How to Win Over the Judgment in The Marketplace


I have a friend who is going through some tough times in legal sense but I feel like this person has been going through this battle for so long that their emotions are sometimes clouding their judgment as to what is important to the court and what isn’t.







I worry about this friend and their approach to this challenge lately. We have entertained many “spirited” exchanges in the interest of defining exactly how this person will be judged by the court, in other words, “What does the court see and not see”, and to get us both on the same page.


It’s easy to lose sight of the facts when your life and mental happiness are constantly under senseless attack.  Especially when it’s been going on for years and years.






A never-ending battle.


It gets exhausting.





Like you’re in a losing boxing match and the only thing you can do is keep your gloves up to protect your face.





It’s demeaning no matter how strong you are.






Good offensive strategies give way to emotionally charged stories that we tell ourselves and these stories can be accurate, derived from real-life experiences; some bad, some good .  But sometimes, often times in fact, these stories get skewed somewhere along the line and become inaccurate.


They become justifications explaining away the reasons that we feel like we can’t win.





I think this is a defense mechanism of sorts.





If it isn’t, people in this position, like my friend, certainly need one considering the onslaught of stupidity they’ve had to endure thus far.


My experience with lawyers (provided you have a good one) is that their brilliant technicians and can execute well, but without guidance, without leadership, they fall short; they’re not mind-readers.



Lawyers need to know exactly what you want and what you’re willing to do (or pay) to get there.



You must communicate exactly what you’re after and have the technician draw the map to get there.



I like to get a checklist. “If I wanted to do this, what would have to happen in the eyes of the court to ensure a positive outcome? Talk to me like a four-year-old and make sure you leave no stone unturned.”






Along with that checklist would come a price tag. Once you have ACCURATE information as to what can be accomplished and what it’s going to take to make it happen, then you can start strategizing with solid data and put together a plan of attack that will be effective for you.





Now, with a map created from accurate information, it’s the lawyer’s job to execute the plan within the legal limits and persuade a judge or judge and jury to believe what the client believes.


I feel like this concept is similar to artists who are trying to get their music out to the world.



You see, I know that if the art is well done and the artist is compelling, there is an audience that will connect with it.





But too many of you are understandably protective of your art like a momma bear to her cub, therefore you get in your own way.





This naturally leads to bad strategies based on inaccurate information derived from stories we tell ourselves.



Some of you, sadly, never get your music out there.







You trip yourself up because deep down the thought of rejection is too painful.






Often, these are compelling artists who just haven’t put the time in to learn marketing, thus, their babies never see the light of day because the market isn’t informed as to why they should care.



Remember, distribution is where consumers go to purchase or consume your music, marketing is why they go there.






It’s the artist’s job now to behave like a lawyer to the extent that they learn the law, draw the map, and persuade the market to believe what they believe.



It’s the artist’s job to control the judgment in the market.






I know it sounds crazy to think that artists fail after you consider the fact that they spend so much precious time and money to create the art and get it out of them, but they stop the process of emergence because of homemade excuses orbiting around their poor marketing execution.



Then they make up stories as to what outside forces were keeping them from reaching their goal of being a professional artist to buffer the pain of a lost dream and to feel better in front of their friends.



It’s called self-sabotage.





I see it every day in all businesses.



This phenomenon is not just relegated to artists, it’s total human nature. Deep down few of us really feel we’re worthy even though we may tell ourselves that we are.


This is fixable.


Some artists recover and move on to take a legitimate shot but others just move on in their lives and become bitter talking about the “glory days”.




Some artists courageously move forward in the face of fear and linger in the business, seemingly forever, without enough success to live a life above the poverty line.




All the courage to stay in but just enough doubt to keep them down.



They also tell stories to themselves and others as to why they can’t get ahead; always outside forces.



Here’s the deal. You will be judged by the market.






In fact, the market is the ultimate judge of any product.







Artists know this. When they avoid being judged they avoid the pain of possible rejection, don’t they?




You must learn marketing in the new music business so you can understand how to spread your gospel so-to-speak. Remember the part about asking for a checklist?





To avoid the bitterness and the stories about outside forces keeping you from your dream, you have to take responsibility for the marketing, learn it, execute it, and move forward.



You’re going to make mistakes, so what?judgment-responsibility-no-one-to-blame



Dig in anyway.





Making mistakes and moving forward is better than telling stories and moving nowhere.



This process is called learning.






You may tell yourself that you’re an artist and artists shouldn’t have to market themselves, and I would agree with that to the extent that I prefer artists to be concentrating on their art.


But you earn that level of success by creating enough cash flow to outsource the marketing tasks.


More importantly, you have to be educated on the way it really works to get your business going on zero cash flow.


You’re going to be the one to do it.



If you haven’t done it yourself, you don’t have a keen understanding of the way it works, how can you can you blame some outside force for keeping you down?






In any business, and make no mistake you’re an entrepreneur trying to start a business, you need a working knowledge of every step to effectively lead.






I’ve got other news for you, when you do get your shot, your “at bat”, you’re going to need this information to hit the home run; even if it’s someone else’s money.


Don’t dip out on your calling because you’re afraid of marketing, it’s just foreign that’s all, it’s another form of communication that when mastered, is quite satisfying.





Don’t dip out just because you’re lazy.






“I don’t have enough time” is a crappy excuse. Every time someone tells me that I can find at least 3 activities that take up their time which can be traded for productivity in their small business.



The first one is usually sleep.judgment-i-dont-have-enough-time


Y’all tell yourselves stories that you need your 8-12 hours of sleep.


Screw that.


You need 6.



Get up one hour earlier and read a marketing book. Then spend the next 30 minutes applying the knowledge from the book.






For the world to accept you, they must first become aware of you. Once they become aware of you, they’ll listen. If you’re compelling, they’ll buy your music.





Once you figure out how to squeeze in some repetition, so they hear the song at least 8 times, you’ll begin to gain serious momentum in your artist career.






If the market judges you too harshly, then you have work to do on your product.






My first shows in grade school and high school sucked.








So did yours.







We got better, didn’t we?  Your first song isn’t going to be a hit but maybe your 100th will.



Are you willing to work that hard?



Do you want it that bad?





Don’t go down on this dream just because you didn’t work hard enough, you’ll never forgive yourself.





Make your art the way you want to make it, then understand what must happen for the court to accept you, and then deliver it.











If you found value in this article, please SHARE it and COMMENT below.



Also, if you liked this content you’ll love my top 10 podcast called The C.L.I.M.B. with my co-host and hit songwriter Brent


CLICK HERE to listen in iTunes


CLICK HERE to listen on Stitcher for an Android












Do You Want to Be Loved? Start Marketing Right Now

Marketing Loved-feature-meme

The music market has gone through an 180° paradigm shift with regards to how to connect with an audience and break an artist but the music marketing loved-180-degreesindustry hasn’t figured out how to crack this new code, therefore record sales are abysmal.



Consequently, y’all are scared.


I’m not.


Do I have your attention?




Too many of you, including the record labels, are trying to break artists (or yourselves) the old way. The way we used to do it for over 75 years.



This is understandable for you, the indie artist because you’re smart and you’re aware that marketing must happen (at least you’d better be), but you’re going to try and emulate the marketing methods that your favorite artists used to reach you.


It’s all you know, isn’t it?


I mean, I always learned quicker by watching something get done and then replicating the process. So, show me and I’ll execute, I get it.






It’s also understandable that the labels are sticking to their old tactics because they have a rich, successful heritage but it’s extremely difficult for corporations to change their rudimentary methods of anything.





This is the nature of any corporate organization, by the way.





Take Proctor & Gamble for instance. Their first product was Ivory soap. Ivory soap was the first product created to replace homemade soap. This was sometime in the EARLY 1800’s, more than 170 years ago.




Proctor & Gamble is a multi-BILLION-dollar conglomerate with many brands, 19 of them individually gross over $1 Billion dollars annually.


For almost 2 centuries, marketing was easy for P&G. As long as they advertised their products, they would sell. In fact, the more they advertised, the more they sold.Marketing




If you think about it, there were very few ad messages floating around back in the 1800’s and throughout most of the 1900’s. Some print ads, a few billboards, radio stations, and 3 TV channels towards the end of the advertising glory years.




No clutter really.





Nowadays, we all see around 3,500 messages per day! PER DAY!







We’ve grown numb to them. It’s human nature. That means we just don’t see them that much anymore so we don’t pay attention.






That’s bad for the advertiser.







When P&G hires a new marketing person, they expect that person to do exactly what the person before them did. P&G knows how to sell Ivory soap; they’ve been successfully doing it for well over 170 years.






