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Quit Being Derivative

Derivatives Mona Lisa Selfie

I get about 3-8 emails every week where people send me music and ask for advice.  These artists come from many different genres.  I’m generalizing to be sure when I say they mostly suffer from the same issue, they’re derivative.

They’re mostly derivative, right?

Don’t be derivative.

Look, don’t get me wrong, if a derivative artist has a budget we’ll record them, that’s just business.

I’m talking about real art here, though.

I’m talking about future icons.

I’m talking about a way to break through the noise on the market RADAR screen.

Strictly on a business level, if you don’t have a MAJOR financial backer who can capitalize on a market trend, what exactly are you exploiting?

What’s the point?

Sometimes I wonder if it’s laziness.  I wonder that because I certainly suffered through my share of lethargy in my artist years if I’m being honest. Initially my main goal was to be on MTV.  Once I got access to our producer’s “other band”, The Allman Brothers, I realized it didn’t have anything to do with MTV.  I was being lazy.  I needed to dig deeper.  We all have to go through that door at some point.

But I digress.

Derivative anti cliche imageI hear male country artists singing “Bro-Country” about tailgates, tan legs, barbed wire fences and beers in the console.

I hear female country artists singing hostile ex-girlfriend lyrics trying to outdo Carrie Underwood or Miranda Lambert.

I hear endless rap artists who cannot seem to avoid the most obvious lyrical clichés like “bitches”, “ho’s”, and “n****s”, etc.

In the 80’s we all had long hair, ear rings, and leather pants.  In 2014 every hipster has a close cropped haircut and beard the size of Texas with 60’s styled horn rimmed glasses.  (Will that hairdo be remembered as some sort of 2010 version of the 80’s/90’s mullet?)

Every genre has it, man.

Every generation has it.

Every Iconic Artist found themselves at some point

I’m simplifying once again by this statement, but every iconic artist found themselves at some point.  They found their own unique take on a derivative tangent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWait, huh?

C’mon you mean you really can’t tell how badly Petty wants to be Dylan?

Dylan wants to be Woody Guthrie.

Clapton wants to be Muddy Waters, etc.

Realistically the only way to avoid being derivative is to be yourself.  The most interesting artists are telling their own story.

Being Derivative is a timeless artistic problem

Being derivative is a timeless artistic problem deeply rooted in every artist’s beginnings and nurtured by label suits afraid to take a chance in artist careers for fear of a poor quarterly report.  (Don’t hate them, that’s just business.  If you’re smart enough to play the game professionally, you get that.)

Think about it, we all begin as artists imitating our heroes; this is necessary.  It’s the first inspiration. We artists connect strongly with the superstars whose message and image speaks to us.  We relate to them and pay homage, right?

So where then does the imitation stop and the originality begin?

The “me-too” acts with talent, money, savvy, gumption, and connections will probably get their 15 minutes of fame but they will be forgotten.

It’s the originals that we rememberDerivative 100 percent ORIGINAL stamp

It’s the originals that we aspire to be

It’s the originals that become icons

So what is the road map to true artistic innovation?

Work.

Work is the one thing most people aren’t willing to do that much of in any industry, unfortunately.

Artists especially avoid this act because unlike a regular job where you are compensated regularly for your effort, the artist must continue to invest time, money, and their spirit into a massively delayed settlement arrangement.

justiceDelayed financial, spiritual, and social reimbursement means you pay it all up front for a chance at evening the scales later on…usually much later on.

So naturally, most artists seek the path of least resistance and fall into an uninspired creative rut; this is human nature.

If you don’t want to spend too much time writing (working), you copy what you hear.

Instant gratification.

We covet what we see every day.

The original artists are constantly creating, always working.  The work provides the necessary steps to uncover the real artist deep down inside.

Every song is a stepping stone towards something greater.

The roots come up to meet the inspirational artistic input and they weave a new, unique fabric.

The work IS the compensation.  It has to be. If an artists doesn’t feel like that then the business model is doomed to fail.

This is who will create real impact.

That’s terrifying to an artist.  It requires removing your mask and being truly exposed.  Most artists who claim to be vulnerable really aren’t; at least they choose not to be in their art.

When you’re not vulnerable in your art, you’re derivative.

 

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Your Artistic Journey

Artistic Journey Your Journey Begins Now

 

By Johnny Dwinell

I’m always thinking about artists.  An artist’s success is quite literally paramount to our success at Daredevil Production, LLC.

Last night I was watching Howard Stern’s movie, “Private Parts”, for the umpteenth time but with a whole new set of eyes; artistic eyes.

It turns out this movie is an awesome articulation of an artistic struggle to the top.Artist Journey Private Parts image

I wanted to break it down in that perspective because I feel it’s really enlightening.

If you have seen this movie and you are an artist, watch it again and apply this perspective to your artistic struggle.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, watch it and connect the dots.

****SPOILER ALERT****

Howard learns early on what exactly he wants to do in life

Howard is an unattractive, socially awkward geek with balls so big I swear they rode shotgun with him whenever he drove.

Still, he was unattractive, and socially awkward; sound familiar?

He dove into the local radio DJ scene at his college.

He sucked because we all suck at the beginning.

Artist Journey Suck MeterHoward’s on-air personality was this lame interpretation of who he thought he should be. He was emulating all the crap he was constantly exposed to.

He was fake in the beginning man. Essentially posing, but driven.

Don’t we all start this way? Emulating?

Howard graduates and goes to his first station gig where his boss tells him that he sucks at his art but he’s reliable so he promotes him to Program Director for 2.5x the money; a position which has nothing to do with his artistic dream.

Howard takes the money; he’s human after all.

Then he regrets the upward move and explains to his new wife that he needs to be a DJ again which means less money; his wife supports himArtist Journey Fred Norris and he quits the highest paying job he’s ever had.

They move to Hartford, CT. where he meets an early Stern team member, Fred Norris.  This is huge because Fred was the first person willing to “play in the sandbox” with Howard.

Then he had his first artistic breakthrough.

Howard had an embarrassing moment where he was caught lying on air.  He admits to it publically after the fact and realizes that when he was honest, forthright, and open about himself, he was better.

Artist Journey Time For Your Breakthrough imageHe didn’t quit after being embarrassed.

When he was himself he was compelling because he was unique.

When he was unique he scared people, namely his superiors in the beginning because there wasn’t really an audience yet; they didn’t trust it.  That’s because they didn’t get it.

There wasn’t an audience yet, because it was new, nobody was doing it.

Sound familiar?

Howard pissed off his superiors until his artistic vision began to get a little traction, their ratings constantly improved in Hartford.  This allowed Howard the wiggle room he needed to hone his craft.

Listen to this, man, the beginning of the upward climb to this undeniably iconic career was littered with tough decisions and failure.

