right in the first place. YOU have to find someone that IS enthusiastic; who really cares!

FYI, there are hundreds of producers on Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc. Find one that you feel good about!

Yes, you have to pay for a team like this, but you get what you pay for. You have to ask yourself what your goals are. If you wanna do something epic, then youre gonna have to shell out a few bucks. If you wanna cut corners youre recording nothing more than a vanity project. Thats ok as long as you are aware that its a vanity project. The trouble starts when everyone wants to put their vanity project up for sale; a half-assed effort at best. Then they wonder why they arent getting any traction. Dont try and swim in professional circles with that shit, because whether you can hear it or not is irrelevant; the pros can hear the difference and you look like a tool. Imagine the NASCAR driver who wants to tell everyone hes amazing at racing and shows up to the NASCAR race with a rusted out baby-blue Dodge Dart because thats all he wanted to afford. He looks like an idiot because he brought a little knife to a gun fight, ya know?

You more than likely have a job right now and youre good at it Ill bet, just imagine how you feel about people who come into your workplace and simply dont get what you do or what they have to do to get it right. How do you feel about them? Yeah, yeah, you may say I would help them out. Maybe thats your job is training people. Labels, publishers, managers, bloggers, everyone in the professional music industry gets HUNDREDS of submissions a day, so Helping them all out is quite impossible. So you pass because they arent ready.

You wanna be a pro, then look like a pro, sound like a pro, and show up with a professional product and behave like a professional. Take your time looking for your team. Dont just take the first guy down the street who has a pro-tools rig and make him your producer. LISTEN to what he has recorded in the past. Find out what lengths hes willing to go to make something amazing. Make SURE he/she is enthusiastic!!

I remember my 1st recording experience in Milwaukee, WI when I was in High School. We would finish a take and ask the engineer, how was that? He would respond, Did you think it sounded good? We would say, Fuck yeah! Were awesome! We were really good but we were green. We didnt know. There was reverb on the bass guitar for Artist Development Baby O Recorders imageGods sake!!! I remember taking these recordings to LA to get them professionally mixed because WE WANTED TO BE GOOD. I remember the producers I used had mixed Black & Blue, and The Vinnie Vincent Invasion along with some other major label records. I remember making a killer deal on the phone for a flat rate to mix 3 songs (those cost a fortune back then FYI, there was no Pro Tools) and those guy saying, How bad could it be? I remember hanging in the lounge of Baby O Recorders on Sunset next to David Hasselhoff who was also recording there. I remember them coming out of the studio PISSED because there was reverb on the bass LOL. So embarrassing!! Im quite sure they didnt make any money off of me, because it took forever to clean up our stupid mistakes. They did it though. Our recording was kick ass! We ended up getting tons of spins on a local radio station that played the real heavy stuff. We sounded better than most of the other crap they were playing. You get it?

STOP telling yourself why it wont work and START asking, What has to happen to make this a reality?

Henry Ford stated Theres a man who thinks he can and a man who thinks he cant. Both men are right. Which man are you?

All Im saying is if its worth doing, its worth doing right. Let me save you the suspense, you are going to screw it up; but you will LEARN. Get in there and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Be fearless!!

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You Don’t Need Radio To Make A Living

radio on the air image

By Johnny Dwinell

Terrestrial Radio is a hustle; it always has been and you don’t need radio to make a living. If you think that radio and the people who work for radio are in the music business you are sadly mistaken; they are in the ad business, just like the Newscasters. They PAY to spin every song; they get paid by selling ads. Remember that because they dont, nor have they ever given a shit about your music. Whats more is the ability to get a NEW single on the radio is all about relationships and money. Since DJs are no longer in charge of what is being spun, you have to go pretty high up on the mega corporate food chain to get to the PD that will convert your single and authorize spins.

