These 2 Music Business Inventions Will Blow Your Mind

Music Business Feature Meme

The music business will settle out of this massive maMusic Industry Buh-Bye 2rket disruption in the same way that EVERY other industry has. The creators will do business directly with the end-users.

The future of the music industry, whether you like it or not, is 1-to-1.


Buh-bye distribution.


Right now, all artists & labels go through a third-party distribution service like iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, etc. who are NOT sharing the fan’s contact information.


Oh, and they’re taking an exorbitant amount of money for this service ranging from 30% to damn near all of it.


Music Business Share MEME

Distribution as we know it will either disappear completely or be significantly repurposed.


What do I mean by “repurposed”?




Imagine every artist with their own music app. Imagine the app is initially free like a video game but requires the consumer pass through “pay walls” to get to new levels. You navigate the paywalls with a “BUY NOW” button or watch a commercial, just like Spotify.

Music Business Distribution NO MEMEWhen the industry embraces this reality the creator’s revenue will increase as high as 170x.  Take what you made last year from your streams and downloads and multiply that by 170.


What would the difference on your bottom line look like with this increase?


Indie artists will play the role of the “guinea pigs” and work out the kinks in the software. Then the iconic multi-million-dollar brand names will make these technologies ubiquitous.


I know this, again, because it’s happened in every other industry in the wake of the internet.


Now, you may say to yourself, “The music industry must be different otherwise we would have already adapted like ‘all these other industries’”.


The music business endured some significant damage directly related to the internet, but we were still selling records initially. Tens of millions of records in 2004-2008 (post-Napster).  This was because the delivery mechanism of choice for music was terrestrial radio. Terrestrial radio was working just fine up until June 29, 2007.


That’s when the iPhone was introduced.


Music Business iPhone MEME Hombre


The industry was taking some serious fire prior to this date, but the iPhone really broke the dam wide open and sales plummeted.


Most people are now receiving their information (thus becoming aware of new artists) through their smartphone. Therefore, marketing must be crafted to be effective in a 1-on-1 exchange as opposed to a mass media exchange.





The dynamics of a mass media exchange and a 1-on-1 exchange are diametrically opposite.


Here are a few emerging technologies that are going to blow your indie artist mind. They’re legit. They have massive amounts of venture capital funding to facilitate a 1-to-1 future in the music business.




Blockchain is a technology, not a company or brand name, that is very real but largely still developing.


Music Business BlockchainIt was originally developed for the digital currency Bitcoin which has expanded to a value of over 9 billion dollars. However, the massive applications for anything of value, like music, are exploding into the marketplace.


It’s real enough that Spotify has purchased a Blockchain entity and is currently testing it.


The Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” – Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)


Blockchain is also being adapted to behave as a “common server” type technology that will store the creative metadata for artists and songwriters. Creative metadata that cannot be manipulated.


Why is that important?


Music Business VaultHave you ever noticed that you can upload your interpretation of a cover song to YouTube and get exposure but if you do it directly to Facebook they’ll take it down?


This is because YouTube has a sophisticated backend technology that ensures the creators of said cover are getting paid. Facebook doesn’t.



Get it?

With Blockchain every digital platform can easily be accounted for legal payouts.

Additionally, there are tens of millions of dollars in unaccounted streaming revenue. All the streaming companies have collected the revenue but don’t have the information needed to make the payouts.


The Blockchain is on its way and the artists who have adapted NOW to begin amassing the contact data of their fans will benefit the most tomorrow.


Zedge (Formerly Freeform Development)


CEO and founder, Tim Quirk (lead singer of Too Much Joy) has really nailed it with this technology.


Zedge is a music app that will monetize your art by combining the concepts of 2 major technologies; WordPress and video games.


Are you familiar with the website platform called WordPress which powers over 37% of the internet? If you are, you know that it’s a perfect blank Music Business Zedge Logocanvas. You can create any kind of customer experience you like. There are 47,000 different companies and technologies that orbit around WordPress in the form of plug-ins that enhance the user experience as well as the back-end analytics for the creator. The ability to create a killer up-to-date website lies solely in your hands to do for yourself or outsource to a developer.


Here’s the deal, it’s completely free to you. Most of the plug-ins are free as well. Some cost money but they are nominal amounts and well worth the price.

Music Business WP Logo

Put that concept over here for now.


The video gaming piece is fascinating conceptually. In the same amount of time it took the music industry to shrink 80% from 75 billion per year down to 15 billion per year, the video gaming industry exploded to 108 billion per year.




Mostly because they understand that “free” equals distribution. Of course, if you want to get to the second level of the game, you’ll need the magic ax which you either must purchase with a “Buy Now” button or watch a commercial to obtain.


Now, imagine that there were music apps that were free to build for the creator with complete autonomy to set up a user experience all their own.


Music Business Free Equals Distribution MEMEFor instance, get the first song free but if you want to hear the rest of the record you either buy now or watch this commercial.


What about setting up a VIP level where they get exclusive content from the artist, in advance of the general public, and discounts on all merchandise? Every month the VIP subscribers would be required to pay a nominal fee or watch a commercial.


Either way, the creator gets paid directly from the end user (fan) or indirectly from the ad sponsor.


Music Business PAID MEME


So, it would build your app like a WordPress site. there would be tons of tech companies orbiting around the app to provide improvements that enhance the user and creator experience. Also, there would be a “marketplace” where artists could add a commercial sponsor to generate revenue. Seasoned artists could easily add their current endorsement companies.


This has happened already in beta mode. Zedge has created 12 apps with brand name artists like Rob Thomas and G-Eazy to name a few. These were created for the purposes of providing “proof of concept” to the investors.





Music Business Pay MEMEHere’s the killer takeaway.

Average amount of revenue per spin for Spotify = 1/5 of a penny

Average amount of revenue per spin for Pandora = 1/3 of a penny

The average amount of revenue per spin for Zedge = .34 cents!!!


That’s 170 TIMES the revenue of a Spotify spin!


All the different artist apps can be housed under one icon on your phone so you don’t have clutter.


These revenue numbers are too big to ignore. When they launch this, the Taylor Swifts and U2’s of the world will have to try it out.


The indie artists with a customer list will THRIVE.


How much will they thrive, you ask? What if the financial Universe of the music industry was limited to 75 billion per year because radio was mathematically limiting? There was a finite amount of room to spin songs and thus a finite number of artists that could effectively be marketed.


But now there are no restrictions. I don’t think it’s a dream to believe that the music industry could rise from the ashes of broken radio and ascend to 150 billion per year in sales.


Just a thought.







Key Takeaways from The CD Baby DIY Musician Conference

CD Baby Feature MEME

The 2017 CD Baby DIY Musician Conference was held in Nashville, TN this year on August 24-27. I was CD Baby Skyline imagehonored to be asked to be a mentor.




As I am a regular listener of the CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast, I loved the post-mortem of this year’s conference. I thought I’d share these with y’all and add some of my comments.

Live Streaming 

It’s just getting started and it’s only getting stronger.  

CD Baby Live StreamingMy old friend Rick Barker was there with indie artist Dawn Beyer who cleverly generated $74,000 in less than a year doing live Facebook concerts.


Remember, with regards to the marketing process in today’s market, the music comes second. Again, I’m not saying it’s less important. I am saying that the artist comes first before the music just like your underwear before your outfit. That’s how the consumer will become aware of you.


Your future fans will find YOU before they love your music.


That’s a reality you’d better accept sooner than later.


I simply can’t think of a better way to showcase your talent and charisma than live streaming on any platform.


You need to keep your ear to the ground so you’re up on all the coming technology developments in this area because they’re coming by the truckload.


The ONLY way to master this is to do it often and make a boatload of mistakes.


PRO TIP: Don’t forget while the platform is awesome you still need to OWN the information because organic reach via email or device ID’s is 100% and totally free.


Live Streaming Do’s and Don’ts.

CD Baby The CLIMB Logo


DO be consistent. Make sure that your live streams are something everyone can plan for and depend on. Not for nothing, but the followers of my podcast The CLIMB look forward to Tuesdays because that’s when it drops. Its real.


Don’t trip on the live attendance. Keep recording for the playback, that’s when you’ll get the most views. I’ll do FB live from studio sessions sometimes and I might get 50-100 live attendees. But I’ll almost always get over 1,000 views in the playback.


DO give your live audience 5 seconds to unmute their computers before you start your performance.


DO shoot with your phone sideways (landscape). This way you can use this content in other video platforms later if you need to.

CD Baby Landscape Orientation


DON’T start broadcasting and wait too long before you start your performance because you’ll lose them. Nobody wants to hear you banter with your friends. They’ll feel left out.