The battles NEVER stopped, in fact they just got bigger with more to lose each step of the way.

Sound familiar?

He screws up with his wife in Hartford and hits a major speed bump in their relationship; epic fail.

On the evening Howard tells his wife about a new job opportunity he was offered in Detroit, a much bigger market than Hartford, she confronts him and dumps him.

Howard moves to Detroit without his wife or Fred. A definite step backward…or was it? I’ll bet it felt that way in the moment.Artist Journey Optimist is 1 step forward and 2 steps back is a cha cha

In Detroit, miserable and with nothing to lose, Howard starts to really hit his artistic stride.  He learns that being real while covering divisive subject matter is his lane.

He’s moving past emulation and coming into his own.  He did this through work.

He also learns that his new artistic lane comes with pushback from the powers that be; it’s foreign to them and unproven at this point. He had to believe in himself to endure the climb.

Then there was a monumental setback that was out of his control.

The Detroit station decides to change from a rock format to a country format. He makes a tough decision to leave Detroit to stay true to his lane.

Big BALLS!

His next gig in Washington D.C. is where Howard meets Robin Quivers who was destined to be his now famous sidekick.  He loves the way she riffs with him from the first day.

Artist Journey Robin QuiversNew band member.

His decision to leave Fred behind (temporarily) pays off with a new KEY member of the team.

Howard continues to hone his craft because it’s a craft. He uses his hardships to his advantage by sharing themArtist Journey Without Craftsmanship Inspiration is a Mere Reed Shaking in the Wind with his public following; something no other DJ’s were doing.

He also inherently understood what most artists don’t these days.  The radio station wasn’t going to make him an artist, rather, it was the other way around.  In fact, he looked at the Detroit station changing formats as a failure on his part; he took responsibility for it. His artistry was going to have to create the audience that would make the radio station successful.

He was going to have to create his own opportunities.Artist Journey Musicians Create Your Own Opportunities

Howard’s superiors continue to hate him because all the major sponsors are bailing out due to the “shock value” of his act. Howard continued on with his vision in the face of complete adversity and then the ratings come out; He’s #1 in D.C.

He uses the ratings momentum to pressure the upper brass into hiring Fred.

#1 in D.C. means that Howard obliterated all the local competition which happened to be NBC.  That leads to a job offer from the #1 market in the country which is New York City.  This move came with a HUGE paycheck piggybacked by HUGE pressure to conform to a new, larger market with bigger suits who had more to lose with Howard’s shtick.

Artist Journey Plot TwistPolitical plot twist; Howard WAS in fact hired because of his talent that took him to #1 in D.C.  However, he was hired by suits who were pissed about losing their ratings position in Washington to Howard’s act,  not because they liked it or even heard it.  He was hired on ratings alone.

He just proved himself in D.C. got the big promotion and HAD TO PROVE HIMSELF ALL OVER AGAIN!

All the same shit with monumentally more pressure, more at stake than he ever had before, including a pending family.

Get it?

New, crazy business scenarios form in the way of the highest NBC brass expressing hostility over Stern’s act, and thus firing the executives who made the hiring decision. They couldn’t fire Howard because contractually they would have to pay him a boatload of cash.  They had to get him to quit.

An NBC executive agreed to torture Howard to the point of leaving…which ultimately led to Robin Quivers, his highest ranked sidekick getting sacked in the crossfire. This lead to Robin hating Howard for the perceived betrayal because Howard made the executive decision not to quit with her; Howard stayed to keep fighting.

Ultimately Howard goes #1 in New York City as well and Robin is rehired.  The rest is history.

This is show business people.  If you think there’s a threshold where you reach a point where you “get paid” and you can kick up your heels and relax; you sorely mistaken.

I promise you haven’t begun to fight. With every rung you climb on the ladder of success there are bigger and more challenging battles. This is why you have to love what you do.

You’re going to have to get used to challenges

Artist Journey Success What people think it looks like what it really looks like

Let me save you the suspense, you’re going to have to get used to challenges; they aren’t going away if you want to succeed.

 

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A True Artist

Artist Ghandi Quote Feature Image

By Johnny Dwinell

Every day I think that if Daredevil Production, LLC is going to make a dent in the Universe with new music we need more true artists.  Thank God the new music industry is all about true artists!

 

A true artist cares about the work

A true artist is interested in and incessantly pursues the truth in their art; no head-tripping allowed.Artist Can you handle the truth2

A true artist is fascinated with the process and not the outcome.  For instance, Billy Joel was quoted as saying something like “I look at my songs like my children. Some of them grow up to be doctors and lawyers, some of them grow up to be delinquents, but I love them all equally and unconditionally.”

The outcome continually improves when a true artist is focused on and fascinated with the process.

 

Artist Billy JoelA true artist has no concern about failing because the work is an end by itself.  For instance, the first record is stepping stone to record two; a snapshot in time of exactly where the artist was on the journey and so on.

 

The task & labor of creation is the satisfaction; it’s even exhilarating to a true artist.

A true artist proves through work that they are worthy and gains confidence in their art.Artist Confidence Thermometer

A true artist gets lost in the cause & forgets all the distractions.

A true artist understands that art can be very objective to the world.

So quality counts.

A true artist doesn’t use the notion that “art is subjective” as an excuse to ignore constructive criticism. For instance, constructive criticism, despite the imminent sting that’s involved, can help define strengths and weaknesses.  Thus, providing a road map on how exactly to work smarter to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative.  This is called development and refinement.

Artist art is subjective and objectivve

A true artist doesn’t use the notion that “art is subjective” as an excuse to get by with half-assed work.

A true artist doesn’t use the notion that “art is subjective” as an excuse to be lazy or cheap with their process.

A true artist is driven to continually improve their songwriting, their playing, recording skills, their understanding about the process of making records, their live show, their vocal skills, and their presentation to the world.  They’ll make a living by accident if the energy is right and they’re not self-sabotaging.

A true artist learns through the process of work to ignore the inner censor and entertain all ideas swimming around in their heads.  Write them all down now.  Refine later.

 

A true artist always honors the muse.  When she shows up, drop everything and write it down because you won’t remember.

 

A true artist understands perception is reality.

 

Therefore a true artist doesn’t share their art with the consumer world until its finished and done well; they know they will be judged.brokenCD2A true artists understands that any demos, work tapes, and rough tracks are only interesting and “colorful” to the consumer after they fall in love with the finished track.  Before that it’s just a crappy demo; so they don’t display anything on the world’s refrigerators like Soundcloud, Spotify, etc., until it’s finished.

A true artist knows the difference between a well written song and a song that isn’t ready yet.

A true artist knows the difference in the sonic quality of their music as compared to their idols.