The hustle started back in the 50s oddly enough with the invention of the TV set. Radio moved from dramatic programming to a top 40 music format. Consequently DJs exploded around the country as more and more music was being produced. Shortly after this happened, we got the Payola Scandal. Record promoters, working for record labels, had DJs in their back pockets offering Drugs, booze, and broads to the DJs in exchange for a guaranteed amount of spins. The subsequent scandal arose after the disgrace of the rigged game show 21 (You may remember the movie Quiz Show about this particular scandal). Once the Government was under public pressure for the dishonorable game show behavior, the radio outrage was next on the congressional agenda. The problem with payola for huge record companies like CBS was that CBS also owned radio stations and TV stations; which required massively lucrative broadcasting licenses. When the government threatened to pull the broadcasting licenses from any station accused of payola, these corporations had to change their strategies; after all, the record labels only accounted for maybe 3% of the gross corporate revenue. So, DJs like Alan Freed (who coined the phrase Rock & Roll) were fired for being a threat to the corporation along with any promoters who worked for the labels. Payola didnt go away. It just morphed into a 3rd party company system or Independent Promotion instead of all inclusive of the record labels.

Radio Promotion

At one point in the late 70s, a group of independent radio promoters named The Network came into serious power. Frank Dileo and Joe Isgro headed up this group of 6 guys who essentially controlled all the radio spins in the country. At one point CBS found that they were paying The Network 30% of their profits per year!

How?

The majors averaged $100,000 per single to The Network to promote them on the radio nationwide; thats $100,000 of 1983 money which is worth roughly $385,000 today. CBS was giving so much of their profits to these 6 guys they hired Peter Asher from Polygram to get rid of The Network in either 1978 or 1979 in order to bring the books back in line and increase profits. This is when the Major labels figured out that the power of The Network didnt lie in their ability to put a single ON the radio; rather it was their capacity to keep a single OFF the radio. This was grossly proven to Dick Asher and Walter Yetnikoff at CBS with the Pink Floyd record The Wall. If youve heard the record you know that its epic! What you may not know is that Pink Floyd recreated the movie on the tour and because of the massive production expenses they only played LA and NY. Imagine Peter Asher getting a call from the manager of the biggest band in the world, 30 minutes before the LA concert was to commence asking,

WHY THE FUCK AM I NOT HEARING OUR SINGLE ON THE RADIO, PETER??!! DO NOT FUCKING MAKE US YOUR EXPERIMENT WITH RADIO PROMOTION!! YOU HAVE 500 ARTISTS AND WE ONLY HAVE ONE CAREER!! IF I DONT HEAR THAT FUCKING SINGLE ON THE AIR IN 20 MINUTES, WE WILL BE LOOKING FOR A NEW RECORD LABEL!!

Boom! 1 phone call was made and a huge check was cut. Another Brick in the Wall was on the air in less than 20 minutes. Holy Shit!

This is what Pink Floyd had to deal with and they were the biggest band in the world at the time.

You still have to pay to get your music on the radio today. Decent nationwide radio promotion is going to run you about $20,000-$50,000 per month. There are a limited number of spins available in a 24 hour period so you have a simple VERY low supply meets a VERY high demand situation; in the free market, that costs a lot of money.

Are you aware of the story behind Guns & Roses? Would you freak out if I told you that they were dead? They were DOA from Geffen records. Radio hated them. Nobody cared. You may not know that Appetite For Radio Appetite For Destruction imageDestruction actually came out in 1987. It was out for a full year with NOTHING to show for it. The band had a HUGE champion in Tom Zutaut their A&R guy. Essentially, Zutaut went to David Geffen and explained the challenges he was having with MTV not spinning GNRs 1st single Welcome To The Jungle. Zutaut asks Geffen to do something, or the record is surely going to die. Geffen then gets on the phone and calls the President of MTV and asks for a favor; please spin the 2nd single for GNR called Sweet Child O Mine at least once for me. MTV acquiesces and spins the single at 3:00 am on a Saturday morning; and the rest is history. The phones at MTV lit up that Saturday morning and MTV broke GNR; then radio came on board.

