Have you ever heard of Bert Hinkler?
He did something amazing. He even did that amazing thing faster and more efficiently than the first person who did it.
Bert was better, hands down, but he was second.
Therefore, you remember Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis, don’t you?
This is because he was the first person to successfully fly a single-engine airplane solo non-stop across the Atlantic.
Want to hear something crazy?
You weren’t aware of the #2 person who succeeded in this incredible flight but you probably know the #3 person to ever do it; Amelia Earhart.
How come you know the first, never heard of the second, but the third is also famous?
Answer: Because she was the first woman to do it.
The Law of Leadership.
This is the first law in an amazing book that has been out forever called The 22 Immutable Laws of MARKETING. (This link takes you to the Amazon “used book” page where there are tons of copies for freakin’ .98 cents! An IMPORTANT, quick education for less than $1…but I digress)
Here’s the question that I want you to ask yourself, “Am I trying to succeed as an artist by default or am I trying to succeed by design?”
To be clear, my definition of “success” is this: you make a living writing, recording, and performing music. Making a living doing all these or just one, but doing what you love means no day-gig.
Too many of you are trying to become successful by default.
Yeah, let me explain.
There are three kinds of people in this world.
- People who make things happen
- People who watch what happens
- People who wonder what happened
33% of People “make things happen” because they approach success by design.
They choose to learn so they KNOW what they’re doing. People who win by design make a choice to follow an educated path spending their precious time and resources in the most effective places.
More education = less naivete.
Which means 66% of people, the ones who “watch what happens” and “wonder what happened” live by default; the world happens to them.
Did you catch that? I’m going to repeat it, 66% of people live by default meaning the world happens to them.
You’re an artist for God’s sake!
By D E F I N I T I O N, you, the artist, are supposed to happen to the world!
If you’re going to be an artist that happens to the world (because I don’t believe there are artists where the world happened to them. If there is, we don’t know about them, so did it happen?), you must build your career by design.
Building and living by design mean you cannot watch what happens and you cannot wonder what happened. You must know what’s going on!
Education is the key.
You are the CEO of your little company. FYI, the biggest and best started out of garages like yours (Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Ford, Madonna, Metallica, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, etc.)
If you say to yourself that you “suck at marketing” or you “suck at business” then you’re probably right which makes you a sucky CEO.
There’s nothing wrong with being a poor CEO but you won’t succeed, sorry.
Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, you’re in charge. If you suck at some mission critical part of your dream, you’d better address that now.
In The 22 Immutable Laws of MARKETING, the authors say that any CEO who isn’t in charge of his or her own marketing is living by default.
To work by design YOU have to be in charge. You have to work with the outside companies you hire to ensure your brand is being conveyed correctly.
Are you waiting for someone to sign you?
You’re living by default, waiting for the world to happen to you.
Are you waiting to meet that one big relationship before you kick it into second gear and get serious?
Again, Living by default.
You have to GET IT GOING people. YOU are your only hope.
Yes, there are a couple artists who seem to have gotten lucky, but if this is your plan you’re living by default because these so-called “lucky” artists are exceptions to the rule (PLUS, I promise you don’t know the whole story so they’re not as lucky as you think.)
Winning the lottery is an exception to the rule…but, again, I digress.
This book is weighted completely on business brands with no mention of the music business whatsoever.
Try and see past that. The gems are in there.
I’ll connect a few dots for you.
Substitute “leading” for “First”
What is the leading institution in this country?
You probably thought Harvard.
You would be right and they were also the first institution in this country founded in 1636. William and Mary College is the second oldest and they’re slightly more famous than Bert Hinkler.
Time Magazine vs. Newsweek, guess who was first?
Advil vs. Nuprin and you’re right, Advil is the leader in the market with a 51% share and they were also first.
Would it surprise you that twins often complain that the first of the two whom a person meets always remains their favorite even though that person gets to meet the other twin?
It’s better to be first than to be better.
That’s the #1 Immutable Law of Marketing.
If you can’t be first like Xerox with copiers (people stand in front of a Ricoh copier and ask for a Xerox copy!), Keen-ex with facial tissue, or Gore-Tex, Jell-O, Fiberglass, Saran Wrap and Scotch Tape, then be first in a sub-category.
Like Amelia Earhart being the 1st woman.
Chrysler has just 10% of the auto market but owns 50% of the minivan market because they were first.
Yeah, yeah, I can hear some of you, “But Johnny, what does this have to do with me as an artist?”
