At some point in your life you are going to have to take a chance
Why is it that some of us are willing to take chances on not wearing protection when we have sex or we chance falling in love, but we won’t risk failing in the music business or failing at our dreams?
Is that because the haters are in your ear?
Is that because your parents said you can’t do it?
I’m sure we all have really good reasons for either not pursuing our dreams or pursuing them “half-assed”Â but these reasons are excuses. It’s ok to have them, no judgment here for sure because the Universe is always as it should be and this life certainly is NOT for everybody.
However, there are some of you who are teetering on the edge of going “all in” and there are some of you that are “all in” already but you haven’t created an effective business plan so you’re working hard but still not experiencing the momentum that you should (in the South they call that “going around your ass to get to your elbow”). Many of you are “Legacy Artists”or “Heritage Artists”Â which is fancy talk for you had a record deal before with a brand name and you do it on your own right now. Most of you have an outdated business model as well. There is no excuse for an outdated business model. Either you areÂ naÃ¯veÂ or ignoring the changes in the music industry; either way the damage is the same; you don’t sell records.
Either way the damage is the same; you don’t sell records
Listen, I thought I’d write about taking chances today. I thought I would share some of the chances that I took throughout my life to inspire you to do the same. There are two concepts that keep me somewhat calm when taking any chance in life:
- The Universe is always as it should be
- Life (and your pending chance) is a journey, not a destination. Win or lose, you will LEARN and move forward which means if you are doing what you are supposed to do in life, every failure brings you one step closer to success; ultimately you always win.
Talent doesn’t matter with taking chances
Once again I submit this important fact for all your brains to devour.
If success in the music industry was all about talent, there would be no crappy songs and no crappy bands, and no crappy singers on the radio or in the public eye.
It’s a pretty simple fact that we all need to be reminded of when we are in our proverbial moment of doubt. By the way, if you aren’t having any moments of doubt you aren’t taking any chances, just sayin’.
As a man looking back on my life at 45 years old, I have had to start over often. I regret nothing. I can truly say the ONLY thing that I would’ve regretted was NOT taking the chances presented to me.
Close, Trusted Confidants with a Secret Agenda
In fact, passing on a chance is quite often the foundation for emotional bitterness, hatred, and ultimately bad health (yes, I really believe this). I’ll bet every one reading this article currently knows or has encountered someone who is generally nice with the exception of discussions involving following your dreams; this discussion gets uncomfortable for them. These people often manifest themselves in the form of haters or worse, close trusted confidants with a secret agenda to keep you down (because if you find any modicum of success they will feel worse about themselves and the chances they chose not to take). You are doing what they didn’t have the stones to do. You can openly see evidence of these “haters”Â on any one of my given blog posts on our website Daredevilproduction.com or the posts that Music Clout has promoted (thank you David). These are the anonymous comments from “writers”Â and “musicians”Â that are clearly mad at the world for their lot in life. They routinely lash out at these articles to make themselves feel better or maybe they just need to vent; who really knows for sure.
Want to avoid being this person?
You need to take some chances.
In 8th grade I started my first band. We were horrible, of course, but we were passionate. We took every opportunity to play at our high school. This was an emotional chance because every single time we played, people would take the opportunity to tell us how much we sucked. LOL. We did suck, but we were having FUN and we were on a mission to get better.
By junior year In High School, we were playing rock clubs in Milwaukee once or twice a week, during the school week. This was a chance because certainly some of our parents didn’t approve of the 4am mornings on a school day but we pressed on. It was also a chance because in 1985 most bands were playing and writing music like Warrant, Ratt, or Whitesnake and we were playing and writing more obscure, heavier music like Black Sabbath, Queensryche, and Iron Maiden. We played and wrote what was turning us on regardless of what the market was up to.
They wanted us because we were different
That chance led to our first big opener in Milwaukee for a band called Hericane Alice who were not signed by Atlantic Records yet but were arguably the biggest band in the Twin Cities music scene at the time. The band told us that there were literally 40 bands who would give their first born children for the exposure that would happen opening for Hericane Alice and they unanimously wanted us; because we were different (and much better than the 8th grade version btw thanks to all the rehearsals and week day shows we played). This first opening chance we were offered was not necessarily ideal. Yes it was a sold out show in a 3,000 capacity club but it was Christmas Day night up in St. Paul which was 5 hours away. Remember, we were in high school, man, and some of our parents were definitely NOT supportive of our best “Rock & Roll”Â artistic efforts, so asking off for a major family holiday was dicey at best.
