Tag Archive for: Florida Georgia Line

Strategies That Guarantee Success feature

By Johnny Dwinell

Artists are mostly brooders; we are, let’s face it.  We worry too much.  We are constantly tripping about where we should be and therefore look down on ourselves about where our careers currently are and as a result, we get depressed, crotchety, upset, and some of us get downright mean.

I got news for you, this mental process is breaking the 10th commandment; THOU DSC_0059SHALT NOT COVET.  This isn’t a religion thing; it’s a great piece of 2000 year old advice.  Somebody already articulated the damage and ruin that Coveting creates ages ago!

Coveting is a killer of artists, creativity, and careers; oh, and a completely nonproductive exercise.  Yeah, yeah, I know, most of us can’t help ourselves; it’s what makes us artists!  However, mastering the art of avoiding nonproductive thinking and behavior is what makes us successful in whatever endeavors we choose to pursue.

It’s what makes us mature.

It’s what makes us true professionals

It’s what puts food on our table

It’s what makes us ready!

Here are five Strategies that Guarantee Success

  1. Don’t Look In The Rear View Mirror: David Lee Roth summed it up best by saying “If you Strategies That Guarantee Success rearview imagekeep on looking in the rear view mirror, man, you will drive off the road and keep on going.”  We can grasp a simple calming perspective by internalizing the fact that our past is EXACTLY that; the past.  There is literally NOTHING you can do about the past, so spending 1 second of energy on it is an EPIC fail and a colossal waste of time.  The past is what got us here; our successes and failures are part of who we are so we have to embrace them.  I mean, WTF else can you do with them that will help your future?  When I was a pro artist and depressed, my manager, Barbara Strauss, used to make me sit down and think about how far I have come and everything I accomplished to get where I was.  I highly recommend this mental exercise as it always helped me kick the blues.
  2. Focus on What You HAVE Instead of What You Don’t Have: I promise the answers to all our future career questions and successes lies within the blessings we currently have, NOT in what we don’t have.  Think about that for a second, it logically HAS TO; every artist that we know did not break and become the icons we love by getting something they didn’t have.  Simple math really.  Any thoughts we entertain about what we don’t have is a cop out and quite damaging as it only sets up excuses to quit; negative thinking will never help us succeed, so STOP IT.
  3. You Can Only Control RIGHT NOW: Strategies That Guarantee Success Let's do the work imageThe past is the past, the future is the future the ONLY thing you ever have control over in your life is RIGHT NOW.  So worrying about the past is a waste of time.  Worrying about the future a fruitless search.  We have to take action and work TODAY…RIGHT NOW!!  Think about that, it’s the ONLY way we can possibly succeed and realize our dreams.  Huge selling artists like Motley Crue, Brantley Gilbert, Florida Georgia Line, Ratt, and the Zac Brown Band thought this way.  They all had success and record sales LONG before they had record deals, y’all.  They went to the negotiating table with the majors that ultimately signed them with a ton of leverage.  How could they have achieved all the record sales and success they did BEFORE they got signed if they were sitting around saying, “if we just had a record deal so we could get paid, then we could be stars.”  They didn’t wait for anything.
  4. Work: Work creates momentum.  We have to work.  When we are feeling really down about where you are there is literally no better remedy for the artistic blues than redoubling our efforts towards our careers.  I get it, you don’t want to get out of bed when you’re depressed, but often times the simplest task of working on SOMETHING that advances your career will create the feeling of momentum in your head and make you feel better; the depression starts to subside.  Motion creates emotion!  Working out doesn’t hurt either!  Physical exercise is a GREAT remedy for depression
  5. Ignore the Haters: Especially the most powerful hater which is our own internal negative Strategies That Guarantee Success Haters make us famous imagevoice!  Again, listening to that voice or any other hater only leads to one result; an excuse to quit.  Hollywood will tell you that if you are an actress, you need to be beautiful, perfect and really young to break.  Try telling that to Sharon Stone who didn’t “break” until she was 35 and went on to an amazing career including an Oscar for her role in “Casino”.  Try telling that to Rodney Dangerfield who had a family and sold aluminum siding up until he broke in comedy at age 45.  How about Joaquin Phoenix who overcame a hair-lip and a hump back (which he still has btw) to become a star.  How about Melissa McCarthy who is obese but still a brilliant successful Hollywood comedic actress.  Every label in town passed on Van Halen TWICE before they finally got signed to Warner Bros.  Nobody wanted to sign Winger until their producer went to bat for them.  Etc, etc, etc.  I promise you for every reason you and your haters can create to predict your failure, I can find 10 people that overcame the same hardships and succeeded.  It’s all up to you; nobody else.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post y’all!

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failure Is not an option SIZED

A reporter came and asked Thomas Edison, “How many times are you going to fail at creating the light bulb?” Mr. Edison replied, “Son, I haven’t failed! I’ve simply discovered another way not to invent the light bulb!”

Are You Failing or Conceited?

“Failure is really a matter of conceit. People don’t work hard because, in their conceit, they imagine they’ll succeed without ever making an effort. Most people believe that they’ll wake up some day and find themselves rich. Actually, they’ve got it half right, because eventually they do wake up.”
― Thomas A. Edison

Genius!Are You Failing or Conceited? Thomas Edison image

Thomas Edison was an artist

He was an artist because he had more grit than anyone else; thus, he remains an icon in our history even though he didn’t invent the first light bulb.  (He did, however, invent the first incandescent light that would last and was practical)

Edison had enough grit to contradict society when they laughed at him, chastised him, tried to embarrass him, and publicly accused him of failure with regards to his creativity/inventions.

Do you have this kind of grit?

Edison had enough grit to push back on thousand-year-old beliefs like religion and government; he cared not what anyone thought of him, he only kept creating and making sense.

This grit, this unshakable attitude, is what I feel must be at the core of all TRUE artists.  You must have this outlook to keep creating and ultimately succeed or you will certainly fail at it.  The world needs your art!

At Daredevil Production, I like to instruct our artists that creating is just like food-pasta-bolognesecooking spaghetti; you throw it against the wall…if it don’t stick…KEEP COOKING!  In other words, we EXPECT a certain level of failure to achieve success!  We EXPECT pot holes, pitfalls, challenges, and huge hurdles, and we RELY on them to get us one step closer to greatness!


All great achievers in our world will admit that they have failed more than they’ve succeeded.  It was all the lessons they learned from the failures when applied to their famous achievement, that guided them down the correct and most productive path; thus producing the triumph.

Whoa, think about that!

Here’s another thought to ponder, “The ability to make good decisions come from experience, and all experience comes from making bad decisions”.

I freaking love that one!

In plain English, let me save you the suspense, you are going to fall off your horse in front of everyone.  You are going to make mistakes.  You are going to fail along the way; people you know and people you don’t know will be MORE THAN edited IMG_8002HAPPY to point out these failures!  Knowing this, we need to shift our energy away from WORRYING about failing to LEARNING from the INEVITABLE mistakes and moving forward!

Belief and execution of this thought process absolutely gets us artists one step closer to greatness!

Here are some AWESOME Thomas Edison quotes that I thoroughly enjoyed reading and consuming to write this post.

How do they specifically apply to the thought process of your music career and your art?

Have they or will they change the way you approach your art?

I would LOVE to hear your thoughts so leave a comment!