Wow! Can u imagine? After all the work you have to do to get a record deal, you have to lower yourself down into this sleaze.

radio Thriller imageAfter The Network did such a good job of promoting Michael Jacksons Thriller, Michael made Frank Dileo his manager. Sheryl Crow was Michaels back-up singer on that tour. There are 2 references to Frank Dileo on Sheryls debut record Tuesday Night Music Club. The first is in The Na-Na Song with the line “Clarence Thomas organ grinder Frank DiLeo’s dong / Maybe if I’d let him I’d have had a hit song.”The second is the song called What I Can Do For You where the whole song is about Frank. What I can do for you, no one else on Gods green earth can do you can read the rest of the sleazy lyrics HERE

 

You get my point? Total hustle, totally expensive, ZERO guarantees.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to submit to this when you have a mathematically predictable way of making a living with your music online? I mean this is why the labels have a 90% failure rate because they all relied on ONE MAIN METHOD for exposure.

Do you want a 90% chance of failure? HELL NO!! Why would you when its NEVER BEEN EASIER TO MAKE A LIVING IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS RIGHT NOW?

I have a great suggestion, if you choose to accept it.

First, be an artist not a fame whore. Fame whores today need to shoot for reality TV, because your chances are better there at getting famous; why do it the hard way?

Second, think just a little more like a business person. Start with defining your lane and the other lanes that are necessary for you to succeed. There are many different systems out there to help you understand this concept. I am familiar with one called Wealth Dynamics by Roger Hamilton. NOTE: I am not shilling for Roger, as his program costs money; Im just familiar with this system so it provides for a better explanation on my part. There are many different ways to describe this so I encourage you to find and research one that makes sense to you. Essentially, Wealth Dynamics helps you define the different lanes people have in business and put together lanes that are simpatico or symbiotic as opposed to confrontational and non-productive. This is not a new concept, btw. If you read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, there is a great chapter about Henry Ford an 8th grade drop-out who was on trial for essentially lying to the public about being an educated man. You see, Henry was aware of his weaknesses and argued that he didnt have to have all the answers to the scientific and mathematical questions the prosecutor was asking him when he paid people to have those answers for him!

Long story short, you need write KILLER songs to stand out in todays marketplace right?

If yours are not KILLER than you need to find someone to help you take your songs to the top level.

Then you need to record those songs either as demos to be pitched to Major Label artists or as Master Tracks to be exposed to the public making you the artist. These recordings have to compete, right?

If you do not have the skill set or equipment to do this, then you need to find a team that can ensure you have KILLER recordings.

Once the record is done, if you do not like marketing than you need to partner up with someone who can help you market your music to the world and ultimately MOVE product so you can get paid. There are literally tons of companies out there if you know what to look for. People are starving for good NEW music so why not yours? Fill in your weak spots. TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS.

Start your own little label that will take care of only YOU. Its mathematically proven. You just dont know how to do it yet.

Walter Yetnikoff gets it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAzuvFxrkP0

Heres a link to a great book about record promotion called Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business. I recommend you READ this if you still believe in Terrestrial Radio and Major Labels

Heres a cool article on Joe Isgro and Hit Men: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,317976,00.html

I got the GNR story from The Operator: David Geffen Buys and Sells the New Hollywood.

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The Best Way To Predict Our Future Is To INVENT IT

Future Road Sign image

If I put a gun to your head and demanded that you name the top 5 most popular Country artists today, the majority of them that you would name wouldn’t have careers without auto-tune; they just aren’t great singers. Additionally, some of those same top Country artists don’t even write songs.

So how come they are famous and you’re frustrated?

2 major reasons: Because they work HARDER than you and they work SMARTER than you right now. They are smart enough to HONESTLY assess their artistry and then put forth an effort and a career plan that addresses their artistic strengths and weaknesses; they understand where they are good and they understand where they suck.

Do you?

Do you really?

Do you think about your weaknesses or do you ignore them and tell the world (and yourself) you’re perfect?

What are you doing about your short comings??

What EXACTLY are you doing to get BETTER?

Back in the day, you had to get a record deal.

Then the Label would put you with the best writers, engineers, producers, players, studios, PR firms, etc., to surround you with real talent.

Today, that isn’t gonna happen because the labels aren’t developing acts anymore no matter how talented they are.

You have to develop yourself.

You have to think like a label back in the day to grow as an artist today.

That’s worth repeating:

You have to think like a label back in the day to grow as an artist today.

You have to work harder and smarter to really be effective and find your lane. When you find your lane, your career will blossom; you will instantly get momentum.

Today we are going to ask some questions about your dedication.