DON’T make comments on how many people are on when you’re live. Tons of your replay audience will not know that they’re watching a recorded version. Happens all the time.



Music Streaming Platforms

Never share a link to a single on Spotify.CD Baby Spotify Playlist


Instead, create a link to a playlist with a bunch of your songs on it so if they like your single, then they’ll listen to more.


DO continually update this list. Just think, you get to choose what musical experience the consumer will have.


Music is platform based. Becoming an expert on all these platforms (i.e. Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, etc.) and the different tools that they provide is free.


Why aren’t you well versed in every single one?


Live Show Production

CD Baby Tom Jackson

I have had the pleasure of connecting Tom Jackson with several of my clients now. He’s a live show producer and trust me, EVERY ARTIST NEEDS LIVE SHOW PRODUCTION.


If you’ve ever seen him work, it’s literally breathtaking. Night and day difference in just one hour of work and he’d only get through the first verse and chorus of one song.




DON’T let the song control the show, you control the song and create a moment.


Change your arrangements for the live show. Most artists will walk to the front of the stage to interact with the audience and then hurry back to the mic to start the second verse because that’s the way it was recorded (with a 4 bar turnaround).


What if the audience just soaked in your groove for another 8 bars? Take your time, and go back when you’re ready. Let the band ebb and flow to the vibe of the audience and follow the lead of the front-person.


Let your music breathe in a live setting. It should always be a different arrangement live than on the record.


You can really learn to be a master of controlling emotion.


CD Baby Tom Jackson Trent HarmonEvery night is different. My band was always prepared to continue whatever groove was going on during our shows. You never knew what was going to happen.


By the way, this year Tom did a separate instructional with a couple singer/songwriters. It was ASTOUNDING what a little tweaking could do for a solo acoustic performance.


In one section, he had the songwriter tell his story on how the song was written.


Typical, right?




We all feel that way.


Then he had the songwriter gently play the groove of the song while he told his story. That was incredible.


I cared.


We all cared.




Learn it.




Authenticity sells. Period.


CD Baby Authenticity MEME


This should be the most artistically freeing information you’ll ever hear. Screw perfection. Forget about what you’re perceived level of talent is. Just be you and always try to improve upon that.




You’ll make a living, I promise.


There are only 12 notes. Your interpretation is what will be unique.


Your interpretation is the art. That’s what MATTERS!


Every artist is strong in authenticity but most artists aren’t chasing that. They’re trying too hard to be something else.


This Business Is All About Relationships


Rick Barker (Taylor Swift’s former manager) gave a great presentation but he said something completely hardcore.


I totally agree with it.


CD Baby Authenticity MEMEHe said, don’t come up to me and give me a CD because I’ll tell you “No” to your face. I don’t know you so I don’t care.


Neither does anybody else by the way. Barker was just being honest.


The same holds true for record executives, publishers, booking agents, industry attorneys, and most important; consumers.


You have to create a relationship first before you ask for anything.


The way to create a relationship is to reach out first. Love them first. Give first.


Also, it’s about your story. If they are moved or interested in your story in any way, they will listen to your music. They will buy your music, merch, tickets, etc.


But not until then so stop telling people that you don’t know or just met to download your music.


Stop telling or even asking people to discover you on iTunes. They won’t. It never works.


Create a relationship and move forward from there. Your world will instantly change.


YouTube Is Still KING

CD Baby YouTube King MEME

There was a healthy amount of the YouTube team in attendance at the DIY Conference. They were there to help indie artists and gather information to improve their platform.


Listen, YouTube’s whole existence depends on advertising revenue. The more views a video gets, the more money they make.



It’s simple.



This is an incredible platform that algorithmically scrubs the 1 billion videos uploaded every day to search the most compelling content. If people are liking it they’ll watch it and help it after the video hits certain levels of activity.


Think of it like a ladder. Imaging each rung on the ladder having a bell. If you post a video and it gets enough views within a certain amount of time (from the post date) you’ll ring the first bell and YouTube hits a multiplier button.


This multiplier exposes the video to a bunch of new people whose data suggest that they would like this kind of video.


CD Baby YouTube LadderIf the video continues to gain enough momentum to ring the second bell, YouTube hits another multiplier button and so on.


This is why some videos do better than others but you can intelligently increase the odds of ringing the first couple bells and giving the video a life if you’re consistently building an audience.


There are “YouTubers” who regularly post videos and make tons of money simply because THEY’VE CREATED AN AUDIENCE.


When you have an audience, miracles happen.


You can create an audience for free on YouTube.


Therefore, your best excuse about not having any money to market goes up in flames.




I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule but I haven’t heard of any artist who went from obscurity to making an acceptable living in music by uploading their music to iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Bandcamp, Bandzoogle, Bkstg, etc.


CD Baby Noah Guthrie

I do know some artists who have millions and tens of millions of streams on Spotify who can’t fill up a coffeehouse. No Audience.


I know TONS of artists who make a killer living on YouTube.


I know TONS of artists who have broken on YouTube.



The attention they got from a big viral video has opened tons of doors including record labels, SNL appearances, network TV show castings, etc.


It wasn’t luck, it was work. They set it up and put in a boatload of work to get their respective channels big enough to make a difference.


Why aren’t you consistently posting on YouTube?


I learned a ton at this year’s CD Baby DIY Musician Conference. For the $69 price-tag over 3 days, it’s the best deal around.


They’ve already booked the Omni Hotel in Nashville for next year’s conference. You should be there.







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‘Cash Me Outside Girl’ Record Deal (You’re Not Going to Believe This)

Deal Feature Collage

Atlantic Records just signed Danielle Bregoli, a.k.a. Bhad Bhabie, a.k.a. The “cash me outside” girl.


She got a deal but you haven’t yet.


That sucks, doesn’t it?


It certainly isn’t fair!


I mean after all you’ve worked (or feel you’ve worked) so hard on your craft but this seemingly talentless hack gets a deal?


Yes, because regardless of her talent, she has an audience and it’s a big one.


Deal Bhad Bhabie Instagram Account11 million followers on Instagram.


I can hear you. I’m inside your head. You’re thinking this is BS because the record business should be about talent (maybe specifically your talent) and this is egregious as it gets!


It’s not egregious. This has always happened throughout the history of the record business.



In the old days, the labels were responsible for developing you artistically. They would help you find your audience because artist and market development were cost prohibitive to an indie artist. Financially impossible would be more accurate because we’re talking millions.


In the old days, an artist couldn’t really reach a wide audience, outside of their local or regional area, without millions of dollars and a marketing machine behind them.


Although, many found a way to do it back then without a label…but I digress.


Bhad Bhabie did it with one freakin’ TV appearance.

Deal Me MEME


I can’t be positive on this, but it would seem Danielle and her mother were broke because it would be hard to understand her behavior if she comes from even a lower-middle-class family with her disastrous lack of communication skills.




They didn’t pay millions of dollars to make her famous.


Think about it, there have always been artists that were signed that you thought didn’t deserve to have a deal.


We all subjectively judge the talent, don’t we?


Here’s the harsh reality with a real, tangible silver lining.


Bhad Bhabie wouldn’t have been signed back in the day because they were looking for talent they could develop into an artist that can make money. I just don’t think she’s a player. I don’t think at 14 she’s an operator (if she was older I might suspect a hustle or Schtick here, but I genuinely think she’s this stupid). I don’t think she has any talent let alone enough talent to outweigh a lack of intelligence.

Labels had to play the long game in the old music business. They set up systems for scouting and cultivating artists because it was so expensive back in the day.


The labels could AFFORD to do that because they were making the 2017 equivalent of $16 per CD selling through distribution. You and I were paying the 2017 equivalent of $30 a CD at the record stores.


deal develop talent



Do the math, a platinum record costs maybe two million to three or four million dollars to create and promote it with a return of 16 million dollars. But then if you sell 2 million records…


See my point?



The labels had a reliable marketing pipeline called radio, music television networks (in all genres), and magazines with circulation to expose these artists to a promising audience. They had a direct pipline right into consumer heads.


Now they don’t.Deal Refine Talent


This is the reality you have to get through your head.


THEY DON’T HAVE THAT ANYMORE. They don’t have it to give. Wishing and hoping they do isn’t going to change that.


You’re on your own in the beginning.


Today, labels are forced to play the short game. Or at least a shorter game. They can’t afford to develop you, so you’re not going to get a deal because you have a life-changing demo tape. If by some chance, you do get a deal solely based on your talent, you’re not going to get any label-love or a budget because they can only afford to focus on the artists that are making them money.


Deal Deliver Talent




This is how a record deal becomes a curse.




But Danielle Bregoli was signed in today’s market because she has an audience.


