Tag Archive for: Manager

Success Feature MEME


It’s such a provocative topic we like to argue over the meaning of it. We seek it. We’re scared of it. Many of us sabotage it because we don’t feel we deserve it.

Success Thankful MEME

Crazy, huh?


You should be thankful for where you are right now or you’ll never be successful.


You can take that to the bank.


That’s also the secret!


Many of us certainly debate it in our heads. We think that success is one thing and we work hard trying to achieve that one thing only to find out we’ve completely missed the boat.



How did we achieve this one thing and still end up feeling or being unsuccessful?


Countless movie scripts are written about it but still, we don’t seem to get it.


Why won’t it sink in?


Success not a person, place, or thing MEME

I guess it’s because the idea of success is easier to sell as a destination.




And believe me, they’re selling it.


You’ve seen the guy giving a speech in front of a Lamborghini and he says, “If I can do it, you can do it too.”


We tour their houses on MTV Cribs.


We’re green with envy over what they wear on the red carpet during awards shows.


That’s compelling.


That’s good TV.


But are they successful?


These shows, inject into our brains the suggestion that success is a person, place, or thing. We get indoctrinated into their definition of success. They decide what it looks, feels, sounds, smells and tastes like.


Success Collage

But that’s a lie designed to sell products and TV ads.


What this concept decidedly DOESN’T do is help to make anyone successful.


Isn’t that interesting? I’m saying that the “success” they’re selling us not only isn’t success, it’s the exact opposite.



They’re telling us to focus on all the wrong things!


Mind. Blown.


Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about money. I believe in making money. I believe we live in abundance. Everyone can make plenty of money if-and-when they want to.


There is plenty to go around. I’ve mentioned this before, for one person to get rich doesn’t mean someone else goes without. This is a lie that helps to sell the first lie.


The concept of limited resources and happiness is pushed on us because it sells something different than ads and products, it sells votes.


So, what is success?


Success is what you do every single day. Success is consistency, humility, and gratitude. You have to get a little smarter every day.


It happens in 1% increments.


Focus on the base hits and one day you’ll look up to see an incredible number on the scoreboard.


Success is NOT one destination.  It’s not one thing.


Just ask Harvey Weinstein. I think that prior to last month, EVERYONE would equate Harvey Weinstein with success. Even his victims. It took them forever to come out because they perceived he was successful and could offer it to them. Or worse, keep it from them.


Success BullyingWeinstein was rich and powerful.

But as it turns out he is also miserable. Isn’t this the opposite of success?



PLOT TWIST. His “success” was a fallacy. Smoke and mirrors. A true Hollywood illusion.


Weinstein is unsuccessful because he failed to be consistent about his health. I promise you his sickness is a result of his self-image. Harvey thinks he’s disgusting. Maybe a girl told him he was ugly at a vulnerable moment when he was growing up and it deeply damaged him. I’m pretty sure he thought all females owed him a favor for something. He wanted payback.


In his mind, he was settling a score.


Bottom line is that Weinstein hates himself. He always has. If he regularly attacked the source of the pain, through personal growth and introspection, he could’ve found some positive solutions. He would’ve discovered that true pleasure was never found in breaking the spirits of those actresses. No different than a heroin addiction, I suppose.


He lacked humility. You can’t be grateful and wicked at the same time.  


But Weinstein confused the truth with fantasy so this character flaw turned him into an evil monster.


Now, all his money and power can’t save him. Thus, he’s clearly NOT successful, is he?


How about Kevin Spacey? Last month he was successful and now he’s banished forever. Netflix has completely dropped his hugely successful series. Ridley Scott pulled him from a movie that is still promised to be delivered in one month. They’re re-shooting his parts with a new actor. His power evaporated in a brilliant flash of light and his money will soon follow.


Kevin preyed on little boys. It was no big secret in Hollywood. It’s just sickening that it took the Weinstein controversy to prove to the oppressed that anyone can be taken down, no matter how powerful they may seem.


But I like it. I want to get some popcorn and watch this all unfold. It’s long overdue.


One minute he’s one of the most successful and talented actors we have and the next minute it’s all gone. If you’ll forgive the pun, Spacey’s success was a house of cards. Another deception to the public.


Success isn’t trickery. It’s real. But it’s not a thing or a place, rather it’s what you do every day.


Delusional broken souls happen in every field, by the way, not just Hollywood.


I have a dear friend who was married to an anesthesiologist for 17 years. She’s a high-ranking nurse working towards PH.D. in medicine who married the doctor. They have two gorgeous teenage girls and the big doctor house with the big doctor pool.


But he’s miserable and he’s a narcissist. He hasn’t done one ounce of work on himself and he got lost a long time ago.


From the outside, it looks amazing. But the reality is he’s a raging alcoholic, in debt (living paycheck-to-paycheck on $700k per year), and he’s addicted to opiates.



He’s a degenerate by all definitions. A degenerate with a nice paycheck and rich friends, but a degenerate nonetheless.


She’s held the family together for almost 2 decades, but at the expense of her own happiness. For almost 2 decades!


Then she had an epiphany. This isn’t success at all. 


They’re getting a divorce. The plot twist here is that according to the societal messages divorce is a failure. But by divorcing she’s on her way to becoming successful.  She’s realized that he wasn’t there for her physically or emotionally and she’s changing that.


Success Divorce MEME


I believe she is now moving towards consistency because she knows the truth. Success isn’t a destination. It’s not a picture in a magazine, a car, or a house.


Rather success it what happens every day of your life.



Success is a ritual. A way of living regardless of the money or the status.


Sheryl Crow said success is “not having what you want but wanting what you got.”


It’s connecting meaningfully with your significant other every day.


Success Not having What you Want


Taking the time to connect with your kids is real.


The little moments are what counts. The work you do to help others and yourself. That’s success.




It’s loving the daily process. The achievement is an inevitable byproduct of the consistent effort that is put in over time.


You make money by accident when you’re successful. Maybe not big money, but enough money.


Every life and I mean EVERY life has many emotional and financial peaks and valleys. That’s a given, as sure as death and taxes.


The truly successful create light and distribute it.


They lift people up, teach, and they add value.


Success thief

But there are people that get their energy from other people.


They’re wretched souls. Evil. Misguided. You could even say lazy.


Recognizing these kinds of people regardless of their “successes” is paramount to your own happiness and success.


Fight the good fight.


Do good work.


Spend time improving yourself. Be intentional about it. You can be Mother Teresa, but if you don’t take care of yourself you won’t be truly successful.


Help other people.


Deliberately connect with those close to you on a regular basis.


Success MJ QuoteThe success will fall into place in-spite-of the speed bumps, pitfalls, and life catastrophes. Don’t worry about the setbacks so much because they keep coming. Setbacks are a part of success.




The most successful people will tell you they’ve failed more than they’ve succeeded.


I promise.


I want you to win.







Marketing Feature MEME

Marketing Audience MEMEGood art finds its own audience. If it’s truly special, you just need to put it up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, etc. and people will catch on. They’ll find it without marketing.


I’m sure this is what will happen with the project that you’re currently working on because it’s incredible. You’re bound to blow up just because the music is great!


Make a video for the first song. Put that brilliant conceptualization of your music up on YouTube and people will immediately respond making it go viral!


Look, I believe you’re an astonishing artist. Your music is so compelling that once a few people hear it they’ll have to share it. They’ll tell two friends then they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on. That’s how it works, right?


You don’t need to spend one ounce of energy thinking about marketing. You certainly don’t need a marketing budget when your music is as good as it is.


Marketing Maze MEME



If you believe in your talent, then your music will market itself; like drugs. Therefore, there is no need for marketing.




If they don’t get you for your art, so be it. It’ll be the same as a vegan who doesn’t understand the world’s best hamburger.


Here are 11 other artists I’m sure you’ve heard of. Their music literally changed our lives.


This will prove you never need to worry about marketing. So, there is no need to change what you’re currently doing. When you’re this good the music will find its own audience.


Let the music do the talkin’, right?