We took the chance and smoothed it over with all the hostile parties
That chance led to 8 or so more opening slots for Hericane Alice up in the Twin Cities which helped us create a killer relationship with the regional booking agency that represented them. This relationship led to a touring contract with the booking agency.
Now our little band became a little too real for a couple of the members and they bailed.
The Universe is always as it should be.
This was not supposed to be their path man, so if we wanted to move forward and capitalize on this contract we were going to need to take a chance on some new members that were not going to be our “homies”; can you say UNCOMFORTABLE??
We took the chance and found a new bass player,
a new guitar player, and put together 3 sets of our favorite music to get into the AAA Midwest/Canadian club scene.
This was a huge chance because at that time we had to carry production and a road crew as the clubs didn’t provide sound & lights. On one hand we had far more control over our audio/visual presentation every night, but what that meant to us on a business level was called OVERHEAD. We had a truck rental, road crew salaries, plus all the normal hotel, fuel, booking agency fees, Commercial truck fees, food, etc that come with any tour, let alone your first tour.
Talk about pressure.
We took the chance and went out on the road.
The club owners and attendees LOVED our band but couldn’t figure out what the hell we were playing (because it wasn’t top 40) so we went everywhere once (touring for about 1 year) and we weren’t asked back by most of the clubs. (Fail) When the tour ended the chance we looked HORRIBLE on paper because while we grossed the equivalent of $250,000 today, we spent $16,000 more than we made. I owed $16k to Ryder truck rental services! (fail) Welcome to the music industry now go see the demon in the corner for your jacket! LOL. We got educated real quick.
After the tour ended we fired our idiot lead singer (with the big clean voice that allowed us to cover those heavy bands) mostly for being an unconscionable moron 100% of the time.
I then took a huge artistic chance when I proposed the next version of our act to the remaining members of the band. I told them that I was gonna be a lead singer because I could be a WAY better front man than the previous singer was. This was huge because the previous singer was a total dick and loved to rip on me because I couldn’t sing that well; admittedly, he got into my head about singing. (fail)
I took the chance and most of the band took a chance by believing in me. The bass player left to move back to Minneapolis because he was in love with a Vikings cheerleader. So we had a brand new artistic direction, with a brand new singer, and we needed a brand new bass player. Wow, see how this doesn’t look good on paper again?
I mean, what if we sucked?
We took another chance when the guitar player and I began writing a lot. I mean, what if we sucked? (fail)
We took a chance and took out a $4,000 loan to purchase an 8-track recording device, a drum machine, some mics, and other home recording gear. That wasn’t cheap but we needed a way to record demos.
These chances led to a (real crappy sounding) home recorded demo tape (fail) with some early versions of our new songs.
That chance led to some interest from Bud Snyder who was (at that time) part of the Allman Bros Band production team.
Now we had a producer who was interested in working with us and no bass player (fail)
So we took another chance and hooked up with a local guy that we haven’t ever heard of on a recommendation from the lead singer of a rival band, LOL
That chance led to another offer to move down to Florida where Bud’s studio was.
We talked our new bass player (just 30-60 days in) into moving to Florida with us to go full throttle on this dream of ours. This was a huge chance for us because we only had each other and it was a huge chance for him because he really didn’t know us from a can of paint.
We all took the chance and moved down to Florida.
We applied all the lessons from the first tour and managed to make a living down in Florida for 4-5 years touring on half the gross revenue. So the previous chances and “failures”Â that were a part of us came together to help us navigate successfully to the next level. We got all the way up toÂ Rob Cavallo at Warner Bros Records with whom we had regular conversations and demo exchanges; he was interested to see what Bud’s influence and the ABB scene would have on our sound. We agreed the ingredients were cool and intriguing.
Then the Nirvana record came out; game over. (fail)
So I left Kidd Gypsy and decided Nashville was where I needed to be in 1995 to learn how to be a better songwriter. This was a huge chance because I knew absolutely NOBODY in Nashville and I was totally alone.
This chance led me to an opportunity where I learned that I could make money in business; I was making $75k per year at this time.