But when a newbie marketer is hired, even though they KNOW the old way isn’t working, they are smart enough to understand that they weren’t employed to dismantle the current distribution channels or question the sales heritage of such an amazing company.





Therefore, the corporation continues with little change to the processes decade after decade.



The illustration of the catch-22 is like a simple math equation.




It used to be that companies like P&G spent (x) number of dollars and got a return of (y) on their sales. Now they spend (x) number of dollars and get a return of (y-1000) or (y-10,000) or whatever. Exponentially LESS of a return on the same advertising investment.




So, what do they do?



They spend more money to create more ads.






Which creates more clutter.




Which makes us shut down even more.


Get it?



The catch-22 is the less it works, the more money they spend and the more money they spend the less it works!



MarketingHere’s another interesting statistic. Somewhere around 67% of all the advertising dollars spend in the USA every year come from the top 100 advertisers. You know them well: Coke, Pepsi, Budweiser, Chevrolet, Ford, McDonald’s, etc.


More than 80 of these companies have been doing business for longer than 30 years. That’s significant because 30 years was before the internet, before smartphones, before computers, and before cable TV.


So, they all find themselves in the same boat as P&G in that their messages are not getting through as well as they used to and they change their strategies very slowly over time.



Why does this matter to you?



Because the record labels are in that same boat too.




That boat is clearly sinking.


This is undeniable.



We’re down to just 3 major labels.


Unit sales are down 90% and the price of a complete record (be it vinyl, CD, or download) has dropped by 62%.


It’s not about the money in the market place.


It’s not because consumers can get it for free, that’s a story too many artists and industry pros are telling themselves to relieve the pain of horrible sales.


That’s a cop out.





If “free” mattered, the poorest people in this country wouldn’t spend 3 times the price of a gallon of gasoline to get something they could obtain for free by taking 20 more steps into the gas station bathroom and turning on the faucet.





Yeah, man, that’s how much y’all pay for cheap bottled water and you can get that for free.



Why do they pay?


Answer: Because they feel it’s worth it.


Why don’t consumers buy records anymore?


Answer: Because they don’t think it’s worth it.


Here’s a marketing FACT: When you’re presented with a purchase opportunity for a product that you are very familiar with, that you like or even love, but you don’t purchase, it’s because you don’t think it’s worth it.




Somehow Taylor Swift managed to sell 8.6 million units of her last record and Adele has sold around 7.5 million, I believe.



Why are their fans buying?


Answer: Because they think it’s worth it.



I promise it’s not because they’re famous. That’s a cop out too. A story we all tell ourselves. Ask George Michael who had sold 50 million records before Listen Without Prejudice Vol. 1 was released how much being famous accounts for sales with zero marketing.








Answer: Precisely.






If you follow these old-school methods, you should expect the same results in your artistic endeavors. Complete crap.



Especially now when every wannabe artist can put his/her “masterpiece” up on the world’s refrigerator.



Why are so many of you (who even acknowledge that you need marketing) still marketing the same way and expecting different results?





It used to be, for 70+ years, the first interaction a debut artist had with a consumer in the marketplace was the music.





You heard the debut single on the radio. Then you heard it again and again and again. All this while you were waiting for the DJ to spin your jam.


If it was a hit, the song wove its way into the fabric of that time in your life.



Naturally, an artist finished the record first, released the single, and THEN began marketing the act/record. There was not much to do before the single was released and no real way to do it besides touring.



I constantly hear artists tell me, “I just have to get this recording finished and then I’ll worry about marketing, one step at a time, Johnny.”




But now it’s different.


Therefore, if you don’t change and ADAPT to the new market, you’ll continue to endure the same agonizing results.




Consumers no longer need to suffer through the getting-to-know-you-process of a debut single on the radio because they have CHOICES via a smart phones and an aux cable.




We ALL want to hear the same thing when we listen to music; we all want to hear our jam.


“Our jam” = something we know, something we’re already familiar with.




Today the radio spins a debut single from an artist the consumer is unaware of, but they change the channel searching through endless choices to find music they ARE aware of.





Therefore, they won’t listen to new music from debut artists on the radio.


This is part of the reason the sales are down so much.


Here’s the real results of the market change to artists and labels who cannot or will not adapt.





The top 10 grossing tours for 2016 have only 2 artists that are in their 20’s. (One was Justin Bieber who broke on YouTube, HELLO, but I digress.)




5 of the artists, in other words, HALF of the top grossing tours this year are from artists whose ages range from 67-72 years old.



2 of the artists were nearing their 40’s.



By point of comparison, the artists that toured in 1987 for example, were Bon Jovi (Slippery When Wet), Kiss (Crazy Nights), Madonna (True Blue and the Who’s That Girl soundtrack), Def Leppard (Hysteria), Michael Jackson (Bad), Metallica (Master of Puppets), Ozzy (No Rest For The Wicked), Aerosmith (Permanent Vacation), Iron Maiden (Somewhere in Time), and U2 (Joshua Tree).



Kiss, Ozzy, and Aerosmith were in their 30’s at the time. The rest were in their 20’s.



Today, radio works wonderfully if you’ve been making records for 30, 40, or 50 years.





Radio doesn’t work if you’re a brand-new artist to the market because you haven’t recorded “their jam” yet. Regardless of how good it is, they don’t know it and they’ve PROVEN that they’re not going to discover new music on the radio anymore, haven’t they?




Nowadays, the first interaction that a debut artist will have with a market will be the ARTIST.






Aside from a lucky TV show casting, YOU must connect on social media or YouTube and make friends FIRST.





Next, you provide content that is relevant and personal to THEM.


Then, if they like you, they’ll listen with an open heart and an open mind.



So, you market YOU and your talent NOW while you’re developing the project. If you do that right, you’ll have an audience when you release it.



Know that it takes TIME.


If you don’t have an audience before you release your project, shame on you.



Why the hell do so many artists NOT understand the power of YouTube?








I’ll tell you why because it means they must WORK MORE.










There are THRONGS of artists who have BROKEN in a BIG WAY on YouTube meaning they were exposed to tens of millions even hundreds of millions of people.




There are millions of music fans who are now aware of these artist’s talents.




These artists now tour relentlessly selling hard tickets to fans who pay to see THE ARTIST.


…and the artists make a living.




What more do you want, man?


These artists are deemed to be “lucky” by the have-nots because y’all are afraid to work and you tell yourself stories as to why they’ve “made it” in one form or another, but it’s not you.


Not yet anyway.




There is an overwhelming amount of noise and clutter that currently exists online in the music industry but practically NONE of the artists know how to market in the new music business.






That’s why I’m not scared. There is very little traffic and very little clutter for those who understand new marketing.


Everything you need is out there, baby, you just need to recognize it, learn it, execute it, and start your upward journey.


Go make some mistakes on the right path, you’ll be ok, I promise.



You don’t need anyone’s


Therefore, the only one standing in your way is you.











If you found value in this article, please SHARE and COMMENT



Learn more on my top ten podcast The












How To Win When You Feel Like An Artistic Underdog


I’m about to blow your mind. Especially If you’re a regular reader of my articles and listener of The C.L.I.M.B. Podcast. Ready?believe-mind-blown


Your goal is NOT to sell music, merch, tickets, and make a living as an artist.




This is Johnny D! What the HELL did I just read?




I’ll repeat it. Your goal is NOT to sell music, merch, tickets, and make a living as an artist.




Sales and cash flow are the byproducts of successful communication.




Your goal is to find people who believe what you believe.





Your goal is to define, locate, target, and ultimately connect with people who believe what you believe as an artist.


If you do this, they will buy and you will be successful. Period.




Consumers don’t buy what your selling. Ever.





Fans don’t buy because you have a cool shirt.


They buy because you believe what they believe. They buy because they wholeheartedly believe in what you stand for and your successful communication of that concept resonates with them.




This information, this amazing fact is so powerful that all the money in the world to fund your project, all the connections with well-known music industry minds, and all the perfect market conditions won’t matter if people don’t know why you’re making music.believe-why







The opposite is also true. If you REALLY understand why you do what you do, the world will take notice.




That means you’ll get what you need to successfully deliver your message to larger audiences if once you really start connecting.



I was just in Las Vegas with my dear friend Eric Mitchell from Los Angeles.


Eric and I have amazing conversations. Sadly, I’m not around him enough these days.




During one of these cherished exchanges of intelligence, he BLEW MY MIND with the concepts behind a Ted Talk from Simon Sinek.


This Ted Talk inspired this article.




If you don’t know why you do what you do, how on earth can you expect the market to understand you, be loyal to you, want to be a part of what you do, and ultimately support you?


Read that again.




Now think about it.