 

A true artist knows it’s less expensive to hire a professional than to hire an amateur.Artist if you think it's expensive to hire a professional wait till you hire an amateur

 

A true artist knows that while well done art is subjective to taste, poorly executed art is objective and crappy.  There’s a difference between a good song and great song, right?  So then is there a difference between a good song and a crappy song.

 

A true artist knows that their mother, best friend, and significant other are the only people who care about their potential.  The rest of the world can only be interested in and react to what you have accomplished.  Getting heartbroken or spiritually injured over anything less is foolish and naïve.

 

A true artist knows that “magic” doesn’t happen out of the heavenly skies until they have their 10,000 hours.  For instance, we see magic happen every day in our studio because we work with professionals who have their 10,000 hours and then some.  There will be no magic with amateurs who can’t play well…that “magic” happens in post-production afterward.

Artist it's all about the magic

 

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Pragmatic Epiphanies

By Johnny Dwinell

 

prag·ma·tism

[prag-muh-tiz-uhm]  Show IPA

noun

character or conduct that emphasizes practicality.

a philosophical movement or system having various forms, but generally stressing practical consequences as constituting the essential criterion in determining meaning, truth, or value.

 

Pragmatic Pragmatic MLK image

 

Utilitarian

 

Sober

 

Realistic

 

LogicalPragmatic Bono Quote image

 

Practical

 

Efficient

 

Down-to-Earth

 

Pragmatic To Do Image

Businesslike

 

I am wondering, how do you run your career?

 

I am wondering, how do you approach your art, your talent?

 

Many of you are suffering artistically and stagnate in your careers because you are trying to be something you’re not.  Some of you are pushing for things you think you need to do and ignoring the lanes that options that will bring actual momentum to your career.

In short, many of you are creating your own obstacles unnecessarily.

Yes, it is much easier and quicker to start a fire with a blow torch or flame thrower, but if _MG_2855you don’t have these things, then the more pragmatic approach is to set up smaller kindling wood stuffed with newspaper. The paper burns immediately catching fire to the kindling which catches fire to the big logs in your fireplace; then just keep stoking.

 

You can choose to lament the fact that you don’t have a flame thrower/blow torch which results in no fire, OR you can work with something more practical, something you do have, and the end result is a nice fire.

 

 

 

EVERY ARTIST has their strengths and weaknesses.

 

Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.

An artist really is not going to gain serious momentum until they can objectively sit down and pragmatically determine where the strengths and weaknesses are in their live show, recordings, images, lyrics, melodies, market approach, business plan; their art essentially Pragmatic Madonna Album Cover image

Madonna is an Icon.  She isn’t a good singer.  She’s a good dancer, a great business person, and a great entertainer.  Her live shows do not focus on her singing do they?

She focuses on her strengths.

Ray LaMontagne has a voice that is like butter.  He is an AMAZING singer/songwriter.  Listen to his tracks.  They are decidedly arranged with space.  Space that allows that voice and those lyrics to easily shine through and change your life; that’s how he touches you.

 

He is accentuating the positives.

Pragmatic Ray LaMontagne Image 2

Ray is not trying to blow you away with vocal acrobatics.  That is not his lane and he knows it.  His lane is in the tone and the story, like Stevie Nicks or Rod Stewart.  These kinds of voices just need to sing good songs and the tone feathers out in your chest like a really good scotch.

 

If you listen to pop music with a pragmatic ear you will notice that many of the artists can’t sing.  Consequently the musical arrangements around their voices are akin to a sonic circus.  By design, they don’t really want you to focus on the voice all that much.  It’s more about the hooks and the feel.  Pop music has always been lyrically “light” so much that the words don’t even have to make sense, they just has to sing well; remember Phil Collin’s “Sussudio”?Pragmatic Phil Collins Sussudio image

Two different approaches.

Each approach is appropriate to the artist and genre, yes?

Are you pragmatic with your songwriting?  Do the songs you write fit your vocal range and style?

Are you pragmatic with your live show?  Does your show accentuate your positives and eliminate the negative?

Are you truly a captivating act?

Are you pragmatic with your sonic production and arrangements in the studio?

Pragmatic Tony Robbins Resourcefulness image

 

Are you overplaying?

Are you over-singing?

Are you over producing a great voice?

How about your marketing approach?

Pragmatic is about focusing on what you do have instead of what you don’t.

Be pragmatic.  Get momentum.

 

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Excuses versus Challenges

No Excuses Feature Redo

People hate it when I talk about this subject. Mostly because everyone has some festering sore spot in their life where they felt like they coulda, shoulda, woulda, but made an excuse and never did. So having a serious discussion about excuses causes people to relive their most catastrophic or most painful failures which in turn pisses them off.

I get it.

Do you know why it pisses them off?Excuses Are The Tools Of Incompetence

It’s because they knew better. It’s because, deep down, they knew that there was more they could have done, but they chose to make an excuse.

They chose to give up.

They succumbed to their moment of doubt.

They behaved weakly.

I have some to be sure. They don’t feel good when you live them and they certainly don’t feel good when you relive them. I submit to y’all that there is exactly ZERO people on this planet that do not have a sore spot left from an excuse.

Excuses Before After Weight loss imageHere’s the key part of this concept EVERYBODY has at least one moment where they wish they would have done something differently, ya know?

The difference between the successful people and the people who seem to get stuck living in the past or making the same mistakes/excuses is that the successful people learn from the error in judgment and move on.

Successful people grow.

They learn that the difference between an excuse and a challenge is simply perspective.

Now you’re thinking about your moment of doubt and you’re deciding whether to continue reading.

Again, I get it.

My dad always told me that excuses are like butts, everyone has one and they all stink. (He always used more colorful language)

Yes, I know, there are definitely valid excuses. Real good reasons that something didn’t get done.

There are also crappy, weak, excuses. Real lame reasons why something didn’t get done.Excuses Are For People Who Don't Want It Bad Enough

It is a FACT that all valid and all lame excuses have the same outcome; something didn’t get done that should have been done.

Another way to articulate this fact is to say that whether one has a valid excuse or a weak excuse the damage is exactly the same. Something doesn’t get done.

Another really HORRIBLE fact about excuses is that they always imply failure. They precede giving up. Excuses become the trumped up reason to quit.

Excuses make it ok to fail at your goals and dreams.

Excuses make it ok for life to happen to you instead of the other way around.

A challenge is processed COMPELTELY differently in the subconscious mind.

If one thinks of any roadblocks as a challenge they are framed as an obstacle that is delaying the execution of a certain goal or dream.

See the difference?

An excuse is subconsciously thought of as “Here’s the reason why we failed.”

A Challenge is subconsciously thought of as “Here’s the reason why our success is being postponed.”

With an excuse there is no need for further action; game over. (This is why people like them so much)Excuses Don't Limit Your Challenges Challenge Your Limits

A challenge REQUIRES additional effort.