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
― Thomas A. Edison

Are You Failing or Conceited? miss opportunity“We often miss opportunity because it’s dressed in overalls and looks like work”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“The three great essentials to achieve anything worthwhile are, first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is to try just one more time.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Vision without execution is hallucination.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“What you are will show in what you do.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“i never did a day’s work in my life. it was all fun.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“There is no substitute for hard work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Your worth consists in what you are and not in what you have.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“To do much clear thinking a person must arrange for regular periods of solitude when they can concentrate and indulge the imagination without distraction.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“There is time for everything.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“This problem, once solved, will be simple.”Are You Failing or Conceited? The problem
― Thomas A. Edison

“Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability…. We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“There’s a way to do it better – find it.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“I never did anything worth doing by accident, nor did any of my inventions come by accident; they came by work.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Being busy does not always mean real work. The object of all work is production or accomplishment and to either of these ends there must be forethought, system, planning, intelligence, and honest purpose, as well as perspiration. Seeming to do is not doing”
― Thomas A. Edison

“Nearly every person who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then gets discouraged. That’s not the place to become discouraged.”
― Thomas A. Edison

“There is no expedient to which a man will not go to avoid the real labor of thinking.”
― Thomas A. Edison

Are You Failing or Conceited? hell there aint no rules“Hell! there ain’t no rules around here! We are tryin’ to accomplish somep’n!”
― Thomas A. Edison




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Professional Artists Don't

By Johnny Dwinell

Professionals Artists Don’t – Talk about being professional because they are.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Procrastinate

Professionals Artists Don’t – Let life get in the way of their mission

Professionals Artists Don’t – Make excuses as to why they can’t be professional.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Have to win every creative debate/argument, they are in search of the truth, not superficial, short-term, self-perceived accomplishment.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Get swallowed up in the speed bumps of life, they see them for what they are, simply speed bumps.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Put friends who aren’t professional in charge of their artistic vision, they work with professionals.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Live a pain-free life, they suffer just like you.Professional artists STOP Making Excuses image

Professionals Artists Don’t – Ever get bored of being professional, they reside in a constant state of wonder, curiosity, and excitement with regards to their art.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Play naively.  They know the game, the players, the costs, and the strategy; they may not like it, but they ARE aware of it.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Play from the cheap seats, they move to where the action is so they can actually be professional

Professionals Artists Don’t – Survive without professionally creating their art.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Ever stop growing, changing, and adapting.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Behave like amateurs.  They spend money on their product, they seek out collaborations with other professionals, create relationships with other professionals who help market their art so they can afford to be a professional

Professional artists Big Break imageProfessionals Artists Don’t – Sit at home waiting for the one big break to make them feel professional.  They are constantly working because they realize that when the one big break comes they will need a catalog of work to capitalize on the momentum.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Choose their collaborations based on their bank balance, they choose their collaborations based on what is best for their art; even if that means producing less product with better quality to fit their budget.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Stop practicing.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Avoid networking and creating relationships, because they know this is where the real business takes place.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Let haters bring them down.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Get mortally discouraged by rejection, they lick their wounds, recover, and press onward and upward; they know rejection is part of the deal.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Need to be famous, some of them get famous as a by-product of their professionalism.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Believe that there is an EZ Button to professionalism, they work Professional Artists No EZ Button imagetheir asses off.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Cut corners on the creation of their art to save money.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Let fear alter their artistic course.  They are courageous, which means they step up and move forward in the face of fear.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Like to feel professional by surrounding themselves with people who are less talented then they are, they ARE professional because they surround themselves with people who are more talented than they are and they LEARN.

Professionals Artists Don’t – Choose to live in a fantasy world, they choose to work.


Some Professional Artists


Some Professionals– Make $40k/yr and live beneath their means so they have a life, just like people you know in your town

Some Professionals – Make $40k/yr and live paycheck to paycheck so they will struggle when the gig ends, just like people you know in your town

Some Professionals – Make Millions of dollars per year and live beneath their means so they have a life, just like people you know in your town

Some Professionals – Make Millions of dollars per year and live paycheck to paycheck so they will struggle when the gig ends, just like people you know in your town.

Are you a professional?

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20 Worst Indie Artist Mistakes

By Johnny Dwinell

In my job, I get to speak with many indie artists who are at different points in their journey.  They consistently make these common major mistakes.  Changing your approach will change your career.  I made this personal to drive the message home


Here are the 20 worst indie artist mistakes!

  1. Your Songs Suck – Consumers will instantly click past a crappy song on thousands of online radio stations until they find a good song that really moves them in the first 10-20 seconds. You better have GREAT songs. It’s a CRAFT; it always has been. Treat it as such. You need to seek out a few mentors to teach you what they know about their CRAFT and apply your unique vision and perspective to that knowledge. Easy to do with all the online writing societies.
  2. You’re Producing Yourself – Have you ever wondered why a record label would NEVER let you or your Indie Artist Mistakesfriends produce your own record? Have you ever wondered why most of the iconic superstars STILL use producers? Why aren’t they saving money by producing themselves? Surely a producer at that level is pretty damn expensive! Get it? Just because you can work Pro-Tools or Logic doesn’t mean you can or should make a record. The label would put you with someone who is not only experienced at the entire process of making records, but a way better musician than you. The smart artist always thrives being around true pros who are better than them to soak in the education and grow to a new artistic level and be fearless of the journey. Most artists will tell people why they can’t or won’t afford a producer and then turn around and spend their money on their 25th guitar and new plug-ins for the home studio thereby avoiding the journey. Do you want to make great records or collect gear?
  3. You’re Not Marketing…At ALL – Putting your music on iTunes, Spotify, CD Baby, ReverbNation, etc.Indie Artist Mistakes is digital distribution NOT marketing. Marketing is the art of influencing buying decisions. Having your CD available for purchase “wherever it’s sold” isn’t influencing buying decisions. Twitter, Vine, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Live Shows, Music Blogs, Indie Radio, Internet Radio, and PR are the marketing tools you need to master. These tools create awareness and drive traffic to your squeeze page where you get the consumer’s email address. It’s through their email address (and the communication that you send there) that you will influence their buying decisions.
  4. You’re Operating With An Out-Of-Date Business Model – You are still trying to cut cheap demos to shop to a record label to try to get a deal. You still think radio is the key to marketing your music. You still think that radio will be a powerful marketing tool when you do get your deal. You still think the labels make money selling records. You still think that if you get a deal that’s when you’ve made it. Wake up. That ship sailed a decade ago; you have to develop yourself, today.
  5. You’re Not Thinking Like A Record Label – If you got signed today, the label would surround you with people who make a living writing songs, engineering, producing, doing public relations, marketing, promotion, booking bands, image consulting, photographing, etc. All these people would be highly professional and much more dialed in to the market and process than you and your friends. If you’re thinking like a label, you are looking for a team of people to help you with at least some of these important items.
  6. You’re Not Selling Your Music On Your Website – If you were truly DRIVING traffic anywhere to purchase your music, you would drive them to YOUR site and take all the money. Everyone needs a presence on iTunes, CD Baby, ReverbNation, etc., but why on earth would you pay someone 30% of your record sales to do what you can do with a free plug-in on your WordPress site? If it don’t make dollars, it don’t make sense.
  7. You’re Not Posting Regular Videos To YouTube – YouTube is your new radio with an amazing potential for reaching millions, no wait…now BILLIONS, of people and you don’t need to spend one million dollars to bribe a freaking Program Director for a CHANCE at getting a few spins. The “shelf space” is unlimited (unlike radio) and they pay royalties and advertising revenue. “I don’t get it because I just want to make music” is a cop-out. Why aren’t you learning everything you need to learn about this amazing opportunity?
  8. You Suck At Project Management – If Steve Jobs had approached the first products from Apple the Indie Artist Mistakesway most of you approach managing your musical projects, he would have died homeless. Jobs was a true artist. The first computers he and Wozniak made looked good, worked well, were packaged well, and were made in his garage. Instead of making 500 crappy computers with the limited budget they had, he made 50 AWESOME computers and the market place responded. The opportunities that came from the first run of AWESOME computers provided the momentum they needed to reach the next level. If you want to find someone to cut your songs for $300/song, I PROMISE you will find them. Record your 3 BEST songs for the same price as what you would have to spend on 12 and do it RIGHT with a TALENTED TEAM. It’s gonna cost money, so think of it as an education. Then watch the market respond!
  9. You’re Waiting For Your “Big Break” – Deep down you wish it was the old music business because, on Indie Artist Mistakesthe outside (from the cheap seats), it seemed easier when the labels took care of everything. Well, they did and you would have paid dearly for that “EZ Button.” I got news for you, the superstar artists who are still around today never let the labels take care of everything. They worked smarter and harder than that in a sea of sharks. You have to create your own opportunities, your own momentum. There’s no way around it. Nobody gets “discovered” anymore; so get off the couch, put the bong down next to your baggage and get to work!
  10. You Still Think Record Labels Develop Talent – Record labels don’t develop talent like Coca-Cola doesn’t repair cars. They don’t care about your music, they care about your current cash flow, and how many fans with whom you have a measurable connection. They care about what kind of market you created for yourself and if they can make money by adding fuel to the fire you already started. Think YouTube and Google. Google didn’t develop YouTube, they purchased them. Those smart guys at YouTube had to PROVE that their idea had value in the market place. So do you.
  11. You Don’t Think Of Your Music As Product – Until you do, nobody is going to hear your art.
  12. You’re Self-Sabotaging – This is the most common and most destructive mistake of them all. Let me save Indie Artist Mistakesyou the suspense: you’re gonna make mistakes. You’re gonna hit speed bumps. You’re gonna be rejected. You’re gonna have to get over it! You have to get out of your own way and just move forward. Stop making excuses. If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got. PERIOD. Make a change and watch massive amounts of energy quickly flow your way.
  13. You Are Too Sensitive To Take Constructive Criticism – You would be amazed how many of your favorite superstars were brutally schooled by the label on their first record. They were green just like you! “Go back and write us a single we can promote on the radio or we’re gonna drop you.” If you’re too dumb to know that you don’t know a whole lotta stuff, you’ll never make it. Be professional and LEARN. It’s always better to stay quiet in a room and appear stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.
  14. You’re Listening To Haters – When you do start to get momentum, people you don’t know and, sadly, many that you do will spit poison into every part of your life. Get used to it. You are doing what they can’t.
  15. You Haven’t Defined Your Lane – You are afraid to pick a genre because you write in many. Consumers need ONE lane to connect with you in. Just because you pick one doesn’t mean you are ignoring the others. Get some traction in one lane first. That traction will help expose a project in a different lane to more people. Think John Mayer with his first few pop records and then he did a blues project. That blues project got a TON of exposure because he was now John Mayer, the pop star.
  16. Your Live Performance Sucks – Nothing is more disappointing than seeing a decent band with great songs and listening for harmonies but nobody sings background vocals. Okay, maybe worse would be a crappy band with crappy songs and everyone is singing crappier background vocals.
  17. You’re Not Capitalizing On Your Live Performances – Today’s music market is about endless Indie Artist Mistakescontent and email addresses. You should have constant video footage to market on social media. You should have boatloads of email addresses after every show. You should be moving product from the stage at every show. You should be gaining Twitter followers at every show…THEN you can get laid.
  18. You’re Putting Too Much Stock Into Your ReverbNation Ranking – A #1 ranking for your small town or big city on ReverbNation + $2.54 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. How are you getting paid for your songs?
  19. You Don’t Know What You’re Doing On Twitter – Twitter is a simply amazing surgical marketing tool that allows you to SERIOUSLY target your specific market. When done correctly, your following will constantly grow. One year from now you could have well over 10k followers. Then you would have the means to drive tons of traffic to a squeeze page, or to a YouTube video, or to….Get my point? Your fans are out there, go find them.
  20. You Think It’s All About Music, Not Marketing – The truth is that it sure is nice when they expertly market a killer record, but if it was only about the music, there wouldn’t be any crappy songs on the radio. Think about that for a second. Without marketing, nobody cares about your music because they haven’t heard it.

