When Creators Directly Connect with End Users, The World Changes

Connect Feature MEME

Connect Fundamental FlawThe biggest fundamental flaw of the OLD AND NEW music business is that the creators and/or owners of the creations have no freaking idea who their customers are.


(Pssst, you’re the creator).



Yes, they have demographics, but they don’t have their contact information so they don’t REALLY know who they are exactly. It also means they can only reach out via mass media like TV and Terrestrial Radio.


Which costs millions.

But nobody is listening to the radio and certainly, nobody is watching music videos on TV anymore. Not like they used to.


Connect Mass Media MEME



Therefore, record sales suck.


Therefore, few new superstars are being created.





Half the artists who were in the top 10 grossing tours of 2016 were over 55-years-old because the market is largely unaware of the new talent. This is because nobody is listening to radio and watching videos on TV.


It’s also because the new artists aren’t trying to connect with their fans. They want to be rockstars like their heroes.


The world would be VASTLY different for indies, signed artists, and labels if they would stop “doing what they’ve always done” and expecting different results.


Connect Crazy MEME 2



Ahem, that’s the very definition of crazy.





Let me tell you a crazy story.


QUESTION: For decades and decades the richest people in Texas were in what industry exactly?


If you guessed the oil business, you’d be correct! The richest oil families in Texas are multi-billionaires and have been for quite some time.


Connect Oil TREATEDBack in the early to mid 90’s a now famous Texan decided to build a widget. He spent the money to hire the team to design the widget. He spent more money prototyping that widget to work out the kinks and get it functioning properly. He spent more money leasing the manufacturing space, hiring the manufacturing experts, purchasing the manufacturing equipment, and the necessary components to put that widget into mass production. Then he spent a literal fortune promoting that creation to ensure he was systematically penetrating the minds of consumers.




He created the product then he created the demand for the product.

Connect Texan






But this future-shaping, trend-setting Texan did one super important thing different.



You see, for centuries all the widget makers, that is to say all the creators, sold their creations through distribution. Typically, a creator would sell their product for half price to the distributor. Then, the distributor marks up the price to the full market value so they can make their profit. But these distributors don’t actually create anything. That was how it always worked if you wanted to sell anything. Clothing makers sold Connect Distributor Collagethrough huge distributors like Macy’s and Nordstrom’s.  Toys were sold through distributors like K-Mart, Target, and Toys-R-Us. Automakers sold through local privately-owned dealerships. Electronic parts makers sold their parts to original equipment manufacturers via huge multi-hundred-million-dollar publicly traded distribution companies. Airline and Cruise companies needed local travel agents to distribute their services. Farms and food companies sold their products to brick and mortar local grocery distribution companies like Kroger.


But our famous Texan was asking the right questions.



Why was it worth selling your product to a distributor for half the market value anymore?


What exactly did a distributor bring to the table thatConnect Distributor Valuable MEME 2 made it worth letting them stick their hands that far down the creator’s pocket?


Answer: A relationship with the customer. For some it was a relationship with millions of customers which made for some very powerful and profitable distributors.


They knew the end-users!


Back in the day, if your creation wasn’t in distribution you didn’t sell anything, period. So, it was mission critical. It was the way our fathers did it, and their fathers did it, and their fathers and so on.


That’s a super tough nut to crack, you know. All that history.


But our Texan didn’t want to sell his $1,000 widget to a distributor for $500. He felt that if he was the one smart enough to create the widget and courageous enough to take the risk of designing, prototyping, manufacturing, and marketing the product he should get 100% of the money for it!


Seems fair.

Connect 100 Percent of the Money MEMEPlus, distributors show exactly zero brand love. Macy’s is just as happy to sell a customer Wrangler jeans over Levi’s. They don’t care what you buy, they just want you to buy!





But there was another way.


A way to bypass the distributor now because we had this new thing called the internet. (I feel like you should say that line in Dr. Evil’s voice using your fingers as air quotes; In-ter-net).


Connect Dr Evil



The internet would allow a creator who formerly had to pay big money to advertise via mass media (like darts in the dark if you ask me considering today’s alternatives) to connect and create a relationship with their customer.





Think about that.


That creator could have complete control over their customer’s experience.


That creator could become profitable faster because they’d have to sell half as many products to make the same amount of money that they would collect via distribution.


CONNECT Dell Computer Logo


You’ve probably figured out that our mystery genius is Michael Dell of Austin, TX. He became the first computer manufacturer to utilize the internet as a tool to create a direct relationship with the end-user/customer that he worked so hard and paid so much to reach.





His plan worked because within 7 years, Dell became the richest man in Texas.


That was in the late 90’s and early 2,000’s.


As of last year, according to Forbes Magazine, Michael Dell is worth 19.1 billion dollars. The nearest oil family is worth a paltry 8.9 billion. Poor babies.


Connect Michael Dell Forbes

That tells me the plan REALLY worked.


But the story doesn’t end there because Dell changed the world.





For decades if you were an electronic component manufacturer and your components were in an Apple product, you HAD to go through distribution because they had a relationship with your end-user that you couldn’t have. So, you sold your $1 diode for .50 cents and made money in the massive amounts of volume.


But after Dell Computer, you built a website and the engineers at Apple could contact you directly about questions, feedback, new products, ideas, etc. Little by little over the following 15 years the parts companies refused to renegotiate their distribution contracts because they didn’t need them anymore. They now possessed the one thing they used to pay the distributor for; a relationship with Apple (aka their end user). As a result, those multi-hundred-million-dollar-publicly-traded distribution companies imploded over time.


Connect Intel Logo

All gone.


All the local travel agencies vanished seemingly overnight.


Now consumers could access cruise lines and airline companies directly to purchase tickets without paying a commission because they didn’t need the travel agent anymore.



Did you notice how quickly the brand name outlet malls popped up around America? Companies like Levis, Coach, Hilfiger, Reebok, etc. couldn’t sell direct on their own but they damn sure could if they clustered with the other brand names and gave consumers a beehive of multiple brand names which sold their products discounted prices from the distributors.


Connect Outlet MallsCompanies that didn’t adapt like K-Mart and Sears fell into crippling debt.


How about the auto industry? GM purchased back tons of once privately owned dealerships because the consumers were only coming on the car lot to test drive the vehicle they wanted to purchase. The consumers didn’t need the salesmen for knowledge. Shockingly, consumers were literally more educated on the product than the salesman when it came to options on the vehicles. Why? Because the end user could research the product directly on the manufacturer’s website.




Mind Blown.


It all happened because one really smart guy was able to adapt in a changing environment.


One clever person was asking the right questions even though he didn’t have all the answers yet.

Connect Adapt MEME


QUESTION: What does Spotify, Pandora, and iTunes have that the labels, signed artists, and indie artists don’t have?


ANSWER: A relationship with their customers.




Which is a relationship with the label’s customers.


Also a relationship with your customers.


The labels aren’t adapting because distribution is always how they’ve done it. Just like all those other computer companies back in the late 90’s.


Make sense, right?


Which means these distributors have tons of information on these customers that would help artists and labels make more money.


But they won’t share that information with labels and artists.


Connect They Wont Share


Why won’t they share that information with you, the signed artists, and the labels?


Because the second they do, they would become irrelevant, just like travel agents.




I wonder how the world will change after artists, labels, managers, and publishers open their eyes like Michael Dell and take total control of our precious creations?











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You Need New Fans, But Where Is The Traffic Coming From?

Traffic Feature MEME

Where is your traffic coming from?

Traffic Record Deal MEME


Have you ever asked yourself that?


My guess is no, because it’s clear to me that most artists and industry execs don’t ask, don’t know, and don’t care. They just want to continue doing what used to work and bitching about why it doesn’t.

Your power, money, influence, and legacy lie in the size of your audience.


Do you want a record deal?


Great, get an audience. One that’s big enough to make you sexy to the labels.


How about management?


They’ll come crawling out of woodwork like a horror movie infestation scene if you have a sizable audience.


Maybe you’re just looking for killer gigs.


Yes, you guessed it, build an audience and you’ll magically have booking agents who’ll lie down in traffic for you. You’ll also develop great relationships with the club owners. It’s an amazing feeling when the bar owner tells you that the band’s bar tab was $450 that night and then rips it up in front of your face because you packed the house!


Now you’re probably thinking, “But Johnny, how can I get an audience without management, booking agents, or a label deal?


To that I say, “Precisely!


Now you’re asking the right questions!!


The answers will be different for each of you.

Whether you know it or not, believe it or not, and accept it or not, the truth is that you will NOT get a label, management, or bookings just because you have talent.


Unless you’re independently wealthy, managers and booking agents get paid on commission. This means that if you aren’t already making money there is nothing for them to make.



Simple math.


You might be thinking, they should just believe in me because I’m awesome, talented, and full of potential. Well, would you do that? Could you afford to believe In someone for free, for as long as it’s going to take to get you to a point of cash flowing?


What if the artist you believe in wakes up one day and decides to get married, have kids, settle down, and get a 9-5 job? You’d be screwed. Bottom line they need to get paid and until you find your audience, it’ll be slim pickin’s on viable booking agents and managers.