They don’t really care so much about her art. She didn’t get signed for her art!


Deal Car Shots

Via Bhad Bhabie Instagram





Labels are acquiring small businesses and she created one. Whether you approve of the way the business was created is irrelevant.






Riddle me this, Batman, why is it that your default response is to hate on this situation because you feel she has no talent?


Why do you sour on the music business because she got the deal with zero talent and you haven’t yet?


Deal dissapprove MEME


As if she somehow took the last record deal that was meant for you.


My knee-jerk reaction is that this situation provides concrete proof that any artist can create art on their own terms and get a deal provided there is an audience that wants to hear it. Create the business and they’ll come-a-calling.





Trust me, in the old days, the lucky artists who got into the label system were met with a TRUCKLOAD of artistic compromises.


But that can be different now if you want it to be.


If the labels only care about the audience, the pure artist with a viable business gets carte blanche on their art.


That scenario was an anomaly in the past. It was the exception to the rule.


Now, you may be thinking that it came easy for her after one horrifically daft Dr. Phil appearance. I think you’d be correct on that.


But she got the audience!


deal audience MEME




Your next thought should be I need to start building my audience immediately. I don’t have time to waste!





Because yours probably isn’t going to grow that fast. Sorry.



But it will grow consistently if you want it to (think “The Tortoise and The Hare”).


Deal The-Tortoise-and-the-Hare



If you’re an artist who cannot afford to pay a team but still desire to make a living in the music business, then you must learn to market. Period.




No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.


It’s not OK to state that you don’t understand marketing, you don’t like marketing, or you think marketing is beneath you but complain about a lack of market attention.


This is the way the game works now. Play it or take your ball and go home.




You must do the work.


Deal work MEMEGet THAT through your head.


I understand you don’t know how to market, but you must learn or face the fact that your music will never be heard.


Any artist who says they make their art for themselves and nobody else cannot contradict that statement with any manifestation of frustration because they can’t make a living doing it.


Art for you is art for you. That’s fine, but that definition means nobody else needs to know or care.


If you have any desire to make one penny playing your music then you’re going to have to become a marketer.


Too many of MY artists feel they are somehow above marketing. We do a ton for them but they still have to play in the sandbox with us to make it work.


Too many of my artists want to play the rock star game. Many are seriously rock stars, and some others are developing quite nicely but not there yet.


But if they don’t adapt, nobody will ever know.


My final thought is that if you’re pissed about this signing, you’re entitled. You feel you deserve the deal and she doesn’t. That’s entitlement.


Entitlement is the gateway drug to a victim mentality.


Deal victim


Victim mentalities presuppose that your success, your livelihood is somehow out of your control.


Victims get to pass the buck because it’s not their fault.


It’s ok for victims to fail.


You have everything you need to significantly ratchet your career up.


Don’t be a victim.







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What Happens When You Decide to Choose

Choose Feature MEME

All paths are present, always… and we can but choose among them.” – Jacqueline Carey.

To rephrase this, it means you can go in any direction you want to go, you just have to choose.

Choose Doors But you must choose a path.


unsuccessful people don’t choose. Instead, they meander through life.


If you want to make a living making music, the path is there. Always. But you must choose.


The experience you’ll require for success is on every journey but only after you’ve chosen. Realize that you won’t have all the track laid down before the train leaves the station.


You must have faith. Rely on your intelligence and accept the failures.


Choose Failure MEME


Because there will be failures. Lots of them! If you want to double your successes you have to double your failures.


Forget about what other people say. Trust me, when you start learning more than them they’ll hate you for it.


You must transform into a marketer. You need to create your own audience before the industry will stand up and take notice.



The problem for most artists is that they don’t know where to begin with the marketing thing.


On one hand, marketing leaves a sour taste in your mouth; you think used car salesman.


On the other hand, not many of life’s little moments can beat out the feeling when someone responds to your music positively. If you’ve done it once, you can do it twice.


Do it 1,000 times and you’ll have a solid audience with a solid cash flow.


Take social media, for instance. We often feel like we don’t want to begin until we can master all the platforms. Of course, we don’t focus and work on any platforms while we’re thinking about mastering all of them, so we wait.Choose wait


Then we get distracted on the mission critical marketing piece by telling ourselves that we need to focus elsewhere first. Like the music.



We think, “I’ll wait until I get this CD finished and then I’ll focus on the marketing.”


But that doesn’t ever work.


Not anymore.


That’s a delay tactic you’re using on yourself.

Choose Artist first MEME





Whether you believe it or not, in today’s music market, the artist comes first, then the music.







Which means you need to be marketing RIGHT NOW.


No excuses! There is literally no good reason whatsoever for you to delay the marketing of YOU.


We’ve begun marketing some of our artists (growing their audience) as much as 18 months before the music was released.


We began marketing one artist and we hadn’t even defined the artistic lane on her project yet!


The most powerful story is the story you tell yourself.


What story do you choose to tell yourself?

Choose Story


You won’t put out 1 killer music video that will go viral and change your life forever.


That will require consistent work on cover songs. You’ll need to put out 1 cover video per week without fail for at least a year. I promise you’ll look back in amazement.


Let me save you the suspense, the first couple videos will take way too long to execute. But if you commit to 8 videos in 8 weeks you’ll find that the last 2 videos will take 10% of the time that the first 2 videos took.


You probably won’t get on a big TV talent show, but even if you do you’ll be barely famous for 15 minutes and then they’ll forget about you because you weren’t prepared to harvest all that heat.


You won’t know who they were.


You’ll need to set up infrastructure to capture contact information. Once you’re on the show massive amounts of people will begin to hashtag the show, judge’s names, and contestant names. All these people just raised their hands to identify themselves as fans of the show and fans of you.


Reach out to them. Oh, it’s super easy to hop on the phone and call every freakin’ radio station in the country to set up an interview when you’re on TV. Just a thought.


You probably won’t get your song on the radio, but if you do it’s not going to change your life. Again, you’ll have no idea who heard it. You won’t know who liked it.


Choose Starbucks


I mean it. I have 3 artists in the top 50 on the Music Row charts at the moment. That means they’re getting spins. Their highest chart position + $2.51 will get them a venti drip at Starbucks.


Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hurting their brand, but the return on investment isn’t worth the price this early in the game.


Radio is for later.




You need data right now.


You need measurable results.


You need to see a definite ROI (Return On Investment) for every dollar you spend. I’m not saying you’re going to get your money back this early on, but you need SOMETHING to measure the return; like an email address.


Permission Marketing is the key to growing your audience.


Poverty Permission Marketing


Growing your audience starts with social media and YouTube. They’re free. Oops, I didn’t mean to blow your best excuse for not making it…Money.


Then you must harvest the contact data and know what to do with it after you do. If you own the contact information you’ll always be able to reach them for free.




Every other industry on this planet has radically transformed because of the internet. The makeover has been the same all around; the creators of the product or service get directly in touch with the end user.


Distribution is out.




Think about the travel industry. Once people could book their own flights online, travel agents vanished. The service providers like airlines, rental car companies, and cruises could interact directly with you, the end user. Travel agents instantly became irrelevant for unsophisticated travel.

Choose Dell Computer




Think about Dell Computer company. They don’t sell through distribution. They control every aspect of the way you feel about their product and service from the advertising to the purchase, to the tech support.

They control the customer journey.



The music industry will go the same way because EVERYONE ELSE HAS.


Do you see the writing on the wall?


The wounds to the formerly successful pipeline for developing the art, creating the demand, and distributing the product are relatively fresh in the music industry.


Predictably, the industry is going to be slow to adapt.


But the artist who adapts now is the artist who will win.

Choose adapt


The artist who chooses to market RIGHT NOW will be victorious.


You cannot afford to wait if you’re serious about making a living in the music industry.


You must move now.


The learning curve is stout but it’s not rocket science, therefore, completely achievable.


Hell, there are artists who have MASTERED it.


Pursue excellence in marketing like you hopefully chase the mastery of your craft.


Excellence requires regular work.


The kind of work one can only do once they’ve chosen a path.


In 1519 AD, during the Spanish conquest of MexicoHernán Cortés, the Spanish commander, scuttled his ships so that his men would have to conquer or die.


He chose a path and didn’t waiver.


What will you choose?









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 5 Big Networking Hacks That Will Transform Your Game

Networking Hacks Feature MEME

It was the summer of 1997. I had just moved to Los Angeles from Nashville to pursue a sales gig in the electronics industry.

Networking Hacks Zeph Logo


A guy named David Jacks had started this company I would be working with called Zephyrtronics. David was like Matt Damon’s character in the movie Good Will Hunting but with heat instead of math. He just understood heat. He had created a “walk on water” type piece of equipment that would let any engineer or technician solder or desolder the same spot on a circuit board with zero damage to the board or the electronic component.