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Music Marketing Tactics

By Johnny Dwinell

 In my last blog I really dug into the difference between distribution and marketing because I have had way too many conversations with artists who feel they are marketing their music by having it on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, their website, etc.   Once again, that is electronic distribution; that is definitely NOT marketing.  In today’s blog I’m going to get into some serious music marketing tactics.

Music Marketing is Influencing Buying Decisions

Marketing is the art of influencing buying decisions.  Buying Decisions Music Marketing TacticsFor Instance, when you and your friends are in a disagreement as to which movie to go see, each side serves up their best reason to spend money on their preferred movie choice; this is marketing.  Granted, it doesn’t seem like marketing and it doesn’t feel like marketing but y’all are EXACTLY marketing; you are trying to influence your friend’s buying decision on the movie.  Effective marketing influences buying decisions which, in turn, drives traffic to whatever distributors are selling the product like cars, or iPhones, or Tide detergent, or your music.  This means the ultimate goal of marketing is to drive traffic to where ever you are selling or streaming your music.  Once you get the traffic online you will get a mathematically predictable amount of sales.   This is cool, because if you want more money, you just have to drive more traffic.

I’m always telling you guys to think like a record label; so, let’s start there.  When you have a major label deal, the label will try to use radio as their main form of promotion.  They will have distributed your product (aka your CD) to the very same electronic distributors that you can get on your own, with the difference being they will also have companies like Anderson Distribution placing physical CD’s into Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Best Buy, etc.  They will use PR (Public Relations) and Radio to expose you to the general public and ultimately influence their buying decisions.  I think the magic number is 7, so once John Q. Public hears your song 7 times (if he ever does) the song is in his brain and that’s where the buying decision is influenced.

You have to think like a record label and understand your main goal is to influence buying decisions after the record is made.  Let’s discuss 5 different ways to market your music and drive traffic to your cash registers for a purchase.

  1. Twitter – This is undoubtedly the most surgically effective marketing tool.  We use Twitter to Twitter Music Marketing Tacticsindoctrinate our future fans by creating relationships and letting the music do the talking; we give away the single.  Well, we give away the single in exchange for their email address via a squeeze page.  I say surgical because we have an Outlaw Country artist named Craig Gerdes (@craiggerdes) who has a single called Haggard Fan (Haggardfan.com).  Merle Haggard has 90,000 Twitter followers and growing; are you kidding me?  That one is like shooting fish in a barrel.  Everybody LOVES “Haggard Fan” from that lead source.  We are firing up a marketing campaign for an artist named Jeremy Calley (@jeremycalley) whose record Kelly and I mixed.  Jeremy is a good looking Texas Country rock & roll guy; the ladies go crazy over him.  I went right to Brantley Gilbert’s Twitter following for Jeremy.  We are growing everyday and the lead source is predisposed to love him.  I could also go to Luke Bryan for the same effect.  Get it?  It’s so perfect, but it’s not everything.
  2. YouTube – If you’re thinking like a label, you need to think of YouTube as your radio source; YouTube Music Marketing Tacticsespecially if you have amazing performance talent.  Artists like Karmin, Noah, and Macklemore have been launched into the stratosphere from YouTube.  Karmin and Noah used a clever strategy of recording artistically stylized cover songs with their talent that eventually blew people away and created viral videos.  Karmin’s biggie is at 84 million views now and Noah’s was around 18 million last time I checked.  When you start getting that kind of traffic there are many ancillary cash registers that will pay you money as well (see my blog on 6 Ways To Create Cash Flow On You Tube).  Macklemore release a killer single with a KILLER video and blew up that way, but he blew up on YouTube.  Remember last week’s blog where I spoke about strategy and tactics?  YouTube is a great strategy, but you have to put in the work.
  3. Live Shows – Live Show Music Marketing TacticsThis is probably one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your cash registers.  First of all a CD from a live show where a fan loves the band is a souvenir as they are (hopefully) intoxicated with the emotion of your live show.  Indie artists like Anthony Orio (AnthonyOrio.com) play over 200 shows per year and move 7,000-10,000 units a year from the stage alone.  Do the math 7,000 x $8 (avg price) = $56,000; that’s enough to record the next record, y’all; and for a bunch of you, that’s a huge step up.  There are some great tactics to push product (aka your CD) at your shows.  Anthony or his bass player Chris will literally hold up a bunch of CD’s in their hand for 3 songs straight while some other band member does a little portion of their endless 4 hour set.  When the first CD is sold, they get which State the buyers were from and start a competition; works every time.  “We just got a sale from KY!  Who’s gonna kick KY’s ass??” get it?  Another tactic was to get the bar owner to agree to give away a $25-$50 bar tab (which costs the bar $6-$12 in booze) in a raffle environment.  To qualify, fans just have to go to the roadie at the merch table with a computer or their smart phone to opt in to the squeeze page.  The artist gets email confirmations from people who opted in and chooses a winner at the end of the night.  Who doesn’t want to trade an email address to a band they like for a shot at winning a $50 freakin bar tab?!?!  Anthony shoots out these really inexpensive rubber wristbands you can purchase for like .09 cents each with his website on them.  Cool little free souvenirs that have a call-to-action on them.  Google search to find tons of competitors for these rubber wrist bands, the company we use is http://24hourwristbands.com/
  4.  PPC Campaigns – PPC stands for Pay-Per-Click if you don’t already know that.  When you PPC Ad Music Marketing Tacticsare on gmail or Facebook typing about lawnmowers in an email to your mother, did you ever wonder how lawnmower deals magically pop up on the right hand side?  Those are PPC ads.  You only pay for them if someone clicks on them.  If someone clicks on them they immediately jump to your squeeze page get a free track which jumps them to your store and puts them in the sales funnel.  These are a bit more advanced as it’s not too difficult to spend too much money, but they are quite effective once you get your head around it.  PPC is an amazing marketing technology that allows you to reach a more targeted audience.
  5. PRWeb.com – Look, this costs money, but for $250 you can purchase a 1-time Press Release PRWeb Music Marketing Tacticsthat will go to tons of music magazines, music blogs, radio stations, newspapers, etc.  The more places you are seen the more traffic you will drive.  On this note, you may consider a PR firm, especially if you’re touring, this can be quite effective especially for the beginning of a marketing campaign.