  1. Marketing BeatlesBeatles – You can’t argue with 600 million records sold! FYI, the bottom rung of “superstar status” begins around 20 million records. So, it’s safe to say they’re at the top of that food chain. The Beatles music was so amazing the word-of-mouth spread like wildfire. Yes, Brian Epstein (their manager) cleaned up their look, created the image and taught them to bow after every song (adorable!). Epstein sent girls out, in the beginning, to purchase Beatles records at record stores that reported sales so the Beatles would chart. The charting changed the perception of the radio Program Directors and the DJ’s. Because the singles seemed more legit, the PD’s started spinning them more. “Yesterday” has the third most performances ever on American radio and TV with over 7 million spins. Let’s not forget that 73 million people watched the Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. But they didn’t need the exposure from radio or TV, they were the Beatles. They would’ve sold 600 million no matter what, right?
  2. Rolling Stones – One of the most recognizable brands on the planet. Incredible live show. It’s not surprising that the Stones manager, Marketing Rolling StonesAndrew Loog Oldham, was Brian Epstein’s former assistant. Oldham changed the image of his band making them the “anti-Beatles”. That meant their image was dangerous as opposed to boys you could take home to mom. He created a new “lane” in the market. Then Oldham implemented the same chart strategy that was effective in legitimizing the Beatles. The Rolling Stones were exposed to millions of people via radio and The Ed Sullivan Show alone. But we all know how good The Rolling Stones are. They didn’t need any of that promotion. The music would’ve found its own audience just like yours will.
  3. Def Leppard – Over 100 million records sold. Love them or hate them, you can’t argue the superstar status with Marketing Def Leppardthis act. Their sophomore release, High & Dry, got the ball rolling in America. “Bringing on the Heartbreak” became a high rotation video on the relatively new MTV. This spurred a massive increase in radio spins as well. All that love only sold 250,000 copies but set the stage for their third release. This groundbreaking Mutt Lange production spawned 4 radio singles. Polygram easily spent millions promoting this record with the videos and radio promo, but all this exposure really didn’t matter. Pyromania was awesome, consumers were going to tell everybody about it anyway. The art was so good, Phil Lynott, leader of Thin Lizzy, broke up his band. He told Joe Elliott, the lead singer of Def Leppard, he couldn’t compete with Pyromania. That’s how good it was, so they really didn’t need to be the darlings of MTV with 5 videos. They really didn’t need the exposure from the radio spins.
  4. Marketing GNRGuns & Roses – Everybody knows who GNR is. Their first release, Appetite for Destruction, has sold 30 million copies. It became the best-selling debut ever and the 11th best-selling record in the United States. Appetite had 5 singles and 5 MTV videos to support the singles. But the record was released July 21, 1987, and didn’t break for a full year later in August of 1988. How’s that? This record was so good nobody cared about it for the first year? I’m sure the phone call from label head David Geffen to MTV applying pressure to finally play the “Welcome to the Jungle” video didn’t matter. It would’ve broke no matter what, right? It was just a matter of time.
  5. Michael Jackson – Michael Jackson was an international superstar in the Jackson 5 with over 50 million records Marketing Michael Jacksonsold. Every record the Jackson 5 released went multi-platinum. Side-note: It’s interesting that when they left Motown for Epic Records, they had to change their name to The Jacksons as Motown owned the name Jackson 5. It’s even more interesting that these famous household names only managed to sell 500,000 copies each on the first 2 releases following the moniker alteration. You could argue that the market didn’t know The Jacksons were the Jackson 5. But they were famous and the music was great, so the consumers would figure it out. Michael was also signed to a solo deal. His first solo release for Epic was Off the Wall and it sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Then, of course, Thriller was released which sold more than 110 million copies worldwide. To this day, Thriller remains the best-selling album of all time. They released 7 singles. I’m quite sure that the tens of millions of dollars they spent promoting the radio singles and the unforgettable videos wouldn’t have mattered. The music is so good it would have sold no matter what.
  6. Wham!/George Michael – Wham! was a huge act worldwide. Millions of records were sold in Europe but nobody knew who they were in Marketing George MichaelAmerica. Why was that? Clearly, they were amazing! You could argue they wasted millions on videos and a tour in Communist China to break into America because clearly, the art would break through eventually. It was that good, right? Then George went solo and his first record entitled Faith sold 20 million. He was famous so of course, it did, right? When his second solo release dropped his label CBS Records was purchased by Sony and George wasn’t happy with the situation. He rebelled and new Sony America President, Tommy Mattola, sat on the record in retaliation. By this time, George Michaels was a superstar with almost 50 million records sold. Listen Without Prejudice Volume 1 failed miserably in sales compared to Faith. Critics and fans hailed George’s 2nd solo effort as his artistic masterpiece. But it must’ve been the music, right? The music must have been of a lesser quality to the fans because they all knew about the record, right? How else would you explain the decline in sales when it’s all about the music? He didn’t need to market either. George was a superstar.
  7. Kiss – I’m not sure which brand is more universally recognizable on the planet, Kiss or Coca-Cola. The band released their first three records Marketing Kiss Collagefor Casablanca Records within one year and nothing took off. In fact, they almost sunk the label. Then the fourth release was Alive! and that did the trick. Kiss was on their way. The live record consisted of songs off the first three records. The audience sounds were the only “live” performances from Alive!. It was completely re-recorded in the studio because the musical performances were terrible. Here is a PRIME situation proving that marketing doesn’t matter when the songs are great. They had already released the music before and it failed. Then the fans liked the live version. No marketing necessary, the fans decided, right?
  8. Carrie Underwood – Carrie was a farm-girl from rural Oklahoma. But she could sing. If you study pictures of Marketing Carrie CollageCarrie prior to her American Idol appearances, she looked plain. Now she looks like a star. Why would she do that? It’s all about the art, right? It’s all about her voice. Why change the look? Oh, let’s also remember that she came into the public awareness singing covers in front of a TV audience of over 30 million people every week. But I’m sure THAT had nothing to do with her rise to fame because her voice and look were so powerful. What AI really did was make some famous music producers aware of her talent. Once they recorded her the art took over and Carrie was on her way. No promo necessary.
  9. Miranda Lambert – Miranda Lambert came into our awareness after getting tons of exposure placing third on the talent show Nashville Star. Marketing Miranda LambertLike Carrie, she was singing covers for 9 weeks to a huge TV audience. This exposure gained her an audience and the interest of Sony Records. They signed her and released her first single. Sony, of course, went to work getting the art and the artist in front of as many people as possible and it worked. The rest is history. Miranda, in my opinion, is one of the true artists on the planet. I’m sure she would’ve broken no matter what. No marketing necessary.
  10. Blake Shelton – Blake is one of the best-selling country artists. He has 24 #1’s with 17 of them being consecutive. Marketing Blake Shelton HonestYes, Shelton had great songs but they became staples on the radio. His star rose higher when he started making regular TV appearances as a judge on Nashville Star in 2007 as well as The Voice which he’s been on since its inception. But all the fame and radio spins don’t matter, Blake would still be famous without them. When you’re that good you don’t need to market. You don’t need exposure because your audience will do it for you.
  11. Every Record Label – Have you ever wondered why record labels have marketing & promotion departments? Especially if you believe that great art will find its own audience. In fact, most record deals will allow 10% of the overall budget to the recording and manufacturing of the product. The other 90% is saved for marketing and promotion. Why is that? Why would they spend so much money promoting when they have such good art?


The better question would be why aren’t you spending 90% of your money and 90% of your time promoting your music?

Crazy Marketing Definition

Remember, you’re promoting something that nobody needs. So, make them want it.


I obviously want you to compare here, but don’t forget the small steps. It’s not ok to say you want to become an astronaut but quit because you can’t immediately go into space. You must fly jets first. Before jets, multi-engine prop planes. Before prop planes, single engine planes. Oh, and you attend school to be allowed to operate any planes.


It’s a process.




My point is, “I don’t have any money to get on TV or the radio” is a lame excuse. You have social media and YouTube.


Artists break on social media and YouTube.


Marketing Artists Break MEME


Spending every penny you have on recording your music won’t work if you want other people to care about it. If you’re not spending 90% of your overall budget on marketing, you won’t see results.