In the new music industry, like every other industry, the goal is not to sell people who need what you have (because nobody needs new music by the way) rather the goal is to sell people who believe what you believe.





Right now a ton of artistic purists just cringed saying, “I don’t want to ‘SELL’ anything”. Well think again, you’re always selling. You just have a different word for it…like convincing, promoting, debating, PERFORMING, blah, blah, blah. (it’s just a term, get over it and focus on the concept).


This notion is part of branding if you haven’t picked up on that already.


When building your team, the goal is not to hire people who need a job but to hire people who believe what you believe.




If you hire people who can do a job, they’ll work for your money, if you hire people who believe what you believe they’ll lie down in traffic for you.



Here’s a famous example.


I want you to follow this and think about your intentions, your music, your goals, what you honestly believe, and apply your project to this story.





You probably have no freaking idea who Samuel Pierpont Langley is.


Back in the late 1800’s the pursuit of powered flight was the “dot com” of that time. EVERYBODY was trying to do it.




Samuel Pierpont Langley had what y’all would covet, envy, and admire. He had the perfect recipe for success.



believe-you-covet-envySamuel Pierpont Langley had plenty of cash. He was given $50,000 by the war department and $20,000 from the Smithsonian Institute to figure out this “flying machine”. That’s worth about 2 million dollars today. (Nice record budget, yeah?)


He held a seat at Harvard and worked at the Smithsonian so he was extremely well connected to all the greatest minds of the day. He hired the best minds money could buy.


The market conditions were also amazing for Samuel as the New York Times followed him around everywhere. Everyone was rooting for Langley.



Why have we never heard of Samuel Pierpont Langley?





A few hundred miles away in Dayton, Ohio, is where Orville and Wilbur Wright were located.

They had ZERO ingredients to what we would consider the recipe for success.





They had no money. Their experiments to create their dream were paid for by proceeds from their bicycle shop.





Not a single person on the Wright Brothers’ team had a college education, including Orville and Wilbur.


The New York Times followed them around…nowhere.




The difference was that Orville and Wilbur had a belief, a cause, a vision. They believed deep down that if they could figure out this flying machine it would change the course of the world.






They were interested in giving something valuable to the world.







Samuel Pierpont Langley was different.


He was in pursuit of the result, which was fame and fortune.


The people who believed in the Wright Brothers’ dream worked for them with blood, sweat, and tears.



Langley’s team just worked for the paycheck.


There are stories about every time the Wright brothers went out they would have to take 5 sets of parts because that’s how often they would crash before coming in for supper.


That’s the definition of blood, sweat, and tears. That’s the definition of dedication.


On December 17th, 1903 the Wright brothers took flight and nobody was there to experience it.




We all heard about it a few days later.


Here’s the takeaway. Further proof that Langley was in it for the wrong reasons lies in the fact that on the day he heard that the Wright brothers successfully took flight, he quit.



He could’ve said, “That’s an amazing discovery and I will improve upon your technology,” but he didn’t.


He quit.


He wasn’t first, he wasn’t going to get rich, he wasn’t going to get famous, so he quit.



Consumers don’t care what you do, they care why you do it.



When you know and can articulate what you believe you’ll attract people who believe what you believe.


You’ll attract team members who will give their heart and soul to helping you succeed because they believe what you believe.



believe-wright-bros-teamYou’ll attract fans who will line up behind you in droves to be a part of the movement you create.



The money, the recognition, and maybe even fame will be a byproduct of defining what you actually believe in and then successfully communicating that belief.


Isn’t that the very definition of an artist?




Great artists successfully communicate their beliefs, perspectives, and experiences through their art.




I’ll remind you that communication is NOT the artist’s intent, rather, it’s what’s being received.






That means the art doesn’t count unless someone is moved by it. It’s not communication until someone gets it.




If you’re after fortune and fame, you’re going down the wrong road.


If you’re unsure of what you believe then I can just about promise you that your art is derivative.



believe-derivativeThat’s easy because if you’re not sure what you stand for then you’re standing for someone or something else.


Don’t worry, we’re ALL unoriginal at first.




I think most artists stop there, at “stage 1 clichéd”, because they can’t smell the fame and fortune they seek. It doesn’t come fast enough. They’re in it for the wrong reasons like Langley.



The true artists, the important artists, they stay in it because they believe and they are searching for a better method to more deeply express their beliefs, perspectives, and experiences.





That deeper method is the next rung on the artistic ladder, the step above cliché.


That’s where the artistic payoff is.




The living you’ll make is just a byproduct of better communication y’all.










If you found value in this article please SHARE it and COMMENT.













You’ll Die If You Get Hung Up On The How


Too many of you get hung up on the how you’re going to get your dreams accomplished.

How Hung 1

You should only be focused on the why right now.





How the-climb-600x315-download-now


Because if you’ve read my articles and listened to The C.L.I.M.B. Podcast you know that the “how” is going to change early and often.



That’s a promise.


That’s a fact.


So explain to me logically, how does makes sense to dwell on it?




YES, you have to think of the next logical step.


YES, you have to be smarter than the average bear.





Being smarter means you don’t dwell on the “how”, just focus on this:






Just do it.


Your ideas, best-laid plans, dreams, thoughts (and thoughts are things), hopes, songs, shows, recordings, and energy don’t mean a damn thing to the world without execution.



They just don’t matter.




For instance, thinking about driving to the store, while it’s an imperative part of the process, doesn’t mean squat without execution.


Until you actually get up off your couch, grab your keys, get in the car, insert the key and turn it, and then step on the gas, you aren’t driving, are you?



You’re thinking about driving.


Painfully simple analogy, but without execution, you simply won’t get to the store, will you?


Thinking about it isn’t enough.


Every day, my whole life, I’ve seen people who pride themselves on being “good researchers”.

How pay-me-meme-entitled



I feel that too many kids coming out of college today feel entitled to a well-paying job simply because they have an education.




I remember one of the Tai Lopez modules he was discussing his experiences working on a farm with (if my memory serves me correctly) a billionaire. This billionaire focused on farming and providing good, clean food to people.



Tai was explaining to the billionaire how he had this friend that was really smart, really educated, with a great personality, blah, blah, blah.


The billionaire’s response was, “Yeah, but is he worth a damn?”



Get it?


All that talent, all that knowledge, all that research, all that education, and all that personality doesn’t amount to a pile of crap if the person isn’t worth a damn.




Translation:  Can they execute?


Deeper translation:  Can they execute well?




how-thinking-isnt-enoughThat’s all that matters.


That’s LITERALLY all that matters!


Get shit done!







Every semester I get a booth at the Belmont Internship Fair at the Curb Event Center in Nashville.





Now we are interviewing tons of interns to decide who’s a good fit.


I’m trying to filter out who will be worth a damn.






I always ask what questions they have for me and this is the most popular question:


How much experience are you looking for because I don’t know anything about this or that?




My answer is that it’s your job to execute and be worth a damn, it’s my job to provide you with the knowledge and experience.


I pick interns and hire based on personality.




I want you to be worth a damn.


I don’t care about what you know or don’t know.




If you’re worth a damn, we’re going to make mistakes together.


That’s ok.


If you’re worth a damn, we’re going to figure it out because we execute and learn.





That’s faith.



Don’t suffer paralyzation-through-analyzation.





All the knowledge in the world, from the best books, the best mentors, the best institutions, isn’t going to manifest itself in the form of a perfect plan.


There’s no such thing.




You don’t go to Berkeley School of Music in Boston and learn how to play music, you learn about music.  Maybe you also learn about an instrument.


You can only learn HOW by practicing and playing with other musicians.




in other words, execution is the how.



You can’t read The Craft of Lyric Writing by Sheila Davis and write a hit song. You can only do that by writing songs and figuring out what works and what doesn’t work.




Every artist is different.


Therefore, every plan is different.






Knowledge is supposed to help you think and problem-solve.


Application of that knowledge helps you gain experience.


Experience helps you waste less time and execute better.




Experience gives you the “how”.





But the plan is always different and the artists who are worth a damn, execute, get knocked off their horse, and get back up again with a new plan.



A tweaked plan.


Momentum is key.


Any kind of momentum trumps the best plans.


You do.



That’s what you do.


You make mistakes.


That’s ok.




You learn.


This is called figuring it out.


But you always have to be moving.




There has to be constant progress.


how-excellenceFocus on the pursuit of excellence rather than perfection because perfection is unattainable.




Unattainable perfection easily becomes an excuse to wait.


Doing more research to become more perfect means you don’t have to execute right now.





Every plan for each of my artists is a living breathing thing and changes constantly.



We always start with social media. That takes time. Time to grow the accounts. Time to hone in on each artist’s tone. Time to theme the accounts.