There you have it.  Hope this helps you get your head around marketing a bit more

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Artist Development Artist development image

By Johnny Dwinell


I am really beginning to disdain the term D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself).  It should be rephrased to say what it really means which is “do it without a record label” because nobody does it themselves; which makes that term extremely Artist Development DIY Blackboard imagemisleading.  That’s worth repeating, NOBODY makes a living in the music industry all by their lonesome so DIY is misleading.  Let’s break that down some more.  In today’s music business YOU are responsible for your development as an artist, as an act, as a business; therefore, YOU are responsible for your own team building.  Maybe we should change DIY to BYOT (Build Your Own Team) or DYOA (Develop Your Own Ass) LOL.  Since YOU are responsible for ultimately taking yourself from obscurity to a place where you are making a living in the music industry (either as a writer, musician, or artist) the smart people are going to look at the professional approaches that the major labels took to developing acts and try to recreate it.  After all, these methods were effective, yes?

You Are Responsible For Your Artist Development

So let’s look at how to recreate it.  The good news is it’s easier than ever to recreate it.  The bad news is YOU have to recreate it; YOU have to recreate some kind of development pipeline to ensure that you are competing at a professional level.  Common sense very simply says that if you do not approach your career this way than you are NOT competing at a professional level; which means you’re an amateur.  This, in turn, means you suck and you make no money.  Btw, if you think that EVERY artist who signs a major label deal isn’t dealing with this conversation right here, you’re delusional.  Welcome to the music business.

YOU need to ensure that your songs are simply incredible.Artist Development Live Show image

YOU need to ensure that your recordings are simply incredible.

YOU need to ensure that your live show is simply incredible.

Then you need to ensure that you have a marketing pipeline and you are moving product.  If the song and the recording are really INCREDIBLE people WILL respond.  It’s that simple (did u like my word structure there?).

THIS EFFORT is going to require a team.  I cannot think of one artist EVER in the history of the music business that did it all themselves.  They had mentors; they were surrounded by people who were better than they were that showed them the ropes.  YOU need to do the same.  YOU are green, let’s face it.  I mean GREEEEEN.  I don’t care how long you have been playing, have you done 30 shows in a row; in 30 days?  No?  Then you’re GREEN.  Your live show will transform after an effort like that.  Do you have any hit singles?  No?  Then you’re GREEN.  Do you have any Cuts?  No?  Then you’re GREEN.  Everybody starts out green.  John Lennon and Paul McCartney admit that their first 150 songs or so SUCKED; they were figuring it out, man.  Then the Beatles went to Hamburg where they played 8 HOURS A DAY for MONTHS to get their 10,000 hours because they were GREEN.  The Rolling Stones first 3 singles were cover tunes because they were GREEN.  Their first 2 records were mostly cover tunes because they were GREEN; it wasn’t until they wrote “Last Time” and it became a single that they even thought they could really write well!

If you really want to be a serious artist, you better dive into these records and LISTEN to the development so you can get a real 30,000 foot perspective on what your mission is as an artist with regards to the ART.  This task will help you grow.

It will give you validation that #1 you can do this, and #2 you have a lot of work to do but it CAN BE DONE!

All artists need to be developed; they need to be encouraged and inspired to mature.  Inspiration comes in many forms, but as a former artist, I can tell you that oftentimes when it comes it takes the form of someone pushing you beyond your comfort zone and it tends to PISS YOU OFF.  Jesus, did I get wound up sometimes, but the people pushing me were right; if I wasn’t uncomfortable then I wasn’t trying anything new, which means I wasn’t growing.

If you’re not growing you’re not serious; period.

Don’t get comfortable.

Let’s take Bruce Springsteen for example.  His big record was “Born to Run” which was his third record.  Most Artist Development Born To Run imagepeople don’t remember the first 2 records which were “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” and “The Wild the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle”.   Most people DO remember Manfred Mann’s Earth Band #1 hit “Blinded by the Light” which was written by Bruce Springsteen and appeared on the “Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J.” record.  I remember listening to an interview with the singer from Manfred Mann where he was asked why he stopped covering Bruce Springsteen songs (they also did a version of “Spirit in the Night”) and he said that after the 2nd record, Bruce had gotten so good at the writing he really couldn’t mess around with the songs and make them better anymore.  BTW, Bruce wrote “Blinded by the Light” and “Spirit in the Night” AFTER he submitted his first record to the label and Columbia said “go back and write some songs that can be played on the radio SO YOU CAN COMPETE PROFESSIONALLY” (pushing him out of his comfort zone).  He was forced to play ball or lose his deal.  Are you approaching your career this way?  I encourage you to go and listen to the first 2 Springsteen records and write down the lyrics and then see for yourself how he gets it right on the 3rd record; he developed.  BTW, the second verse of “Blinded by the Light” was all about his frustration with getting people in the bars to pay attention to him during his performances proving that he didn’t walk onstage for the first time as a ROCK GOD; he developed.  Similarly, check out the first 2 Bon Jovi records and compare them to the 3rd record “Slippery When Wet”.  The difference is Polygram (his record label) understood his raw talent and put him with a hit songwriter named Desmond Child to improve the quality of the songs on the 3rd record; consequently Bon Jovi, Sambora, and Child co wrote “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer”.  These became the 1st 2 singles for the record and they would both go to #1.

You get my point here?  YOU ARE NO DIFFERENT THAN YOUR FAVORITE WRITERS!  The question is what are YOU doing to behave like the record label?  What are YOU doing to surround yourself with people that are BETTER THAN YOU so you can improve?


I mean you’re smart, right?  So why would you approach your music any different than, say, a construction gig?  You have a vague or naïve idea of how to properly frame a door but somebody on the site shows you EXACTLY Artist Development Craftsmanship imagehow to do it; there are tricks to getting it right, there is an art behind crafting that door frame flawlessly.  The first day on the job you suck, but then you learn and get better as you acquire knowledge.  Music is no different; songwriting is a CRAFT!  NOBODY is born a great songwriter.  They are born with a need to be artistic and are TAUGHT not to settle for shit.  They are TAUGHT not to be lazy!  I remember reading an interview with the great Joni Mitchell where she described how she took her songs to her parents and they would say “That’s great, baby, now go back and figure out a different way to say it; make it better”  So make sure you are trying to get with craftsmen to learn the trade!  If you feel like you have nothing to learn than you have already failed.  Most of you KNOW you have a lot to learn but you’re scared; get over it!  It’s a full contact sport!

Artist Development Requires Mentorship

If you want to be professional (which means if you want to make your living at it) you need to work with professionals.

So why aren’t you?  Where do the professionals live?  Why aren’t you living there?  I’m sure you all have many reasons why you are not doing these things and the harsh reality is that they are all excuses.  My dad always said “excuses are like assholes, everyone has one and they all stink”.  Maybe they are valid excuses but valid excuses are still excuses.  If you are going to be professional you better get rid of the excuses as these are just reasons to get in your own way; these are reasons not to do a good job.  I have so much respect for our artists like Tanya Marie Harris and Neill Skylar.  Both of these ladies have young children (less than 3 years old) and STILL they FIND A WAY to come to Nashville and get it done right!!  This is what it’s all about, people, doing it RIGHT!  These girls are on a freakin mission, man, make NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT!!!  Sheesh, I’m just glad they’re on our side!  LOL

We now have established that you need to seek professional mentors to help you grow as a songwriter.  Let’s face it; it all starts with the song.  It amazes me how many people feel like if they record a shitty song better that it will make the song better; clearly not true.