What’s your plan?



Good art does NOT magically find its own audience. Rather, audiences react to good art when they’re exposed to it enough times.


Marketing Audiences react




Therefore, if you don’t have any plan for marketing your masterpiece, nobody will hear it.


HINT: Market YOU before you release the project in the new music business.






Artist first.


Music second.


Marketing Artist first MEME



These artists blew up because somebody spent some time putting their art in front of NEW EYEBALLS.





Yes, you can argue that the labels had millions to spend on radio promotion and you don’t.


I would argue that even if you did have the money, it wouldn’t help you today. Period.


The formula is the same though. Get the art in front of new people who would like that kind of art.


Marketing Targeted Eyeballs



Simple, right?


Radio and music videos used to be effective in executing the formula.


But now they’re not effective for debut artists. Especially if they don’t have big marketing budgets.





Look at the record sales.


How can you get your music in front of new, targeted eyeballs?


Social media is a start.


Oh yeah, that’s free.


YouTube is another method to potentially reach 1 billion people per day.


That’s free too.


What’s your excuse now?

Marketing Disappointed

You don’t know how to do it?




Want to be a plumber?




Do you aspire to be a teacher?




Don’t have time?


Then you don’t really want to be an artist. If you don’t have time to do the free stuff, believe me, you don’t have time to go on a radio tour either.


Good music must have marketing. It’s the way we find out about it.


If you don’t have a marketing plan, you’re wasting your time and your money.


Aren’t you sick of being disappointed?





Music Business Feature Meme

The music business will settle out of this massive maMusic Industry Buh-Bye 2rket disruption in the same way that EVERY other industry has. The creators will do business directly with the end-users.

The future of the music industry, whether you like it or not, is 1-to-1.


Buh-bye distribution.


Right now, all artists & labels go through a third-party distribution service like iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, etc. who are NOT sharing the fan’s contact information.


Oh, and they’re taking an exorbitant amount of money for this service ranging from 30% to damn near all of it.


Music Business Share MEME

Distribution as we know it will either disappear completely or be significantly repurposed.


What do I mean by “repurposed”?




Imagine every artist with their own music app. Imagine the app is initially free like a video game but requires the consumer pass through “pay walls” to get to new levels. You navigate the paywalls with a “BUY NOW” button or watch a commercial, just like Spotify.

Music Business Distribution NO MEMEWhen the industry embraces this reality the creator’s revenue will increase as high as 170x.  Take what you made last year from your streams and downloads and multiply that by 170.


What would the difference on your bottom line look like with this increase?


Indie artists will play the role of the “guinea pigs” and work out the kinks in the software. Then the iconic multi-million-dollar brand names will make these technologies ubiquitous.


I know this, again, because it’s happened in every other industry in the wake of the internet.


Now, you may say to yourself, “The music industry must be different otherwise we would have already adapted like ‘all these other industries’”.


The music business endured some significant damage directly related to the internet, but we were still selling records initially. Tens of millions of records in 2004-2008 (post-Napster).  This was because the delivery mechanism of choice for music was terrestrial radio. Terrestrial radio was working just fine up until June 29, 2007.


That’s when the iPhone was introduced.


Music Business iPhone MEME Hombre


The industry was taking some serious fire prior to this date, but the iPhone really broke the dam wide open and sales plummeted.


Most people are now receiving their information (thus becoming aware of new artists) through their smartphone. Therefore, marketing must be crafted to be effective in a 1-on-1 exchange as opposed to a mass media exchange.





The dynamics of a mass media exchange and a 1-on-1 exchange are diametrically opposite.


Here are a few emerging technologies that are going to blow your indie artist mind. They’re legit. They have massive amounts of venture capital funding to facilitate a 1-to-1 future in the music business.




Blockchain is a technology, not a company or brand name, that is very real but largely still developing.


Music Business BlockchainIt was originally developed for the digital currency Bitcoin which has expanded to a value of over 9 billion dollars. However, the massive applications for anything of value, like music, are exploding into the marketplace.


It’s real enough that Spotify has purchased a Blockchain entity and is currently testing it.


“The Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” – Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016)


Blockchain is also being adapted to behave as a “common server” type technology that will store the creative metadata for artists and songwriters. Creative metadata that cannot be manipulated.


Why is that important?


Music Business VaultHave you ever noticed that you can upload your interpretation of a cover song to YouTube and get exposure but if you do it directly to Facebook they’ll take it down?


This is because YouTube has a sophisticated backend technology that ensures the creators of said cover are getting paid. Facebook doesn’t.



Get it?

With Blockchain every digital platform can easily be accounted for legal payouts.

Additionally, there are tens of millions of dollars in unaccounted streaming revenue. All the streaming companies have collected the revenue but don’t have the information needed to make the payouts.


The Blockchain is on its way and the artists who have adapted NOW to begin amassing the contact data of their fans will benefit the most tomorrow.


Zedge (Formerly Freeform Development)


CEO and founder, Tim Quirk (lead singer of Too Much Joy) has really nailed it with this technology.


Zedge is a music app that will monetize your art by combining the concepts of 2 major technologies; WordPress and video games.


Are you familiar with the website platform called WordPress which powers over 37% of the internet? If you are, you know that it’s a perfect blank Music Business Zedge Logocanvas. You can create any kind of customer experience you like. There are 47,000 different companies and technologies that orbit around WordPress in the form of plug-ins that enhance the user experience as well as the back-end analytics for the creator. The ability to create a killer up-to-date website lies solely in your hands to do for yourself or outsource to a developer.


Here’s the deal, it’s completely free to you. Most of the plug-ins are free as well. Some cost money but they are nominal amounts and well worth the price.

Music Business WP Logo

Put that concept over here for now.


The video gaming piece is fascinating conceptually. In the same amount of time it took the music industry to shrink 80% from 75 billion per year down to 15 billion per year, the video gaming industry exploded to 108 billion per year.




Mostly because they understand that “free” equals distribution. Of course, if you want to get to the second level of the game, you’ll need the magic ax which you either must purchase with a “Buy Now” button or watch a commercial to obtain.


Now, imagine that there were music apps that were free to build for the creator with complete autonomy to set up a user experience all their own.


Music Business Free Equals Distribution MEMEFor instance, get the first song free but if you want to hear the rest of the record you either buy now or watch this commercial.


What about setting up a VIP level where they get exclusive content from the artist, in advance of the general public, and discounts on all merchandise? Every month the VIP subscribers would be required to pay a nominal fee or watch a commercial.


Either way, the creator gets paid directly from the end user (fan) or indirectly from the ad sponsor.


Music Business PAID MEME


So, it would build your app like a WordPress site. there would be tons of tech companies orbiting around the app to provide improvements that enhance the user and creator experience. Also, there would be a “marketplace” where artists could add a commercial sponsor to generate revenue. Seasoned artists could easily add their current endorsement companies.


This has happened already in beta mode. Zedge has created 12 apps with brand name artists like Rob Thomas and G-Eazy to name a few. These were created for the purposes of providing “proof of concept” to the investors.





Music Business Pay MEMEHere’s the killer takeaway.

Average amount of revenue per spin for Spotify = 1/5 of a penny

Average amount of revenue per spin for Pandora = 1/3 of a penny

The average amount of revenue per spin for Zedge = .34 cents!!!


That’s 170 TIMES the revenue of a Spotify spin!


All the different artist apps can be housed under one icon on your phone so you don’t have clutter.


These revenue numbers are too big to ignore. When they launch this, the Taylor Swifts and U2’s of the world will have to try it out.


The indie artists with a customer list will THRIVE.


How much will they thrive, you ask? What if the financial Universe of the music industry was limited to 75 billion per year because radio was mathematically limiting? There was a finite amount of room to spin songs and thus a finite number of artists that could effectively be marketed.


But now there are no restrictions. I don’t think it’s a dream to believe that the music industry could rise from the ashes of broken radio and ascend to 150 billion per year in sales.


Just a thought.







CD Baby Feature MEME

The 2017 CD Baby DIY Musician Conference was held in Nashville, TN this year on August 24-27. I was CD Baby Skyline imagehonored to be asked to be a mentor.