You’d be amazed a how many investors will be willing to put skin in the game if you have an audience as well.


Traffic Labels Don't Care abt Talent MEMELabels don’t care about your talent initially. Yes, they want you to be talented but talent and no audience means no label deal. Moderate talent and a sizable audience means you’ll get attention because labels are buying small businesses these days.


So where do you find your audience?


Since the first musical note was every played there has only been one way to build an audience; place talent in front of new sets of eyeballs and let the talent do their thing. To do that you need eyeballs to put the talent in front of which means you need traffic.


In the old days, traffic came from a few different places like MTV, CMT, GAC, BET, Radio, Television, magazines, certain music clubs, and the draw from an already established headlining act. When an artist or label wanted to expand the artist’s audience, they created content to plug into some or all of these outlets and Voila! You immediately create attention which turns into traffic.


Traffic Audience Formula MEMEThe principles of growing an artist’s audience are the same today in that we have to expose the artist to new eyeballs. But the old outlets don’t work anymore because most of them don’t have enough, if any eyeballs.



The problem now is the methods for executing this simple mission critical task have changed and the new paths to create traffic seem to be confusing industry and artists alike.




Rule #1: Ask yourself “Where is the traffic coming from?”Traffic Where is the Traffic Coming From MEME



Here’s what I mean.


Let’s take any TV talent show like American Idol, Nashville Star, or The Voice. Did they build an audience for their respective TV shows by presenting incredibly talented unknown artists singing their original songs?


No. Trust me there is a reason for that so why would you try to attempt to do it on your little platforms when the TV shows won’t do it on their big platforms?


They present incredible raw talent singing cover songs.


By the way, shows like these that introduced new and raw talent via cover songs gave us artists like Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Chris Young, Kelly Clarkson, and Melanie Martinez.


Traffic TV Show Logo Collage



Oh, and before TV shows like these, artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Led Zeppelin cleverly worked their way into the minds of consumers using cover songs as a crow bar.





Once these kinds of TV shows created an audience where did the traffic come from?


Answer: The TV show.


Why is this important?

Because the traffic source affects the kinds of song choices an up and coming artist will need to use to be successful.


The TV show provides the traffic when an artist like Carrie Underwood appears on American Idol.  So, a certain song choice will make or break the artist’s outcome in the competition (making a good song choice for the artist is important for THAT reason). But the traffic is the same either way because the traffic comes for the show, not the artist or the songs. Thus, old familiar songs that the artist covers in a compelling manner are a solid choice, provided the artist can deliver a great performance.


But this strategy is NOT a good choice on YouTube if the artist is doing covers.

Traffic Independence Day




Rule #1: Where’s the traffic coming from?


Carrie Underwood performed Martina McBride’s “Independence Day”after she made it to the Top 10 on A.I.


Killer song. I love that song. It TOTALLY worked for her on TV because the audience was there for the show but it wouldn’t work on YouTube because nobody is searching for it.


There’s no traffic for “Independence Day” so nobody will see the cover version.


Therefore, when it comes to YouTube covers, the traffic comes from new releases that JUST DROPPED. The sooner you cover the song, i.e., the closer your cover is posted to YouTube with relation to the release date of the original, the more traffic you’ll get for two reasons:

1. The original artist’s audience will be feverishly searching for that new song.

2. There will be less competition because most wannabe artists are lazy and will take a few days to post their cover.


Traffic The CLIMB Logo


A good success example is a guy named Jonathan Cochran. Jonathan is a regular listener to my podcast called The C.L.I.M.B. and decided to test out this strategy (my co-host, hit songwriter Brent Baxter and I have discussed it multiple times). Jonathan posted his interpretation of a new song from Miley Cyrus called “Malibu” either the day of, or the day after it originally dropped.  The results were astounding, but somewhat predictable. In 24 hours, he tripled his subscribers and garnered 6,500 views.





That’s 6,500 people who just discovered Jonathan Cochran. Now he’s up to over 10,000 views.


The traffic came because people were searching for Miley’s new song. Do you see how the song choice determines traffic on YouTube?


How about live shows?

If you’re asking where is the traffic coming from, the answer will influence your approach to marketing every show. But be aware each show might require a different approach.


Traffic Hammerjacks Ent Group Logo


The club scene was pretty happening back in the late 80’s and early 90’s when I toured. A certain amount of traffic was coming to club every weekend regardless of the talent and it was our job to SLAY it and keep the crowd. We would deliver and the audience would grow because enough of them would spread the word.




Conversely, when I moved to L.A., the clubs operated on a “Pay-To-Play” basis. Once you secured a gig, it was up to you to sell tickets (to earn your investment back because you had to pay for Effing tickets to your own show) to bring people in.


Traffic Pay To PlayAn artist must adapt in this environment.


It’s weird but each artist’s audiences would show up for a 30-minute set and then leave. I hated that. You could be hanging in the Viper Room on Sunset and one minute it would be wall to wall people, then the next, desolation boulevard.


My solution was to get together with a promoter friend of mine and package up deals with artists that had audiences and encourage those artists to urge their fans to hang out. We fostered this approach with timed drink deals to keep people incentivized to hang.





In this scenario, the traffic was coming from each of the artist’s draws so THAT was what we had to work with.


This resulted in a string of killer shows where all the artists were exposed to new eyeballs over the course of the evening AND it deepened the relationships between the bands…as long as they weren’t douchebags. But I digress because, of course, we had our share of those.


Traffic Digital Distributors Logos

When you’re deciding on a digital distributor like CD Baby, Tunecore, or Distrokid, most of y’all are misguided in thinking that one choice over the other will affect traffic.


Where does the traffic come from in digital distribution?


Answer: YOU.


Once you understand that, you’ll focus on the distribution and make choices that are based on business. But the traffic comes as a result of your marketing, not people “stumbling” across you on a digital distributor like Spotify or something similar.


When you consider spending money on a music video for an original release, ask yourself, “Where will the traffic come from?”


Traffic Music Channels Logos


If you have a massive audience the traffic will come from there. If you don’t, you’re making a video that nobody will see. This is sad but true. It’s also vastly different from the 80’s and 90’s when you made a video to put it up on MTV, CMT, BET, or GAC. Back then, these channels had massive audiences watching music videos so it made sense. Make a video and that video would get the artist in front of millions of new eyeballs.





But who’s watching now? Most of these channels focus way more on scripted and reality programming than music video programming. See why it’s different?


If you make a music video and you KNOW you’re not going to get it on MTV, CMT, GAC, BET, etc, then you’re just putting it up on YouTube.


Where’s the traffic coming from on YouTube?


Answer: Nowhere.


Is there another way you could spend your precious time and money in this market to ensure that your work is being exposed to new people every day?


It’s all about traffic.


Before you spend a dime or a minute of your time on a marketing plan, ask yourself, “Where is the traffic coming from?”


When you honestly research and answer that question, your marketing decisions will become exponentially more effective and it will be immediate.










If this article made sense to you, it might make sense for someone else too. Please SHARE it and COMMENT below.

STOP Thinking A CD Will Make You Famous

CD Ticket Feature

As one of Daredevil Production’s newest members, allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Cody Upchurch, and I started working for the CD Music has always been Essentialcompany a little over two weeks ago.  In that short amount of time, I have obtained an abundance of knowledge that only hands-on experience can provide.  After just 2 weeks, many of my preconceived notions about the music industry still hold true but some of my opinions have drastically changed. This epiphany happened after receiving a deeper understanding of how the business ACTUALLY works.


Like many of you, I have always thought that in order for an artist to be an artist, they first must have a CD or EP but I now know that this approach is categorically false. Sounds crazy, I know, but let me explain.


When I first arrived in Nashville, it became immediately apparent that the city is flooded with talented musicians.  They’re playing at every bar, and they’re damn good at what they do.  If you were to pluck any of these acts off the stage and ask them what they need for a “big break,” I can almost guarantee their first answer would be a CD, EP, or album.  Sure, it would be nice to have an album under your belt, but that’s not the ticket for success. It’s definitely not the first step to artistic success anymore. This is a common misconception that, unfortunately, too many musicians have.


Honestly, I would have given a similar answer before arriving in Nashville, but after working with actual musicians and helping them work towards realizing their dreams, it has become quite clear that nothing equates to the importance of marketing before the CD.


CD Marketing is a vital PillarStructurally speaking, I always knew that marketing was one of the most vital pillars in establishing an artist’s career, but I never realized the extent to which record labels shape their budgets according to this philosophy.  In the label mind, marketing outranks your recording by a landslide.  They care less about what the artist is putting out, and more about how many people will listen to it (because it’s good!).  Labels will do whatever they can to ensure they recoup their investment or at least get as close as possible.  This is done by spending the majority of their monetary resources on marketing.  If the marketing is effective in its intent, enough intrigue can be generated to ensure a substantial amount of people purchase the product.


What would be the point of releasing an album or CD if no one knows it exists?