This chance led to an offer to move to Los Angeles and work with a company called ZephyrtronicsÂ that had some emerging “walk on water”Â soldering technology. This opportunity initially meant that I would earn 1/3 of my current wages and triple my expenses! This was a huge chance and certainly didn’t look good on paper, ya know?
But I took the chance which put me in debt right away, (fail). It’s not always about money man. 3 short years later I was earning checks up to $20k per month but that didn’t come without the financial suffering of the previous 3 years. It was worth it.
With my newly found discretionary income I took a chance and spent $40k putting a decent recording studio in my house and began looking for acts that needed a producer.
Then the cyclical recession (fail) was followed by the Dot Com meltdown (fail), which was followed by the terrorist attacks (EPIC fail). Manufacturing industry was on its knees. The President of Zephyrtronics (someone I still consider a dear friend and mentor) lowered his prices and the net result to me was unacceptable; so I took a chance and left.
That chance led to an East Coast circuit board design company called ACDi who offered me good money to purchase my amazing West Coast aerospace customer list and a West Coast Key Accounts Executive positio. So I took that chance even though I knew NOTHING about circuit board design. I made some great friends and learned A LOT being blessed with yet another business mentor; the CEO of ACDi.
Eventually the yucky economy caught up with ACDi and I was let go being the lowest exec on the totem pole. (fail) I learned a lot from these chances though, so no regrets.
The next chance I took was getting into the mortgage industry. Again, I knew nothing about mortgages. Still, It seemed like an interesting challenge. Once I got my head around how mortgages work, I focused on a better way to market myself; being the 70th unsolicited caller that DAY for any given consumer was a crappy way to start any relationship.
I took another chance and used my recording studio to create a radio show where I would share mortgage knowledge with whoever was listening. The radio station I chose only offered 6 month contracts so with each show costing around $500 (for the radio timeslot) or so, I was staring down a massive $13,000 financial risk with only my gut making it feel like it was ok. This chance paid off as well, in a very short amount of time I had expanded to 3 markets and 5 stations with an advertising budget of $15,000/month that was generating over $200k/month of gross revenue.
In January of 2008, with the pending decline in the mortgage industry coming, I negotiated 1 year contracts with all 5 stations in exchange for a lower cost; which I received.
Then in February of 2008 Wall Street shut down and refused to buy any mortgages for over a year. Imagine me with a $12,000/month advertising bill and ZERO dollars coming in. (fail)
This looked, sounded, felt, and smelled bad on paper!
I took another chance. My thinking this time was when the government gets Wall Street back up and running, I will definitely NEED those radio station relationships so I paid all the contracts off with a credit card and Line of Credit I had taken out for growth. Bad move, man. It didn’t come back quick enough and it turned out that my business model was based on refinancing which was a bubble, a market anomaly, as most mortgages are historically based on purchases. So I had successfully capitalized on a bubble but failed to be a true “student of the game”Â and I paid a massive price for my ignorance
I lost everything. (EPIC fail)
It’s ok. While I was in the middle of this devastating financial crisis, divorce, and subsequent emotional meltdown I learned that I hated mortgages. More accurately I hated mortgage consumers. FACT: most consumers spend far more time researching and shopping for a flat screen TV than they do researching and shopping for a mortgage (which would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars!) which means you have to give them what they want even if it’s a toxic loan to them.
I had so much information to give but the consumers just didn’t want to hear it; too complicated.
So I was broke and looking for my next adventure. Why not get back into the music industry? At least I could be broke and HAPPY because it’s what I have always wanted to do.
Over 10 of the 15 years I was in Los Angeles, I was producing records on the side and working with my business partner Kelly Schoenfeld. Google him, his name is on over 70 million records, He’s awesome and he’s my best friend. We had spoken many times about what the new music industry was going to look like and maybe joining forces to conquer it. Alas, he was never going to leave Nashville and I was never going to leave Los Angeles as my wife was a television producer; L.A. is where the food is.
Then my wife and I separated and agreed to divorce. (fail)
So I took a chance and sold my house that was massively underwater (fail) and moved back to Nashville to team up with Kelly. We are a small, rapidly growing company with proof of concept on how to change the music industry by moving music online; without radio spins.
We are not afraid to fail because our failures help us when we are doing what we are supposed to do.
Don’t be afraid to fail.
Learn from failure.
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