They couldn’t break Wham! In the United States even though they were a huge sensation in Europe.


It took a maneuver where they booked a tour in China becoming the first western act to tour communist China to get the press they needed to get anyone to care about them in America.





That tour happened, we paid attention to the press, and Wham! Broke in the USA and then George Michael went on to even greater heights.


China wasn’t part of the initial plan.  I promise.




I regularly get emails from aspiring artists with amazing plans.


All of them seem to entail waiting in some form or another.


I don’t get it.


I don’t get how anyone can just…wait.


You have to have faith.





I’m on a plane back from Las Vegas right now…slightly intoxicated.


I saw Elton John at Caesar’s Palace.






So many songs.


I knew so MANY songs…ok, ALL of the songs.


They meant something to me and I didn’t even know it before seeing him perform.


I like Elton John but I wouldn’t say I was a freak about him.


How powerful is that?




We need music.


That will never change.





Music brings beauty, love, and joy into our lives.


Consumers aren’t buying music today because it’s being marketed to them incorrectly through their smartphones.





They will buy music again.


Once they’re made to feel that it’s worth it.



It’s your job to make them feel that it’s worth it.


That is going to require you constantly executing.



You’re going to fail a few times


You’ll figure it out.



Think of it like a puzzle.


Then you’ll start to create momentum.


Once you get a small portion of people you don’t know to love you, expand.




Make a


Focus on the “why” and execute.


The how will come. I promise.













If you found value in this article, please SHARE it and COMMENT.









How Do Valuable Contact Lists Actually Boost Your Career?


I love artists, especially indie artists like you. I live every day to help them. Sometimes I’m motivational, inspirational, educational, and sometimes I’m all three. Today is educational and it’s all about contact lists.


Creating a life for yourself as an artist is going to require more than your amazing talent. It’s going to require a little business savvy. The business savvy ensures that, somehow, you get compensated for your creativity.


Sounds fair, right?


Contact List Crawl


You have to start small.


Crawl before you can walk.




Walk before you can run.




Then run like you STOLE SOMETHING!




First get compensated in some way.


Then work towards a method to get compensated more often for your creativity. You got paid once, figure out how to do it again.


Now, you’re just a few tweaks away from actually making a living.







There is a TON of mental landmines you’ll have to navigate (we ALL do, don’t fool yourself), but there are some common sense tactics that will point you in the right direction.


Step one to monetizing your fan base (or creating cash flow) is creating contact lists.




Most of you suck at contact lists so it’s no wonder you’re so frustrated.


You see, marketing at its most basic level requires REACH and FREQUENCY.




This is EXACTLY how radio used to work for all the old souls out there reading this.


Contact lists allow you to reproduce the effectiveness of radio in a very DIY manner. It is slower but extremely effective.


Every radio station provided a certain amount of REACH within their market, and the rotational format of radio provided the FREQUENCY.


Radio promo required a “radio tour” visiting MANY different stations for the purposes of creating relationships that would result in spins at each station to maximize your REACH.




FREQUENCY costs money on the radio. Lots of money.


FREQUENCY costs money on TV too. That’s called ad space.



The power of frequency in radio to break an artist was so great that it was always going to cost money; the juice was worth the squeeze to the labels.


Think about frequency for a second. Today most stations are only spinning about 25-40 (ish) different songs per week.


Here’s the math: 12 songs per hour, times 24 hours, times 7 days = 2,016 spins per week.



That’s a LOT of frequency for 25-40 songs.


That’s NOT many artists, though.


Also, not as many people are listening to radio these days.


Get it?



Now radio isn’t as powerful. At least not in the same way.




You’re not going to break on radio.


Now consumers aren’t forced to endure the frequency because they have choices today that they didn’t have even 5 years ago.



Smartphones provide these choices.



As a consumer, you’ll find exactly what you’re lcontact-lists-radio-logo-choices-memeooking for with anyone of the 1,000 choices you have and you’re not looking to discover new music, are you?


No, you want to play your jam.



We all do.


All you indies need to be aware of that.




Here’s a really cool big picture SECRET: If you have contact lists, the FREQUENCY is free.




I know, I know, I KNOW exactly what the naysayers are vomiting up right at this moment!


“Email is dead therefore contact lists are worthless. Only .1% response rate.”



This makes it very easy for you, the one who is currently ignorant about the power of contact lists, to avoid learning that marketing skill.


These horrible response numbers are probably true: for email spammers.


Buy 100,000 random email addresses and you have 100,000 contacts but you DON’T have permission from an of these contacts.



You know, like a telemarketer has your number but not your permission. There’s a difference.



What’s the difference you ask?



Well, if you’re providing content that is relevant and personal to your contact lists, you can experience consistent email open rates that are as high as even 75%, or higher.

Contact Lists drip-email-image

The proof is in the pudding. Here is a real image of the email chain open rates that comes out from my free Twitter Book squeeze page.


Here is an image of a bunch of Bailey James email open rates from her contact lists.



This is the difference between permission and spamming.





Too many of you immediately think of “sales” as “spam” or obnoxious. We ALL hate to be sold but we LOVE a good story and good information that can help us improve.





You provide the improvement information and it’s not sales, you’re helping them and building trust.





So let’s look honestly at the gifts that are easily and inexpensively available to you today for marketing.




Social Media: Not only do you get worldwide reachcontact-lists-reach for free on multiple platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. (that doesn’t require a radio tour or travel or even leaving your couch for crying out loud), but you get far better targeting than you would on radio or TV.



What do I mean by that?




Yes, think about it. Maybe you’re a country artist on country radio but some people like this artist or that artist, and some people like “old” country as opposed to “bro” country, etc.




By the way, this is true of ANY genre of music like jazz, rap, hip-hop, R & B, Rock, Metal, Pop, Ska, Reggae, etc. There are sub-genres. In the business world, they refer to these sub-genres as “Niche Markets”.



Country radio doesn’t articulate between these sub-genres or niche markets. Nor does urban radio, rock radio, pop radio, etc.


Social Media does.



Social media can REALLY get surgical which is far more efficient.


contact-list-far-more-surgical-memeSocial media is so efficient that with a little knowledge, you’re only spending time building relationships with potential fans that YOU KNOW like your specific sub-genre of music.


Less time wasted.


You don’t want to waste time trying to sell awesome hamburgers to a vegan community.



Touring is another excellent way to target an audience that you already know absolutely loves YOU.




Every freaking show, you should be collecting contact data. There is no better way for an artist to create a relationship with a fan than by blowing them away with the artist’s live show.


Bailey James has played 1 middle school show. We got 150 contacts from that one show.

Abbey Cone is an artist I used to work with. She did a show and implemented text capture. The result was over 400 contacts in 5 minutes!




Now, you’ve done that.


You say they love you.









Squeeze pages and text capture are amazing tools to do this with.


You need to be downright OCD and ANAL about this process.



So you have the REACH. What are you doing about the FREQUENCY?





Bottom line, it’s a psychological FACT that the human brain needs to hear a song at least 8 times before subconscious brain begins to realize that it should even pay attention to a hit song, let alone love it, know it, and live it.




8 knocks are required before anybody even thinks of opening up that door.


Make sense?




If your content, especially video content is valuable to THEM, you can always be playing your music in the background; creating FREQUENCY.


For the indie artists with a little promo budget flirting with the idea of radio, one or two spins isn’t going to get it done.


You’d better have a budget for a boatload of spins to even make a dent.


Btw, the dent you may or may not be making is a “dart in the dark”.



There’s no way to monitor it, measure it, get real numbers as to how many heard it, and who exactly heard it.


How about who liked it and who didn’t after they heard it?




With social media there is analytics.

With your contact lists there are analytics.


If you take the time to learn about different contact capture tactics, you’ll begin to see results.



Contact Lists jacob-cade-squeeze-page-resized



What I mean by that is there are Squeeze page, text capture, and other kinds of technologies that will keep you in touch with these fans.




Once you master the REACH of a live show or social media and capture the people who respond, you now have an opportunity to create a relationship and implement FREQUENCY to deepen that relationship.


contact lists-email-really-works-meme



Once you have a deep enough relationship, meaning once they trust that you, the artist, cares about them, they will spend their money.









Remember this, communication is NOT your intention, it is what is being received by the potential fan.



contact lists-communcation-is-not-your-intent-meme


It doesn’t matter that you actually do care about them. I mean, it DOES matter, but if your language, communications, and exchanges are not relevant to THEM, or personal to THEM, it doesn’t matter that you really do care.





They won’t open the emails.


They’ll think you don’t care because you haven’t effectively communicated that you do care.