But this is what EVERY indie artist does, isn’t it? They release the CD first. Then think about marketing to an audience of zero but their artist soul, hopes, and dreams crumble when they discover nobody cares. But they do care. The problem is they just don’t know about the artist and in today’s market, the music is going to change that.


CD Everybody wants to release a CD butThis is a fact that, for some reason, many musicians choose to ignore.  Everybody wants to release an album, but nobody wants to think about marketing.  While you have the power to allocate your money as you see fit, don’t expect that album to be your saving grace if you haven’t marketed YOURSELF properly before releasing it.  And posting on Facebook a week before your album release is NOT marketing.  In a world before the internet, radio did the marketing for us (which meant the music came first), but not today.  Now our phones are the radio, and every individual is the DJ of their own show.  Thus, it is inherent that YOU put YOURSELF onto people’s stations.  This isn’t done by releasing a song and expecting people to slide it into their rotation.


You must make an effort to connect with people on a personal level before you present them with a product to purchase or they just won’t care.

Once these connections are made, it is essential that you maintain the relationships and retain everyone’s information as best you can.  Most artists, labels included place fans into specified demographics.  Whether it be gender, race, age, etc., the analytics only give you a general idea of who your fans are.  While this is extremely helpful in deciding how you should market your material, the most beneficial move an artist can make for his or her own career is to get specific information on each fan.  This allows for surgical precision when it comes time to market the product you are trying to sell.

Another bit of online etiquette that my time in Nashville has taught me, is the importance of being personal with as many people as possible.

CD Shake hands and Make PlansThe most fireproof way to ensure someone supports your future endeavors is to communicate with them, by having REAL conversations.



Social media gives us the power to chat with the people we admire, all without ever leaving our house.  The more interactive the conversation is, the stronger the loyalty between fan and artist becomes.  Back in the day, an artist’s interaction with fans occurred only through live performances, interviews, and the occasional public spotting.  They didn’t have to worry about communicating with them on a regular basis because that technology didn’t exist.  Today, however, it is expected that artists not only have a presence on social media but actively use it to converse with fans.


CD Real Conversation is important

Retweets and Likes are a necessary mission-critical first step but a genuine back-and-forth is the most effective in developing a relationship.




Imagine social media as a sidewalk.  As you’re walking down the street, you see one of your favorite musicians hanging out on the corner.  You immediately begin to wave and express your praise, hoping that he or she not only waves back but speaks to you on a personal level.  Social media presents this scenario on a daily basis and makes it easier than ever for artists to connect with fans on a deeper level.  I see a Like as a slight head nod or wave, a Retweet as a spoken “Hello,” and an actual conversation as just that, a conversation.  Imagine someone that you’re a fan of acknowledging you to the point where they ask follow up questions and keep the conversation moving forward.  Not only would that make your day, but the chances of you supporting them financially (i.e. purchasing their music) increase exponentially.


CD Social media SidewalkOnce you remove yourself from the perspective of the artist and start looking through the eyes of a fan, real interaction begins to make more sense.




Now, you may be thinking what’s the point of marketing if we don’t have something to sell, but did you notice all these tactics I wrote about have exactly nothing to do with a CD or EP? You can start on the “building a relationship” piece of the puzzle right now without one song ever being recorded. It is important to understand this because the public won’t care about your music until after they care about you. If you truly understand this fact, why would you dare wait to begin your marketing strategy? Build up a rabid YouTube and social media fan base and THEN record a single.


I promise you’ll be amazed at the results.


I look forward to diving deeper into this topic, as well as countless others during my time with Daredevil Production this summer.  Just remember, the tools are in your hand, why not utilize them?

Why Do You Keep Making The Same Stupid Mistakes?

Mistakes Feature MEME

No one will care about your music without marketing.


Mistakes ZERO new people MEMEExactly zero new people will hear your music to care about it without marketing yet so many indie artists continue to make these mistakes.


Nobody needs new music so they don’t care about your music because it’s new.


Great art does NOT find its own audience and it never has. There has ALWAYS been a clever, hard-working marketer ensuring that new people are exposed to the artist’s work. PERIOD.


Why do you think record labels have marketing and promo divisions?


Mistakes Record Label Budgets MEME


Whether you want to believe it or not, whether you know it or not, a record label will give you 10% of the budget to make your record. They will use 90% of the budget for marketing.


How does that jive with your budget percentages?



My guess is most of you give zero dollars for marketing or the recipe is severely flip-flopped with maybe 10% going to marketing. It’s these mistakes that will crush you!


Too many artists have a false believe that they “need” to make a 10-12 song CD to succeed.


Mistakes CD You Don't Need a CD MEMEFALSE.


Other artists believe that they need to make a 5-6 song EP to succeed.




You are telling yourself stories if you believe this. This is your ego talking.


I get it, this is and has always been your dream but this is a sure-fire way to FAIL.


Has your dream always been to make a CD or was more like you thought that CD would lead to a career?


Wait, if your intention is to make a CD just for you and yours then you won’t fail. They’re surely going to listen to it. But if your intention or real dream is to be a professional artist, then this is a horrible decision.


When you aren’t clear on your intention, the “dream” can skew your vision causing you to make crippling, sometimes career-ending money decisions.


I remember speaking to a really nice artist on the phone who was hell bent on making a CD. He had a ridiculously small budget of $2,500.

His thinking was that he NEEDED a 10 song CD (because that was his dream) and so he went looking for someone who would record these 10 songs for $2,500.


Mistakes CD Do You Want a Career MEME



Guess what?


He found him.


I PROMISE if you’re hell bent on anything, you’ll find what you’re looking for.  Of course, there were ZERO dollars allotted for marketing from that $2,500 budget.





Which sadly, is probably a good thing, if I’m being honest, because the quality of those recordings at $250 a song (keep in mind the artist was NOT an engineer, did NOT own any recording software, nor a studio of any kind) are going to be atrocious.


Artists need to take a breath and decide, RIGHT NOW, what exactly they are trying to accomplish.


If you’re just recording the songs for yourself, for friends and family, or your significant other, then awesome. There is no wrong answer.


If your intention is to get your music out to the world and you create a crappy sounding product, you will have crappy results. GUARANTEED. Your songs and the recordings have to compete with what’s on the radio right now.

Mistakes Hiding MEME




If you execute zero marketing on that crappy sounding production or on the most beautiful recordings ever, you will have crappy results too. GUARANTEED.





If you manage the budget for your project like it was for friends and family but then grow angry and bitter when the world doesn’t freak out about your art, you’re completely missing the boat. Why would they care if they’ve never heard about it?


I have news for you, your first CD or EP isn’t going to sell. You’re not going to make your money back.


Mistakes Angry Not OK MEME



This is NOT news.





MOST major label artists end up in debt after the first record. The label spends a couple million dollars on marketing a $200,000 record and maybe they sell 50,000 units.  Nowhere near enough to recoup the initial investment.


But the artist’s brand name is now a reality in the minds of a few consumer/fans.


Mistakes In Debt Record Deal MEME



Then the second effort comes out, and things are looking better. The artist has a little rabid fan base that is eager to hear the next release. The second record usually sells far better than the first. Hopefully enough to break even on the recording and promotion costs. You’re hopefully BUILDING the whole time.


Then on the 3rd record, the artist blows up, the records start selling, and everybody starts making money.


It’s a long game.


Marketing your music is NOT like opening a lemonade stand where you make a profit on every transaction or pull up the stakes.


Mistakes Lemonade Stand MEME


Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Tom Petty and Def Leppard all had breakthrough records and record sales on the 3rd release.


Think about that. You need to know this.




Your first record isn’t going to sell because you don’t have an audience to sell it to.


Your first record isn’t going to sell because your future audience doesn’t care about your music right now.


The way Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Def Leppard accumulated their audience is DIFFERENT than the method you’re going to acquire yours.


Mistakes UnderwearThe old record business was about the music first. I’m not speaking about the quality of music (although it must be AMAZING), and I’m not speaking about the importance of music. I’m articulating THE MARKETING PROCESS.


When you put your clothes on in the morning you start with your underwear. There is a process to execute this task or you’ll look like an idiot.



In the old record business, the PROCESS was to release the music and launch the artist brand on radio where each market had massive reach and repetition. Consumers were essentially forced to hear that debut single multiple times while waiting to hear their “jam” because they didn’t have choices.


I am CONSTANTLY approached by indie artists who want me to “market their CD”.


It doesn’t work that way anymore. If they’re only focused on marketing the CD rather than creating a brand, they’ll be disappointed.


The beginning of your artist journey is NOT about marketing music and merch (although these can be a byproduct), rather it’s about creating a brand.


Mistakes Audience First MEME

Do you want to succeed as an artist?





If you do, you’re going to need an audience. Unlike the old days, your music is NOT going to generate that audience for you.




The artist comes first now.


Mistakes Build An Audience MEME

Guess what? You don’t need ANY tracks, exactly ZERO recordings to begin marketing your brand.


You can start building an audience, aka a fan base by intelligently using YouTube, and all social media platforms.