We are going to ask some real questions about your artistic lane.

We are going to ask some real questions about the methods you are using to reach your artistic dreams and goals.

So take a deep breath…

Most of you aren’t going to like your answers, but that’s good, man. This should feel FREAKING UNCOMFORTABLE! If it doesn’t you don’t care and you’re not trying hard enough. Improving as an artist is all about getting outside of your comfort zone.

This should feel FREAKING UNCOMFORTABLE! If it doesn’t you don’t care and you’re not trying hard enough. Improving as an artist is all about getting outside of your comfort zone.

If it doesn’t you don’t care and you’re not trying hard enough. Improving as an artist is all about getting outside of your comfort zone.

When you find the lane you are SUPPOSED to be in, and get into that lane, it is amazing how much energy comes your way and how FAST it comes. If you think back in your life, you will recall moments where this has happened to you; where things just sort of lined up. Granted, there are times where it just seems like you are pushing a huge bolder uphill and nobody gives a shit, but if you are in your proper lane, the work and struggle is worth it.

If you think back in your life, you will recall moments where this has happened to you; where things just sort of lined up. Granted, there are times where it just seems like you are pushing a huge bolder uphill and nobody gives a shit, but if you are in your proper lane, the work and struggle is worth it.

If you think back in your life, you will recall moments where this has happened to you; where things just sort of lined up. Granted, there are times where it just seems like you are pushing a huge bolder uphill and nobody gives a shit, but if you are in your proper lane, the work and struggle is worth it.

If you think back in your life, you will recall moments where this has happened to you; where things just sort of lined up.

Granted, there are times where it just seems like you are pushing a huge bolder uphill and nobody gives a shit, but if you are in your proper lane, the work and struggle is worth it.

The proverbial juice is worth the squeeze.

Let me give you an example. I was an artist back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. In high school, I put together a band or rather the best guys around my small town area sort of ended up together in a band because we wanted to be GOOD. I facilitated and curated the talent in this band because I wanted to be GOOD; my dad always told if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing RIGHT so don’t lie to yourself and don’t screw around. Believe me; this process came with some heartache. We had more than one occasion where I was kicking a friend out of the band for somebody better because we wanted to be GOOD. Sometimes that meant the person leaving was good but wasn’t willing to take the next step with the rest of us, so SEE YA! We were friends but we had a mission. You were either on board or you weren’t; at least I had a mission.

We were a heavy metal band; say what you will but that shit was happening in the 80’s! I was just a guitar player in Future Hericane Alice Poster imagethis band and our singer could BLOW!! He could CRUSH the Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, and Queensryche covers! When everyone was covering Warrant and Ratt, we were doing something different by covering the heavy stuff. Our drummer was SICK!! Our other guitar player was SICK!! Our bass player was SICK! Our main goal at the time was to get into this Milwaukee club that we heard advertised on the radio all the time called T.A. Vern’s. This club had two stages and always had the AAA touring acts along with the brand new National acts. So we busted our asses to get a shot at this club and, BOOM, we finally get our chance. The owner of the club finally returns my call and tells me that we have a shot to open for some hot-shit Minneapolis band called Hericane Alice (yes, the spelling is correct). Now Minneapolis was SO HOT back in the day, there were literally 10 clubs that paid AAA money in the Twin Cities area; this was right around when the Purple Rain record was out.

So off we go on a Saturday night to open for Hericane Alice at T.A. Vern’s with the expressed intention of impressing the bar owner so we could play there regularly and be on the Milwaukee radio spots! I remember we started our set and were doing our thing when I realized the whole band we were opening for was standing off to the side of the stage watching us; wide-eyed with their mouths open. Now we don’t know these guys from a can of paint. Turns out they were the HOTTEST band in Minneapolis and they LOVED us!!! Also turns out that the guitar player (not the one in the video as this was before they were signed to Atlantic) owned a huge regional booking agency up there. After we were done with our set the band all came over and told us that we HAD to open for them up in Minneapolis! They had a huge show on Christmas Day Evening, there were 40 bands that would KILL to have that opening slot, and they wanted to give it to us. Then Hericane Alice did their show and all 5 guys in my band plus our token roadie sat off to the side of the stage with our mouths wide open. HOLY SHIT they were REALLY GOOD!! We took the gig. We ROCKED it up in Minneapolis in front of 2,500 people with National act production; amazing. We opened for them like 10 more times and then went through some more member changes (because this gig was getting REAL now) and then we went on tour for a full year with that booking agency.