(This is why people don’t like them)

Thomas Edison could have had 2,000 excuses why he couldn’t make the light bulb. Instead he viewed them as 2,000 challenges that got him closer to his goal.

Oh yeah, and then he made the first practical, long lasting, incandescent light bulb.

Excuses are toxic and nonproductive. View them as the most horribly addicting drug that will ABSOLUTELY, UNDENIABLY ruin your life.

You should seriously treat excuses as something life threatening like the Ebola Virus that should never to be put in or around you.

Challenges are a pain in the ass.

Challenges make us uncomfortable.

Challenges delay success.

But challenges alwaysprecede success.

One cannot have success without challenges.

One cannot succeed with excuses.

Are you busy making excuses or are you busy dealing with challenges?

Excuses Challenges Make Life Interesting

Excuses Mom with 3 ChildrenExcuses Handicapped Kid Image

Excuses Olympic Discus Thrower

Excuses Stop Making Excuses image

 

 

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There’s Always 1 Skeptic

Skeptic Feature image

 By Johnny Dwinell

Lately, I’m proud to say, many of my articles have been reposted by some resource sites that have far greater traffic than ours does. Every so often, I get a wild hair and a little extra time that directs me to read some of the comments people leave about my blog posts. This is a rare occurrence but interesting because, while I receive and reply to all comments on Daredevilproduction.com, I don’t get “pinged” when comments are posted anywhere else. Additionally, one cannot directly reply to any comments on these sites.

Reading the feedback on any given post is usually motivating because most people get the information or at least find something in there that inspires them, teaches them, makes them aware, etc., and they make a point to say so.

…and then there is always at least 1 skeptic.

At least one person who takes the time to spin or trump up some undesirable angle so he/she can poo-poo all the information and go on about their life and career as-is with no meddlesome disruptions that would threaten their current understanding of how the music business works.

I am still an artist and will always have an artist heart

I want to thank anyone who takes the time to remark on the positive and/or helpful info that they received from my articles. Even though I operate at high level on the business side IMG_8642of my brain, I am still an artist and will always have an artist heart. That means it’s wounded pretty easily from disapproval and nourished by positivity.

While I totally understand that being divisive on certain subjects is a good thing (negative comments means I’m touching a nerve somewhere right?), I must admit that the adverse interpretations get me thinking a lot; sometimes too much. I guess I just can’t help wanting to please everyone.

 

Yesterday, I was reading the comments on an article called 20 Biggest Marketing Mistakes. I experienced mostly great comments and, of course, 1 skeptic.

This skeptic trashed all the information because, in his head, we were selling something.

If you’ve already read it, #18 in the article stated “You won’t pay for coaching” as a mistake. The skeptic then summed up the whole article as a hustle to lead people into paying us for coaching.Skeptic LEARN image

Everybody needs to be educated. Especially in an environment where the targets you must hit to survive are constantly moving. If you can get free coaching a.k.a. on-the-job-training or an internship, God bless! The rest of us will have to learn somewhere else or suffer through doing the same ineffective routine that gets us the same, useless results. Btw, isn’t college paid education/coaching?

So THIS thought got me thinking about how and why the consummate skeptics self-sabotage. They don’t want to find the answers because that would mean they would have to stop complaining and actually show up for work.

Showing up for work means they would have to take responsibility for the results.

A level of skepticism is quite healthy. We definitely need a “devils-advocate”, if you will. We believe in this concept so much at Daredevil Production, LLC that Kelly and I regularly practice skepticism against any new ideas we bring up. We actually try to blow holes in the concept to test their strength and validity. The difference is that the skepticism is served up in a positive spirit of finding the truth rather than some hostile rant of pure negativity.

But like anything else in life, too much skepticism is the opposite of healthy.

It’s debilitating. Sometimes this is unconscious, and sometimes people are just downright angry, evil, and bitter so they do it intentionally.

Either way, the damage to the skeptic is the same.

skeptic don't be afraid move forwardThey don’t move forward.

Skeptics will typically label themselves as “unlucky”, that’s one big reason they are so damn skeptical.

The definition of luck is the intersection of opportunity and preparation. Now, as you read that your eyes are glazing over.

True as it may be, It’s a cliché isn’t it?

 

As artists we want to believe in skill and talent.

The truth is that skill and talent will always get you more “at bats” in life, but it certainly does NOT guarantee success.

The other truth is most artists require a little more validation (I use “a little more” in the same way a bar would use “free beer Skeptic Free Beer Tomorrow singtomorrow”…it never comes) before they really get to work on the preparation part of the equation.

Too many artists are waiting for the opportunities to present themselves before they invest in the work portion of the formula.

So the “Luck Equation” is changed. When it’s changed the opposite happens; you get unlucky. Then I guess you ultimately become a skeptic.

Let’s look at luck and skeptics who consistently feel unlucky from a different perspective. I was reading an incredible article about Survivorship Bias. This article was LONG but so worth the read. It focused on the human proclivity for noticing and therefore studying winners simply because winners are more visible than losers.

Skeptic You are not so smart imageFor instance you want to open a restaurant because you see so many successful restaurants in your neighborhood. What you don’t see is that 90% of restaurants fail.

You want a record deal because you see all the successful artists and they inspire you. What you don’t see is that 90% of signed artists fail. It’s always been that way.

Get it?

In this article there was a portion that basically attributed all successes to luck. Which is disturbing at first glance, until you consider the following facts:

  • Luck isn’t fairy dust
  • Luck isn’t a mythical force where the Gods determine the haves and have-nots.

There are many scientific studies that show luck (and Luck’s opposite which leads to skepticism) to be a measurable output of a group of predictable behaviors.

While randomness, chance, and the noisy chaos of reality may be impossible to predict or tame, luck and therefore skeptics are something else.Skeptic We only regret the chances we didn't take image

Huh?

Luck and skeptics are the results of a human being consciously interacting with chance.

The example given in this article was compelling. These scientists followed the lives of 400 people of all ages and professions over a 10 year period. The scientists found these people through newspaper articles that asked for subjects to apply if they thought of themselves as generally very lucky or generally very unlucky. The subjects were asked to keep diaries, participate in experiments, and be interviewed over the course of the decade.

In one such experiment, the subjects were given a newspaper and asked to count the number of photographs inside. The people who labeled themselves as generally unlucky took an average of 2 minutes to complete the task.

The people who considered themselves generally lucky took an average of a few seconds.

The scientist had placed an ad in GIANT BOLD LETTERS on the second page that said “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” Deeper inside the scientists placed another ad with the same sized text that read, “Stop Counting. Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250.”