As I am a regular listener of the CD Baby DIY Musician Podcast, I loved the post-mortem of this year’s conference. I thought I’d share these with y’all and add some of my comments.

Live Streaming 

It’s just getting started and it’s only getting stronger.  

CD Baby Live StreamingMy old friend Rick Barker was there with indie artist Dawn Beyer who cleverly generated $74,000 in less than a year doing live Facebook concerts.


Remember, with regards to the marketing process in today’s market, the music comes second. Again, I’m not saying it’s less important. I am saying that the artist comes first before the music just like your underwear before your outfit. That’s how the consumer will become aware of you.


Your future fans will find YOU before they love your music.


That’s a reality you’d better accept sooner than later.


I simply can’t think of a better way to showcase your talent and charisma than live streaming on any platform.


You need to keep your ear to the ground so you’re up on all the coming technology developments in this area because they’re coming by the truckload.


The ONLY way to master this is to do it often and make a boatload of mistakes.


PRO TIP: Don’t forget while the platform is awesome you still need to OWN the information because organic reach via email or device ID’s is 100% and totally free.


Live Streaming Do’s and Don’ts.

CD Baby The CLIMB Logo


DO be consistent. Make sure that your live streams are something everyone can plan for and depend on. Not for nothing, but the followers of my podcast The CLIMB look forward to Tuesdays because that’s when it drops. Its real.


Don’t trip on the live attendance. Keep recording for the playback, that’s when you’ll get the most views. I’ll do FB live from studio sessions sometimes and I might get 50-100 live attendees. But I’ll almost always get over 1,000 views in the playback.


DO give your live audience 5 seconds to unmute their computers before you start your performance.


DO shoot with your phone sideways (landscape). This way you can use this content in other video platforms later if you need to.

CD Baby Landscape Orientation


DON’T start broadcasting and wait too long before you start your performance because you’ll lose them. Nobody wants to hear you banter with your friends. They’ll feel left out.


DON’T make comments on how many people are on when you’re live. Tons of your replay audience will not know that they’re watching a recorded version. Happens all the time.



Music Streaming Platforms

Never share a link to a single on Spotify.CD Baby Spotify Playlist


Instead, create a link to a playlist with a bunch of your songs on it so if they like your single, then they’ll listen to more.


DO continually update this list. Just think, you get to choose what musical experience the consumer will have.


Music is platform based. Becoming an expert on all these platforms (i.e. Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Pandora, etc.) and the different tools that they provide is free.


Why aren’t you well versed in every single one?


Live Show Production

CD Baby Tom Jackson

I have had the pleasure of connecting Tom Jackson with several of my clients now. He’s a live show producer and trust me, EVERY ARTIST NEEDS LIVE SHOW PRODUCTION.


If you’ve ever seen him work, it’s literally breathtaking. Night and day difference in just one hour of work and he’d only get through the first verse and chorus of one song.




DON’T let the song control the show, you control the song and create a moment.


Change your arrangements for the live show. Most artists will walk to the front of the stage to interact with the audience and then hurry back to the mic to start the second verse because that’s the way it was recorded (with a 4 bar turnaround).


What if the audience just soaked in your groove for another 8 bars? Take your time, and go back when you’re ready. Let the band ebb and flow to the vibe of the audience and follow the lead of the front-person.


Let your music breathe in a live setting. It should always be a different arrangement live than on the record.


You can really learn to be a master of controlling emotion.


CD Baby Tom Jackson Trent HarmonEvery night is different. My band was always prepared to continue whatever groove was going on during our shows. You never knew what was going to happen.


By the way, this year Tom did a separate instructional with a couple singer/songwriters. It was ASTOUNDING what a little tweaking could do for a solo acoustic performance.


In one section, he had the songwriter tell his story on how the song was written.


Typical, right?




We all feel that way.


Then he had the songwriter gently play the groove of the song while he told his story. That was incredible.


I cared.


We all cared.




Learn it.




Authenticity sells. Period.


CD Baby Authenticity MEME


This should be the most artistically freeing information you’ll ever hear. Screw perfection. Forget about what you’re perceived level of talent is. Just be you and always try to improve upon that.




You’ll make a living, I promise.


There are only 12 notes. Your interpretation is what will be unique.


Your interpretation is the art. That’s what MATTERS!


Every artist is strong in authenticity but most artists aren’t chasing that. They’re trying too hard to be something else.


This Business Is All About Relationships


Rick Barker (Taylor Swift’s former manager) gave a great presentation but he said something completely hardcore.


I totally agree with it.


CD Baby Authenticity MEMEHe said, don’t come up to me and give me a CD because I’ll tell you “No” to your face. I don’t know you so I don’t care.


Neither does anybody else by the way. Barker was just being honest.


The same holds true for record executives, publishers, booking agents, industry attorneys, and most important; consumers.


You have to create a relationship first before you ask for anything.


The way to create a relationship is to reach out first. Love them first. Give first.


Also, it’s about your story. If they are moved or interested in your story in any way, they will listen to your music. They will buy your music, merch, tickets, etc.


But not until then so stop telling people that you don’t know or just met to download your music.


Stop telling or even asking people to discover you on iTunes. They won’t. It never works.


Create a relationship and move forward from there. Your world will instantly change.


YouTube Is Still KING

CD Baby YouTube King MEME

There was a healthy amount of the YouTube team in attendance at the DIY Conference. They were there to help indie artists and gather information to improve their platform.


Listen, YouTube’s whole existence depends on advertising revenue. The more views a video gets, the more money they make.



It’s simple.



This is an incredible platform that algorithmically scrubs the 1 billion videos uploaded every day to search the most compelling content. If people are liking it they’ll watch it and help it after the video hits certain levels of activity.


Think of it like a ladder. Imaging each rung on the ladder having a bell. If you post a video and it gets enough views within a certain amount of time (from the post date) you’ll ring the first bell and YouTube hits a multiplier button.


This multiplier exposes the video to a bunch of new people whose data suggest that they would like this kind of video.


CD Baby YouTube LadderIf the video continues to gain enough momentum to ring the second bell, YouTube hits another multiplier button and so on.


This is why some videos do better than others but you can intelligently increase the odds of ringing the first couple bells and giving the video a life if you’re consistently building an audience.


There are “YouTubers” who regularly post videos and make tons of money simply because THEY’VE CREATED AN AUDIENCE.


When you have an audience, miracles happen.


You can create an audience for free on YouTube.


Therefore, your best excuse about not having any money to market goes up in flames.




I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule but I haven’t heard of any artist who went from obscurity to making an acceptable living in music by uploading their music to iTunes, Pandora, Spotify, Bandcamp, Bandzoogle, Bkstg, etc.


CD Baby Noah Guthrie

I do know some artists who have millions and tens of millions of streams on Spotify who can’t fill up a coffeehouse. No Audience.


I know TONS of artists who make a killer living on YouTube.


I know TONS of artists who have broken on YouTube.



The attention they got from a big viral video has opened tons of doors including record labels, SNL appearances, network TV show castings, etc.


It wasn’t luck, it was work. They set it up and put in a boatload of work to get their respective channels big enough to make a difference.


Why aren’t you consistently posting on YouTube?


I learned a ton at this year’s CD Baby DIY Musician Conference. For the $69 price-tag over 3 days, it’s the best deal around.


They’ve already booked the Omni Hotel in Nashville for next year’s conference. You should be there.







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Deal Feature Collage

Atlantic Records just signed Danielle Bregoli, a.k.a. Bhad Bhabie, a.k.a. The “cash me outside” girl.


She got a deal but you haven’t yet.


That sucks, doesn’t it?


It certainly isn’t fair!


I mean after all you’ve worked (or feel you’ve worked) so hard on your craft but this seemingly talentless hack gets a deal?


Yes, because regardless of her talent, she has an audience and it’s a big one.


Deal Bhad Bhabie Instagram Account11 million followers on Instagram.


I can hear you. I’m inside your head. You’re thinking this is BS because the record business should be about talent (maybe specifically your talent) and this is egregious as it gets!