I don’t expect you to give a rip about that, but it’s important to know because we got a LOT of attention at every trade show we demonstrated at. It was amazing.


We would get tons of leads from the trade shows and then my job was to go out and demonstrate the product onsite and close the deals.

Networking Hacks Zeph Demo




In the first couple months, David went with me so I could see how exactly he wanted his product sold.





At one point, we found ourselves in a Los Angeles Hughes Aerospace facility. We were led up to a conference room for the presentation by a receptionist. The door opened and I couldn’t believe it. It’s like we were rock stars or something. There were 40 engineers in attendance that wanted to see this product work and each of them with their own problematic circuit board in hand.

Networking Hacks Hughes Logo



I watched David introduce himself to each of the 40 engineers, shake their hand and thank them for taking the time.


Here’s the rub. When we were done with the presentation, David went around to each of the 40 engineers looked them in the eye, shook their hand, and thanked each one again using their names!


He remembered everyone’s name!


It was one of the most impressive things I had ever seen. Clearly, the engineers felt the same way because they were so blown away that somebody said something about it out loud in the room.


David just smiled and said something demure.


Turns out David was also a genius at networking strategies too. On the ride back to the office he shared some of the hacks he used to pull this off.


Networking Hacks How You Made Them Feel MEME



I think it was Mia Angelo that said, “People won’t remember what you said or even so much how you looked, but they will remember how you made them feel.”


That’s what we’re going to cover today. I’m going to give you 5 different memory hacks that are rather easy to do but hard to remember to execute.






It’s not easy, but when you get into the habit of this 5-step hack, you’ll forget you’re even doing it. Whenever you meet someone for the first time and remember their name, you’ll always make them feel good.


Nothing is sweeter than the sound of your own name.


Networking Charm MEMEThe hardest part will be committing to the discipline of these little tricks but it’s a game changer.


It’s called the CHARM method. I know, appropriate, right?

The “C” in CHARM stands for “Care”.


Networking Hacks Care MEME


People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. There are a million singer/songwriter/artists who are way better than you so if you think someone is going to be blown away by your talent and completely devote their lives to your success, you’re delusional.


There has to be more. They will need to feel like you care about them.




It’s hard to get people to feel like you give a crap about them, their career, their family, their well-being when you don’t care enough to remember their name.


David Jacks blew away 40 engineers and myself because he cared enough to remember all the names. Nobody would’ve faulted him for not remembering 40 names but EVERYONE was impressed when he did.


Get it?


Not remembering and nobody would care one way or the other because that’s a lot of names.


But going through the work of remembering and I’ll bet those 40 engineers will never forget him.


That’s what we want.


The “H” stands for “Hear”.


Networking Hacks HEAR Monkeys

This is the hardest part for me. If you’re talking to yourself, inside your head strategizing a response at the same time you’re supposed to be listening for their name, you’re going to miss the name.




In Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Individuals he’s quoted as saying, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”


Networking Hacks Stephen Covey MEME


This is so tricky for me because my mind goes at a million miles per hour, but when I am disciplined and LISTENING for their name, I remember it.


Sheesh, it’s so bloody simple to do but hard to implement because we must be intentional about doing it.




I’ll bet you’ve complained a million times about how you can’t remember this or that and you blame your retention.


But the problem isn’t your retention it’s your attention.


You weren’t listening when it was happening you were “bouncing off the walls” as my dad would say so you never really received the information to begin with.


Just be silent and listen. Is it a coincidence that “silent” and “listen” are an anagram? I think not.



The “A” in CHARM stands for “Ask”.


Networking Hacks ASK


I love asking people about their name. You can ask where the name is from, what does it mean, how do you spell it, who were they named after, etc.





This is one of my favorite gestures because you learn from the person you just met. It gets them talking about themselves, which is always a winner. They get to very briefly tell you why their special because they were named after so and so or they have a unique spelling.


PLUS, you get to hear the name a couple more times. This is always a biggie for me because like I said, inevitably the first time I was talking to myself in my head and didn’t hear it.


The “R” stands for “Repeat”.


Networking Hacks REPEAT MEME



After you hear the name for the first time, repeat it back to them to make sure you heard it correctly. Sometimes you’re in a loud room or there is a lot going on and you want to ensure you have it down. It would suck to have a long conversation with Chad and then say, “Goodbye, Brad”.




Just asking a person if you’re pronouncing it correctly is a warm gesture.


I also will mentally repeat their name 5 times in my head. This helps it to sink in.


So, use this and use it often but don’t use it too often out loud. If you abuse it you’ll sound disingenuous.


Networking Hacks Value Bomb MEME


VALUE BOMB: I intentionally try to pepper in a person’s name in a conversation even if I already have a relationship with them. People love to hear their name. I’ve found myself drifting off in the middle of a conversation and being pulled back in at the sound of my name.


It reminds me I have to pay attention now. This is a super effective strategy.




The “M” stands for “Marker”.


Networking Hacks Marker MEME


This is the main trick David used with those 40 Hughes Aerospace Engineers.




He told me as he shook each of their hands and repeated their names out loud, he did 2 other things.


One was to mentally repeat their names 5 times.


And the other sounds crazy but try it! It’s astounding how well it works.


He imagined their names, with the correct spelling written on their forehead with a marker. I recommend that you imagine that marker in your favorite color.


We remember what we see more than what we hear.


You’ve never forgotten a face and remembered a name.


Many U.S. Presidents have used this method to recall names.


It took me about 6 months of haphazard execution but I got pretty good at it.


Since then, I must admit, I’ve fallen off a bit and I find it personally embarrassing.


It’s fair to say I’m writing this article as much for me as I am for you. I’m kicking my own butt!


Do this.


Be intentional about it. This is a self-discipline tactic that will require a little extra brain power but it will serve you for the rest of your life.


I want you to win.










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 Why You Suck At Networking

Networking Feature MEME

I hear artists say this every day. “I suck at networking”.


It’s true.


You do suck at networking.Networking Muscle MEME


But it’s because of these 2 reasons so it’s totally fixable.


  1. You think you suck at networking
  2. Therefore, you don’t network.


It’s a muscle that you must develop. You’re afraid to develop it because you think you need to be the “life of the party” to make it happen.




What is absolutely required for effective networking is

  1. Effort
  2. Perspective
  3. Humility
  4. Authenticity



Networking Show UP

Show up. If you’re not there you can’t network. You can’t win if you don’t play. Oh, and you must KEEP ON showing up.


Are you needing band members? Show up. Go out to all the clubs as much as you can to see the bands and pick your players. If you’re good they’ll consider it. This is how the best musicians from all the local bands gravitate to one another. If they’re not giving you the time of day, it’s because you’re approaching them in an obnoxious way or you need to work on your artistry more.




Presentation matters. These new band mates and business associates are going to need to see something tangible. They are not going to see your potential so plan to put at least one decent recording together to use as a calling card.


Networking Dog Poo MEMEI just had a reunion of sorts with a guitar player friend of mine who played with me in a solo project I did for a hot second in LA. I met him at a restaurant bar. The bartender was an artist I was doing a little producing for. We talked and I mentioned I was looking for a guitar player. I left him a CD of some tracks. He called me on my way home and was like, “I’m IN!”


Had I not had that recording demonstrating my songs, professionalism, and attitude, he wouldn’t have called, I guarantee it.


One of my favorite hit songwriters is a guy I met out at Loser’s which is a common industry hang out here in Nashville. We became friends and he was regularly emailing me to say hello and stay in touch. I presented him with an artist for a co-write. He began a long-standing relationship with that artist, resulting in multiple cuts, and they’re now on their second single. It’s charting on the Music Row chart.


Networking Steve O'Brien



I see him out all the time. The other evening I wanted him to meet a writer friend of mine that was in town from Miami. I texted him. He came right over. I introduced him to the songwriter and he introduced me to this incredible new artist he’s been writing with and maybe we’ll do some business. Who knows?





But he was there. Get it?




Networking Perspective MEME

Every relationship you make may not have any value but just about all of them won’t have immediate value. That’s where most people fall off.


They lose interest if there is no immediate satisfaction. They also get sour about it sometimes. Like if you meet someone you’re attracted to, immediately ask them for sex, and then decide to hate them because they said “NO”.  (that’s called Cognitive Dissonance…but I digress)


It’s a marathon, not a sprint.


Realize that you’re laying down railroad track as opposed to putting the actual train on the tracks. I have many lifelong relationships that were started in odd ways with no expectations whatsoever.


When my band initially signed with a huge regional booking agency out of Minneapolis, the first thing I needed to know was what the competition looked like.