Your next task is to then take these incredible songs that COMPETE with all the songs you love in your genre and record them properly.  Recording them properly requires a killer engineer and producer (sometimes they are both but beware sometimes engineers are ONLY engineers with no artistic input whatsoever.) YOU are responsible for finding your team.

The team is more important than the studio.

Artist Development Team Building imageThis is true because you are taking your songs and creating a product with them; whether you like that reality or not.  If your product is 2nd rate, nobody is going to care; you won’t sell anything.  If you don’t sell anything you won’t make a living; so you have a vanity project.  Your team will help you decide what songs make the record which means they have the unwelcome task of telling you, the artist, which songs aren’t cutting it.  Your team will help you define your sound and your lane.  They will help you decide what keys to record those songs in; keys that are appropriate for your voice and put you in the best light.  Your team will then cast the appropriate players to deliver the sound that everyone has agreed upon.  Your team should be enthusiastic towards your project; if they are not you have a problem.  Nashville is full of burnt out players with great studios who will take your money to press the record button and that’s it.  Nashville is full of people who don’t care about the product anymore; so, I must imagine that everywhere else is the same, either they don’t care about it or they don’t know how to do it right in the first place.  YOU have to find someone that IS enthusiastic; who really cares!

FYI, there are hundreds of producers on Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc.  Find one that you feel good about!

Yes, you have to pay for a team like this, but you get what you pay for.  You have to ask yourself what your goals are.  If you wanna do something epic, then you’re gonna have to shell out a few bucks.  If you wanna cut corners you’re recording nothing more than a vanity project.  That’s ok as long as you are aware that it’s a vanity project.  The trouble starts when everyone wants to put their vanity project up for sale; a half-assed effort at best.  Then they wonder why they aren’t getting any traction.  Don’t try and swim in professional circles with that shit, because whether you can hear it or not is irrelevant; the pros can hear the difference and you look like a tool.  Imagine the NASCAR driver who wants to tell everyone he’s amazing at racing and shows up to the NASCAR race with a rusted out baby-blue Dodge Dart because that’s all he wanted to afford.  He looks like an idiot because he brought a little knife to a gun fight, ya know?

You more than likely have a job right now and you’re good at it I’ll bet, just imagine how you feel about people who come into your workplace and simply don’t get what you do or what they have to do to get it right.  How do you feel about them?  Yeah, yeah, you may say “I would help them out”.  Maybe that’s your job is training people.  Labels, publishers, managers, bloggers, everyone in the professional music industry gets HUNDREDS of submissions a day, so “Helping them all out” is quite impossible.  So you pass because “they aren’t ready”.

You wanna be a pro, then look like a pro, sound like a pro, and show up with a professional product and behave like a professional.  Take your time looking for your team.  Don’t just take the first guy down the street who has a pro-tools rig and make him your producer.  LISTEN to what he has recorded in the past.  Find out what lengths he’s willing to go to make something amazing.  Make SURE he/she is enthusiastic!!

I remember my 1st recording experience in Milwaukee, WI when I was in High School.  We would finish a take and ask the engineer, “how was that?”  He would respond, “Did you think it sounded good?”  We would say, “Fuck yeah!  We’re awesome!”  We were really good but we were green.  We didn’t know.  There was reverb on the bass guitar for Artist Development Baby O Recorders imageGod’s sake!!!  I remember taking these recordings to LA to get them professionally mixed because WE WANTED TO BE GOOD.  I remember the producers I used had mixed Black & Blue, and The Vinnie Vincent Invasion along with some other major label records.  I remember making a killer deal on the phone for a flat rate to mix 3 songs (those cost a fortune back then FYI, there was no Pro Tools) and those guy saying, “How bad could it be?”  I remember hanging in the lounge of Baby ‘O’ Recorders on Sunset next to David Hasselhoff who was also recording there.  I remember them coming out of the studio PISSED because there was reverb on the bass LOL.  So embarrassing!!  I’m quite sure they didn’t make any money off of me, because it took forever to clean up our stupid mistakes.  They did it though.  Our recording was kick ass!  We ended up getting tons of spins on a local radio station that played the real heavy stuff.  We sounded better than most of the other crap they were playing.  You get it?

STOP telling yourself why it won’t work and START asking, “What has to happen to make this a reality?”

Henry Ford stated “There’s a man who thinks he can and a man who thinks he can’t.  Both men are right.  Which man are you?

All I’m saying is if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.  Let me save you the suspense, you are going to screw it up; but you will LEARN.  Get in there and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

Be fearless!!

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radio on the air image

By Johnny Dwinell

Terrestrial Radio is a hustle; it always has been and you don’t need radio to make a living.  If you think that radio and the people who work for radio are in the music business you are sadly mistaken; they are in the ad business, just like the Newscasters.  They PAY to spin every song; they get paid by selling ads.  Remember that because they don’t, nor have they ever given a shit about your music.  What’s more is the ability to get a NEW single on the radio is all about relationships and money.  Since DJ’s are no longer in charge of what is being spun, you have to go pretty high up on the mega corporate food chain to get to the PD that will convert your single and authorize spins.

The hustle started back in the 50’s oddly enough with the invention of the TV set.  Radio moved from dramatic programming to a top 40 music format.  Consequently DJ’s exploded around the country as more and more music was being produced.  Shortly after this happened, we got the Payola Scandal.  Record “promoters”, working for record labels, had DJ’s in their back pockets offering “Drugs, booze, and broads” to the DJ’s in exchange for a guaranteed amount of spins.  The subsequent scandal arose after the disgrace of the rigged game show “21” (You may remember the movie “Quiz Show” about this particular scandal).  Once the Government was under public pressure for the dishonorable game show behavior, the radio outrage was next on the congressional agenda.  The problem with payola for huge record companies like CBS was that CBS also owned radio stations and TV stations; which required massively lucrative broadcasting licenses.  When the government threatened to pull the broadcasting licenses from any station accused of payola, these corporations had to change their strategies; after all, the record labels only accounted for maybe 3% of the gross corporate revenue.  So, DJ’s like Alan Freed (who coined the phrase “Rock & Roll”) were fired for being a threat to the corporation along with any “promoters” who worked for the labels.  Payola didn’t go away.  It just morphed into a 3rd party company system or “Independent Promotion” instead of “all inclusive” of the record labels.

Radio Promotion

At one point in the late 70’s, a group of independent radio promoters named “The Network” came into serious power.  Frank Dileo and Joe Isgro headed up this group of 6 guys who essentially controlled all the radio spins in the country.  At one point CBS found that they were paying The Network 30% of their profits per year!


The majors averaged $100,000 per single to The Network to promote them on the radio nationwide; that’s $100,000 of 1983 money which is worth roughly $385,000 today.    CBS was giving so much of their profits to these 6 guys they hired Peter Asher from Polygram to get rid of The Network in either 1978 or 1979 in order to bring the books back in line and increase profits.  This is when the Major labels figured out that the power of The Network didn’t lie in their ability to put a single ON the radio; rather it was their capacity to keep a single OFF the radio.  This was grossly proven to Dick Asher and Walter Yetnikoff at CBS with the Pink Floyd record “The Wall”.  If you’ve heard the record you know that it’s epic!  What you may not know is that Pink Floyd recreated the movie on the tour and because of the massive production expenses they only played LA and NY.  Imagine Peter Asher getting a call from the manager of the biggest band in the world, 30 minutes before the LA concert was to commence asking,


Boom!  1 phone call was made and a huge check was cut.  “Another Brick in the Wall” was on the air in less than 20 minutes.  Holy Shit!

This is what Pink Floyd had to deal with and they were the biggest band in the world at the time.

You still have to pay to get your music on the radio today.  Decent nationwide radio promotion is going to run you about $20,000-$50,000 per month.  There are a limited number of spins available in a 24 hour period so you have a simple VERY low supply meets a VERY high demand situation; in the free market, that costs a lot of money.