The energy was flowing to us; we were in our lane.

Luck = Preparation + Opportunity

It was luck, but luck is defined as preparation meets opportunity. If we weren’t serious about our mission, if we weren’t honest with ourselves about what was GOOD, if we weren’t TRULY PREPARED then we would have opened that show and that would have been the end of the story; no more energy. After we signed with the booking agency, I immediately asked them who their BEST band was so I could go see them and find out exactly who we were competing with and how we were going to compete! I was 19 years old. I had to get special permission to get into the club from that killer band’s manager. Btw, he is someone I am still friends with to this day; he’s a real heavy hitter in the music industry these days. I didn’t let something stupid like my age stop me. Or ignorance of the marketplace, I wanted to know WHO WE HAD TO BEAT!

See where I’m going with this?

Are you honest with yourself? Is music what you really want to do or is it a hobby?Future invent it image

Are you happening to the world or is the world happening to you?

The best way to predict your future is to INVENT IT.

After that year-long tour, we fired our singer (because he was a douchebag) and I told the guys in the band that we needed to start writing more if we were gonna be serious artists. I also told them that I was gonna be the front-man because I knew I could handle the crowd better than the last guy who was freaking clueless. This was a MAJOR deal because I really couldn’t sing all that well, but I knew my lane; I could SELL IT on stage. They got behind me and Future Tascam 8 Track Recorder imagewe purchased a Tascam 8-track cassette recorder to record the songs we were going to write. So that summer, in the basement of my parent’s house, the guitar player and I started writing and recording some songs. Man, the recording process was so unbelievably SEXY to me, ya know? I just LOVED it! I LIVED for the creativity and process of writing and recording so much so that during that summer Darrell (the guitar player) and I were working, getting laid, or writing and recording; we were obsessed. We managed to complete like 5 or 6 tracks I think, and I must say the recordings were terrible as it was our first rodeo. We KNEW these recordings needed some help, so we enlisted a friend of ours who was an engineer at a world class recording studio in Lake Geneva, WI to come and help us mix the demos. He complained because the recordings sucked, LOL, but he did it. Now the story gets interesting.

We got the mixes done and a dear friend of ours (who was your quintessential artist; she was a painter/drawer/designer that only thought out of one side of her brain), Vanessa, wanted to forward the tape to her friend Bud Future ABB imageSnyder in the Allman Brothers camp. We said sure! So unbeknownst to us, Vanessa put the tape we gave her in a double-cassette-boom box and pressed record to duplicate the not-so-good-quality demo tape; but she left the mic function on the boom box in the ON position. So the tape that Bud receives is the duplication, of course, with all the conversations Vanessa was having while tape was duplicating, ugh. Bud calls me the DAY he receives the tape. He is trying to ask me if I wouldn’t mind sending him another copy because the quality of the one he had was horrible. I was trying to tell him I KNEW it was horrible because the recordings were crappy as we were just learning how to record and we went around and around for about 10 minutes before he communicated the duplication debacle to me. Here’s the thing the songs were GOOD. Bud could hear it through the all the crap. Still, we wouldn’t be shopping that recording to anyone else but our attention to the craft of writing songs helped us convert on that opportunity. We immediately went into the studio with Bud and recorded a proper demo tape that was as sonically solid as the songwriting was so we could compete when we shopped the demo.

Once again, the energy was flowing to us. We were in our lane.

We were doing what we were supposed to be doing. IT DAMN SURE WASN’T PERFECT, but we were doing it; and because it was GOOD we were getting results, almost instantly. We ended up working with Bud and learning so much from the Allman Brothers. Just watching them work in the studio was a trip; I realized that I had a lot to learn.

Are you getting momentum? If not, why?

Do you want momentum? Do you REALLY want it?

Are you standing in your own way?

If music is what you HAVE to do, then you need to be honest with yourself.