Who was the best?


I reached out to the receptionist and asked. She told me it was a band called “Mannekin” and they would be in Milwaukee on tour in 2 weeks. I said I wanted to go, but I was only 19 years old. Michelle told me that she would set it all up with their manager Mark O’Toole.


Networking mannekin

That evening I got my ass KICKED artistically.


That band was freaking amazing. I couldn’t believe I saw them in a club. The bar had just moved up and I needed to know more so I simply asked Mark if I could take him out to eat after the show. He happily agreed. I bought breakfast at 3 am and started asking as many questions as I could get away with.



Here’s the deal. That was the start of a lifelong friendship, literally. We lost Mark a couple years ago, but he always had my back. When we needed a photo shoot for our poster, he offered to “piggyback” us on his photo shoot for Mannekin with Prince’s photographer, Al Beaulieu. That cost us $600 including hair and makeup.  He constantly helped me with negotiating strategies with club owners when we were touring. All because he was a good friend.

Networking Idols



My point is I couldn’t have predicted all that, I just wanted to learn and he was willing to teach. I expected nothing more than that first meal, but he liked me. He saw something. I was so lucky.





I think that artists tend to subconsciously avoid networking because they don’t see an immediate return on the time investment of creating the relationship. That’s a mistake because you never know what could happen.


Networking Cards MEME

Every semester I am blessed to have a bunch of interns. One of the value-adds I offer the interns is access to certain industry functions (when possible) and the ability to hang with me at certain showcases and artist shows. I’ll introduce them to everyone I speak with. I tell the interns, they’re not required to attend when they get the text invite, but they’re encouraged to attend. The relationships they will make probably won’t amount to much if anything at all, but imagine them interviewing with a record label for job a couple years in the future and sitting across from someone they already met. “Hey Ms. So-And-So, you probably don’t remember me, but we hung out one night with Johnny D from Daredevil Production watching this artist at this club.”  Already, subconsciously, the intern has moved their application to a different mental pile because they’ve already met.


Does that make sense?




Networking Humility MEME

Without humility, you’re not going to create many relationships.


Especially in the music business.


When I met Mark, I was young and very green and he knew it. I wasn’t trying to pretend I was some big shot and he appreciated that. I was a sponge.


I paid for that dinner at Denny’s because I had so many questions, you know?  He loved that. I was asking the right questions about the business as opposed to “How can you help me get famous?”




Every week I get hit up on email, Twitter, and Instagram with artists who shoot me messages like, “Yo, let’s do business. How do we get started?”.



Networking Messages BLACKED


What’s your name? What’s your story? Have we ever met? This is not only a complete turn-off, but it’s a dead giveaway to a rookie with poor communication skills.



Something humbler like, “Hey Johnny, this is so-and-so from this band and I like what you’re doing, can we possibly set up a time to talk about working together?” would be a better way to spin that approach.


Always be humble and kind.


Music industry people are generally really good people and like to help other people as long as they believe that person isn’t a schmuck.  You’d be amazed at what a little humility and an honest, “I need some help” will get you.


Networking Humble and Kind MEME


I remember when I first came to Nashville in 1995. My friend John Prestia told me that he was good friends with a hit songwriter named Kim Tribble. He told me to go and meet with Kim.


I did.





Kim was the kindest and most gracious soul. We spoke for about an hour in his office. The whole time I was worried I was taking up too much of his time. Kim could sense that. After an hour, I couldn’t help myself, I told Kim, “Hey I know you’re super busy and I’m so thankful for this time, Kim! I’ll see myself out.”


I didn’t want to impose.


To which Kim replied, “It’s cool, man. I like you. I have to run some errands and you’re welcome to join me if you want. Do you have time to hang?”


See how humility worked there?


I had NOTHING else to do. I spent the whole day with Kim. He listened to all my songs and that led me to 2 other writer/producer relationships that I still currently have.



And finally, Authenticity.


This is a biggie. I think most artists feel terribly uncomfortable networking because they feel like they have to be something they’re not. I think they feel like they have to be this huge gregarious personality that everybody loves in order to an effective networker, but that just isn’t the case.

Networking Do You


Just be yourself.


Just be real.





THAT is what makes you amazing, and THAT is what people will respond to. When you meet people be your authentic self and they’ll respond authentically.


Personally, I can tell you that I’m not for everybody. I do have a big personality and it’s a turn-off sometimes. That’s ok. When I feel someone responding in a negative manner towards my personality I realize that we’re probably not going to do business together or I’m needing to provide more value in this relationship to make it “worth it” for the other person.


I also realize it’s probably time to shut up, but I digress…


Networking Authenticity Faceless Mask


Don’t worry if everyone doesn’t like you or love you. You can’t be all things to all people. You’re going to get this. Don’t take it personally.


The ones who DO respond to your authentic-self are going to create deep relationships with you because they know who you really are.


That kind of relationship is one of the best gifts you’ll ever receive.


Have confidence in yourself in that regard. Just go meet people and get to know them. Ask them about themselves. The more you get them talking (and people LOVE to talk about themselves) the more you’ll learn.


FYI, I can’t tell you how many times I met someone, got them talking, and through listening realized that this is NOT someone I want to do business with. All without opening my mouth after saying hello.

Networking Them MEME




The truth is unless you’re a hermit with zero friends, you’re a great networker. You’re just thinking about it the wrong way. You know how to make friends and influence people, but when you put in the context of being intentional about it, it seems daunting. It’s also scary with strangers.


I get it.


But Networking is a mission critical part of your career, my friend. It’s a muscle you MUST develop.


So, what are you waiting for?











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Are You Confusing Activity With Achievement?

I see people confusing activity with achievement all the time.Activity Shrug MEME excuses or Results

I’ve seen it my whole life in all the industries I’ve been a part of, but it’s rampant with the millennials and musicians.





They confuse activity or “trying” with achievement. Your artist career won’t blossom without achievement. No matter how much time you spend trying or how much you want it, you’ll go nowhere without results.


You must adapt. IT’S ALL ABOUT ADAPTING.

How do you adapt? You take what you have and you work with it. Adapting has nothing to do with complaining about what you don’t have, that’s the very definition of NON-productive.


Improvising, adapting, and overcoming is what defines achievement.


You can have excuses or you can have results but you can’t have both.


It’s NOT ok to complain about where you are in your career if you’re creating excuses as to why you can’t get what you want.


Humans, by nature, are THEE most adaptable species on the planet. We can think, reason, and imagine.


Activity Caveman

Visualize a cave-man and what their life was like every day. Survival meant working within your surroundings to achieve what was necessary for shelter, food, water, protection, etc.


This may sound silly but follow me on this. When a lion is born it instinctively knows how to hunt. Same with fish. Same with all animals, they are born wired up to know how to survive.


But not humans.




When we’re born we instinctively know how to suck, but…



We LEARN how to speak.Activity Learning Puzzle

We LEARN how to hunt.

We LEARN how to gather.

We LEARN how to tie our shoes.

We LEARN how to play an instrument.

We LEARN how to be an artist.

We LEARN how to market.



Don’t fool yourself, you may hate the sound of the word “marketing” but you do it every day. Whenever you try to convince anybody of anything. From selling a piece of musical equipment to convincing a friend about who the best singer is on the planet, you’re marketing. Convincing new members to join the band or a buddy to give you an extra hour in the studio, that’s marketing.


Activity Mother MEMEWe must also LEARN to be self-aware about our art. Your mother will love it no matter what, so you’re foolish if you run with only that opinion. I think of the horrific zero-talent wannabes at the beginning of every American Idol season. Wow, it’s like so many people lied to them or something.



Yes, art is subjective but it’s also objective. There is a level of competitiveness that must be met. There is no market for the finger-paintings of 3-year-old children but they’re adorable nonetheless. You can hate on artists like Poison and Brittany Spears but you can’t deny that they’re well done and they sell way more than you do.

Activity Britney Spears



All art that has been put forth into the world was a result of an artist adapting to their surroundings and learning to create something.


Many if not most artists have overcome incredible challenges, pitfalls, setbacks, extreme poverty, racism, naysayers, haters, physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, etc. to get their art out to the world enough so that we’re aware of it.


This is humanity. This is the definition of being human; ADAPTING.


So, it pisses me off when I hear artists complain about why they can’t do this or that.Activity Poison Record




Saying you can’t do it is saying you won’t do it. Either you don’t want it bad enough or you don’t have the constitution to stay in the game. This is what the artists you hate had; constitution.


Growing for any human means you’re going to be uncomfortable.


If your goal is to be comfortable, that’s fine, but stop telling yourself that you’re going to make a dent in the universe and be comfortable at the same time.