Build up an audience first and then release one single and GIVE IT AWAY.


You’re not trying to make money at this point, this is what I mean by “long-game”.


You ARE trying to create and deepen relationships.


Then repeat the process on a second single.


Continue to build relationships.


Mistakes Time MEME

If you suck at creating relationships on social media you’ll need to get better because it’s the only way you’re going to be successful.


Your education on this matter will require a little bit of money and TON of time. Find the time or face the facts.




No time means no career. Period. (but this is true of any career, isn’t it?)


If you refuse to spend the massive amounts of time it takes to create relationships on social media, then go get a day job. Your future in the music business will be one of frustration, aggravation, and bewilderment.


Nobody will care about you because nobody will be aware that you exist because you refuse to reach out to them in an intelligent manner.


The new music business industry wants you to be talented, trust me, but they don’t care about your talent. They care about your audience.


If you’re waiting till you finish the project to begin marketing you don’t get it and you’re going to fail.


Mistakes New Music Biz MEMEThis is true for record labels too. They’re still trying to do it the old way spending obscene amounts of money on P1 (major market) radio only to find that nobody is aware of the artist because new artists DON’T BREAK ON RADIO ANYMORE.


It’s all about YOU first.


I’ll say it again, IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU FIRST.


You have to create the relationships first before they’ll care about listening to your music.


The process has changed. Pretending like it hasn’t isn’t going to do a damn thing to help your career.


Underwear first, then your pants or dress.


Find your audience first, then release your single.


Get it?











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How High-Resolution Audio Could Save The Music Industry

High-Resolution FEATURE MEME

You drive into any ghetto in the USA and you can find an 8-year-old kid selling crack on the street corner. The shoes he chooses to wear are usually the most expensive Air Jordan sneakers.


High-Resolution Air JordansBut the kid is 8.


That means he was born in 2009.


Michael Jordan retired in 1993, 16 years before the kid was born.


Odds are he’s probably never even seen a single video of Michael Jordan playing basketball.


Why then, are these shoes so relevant to him that he would spend $280 on a pair?


Answer: Because everyone else is doing it.


This is great marketing. The value to the kid comes from society, not the fact that he has any awareness of Michael Jordan.


Great marketing works on music and the price of music as well, more on that in a second.


Everybody in the industry complains about how there is no more value in recorded music.


They also bitch about the fact that consumers don’t know good sonic quality from poor sonic quality.  They seem perfectly content to settle for crappy sound. If they did know the difference and they all made their purchase decisions on the actual quality of audio, they never would’ve bought CD’s to begin with.


High-Resolution MP3 Over Article

Last week the industry ditched MP3’s for AAC’s both of which sonically don’t come close to competing with WAV files which pale in comparison to analog.








Consumers don’t purchase music based on the quality of the file for the quality’s sake.


It’s obviously about the song but we can be smarter. This doesn’t have to be negative.


I was listening to the hosts of The Music Biz Weekly Podcast discuss Pono Music’s plans to become a high-resolution streaming service. Every one of their points was spot on (I love this podcast) but they missed the boat one very important fact; consumers don’t shop based on value.

High-Resolution Music Biz Weekly Podcast Logo


We all like to think we do but we don’t.


We all shop by comparison.


The only reason music fans glommed onto the CD, a format quality which was exponentially inferior to vinyl, was because they were told to.


Equally so for the MP3. Steve Jobs sold a fancy new device called the iPod which could hold “1,000 songs in your pocket” but only if they were in an MP3 format.


High-Resolution iPod Ad

We loved 1,000 songs in our pocket enough to care less about the audio quality.





Yes, the sonic difference between digital and analog is certainly more apparent with dynamic music like jazz and symphonic music.


Modern music is so compressed only experts can tell the difference.


It’s also true that most consumers these days are listening to their music through ear buds which are drastically subordinate to a larger powered speaker with regards to the frequency spectrum.


High-Resolution EarbudsSo what?


It doesn’t matter.


The argument that all these factors are the reason that consumers won’t adopt better quality audio is hogwash.


It’s true, consumers can’t hear the difference!


It’s not as immediately apparent in the mind of the consumer as a brand-new car vs at rusted out piece-of-crap, although this would be an accurate sonic metaphor.


They can’t distinguish between superior and inferior sound quality because somebody (like Steve Jobs, for instance) never communicated the difference, made it cool, gave them a sufficient reason to purchase, and charged them more for the better quality.


High-Resolution Damn the Torpedoes

Music used to cost $3.00 per song. Tom Petty’s Damn the Torpedoes came out in 1979 and cost $8.00.  Put that into an inflationary calculator and that $8.00 in 1979 is worth around $29.82 today’s dollars.





But Petty’s latest release, Hypnotic Eye, can be purchased on iTunes for $10.99 just like every other record.


This is because one man, Steve Jobs, said so.


If consumers went down in price because they were told to, we can certainly go up in price. The trick is to affect the consumer mind to believe it’s worth it.




High-Resolution Pono Music

Too many industry experts naturally and understandably want to attach the “worth” of the format to a tactile, tangible value. Just listen to that Music Biz podcast and you hear all the intelligent arguments.


Herein lies the mistake.


I’ll explain.


Pono Music was the self-proclaimed “pet project” of Neil Young that he initially funded (at least partially) by a Kickstarter campaign. Pono Music offered (for lack of a better term) “Super-HD” 192k, 24-bit audio files for $3.00 per song.


This was a genius idea, in my opinion, right up until Young went old school and required you to purchase a separate, expensive, clunky device to play the unique audio file required to deliver the Super-HD file.


High-Resolution pono Neil Young



This was an incredible missed opportunity.



The audiophile market has always been extremely small and certainly NEVER in the mainstream.


When vinyl was the ubiquitous format for music, there were sonic enthusiasts who would purchase insanely priced speakers and amplifiers to interpret their favorite recordings at a higher fidelity level than any normal market equipment.


High-Resolution SACDDuring the CD age, we had SACD formats which also provided high-resolution audio but you had to purchase a $3,000 – $20,000 CD player to hear it.


This was inconvenient obviously for the prohibitive cost, but also because the SACD wouldn’t work in the car.


Therefore, only audio elitists would spend that kind of cash to listen to the superior sound quality because they could hear the difference.


That previous statement is partly true. I personally know more than a few dudes who only had all the hottest audio products because someone told them they were the hottest audio products and they had the money to spend and people to impress.


High-Resolution SACD PlayerWhat Neil Young and Pono Music should have done was taken the hint from Gillette; GIVE them the razor and sell them on the blades.




Right now, the music industry has the capability to make everyone feel like and want to be an audiophile, or at least expand that market exponentially, while returning the value of recorded music to its original price at the same time.


High-Resolution Gillette Ad

See how they show you it’s worth it?


The industry can do this because, for the first time, it can be convenient for the consumer to actually be an audiophile if we would just be smart enough to make it that way.



For all the attention to detail that Jobs and Apple are known for in their superior quality products, they completely failed by installing the Quicktime audio player in the iTunes software.


High-Resolution QuickTime Equals Poop 2There is not a bigger piece of crap out there. Total disaster.


If you’ve ever listened to a stereo mix of a song in a recording studio as it plays in Pro-Tools (or any DAW) and then uploaded that same mix into iTunes and listened again, you know exactly what I’m talking about.


It’s like somebody hung some thick wet towels over the tweeters. It’s horrific! (Seriously, what Quicktime family member married someone from Apple to allow this to happen?)


For this reason, there is a company called Amarra Music Software that makes a plugin for iTunes which disengages the Shitateous Quicktime player and sends the signal through their high-resolution audio player.



High-Resolution Amarra Ad



The difference is astounding.






Everything is digital now, and outside devices are dead (even the iPod isn’t around anymore).


High-Resolution iPod NO MEME


Why doesn’t the record industry GIVE consumers an Amarra-like app for free? This app would allow consumers to play all their normal audio files plus the 192k 24-bit high-resolution files.


If we tell them the audio is better, and it truly is, they will purchase it provided it will work everywhere.






I’ve done it, by the way. I have proof this will work.


We tried a psychological marketing experiment on the Bailey James’ fans.


Follow me on this.


Everyone on Bailey’s list got there by downloading a free MP3 file of her latest single (at the time).


We sent out an email with the subject line “I have another gift for you”. In this email, Bailey explained in a video that she needed their opinion on something. She talked about how there was all this chatter regarding high-resolution audio with Jay-Z and Tidal, how HD Radio says they broadcast higher quality than XM-Sirius Satellite Radio (it’s true), and you can get high-resolution streams on the premium Spotify subscription.



Bailey then offered her stamp of approval and told them what to think (intentional neuro-linguistic programming here) by explaining that she’s been in the studio enough to tell the difference between an MP3 file and an HD file (HD file was simply a WAV but we branded it with a term that consumers would immediately understand). She illustrated how she could hear the bigger low-end and smoother highs when she cranks the song.