It’s not egregious. This has always happened throughout the history of the record business.



In the old days, the labels were responsible for developing you artistically. They would help you find your audience because artist and market development were cost prohibitive to an indie artist. Financially impossible would be more accurate because we’re talking millions.


In the old days, an artist couldn’t really reach a wide audience, outside of their local or regional area, without millions of dollars and a marketing machine behind them.


Although, many found a way to do it back then without a label…but I digress.


Bhad Bhabie did it with one freakin’ TV appearance.

Deal Me MEME


I can’t be positive on this, but it would seem Danielle and her mother were broke because it would be hard to understand her behavior if she comes from even a lower-middle-class family with her disastrous lack of communication skills.




They didn’t pay millions of dollars to make her famous.


Think about it, there have always been artists that were signed that you thought didn’t deserve to have a deal.


We all subjectively judge the talent, don’t we?


Here’s the harsh reality with a real, tangible silver lining.


Bhad Bhabie wouldn’t have been signed back in the day because they were looking for talent they could develop into an artist that can make money. I just don’t think she’s a player. I don’t think at 14 she’s an operator (if she was older I might suspect a hustle or Schtick here, but I genuinely think she’s this stupid). I don’t think she has any talent let alone enough talent to outweigh a lack of intelligence.

Labels had to play the long game in the old music business. They set up systems for scouting and cultivating artists because it was so expensive back in the day.


The labels could AFFORD to do that because they were making the 2017 equivalent of $16 per CD selling through distribution. You and I were paying the 2017 equivalent of $30 a CD at the record stores.


deal develop talent



Do the math, a platinum record costs maybe two million to three or four million dollars to create and promote it with a return of 16 million dollars. But then if you sell 2 million records…


See my point?



The labels had a reliable marketing pipeline called radio, music television networks (in all genres), and magazines with circulation to expose these artists to a promising audience. They had a direct pipline right into consumer heads.


Now they don’t.Deal Refine Talent


This is the reality you have to get through your head.


THEY DON’T HAVE THAT ANYMORE. They don’t have it to give. Wishing and hoping they do isn’t going to change that.


You’re on your own in the beginning.


Today, labels are forced to play the short game. Or at least a shorter game. They can’t afford to develop you, so you’re not going to get a deal because you have a life-changing demo tape. If by some chance, you do get a deal solely based on your talent, you’re not going to get any label-love or a budget because they can only afford to focus on the artists that are making them money.


Deal Deliver Talent




This is how a record deal becomes a curse.




But Danielle Bregoli was signed in today’s market because she has an audience.


They don’t really care so much about her art. She didn’t get signed for her art!


Deal Car Shots

Via Bhad Bhabie Instagram





Labels are acquiring small businesses and she created one. Whether you approve of the way the business was created is irrelevant.






Riddle me this, Batman, why is it that your default response is to hate on this situation because you feel she has no talent?


Why do you sour on the music business because she got the deal with zero talent and you haven’t yet?


Deal dissapprove MEME


As if she somehow took the last record deal that was meant for you.


My knee-jerk reaction is that this situation provides concrete proof that any artist can create art on their own terms and get a deal provided there is an audience that wants to hear it. Create the business and they’ll come-a-calling.





Trust me, in the old days, the lucky artists who got into the label system were met with a TRUCKLOAD of artistic compromises.


But that can be different now if you want it to be.


If the labels only care about the audience, the pure artist with a viable business gets carte blanche on their art.


That scenario was an anomaly in the past. It was the exception to the rule.


Now, you may be thinking that it came easy for her after one horrifically daft Dr. Phil appearance. I think you’d be correct on that.


But she got the audience!


deal audience MEME




Your next thought should be I need to start building my audience immediately. I don’t have time to waste!





Because yours probably isn’t going to grow that fast. Sorry.



But it will grow consistently if you want it to (think “The Tortoise and The Hare”).


Deal The-Tortoise-and-the-Hare



If you’re an artist who cannot afford to pay a team but still desire to make a living in the music business, then you must learn to market. Period.




No if’s, and’s, or but’s about it.


It’s not OK to state that you don’t understand marketing, you don’t like marketing, or you think marketing is beneath you but complain about a lack of market attention.


This is the way the game works now. Play it or take your ball and go home.




You must do the work.


Deal work MEMEGet THAT through your head.


I understand you don’t know how to market, but you must learn or face the fact that your music will never be heard.


Any artist who says they make their art for themselves and nobody else cannot contradict that statement with any manifestation of frustration because they can’t make a living doing it.


Art for you is art for you. That’s fine, but that definition means nobody else needs to know or care.


If you have any desire to make one penny playing your music then you’re going to have to become a marketer.


Too many of MY artists feel they are somehow above marketing. We do a ton for them but they still have to play in the sandbox with us to make it work.


Too many of my artists want to play the rock star game. Many are seriously rock stars, and some others are developing quite nicely but not there yet.


But if they don’t adapt, nobody will ever know.


My final thought is that if you’re pissed about this signing, you’re entitled. You feel you deserve the deal and she doesn’t. That’s entitlement.


Entitlement is the gateway drug to a victim mentality.


Deal victim


Victim mentalities presuppose that your success, your livelihood is somehow out of your control.


Victims get to pass the buck because it’s not their fault.


It’s ok for victims to fail.


You have everything you need to significantly ratchet your career up.


Don’t be a victim.







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Choose Feature MEME

“All paths are present, always… and we can but choose among them.” – Jacqueline Carey.

To rephrase this, it means you can go in any direction you want to go, you just have to choose.

Choose Doors But you must choose a path.


unsuccessful people don’t choose. Instead, they meander through life.


If you want to make a living making music, the path is there. Always. But you must choose.


The experience you’ll require for success is on every journey but only after you’ve chosen. Realize that you won’t have all the track laid down before the train leaves the station.


You must have faith. Rely on your intelligence and accept the failures.


Choose Failure MEME


Because there will be failures. Lots of them! If you want to double your successes you have to double your failures.


Forget about what other people say. Trust me, when you start learning more than them they’ll hate you for it.


You must transform into a marketer. You need to create your own audience before the industry will stand up and take notice.



The problem for most artists is that they don’t know where to begin with the marketing thing.


On one hand, marketing leaves a sour taste in your mouth; you think used car salesman.


On the other hand, not many of life’s little moments can beat out the feeling when someone responds to your music positively. If you’ve done it once, you can do it twice.


Do it 1,000 times and you’ll have a solid audience with a solid cash flow.


Take social media, for instance. We often feel like we don’t want to begin until we can master all the platforms. Of course, we don’t focus and work on any platforms while we’re thinking about mastering all of them, so we wait.Choose wait


Then we get distracted on the mission critical marketing piece by telling ourselves that we need to focus elsewhere first. Like the music.



We think, “I’ll wait until I get this CD finished and then I’ll focus on the marketing.”


But that doesn’t ever work.


Not anymore.


That’s a delay tactic you’re using on yourself.

Choose Artist first MEME





Whether you believe it or not, in today’s music market, the artist comes first, then the music.







Which means you need to be marketing RIGHT NOW.


No excuses! There is literally no good reason whatsoever for you to delay the marketing of YOU.


We’ve begun marketing some of our artists (growing their audience) as much as 18 months before the music was released.


We began marketing one artist and we hadn’t even defined the artistic lane on her project yet!


The most powerful story is the story you tell yourself.


What story do you choose to tell yourself?

Choose Story


You won’t put out 1 killer music video that will go viral and change your life forever.


That will require consistent work on cover songs. You’ll need to put out 1 cover video per week without fail for at least a year. I promise you’ll look back in amazement.


Let me save you the suspense, the first couple videos will take way too long to execute. But if you commit to 8 videos in 8 weeks you’ll find that the last 2 videos will take 10% of the time that the first 2 videos took.


You probably won’t get on a big TV talent show, but even if you do you’ll be barely famous for 15 minutes and then they’ll forget about you because you weren’t prepared to harvest all that heat.


You won’t know who they were.