The people who were unlucky (a.k.a. the skeptics) usually missed both. (I submit that if this experiment was performed during the internet age they would have “commented’ on how the test was unfair, fixed, a scam, and somehow partial to the lucky group)

The scientists observed that skeptics are narrowly focused

They crave security, tend to be more anxious, instead of wading into a sea of random chance open to what may come, they remain Skeptic Fearless Focus imagefixated on controlling the situation, on seeking a specific goal.

In the case of the skeptic who commented on my article, he did exactly ZERO research because he was narrowly focused on finding the angle, finding the moment where we ask for money; which in his interpretation devalued the information. This goal of his, distracted him from all the possibly educational content.

If our skeptic did any research he would know that Daredevil Production, LLC is in the artist development business. We don’t charge for and put on conferences of any kind; it’s not our business model. If he read that article again, he would also pick up that Kelly and I were panelists not the hosts at the mentioned conference. Furthermore, he would have read that we made many relationships with some amazing new writers we met at this conference. In fact, we have already placed one such writer with an artist we are developing (they’re getting along famously so far)

So I guess that writer who paid to attend the conference is just lucky, right?

And our skeptic remains unlucky due to an overwhelming need to find an “angle” with every opportunity or piece of information. If it requires money it must be bad, right?

To be clear Mr. Skeptic, what you “See” as a music fan is:

  • An interview or two from your favorite artist.
  • You hear probably 1 live radio interview on whatever local station you listen to.
  • You see your favorite artist in 1 appearance on your favorite late night TV show.
  • It seems really grandiose and adoring for the artist whom you aspire to be like.

Mr. Skeptic, what you don’t see is:

  • Your favorite artist doing weeks of 12 hour days that consist of nothing but interviews for every print magazine, newspaper, blog spot, radio station, and podcast on the planet.
  • Your favorite artist does weeks of radio tours hitting every station in everybody’s home town.
  • Your favorite artist appears on ALL the late night TV shows, ALL the morning talk shows, and ALL the mid afternoon talk shows.

Oh, and Mr. Skeptic, there’s the final nail in your “integrity coffin”. Your favorite artist deserted-town-old-west-casketsuffers through weeks of interviews answering the same, monotonous, lame questions, over and over. They endure tons of travel to get to a new city to answer more monotonous, lame questions on a radio tour which could ultimately be described as, GASP, sales calls!

Yes, Mr. Skeptic, your favorite artist has the very thing you so diligently seek to dismiss every experience and every educational opportunity, the one thing you despise most on this Earth; an angle.

Your favorite artist wants to sell records and concert tickets.

Sorry.

The moral of the story is be a little skeptical because it’s healthy, but don’t be a skeptic.

The bad news is if you are bitter, sour, and too skeptical it’s your own damn fault.

The good news is you can change it if you want.

 

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Artistic Terrorists

By Johnny Dwinell

We have traitors amongst us.

I am now acutely aware.

They’re more like artistic terrorists.

This is serious y’all. I’m NOT screwing around.

These people work against you, the artists.file0001791513547

They are ruining artists and the art for that matter.

They’re haters!

They are demons working against us artists to ensure we don’t realize our dreams.

I have seen them PURPOSEFULLY hinder follow-through on important, possibly life-changing opportunities, ruining artist’s chances to take the next necessary steps in their respective careers.

I have seen these conspirators stop creativity in its tracks!! Or worse, stop the spiritually healing act of creation before it even begins. They use insanely cold-hearted manipulative tactics like bullying, misinformation, mental abuse, physical abuse, sabotage, and downright tyranny to achieve their ultimate goal of shutting artists down.

These turncoats MUST BE STOPPED.

This is freaking ridiculous.

Artistic Terrorist I Kill You imageI have seen these people that work against artists literally destroy lives, careers, and dreams without so much as an ounce of regret. It’s like they LIVE to kill dreams. They LIVE to steal our energy.

They are not compassionate.

They are never remorseful

They are extremely dangerous

<H2.Here’s what’s really scary…you know who they are.

Let me give you an example. Most of you know that Daredevil Production, LLC is in the midst of developing a reality TV show that will expose artists to a larger market and boost selected artists up to the next level. We will do this by coupling the mass market TV exposure with a concerted effort to capture contact information while the iron is hot.

In plain English, we will make hay while the sun is shining.

The selected artists will develop a brand name of some kind.

The selected artists will sell their music, merch, and tickets

The selected artists will tour the country.

We created a very succinct submission page that clearly asked for just 4 mission critical pieces of information.

  1. Contact information – If the TV Studio likes the artist, they need to contact them for further interviews and hopefully for business purposes if they are chosen
  2. A recent image of the artist – it’s TV, they need to know what the artists look like.
  3. A Link to the best recording of the artist’s best song – Daredevil Production and the TV Studio want to hear what the artist is up to. Where are they exactly on their artistic journey?
  4. A Link to a Video – Where the artist answers questions that are posted on the submission page in an interview kind of fashion. I actually thought this was genius. The questions are there. The artist is not burdened with video content creativity. Just answer the questions on camera and be “fascinating”, the TV execs can see if the artist is “Good for TV” or not.

The terrorists won on so many of these submissions; it’s frightening how powerful they are. They intentionallyMona Lisa Artistic Terrorist image disrupted the process and literally screwed quite a few entries.

I am really worried about this. It’s a darkness that exists.

I wish I didn’t know about it.

On one entry I believe these artistic terrorists actually replaced the supplied artistic content (i.e. the link to the song and the link to the video) with a link to the artist’s website music page (with many different tracks on it) and the name of the artist plus a handy http://Youtube.com link (that’s the EXACT link…to the home page of YouTube…Who does that??)

FYI, I looked this artist up on YouTube. I discovered her name was common. On the first page there were no less than 4 different people with personal home spun music videos. I did identify a few of the artist’s videos after some detective work (a photo wasn’t supplied either so I took time to match the image on her website with the very different images on her videos but I’m pretty sure I got it right) but these videos were all 8 years old or more.

See what I mean? These artistic terrorists knew this. They knew I wasn’t going to find what I needed to complete the entry for the artist.

Where was the video interview she made?

I decided to contact the artist via email and ask, again, for the link to the best recording of her best song, and a link to the video interview as I couldn’t seem to find it on YouTube page 1 or 2. She was mortified and sent another email…

Then these artistic terrorists struck AGAIN by replacing her content that she worked so hard on with the exact same information provided on the original submission.

file8811257954602Twice?

To the same artist?

Really?

These people need to be stopped, man. This is horrible. I moved on because I literally didn’t have time to fight these radicals. It was exhausting.

I’m telling you these artistic terrorists are potent, man. They are true professionals. The mental aspect of their onslaught is downright terrifying.

They use some sort of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (much like a cult leader) to actually get inside these artist’s minds. They effectively change the mindset of their victims; even the SUBCONSCIOUS mind of their targets.