Are you aware of the story behind Guns & Roses?  Would you freak out if I told you that they were dead?  They were DOA from Geffen records.  Radio hated them.  Nobody cared.  You may not know that “Appetite For Radio Appetite For Destruction imageDestruction” actually came out in 1987.  It was out for a full year with NOTHING to show for it.  The band had a HUGE champion in Tom Zutaut their A&R guy.  Essentially, Zutaut went to David Geffen and explained the challenges he was having with MTV not spinning GNR’s 1st single “Welcome To The Jungle”.  Zutaut asks Geffen to do something, or the record is surely going to die.  Geffen then gets on the phone and calls the President of MTV and asks for a favor; please spin the 2nd single for GNR called “Sweet Child O’ Mine” at least once for me.  MTV acquiesces and spins the single at 3:00 am on a Saturday morning; and the rest is history.  The phones at MTV lit up that Saturday morning and MTV broke GNR; then radio came on board.

Wow!  Can u imagine?  After all the work you have to do to get a record deal, you have to lower yourself down into this sleaze.

radio Thriller imageAfter The Network did such a good job of promoting Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”, Michael made Frank Dileo his manager.  Sheryl Crow was Michael’s back-up singer on that tour.  There are 2 references to Frank Dileo on Sheryl’s debut record “Tuesday Night Music Club”.  The first is in “The Na-Na Song” with the line “Clarence Thomas organ grinder Frank DiLeo’s dong / Maybe if I’d let him I’d have had a hit song.”  The second is the song called “What I Can Do For You” where the whole song is about Frank.  “What I can do for you, no one else on God’s green earth can do” you can read the rest of the sleazy lyrics HERE


You get my point?  Total hustle, totally expensive, ZERO guarantees.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to submit to this when you have a mathematically predictable way of making a living with your music online?  I mean this is why the labels have a 90% failure rate because they all relied on ONE MAIN METHOD for exposure.

Do you want a 90% chance of failure?  HELL NO!!  Why would you when it’s NEVER BEEN EASIER TO MAKE A LIVING IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS RIGHT NOW?

I have a great suggestion, if you choose to accept it.

First, be an artist not a fame whore.  Fame whores today need to shoot for reality TV, because your chances are better there at getting famous; why do it the hard way?

Second, think just a little more like a business person.  Start with defining your lane and the other lanes that are necessary for you to succeed.  There are many different systems out there to help you understand this concept.  I am familiar with one called Wealth Dynamics by Roger Hamilton.  NOTE:  I am not shilling for Roger, as his program costs money; I’m just familiar with this system so it provides for a better explanation on my part.  There are many different ways to describe this so I encourage you to find and research one that makes sense to you.  Essentially, Wealth Dynamics helps you define the different lanes people have in business and put together lanes that are simpatico or symbiotic as opposed to confrontational and non-productive.  This is not a new concept, btw.  If you read “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, there is a great chapter about Henry Ford an 8th grade drop-out who was on trial for essentially lying to the public about “being an educated man”.  You see, Henry was aware of his weaknesses and argued that he didn’t have to have all the answers to the scientific and mathematical questions the prosecutor was asking him when he paid people to have those answers for him!

Long story short, you need write KILLER songs to stand out in today’s marketplace right?

If yours are not KILLER than you need to find someone to help you take your songs to the top level.

Then you need to record those songs either as demos to be pitched to Major Label artists or as Master Tracks to be exposed to the public making you the artist.  These recordings have to compete, right?

If you do not have the skill set or equipment to do this, then you need to find a team that can ensure you have KILLER recordings.

Once the record is done, if you do not like marketing than you need to partner up with someone who can help you market your music to the world and ultimately MOVE product so you can get paid.  There are literally tons of companies out there if you know what to look for.  People are starving for good NEW music so why not yours?  Fill in your weak spots.  TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS.

Start your own little label that will take care of only YOU.  It’s mathematically proven.  You just don’t know how to do it yet.

Walter Yetnikoff gets it:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAzuvFxrkP0

Here’s a link to a great book about record promotion called Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business.  I recommend you READ this if you still believe in Terrestrial Radio and Major Labels

Here’s a cool article on Joe Isgro and Hit Men: http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,317976,00.html

I got the GNR story from The Operator: David Geffen Buys and Sells the New Hollywood.

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Tastemaker Feature image

By Johnny Dwinell

Where are the taste makers? Does anybody take the time to go down the “Rabbit Hole” on ReverbNation?

Does anybody click on “If you like this, then you’ll like this” on Pandora?

I did once.  The song sucked.  I never did it again.  There’s no filter, man, I don’t have time to risk it.

We Need The Taste Makers

What is really missing in the new music industry is the trusted taste maker, man. We need a taste maker and platform that allows the taste maker to curate.  I mean terrestrial radio had the DJ’s and then the Program Directors thatTaste Makers Radio DJ image ultimately decided what you were going to be exposed to.  Of course their filter was the record labels, which was a pretty effective filter as the labels really needed to believe, back in the day, that the artist would break before they sunk 3 albums worth of capital into the project.  My buddy Brian down the street who turned me on to all the cool bands was quite effective.  I also had MTV (believe it or not they used to only play music videos) which created their playlists using the labels as a filter, a curator, if you will.  You either liked it or you hated any new songs BASED ON YOUR TASTE but the quality of the recordings and the quality of the songwriting always had a certain level of professionalism; the bar was high.

This techie, algorithm crap that keeps getting shoved down our throats by EVERY ONE of these startup “internet radio” companies SUCKS.  It is NOT EFFECTIVE.  Want proof?  What band has ever “BROKE” on internet radio?  What artist has ever been launched into orbit after being “discovered” on Spotify, or Pandora, or Slacker, or Deezer, or any of these other dumb-ass online sites?  It’s definitely happened on YouTube but that isn’t really internet radio, although it can behave as such.  The video aspect of it helps create the viral effect.  Many artists have broken on YouTube, btw; new, incredibly talented artists.  This doesn’t happen with the websites that are audio only.

They’re fucking it up.

Music is personal.  Music is spiritual.  Music is emotional.  They will never invent the perfect algorithm that takes the place of the taste maker.  They don’t realize this because they’re techies.  Trust me; this isn’t the first time that a bunch of engineers have thought that the solution was all scientific.  Without Steve Jobs understanding the need for both science and control, Apple products would suck just as much as your Android and PC do; and they do suck, you just don’t want to admit it.

CONSUMERS DON’T HAVE TIME TO GO DIGGING DOWN SOME SHITTY “RABBIT HOLE” TO FIND THE NEXT BIG ARTIST THEY WILL SUPPORT!  They will only continue to visit these sites to hear the crusty old songs they are searching for.

And there’s the rub.  You have to be exposed to something that you like first, before you go “searching for it”.  So to me, every one of these sites is nothing more that big-ass, worldwide Tower Records Store.  I never went into Tower Records (back in the day they used to have record stores and stuff, they were massive like Wal-Mart spaces with Taste Maker MTV image

droves of music available to purchase) to aimlessly walk around looking at random Album or CD cases to find some cool music, I actually had an agenda.  I actually KNEW what I was looking for, because I was exposed to it via terrestrial radio, MTV, or my good buddy, Brian.  OK, there was a little stretch of time where I went into the Mom & Pop record store in Lake Geneva, WI to aimlessly meander around and look at CD covers, but that’s because I was in love with Nancy the check out girl; I was trying to get laid!  FYI, she was really hot…and really crazy.

I realize there are some of you ARE the person that would buy music based on the album art, and you what I would define as the local TASTE MAKER.  You are the one that always has the killer new CD first before anyone else on the block did.  Brian was my local taste maker and a trusted friend but even he didn’t consume music by searching for it, he had an older brother and sister that turned HIM onto the good stuff.  However, while this local tastemaker is an important role to be sure, mass consumers do not consume music this.  They simply don’t have the time.  So why are we consistently setting up the new internet radio sites to enable mass consumers to behave like a local taste maker?


Who will be the first company to create an internet radio that is for just the indie artists?

Who will be the first company to pick good, solid, NEW music and market it online to the world?  I mean, creating web traffic is not as much of a mystery these days as it once was, right?