Why don’t you have momentum?

To quote a great line from Jerry Maguire, this is not show-friends, this is show-BUSINESS. This concept applies to YOU when you are dealing with YOU; show BUSINESS!

Is it because your songs aren’t great? What are you willing to do to fix that?

Is it because your recordings aren’t great? What are you willing to do to fix that?

Is because there is a weak link in your band? What are you willing to do to fix that?

The smart person is going to understand that NOBODY is born with all the tools they need to accomplish their goals. I made an art out of surrounding myself with people who were better than me; an art of discovering the tools and knowledge I needed to succeed. It works wonders, you should try it. Yeah, you feel like you are always the dumbest guy in the room, but I simply practiced the age-old discipline of keeping my mouth shut and appearing stupid than opening it up and removing all doubt; I got better and smarter every day. The real funny thing is that the people I was afraid of looking stupid in front of APPRECIATED the fact that I wanted to learn! They WANTED TO HELP!! They loved that I was honest with myself more than anything.

If you’re songs need to be better (don’t they always need to be better btw?) than working with someone who writes for a living is going to be quite the artistic experience. How much would you learn about your own writing? How much would you learn about the quality of the songs you have already written? Are you afraid someone might say they suck? OF COURSE THEY SUCK! Everybody’s first songs suck; just ask John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, etc. You probably won’t hear anyone say that to your face but inside you are worried that’s what they are thinking. SO JUST GO THERE. ASSUME THAT’S WHAT THEY ARE THINKING. What are you going to do to rectify the situation? What action is required to improve your writing? After all, it’s going to have to improve if you’re going to make a living at it, right?

How about the recording quality? Are you one of these people who pride themselves on the cheapest demo cost? Are you the guy that has always gone to your buddy down the street who only charges $50/hr for the recording studio, so you feel like you got that all covered? Let’s ask the question: How’s that working out for you? Is this why you don’t have momentum? Maybe you should revise the plan a bit. Maybe your songs are good but nobody cares because the recording quality blows. Or the musicianship blows. That’s a hard one if you’re new, really hearing that the bass isn’t locking up with the drums, really hearing that the drummer you have thinks time is a magazine. These are the things that separate the pros from the rookies. Which one do you want to be?

I promise you that just because you can’t hear it doesn’t mean the pros that can help you get to the next level can’t hear it. They can, and they will judge you.

I mean if you have recorded 10 songs at a cost of $4,000 with the intent of getting major artists to cut your songs and nobody is cutting them, did you really save any money or did you waste $4,000 pretending to be real songwriter? Don’t get me wrong, if you are recording your songs for posterity, then it really doesn’t matter. For the writers who want to make a living at it, you have to ask, When ALL the publishing companies are paying for solid demos with KILLER musicians and you are submitting sub-par recordings with sub-par musicianship that sound like their cheaply made, is it really surprising that you have no momentum?

You know exactly how to fix it!

So why are you frustrated?

Maybe you don’t know and you’re not smart enough to know that you don’t know ya know? Would taking your 4 best songs and spending the same $4,000 on KILLER recordings that will compete with what everyone else is submitting be a more intelligent approach? Would that actually be more productive? Would that improve the chances of someone important wanting to help you with your music after they listened to it? Would that help you to be really PREPARED when an opportunity comes along?

I have this conversation at least once a week with a frustrated writer. It’s like their hitting themselves in the head with a bat and complaining about the pain at the same time. If you want to make a living in any industry you simply have to compete with what is out there. It escapes me why singers and songwriters can’t understand this or hear this. You can’t really compete as a swimming pool installer if you are digging the fucking holes with a teaspoon, can you?

Are you the artist who already paid for a CD and has 950 of them stacked up in your closet because you can’t move em? Then what do you need to do to learn how to sell your CD’s? It’s not rocket science, because there are people that are selling CD’s and downloads of their music every day. So what are you missing??

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, then you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got! Simple math.

If the lane you’re in has no momentum, switch lanes. If the methods you are using to get ahead are not getting you ahead, change your methods. FIND SOME HELP!!

But stop complaining about your lack of momentum because YOU have the power to change it and no one else will! It has to be YOU!