High-Resolution Them Finger MEMEThen, without asking for anything, she made it about them. She stated, “It doesn’t matter what Jay-Z, HD Radio, Premium Spotify users, or I think, it matters what YOU think.” She told them that she had attached a free HD download of the same single they already have. She was giving this to them because she wanted their feedback.


The only thing she requested in return was for her fans to CRANK the 2 files back-to-back and reply to her via social media as to which one they felt was better.


As you can easily imagine, EVERYONE thanked her for the second free track and clearly favored the HD audio.


Because we told them to.


When Bailey’s EP was released, we offered the normal downloads you’d expect on her web store, but we also offered HD (WAV file) downloads of each song as well as the complete EP.

High-Resolution Bailey Store 2We charged the standard .99 cents for an MP3 file but $1.49 for an HD single.


Over 80% of all the music sales in Bailey’s store were HD audio files.




We told them it was cool and got them to tell each other that it’s cool. That made it cool.


If we all purchased our products solely on price, functionality, and real value, we’d all drive the same cars, wear the same shoes, and tell time on the same watches.


But we don’t.


We shop by comparison.


That kid selling crack in the ghetto wears $280 Air Jordans because he thinks it’s cool. He thinks it’s cool because everyone he looks up to is wearing them.


High-Resolution P.T. Barnum MEME

“Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.” – P.T. Barnum






If it’s convenient, and it’s perceived to be cool because “everyone is doing it” then we can sell Super-HD audio for $3.00 per song.


No, they won’t be able to tell the difference, especially on super compressed pop music but that DOESN’T MATTER.


They will feel like a baller for only $3.00. It’s not that much money.


What would music sales look like in 2017 if every label re-released Super-HD audio files of all the best-selling records?


Oh, and you know what makes those Super HD files sound even better?


A killer expensive set of powered speakers, or headphones, amplifiers, etc., but I digress.









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Ignorant Boxers and Your Success In The Industry

Boxers Feature MEME

I stumbled across a 3-minute video on my Facebook feed that was a compilation of nothing but Mike Tyson knockouts.

Boxers Mike Tyson




That kid was extremely talented. He just threw BOMBS! So many of those knockouts were in the first or second round with a single punch.





That got me on a boxing kick so I moved on the next video on this Vintage Boxing Facebook account and watched the knockouts in the most exciting matches from Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Muhammed Ali, Joe Louis, Joe Frazier, Roberto Duran, Manny Pacquiao, Julio Cesar Chavez, Rocky Marciano, Evander Hollyfield, Jake LaMotta, Sonny Liston, and more.


Boxers Sugar Ray Leonard

Many of these knockouts were vintage, obviously, but the bouts from the 70’s and the 80’s usually had Don King standing right beside one or BOTH fighters.






For those of you who aren’t aware of Don King, he was one of the most successful boxing promoters on the planet. He was also one of the shadiest individuals ever.

Don (along with other historical fight promoters) was famous for finding boxers with promising talent but screwing them royally out of most of the money they could be making.


Boxers Don King

Boxers Don King By Shawn Lea from Jackson, MS, US – The contenders (cropped), CC BY 2.0, https-//commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2221611



These boxing “diamonds in the rough” were gifted at a young age but they were from the ghetto so they were also broke, uneducated, naïve, and desperate.


The magic ingredients of boxing talent, naïveté, lack of education, extreme poverty, and despondency made all these guys easy prey for fight promoters. All they had to do was present them a briefcase loaded with $50,000 and a brand-new Cadillac. Now they felt rich and they looked rich so the kids and their mamas were happy and the neighborhood was impressed.






However, these kids, under the tutelage of promoters like Don King, would soon be able to fill venues like Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas with rabid boxing fans paying thousands of dollars for a ticket. The networks were happy to pay for the rights to broadcast these contests on national television creating millions more in revenue. Then Pay-Per-View cable TV became available and the price of poker went up again.


Boxers Ghetto



Some of the more famous talent became durable and lasted long enough to make some money for themselves but most didn’t.






Most boxers ended up broke because they didn’t have the wherewithal to learn the business and understand their value at that stage of the game.


Boxers Boxing Arena Cassius Clay


King had a HUGE personality and was a genius at manipulating the media.


And the consumers.


And the talent.


And arguably some of the events.



This got me to thinking.


Where ever there is an ignorant boxer with a ton of talent, there is going to be a Don King standing beside him with one hand on the microphone waxing patriotically into the TV camera, “THIS IS A GREAT FIGHTER, I LOVE AMERICA!”


His other hand will always be in the Boxer’s pockets shaking him down for every dollar he can make.


Same is true for artists.


Boxers Don King in The Ring

Image By mborowick – Originally posted on Flickr as Bad Ass, CC BY 2.0, https-//commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5219525

Right now, you’re the ignorant boxer.


This goes for almost all artists, by the way, even the rich and famous major label artists.






Yes, all artists are the ignorant boxer and the role of Don King will be played by companies like Spotify, Pandora, Deezer, Slacker, all terrestrial radio stations, and all the record labels.


Superstars like Taylor Swift, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, U2, AC/DC, etc. don’t know who their customers are. They know demographics but they don’t have the actual contact information.


Boxers Spotify Logo MEMEBut Spotify does.


iTunes does too.




So, they win. They get all the money. They’ll NEVER share that information either because If they did, they would become irrelevant. We wouldn’t NEED them, or at least the leverage would DRASTICALLY change.


Do you see why the contact information is so valuable? If it wasn’t valuable they wouldn’t care about sharing it.


Boxers iTunes Logo MEME


Why don’t you think it’s that valuable?




All they’re doing is what the record labels and the artists won’t; collecting data and collecting subscriptions. They’re marketing like a modern day online business but labels and artists are Luddites bitching about the glory days and the way it used to be.


Labels don’t get it because it’s never been done that way. That’s the only reason. Even though EVERY other business is doing it this way outside of the music industry, they just won’t adapt.


Boxers Contact information MEME





Think about it. Amazon, Dell Computer, Apple Computer, your favorite grocery store, gas station, restaurants, airlines, and department stores all have your information and probably your credit card number stored; you know, for your convenience.






YOU do business like this every day, but you’re refusing to do business with your music like this.


What would the music business look like if all these iconic artists, and indies like you, had databases and knew EXACTLY who their customers were?


Boxer Amazon Collage




Gasp, what if all artists had their customer’s credit card numbers stored for them? It’s a simple freaking inexpensive plug-in on your website, but I digress.








Don King companies like Spotify would lose their power, maybe become irrelevant. What kind of deal would they need to make to get an artist to allow their music to be featured on their platform if all artists didn’t require their technology to reach the fans anymore?


Spotify doesn’t have a business unless they have traffic. They can’t get the traffic unless millions of people are looking for their favorite artists/brands. Spotify can’t represent the brands if they don’t have licensing agreements with the owners of the master recordings.


Boxer Revenue Per Stream

The record labels are in on the hustle.




You would vomit if you knew the VAST difference in revenue that the record labels collect per stream as opposed to the publishers and the songwriters.


It occurs to me that the boxers didn’t have a choice. They couldn’t target, connect, and grow their audience without characters like Don King.


Boxer S didn't have a choice



But you can.


Still, you don’t.





While Don King was a puppet-master of the media, fans, and talent, you’re a creative genius at lame excuses.


You have the ability to connect directly with your audience, circumventing the proverbial Don Kings but you choose to tell yourself that you “don’t have time” or “don’t understand social media”, and “you hate marketing because you’re an artist”.


Boxers Crying Baby MEME

For this reason, you suffer. You’ll continue to suffer until your passion for the dream dries up with your artist soul.



Ugh, this is so preventable.


When ALL artists understand this simple fact, IF all artists understood this simple fact, it would be disruptive to companies like Spotify and record labels. Possibly even an extinction level event like what the internet did to the travel agencies.



Boxer Expedia Logo



The artists have art and therefore the fans. Their brands create the traffic. Until they learn to do for themselves, there will always be a Spotify or a label to do it for them and take all the money.




I cringe at the remarkably gifted artists, that want to get a deal but have no audience. WHAT IF THE LABEL SAYS YES?


You’re screwed is what happens. You get to tell your mom that you’re a signed artist and that’s super fun until you realize that your deal, PLUS $2.50, will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks.


That is until you get an audience.


Boxer Tim McGraw Hits Album




Change the game and the relationships change. An artist doesn’t necessarily NEED a record label if they have an audience. Now the role of a label isn’t to create the audience, but to turn your bonfire into a proverbial forest fire. If the artist has an audience they have cash flow which means the risk to the label is significantly diminished.




The deal structures for new artists with a fan base will change to mimic the contracts the superstars have.


They’ll be more like JV’s (Joint Ventures) and partnerships rather than 360 record deals.


The bigger iconic artists have deals like this because THEY HAVE AN AUDIENCE! Still, even the best of the best remain clueless as to who that audience is exactly…but, again, I digress).


Boxer Praying MEME Hat in your hand



Today, you don’t need to be a superstar to come to the negotiating table with an audience. Assembling an audience means you have POWER and INFLUENCE in that deal instead of holding your hat in your hand hoping for the dream to come true.