Am I that far off to believe that once you build something like this, provided the quality of the music is GOOD, people would catch on?  I think about this on a business level often.  New York City is the #1 radio market in America.  With some 14 million people living there, how many of them are listening to the Rock or Country station at any given time?  More so during drive time to be sure, maybe a few million?  750,000?  Once this WiFi thing becomes ubiquitous in automobiles (say 5-7 years), a REAL Internet radio station could do some serious damage.  Creating a listenership that would dwarf any station in New York, or L.A., or Mexico City.

We need a site with a program director that pours over countless entries and DECIDES what artist is good in their own opinion.

We get that started, with some serious capital to promote it and BOOM!  The 22 immutable laws of marketing will Taste Makers 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing imagetake effect, it’s better to be first then to be better!

We simply don’t need another site that requires us to dig or do any work to be turned on to cool, new music.  Create a playlist and PLAY IT for the love of Pete!!  Use a good ear to decide who will make it on the station.  People that tune in won’t have a choice as to what they hear, other than genre.

This is what we need.

I wanna COOL station to listen to, man.

I wanna trust you, Mr. DJ.  I wanna be turned on and inspired by your next selection.

This whole business of allowing everybody the space just results in too much noise on the radar screen.  My ex-wife is a TV producer so I have tons of friends in the TV industry.  Did you know that if you say “NO” to a project someone is pitching you will be statistically right 80%-90% of the time?  This is a fact they actually teach!!   This is because most people suck at art.  That is why we are so blown away by the people who excel at art; it’s why music is so fascinating!  There has to be a filter of sorts to weed out the dregs.  Additionally, we will grow to LIKE some of these taste makers, well, taste!  I predict this is the way that new artists will be able to break to a mass audience again.

It will come around, eventually.  Let’s face it, 90% of the indie crap that is on these online radio stations is shitateous.  They consist of absolutely horrible songwriting, horrible performances, horrible recording quality, just plain horrible.  Ugh.

Could you imagine if TV was set up and “distributed” like these “online radio” stations??  Oh wait, it is, it’s called local cable access and it BLOWS.
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Pandora inet radio image

 By Johnny Dwinell

Pandora Blows.  Oh…and they certainly don’t give a shit about you.  Not for one second.

Pink Floyd Blasts Pandora

Pandora Pink Floyd image

Pink Floyd wrote an op-ed piece in USA Today blasting Pandora and their douche-bag CEO Tim Westergren for essentially tricking musicians into signing a petition disguised as “a letter of support” for internet radio that was REALLY about slashing musician royalty rates by 85%.  Read it HERE

Pandora Digital Music News imageI initially read about it HERE in Digital Music News.  Btw, if you intend to make a living in the music business, you’re a moron if you don’t subscribe to this magazine.  Someone has to at least attempt to keep their eye on the moving target.

So, we have to get educated on this people.  The world is changing; fast.  Ultimately for the better with regards to the music industry as it relates to indie artists, but we can’t let the freakin’ wolves guard the henhouse any longer.


You can thank Sean Parker and Steve Jobs.  Yes, I mean thank them.  Thank them for actually making it unbelievably easier to make a living in the NEW music business.  Right after you thank Sean you can kick him in the balls for stealing the music and making it worthless in the marketplace, well, at least he won, right?  He’s rich at our expense; stealing is stealing and Parker is SHADY.  What he did do was prove to the world that digital music was happening right now and put the train on the tracks in a very public way for digital distribution; which is mission critical to our survival as indie musicians.  Digital distribution creates real revenue.

Steve Jobs put it all together in a neat little amazing package and got the artists PAID.  Steve Jobs believed in artists and liberal arts.  Kelly and I just listened to his biography on a long drive home from a WI visit.  The reinvention of Apple was based on the intersection of art and technology; around CREATIVES and CREATION.

Eventually the dust will settle on some pretty great new soon-to-be VERY popular delivery methods of music; new and old.  Until then, the shakedown will continue.  We will continue to have companies who come in and exploit musicians by making millions on their music and paying NOTHING in return.

This is not news.  It’s been going on for decades.

Record labels have done it.  Terrestrial radio has done it, MTV did it, Sean Parker and Napster did it, and now Pandora, Spotify, and a host of other companies are doing it; doing it to us.

The essence of the Pandora shakedown is to convince our Government that they are paying too much money to license your music, which generates all their revenue; thus,

Pandora can’t be profitable!

But here’s the rub for us.  This is really important y’all.  THINK ABOUT THIS.

Ubiquity is gone.  Get over it.

Sadly, the days of the Rockstar are gone.  You really have to get over it!  If you are truly over the dream of becoming rich and famous as an artist you will damn sure be paying more attention to what is going on right now with your future revenue so you can at least get paid!

As we now have literally thousands of immediately accessible internet storefronts from which to be exposed to and ultimately consume music (although the “exposure” comes in the form of shitateous algorithms made by techies that are as effective as screen doors on a submarine…I mean “if you like this then you will like this”..WTF, whenever someone figures out that 99% of music consumers don’t have time to search for new music, they just want to be EXPOSED to GOOD music, the world will be a better place; and someone will be super rich.  But I digress) the market place is fragmented.

When it’s this fragmented the BIG exposure business model disintegrates and the marketplace descends down into lots of little profit centers.  We have already seen it happen with television.  In 1979 there were 3 stations.  The US Pnadora Farrah Fawcett imagepopulation in 1980 was 226 Million people that 3 networks divided up between them; this is the definition of ubiquitous.  If you were lucky enough to be, say Farrah Fawcett, on a hit TV show in the 70’s you were HUGE.  You were FAMOUS.  You were RICH.  Everyone knew who you were, what else were they gonna watch?  You had a 33% chance of viewership; that’s freaking huge!  Nowadays, if you are a star on TV you just don’t have that kind of exposure because there are 500 channels.  Therefore you can’t possibly be as famous.  Make sense?  You can’t possibly be as huge.  It’s impossible to be ubiquitous.


So what DO we have?

We have clicks.

We have tribes.

We have cult followings that REAL GOOD content attracts.

Did you hear that?  We have tribes, clicks, and cults, oh my.  You are exposed to the actors from the shows you like but you are completely unaware of actors on shows that you do not watch because there is just too much content to be able to keep track of 10% of it all, and have a life.

Back to ubiquitous.   In the 70’s, if you didn’t watch Farrah (or any TV star because you preferred a competing program in the time slot) YOU KNEW WHO SHE WAS, because your friends were talking about her.  Everyone knew ALL the TV stars then whether they watched the shows or not.  Remember Battle of the Network Stars??  They had all the biggies on one competition show and it got great ratings!  Now we don’t, there are just too many shows and too many actors to keep track of; too much noise on the radar screen.

So goes the music business.  Get it?

The thing is, TV actors get paid.  All 500 TV networks understand that the actors are going to get paid so they can create interesting content that they can broadcast to generate advertising revenue.

Tim Westergren wants to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.  He wants your money.  He wants to literally take the food off your plate, man.

You are not going to be famous.

But you can make a living.  As long as you don’t allow assholes like Tim Westergren to screw you out of the revenue he creates from YOUR hard work!

If you wanna be famous, be crazy on a reality TV show, it’s a long shot but far better odds than getting famous in the music business.  Please, do that, and leave the music business to people who really have talent and NEED to create to keep from climbing a tower with a gun.  It belongs to us, and eventually this new business model will weed out the wankers and the posers.

US Terrestrial Radio Stations Do Not Pay Mechanicals

This is why this article is so important.  You cannot trust the Government to think for us no matter which side of the isle you sit on.  They gave terrestrial radio a pass on mechanical royalties back in the 40’s; we songwriters and musicians paid for that.  How important were the mechanicals?  Here’s a great example.  Remember the 80’s band Kix?  The bass player wrote all the songs for that band.  They had a triple platinum record, lived the Rockstar lifestyle, but the bass player was the only one that got paid because he was the writer; the rest of the band made $400 week…no mechanical royalties were paid by radio.  Due to the fact that the US terrestrial radio stations don’t pay mechanicals royalties and European terrestrial radio does, American artists DO NOT get paid mechanical royalties from European radio spins simply because we do not pay European artists mechanical royalties.  See how huge this decision was?

Our Government gave MTV a pass on ALL royalties until they were operating “in the black” which magically never happened; we musicians paid for that too (although MTV really did have the power to break a band wide open, huh?).  MTV was so ubiquitous, it made the non-payment of royalties worthwhile, but still…they build a whole network on just music back in 1980 and didn’t pay a dime for it.