Comfortable is easy. That’s a vapid 9-5 working to realize someone else’s dream.


Activity School Lockers


Achievement and growth are by definition, uncomfortable. Think about it, you’re constantly elevating to uncharted waters. Remember how you felt the first day of high school? Those lockers were so big, weren’t they? That was a far different feeling from the last day of high school.

You were forced to achieve in school or face being held back.



Now, nobody’s forcing you. Are you feeling a bit too comfortable?


I remember when the people directly around the Allman Brother Band brought my band down from Wisconsin to Florida to develop us.


Activity ABB AlbumStep one was the band had to move to Florida. We walked toward the light with nothing but each other and promise from this dude to help us get to the next level. There were no promises of an outcome and zero promises of cash. We were on our own.


How would we survive? I didn’t know when we left, but we all took a chance and found our way.



By the way, is moving ever comfortable? Then you add the fact that we were flying by the seat of our pants and it takes uncomfortable to whole new level.


Of course, we were young and I had it all figured out, man, just ask me. We needed to get a killer record, get on MTV, and go on tour to make it. EZPZ.


Activity Warren HaynesThen I saw Warren Haynes play guitar in the studio during the first of what would be hundreds of hours of access to the band. At that moment, a nuclear bomb was dropped on my ego and my sense of accomplishment.


I left the studio so demoralized because I had just witnessed “great” first hand and compared to that, we sucked. That was catastrophic.


That moment lead me to a crossroads of sorts. It was decision time. Do I choose to make excuses as to why we’ll never be like Warren Haynes and The ABB so I can continue to live my comfortable yet delusional artistic existence? Or do I become uncomfortable and accept the reality that we had a LOT more work to do. [KGB Pic]



If you really want to be an artist, you live here. Nobody cares about a comfortable artist because they’re boring.


Artistically you’re compelling or you’re not. I think you all believe that you are compelling but the fact is most of you are not.


Not yet, anyway.


What is unknown (and controllable to the artist) is how many artists have the guts to push so hard they’re constantly uncomfortable. Who will continue to adapt and eat all the challenges of the everyday indie artist life for breakfast?


Activity UncomfortableBecause every artist has boatloads of challenges.


A real artist is constantly adapting, learning, and growing, therefore they live in a perpetual state of restlessness.




Of course, once you’re on the right track with your art you must LEARN how to get it out there. The good news is you no longer need anyone’s permission to do this. The bad news is YOU have to do it.


Unlike a lion who is born instinctively knowing how to hunt and survive, you, the artist, has to LEARN how to market. It’s not going to come to you in your sleep.

Activity Lion

If you can’t afford to hire someone to do it for you, then you’ll have to pay to learn how. That means recording less music and spending that part of the budget on marketing education.




Oh, and hundreds of hours getting your learning curve up.


Activity Crazy MEME Learn to market

To do anything differently is idiotic. It means you’re choosing to live in a state of delusion telling yourself lies about why your career is stagnant.


But learning about marketing makes me feel uncomfortable and I don’t like feeling uncomfortable.”




But marketing makes me feel like a used-car salesman. I don’t want to come off looking or sounding like that.


Believe me, nobody wants to buy from anybody like that either. You must change the story you’re telling yourself in your head and learn how to market effectively to AVOID being sales-y.


Thousands of artists and businesses effectively market to you every day. Did you feel like Budweiser was being “sales-y” during the Super Bowl commercial with the puppy and the Clydesdale horses?


activity Clydesdales Bud


Again, that’s not going to come to you in your sleep. So, every day you’re not learning is another day your career is stagnant.


Artists must rethink, reimagine everything because the market has changed.




Artist first then the music. Sorry, that’s the truth. Get over it and start constructing strategies to address this reality. I promise you’ll see immediate results in your fan base.


STOP asking yourself these questions:

How can I get a record deal?

Activity Artist First MEME

How can I get on the radio?


START asking yourself these questions:

Where is the traffic coming from?


How can I connect with them?


Just focus on building your audience and everything will fall into place after that.


Activity Traffic MEME








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Are You Sure You Really Want That Record Deal?

Record Deal Feature MEME

Getting a record deal can be a blessing or a curse


This statement has been true since the first record label was created. I would hope that by this time, most of you would be aware that during the glory days of the record business, 90% of the signed artists lost money.

Record Deal Blessing Curse MEME


90% of them failed to make a living doing what they loved to do.


Which means the 10% of the artists made SO MUCH money they covered all the losses from the other 90%.


How was that possible?


How did any business not only survive, but thrive when 90% of the products they paid to develop, manufacture, and distribute were money-losers?


Can you imagine if 9 out of 10 McDonald’s hamburgers were returned?


Record Deal iPhone Broken

Can you imagine 9 out of 10 brand new iPhones were broken?




How does a business making these incredibly uneven statistics work and become profitable?


Why was this horrific ratio the reality back then?


The answer to all these questions is radio and distribution.


Radio was such a powerful promotional tool that it literally influenced enough consumer minds to purchase 600 million units from the Beatles, 300 million records from Madonna, 230 million from Rhianna, 100 million from Jay-Z, etc.


Record Deal Radio Artist collageOf course, that was when people were listening to the radio.


But even in the best days, radio was restrictive.


There are roughly 12 spins per hour resulting in 2016 spins per week.


A song in heavy rotation accounts for around 70 spins per week (10 spins per day or roughly 1 spin every 2 hours). Medium rotation was 40 (ish), and light rotation about 15-25 per week.

This leaves about 3-4 spins per week to “test out” a new song the stations would consider adding to a rotation.


Now let’s say that the label loves the song and puts the promo money behind it. Let’s also say that radio loves it and a station wants to add it to their rotation.


There is something in the law of physics that MUST happen before any new song can be added to a rotation.


Somebody else’s song must be dropped from rotation to make room for the new one.


See how that works?


That’s what I mean by restrictive; it’s mathematically limiting.Record Deal Titanic MEME

Radio was powerful but there wasn’t enough time in the day to spin all the songs from all the artists on all the labels, thus, only 10% were able to grow their audience and thrive.


Today, the stations are failing. They’re losing money and the future of radio is seriously in jeopardy.



But we don’t need radio.


We don’t need radio and for all intents and purposes, radio isn’t going to be around to help you so drop that part of your dream right now.


It just isn’t a reality. Especially when you consider the fact that 2 of the 3 big corporations that own all the major market stations are either out of the radio business or about to be.


We don’t need to ask anyone’s permission to make our art, connect with and create future fans, or distribute our music.


Record Deal couch MEMEWe can do all that from a laptop on our couch.


Wow. How crazy is that?


Yet, so many of you have a dream of getting a record deal.


Why? Why do you have that dream now?


When everything was working, your dream had a 90% failure rate.


Do you have any idea how many KILLER artists I know that paid good money to get out of their deal?


Record Deal Artists need a deal MEME

Most artists aspire to be signed because it symbolizes a formerly necessary step to making a living in music. A record deal implied success even though the opposite was true for 90% on the label’s roster. Also, most artists don’t know how to do it without a record label so they feel the label is the only answer.





For the record, I’m not saying a record deal is a bad idea. I’m saying for most artists it is. It’s only a good idea for the savvy artists who know how to position themselves in today’s music business.


There was certainly less expected of an artist back then because the label did just about everything. This also meant the artist had little control over their careers.


The label and radio decided to make you or break you.


Today, there is more expected of you, but you can “stack the deck” in your favor.  You can come into a contractual negotiation with power as opposed to nibbling on whatever crumbs they decide to throw you.


Yuck.Record Deal Mr. Yuck



If you follow my articles you’ve read the story about indie country artist Granger Smith. He created a 1.8 million-dollar empire from his laptop. All the labels wanted to sign him but the artist and his team said “NO” for years until they said yes to Broken Bow Records.



They were given their own imprint called Wheelhouse Records (That means their own label under the Broken Bow umbrella with far better splits than a normal deal and the ability to profit off other artists on the imprint). I’m quite sure that Granger negotiated some stipulations that would ensure he had all the money and infrastructure necessary to accomplish his next goal; a #1 single.


Record Deal wheelhouse-records-logoHe had the power to do that because they wanted his business so badly. He made himself sexy to the labels and it was about his business, not the art.




Don’t let that upset you. It was about the business for them. It was about the art for him.


But too many of you fail to understand it’s always been about the business for them. Not your potential, your business.


My question to you is this: What happened to all the artists with a ton of talent but no audience, that were on Broken Bow, the second that Granger Smith signed his deal?


Did you ever think about that?Record Deal About The Business MEME


When Smith was signed his record deal, he ensured that he got all the capital resources, the human resources, etc. The artists that weren’t making money for Broken Bow at that time, waited. They were put on a shelf for the time being. Or worse, forever.