Telling them you care because you really do isn’t enough.


You have to SHOW them you care.




When you start wondering how you can communicate that you care and what kind of content will be valuable to THEM, you’ll start asking the RIGHT questions.



Once you figure out how to gain and keep permission, they’ll buy from you.



If you are OCD ANAL about building your list and (especially for touring artists) if you’re converting that list, you’ll become a successful artist who is making a nice living doing what they were born to do.


You have the seeds now. Just add execution and GROW YOUR BUSINESS.










If you found value in this article, please SHARE it and COMMENT below.










Happiness Drives Everything


I’m not some great philosopher. This is simple shit. ONE AT BAT. THIS IS IT. YOU’RE GOING TO DIE. Like, I don’t understand…here’s what I don’t understand. I want to talk about complaining. I want to talk about complaining. If you are making your own bed you have to sleep in it and you need to shut your fucking mouth. You’re more than welcome…I’ve met hundreds of people who left their jobs, making good money when they had college debt 18% compounded interest because they need their mental health to be happy. They were willing to take a step back, and in a 7-year period, THEY WON! Because happiness drives everything. You collectively aren’t patient enough. Your lack of patience is killing you. Your need of things is killing you. I don’t need a fucking watch. I don’t need a fucking whip. I need to be happy. One fucking at bat.– Gary  Vaynerchuk



You’re not taking enough responsibility for your happiness.



Which means you’re not taking enough responsibility for your artistry.



There’s nothing wrong with that unless you’re frustrated with your life.


If you’re reading this, you are blessed to be in a country where you are allowed to read this and fortunate to own a computer or a smartphone to read it with.



All you complaining 99 percenters, 50% of this planet, over 3.5 billion people live on less than $2 per day. If you’re at the bottom of the 99%, meaning you’re earning the least amount of all the 99%, you’re actually in the 1% (probably the people you love to hate) when compared to the rest of the world.


I say this because I want you to stop complaining right now and be grateful.





If your parents had sex 3 minutes later or 3 minutes prior, you wouldn’t be here.



So be grateful out of millions of sperm, YOU won the lottery and became a human.


That fact alone is simply ASTONISHING.


Be grateful that God gave you an artistic gift to share with the world.




Be grateful that your frustrated because you’re struggling to get paid for that gift rather than struggling to find food, or struggling to turn a pair of 2-liter soda bottles into a pair of shoes.


Wow, that’s a LOT of gratitude.



Now, you have all this time, what are you doing with it?


What exactly are you doing to take the next best step towards pursuing your happiness?



What Gary Vee was saying about your own bed is absolutely true.


Stop complaining because I promise you that your status amongst the professional artist community and the consumer’s awareness or lack of awareness of your art is a direct result of the time and attention you’ve put towards it.




I promise if you put the time in, I mean REALLY put the time in, you’ll win.




I promise that if you commit to being a student of the game, meaning that you stop complaining, passing blame, creating excuses, and start honestly asking questions and looking at ways to improve your situation, you’ll win.




Are you willing to take a step back? Really?


You’re afraid of losing your stuff, your lifestyle. I’m here to tell you everyone is and it isn’t so bad, in fact, it’s rather liberating.



If you aren’t willing, THAT’S OK because you’re a hobby artist or a hobby band, and there NOTHING wrong with that.


What IS WRONG is if you complain that you can’t “Get your deal”, or you can’t “get professional recordings”, or you can’t “find your audience”.  These are tasks that are tackled by professional artists, not hobby artists.


Many bands have done it.


We do it for artists every day here at Daredevil Production.


So when I hear complaints about how it’s because of this reason, or that reason an artist can’t find an audience, get paid, or make great recordings, it makes my hair stand up.





I’ll ask them, what EXACTLY do you think are the issues that are preventing you from tackling these challenges?



You see, to me, this is akin to complaining that you can’t breathe. Yet, there are 7 billion + people on this planet that are breathing.


Why can’t you?


Because you’re complaining and looking for excuses rather than taking any action whatsoever to solve the problem.








If you don’t seriously step up, which may mean stepping back momentarily, to follow your dreams, I promise THAT is the regret you’ll have on your death bed.


It won’t be a regret over something you did.



It’ll ALWAYS be a regret over something you DIDN’T do for whatever reason.




I can testify that money, your house, watches, cars, trips, restaurants, extra musical instruments, the latest recording gear, softball league, basketball league, racquetball league, Golf, your credit score, etc., are completely worthless.


They mean nothing.


You find that out after you lose them.


They don’t define you.


I’ll say that again so READ IT.


These are things that don’t define you.


Your happiness defines you.



That’s what other souls really see. They may be misguided enough at this point on their journey to respond to your money or what they feel security “looks” like, but your true happiness is really what they see.




Or don’t see.





People are going to remember you for the way you made them feel, not because you have a Rolex, a Ferrari, or a vintage ’59 Les Paul.


When you’re really happy because you’re doing what you were born to do, you can’t help but make other people happy.


You become the inspiration all artists aspire to be.


I made decent money in business. I have a talent for that.


I made a LOT of money in the financial industry.  Straight up, my monthly ad budget at one time (with my radio show on in 5 stations in 3 markets) was more than a lot of you, maybe most you, make in a year. 3 month’s ad budget would safely probably cover the lot of you.


Just the ad budget.



Poof, it all went away in 2008 and IT WAS A BLESSING.


A gift from God.


I lost my house, my wife, my savings, my business, my dignity (briefly), and for about a year, my direction.


The loss of direction was the scariest part. Never had that happen. Faith is all you have at that point, that’s what gets you through.



When I moved back to Nashville from Los Angeles, I had nothing. I literally went from requiring 2 trips in a 24-foot U-Haul truck to move into my new house in 2004 to 1 10-foot box truck to move out to Nashville.




I’m STILL getting rid of crap.



Lots of old energy.


I hocked all my prized guitars and amplifiers including a ’68 Gibson Country & Western acoustic guitar, and a 1st year Peavy EVH 5150 guitar head (ugh), a ’68 Marshall 4×12 cabinet with vintage 25 watt greenbacks, a killer 60’s re-issue Vox AC-30, and rare mid ‘80’s Sunburst Gibson ES-335 (these are just the sexiest items) to keep this company going in the beginning.


This is called taking a step back.



I believed in what I was doing.






I had months where I didn’t know how I was going to come up with the $80 I needed to renew my tag on my auto license.



I was thinking, “I’m too old for this shit.”




I worked Uber after hours for 18 months to pay the bills while the company grew. That would be Friday night from 6pm-3am. Saturday night from 6pm-3am. Then I’d crash for 2 hours and work the Sunday morning airport runs from 6am-12pm.






I was definitely growing Daredevil Production at a pretty nice trajectory percentage-wise but when you start at $0.00 it takes a while for those percentages to turn into an amount of money that can pay your bills.



I took the step back.






I promised myself that I would go HARD TO THE PAINT for 5 years and after 5 years if I looked back and felt it was a waste of time or I misjudged the target somehow (which was my mistake in the financial business) then I’d go sell insurance and make a million dollars.



I could pretty easily do that. I have that skill set.


Music was my passion, though.



Cracking the code to connecting artists and fans and then MONETIZING those fans without using radio, was and still is the sexiest challenge in the world to me.



We’ve done it. We’re ramping up the traffic volumes now.






Gary Vee was right in that opening quote when he mentioned the 7-year time frame.


This November 5th will mark my 5-year anniversary of being back in Nashville. To be fair it’s probably been a solid 3 years since I really started focusing on the marketing side of Daredevil Production.



The trajectory continues and if next year grows like this year, BOOM!


That 7-year mark no matter where you want to start the timeline will be a biggie.


I’m telling you this because there is no greater feeling than winning at what you LOVE to do and what you were BORN to do.


I want you to win.


I don’t want you to live the dichotomy.


Stop complaining, start working, and taking responsibility for your own happiness.











If you liked this article, please SHARE it and COMMENT below




How To Be A Better Leader


Success in your artist career depends on your ability to clearly articulate your vision, your goals, and the values that your organization will follow to attain said goals. Essentially you need to be a better


You need to be a great leader.


Your artist life would be easier if you learned how to be a better leader.


The inspiration for this article came from an interview with Ken Blanchard (who wrote the NYT bestseller The One Minute Manager) on a killer podcast called Building a Story Brand with Donald Miller.


Simplicity in leadership.




That’s the key and also the hardest part to attain. It’s a lot like songwriting I guess. It is super difficult to write a simple song.



Big companies get paid tons of money to analyze campaigning politician’s effectiveness at reaching their audience. In other words, they get paid to assess and improve their communication skills.