They lead them to believe they’ll never make it.Keep Fear Alive Artistic Terrorists image

They lead them to believe their not worth it.

They lead them to believe they suck.

They lead them to believe that people around them who are negative belong with them and should never be excommunicated from the artist’s delicate world.

They lead them into constant moments of doubt.

They lead them into temptation.

Listen we all have moments of doubt. If you don’t you’re not trying hard enough. Even Jesus Christ had a moment of doubt, man. I mean, twice a week I wake up wondering what in the HELL I am doing, but I keep going, ya know?

I keep going because the juice is worth the squeeze.

But when you’re inundated with constant negativity and blocked by continuous physical hurdles and challenges that are put in place by these artistic terrorists, it will bring you down eventually; I don’t care who you are.

Some of us know enough to keep the negative, jealous haters out of our lives, but we don’t know enough watch the back door, where the true evil lives; the artistic terrorists.

You see, you are intimately acquainted with these terrorists.342They live inside you.

They are you

They are your dark side.

They manifest themselves in the form of excuses, self-sabotage, jealousy, rage, envy, coveting, addiction, gluttony, self-destruction, projection, pain, sorrow, and poor art; or worse, no art.

 

Don’t let the artistic terrorists win.

It’s a journey NOT a destination.

Eat your challenges for breakfast.

Never surrender.

 

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Implied Power

Power image

First of all, a big shout out to Brent Baxter for a killer post last week! Thanks Brent (I totally needed that! Let’s do it again)

The last blog that I wrote 20 Biggest Music Marketing Mistakes I touched on the concept of implied power.

I want to dissect this concept a bit more to demonstrate how important the delivery of your message is regardless of value of the content.

I keep seeing artists and artist promo teams at all professional levels make thefile0001719225336 same mistakes with regards to communication errors and developing relationships online.

Too many people think if the message (music) is good and the message (music) is true, everyone will accept it.

This is false.

You have to understand your position in the exchange first.

Then you formulate the language to service the dynamic of the specific exchange for message to be effective.

Even within your music life right now, the message and the way you serve it up definitely file000766340476has to change depending on the situation if you want it to be received.

To truly receive information, people need to be in an emotionally open space where they feel either curious, safe, subordinate, or intrigued. It’s your job as the communicator to understand this dynamic and frame the appropriate stage for your message to actually be heard.

Communication is not the intent of your message but what is actually being received.

 

If they aren’t getting the message, it’s the communicator’s fault.

Until you internalize this FACT you will continue to view social media as a frustrating, foreign mystery and you won’t sell anything.

Then the artist voice of doubt enters your head. Ewwwwww.

Don’t worry, you’re not alone I see massive social media companies working with multi-platinum artists making these same mistakes. They make them honestly because they are used to effectively communicating to masses or a crowd with implied power.

When they apply sales language reliant on implied power to a private exchange such as the 1 on 1 interactions on social media or email, it has the exact opposite effect.

One of P.T. Barnum’s famous quotes is “Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd” (at least I think it was Barnum). It’s PT Barnum Power imageabsolutely TRUE.

Whether you wade in the shallow end or swim in the deep end of the gene pool, you are a human being and therefore wired up to respond with some level of curiosity.

Maybe you walk over to the crowd with a totally open sense of wonder and complete gullibility.

Perhaps you are not gullible and walk over to the crowd with supreme skepticism, but you walk over; that’s the point.

Now, if the message drawing the crowd is consonant to any interests you may hold, you stay. If it isn’t, you leave.

But you walk over.

In the 1800’s that crowd might have assembled around a stump where a man was selling snake oil, tickets to the circus, or Power Politicking imagepoliticking. When you walk up on a person who is on a stump with 30 people around him, this person has implied power.

After all, why are these 30 people gathered around him?

What is he saying or selling that is keeping their interest?

Curiosity.

Intrigue.

The fact that people are there creates a subconscious referral of sorts because you see these people with your own eyes. There is also more of them and only one of him.

Safety.

Many years later we amplified that implied power with mass broadcast technology like terrestrial radio and television. In these communication scenarios, the implied power is magnificently influential in swaying consumer buying decisions.

Therefore, hype works. Over the top energy is not only effective but expected.

After all, the communicator must be someone really important because they were on the radio or on the TV, right?

Subordinate.Power Subordinate image

Here’s a real example of having a great product, message, truth, etc., but COMPLETELY different results selling it based on a strategy change in communication techniques and language.

When I was in the mortgage industry, the market was real hot; everybody was in the mortgage industry. There were these trigger leads that generated whenever a consumer would have their credit pulled by a lending institution. The 3 credit bureau companies would sell this information for about $1 or $2 per lead. Agents would have no relationship with these consumers but they did know for a fact that these people were thinking about getting a mortgage.

They were cold calls, to people we knew were in the market, man.DSC00769One day I reached this guy around 6PM or so after work and I gave him real good phone.

I heard this honest “sigh” on the other end.

I immediately asked if he had a bad day.

He responded, so sincerely, by telling me he had an answering machine and the digital display told him I was the 70th unsolicited cold-call that day trying to sell him a mortgage.

I thought there must be better way to communicate, this is ridiculous.

I had a recording studio

I recorded a radio show and bought some time on a radio station.

Same product

Same person

Now they were calling me.

I had implied power.

I was able to be more of my boisterous self on the radio which (most) people love.

Consumers were willing to accept my whole personality because of the way they were exposed to it.

In the midst of a market being overwhelmed by salesmen clamoring to gain consumer trust, I rose above din and offered up educational programming to people with an 800 number to contact me and it worked.Power No Cold Calling Zone image

I was able to create relationships by giving them valuable information.

They responded by giving me an opportunity earn their business.

I didn’t make a cold call after that ever again.

Get it?

Here’s the key, once I got them in the room the tone and message had to change because I was no longer on the stump so-to-speak; we were in a 1 on 1, private meeting.

Now I had to completely change my approach due the vastly different arena because hype or big, boisterous tones weren’t going to work in a private setting. In fact, hype and big boisterous tones would have the opposite effect and turn the consumers off immediately.

Let’s apply this example to your music and how to serve up your message with educated anticipation as to the way the information will be consumed.

When you are opening for an artist with huge draw or maybe you’re an artist with a huge draw you are in front of a crowd. You can be more boisterous, you can hype because you have implied power.

You’re the center of attention.

Power Axl Rose On Stage imageAfter all, you must be somebody important to be on that stage right?

Incidentally, the term huge draw is relative. What’s important is the feel of the crowd; the energy. If you can draw 100-200 people make sure you’re playing a place with a capacity of 100-200 people so the joint is packed.

 

The more packed it is, the more power you have. Get it?

 

Here’s the biggest mistake everyone continues to make. The language, hype, and energy that will work and effectively communicate a message on stage will NOT work on social media or email exchanges; because they are private conversations, they are consumed 1 on 1.