Is that what you want?


Record Deal Skeleton MEME

Is that a risk you’re willing to take just so you can brag to your friends about having a record deal?





Having a record deal today is incredibly different than 20 years ago when your heroes got signed.


Needing a record deal to reach your audience has also completely changed in today’s music business.


I promise there are going to be a truckload of artists in the very near future who are just as savvy as Granger Smith. Which is going to make it increasingly difficult for the talented artists with no audience on any given label.


Which artist do you want to be?


Record Deal Man Or Mouse CollageDo you want to be the artist like Granger who comes in with all the power to craft your deal into a blessing?

Or do you want to be the artist with these amazing musical gifts whose record deal quickly became a curse?


The difference between the two is the size of your audience.


Record Deal Size Of Your Audience MEMEThe size of your audience will determine your future and how the big-wigs are going to play with you.




The super cool part is that you get to choose which artist you want to be. You have control.


By not marketing, not learning to market, or by not entertaining different ways of approaching marketing, you’re choosing the former. You’re choosing to roll the dice and hope all the planets align in your favor.


Record Deal Whoever Finds Your Audience MEMEChoosing to suffer through learning the crap you don’t want to learn about marketing right now means you’ll be more educated tomorrow. It means you won’t be naïve. It means you’ll be driving. It means you’ll be sexy for the right reasons. Oh, and it also means nobody gets to tell you how to make your art.  So, there’s that.


I want you to win.


Choose wisely grasshopper.









Are You Working Really Hard But Feeling Completely Frustrated?

Frustrated Feature MEME

For one to be rich, someone else must be poor.

Frustrated Crumbs 1% MEME



Money is the root of all evil.



Wealth is like a pie. Because the top 1% have 90% of the pie the rest of us must survive on the crumbs.





These implicit beliefs have us thinking that if we make a profit, we are making someone else poor because there is only so much to go around.


These implicit beliefs have us thinking that we can’t get what we want without getting it from the 1%.


Frustrated Implicit Definition



FYI, the word “implicit” means this is a belief that hasn’t been quantified or proven in any way.





But the truth is quite the opposite. Wealth and power are abundant. Quite abundant.


Just because you haven’t experienced them doesn’t mean there scarce in any way, shape, or form. Rather it means that you haven’t figured it out yet.


In fact, the 99% hasn’t figured it out. The 99% choose to believe these cockamamie urban legends. All of the 99% are held down by these beliefs, not the “man” or their situation.  Some are held back and will stay stagnant simply because they don’t honestly believe they have a chance. They don’t imagine they can do anything great because deep down inside, they believe that they deserve to be poor. Some are just lazy and use these tall tales to justify their lack of motivation and execution as well as their unhappy outcome.


Frustrated 99%It’s always easier to blame someone else than it is to have faith in yourself.


It’s easy to say you can’t do it because you have no money.




Yes, a lack of capital provides some stout challenges along anyone’s journey to be sure.


But, there are PLENTY of iconic artists, influential business people and Presidents like Bill Clinton who have come from utter poverty to reach their full potential.


Frustrated Bill Clinton


Therefore, these monetary challenges are just that; challenges.  These speed bumps don’t define your success or lack thereof unless you allow them to.


It’s easy to say that you can’t do it because of racism.


Yes, there are plenty of idiots in the world, sadly this is a fact. There have been throngs of different races that have been oppressed, enslaved, and exterminated over just the last 100 years. This is also a fact.




But despite all the very real racial issues in the United States, for instance, we just had a 2-term black President. We have many highly-paid and influential minority actors, artists, business executives, community leaders, and good, honest people who make successful livings and raise their families.


Many of these amazing people had to overcome racism and poverty!


Therefore, racism is as big of a blockade as you choose to make it.


Frustrated BlockadeIt’s all about how you think about it, not about the reality.


After all, this is how the United States got started in the first place. Our forefathers were extremely unhappy and chose to believe there was a better life out there. All they had to do was go and get it.


Their reality was oppressive enough to risk their lives and the lives of their children to change it.


But they decided to change it because they believed they could do better. The other option would have been to blame the monarchy for their lot in life and do nothing.


Get it?


We are all held down only for as long as we believe these crappy stories. There are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of success stories from the poorest, most oppressed people in history. These success stories ALL START WITH the epiphany that the oppressed have an opportunity and a truckload of hurdles to overcome… just like everyone else. The epiphany in these cases marks the end of the blame game. They choose to take responsibility for their own lives and craft a reality with whatever wealth and power suit them.


Frustrated Blame MEME

They choose to believe it’s out there for them and they can get it by focusing on what they have instead of what they don’t have.


Isn’t that interesting?





The second that you begin to compare the real challenges along your journey to the perceived ease of someone else’s journey, you’ve lost.


This is clear proof that Sun Tzu was right, “Every battle is either won or lost before it is fought.”


Frustrated What Do You Have MEMEDid you think about how so many of the wealthy and powerful people came from nothing or do you just focus on their wealth and power which you don’t have yet?


Did you ever wonder how those souls somehow managed to climb out of the most impoverished circumstances growing up to run multi-million dollar businesses and even countries?


Why them and not you?


The reality is they’re living breathing proof that the poor can become rich.


Frustrated Sun Tzu Quote

Don’t they prove every day that the 99% can rise to enter the 1% if they want to?


Doesn’t every poor person, minorities and majorities included, who creates real wealth bust the myth that the 1% is a “closed club”?



So, it’s a choice everyone makes. Either they move forward and succeed by taking responsibility for all their life’s potholes or they choose to give up and blame “the man”.


Here’s a factual reality. This is a list of every country’s GDP growth (or lack thereof) last year. In the United States, our Gross Domestic Product grew 1.6%. This is your proof that the “pie” got BIGGER. There’s plenty of room for you too. When you think in terms of trillions of GDP imagedollars, 1.6% is an ASTOUNDING amount of room. If the reality was that money was finite there would be no growth in the GDP of any country. The rich would get richer and the poor would get poorer with the exact same amount of total money.


There are certain groups of people who believe that being rich and powerful is bad. They believe that somehow wealth and power means you’re horrible, bad, evil, and therefore oppressing others.




Frustrated Belief created by the have nots



This belief was created by the have-nots as an excuse for their lot in life. Can you see that?





The reality is quite the opposite. The wealthy have many businesses which employ many people so instead of oppressing them, they’re employing them. Giving them a job and a way of life. A way to put food on the table and put their kids through college.


How is that bad?


Isn’t it funny how these beliefs can cloud our perspective?


Frustration Mother Teresa


Mother Teresa was sainted by the Catholic Church shortly after her death. She was called “The saint of the gutters”, she gave hundreds of thousands of hugs to the poorest people in India, and even won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1979.


But that’s all she had to give, bless her heart.


Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and famous multi-billionaire literally wiped out a handful of diseases and saved millions of lives in Africa with one check.




Frustrated Bill Gates Wealth



One check from an evil rich guy changed millions of lives. I’m not taking anything away from Mother Teresa because she gave her heart and soul to providing comfort to the sick and downtrodden. But she didn’t cure any diseases. She didn’t have anything to give these people to save their lives. I’m sure she would’ve if she had it, but she didn’t have it to give.


How do you think about this issue?





Some of you despise the rich and powerful so much you believe that they should spread their wealth around giving “back” to the poor as if they stole from them to get rich in the first place. You want them to pay the masses in the form of a donation, tax, or government redistribution of wealth.


They all do but you don’t hear about it on TV because that news doesn’t sell ads.


Can you clearly see how this line of thinking is subconsciously fostering the idea that there is only so much to go around? If there is a finite amount of wealth, the only way the poor people are going to get theirs is if the wealthy share it.


But if wealth is abundant, the poor can get theirs on their own.


To be clear, there are plenty of wealthy and poor alike who share their money and their far more valuable time. I’m not making an argument as to whether anyone should or shouldn’t share or “give back”.

Frustrated Wealth Money MEME


I am challenging the way you think about these concepts and where wealth must come from.




You give because you have a big heart. You want to see others succeed and move up in society. But we’ve all given too much at times to someone who simply isn’t interested in moving up, only taking.


Therefore, how we think about opportunity, wealth, power, and success is the determining factor to a life’s transformation. It’s not about the opportunities. If it was just about getting opportunities and/or money, your taking friend would’ve transformed. But he or she didn’t step up and just remember how heartbreaking that was for you.


Frustrated Taking Friend

We are humans and as such we are a product of the information we receive. This is exactly why battered wives and abused children think they’re worthless.