Jeb Bush communicated at an 8th-grade level during the primaries and Donald Trump communicates at a 4th-grade level.



Love him or hate him, Donald Trump communicates better, more simplistically. Therefore, people understood him better than Jeb Bush. It’s no surprise he got the nomination.




Leaders need to keep their messages simple. The more complex you make the message the fewer people will come on board.





Would it surprise you that Blanchard’s bestseller, The One Minute Manager, was co-written by children’s book author?


It’s a children’s book for managers. Genius!


It’s a parable.




There are some rules to writing parables.



You know the challenge very quickly in every Aesop’s Fable, don’t you? You also know the challenge within about 8-10 minutes of any given movie.



First, you have to tell people where you’re going and what you want to do. Clear goal setting always precedes a good performance.





From you or anybody on your team.




How clear are your goals? “I want to make it” isn’t clear.





It’s the opposite of clear. It’s also cliché. If you’re expecting to get your team to fall in line behind you on the idea that “you want to make it” you’re screwing yourself on step one.



You sound naïve.


You sound shallow.


How often do you complain, point fingers, or scold your team members? Now I’m not just talking about your band, but everyone on your artist team.





Once they’re clear on the goals try as hard as you can to catch them doing something right!


People love to be validated and affirmed from their leader, particularly in the beginning.





Here’s a great idea for a reprimand when they do something wrong. “I noticed you said you were going to accomplish this task by Monday and its now Tuesday and you still haven’t done it. I’m upset with you but I want you to know that the reason I’m upset is that you’re better than that!”


You end the reprimand with a reaffirmation.



If you can’t reaffirm that person then you need to be redirecting them.


Think about that one for a second.


I can guarantee you that if your team isn’t clear on the goals, it’s your fault.



You’re the leader.


All successes and failures ultimately fall on you. You’re the one that wants to be the artist.





It doesn’t take more than a minute to find out if someone is clear on the goal.


It doesn’t take more than a minute to praise somebody’s progress.



It doesn’t take more than a minute to tell somebody, “I noticed your performance is not going the way it should be, how can I help?


Redirect them.



All leadership is about going somewhere, so you have to be clear about where you want to go.









If you asked anybody during the primary what Donald Trump wanted to do for the country, everyone knows he wants to “Make America Great Again”.



But what did Jeb Bush want to do for the country?




Nobody knew.


Ken Blanchard wrote a “Leadership Vision Paper” and tried to get Obama and Romney (back in the day) to use it.


Blanchard feels, and I agree, we have lost our vision as a country. We don’t know what how-to-be-a-better-leader-visionbusiness we’re in anymore, we don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish, and we don’t know what values should drive our behavior, much less what our goals are.






If you read your history books, you find out that our forefathers like Washington, Adams, and Jefferson were extremely egotistical blowhards as much as they were brilliant men.



Let’s be clear they were EXPERT politicians.




The vision of a new country is what kept these huge personalities focused and working together.


Sound familiar?


Does anyone on your team have an ego?


If nobody knows what the vision, direction, and goals are then they have nothing to serve but themselves.



This is the problem with our country and our government (on both sides of the aisle, mind you) is that we lack vision, therefore we have a self-serving government.


I really don’t think ANYBODY on either side of this election could argue that both candidates and the entirety of our Congress (Senate and the House of Representatives) are in it for themselves.




My point in this is not political. It is that this state of affairs in any organization is predictable because of a lack of vision.


Your organization will suffer EXACTLY like this if you lack vision.



Therefore, if your team is constantly serving themselves, to a large degree, it’s your fault as a leader because they don’t have a higher purpose to serve.


Let that one marinate for a second.


You have to dream up the higher purpose, in detail, and constantly remind the team of that purpose.



90% of being a leader is constantly reminding the team of the clear vision; of the story.


Let me save you the suspense, your story will change often. In fact, it’s a living, breathing, organism that will be refreshed or refurbished frequently.


Kodak had a great vision, a great story, and then they didn’t want to change it so they’re over.



You may have a vision for your success that takes you down a certain road but then it’ll change. If your head is up and you’re looking for every opportunity, it’ll change often.




Let it.


For example, with Bailey James, I knew I was going to reach the majority of her audience (9-14-year-olds) in school.



We wanted to find a way for Bailey to perform in schools.


There’s the vision. There’s the clear goal. It’s one of many.



With the help of my ex, who was a school teacher, we were able to get into one middle school with a 730-person student body.


The kids ate it up! They LOVED her and we used a particular message to frame around the performance that made the show educational.



Step 2 was replicate that show and get Bailey in front of 100 schools. We knew how to “harvest” the audience enough to monetize them, but we needed to be in front of a LOT MORE KIDS.




Well, the educational message we worked so hard to create, film, package, and sell, didn’t work. The educators at every school we contacted (I’m talking THOUSANDS of emails sent) in Alabama, Kentucky, and Missouri didn’t have time to open the email.


They’re too busy.


The interruption wasn’t effective.


Plan “A” was top down; we tried to contact the Principals.





Plan “B” was bottom up. A teacher lined up our first show, let’s get a teacher to love us at these other schools and we’ll get in that way.




Plan “C” was food. We custom ordered a couple boxes of 1.5 oz. Hershey bars with Bailey’s picture on them to entice the Principal’s assistants to just OPEN THE EMAIL.


Plan “C” never got off the ground because plan “D” was better.


Our vision and goal was clear.


/Users/johndwinell/Documents/Blog Images/Bailey Release.png



My team never wavered or hiccupped through each fail because the goal was clear; get in the schools.


I’m proud to tell you that Plan “D” was officially announced TODAY. Bailey is the new youth advocate for an amazing teen suicide prevention organization called The Jason Foundation. This organization has affiliations with Rascal Flatts, The Charlie Daniels Band, all the NCAA football coaches, many States Attorneys General, and over 155,000 middle school and high school coaches.


Teen suicide is an issue that is close to my artist’s family.


We get to hopefully help some kids who really need it by sharing important, life-saving information and as the organization’s first female advocate, Bailey James is also a peer.


Bailey will be in some NCAA football broadcast booths telling her story and getting exposure.


I believe we now have a way to get 155,000 educators to read our email. I think we’ll get 100 schools out of that.



See how important vision and goal setting is within your organization?


What’s your vision?


Are you clear about your goal and do you have a current plan to get there?


Is your team clear about the goals and the current plan to get there?


THIS is how you build a winning team.



Make no mistake, you’re going to need a team.


I want you to win.



Once you have your vision, your job isn’t done when you tell the story once.


Part of your job as a leader is to be like a 3rd grade teacher constantly articulating the goals and the values of your cause over and over and over again.


Don’t think of yourself as the President or Chairman.


Think of yourself as the Chief Spiritual Officer.










If you found this article valuable please SHARE it and COMMENT below.









Drop This Habit Now and You’ll Absolutely Guarantee Success


Too many of you seem to naively rely on your musical gift as if that is the end-all-be-all to success.





In fact, many of you seem to be utterly dumbfounded at that lack of attention you receive from the industry solely because of your musical gift (even if you’re delusional about that gift but I digress). You have a nasty habit and it has to go.





Your brilliant talent is worthless unless you understand how to stand out from the crowd in the marketplace, amongst industry professionals, and amongst your peers.



Follow me on this, as always, I have a point.


I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts called The Business of Story with host Park Howell.  In this episode he interviewed habit-business-of-story-logo9-time New York Times Bestselling author and former Associate Editor of Sports Illustrated Magazine, Don Yaeger.  Wow!




Don has written over 25 books and interviewed over 2,500 major sports stars in his career.




There was one question he asked during every interview he ever conducted and Don kept a record of each answer given over that lifetime of interviews.


If you could name for me a habit or characteristic that you believe separated you from everyone else that you competed against, what would that habit or characteristic be?




Most artists would answer this question by describing their most compelling gifts or talents. “My voice, my songwriting, my performances, my guitar playing, blah, blah, blah.”






What’s interesting is the most common answer that was given by each of these superstar winners.




Most of these sports heroes DIDN’T talk of their physical gifts at all. Instead, they articulated that they all had a fear of losing that surpassed their joy of winning.





They all at some point in their lives, learned to HATE losing far more than they loved winning.


They expect to win because winning is a direct result of the hard work they consistently put in every day.





Winning is a byproduct of showing up.



They hate losing.





They hate losing because it’s super painful


It’s this painful to them because it’s personal.




It’s personal because they accept 100% of the blame.


They feel responsible for 100% of the outcome of any given situation.




Here’s the nasty habit I mentioned earlier.


If you make excuses, it’s not 100% your fault, is it?