Your implied power is gonePower One on One Sillouette image

Now it’s about THEM

Exclamation points are a NO-NO on social media and email interactions. They’re a turn off. They say SALESMAN.

Do you want to be perceived as a used car salesman?

Everybody wants to buy but nobody wants to be sold.

If you recall my story about the mortgage radio show, I said the radio show gave me an opportunity toearn their business. It very rarely gave me their business.

All too often I see artists create a relationship on social media and immediately ask for the sale.

This is too soon to close the deal.

You have to deepen the relationship first.

If your product is good, and your message is appropriate, and the message is served up in a manner suitable to the exchange, the power will come.

Just give it time and attention.

Most social media and email exchanges in the music industry remind me of a scene from Monte Python’s “The Meaning of Life”

“What’s wrong with a kiss, boy?” “There’s no need to go STAMPEDING towards the…”

Watch the video up to 2:45. It’s hysterical.

 

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Song Kinetics

Kinetics Feature image

WHAT ARE THE KINETICS OF YOUR SONG?

Hey y’all, meet Brent Baxter.  He will be guest blogging in my absence this week as I am hanging with my family in  Utah’s amazing Zion National Park.  Songwriters this is a must read.

Kinetics Brent Baxter

<Brent Baxter is a hit songwriter with cuts by Alan Jackson (the top 5 hit “Monday Morning Church,” Lady Antebellum, Randy Travis, Joe Nichols, Gord Bamford (the #1 Canadian country hit, “When Your Lips Are So Close”), comedy legend Ray Stevens, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame member Steve Cropper, and more.  He blogs about songwriting and the music business at Man vs. Row, manvsrow.com.>

I call the energy of a song the “kinetics.”  Kinetic energy is energy in motion, as opposed to potential energy, which is energy at rest.  There are three components of a song’s kinetic energy: 1) tempo 2) melody and 3) phrasing.  Let’s take a look at each of these elements.

Tempo

Tempo is the speed of your song in beats per minute, or bpm.  As a general principle, uptempo songs are in higher demand than midtempo or ballads.  Therefore, your best bet to get a cut is by writing great uptempo songs.  The mathKinetics Tempo image everywhere supports this.

Look at the albums by the top artists.  Most of their songs are mid- and uptempo.  There’s usually only one or two true ballads on most albums these days.

Radio mostly plays uptempo and midtempo.  They want the listeners to feel good and stick around through the commercials.

And, finally, artists want their shows to be fun- they want the crowd on their feet, singing along and having a great time so they buy a T-shirt at the merch table.  An artist works hard to get everybody on their feet at a show.  Then he plays a ballad.  What does everyone do?  They sit back down.  Now the artist has to work hard to get them on their feet again.  Because of this, most artists don’t play many ballads in their shows.

Shows, radio, and records all rely on tempo.  Therefore, it’s wise give your song, if possible, in a faster tempo.

Here’s another reason to lean toward writing tempo.  A lot of people listen “beat first.”  This means they don’t pay attention to the lyrics of the song at first.  They listen for a good beat first.  Then, if they like the beat, they MIGHT get around to connecting with the lyric.

Your song might have a great idea and a powerful lyric, but “beat first” listeners will likely never know.  Writing songs with a good beat and a good lyric helps your song connect faster to both beat-first and lyric-first listeners.

Melody

I’m a lyricist, and I don’t write melodies.  I leave that to folks who are great at that. However, I know from experience Kinetic Melody imageand observation that MELODY MATTERS.  It’s huge.

Let me be clear- a song with a great melody and average lyric will get cut a lot faster than a song with a great lyric and an average melody.

Your melody has to fit your idea, simple as that.  This is not to say that sad songs HAVE to have “sad” melodies (I’ll touch on that later), but if your lyric is angry, your melody probably shouldn’t be too “sweet.”  Likewise, if your idea is for a tough guy, the melody should be one that a tough-guy artist would sing.

In general, if your song has a slower tempo, it probably needs to have a bigger, more rangy melody.  There just aren’t many slow songs with soft melodies getting cut these days.  You put your song at a disadvantage when you frame it that way.

If you’re going to go ballad, go big.

A good example of this is “I Drive Your Truck,” written by Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington, and Jimmy Yeary and recorded by Lee Brice.  It’s a sad ballad.  But it doesn’t FEEL like a ballad because of the power in the chorus.  Lee just sings his backside off.

If they hadn’t CHOSEN to go the power ballad route, I don’t think the song would have worked as well- and I definitely don’t think it would’ve been a #1 hit country single.  If the tempo had been too fast, it might have trivialized the subject matter.  If they had given it a soft, flat melody, I think the singer would’ve come across too whiney.

Again, if you go ballad, go big.

Phrasing

Phrasing is the rhythm of the lyrics as they fit into the melody.  You could say it’s the “bounce” of the words.  Phrasing could be melodic and slow, like the chorus on “Drink A Beer” recorded by Luke Bryan and written by ChrisKinetics Phrasing image Stapleton and Jim Beavers.  It could be more like a rap, like the verses of “Boys ‘Round Here” recorded by Blake Shelton and written by Craig Wiseman, Thomas Rhett, and Dallas Davidson.  Or it could be somewhere in between.

Play with your phrasing.  Mix it up.  If you’re not great at writing uptempo songs, try writing faster, more interesting phrasing.  Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford did this well when they wrote “Dirt Road Anthem,” which went on to become a #1 country single for Jason Aldean.  The tempo wasn’t that fast- the song felt really laid back.  It’s the rapid-fire phrasing on the verses which really gives the song its energy (instead of giving it a power chorus or a fast tempo).

You don’t want your lyric to have the same “bounce” all the way through.  Mix up the phrasing between your verse and your chorus.  This will help you vary the melody between the verse and chorus, too.  That’s really important.

Right now, rap-like lyrics are pretty popular in country music, but who knows how long that’ll be the case.  My best advice is to just keep it interesting, whatever you do.

IN CONCLUSION

Let’s take a look at “These Days” recorded by Rascal Flatts and written by Jeffery Steele, Steve Robson and Danny Wells.  The idea of the song is that this guy runs into his old flame and they start catching up.

He basically says, “I wake up, think of you, cry and hope all day that you’ll call.  Then I go back to bed and dream of you.  That’s what I’m doing these days.”

What a whiner!

But those hit writers knew they could not only get away with, but GET A HIT with that bellyaching lyric by giving it some tempo, a big chorus and interesting phrasing.  It’s a classic case of “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.”

Let’s learn from this!

God Bless,

 

Brent Baxter

MANvsROW.com

 

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The Songwriter Future

It’s interesting to watch human nature during a massive paradigm shift within any industry; a songwriter is no different. We hate change. The more successful we are in any particular field the more removed we are from the undercurrent that is facilitating the change; and the more we fight it.

