Tag Archive for: Major Labels

Humility Feature Image

So I’m definitely “on one” right now, apologies in advance if it’s a little edgy. I’m thinking about all us artists and how, because we’re people, we tend to ignore truth and honesty. This is most certainly a byproduct of a lack of humility.

We ignore the honest truth our romantic relationships. (Ever catch yourself wanting to “win”?)


In our family relationships.Humility Family photo


In our friendships.

In our relationship with our music.


Why do we do this?


I call these “protection rackets”.

Humility Protection Racket

We are so easily hurt and wounded by the slightest criticism that we resort to defense mechanisms to deflect the pain and put ourselves, albeit inaccurately, into a better light.


Why do we use these protection rackets?


Why do we so desperately need them?



They’re destructive to relationships which means they’re destructive to your music and potential as an artist.

Why are we so quick to bow up with a defense rather than absorbing what is being said and processing it intelligently?

Humility Tornado Destructive


Maybe the information is coming from a source with an agenda which makes it questionable at best.


Maybe the information is coming from a source that is currently hostile for whatever reason so we take it with a “grain of salt”


But how many of us really listen and process before we respond?


Even the most naïve consumer offering up an opinion can have something important to tell you. Granted, they may be serving it up poorly or naively with regards to lingo and understanding, but we shouldn’t dismiss what they are trying to communicate simply because they can’t articulate it as intelligently as you.


Humility Always Improving

We should all understand that no matter what, we need to get better.

Then we’re always improving.

That means there is ALWAYS room for improvement, right? If this is in fact the credo we choose to live our lives by than why is it so intolerable when someone points out a flaw?



Why are we wired up to defend when someone is telling us we need to do more work?


I guess that’s where the humility comes in.  I think humility is a muscle that gets stronger when flexed. I can actually feel more humility just by saying I have it out loud.Humility Shout Meme

Say it out loud, “I HAVE HUMILITY!”


Humility means you have to listen with the intent to understand rather than the intent to reply.


That’s hard to do.



Have you ever met that obnoxious person who is constantly cutting you off with their reply? You can see them fidgeting, and feel the disruption in the energy flow because they’ve already tailored a response while you are still talking and simply cannot physically wait to bestow it upon you. Ugh.

Humility Defensive Bear

This is rude for two reasons:

  1. The gesture is annoying as hell and completely disruptive to a train of thought. One wants to free the thought and finish the point. This is hard enough sometimes without having to battle for the proverbial conch and/or talk over someone.
  2. The gesture is proof positive that the person is NOT listening to damn thing you are saying, making the conversation futile which is extremely frustrating especially when you really care about the subject matter.


Are you that obnoxious person occasionally?


Maybe you’re more socially behaved, but are you that person inside your head when you’re supposed to be listening?

Most of us are, don’t feel bad.


Humility Listening


I want you all to try to FOCUS on listening in the very next conversation that you have. Trust me, when the person is done talking you will formulate a response so STOP doing it while they are talking.


I’d be interested to hear back from y’all on that one. Was it really hard? Did you learn something from the communicator?


We need to be honest with ourselves.Humility Honesty Never Gets Old


We need the truth as it is what gets us closer to impeccability.


We need humility to accept the honest truth and refine the approach.


Somewhere in that message we want to deflect so bad, may lie the very key to creating something that is life changing or a step to life changing.


What if it’s a muse disguised as disapproval and hard work?


Humility Muse


There are many of you that are phoning in your marketing and behaving like children who lost their ice cream cone because it isn’t working.


How can one really be frustrated when the marketing effort and budget equals 1% of the artistic effort?

Humility Zero Results





That’s like spending a ton of money on a beautiful brand new car and being frustrated when you run out of gas because you refuse to spend money making it go. As simple as that metaphor is, I must say it is spot on.


No gas means it doesn’t run.

No gas means nobody sees and experiences your beautiful car unless they come over.

Humility Landscape


That’s a small market, man.


Sound familiar?



The major label deal some of you seek will drastically change that budget equation to look more like (at the very least) 80% of the capital budget and resources will be spent on marketing leaving only 20% for the product.Humility Budget Hippos



Think about that. I say it often but I want to get it in your heads.