You’ll need to set up infrastructure to capture contact information. Once you’re on the show massive amounts of people will begin to hashtag the show, judge’s names, and contestant names. All these people just raised their hands to identify themselves as fans of the show and fans of you.


Reach out to them. Oh, it’s super easy to hop on the phone and call every freakin’ radio station in the country to set up an interview when you’re on TV. Just a thought.


You probably won’t get your song on the radio, but if you do it’s not going to change your life. Again, you’ll have no idea who heard it. You won’t know who liked it.


Choose Starbucks


I mean it. I have 3 artists in the top 50 on the Music Row charts at the moment. That means they’re getting spins. Their highest chart position + $2.51 will get them a venti drip at Starbucks.


Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hurting their brand, but the return on investment isn’t worth the price this early in the game.


Radio is for later.




You need data right now.


You need measurable results.


You need to see a definite ROI (Return On Investment) for every dollar you spend. I’m not saying you’re going to get your money back this early on, but you need SOMETHING to measure the return; like an email address.


Permission Marketing is the key to growing your audience.


Poverty Permission Marketing


Growing your audience starts with social media and YouTube. They’re free. Oops, I didn’t mean to blow your best excuse for not making it…Money.


Then you must harvest the contact data and know what to do with it after you do. If you own the contact information you’ll always be able to reach them for free.




Every other industry on this planet has radically transformed because of the internet. The makeover has been the same all around; the creators of the product or service get directly in touch with the end user.


Distribution is out.




Think about the travel industry. Once people could book their own flights online, travel agents vanished. The service providers like airlines, rental car companies, and cruises could interact directly with you, the end user. Travel agents instantly became irrelevant for unsophisticated travel.

Choose Dell Computer




Think about Dell Computer company. They don’t sell through distribution. They control every aspect of the way you feel about their product and service from the advertising to the purchase, to the tech support.

They control the customer journey.



The music industry will go the same way because EVERYONE ELSE HAS.


Do you see the writing on the wall?


The wounds to the formerly successful pipeline for developing the art, creating the demand, and distributing the product are relatively fresh in the music industry.


Predictably, the industry is going to be slow to adapt.


But the artist who adapts now is the artist who will win.

Choose adapt


The artist who chooses to market RIGHT NOW will be victorious.


You cannot afford to wait if you’re serious about making a living in the music industry.


You must move now.


The learning curve is stout but it’s not rocket science, therefore, completely achievable.


Hell, there are artists who have MASTERED it.


Pursue excellence in marketing like you hopefully chase the mastery of your craft.


Excellence requires regular work.


The kind of work one can only do once they’ve chosen a path.


In 1519 AD, during the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Hernán Cortés, the Spanish commander, scuttled his ships so that his men would have to conquer or die.


He chose a path and didn’t waiver.


What will you choose?









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Networking Hacks Feature MEME

It was the summer of 1997. I had just moved to Los Angeles from Nashville to pursue a sales gig in the electronics industry.

Networking Hacks Zeph Logo


A guy named David Jacks had started this company I would be working with called Zephyrtronics. David was like Matt Damon’s character in the movie Good Will Hunting but with heat instead of math. He just understood heat. He had created a “walk on water” type piece of equipment that would let any engineer or technician solder or desolder the same spot on a circuit board with zero damage to the board or the electronic component.



I don’t expect you to give a rip about that, but it’s important to know because we got a LOT of attention at every trade show we demonstrated at. It was amazing.


We would get tons of leads from the trade shows and then my job was to go out and demonstrate the product onsite and close the deals.

Networking Hacks Zeph Demo




In the first couple months, David went with me so I could see how exactly he wanted his product sold.





At one point, we found ourselves in a Los Angeles Hughes Aerospace facility. We were led up to a conference room for the presentation by a receptionist. The door opened and I couldn’t believe it. It’s like we were rock stars or something. There were 40 engineers in attendance that wanted to see this product work and each of them with their own problematic circuit board in hand.

Networking Hacks Hughes Logo



I watched David introduce himself to each of the 40 engineers, shake their hand and thank them for taking the time.


Here’s the rub. When we were done with the presentation, David went around to each of the 40 engineers looked them in the eye, shook their hand, and thanked each one again using their names!


He remembered everyone’s name!


It was one of the most impressive things I had ever seen. Clearly, the engineers felt the same way because they were so blown away that somebody said something about it out loud in the room.


David just smiled and said something demure.


Turns out David was also a genius at networking strategies too. On the ride back to the office he shared some of the hacks he used to pull this off.


Networking Hacks How You Made Them Feel MEME



I think it was Mia Angelo that said, “People won’t remember what you said or even so much how you looked, but they will remember how you made them feel.”


That’s what we’re going to cover today. I’m going to give you 5 different memory hacks that are rather easy to do but hard to remember to execute.






It’s not easy, but when you get into the habit of this 5-step hack, you’ll forget you’re even doing it. Whenever you meet someone for the first time and remember their name, you’ll always make them feel good.


Nothing is sweeter than the sound of your own name.


Networking Charm MEMEThe hardest part will be committing to the discipline of these little tricks but it’s a game changer.


It’s called the CHARM method. I know, appropriate, right?

The “C” in CHARM stands for “Care”.


Networking Hacks Care MEME


People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. There are a million singer/songwriter/artists who are way better than you so if you think someone is going to be blown away by your talent and completely devote their lives to your success, you’re delusional.


There has to be more. They will need to feel like you care about them.




It’s hard to get people to feel like you give a crap about them, their career, their family, their well-being when you don’t care enough to remember their name.


David Jacks blew away 40 engineers and myself because he cared enough to remember all the names. Nobody would’ve faulted him for not remembering 40 names but EVERYONE was impressed when he did.


Get it?


Not remembering and nobody would care one way or the other because that’s a lot of names.


But going through the work of remembering and I’ll bet those 40 engineers will never forget him.


That’s what we want.


The “H” stands for “Hear”.


Networking Hacks HEAR Monkeys

This is the hardest part for me. If you’re talking to yourself, inside your head strategizing a response at the same time you’re supposed to be listening for their name, you’re going to miss the name.




In Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Individuals he’s quoted as saying, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand, they listen with the intent to reply.”


Networking Hacks Stephen Covey MEME


This is so tricky for me because my mind goes at a million miles per hour, but when I am disciplined and LISTENING for their name, I remember it.


Sheesh, it’s so bloody simple to do but hard to implement because we must be intentional about doing it.




I’ll bet you’ve complained a million times about how you can’t remember this or that and you blame your retention.


But the problem isn’t your retention it’s your attention.


You weren’t listening when it was happening you were “bouncing off the walls” as my dad would say so you never really received the information to begin with.


Just be silent and listen. Is it a coincidence that “silent” and “listen” are an anagram? I think not.



The “A” in CHARM stands for “Ask”.


Networking Hacks ASK


I love asking people about their name. You can ask where the name is from, what does it mean, how do you spell it, who were they named after, etc.





This is one of my favorite gestures because you learn from the person you just met. It gets them talking about themselves, which is always a winner. They get to very briefly tell you why their special because they were named after so and so or they have a unique spelling.


PLUS, you get to hear the name a couple more times. This is always a biggie for me because like I said, inevitably the first time I was talking to myself in my head and didn’t hear it.


The “R” stands for “Repeat”.


Networking Hacks REPEAT MEME



After you hear the name for the first time, repeat it back to them to make sure you heard it correctly. Sometimes you’re in a loud room or there is a lot going on and you want to ensure you have it down. It would suck to have a long conversation with Chad and then say, “Goodbye, Brad”.




Just asking a person if you’re pronouncing it correctly is a warm gesture.


I also will mentally repeat their name 5 times in my head. This helps it to sink in.


So, use this and use it often but don’t use it too often out loud. If you abuse it you’ll sound disingenuous.


Networking Hacks Value Bomb MEME


VALUE BOMB: I intentionally try to pepper in a person’s name in a conversation even if I already have a relationship with them. People love to hear their name. I’ve found myself drifting off in the middle of a conversation and being pulled back in at the sound of my name.


It reminds me I have to pay attention now. This is a super effective strategy.