THIS. This is the reality that I have been preaching for years here at Daredevil Production.




All the education you need, the tools you need, and the fans you want to reach are easily accessible from the device that you’re reading this article on right now.


Most of it is free.


Some of it costs money but most of you choose not to pay.


You’re buried in unimaginable debt from your student loans for an education that statistically will not serve you in the workplace, but you refuse to “risk” a couple hundred bucks to learn something that will help you in your dream?


Boxer TP MEMEI don’t get it.


How does that make sense?


What are you saving exactly when you forego an education that will actually help you?





If it was easy, everyone would be a rock star, but it’s decidedly NOT brain surgery either.


If you’re willing to fail a few times, learn, work, ADAPT, and persevere, you can connect with your audience and grow your fan base. They’ll lie down in traffic for you, defend you, support you, create fan accounts on social media, and LOVE you.


That’s a promise.


Boxer Worship you


I’ve seen it.


And that’s what you want, right? Love?





It’s all right there at your fingertips but you’re currently letting or planning to allow the Spotifys and record labels take your money or worse, deny you the dream because “you suck at marketing”.


What kind of bullshit is that?


You suck at marketing because you refuse to take it seriously. It’s no wonder.


Boxer At Your Fingertips

I’m always amazed at the ideas my artists come up with when they just start thinking about it.


Wherever there is an ignorant boxer with some talent, you’ll find a Don King ready to siphon every penny he can from that amazing work.


You get to choose.


But do us all a favor and just own it when you do. No complaining, ok?









How Comparing Will Kill Your “Right Now”

Comparing Feature Meme


The Bible had it right. THOU SHALT NOT COVET!

Comparing Bible MEME


Why do we do this? Why do we compare?


Why are we putting so much stock in another artist’s journey?


Especially when we are comparing our beginning to someone else’s middle.


Y’all compare your art with other artists you know and artists you admire, but what exactly are you comparing?


To admire is one thing. That’s what art is for.


Comparing is a complete waste of precious energy.


Comparing Research MEME


I can hear you now saying that you’re “comparing to learn how to be better”.  You think dissecting a song or performance to obtain a deeper understanding and savor the meaning of each note is comparing.




But it’s not.


I call that research. I call that studying. Potato, Pot-AH-tow, these are productive exercises right up until you start comparing.


Comparing Unhealty MEME

Comparing is unhealthy.





Comparing is the playground that your subconscious negative-self built to remind you that you’re not good enough.


Here’s the thing. We all go there occasionally. It’s like the shadows of doubt literally grab us by the hair and drag us to that dark, ugly, schoolyard. There we sit, on the merry-go-round, spinning so fast the outside world is a blur and the only thing our eyes can focus on are the shadows directly across from us.


Comparing Shadows MEME


The more we can recognize the red flags, the easier it is to avoid that rabbit hole.





Now, some of you are rather adept at avoiding this kind of thinking with your art. You know who you are as artists and you’re confident about it. At least more confident than most. (I can usually recognize this artist instantly because the air of authentic creative confidence is palpable. But I digress.)


Comparing Merry Go Round 2 BW



For the more confident artists and every artist, really, it’s level 2 that opens the door to the shadows of doubt.




Level 2 is marketing.


Every day I hear an artist groan about another artist’s marketing.


Must be nice to have all that money.”


“If I just had 10% of their budget I could be making a living.”


Comparing Scary Playground BW


Stop it.


Seriously, STOP IT!




Comparing in marketing is detrimental for the same reasons as coveting someone else’s art.


Comparing presupposes that there is some kind of destination for you. But there is no destination.


The journey is the destination so you’d better love the process.


Comparing Tracks Journey Destination MEME



This goes for creating art and marketing.




First off, when you compare, you’re always at different parts of your respective artist journeys. You must learn to advance but not get overwhelmed.


I started running again a few weeks ago. There is this DEMONIC hill at the beginning of my run.


It’s not that bad, but it is a hill.


Comparing Hill MEME



At the beginning.


And it totally sucks.





I realized that my will to conquer that hill is blown to smithereens if I look up and soak in the distance. It just seems so freaking far away and unachievable.  My attitude sours instantly and the probability of my stopping increases exponentially.


My solution is not to look up.


I keep my head down and focus on my feet. It’s momentum. This approach has the opposite effect on my mood. I’m moving, I’m actually moving! Then before I know it, I’m at the top of the hill. It sneaks up on me.


Comparing Running Just Work MEME



Do you see how comparing your marketing or your art is exactly like my evil hill?




Just focus and double down on the job at hand. Looking too far into the future or too closely at another artist’s journey will rip the hope right out of your chest. It’s a violent experience.


Do you like violence?


Comparing Violence

This is atrocity is preventable.




Keep your head down and W O R K. Before you know it, you will have dominated that little, seemingly insurmountable hill.


It’s just a hill.


The only thing that changes from day to day is our perception of the hill.


Comparing Apples & Oranges MEME


Problem number 2 with comparing on marketing is that you’re inevitably comparing apples and oranges. Your favorite artists are being marketed to you via a system that broke them but won’t break you. If your favorite artist is on their 15th single, they already have a relationship with radio, but you don’t.



Radio is going to take someone’s song off the air to put their song on because they have a brand name. Yes, radio launched that brand name, but it won’t launch yours.


comparing Launch


 In a sense, they’re lucky because they obviously get the push for radio. But at what cost?




It’s far better to approach radio after you have a solid audience built up. It’s way more fun to walk into a station where they’ve added you because they didn’t have a choice as opposed to you having your hat in your hand and begging for a favor.


Screw that.


Comparing Great Dane Leverage MEMEThere are no guarantees on radio. There has never been but now it’s worse. I had a conversation with a manager of this amazing signed act. They are compelling artists. They have a WELL FUNDED deal. The takeaway moment in the conversation came when the manager told me, “Johnny, we’ve spent an OBSCENE amount of money on radio and nobody knows who they are.” For the record, at this stage of the game and with their budget I would venture a guess that an “OBSCENE” amount of money would be in the $350,000-$500,000 range.



How are you feeling about those pings of jealousy now?


Comparing Keep Your Head Down And Work

Keep your head down and work.





Learn about online marketing, story-branding, permission marketing, and how to deeply connect with an audience.


Knowing and owning your audience is the key to your success.


STOP worrying about any other artists. It’s none of your business.


If you are good enough, nobody is stopping you.


Except you.


Comparing If You're Good Enough MEME



Stop complaining that you don’t have time. You’ll find the time if it’s important enough. To me when artists complain about not having the time, they’re really saying all this other stuff is more important.




Focus on the stuff that’s more important and OWN IT.


If this artist thing is important to you, and I mean REALLY important, you’ll get to work.


You’re either acting on the things you love or you’re not.


Coveting is not acting on what you love.


Coveting is subconsciously creating the reason you can’t.










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How To Stop Failing And Grow Your Audience Right Now

I want to talk about your future as an artist.


Let’s discuss the delays and the reason behind the delays.

grow Let's Talk MEME


When I refer to “delays” I’m not referring to “why you’re not a star yet”. No, if you have a solid strategy and you’re executing it, then you should be farther along this year than you were last year. Period.




Many of you, too many of you, in fact, are naively approaching this whole artist thing looking for a free ride of some sort. As if the industry beams you up to the mothership and takes care of everything for you.


Grow Free Ride




You know the routine, “I just need to meet that one record executive, that one manager, that one star who’ll take me on tour and then I’ll be on my way.”





It just doesn’t work that way. It’s not about one home run. It’s about thousands of base hits. If you’re going to be successful (meaning making a comfortable living doing what you were born to do) then you must accept responsibility for everything.


Grow MoneyBall




Yes, there are Cinderella stories of the artist who meets the big wig and that chance meeting changes everyone’s lives but they are few and far between. 99.9999% of all artists who come into your awareness have been grinding for a long time.





You are the CEO of a small company. All CEO’s have to make big decisions, spend money, take risks, understand the market, endure multiple failures, and see the big picture to grow their companies.


Start Growing You're a CEO MEME


CEO’s don’t sit around on the couch pulling on the bong wondering why nobody likes their amazing product or service and bad mouthing the industry for not “getting it”.




CEO’s don’t covet the success of more prominent CEO’s. Their curious about the stories and the work behind all successes and want to learn from them.


As a CEO you need to understand all aspects of the business from creation of the intellectual property to the manufacturing of the product to the marketing of that product.


CEO’s don’t sit around saying, “I’m no good at marketing”.


Grow You're a CEO I'm No Good At Marketing


CEO’s don’t sit around saying, “I don’t have time for marketing”.





The owners of small companies do it all. They master every facet of the business so they can teach the new hires to do it their way as the company grows.


Grow Feet Up MEME


There are BOATLOADS of failed record deal stories. A YouTube star gets a record deal but decides to let the record company take over on their marketing. Then the label they chose doesn’t understand how the artist grew their audience on YouTube and fumbles the football. Now the artist loses their record deal AND their YouTube audience because they weren’t at the helm.