Some of you, and you know who you are, have a nasty habit of constantly shifting the blame away from yourself to ease the pain of losing.


It’s sucks to lose, but if it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault so better luck next time, right?



Maybe the Gods will make it different for me tomorrow.


Your habit is to believe that your life is a consequence of your surroundings rather than a result of the sum of your decisions.






This fact was not surprising to me at all but still SUPER INTERESTING.



You have to stop making excuses when you fail. Period


As long as you make excuses you’ll NEVER own it and failure only hurts when you have no one else to blame.


You’re supposed to be an ARTIST for God’s sake, FEEL THE PAIN!!



It’s good for you.


Don had the opportunity to attend an “old man’s sports camp” with Michael Jordan as one of the mentors.


There was a situation where he was one of a few guys chosen to play one-on-one against Jordan.


Don is quite prideful of the fact that he actually SCORED on Michael Jordan! (who wouldn’t be?)


Michael was pissed.


He hates losing.


This is a mindset people.


Again, I am not trying to beat a dead horse here, but I received so many comments from a previous article where I revealed the secret to getting PAID was your mental mindset.



Many of you dismissed this as mumbo jumbo, probably because you hear it so much it’s almost like words come across sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher. “Wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah,”


Michael Jordan was one of the superstars Don interviewed.


Michael never spoke of his 42” vertical leap; which is astounding.


That’s talent.


In fact, a 42” vertical leap is a God-given talent.


You can’t learn to jump 42 inches. You have it or you don’t.


Why wouldn’t the great Michael Jordan who was 6’6” talk about this amazing gift as the reason he was able to not only succeed, but DOMINATE an entire league of seemingly God-like 6’9” tall ability?






It was the fact that he learned to hate losing so much.


Some people are born with this type of drive.



Some learn it because they grew up dirt poor and never want to return to that state of living again.


Some learn it other ways.


Don’t you find it compelling that out of over 2,500 athletic superstars interviewed, the vast MAJORITY of them described this attribute as the highest contributing factor to their success over their obvious talent?


Doesn’t that ring a bell somewhere in your being?


I see it every single day in our music business.


The big winners have a very wide range of musical ability. Some are very talented, some are not.


ALL the winners hate to lose.



This is a mindset.


This can be learned.



The habit can be dropped like a 3-foot putt.



Your success isn’t dependent on whether you have enough talent to win American Idol or The Voice.


And as you can plainly see, it doesn’t matter if you win American Idol or The Voice with your talent, your career success will be determined by what happens after that.


Lose the habit, gain success. Period


Surround yourself with the right people: this includes your significant other.



If he or she is not adding to your success they’re detracting from it and you’re wasting time.


This means your band. If everyone isn’t on board get rid of them.


This is “show-BUSINESS”, not “show-friends”.


This may sound harsh to you because y’all are friends but here is a little reality check. Imagine bringing your friend into your day job. You vouch for this friend to your boss, the boss agrees, and your friend comes in and doesn’t hold up his or her end of the deal.

How would you feel?


Would you be surprised if your friend got fired?

Would you be the one to fire that friend?


I remember an early gig my band played when we were in high school. We had about 5 minutes before the show was supposed to start and nobody could locate the new drummer.


We all went out into the parking lot and found him.


In his crappy-ass, rusted out, shit-box of a pickup truck.


He was surrounded by a literal SEA of empty beer cans.


I wanted to kill him right then and there!

If I had a lobster fork, I’d a stabbed him in the eye with it.


We did the show, he sucked, and then he was gone. No questions asked. (Who can’t handle the pressure of high school show for crying out loud?) sheesh.


The great UCLA coach John Wooden was quoted as saying, “You’ll NEVER outperform your inner circle.”


Think about that.habit-inner-circle


Then REALLY think about that while you assess your inner circle.


I came from a small town. There are plenty of friends who are still in that small town sitting on the same barstool making the same excuses as to why they can’t succeed.


Many of them are unhappy and it’s not their fault.


Just ask them, they’ll tell you.


There is a diagnosable mental dynamic that happens when your homies bring you down.




I saw a video with Snoop Dogg the other day articulately describing what he called “the gap”.




He held one hand up in a flat horizontal fashion about 2 inches above the other one. Snoop said that in order to be friends and hang the gap has to be small like the 2 inches he was showing. Trouble is when someone starts to rise up, the gap begins to widen. Then there is only one way for the relationship to continue as it has been.


Somehow the gap has to close.


There are only 2 ways for the gap to close. Either the bottom hand has to step up or the top hand has to come down.


Get it?



Are you in the habit of coming down to make your friends more comfortable around you?


Be honest.


Don’t be ashamed of your gifts and certainly don’t you dare believe that your gifts alone are all you need to break out and be successful.


That’s a naïve story most artists love to tell themselves.


You have to be a student of the game.


You have to hate losing.



You have to be mindful of your inner circle.



You have to hate losing so much that you learn everything else like the business, marketing, performance, writing, recording, etc. to stack the deck as much as you can in your favor to give you the best chance of NOT LOSING.




Do that, and you’ll wake up one day making a living doing what you were born to do surrounded by an amazing inner circle.










If you found value in this article please SHARE it and COMMENT below.





Authentic: YOU Are The Only Thing That Is Truly Unique


I hear so many artists pontificating about being “original” or “authentic” in their art. Most artists do authentic-authenticitynot bring their unique authentic selves to their art because that requires a lot of intelligence, work, and vulnerability.


All of this for little in return more than pride in the work.


It’s too much work for most people.




Especially for an artist who’s banking on some kind of financial return to afford the time to become more intelligent, work harder, and be vulnerable.


This commitment to excellence in spite of zero financial return is what really crafts our definition of a real artist, isn’t it?


They did it all anyway in spite of the money and then they found a way to make us aware of it.


Two separate efforts that have to happen to achieve greatness. By the way, I’m NOT talking about financial greatness although that can certainly be a byproduct.


My muse for this article was taken from a brilliant Todd Brison article, How To Be More Authentic.



He hits the nail on the head here, guys.




There are only 12 notes.


There are only 26 letters in the English alphabet.


So initially we are all derivative and it isn’t until we put our unique perspective into the art that it becomes authentic.




It isn’t until we craft something into our understanding and ask other people if they understand it that we become true artists.



YOU are the ONLY thing on this planet that is truly unique.


Read that again.


YOU are the ONLY thing on this planet that is truly unique.








Therefore, your vision, your perspective, your tone, your experiences, your past, your addiction, your trials and tribulations, your language, your feel, your heartbreak, your story, and your DNA is what makes you authentic.



Stop trying to sing like this artist or that artist and start finding your voice.


Appreciate it for what it is in an instrumental sense and a songwriting sense.


I hated the sound of my voice for so long. This fact affected my artistic self-esteem for quite some time until I learned that other people liked it, so maybe I should give myself a break, you know?






Odds are If you can sing relatively well and you don’t like your voice it’s because it doesn’t sound like anything that is familiar to you when you hear it back.






That’s the ticket!


What you fear at that moment is actually your biggest asset.





Most budding artists are busy putting their favorite artists or the most popular artist’s perspective into their music in the hopes of “sounding like them” and getting noticed or to make themselves feel like real artists.




Sadly, that is a first class ticket to anonymity.


You have, to be distinctive, you have to stand out, you have to have a fresh perspective to be authentic.


Equally troublesome is the fact that the current system doesn’t like unique. Radio doesn’t want you unless you sound like what is making them money right now.



Since the labels rely on radio to promote their product, they want you to be derivative too.




Weird right?

I see too many gifted artists who get into the game at that high level fall into the trap of appeasing the system.


Think most American Idol top 5 contestants. They get into the machine without really knowing who they are as an artist and then…



They become homogenized and then…


They’re forgotten.


The artists who painstakingly craft their voice, their artistic lane, their authenticity and then stick to their guns during the process of making the world aware of what they’ve created become important.



They strike a chord.



They touch a nerve.





They truly speak to us in a way that we haven’t been spoken to before, therefore they communicate.


Communication is NOT your intent rather it’s what’s being received.


Get it?



Sometimes these important artists reach us by sharing DEEPLY personal troubles that throngs of people can relate too. Think Tori Amos with “Me and a Gun”.




Most rape victims won’t share with anybody let alone write a song about it and put out into the world. I’ve seen Tori live a couple times and I swear half the audience has a secret rape wound they get to emotionally mend a bit at her show. They relate in a secretive, raw, almost shame-discarding way.



Tori’s connection with her audience is palpable.


That’s what you want, right?


You want your audience to connect to you, yes?


Again, most artists won’t go there because it’s too close to them, it’s too much work, or both.


What I LOVE about today’s music industry is that you don’t need anybody’s permission to be authentic.