The “M” stands for “Marker”.


Networking Hacks Marker MEME


This is the main trick David used with those 40 Hughes Aerospace Engineers.




He told me as he shook each of their hands and repeated their names out loud, he did 2 other things.


One was to mentally repeat their names 5 times.


And the other sounds crazy but try it! It’s astounding how well it works.


He imagined their names, with the correct spelling written on their forehead with a marker. I recommend that you imagine that marker in your favorite color.


We remember what we see more than what we hear.


You’ve never forgotten a face and remembered a name.


Many U.S. Presidents have used this method to recall names.


It took me about 6 months of haphazard execution but I got pretty good at it.


Since then, I must admit, I’ve fallen off a bit and I find it personally embarrassing.


It’s fair to say I’m writing this article as much for me as I am for you. I’m kicking my own butt!


Do this.


Be intentional about it. This is a self-discipline tactic that will require a little extra brain power but it will serve you for the rest of your life.


I want you to win.










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Networking Feature MEME

I hear artists say this every day. “I suck at networking”.


It’s true.


You do suck at networking.Networking Muscle MEME


But it’s because of these 2 reasons so it’s totally fixable.


  1. You think you suck at networking
  2. Therefore, you don’t network.


It’s a muscle that you must develop. You’re afraid to develop it because you think you need to be the “life of the party” to make it happen.




What is absolutely required for effective networking is

  1. Effort
  2. Perspective
  3. Humility
  4. Authenticity



Networking Show UP

Show up. If you’re not there you can’t network. You can’t win if you don’t play. Oh, and you must KEEP ON showing up.


Are you needing band members? Show up. Go out to all the clubs as much as you can to see the bands and pick your players. If you’re good they’ll consider it. This is how the best musicians from all the local bands gravitate to one another. If they’re not giving you the time of day, it’s because you’re approaching them in an obnoxious way or you need to work on your artistry more.




Presentation matters. These new band mates and business associates are going to need to see something tangible. They are not going to see your potential so plan to put at least one decent recording together to use as a calling card.


Networking Dog Poo MEMEI just had a reunion of sorts with a guitar player friend of mine who played with me in a solo project I did for a hot second in LA. I met him at a restaurant bar. The bartender was an artist I was doing a little producing for. We talked and I mentioned I was looking for a guitar player. I left him a CD of some tracks. He called me on my way home and was like, “I’m IN!”


Had I not had that recording demonstrating my songs, professionalism, and attitude, he wouldn’t have called, I guarantee it.


One of my favorite hit songwriters is a guy I met out at Loser’s which is a common industry hang out here in Nashville. We became friends and he was regularly emailing me to say hello and stay in touch. I presented him with an artist for a co-write. He began a long-standing relationship with that artist, resulting in multiple cuts, and they’re now on their second single. It’s charting on the Music Row chart.


Networking Steve O'Brien



I see him out all the time. The other evening I wanted him to meet a writer friend of mine that was in town from Miami. I texted him. He came right over. I introduced him to the songwriter and he introduced me to this incredible new artist he’s been writing with and maybe we’ll do some business. Who knows?





But he was there. Get it?




Networking Perspective MEME

Every relationship you make may not have any value but just about all of them won’t have immediate value. That’s where most people fall off.


They lose interest if there is no immediate satisfaction. They also get sour about it sometimes. Like if you meet someone you’re attracted to, immediately ask them for sex, and then decide to hate them because they said “NO”.  (that’s called Cognitive Dissonance…but I digress)


It’s a marathon, not a sprint.


Realize that you’re laying down railroad track as opposed to putting the actual train on the tracks. I have many lifelong relationships that were started in odd ways with no expectations whatsoever.


When my band initially signed with a huge regional booking agency out of Minneapolis, the first thing I needed to know was what the competition looked like.


Who was the best?


I reached out to the receptionist and asked. She told me it was a band called “Mannekin” and they would be in Milwaukee on tour in 2 weeks. I said I wanted to go, but I was only 19 years old. Michelle told me that she would set it all up with their manager Mark O’Toole.


Networking mannekin

That evening I got my ass KICKED artistically.


That band was freaking amazing. I couldn’t believe I saw them in a club. The bar had just moved up and I needed to know more so I simply asked Mark if I could take him out to eat after the show. He happily agreed. I bought breakfast at 3 am and started asking as many questions as I could get away with.



Here’s the deal. That was the start of a lifelong friendship, literally. We lost Mark a couple years ago, but he always had my back. When we needed a photo shoot for our poster, he offered to “piggyback” us on his photo shoot for Mannekin with Prince’s photographer, Al Beaulieu. That cost us $600 including hair and makeup.  He constantly helped me with negotiating strategies with club owners when we were touring. All because he was a good friend.

Networking Idols



My point is I couldn’t have predicted all that, I just wanted to learn and he was willing to teach. I expected nothing more than that first meal, but he liked me. He saw something. I was so lucky.





I think that artists tend to subconsciously avoid networking because they don’t see an immediate return on the time investment of creating the relationship. That’s a mistake because you never know what could happen.


Networking Cards MEME

Every semester I am blessed to have a bunch of interns. One of the value-adds I offer the interns is access to certain industry functions (when possible) and the ability to hang with me at certain showcases and artist shows. I’ll introduce them to everyone I speak with. I tell the interns, they’re not required to attend when they get the text invite, but they’re encouraged to attend. The relationships they will make probably won’t amount to much if anything at all, but imagine them interviewing with a record label for job a couple years in the future and sitting across from someone they already met. “Hey Ms. So-And-So, you probably don’t remember me, but we hung out one night with Johnny D from Daredevil Production watching this artist at this club.”  Already, subconsciously, the intern has moved their application to a different mental pile because they’ve already met.


Does that make sense?




Networking Humility MEME

Without humility, you’re not going to create many relationships.


Especially in the music business.


When I met Mark, I was young and very green and he knew it. I wasn’t trying to pretend I was some big shot and he appreciated that. I was a sponge.


I paid for that dinner at Denny’s because I had so many questions, you know?  He loved that. I was asking the right questions about the business as opposed to “How can you help me get famous?”




Every week I get hit up on email, Twitter, and Instagram with artists who shoot me messages like, “Yo, let’s do business. How do we get started?”.



Networking Messages BLACKED


What’s your name? What’s your story? Have we ever met? This is not only a complete turn-off, but it’s a dead giveaway to a rookie with poor communication skills.



Something humbler like, “Hey Johnny, this is so-and-so from this band and I like what you’re doing, can we possibly set up a time to talk about working together?” would be a better way to spin that approach.


Always be humble and kind.


Music industry people are generally really good people and like to help other people as long as they believe that person isn’t a schmuck.  You’d be amazed at what a little humility and an honest, “I need some help” will get you.


Networking Humble and Kind MEME


I remember when I first came to Nashville in 1995. My friend John Prestia told me that he was good friends with a hit songwriter named Kim Tribble. He told me to go and meet with Kim.


I did.





Kim was the kindest and most gracious soul. We spoke for about an hour in his office. The whole time I was worried I was taking up too much of his time. Kim could sense that. After an hour, I couldn’t help myself, I told Kim, “Hey I know you’re super busy and I’m so thankful for this time, Kim! I’ll see myself out.”


I didn’t want to impose.


To which Kim replied, “It’s cool, man. I like you. I have to run some errands and you’re welcome to join me if you want. Do you have time to hang?”


See how humility worked there?


I had NOTHING else to do. I spent the whole day with Kim. He listened to all my songs and that led me to 2 other writer/producer relationships that I still currently have.



And finally, Authenticity.


This is a biggie. I think most artists feel terribly uncomfortable networking because they feel like they have to be something they’re not. I think they feel like they have to be this huge gregarious personality that everybody loves in order to an effective networker, but that just isn’t the case.

Networking Do You


Just be yourself.


Just be real.





THAT is what makes you amazing, and THAT is what people will respond to. When you meet people be your authentic self and they’ll respond authentically.