Do you know why Tim McGraw has over 33 #1 hits? It seems easy from the cheap seats, doesn’t it? You think, oh he has the best songwriters beating down his door to give him their best songs. If I had that, I’d have a truckload of #1 singles too.


Grow Tim McGraw


Well, did you ever wonder why other huge stars who have been around just as long don’t have that many #1 singles? I mean, surely those stars get the same kind of respect and response from the hit songwriters and publishing companies, right?






Tim picks the songs, plain and simple.


He’s mastered the art of picking not only hit songs but hit songs that fit his brand.  Tim understands marketing as well.


I promise you Tim looks at whatever record label he’s with as a valued partner that helps him achieve his vision. Tim doesn’t look at them as some mysterious entity that magically makes it all happen for him.


Grow work Hardest Work MEME

It’s work people. Hard work!


The biggest stars, your heroes, are DRIVING.





The hardest work you’ll ever do is starting your own company. You have to create, you have to manufacture, you have to do the marketing, you have to do the accounting, the taxes, the hiring and firing, the selection, and you have to create the budget to make that business grow.


Yes, you own a small business and most of you suck at it because you don’t realize that you own a small business.


Grow Diamond MEME Stars out of Talent


Too many of you think the music business makes stars out of up and coming talent. I can see why it looks that way, but that’s not the case. The music business facilitates the aspirations of up and coming artists who understand how to work.




Some of them hardly have any musical talent, their talent is out-hustling everybody else.


If you suck at business, and you know you suck at business, you’d better find someone who can complement your weaknesses.


But you still have to sign your own checks. Just ask Oprah or Billy Joel. Now how do you think they learned that lesson?


Grow Dreams MEME


I have news for you. You will NOT learn how to market through osmosis. You will NOT learn how to make records in your dreams.




The only way out is THROUGH. You have to roll up your sleeves, make some time to learn about what you don’t know and begin putting a solid, executable strategy together that will get you into growth.


Otherwise, you’re going to end up bitter and bewildered.


CEO’s of small music business companies know that they’re not going to become a star overnight.


CEO’s of small music business companies know that they’re not going to be profitable after the first single or the first record.


Grow Radio Wont Get you into growth MEMECEO’s understand that radio isn’t going to get them into growth like it used to, so they must adapt.




Smart CEO’s know that there has never been a better time to start a small music business than right now! All your customers are out there, just one click away from knowing about you.


Smart CEO’s also know that the lifetime value of a fan/customer is worth far more than the .99 cents or $10.99 that the old music business would have them collect right now.


Smart CEO’s are leery about getting a record deal too soon. “Too soon” meaning they don’t have a big enough audience and therefore they don’t have enough power to influence the relationship.


Grow Crowd MEME

 Smart CEO’s want to stack the deck as much as possible in their favor so they can control their own future.




Smart CEO’s know that nobody is going to care about their small business more than them.









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How To STOP Losing To A Kindergartener

Kindergartener Feature MEME

What the hell does 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, a marshmallow and a Kindergartener have to do with your artist career?


Answer: Everything.Kindergartener Marshmallow Challenge


These were the raw materials presented to several different 4-person groups with a specific challenge.


The Challenge: Each group has 18 minutes to build the tallest freestanding structure they could with the given materials but the marshmallow has to be on top.


In Tom Wujec’s captivating TED Talk, he explains that this task seems simple enough, but it’s actually pretty hard because it forces people to collaborate quickly. Wujec mentions that there is something about this exercise that reveals deep lessons about the nature of collaboration and I would add, the nature of creativity.


Kindergartener Tom Wujec Challenge

Creativity in creating art.




Creativity in marketing art.


Kids Kindergarten Marshmallow GraphTypically, each team spends the first minutes of their precious time orienting themselves to the task. They talk about how the structure will look. They also jockey for position and rank amongst the team (I always say in any band, somebody has to be John, somebody has to be Paul, somebody has to be George, and somebody has to be Ringo…but I digress).


Then the group begins planning, organizing, and they lay out the spaghetti.


Next, the group will spend the majority of their time assembling the sticks into ever-growing structures and finally, as the clock is winding down, somebody grabs the marshmallow and gingerly puts it on top; Ta-Da!


Kindergartener Ta-Da







Then they stand back and admire their work, but what mostly happens is the “Ta-Da” moment turns into an “Uh-Oh” as the weight of the marshmallow buckles the poorly designed structure and it collapses.


Kindergartener Uh Oh


They could try to do it again, but they’re out of time.




What’s interesting is that the same groups have more “Uh-Oh” moments than others.


The group that consistently performs the worst are recent graduates of business school.


Kid Kindergarten GraduateThe group that consistently has more “Ta-Da” moments during these experiments are recent graduates of Kindergarten.





Even more compelling is not only do these 5-year-olds constantly produce the tallest reliable structures, they also produce the most creatively interesting structures.


Whoa! You must be asking yourself, why?


There are a few reasons. The first is that none of the 5-year-olds spend any time trying to be CEO of Spaghetti Inc., they don’t jockey for power and prestige amongst the group.


Kindergarten Making Stuff Politics



That’s a gripping statistic all by itself. The Kindergarteners don’t overthink the project or the social structure within the group, they just get down the business of making cool stuff!




What’s more enthralling is that business students are trained to find the single right plan and then they execute on it. Therefore, they put the marshmallow on the top at the end. Then it fails but they’re out of time so it becomes a CRISIS!


Kindergarten Start With The Marshmallow MEMEWhat the Kindergarteners do differently is they start with the marshmallow. They are always putting the marshmallow on top, failing, then tweaking the prototype and attempting again. So, their “uneducated” process is to prototype-refine, prototype-refine, and so on until they run out of time. But by then they’ve figured out a couple ways NOT to do it and stumbled onto a successful design.



The Kindergartener’s process supplies instant feedback about what works and what doesn’t work and they adjust accordingly.


They learn from the previous failures.


Kindergarten Marshmallow Graph EDIT



Kindergarteners regularly outperformed groups of business school graduates, lawyers, and CEO’s of fortune 50 companies. The only group that habitually beat the kids were architects and engineers.






Even more interesting is that the CEO’s performance was greatly improved if an executive administrator was added into the mix. This was because the Executive admins have special skills of facilitation. They manage the process.


Kindergarten Marshmallow Graph



Fascinating, right?





Ask yourself how educated and how effective you are on managing different processes in your career. If you’re lacking GET HELP.


Kindergarten Failure MEME Learn from



I think some of you behave like business school graduates with regards to creating your art. You’ve been taught to do that, so you must unlearn it. JUST DO IT. Just keep writing and tinkering until you start to create something that works. This approach will also help you with the occasional bouts of apathy or writer’s block as well. Set aside some time to be creative and then…create!




Not for nothing, this is how John Lennon and Paul McCartney honed their songwriting skills. Admittedly, their first 50-150 songs (depending on the interview you read) were complete rubbish.


Kindergarten Lennon McCartney MEME



Most of you behave like business school graduates when it comes to marketing your music. In this case, society and the inaccurate little stories you tell yourselves about marketing are the “education” that is crippling your performances.




Because your (understandable) negative feelings and reactions to poor marketing or the idea of marketing are so strong, you choose not to learn about marketing. It’s easier to tell yourself that someone will discover you and they’ll take care of necessary “finding your audience” part of the equation.


Kindergarten Salesman MEMEI wanted to share this TED Talk with you because marketing for each artist is always unique. Fans often react to attributes we weren’t thinking about when we market our artists here at Daredevil Production.




Thus, with your marketing, you should expect a boatload of failure just like the Kindergarteners.


Kindergarten Prototype Refine Repeat MEME



Refine your failed approach, try something new, and repeat.




This is the formula for success with marketing your music which allows you to connect with your audience.


Kindergarten Experiment With Marketing MEME



Do you see how it’s just like writing a song? “Well, that didn’t work, would it be better if we did this?”





The market reality is that MOST artists either choose not to market or they market their music poorly.


We don’t see, hear, or talk anything about the artists who choose not to market, do we?


Kindergarten No See Hear or Talk Monkeys



Read that one more time and let it sink in.





What’s more concerning is that, as humans, we predictably react depressingly to the artist that have crappy marketing techniques.


Again, MOST artists (and labels) don’t know what they’re doing online so it’s freaking EVERYWHERE we turn!


Kindergarten Psychadelic Skull & Bones MEME

This barrage of noise and negative anti-marketing-matter creep into our psyches and we subconsciously develop an aversion towards marketing.






Marketing makes us sick.


But the secret lies in the fact that the artists who can identify this dynamic within themselves and begin to shamelessly prototype different marketing approaches will TOWER over their competition. They’ll dominate quickly as well.


It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it isn’t rocket science either. It’s just work.


Kindergarten No Mistakes in Marketing



You’ll figure it out if you just have the courage and scientific approach of a Kindergartener.




This isn’t the old record business where a failure would ruin your career (Think Billy Squier’s “Rock Me Tonight” video) because it was broadcast to a huge audience.