Many of you are also not being honest with yourselves about the quality of your music.

It feels good to accomplish a recording no matter what the quality.  I know the feeling, man, you just want to exercise the muse and get the creativity into some immediately tactile form so you can “hear what it sounds like”.

I seriously get that.

Instant gratification feels good.

That good feeling doesn’t matter to the world, they will judge you only on what you have done.

Humility Chassis


Using the car analogy, an engineer should feel excited when he’s created a killer blue print for that beautiful new car.  Personally, as a consumer, I don’t give a shit; show me the car.


Get it?


If you’re a novice that is just about making music for the sake of making music, God bless, move at your own speed.


If you aspire to be a professional then there is a level to which you must play at lest you be thrown into a gun fight armed with a butter knife. Humility Knife and Gun


You will lose.


The feeling of losing is frustrating, I don’t care who you are. So many of you are experiencing frustration because you have set yourself up to fail from the start.


The good news is that’s completely fixable once you find the humility to swallow that jagged little pill.




Humility Pills


I’m not saying conform in any way, I named my company Daredevil Production for a reason.


I AM saying you can’t use “breaking the rules” or some kind of “outlaw” mentality as a defense for avoiding the honest truth; you always need to be working and learning.


The TRUTH is you need to know all the rules before you can break them.  Breaking them is great, but you need to know WHY and HOW you’re breaking them or you’ll never have a clear project vision.


Without a clear vision it’s impossible to orchestrate the social movement towards your music and your brand you desire to create. Everything hasHumility Clear Vision to work together, the lyrics, the melodies, the instrumentation, the message, the image, the genre, the recording, the marketing, etc.  It’s complicated and trust me you won’t hit anything throwing darts in the dark!


You need humility to be able to identify the people, places, and things that will make us better.




With humility we can more clearly see the honest truth.

Humility Listen Better Meme

With humility we listen better.


With humility we evaluate better.


With humility we operate better.



With humility we spend our precious resources better.

With humility we become better people, lovers, parents, and artists.

With humility we are open for improvement.

Without humility we believe we are perfect.

If you believe you are perfect then don’t change a thing.








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How will you add value

Somehow, we have lost sight of the simple, honest truth that people need to add value, real value, to any organization to be accepted and succeed in that organization. If you don’t add value, the relationship will inevitably end or at least DRAMATICALLY shift gears to accommodate your lack of value.

In real life you have to earn respect.

There are people at your current job who demand respect simply because they outrank you. You want to keep your job so you intelligently play the game and feign respect to these people; but they don’t really have your respect do they?

Your respect is counterfeit because they haven’t earned it.Add Value Demand Earn Respect image

Consequently, you have people that outrank you and that you outrank at your current job who DO have your respect; they’ve earned it. They somehow bring value to the relationship.

Think about these people for a second. How exactly do they bring value to your relationship?

Let me tell you how important the concept of adding value is to me. I was hired to manage a phone sales room in LA by a friend who knew I could turn the 2ndshift around and make it profitable. He wanted me to start managing right away. I was flattered but one thing I KNOW about killer salespeople is they are cocky; as they should be.

I wasn’t going to have top sales people’s respect until I EARNED it and I NEEDED their respect to get them to perform for me.

So I agreed to take the gig as long as they put me on the sales floor first, so the room could see me work; as one of them. When the room saw I was a real hitter (took 1 day) they would respect me as a manager. Two weeks later after I was one of the top 2 or 3 salespeople in the room they announced I was a manager. The room loved me.

Get it?

My mother always told me water seeks its own level.

Add Value Water image

Translation: you’re going to end up where you end up based on the value you are adding.



I interact with young artists every day who simply can’t understand why they didn’t get a blue ribbon for showing up in the music industry.

They are genuinely frustrated by the lack of attention, the missing tickertape parade, the blase reactions they get from industry professionals after pitching their music or act. They are heartbroken because they met someone important in the industry one time that was polite to them and that person didn’t return their call or further the relationship as the artist expected them to do.

These aspiring artists often feel they should be famous or important simply because their parents told them so. Well, that part is true, you are important to your parents because they love you, unconditionally.