The only hurdle you have to overcome is yourself.


Write about what you want.


Sing well but sing like yourself, no matter how weird or uncomfortable you think it sounds. From my perspective I see a truly unique, weird, vocal tone as IDENTIFIABLE in the marketplace.



Makes it easier for fans to latch on and line up behind you.




They learn to instantly recognize the voice!




Listen, what I’m writing about is definitely the road less traveled. It’s hard, man. Everybody thinks you’re crazy, but screw them.


This is about your art.



Once you get your creativity and performances to a point where it becomes compelling, your audience is waiting.


You have one.


You just don’t know it yet.


All you have to do is find them which has never been easier from your couch on social media.


Got a song about divorce? #Divorce


Got a song about sexual assault? #Rape #SexualAssault



Got a song about Merle Haggard? #MerleHaggard


Get it?


It’s so damn easy to sniff these people out and find the beehives that will relate to whatever you’re about.



Then it’s just about getting yourself educated and practiced up in marketing to effectively execute the task of reaching them, connecting, and getting them to believe in you.


It’s not easy or everyone would be a rock star.


It’s not rocket science either. You just have to be willing to fail a bunch of times to get to whatever is going to work for your particular situation.


Once they line up behind you and begin believing in you you’ll start to sell music.



They’ll crave it.


Now you’re on your way.


If you can get one fan, you can get 10.


If you can get 10 you can get 100.


If you can get 100 you can get 1,000.


The rest is just zeros and THAT’S what the record labels want to deal with; zeros.



Now you don’t have to answer to anyone.


You don’t have to compromise for them because you’re already making money AND you’ve already proven that your music has value out there.



If they don’t get it, they don’t get it. You move on.


Someone will get it, but the authenticity, the connection, the drive, and the work equals a buzz.


When you have a good enough buzz out there, everyone you need will find you, and nobody can take it away.



It’s all about being authentic these days.










PS: Make an artist date with yourself to sit down and listen to Little Earthquakes by Tori Amos. It’s a glorious melodic lesson in how to be vulnerable.






If you like what you read, please SHARE it and COMMENT below.




Content Is The Bridge That Will Actually Get Them To Listen


Your bridge to reaching new fans and getting them to love you and give your music a chance is amazing content.Content Bridge Opener


Yeah, yeah, yeah, I’m sure you’ve heard that one before.


Just like I hear all the record biz people talking about how social media is so important in today’s marketplace.



Trouble is very few, and I do mean a VERY few people, really know what that means.


The ones who know are easy to spot. Simply because you CAN spot them means they’re on to something.


Huh? Think about that statement for a second.


Makes sense, right? If I become aware of you it requires more than some kind of interruption to my attention or clever introduction (I’m speaking of “me” as any consumer or industry person).


That is to say that even after a clever introduction, PR move, or epic interruption to my attention, something else has to happen for an artist to stay in my awareness.content-interruption




Otherwise it’s here and gone.




The difference between those that “do social media” and those artists and companies that know what they’re doing is the work that they’ve done.


The more work they’ve done (therefore the more work you do) the more they discover what works.









Cracking the code requires kissing a bunch of proverbial frogs to find a prince of a strategy and it’s different for everybody because everybody is different.


You actually have to start posting content on a regular basis (duh, consistency IS KEY), and then watch what works, what doesn’t work, and what works the best.



The content has to be relevant to the consumer/future-fan, not to you.


The content has to be personal to the consumer/future-fan, not to you.



Hint:  It’s about THEM not YOU.



If you can manage to create content that is relevant and personal to both you and them, God bless, you’re really on to something.content-about-them-meme


If you provide content that is personal and relevant to THEM, they’ll look forward to consuming it and they’ll share it to be cool in their respective communities.




This requires more than just reposting thoughtful quotes.content-quotes-meme



What can you do, aside from your music, that will provide value to them? If it’s valuable to them, it’ll be valuable to their community so they’ll share it because your valuable content makes their content more valuable.






That’s a lot of “valuables” but you get the picture, right?


Think about the foodie videos. I’ll bet everyone of you has at least watched one and shared one.




It could be informational, educational, motivational, comedic, etc. If they like it, you’ll know.


You have to create content expecting nothing in return. I don’t expect anybody to read these articles, listen to the podcast, and do business with me. The only thing I expect and hope for is that my information helps you improve your approach and find success reaching an audience with your music.


But some of you do choose to work with us in some capacity and we are eternally grateful.


Get it?


When you strike that chord, when you really touch that button, you’ll know it.



There will be an immediate positive measurable reaction.


If you are asking the right questions it may not happen right away, but eventually your subconscious will reward you with a big win.


For instance, a few weeks ago, I had a client come up from Dallas to do a photo shoot, do some songwriting, producer meetings, and label services meetings.





I’ve known that this artist (who is 17 years old) is a huge fan of anime. We’ve messed around with some content that has anime in it whether it’s been images or GIF’s of any combination of these things that we’ve synched to a recording of hers.




Of course, Pokemon is anime.



You’ve all heard of the marketing sensation PokemonGo by now.



In between the meetings, she was playing PokemonGo.


I don’t know why it didn’t click sooner but the important thing is that it clicked.





In an attempt to create images that really express my artist’s personality, my image consultant (Neill Skylar), the artist’s mother, and I were all about the Pokemon obsession.





Alora (the artist) is a Pokemon “Master” and has these pins to prove it. (I am ignorant about all this Pokemon stuff but intrigued because it’s so huge).


One of the costume changes had her showing off her “Pokemon Master” pins.



She’s a rock artist (think Paramore and Icon For Hire) so I informed Alicia, our make-up artist, that we would build on the look throughout the shoot and the last costume change I wanted some wild over-the-top make-up. I had discussed with Alora a sort of David-Bowie-like-Ziggy-Stardust craziness to the look. Alora’s last outfit was a custom anime, super cute mini skirt with a leather looking rubber bustier that was badass!


We got to the last portion of the shoot and Alicia started showing me pictures in an attempt to drill down on exactly what I wanted. I knew I wanted it over the top but I still didn’t know EXACTLY what I wanted.



One of the makeup pics that caught my eye was of a beautiful set of cartoon lips; only they were real. Alicia was honing in on something that at that very moment was still lost on me…a look that would exemplify Alora’s Pokemon fascination.



I said, “YES, let’s do the cartoon lips and what else can we do that would be wild on her face?”


She did it and we shot it. (here’s what we came up with.)


Alora: Photography by Erick Anderson Nashville, TN. Makeup by Alicia Maynard, Nashville, TN



Here’s my point. After that shoot, I got Alora and her artistry on a whole other level. As stupid as I sound right now (and believe me I feel SO STUPID) I decided to check into this Pokemon craze as a possible “relevant pond” to fish from.





Yeah, man. I’m always asking myself questions like who would like her music? Who would like Alora? Who would feel a kinship or connection with my artist enough to want to listen to her music?



Maybe there are kids obsessed with this Pokemon thing that would #1, identify with her, #2, respect her for her “Master” rank (is rank the right terminology?), and #3, be more likely to engage with her because of this common ground.



So I immediately overhauled our targeting strategy to search and connect with accounts (on Instagram and Twitter) that were as obsessed with Pokemon and PokemonGo as Alora was.


THEN the moment happened. Lori (Alora’s mom) replaced Alora’s bio pic with the image we shot of Alora showing off her “Pokemon Master” pins.





Her engagement at least doubled overnight.




See what I’m saying?


Most of you are thinking this way already in a big picture kind of way when you’re yearning for TV exposure, coveted opening tour slots, radio spins, etc.


You want marketing but these big ticket items are not in your budget and frankly, with regards to radio, not nearly as effective as they used to be.


Here’s the trick.



Apply this yearning, this drive, these dreams, this plan of attack to your social media imaging.




You need good images.



Pay for them. Find a way. You’ll need them to set the professional bar in your market. If you get a half day shoot you’ll use those images for a year. That’s a lot of mileage in those images.



Plus, the pro images will make your iPhone images and BTS images more important and believe it or not will make them look like BTS images rather than the best there is of you.


I’ll say it again; you need pro images.


Not images from your step sister’s cousin’s pizza delivery guy’s roommate that has a real awesome camera.


content-alora-5Ef that.


You need someone with an eye.


You need hair and makeup.


You need a look.


You need someone with a studio that can change a bunch of looks.




Once you have these images, couple that work with all the searching you’ve been doing for clever, helpful, SHARABLE content and you’ll definitely see improvement on your social media engagement.


It takes work people.



If you do the work, you WILL eventually connect.








If you liked this article, please SHARE it and COMMENT below.