No, this is the new music business. A failure means NOBODY SAW IT so you’re right where you started; undiscoverable. No blood no foul.


Now, the question is, are you smarter than a Kindergartener?












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Think About Growth And Your Audience Will Empower You

Audience Feature MEME

Audience Collect The Contact DataMany of you have now become aware of different indie artist self-help gurus and they have one common message; collect contact data.




Not for nothing, major label artists, famous people, actors, radio stations, ministers (big and small God’s children all God’s children), film studios, and TV networks could all change their worlds forever with this marketing strategy.


The tactic is called Permission Marketing.


Audience Permission Marketing


I’ve written about this before, but in this article, I’m going to focus on a little perspective and then some real-world applications so y’all can get a better grasp of how it would help you.




Here’s the whole idea of Permission Marketing in one quick sentence.


Permission Marketing is the concept that the future value of a fan is worth FAR more than .99 cents or $10.99 the old music business would have us collect from them right now.


Audience PM Definition MEME




Does that make sense?





Audience Broadcasting Success MEMEThe old methodology to break an artist was blasting the message about the artist via many different mass media channels. As tens of millions of people are exposed to the artist’s work via radio, TV, print mediums, and live shows, we would get a small percentage of new fans to become aware of that artist or song. Once a single person has been exposed to the artist via mass media at least 7 or 8 times (which requires massive frequency in the message) the more we will begin to convert those new fans into paying customers.


Right now, too many of you subscribe to this archaic promotion method. It doesn’t work anymore.


Want proof?


How are your sales?


How’re the record businesses sales?



Audience Your Sales Suck Image

The Record businesses sales suck and so do yours. Guess what, it’s not working.




Yikes. Sorry, but I’m trying to be real here.


Here’s the issue with the old method in a nutshell.


There are no masses anymore. The conversion rates have ALWAYS been small percentages. But mass media was super powerful despite the low percentage of conversions because the masses were so BIG!


Now they’re infinitesimal and growing smaller every day.


How big were the masses back in the day?


When the Beatles performed their American television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show February 6th, 1964 there were 78 million people watching that show! If 1% of the people converted (I believe that percentage was insanely higher but I digress), that means 780,000 people went out and purchased a record the next day.


Audience Conversion MEME







How infinitesimal are they now?


Today one of our biggest hit TV shows is The Walking Dead. Their audience is about 3-5 million people. So, if it were a music oriented show, that means a 1% conversion rate would get you about 30,000-50,000 in sales, but the conversions are much lower than 1%, therefore it would be less.




Yeah, the Beatles stuck out like a sore thumb in 1964 for various SIGNIFICANT reasons:

  • They towered over a VERY small pool of artistic competition with incredibly amazing art.Audience Clutter 3,500 Messages image
  • The people they were reaching were not inundated with 3,500 ad messages per day, not even close.
  • Thousands of incredible and wannabe artists were not clogging the ad channels with their art.
  • The day after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show the masses all heard the single on the radio because they didn’t have choices in the car; they had to listen.
  • There were only 3 channels on TV for the whole country and probably 1 maybe 2 choices for radio in any given city.


Do you see how much everything has changed?


Here’s a real world practical example of how Permission Marketing will change your life. I’m going to break it down from a more exposed indie artist all the way down to an artist that is early on their journey so follow me on this.


I received a call from one of the highest profile artists we’ve ever explored a relationship with, who I think gets Permission Marketing.


He’s a 28-year-old MBA, entrepreneur, rap artist, and TV personality.


Audience Shawn Satellite MEMEHe said something like this, “Johnny, I cut my teeth on multiple MTV shows where I was the host. I’m currently signed with Disney as I am a cast member on a new ABC reality show. I just dropped a single featuring Snoop Dog, we’re shooting the video next week. I parlayed all that heat into a new reality show on Bravo (which isn’t in production yet). I sold out 5,000 tickets for a show last New Year’s Eve. Oh, and I’ll know in the next 2 weeks if I get the lead role in a feature film for a major franchise (because it’s between me and one other guy). So, tell me, how would your marketing approach apply to me?”



Here’s what I said.


“Let’s suppose that we were working together from the beginning of your MTV days. We would scrub the internet looking for everybody that hash-tagged you or mentioned your name. They’re easy to find and the social media mentions would be busy during the airing of any given episode. Now depending on what your idea of fame is (meaning doAudience Shawn Explanation MEME you feel like following somebody first is smart or do you feel following somebody first will undermine your fame?) we go out and follow them all. Then, to the ones who follow us back, we offer a free song download or something valuable to them. Now we own the information. If we did that for both MTV shows, the new ABC show, collected information during your sold-out NYE show, and the Bravo show how many contacts would we have?  Oh, let’s not forget the Snoop Dog single! If you’re in the video with him, that’s instant credibility for you. Snoop’s social media wells are the gift that will keep on giving. After all that, could we maybe have 1 million emails? NOW, apply that power to the conversations you’re having with the huge feature film franchise. If it’s between you and one other guy, it’s safe to say that they like your acting chops, they like your look, but the only thing they need to figure out is who is going to fit better. What if you had 1 million contacts who are rabidly awaiting your next message that would directly receive the trailer and some BTS access during shooting? THAT’s TICKET SALES. THAT’S MONEY! THAT’S POWER!”


Do you see what I’m getting at here?


Are you picking up what I’m putting down?


Can you even vaguely see how having the contact list would tip the scales in this situation?


the more an artist gets directly connected to his fans the less he needs 3rd party entities to connect him with an audience.


He’ll still need those 3rd party entities to help him create and distribute his art, but can you envision how drastically the role of that 3rd party changes when he comes to the table with an audience that he can contact at will?


Audience The Bigger The Artists Audience MEME

The bigger his audience, the more power he has.




These 3rd party entities are TV networks, TV production companies, record labels, movie studios, radio stations, corporate sponsorships, branding and co-branding opportunities, etc.


Audience iPhone MEMEEnvision the record labels coming to you because you have an audience, you can quantify that audience, and you can contact them directly.


What would that do for an actor?


An actor with 1 million contacts could take on indie film pet-projects and get immediate funding because the investors would know that they already had an audience to recoup their money.


What would that do for a minister?


I was interviewing a potential new intern this past week. His resume showed me that while he was interested in the music business, he was deeply involved in his church and had some ideas about being a minister.


Audience Preacher MEME


Can you imagine the work you could accomplish if you were a minister with 1 million contacts? Get everyone to donate $1 To build schools or houses in Haiti. Boom, just like that you’re on your way! They know you. You have their permission to reach out because your content is relevant and personal to them, it’s consistent, and they trust you to be a good steward of their money. Of course, you would need to spend a small portion of that money ensuring that you document what their $1 investment did for them, but that position would be quite powerful.






Audience Crowdfunding Collage




Permission Marketing is the mother of crowdfunding. If you do a good enough job with the permission, you arguably wouldn’t need a crowdfunding platform, you could just take the money because they trust you with it.


What about on a smaller indie artist level?


Audience Bailey James Instagram



Well, I have a 14-year-old artist named Bailey James. She currently has about 39,000 followers on Instagram. When we started with her she had about 100 or so.  Her Instagram account is large and engaged so she now gets paid good money post stuff on her account. She’s considered an influencer. Bailey has played 3 shows so far. She is in the early stages of her artistic journey, but her audience is strong and growing every day.




Audience Bailey Fan Accounts 1

Bailey has over 20-30 fan created social media fan accounts.





I’m relatively sure that’s more than most of you. See the power in the strategy?


Audience Bailey Fans 2




Her strength in social media has gotten her many opportunities with PR companies, musicians, and corporate relations.  For instance, her relationship with The Jason Foundation was largely due to her social media audience. That relationship with JFI has led us to a decently paid, full-production gig during CMA week for a private fundraiser.





Bailey has a contact list but it’s small right now. That list will probably triple during her first radio tour this summer.


What if you’re an indie artist who plays a ton of shows?


Man, if you’re not collecting contact info at every show, you’re an idiot. I don’t care if there are 5 people at the show, those numbers add up over time. Think about how many shows you play per year and your average audience size. Add up those numbers. It becomes quite clear that touring artists have a massive opportunity to grow a list if they just understood what was right in front of them. Even for a weekend warrior, you’d have 10’s of thousands of contacts after just 1 short year.


Imagine an indie artist with just 100,000 contacts, which is TOTALLY doable in less than 2 years for a band that plays every weekend. What brands would be interested in a direct rifle shot into the hands of 100,000 people that are waiting to hear what the artist will say, sing, play, wear, drink, eat, watch, etc.?


Audience Collecting at Live Shows MEME

How much could that artist make with one video message?




What about a TV network or production company?


Imagine possessing a massive list of people who love a specific kind of content like zombie thrillers. Now you can email them directly to make them aware of your new show for free.


Do you see how this is so important?


Bottom line, the bigger your audience, the more power you have. Your audience will grow slowly so get going on it immediately.


The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is right now.


Grow your audience, increase your power, increase your income.









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