The rest of the world doesn’t care.

The rest of the world will need proof that you can add value to their cause before they offer up any kind of help.

It’s impossible to have a reputation based on what you’re planning to do.

You can only develop a reputation based on what you already have done. Add Value Henry Ford image

If you think about this in terms of managing your expectations, you have yet to prove your music has value in the marketplace. The professionals, whose help you need to break through to the next level, will require something more than a promise from someone they “don’t-know-from-a-can-of-paint”.

You behave like this too, by the way.

Would you let someone watch your kids or your gear because they knocked on your door and told you they are planning on being the best babysitter on the planet?

How about your money? C’mon, man, you should be a good person and give everyone that really wants a chance a shot at managing your money; you know, like a bank. I mean they PROMISED that they would be really good at it, right? Isn’t that enough?

Get the point?

This thought that everyone should instantly respect you before you add value is a bass-ackwards approach that is certain to yield disappointment and frustration.

It is also offensive to the people who are students of the game and have paid their dues. Think about it, if you worked you backside off your whole life to create something and then you encounter someone who wants you to help them (when they haven’t ever really done any work or enough work to help themselves) it’s downright insulting. It’s insulting because the artist is not bringing anything to the table; they just want to take.

When you were 8 years old you made trade agreements the lunch table. “I’ll trade you my Twinkie for your Ding Dong, interested?” You didn’t expect to walk over to some kid and say “I want you to help me get a Ding Dong by giving me yours” because you knew it wouldn’t work.


So how will you add value?

When an artist asks for “help” in the wrong way at the wrong time, it’s insulting the person whose help they require. This in turn leads to rejection which mortally wounds us as artists; but we set it up that way from the start.

This naive method is akin to repeatedly putting your naked hand into a bag full of rattlesnakes, getting bit, and then consistently reacting to the event with emotions of surprise or betrayal.

If you’re gonna handle rattlesnakes, you better know what you are doing or you’re going to get bit; that’s just plain old common sense and animal instinct.

Next time you are at a friend’s house who is waxing negatively about their lack of success in the music business (or the next time you are) consider the possibility that you are going about it wrong.

Consider the fact that whether you are lazy or just naive, the damage is the same. You don’t have enough of a resume to compete at the next level until you have enough of a resume to compete at the next level.

There are no short cuts so KEEP WORKING.

I receive an email every other day from an aspiring artist who wants our “help”. These artists are frustrated because Labels won’t talk to them, booking agents won’t help them, club owners won’t book them, they can’t get a band together, etc.

Add Value I want you image

I am genuinely baffled about how to respond to emails like this.

The real message inside these emails is I want you to make me successful.

I want you to put a band together for me.

I want you to get the club owners to book me.

I want you to make the labels like me.

I want you to find my audience.

I want you to do all this because I won’t do it myself. I promise I will START TO WORK once you get the ball rolling “trust me.”

Imagine someone coming up to you wanting to play guitar for your band. Imagine them saying they are going to be a great guitar player but they really don’t want to commit any time to learning the guitar until they are sure that they have a gig with you.

Can you all read this and consider how insulting this is?

I put my first band together when I was in 8th grade. We played one or 2 parties, we were horrible, but we were practicing and playing gigs immediately. By junior year we had done ENOUGH WORK to get regular weekly gigsAdd Value Delavan image and add value to a couple clubs in Milwaukee. Incidentally, I grew up in Delavan, WI population 5,000 (at the time). We had multiple band-member changes in that shallow musical gene pool over the course of the first 3 years. I will never understand anyone who says they can’t get a band together. To me it means you just don’t want it enough.

Where there is a will there is a way; period.

Understand booking agents work on commission.

Once you prove you can ADD VALUE by making them money then believe me, booking agents will fall all over you like a cheap suit.

Record labels need to sell records to survive.

Once you sell 100,000 downloads of your song, believe me the labels will be clamoring to sign you because it would be impossible to deny that you can ADD VALUE to their cause.

Do you really want a counterfeit commitment?

Once you start thinking about how you can add value to a relationships, instead of asking what they can do for you, you whole world will change.


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