Now here is another really important fact.  MTV was so POWERFUL that they single handedly broke Guns & Roses.  You know the story, 1 spin of “Sweet Child ‘o’ Mine” at 3am on a Saturday morning and BOOM, the phones blew up!  Heavy rotation followed and they were huge; Guns & Roses was saved by MTV.  Would have never happened without MTV because as you may or may not know, the Appetite For Destruction record had been out for a year at that point; the band was over.  Believe me the labels all quietly argued that MTV should pay royalties but didn’t want to piss anyone off over there because they were so ubiquitous; they had the power to seriously launch band up to the stratosphere.  MTV’s argument to the government included “New Technology” and “Massive Exposure” components as they spun a tale of how important these things would ultimately be to the music industry.  MTV was right.  They were that important.

Paul Westergren (aka “Fuckface Von Shitstick”) is making the same argument with the Government that MTV did.  He is working the “New Technology” argument, and the “exposure” argument.  MTV was exposure.  Pandora is a cacophony of noise on the radar screen that exposes nobody.  You really have to be looking for a song to get to it.  This is not exposure; it’s distribution.  Westergren really believes that the search algorithms which allow people to “discover” new music based on what they are currently listening to is exposure.  It isn’t.  How long has Pandora been around?  Which bands EXACTLY broke to worldwide success by being played on Pandora?  Come on, name ONE!!!  I sure as hell can’t and I’m in the business.  So they suck, plain and simple; there is no exposure.  Pandora is essentially providing a huge haystack for artists to hide their proverbial needle and calling it important because it’s possible to be heard there.  Ugh.

Isn’t it already quite clear that if we are not paying attention to this next congressional episode headed up by Tim Pandora Inet Fairness Act ImageWestergren for Pandora, the Government will do the same thing; cave to big money.  How the fuck can you really sell music for a living and go to the Government and tell them that you pay too much for the products you sell and ask THEM to change the rules?  How about CHANGE THE BUSINESS MODEL!

How is this different than TV manufacturers saying “we can’t make a profit on flat screens so you need to tell the parts makers we are cutting their pricing by 85%”?

How is this different than your boss going to the Government and saying “I’m paying too much for labor, so I need you to mandate a wage cut of 85% so I can make more money”?

How is this even the Government’s problem?


I mean, Pandora has literally doubled their subscribership in the last 2 years but 70% of their subscribers become ghosts.  Again, I reiterate, NO EXPOSURE.

Pandora is a hustle, a farce.  Why?

No new bands will break worldwide as a result of the “worldwide exposure” Pandora is giving them.  So the whole business will die with the old music that creates the traffic which in turn pays the advertising revenue.  Why else would all the executives immediately exercise their options and sell them?

European radio stations pay writers royalties AND mechanical royalties and manage to make a living and keep the businesses going for decades.  The business model of profiting off of creative’s while the creative’s get paid is not a fantasy.  It happens every day, just not here in America.

Steve Jobs managed to put together a new platform that pays royalties to artists and writers AND make a profit.

So I would like to say this to Tim Westergren: STFU

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By Johnny Dwinell

Do you?  Are you paying attention to the losers to learn from them or just the winners?  I sincerely hope you are all really researching the marketing methods I gave you the broad strokes on in previous blog posts.  This is MISSION CRITICAL that you get this.


This is how you will actually make a living.  If I told you that you could replace your crappy $30K per year job that Losers winners imageyou suffer through to work on your music, with revenue FROM YOUR MUSIC, would you quit your job?  That’s a No-Brainer!  The only way that is going to happen is if you change your outlook, stop coveting the rock stars.  Stop coveting the old music business and market your music INTELLIGENTLY in the NEW music business!  If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always got; and how’s that working for ya?


Far too many of you are still so naïve as to think that you just need to record that demo of your 3 cool songs and then someone important is going to hear them and sign you.  WTF?  That business model went out the window 10 years ago.  Record labels USED to find talent and develop that talent.

But then again, record labels USED to make money selling music.  (Btw, do you see the dichotomy here??  If you are the millennia generation, you want the music for free but yet, you still fantasize and believe in the old record business model which was only financially capable of developing talent with the MONEY THEY MADE FROM SELLING MUSIC??  LOL, but I digress.)  So you have to recognize that your music no longer matters to the major labels because they cannot afford to develop you.  It doesn’t matter if you’re more talented than Prince, THEY JUST DON’T DEVELOP ARTISTS ANY MORE; IT IS NO LONGER THEIR BUSINESS MODEL.

You have to develop yourself.

You have to create a PROFITABLE small business that the major labels will be interested in investing in.

I would like to touch on the old record business in this post though.  I want y’all to explore the reality of the old record business.  I think once it really sinks in, the reality of the shitateous chance you had to “make it” in the old record industry, it will be easier to embrace the new record industry.  It will be far more attractive to embrace the mathematically predictable reality of online marketing.

How are we going to do that you ask?

By studying the losers; FYI, there’s a lot.

Read this article.  It’s a little bit of a long read, but if you have a brain, it will be well worth it.  If you are a person who chooses to think rather than just believe you will make the correlation.  This article is not about the music business but about a phenomenon called Survivorship Bias.  In short, we don’t covet the losers.  We covet the winners.  Thou Shalt Not Covet!!  This article is about learning as much as we can from the losers just as we learn from our mistakes; just as we learn from our failures.

Here it is:  http://youarenotsosmart.com/2013/05/23/survivorship-bias/

Now, how does this associate with the music business?

What do we have to learn from the losers?

For starters, let’s talk about how many of them there are; 90% is an accurate number.  Back in the “heyday” of the record business, when the labels make billions selling records, only 10% of the artists signed to just about any label made any money.  CBS (now Sony), Warner Bros., Atlantic, Polygram, A&M, Elektra, Epic, all had hundreds of artists that were signed to their respective labels and only 10% of those signed artists made any money.

Only 10% were profitable.

Wow.  Talk about planets aligning; you used to need the whole freaking Universe to line up to make any money at all.

Let’s really put this in perspective.  I was a “hair-farmer” back in the day, an 80’s metal band front-man, and I STILL love 80’s metal bands!  I loved going to the concerts, I loved seeing them kick ass and shred (or NOT lol) live!  (Check me out HERE if you want a little giggle)  I was SO disappointed when I discovered the evil truth…

Most of the bands I saw were in debt.losers debtor prison image

Most of the bands I saw had the record, made the video, were on tour, were doing tons of media interviews, they were living the rock star life style, they were living my dream, and they were deeply in debt.   Man, all that work to get through the velvet rope, to get yourself in the door and POW, you’re broke.

Want some proof?

Check out this article on RIAA accounting practices for the bands with major label deals HERE

Want some more?

Here’s a great article written by Danny Goldberg (Google him), he was one of the heavyweights back in the day.  Pretty grim, read it HERE

A Radio Promo Budget Doesn’t Mean Success

I submit this to you artists that have any kind of brain at all; why the fuck would you want this?  Why would you want to deal with this when you can make WAY more money selling 70,000 units yourself than you can selling 700,000 with a major?  What’s that?  Oh, you wanna be on the radio?  In Country music radio still rocks, radio still breaks new artists, but by the time you get there nobody will care.  Nobody will be listening; just like nobody gives a shit about the network news anymore.  So why bother on a million dollar bet?  That’s right a BET!  Ask me, I’ll tell you!  Just because you get a major label record deal and they spend 1 million dollars to promote you will not guarantee that you will get any spins.  It does mean you will get a ride, maybe about 6-12 months, and then it’s over and you are in what we affectionately refer to as the “Artist Protection Program”.  Locked away in a deal and nobody cares; nobody can hear you screaming either.

Why would you do this when you can PREDICTABLY make money online??  You just have to figure out how.  It’s not rocket science.   For you artists who hate or simply can’t imagine the art of business, FIND SOMEONE who does!  $70,000 CD’s sold at an average of $7 gross = $490,000.  After expenses, after the necessary BS and cash flow required to sell 70,000 units, splitting the profit in 2 is still way better than never ever seeing a dime from a major label.  Right?

Just ask the RIAA and Danny Goldberg.

Please share this if you like it!

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