It makes sense, really, you make money via a certain pipeline or methodology and you get good at it, you have those relationships, you have that “groove” down. When something comes into the market that is disruptive to the status Songwriting Hate Change imagequo, we rebel.

We don’t trust it

We don’t want to start over.

We can’t think about the concept of it except for remembering and waxing about the way it was.

It doesn’t stop disruption from arriving, though.

I like disruption.

The music industry has certainly been disrupted by the internet, Napster, streaming technologies, too much consumer choice, etc.

What does the future of a professional songwriter look like?

Tomorrow will be way different, but it IS better.

Listen, all the answers are not in place yet. Big thinkers are working as we speak to identify and fill some of the vacuums that are being created with these disruptions.

Trust the Free Market

Trust the free market, many people will discover ways to make consistent money selling music on the internet. Then they will figure out ways to bring the supply to the demand. THAT fact we can count on.

If we look at what making a living as a songwriter used to be like, we can better understand the mindset songwriters currently have. Once we identify the old mindset and define it for what it is, which is old, we can tackle what’s going on now.

 

 

file9351251928986The old business model provided big bucks to the lucky few who could find their way into the party. The words “Lucky” and “Few” are the key words in the previous sentence because there are only a very limited amount of coveted radio slots to spin songs. So the club was exclusive, man.

 

 

If we generalize (yes, I’m REALLY generalizing but you get the point), a hit single, more specifically a #1 single on the country charts, is worth about $1 million of overall performance revenue unless it crosses over to the Pop market, then it is worth more. For the argument, let’s stick to $1 million. Since a #1 single requires “X” amount of radio spins in the same markets, the performance revenue difference between 1999 and 2014 is relatively the same.

Here is where a songwriter suffers today: mechanical royalties.

Mechanical royalties are paid to the songwriter based on record sales.

Let’s study a few of the top selling country records released in 1999 (Just 15 years ago) and 2014, dissect the sales of each (so we can determine the mechanical royalty income), and create some comparative data.

With this information we can calculate a paycheck on gross mechanical royalties for a songwriter.

In 1999 the mechanical royalty rate was 7.1 cents per song. A “cut” on a record would pay the songwriter 7.1 cents for every record sold.

  • 100,000 Units sold would generate $7,100 in gross revenue
  • 500,000 (Gold) sold would generate $35,500 in gross revenueOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  • 1 Million (Platinum) would generate $71,000 in gross revenue
  • 10 Million (Diamond) would generate $710,000 in gross revenue

These numbers are for ONE song-cut on a record that may or may not be a single. A single, of course, would generate a whole other huge cash register of performance royalties.

Let’s look at a few of the most popular country records released in 1999 and attribute the songwriter revenue to each. NOTE: publishers share of royalties would be 50% and the co-writers would split accordingly; we are just looking at gross revenue.

  • Dixie Chicks “Fly” 12 Million Units sold
    •  1 song cut = $852,000 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    •  #1 Single = $852,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Faith Hill “Breathe” 8 Million Units soldSongwriter Faith Hill Breathe image
    •  1 song cut = $568,000 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $568,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Tim McGraw “A Place In The Sun” 3 Million Units sold
    • 1 song cut = $213,00 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $213,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • LeAnn Rimes “LeAnn Rimes” 1 Million Units sold
    • 1 song cut = $71,000 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $71,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Gary Allan, Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Keith Urban, and Montgomery-Gentry are just a few all the artists that had platinum records in 1999 so everyone was going platinum if you didn’t go platinum you damn sure went gold.

Now let’s look at a few of the top selling records for 2013 (the mechanical royalty rate has risen to 9.1 cents)

  • Luke Bryan “Crash My Party” 1.9 Million Units soldSongwriter Luke Bryan image
    • 1 song cut = $172,900 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $172,900 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Blake Shelton “Based On A True Story” 1 Million Units sold
    • 1 song cut = $91,000 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $91,000 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Keith Urban “Fuse” 354,000 Units sold
    • 1 Song Cut = $32,214 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $32,214 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Kenny Chesney “Life On A Rock” 392,000 Units sold
    • 1 song cut = $35,672 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $35,672 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)
  • Darius Rucker “True Believers” 502,000 Units sold
    • 1 Song cut = $45,682 in gross mechanical royalty revenue
    • #1 Single = $45,682 (gross mechanical royalties) + $1 Million (gross performance royalties)

FYI, I believe these were all #1 records in 2013.

You see the difference? Record labels are releasing fewer records because they are making less money per record and nobody is really buying records anymore. Sheesh!

Just a quick glance at the difference between songwriter revenues in 1999 vs. 2013 shows that without a #1 single, the revenue is around 10%-18% of what it used to be 15 years ago. You used to be able to make a seriously good living with a cut on a record that would never be spun on the radio but that has significantly changed.

The AWESOME performance royalty revenue is on its way out too. As terrestrial radio continues to erode a hit single will definitely dwindle in financial significance.

So what does the future look like for a songwriter?

I think the outlook is good and certainly accommodating to more writers. Before you really had to be “in-crowd” to get a cut, much less a single. Cuts were rare and singles even more rare, but they paid WELL. So we judged our Songwriting Exclusive imagerevenue and/or potential revenue per song or per artist as 1 song had the power to change everything.

The key to success for the songwriter of the future will be volume. The songwriter business model of the future is not really going to have any “home runs” in it, it will be founded on “base hits” instead: lots of base hits.

1 hit song, even right now, has an amazing revenue potential, the kind of financial impact that results in an “Achy Breaky kitchen”, an “Achy Breaky Ferrari”, or an “Achy Breaky west wing of the house”

The future will belong to fragmented, unexciting, financially insignificant revenue streams per song. The “living” we all aspire to make will reside in the aggregate revenue of many songs; many base hits.

Songwriter Moneyball imageThink the true story plot of the baseball movie “Moneyball” and apply it to songwriting. It’s all about base hits now guys.

I see a smart minded songwriter changing his business approach to coupling with as many artists as they can. Maybe between mechanical royalties and performance royalties (from YouTube for instance) a songwriter will make only $2,000-$3,000 per song, per year. However, there is no velvet rope, no terrestrial-radio-log-jam to limit the universe of revenue bearing opportunities, essentially no tyranny of space.

So ideally, a prolific songwriter could place 20-30 songs a year or more into a pipeline that generates revenue. The revenue could also be consistent meaning that if a songwriter placed 20 songs into the pipeline that generated $2,000 per song each per year they would gross $40,000 in revenue; the next year they could add to that.

It’s conceivable that the songwriter could build up his/her book of business over time well into the 6 figure range.

Keep writing. The world is about to change.

 

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