It’s because that’s what they’ve been told. It is a psychological fact that if you’re told something enough, it becomes a reality, a truth in your mind. A lie told 7 times by the liar becomes truth in the liar’s mind.


Sadly, there are some countries where accessing the information necessary to transform a life for the better is practically impossible. These are the real victims of the world. They’re being oppressed by their government and the only way to change it is to literally risk their lives and the lives of their families.


Frustrated How To Think MEMEBut if you’re reading this article, you have choices. You have access to information. You have the ability to seek out knowledge and learn how to think. That was what University was supposed to be about in the first place, teaching us how to think.




We all can change the narrative in our minds. We can all become “successful” whatever you deem that word to mean.


True happiness and personal success start with learning how to think, people.


Happiness, wealth, and power are quite abundant in our world. Achievable by all who figure out that the only one standing in our way is us.


P.S. When we do figure that out, it’s a constant battle because we’re always in our own way. The self-awareness helps us to put our energy towards the real problem, but it never goes away.










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Growing Your Audience Is Not About The Music Anymore

Music Second Feature MEME 2

I’m about to piss you off.

Music Second Angry Emoji


But keep reading because it’s important.


Growing your audience is NOT about the music anymore.


It used to be that way because the process dictated it.


The quality of your music today has nothing do with getting fans/customers when you’re marketing online.





It’s ok because the music is still super important, but the process of getting your art In front of new eyeballs has changed.


Radio and TV were the old way to expand a new artist’s audience. Back in the day, the music was what was being played on the radio or a TV show so the music came first because the music came first in the marketing process.


Think about that. We heard the music first (and enough times) before we asked about who the artist was. The discovery process started with the music.


Now the opposite is true because, for the moment, it has to be that way.


Music Second Robe


Maybe you work a job remotely from home. You can do that job in your underwear and a robe because your appearance isn’t mission critical to your success every day. If you have to go into an office, you’d better play the part, right? I’m not saying that any attire is more important to you than the robe, but I am saying the outcome depends on the situation and the situation depends on the platform.



You will hear music business veterans tell you, “It’s incredible what a really good hit song can accomplish” and they would be right…in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s, but not today. Not exactly because it’s changed.


When the music came first a hit song could break an artist but now the music comes second so who will hear it?


Music Second Monkees MEME

I’m generalizing, of course, but is this how you want to construct your business plan? Do you want to place all your hopes and dreams on a blueprint that requires you to be an exception to the rule? Is your success strategy based on winning the lottery?




Do you really want to be the artist in 2017 or 2018 with a record deal, boatloads of talent, but no audience?


Be careful what you ask God for because I know a ton of these artists and they’re sitting on a shelf at a label waiting. They’re on the back burner.  Their label deal and $2.51 will get them a venti drip at Starbucks.


Music Second Unanswered Prayers MEME



Today the artist, a fan’s relationship with the artist, and good marketing come first. The music comes second because you won’t find an audience anymore on the radio.




Let me articulate that point more clearly. You won’t find an audience anymore on the radio.

This is because people used to be forced to listen to new songs, now they have choicesPeople are choosing NOT to listen to the radio.


Here are a couple facts to support this argument. The big three companies that own the majority of the P1 (major market) radio stations are CBS, Clear Channel (aka IHeartRadio/iHeartMedia), and Cumulus.


CBS has spun off (aka sold) all of their stations. In plain English, CBS is out of the radio business.


Why?music Second CBS Radio


They’re losing money.


Why are they losing money?



Because radio makes their money on advertising revenue. The size of any given platforms audience directly determines the amount of money they can charge for advertising. Think about the Super Bowl.  The cost of a 30-second ad is so outrageous because 1 billion people are going to watch it all at the same time.


Music Second Burning Money DODO MEME


But nobody is listening to the radio so the revenue checks kept getting smaller and smaller coinciding with their declining listenership. But the overhead (outgoing checks) are the same. The cost of maintaining the equipment, taxes, admin staff, talent payroll, and performance license expenses is the same if they’re not increasing.




Why do you think they created the “Jack FM” or “Bob FM” formats?  The marketing precept that they’re “playing what we want” is designed to divert your attention from the fact that these platforms have no DJ’s. No DJ’s means fewer expenses.


Get it?Music Second Jack FM Logo


When a business or industry is on the way up the bell curve, the visionaries are at the helm taking risks and changing the world by serving the customer better. When that industry is on the way down, the bean counters come in to manage the decline. That’s a fact no matter what industry you’re in.





Clear Channel (IHeartRadio) just released their 2017 first quarter report and it looks like they’re going to declare bankruptcy for the second time. They’re done. The government will break them up and sell off the pieces. Look at Clear Channel’s stock price it’s essentially flat-lined at its lowest level ever for the last year.


I PROMISE Cumulus is right behind CBS and Clear Channel.




Because the market has changed.


There’s your proof that radio isn’t working anymore. For radio to work, you need to have millions of people listening and hardly anyone is listening anymore because we got smartphones and a million easy ways to play our jam.


Our “Jam” is what we all want to hear. We don’t want to listen to anything new.


Because you’re not listening to the radio means you don’t have to “suffer” through listening to new songs from new artists. You can satisfy that pleasure point in your brain immediately by playing a song you know rather than taking a risk on one you don’t.


So, the market has changed and is continuing to morph, is it not?


The marketing strategies must adjust to the changing market.


Music Second Adapt MEME



We have to adapt and switch to online marketing. Masses of people are not going to listen to anyone’s new song online like they did in radio. It just doesn’t work that way. I wish it did, but it doesn’t.




You MUST understand that social media and the internet are mediums but those mediums are consumed differently than radio. If you don’t understand this fact, you’re sure to fail.


Here’s an example. When I started in the mortgage industry I was an exceptional cold caller. I worked for a multi-billion-dollar company (initially) and they taught you to make 200 calls a day to get 3-5 applications. One day a guy picked up the phone and after my greeting, he sighed. He told me, “Johnny, you’re the 70th person that I don’t know to call me today about doing my mortgage.




I thought there has to be a better way.


Music Second Risk



I drastically changed my approach from the norm and took a risk. A big risk. The recording studio in my house allowed me to create and record a radio show. My buddy agreed to partner up so if it failed I only was responsible for 50% of the downside.





We picked a station and made a deal. They sold us time on Saturdays in 30-minute slots. It cost $450 per 30-minute slot and we had to commit to 6 months which turned this marketing idea and contract into a $12,000 bill.




Music Second 12,000



Jason and I recorded and broadcast our first show. We put some time into creating a format that had a beginning, middle, and end. The show was loaded with informative content that mortgage consumers would find value in.





Zero phone calls.


The next week we recorded and broadcast our second show.


Zero phone calls.


The third-week same format on the show that was broadcast.


Same result too, ZERO phone calls.


Right about then, as you can imagine, I WAS FREAKING OUT!!!!


I called the station manager for guidance. She asked me, “Johnny, are you feeling enough pain to listen to every word I’m going to tell you and do EXACTLY as I say?”

Music Second Bozo


I replied, “I will freaking wear a Bozo outfit with the big shoes and the horn if you tell me to.”




She informed me that the way we were formatting the show was incorrect. We had a 30-minute slot with 25 minutes of content to create (the other 5 was for commercials). Our problem was that we had structured our show like a television program. As if the listeners consumed radio the same way as they consume television. Which is a completely different medium. She told us that on Saturdays the listeners were out running around taking care of errands and catching bits and pieces of any radio show. Do you see how different that is to sitting down and giving their complete attention to the program like they do on a TV sitcom?


She said, “Instead of doing one 25-minute show, break it up into five 5-minute shows. Change the metaphors so you don’t bore the few people who are listening all the way through and mention your phone number every 2 minutes. I’m not kidding, put a timer by your mic and EVERY 2 MINUTES give your phone number. I promise the phone will ring.


Music Second Break Up 5 5 minutes

 We did just that. We adapted to the different medium that was consumed differently than what we were used to and BOOM.





We got 5 calls on that 4th show with 2 of them turning into loans. The revenue from those 2 loans paid for that $12,000 commitment and we were off and running. Within 5 months we were on 5 different stations in 3 different markets. We were receiving around 70-100 phone calls per weekend. That resulted in a steady monthly gross income of around $180,000-$300,000. That’s a business.


Here’s the takeaway. Social media and online marketing are consumed differently than television which is consumed differently than radio.


Music Second Phone CallsYou better know the difference.


The music doesn’t come first online. The artist does.


The music is important just like a product is important because great music and great products will get you repeat customers.


But you can’t get repeat customers without customers and getting customers online has nothing to do with the music or the product.


I’ll repeat that last part.


Getting new customers has nothing to do with the music or the product when you’re marketing online.










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