This is called the Law of Category
What is your artistic lane or category?
What are you doing differently that will make you identifiable?
Hello, these are design questions.
Taylor Swift was the first young country artist to lyrically speak to her peers. This is partly why she is so huge. Nobody was communicating to the 9-14-year-olds in the country market at that time.
Kiss was the first rock group to make the make-up famous and provide a bombastic live show.
Motley Crüe was first in the market with the new 80’s glam metal sound, they added to what David Bowie had done with glam and made it harder edged.
By the way, when I say, “first in the market” I mean first in the market’s AWARENESS which is to say they were first in the mind.
There may have been other glam metal bands before Motley Crüe, but they were the first to get into your awareness so they win.
Marketing is a mental game, the products, to a degree, don’t matter.
Thus, “It’s better to be first than to be better”.
Brian Epstein fashioned the Beatles into 4 neatly trimmed, clean faced, suit-wearing, bowing-after-every-song, safe boys you could bring home to mom.
Andrew Loog Oldham knew he couldn’t occupy the same lane with the Stones, so he fashioned them in a new category as the “anti-Beatles”. They were dangerous and scruffy looking.
Think about it, if marketing was objectively product based like we want to believe, there would be no sucky music.
No artists would be famous unless they were uber-talented.
But that has never been the case, has it?
Therefore, whoever markets better, wins.
Being first in the market is important only to the extent that it allows you to be first in the mind.
This is so important in the music industry that MANY really talented artists have been signed for the sole purpose of being shelved to keep them off the market so as not to compete with the label’s priority who is similar.
This is good info to know if you’re looking at a deal. Why are they signing you? You’d better know all the artists on the label roster because I promise you the courtship is exactly the same. It’s the outcome that changes.
The MITS Altair 8800 was the first personal computer, it came out in 1974 and the Apple II came out later in 1976.
But Apple had a better name and better marketing so they got into the mind first.
Marketing is a battle of perception, not products so the MIND takes precedence over the marketplace.
It’s one thing to be an amazing artist but it’s another to be in the mind of the consumer.
This is called the Law of the Mind.
Everybody lives within their own perception. Their reality is their perception.
Think about this fact in terms of politics, religion, or your bandmates opinions on the best artists or equipment.
How about emotionally and sexaully abused people? Their perception is they don’t think they’re worth anything so that becomes their reality.
So, reality doesn’t matter as much as perception BUT, in today’s music business, the perception had better be authenticity.
You’d better be REAL and GENUINE or the market will see right through it.
Hype won’t make perception a reality. Until your audience perceives you to be real, you’re a fantasy.
You’re the Altair 8800.
You’re that amazingly talented friend of yours who didn’t get the record deal.
Falling into the (often inaccurate) assumption that you have more talent, therefore you deserve success is killing you.
The artist who wins will be the artist who infiltrates the consumer mind first, talented or not.
The artist who stands out will be the artist who is the most unique in the new music business.
Therefore, the artists who lack on a body of work simply won’t have authentic art.
The more work an artist does to “close the gap” between their taste and authenticity, the more authentic their art becomes.
Therefore, covers are so important.
Cut the crap, you won’t be misconstrued a cover artist, I promise.
Let’s be honest here, the reality is that, right now, you’re not seen by the market as any kind of artist, isn’t it?
Or at least you’re seen by too few people to make a living.
Until you put in this work, the artist is unique and the art is not.
It’s not about your music.
Rather, it’s about what people think about your music.
If objectivity on the product were the determining factor in marketing, all products would perform equally throughout the globe.
In America, the top 3 Japanese auto imports are Honda, Toyota, and Nissan IN THAT ORDER.
If people purchased based on the objectivity of the product, like designs, functionality, styling, etc., this same ranking would exist in Japan, but it doesn’t because the Japanese think about these brands differently.
Japan’s top 3 selling auto brands are Toyota, Nissan, then Honda coming in third because the Japanese think of Honda as a motorcycle company, not a car company.
Imagine how well Harley-Davidson cars would sell in America.
In America, Campbell’s soup is #1 but in England, Heinz soup is #1.
The question is, exactly what are you doing to get yourself in the mind of the consumer?
I want you to win.
You’re only going to win by penetrating the mind of the consumer.
Get someone to do it for you if you don’t know how to do it.
If you can’t afford that, get an education and continue to learn. Understand how to permeate the consumer’s mind by design so you happen to the world.
If you’re not happening to the world, you’re not an artist.
I mean, maybe you are, but I haven’t heard of you.
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