Personally, I can tell you that I’m not for everybody. I do have a big personality and it’s a turn-off sometimes. That’s ok. When I feel someone responding in a negative manner towards my personality I realize that we’re probably not going to do business together or I’m needing to provide more value in this relationship to make it “worth it” for the other person.


I also realize it’s probably time to shut up, but I digress…


Networking Authenticity Faceless Mask


Don’t worry if everyone doesn’t like you or love you. You can’t be all things to all people. You’re going to get this. Don’t take it personally.


The ones who DO respond to your authentic-self are going to create deep relationships with you because they know who you really are.


That kind of relationship is one of the best gifts you’ll ever receive.


Have confidence in yourself in that regard. Just go meet people and get to know them. Ask them about themselves. The more you get them talking (and people LOVE to talk about themselves) the more you’ll learn.


FYI, I can’t tell you how many times I met someone, got them talking, and through listening realized that this is NOT someone I want to do business with. All without opening my mouth after saying hello.

Networking Them MEME




The truth is unless you’re a hermit with zero friends, you’re a great networker. You’re just thinking about it the wrong way. You know how to make friends and influence people, but when you put in the context of being intentional about it, it seems daunting. It’s also scary with strangers.


I get it.


But Networking is a mission critical part of your career, my friend. It’s a muscle you MUST develop.


So, what are you waiting for?











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I see people confusing activity with achievement all the time.Activity Shrug MEME excuses or Results

I’ve seen it my whole life in all the industries I’ve been a part of, but it’s rampant with the millennials and musicians.





They confuse activity or “trying” with achievement. Your artist career won’t blossom without achievement. No matter how much time you spend trying or how much you want it, you’ll go nowhere without results.


You must adapt. IT’S ALL ABOUT ADAPTING.

How do you adapt? You take what you have and you work with it. Adapting has nothing to do with complaining about what you don’t have, that’s the very definition of NON-productive.


Improvising, adapting, and overcoming is what defines achievement.


You can have excuses or you can have results but you can’t have both.


It’s NOT ok to complain about where you are in your career if you’re creating excuses as to why you can’t get what you want.


Humans, by nature, are THEE most adaptable species on the planet. We can think, reason, and imagine.


Activity Caveman

Visualize a cave-man and what their life was like every day. Survival meant working within your surroundings to achieve what was necessary for shelter, food, water, protection, etc.


This may sound silly but follow me on this. When a lion is born it instinctively knows how to hunt. Same with fish. Same with all animals, they are born wired up to know how to survive.


But not humans.




When we’re born we instinctively know how to suck, but…



We LEARN how to speak.Activity Learning Puzzle

We LEARN how to hunt.

We LEARN how to gather.

We LEARN how to tie our shoes.

We LEARN how to play an instrument.

We LEARN how to be an artist.

We LEARN how to market.



Don’t fool yourself, you may hate the sound of the word “marketing” but you do it every day. Whenever you try to convince anybody of anything. From selling a piece of musical equipment to convincing a friend about who the best singer is on the planet, you’re marketing. Convincing new members to join the band or a buddy to give you an extra hour in the studio, that’s marketing.


Activity Mother MEMEWe must also LEARN to be self-aware about our art. Your mother will love it no matter what, so you’re foolish if you run with only that opinion. I think of the horrific zero-talent wannabes at the beginning of every American Idol season. Wow, it’s like so many people lied to them or something.



Yes, art is subjective but it’s also objective. There is a level of competitiveness that must be met. There is no market for the finger-paintings of 3-year-old children but they’re adorable nonetheless. You can hate on artists like Poison and Brittany Spears but you can’t deny that they’re well done and they sell way more than you do.

Activity Britney Spears



All art that has been put forth into the world was a result of an artist adapting to their surroundings and learning to create something.


Many if not most artists have overcome incredible challenges, pitfalls, setbacks, extreme poverty, racism, naysayers, haters, physical abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, etc. to get their art out to the world enough so that we’re aware of it.


This is humanity. This is the definition of being human; ADAPTING.


So, it pisses me off when I hear artists complain about why they can’t do this or that.Activity Poison Record




Saying you can’t do it is saying you won’t do it. Either you don’t want it bad enough or you don’t have the constitution to stay in the game. This is what the artists you hate had; constitution.


Growing for any human means you’re going to be uncomfortable.


If your goal is to be comfortable, that’s fine, but stop telling yourself that you’re going to make a dent in the universe and be comfortable at the same time.


Comfortable is easy. That’s a vapid 9-5 working to realize someone else’s dream.


Activity School Lockers


Achievement and growth are by definition, uncomfortable. Think about it, you’re constantly elevating to uncharted waters. Remember how you felt the first day of high school? Those lockers were so big, weren’t they? That was a far different feeling from the last day of high school.

You were forced to achieve in school or face being held back.



Now, nobody’s forcing you. Are you feeling a bit too comfortable?


I remember when the people directly around the Allman Brother Band brought my band down from Wisconsin to Florida to develop us.


Activity ABB AlbumStep one was the band had to move to Florida. We walked toward the light with nothing but each other and promise from this dude to help us get to the next level. There were no promises of an outcome and zero promises of cash. We were on our own.


How would we survive? I didn’t know when we left, but we all took a chance and found our way.



By the way, is moving ever comfortable? Then you add the fact that we were flying by the seat of our pants and it takes uncomfortable to whole new level.


Of course, we were young and I had it all figured out, man, just ask me. We needed to get a killer record, get on MTV, and go on tour to make it. EZPZ.


Activity Warren HaynesThen I saw Warren Haynes play guitar in the studio during the first of what would be hundreds of hours of access to the band. At that moment, a nuclear bomb was dropped on my ego and my sense of accomplishment.


I left the studio so demoralized because I had just witnessed “great” first hand and compared to that, we sucked. That was catastrophic.


That moment lead me to a crossroads of sorts. It was decision time. Do I choose to make excuses as to why we’ll never be like Warren Haynes and The ABB so I can continue to live my comfortable yet delusional artistic existence? Or do I become uncomfortable and accept the reality that we had a LOT more work to do. [KGB Pic]



If you really want to be an artist, you live here. Nobody cares about a comfortable artist because they’re boring.


Artistically you’re compelling or you’re not. I think you all believe that you are compelling but the fact is most of you are not.


Not yet, anyway.


What is unknown (and controllable to the artist) is how many artists have the guts to push so hard they’re constantly uncomfortable. Who will continue to adapt and eat all the challenges of the everyday indie artist life for breakfast?


Activity UncomfortableBecause every artist has boatloads of challenges.


A real artist is constantly adapting, learning, and growing, therefore they live in a perpetual state of restlessness.




Of course, once you’re on the right track with your art you must LEARN how to get it out there. The good news is you no longer need anyone’s permission to do this. The bad news is YOU have to do it.


Unlike a lion who is born instinctively knowing how to hunt and survive, you, the artist, has to LEARN how to market. It’s not going to come to you in your sleep.

Activity Lion

If you can’t afford to hire someone to do it for you, then you’ll have to pay to learn how. That means recording less music and spending that part of the budget on marketing education.




Oh, and hundreds of hours getting your learning curve up.


Activity Crazy MEME Learn to market

To do anything differently is idiotic. It means you’re choosing to live in a state of delusion telling yourself lies about why your career is stagnant.


“But learning about marketing makes me feel uncomfortable and I don’t like feeling uncomfortable.”




“But marketing makes me feel like a used-car salesman. I don’t want to come off looking or sounding like that.”


Believe me, nobody wants to buy from anybody like that either. You must change the story you’re telling yourself in your head and learn how to market effectively to AVOID being sales-y.


Thousands of artists and businesses effectively market to you every day. Did you feel like Budweiser was being “sales-y” during the Super Bowl commercial with the puppy and the Clydesdale horses?


activity Clydesdales Bud


Again, that’s not going to come to you in your sleep. So, every day you’re not learning is another day your career is stagnant.


Artists must rethink, reimagine everything because the market has changed.




Artist first then the music. Sorry, that’s the truth. Get over it and start constructing strategies to address this reality. I promise you’ll see immediate results in your fan base.


STOP asking yourself these questions:

“How can I get a record deal?”

Activity Artist First MEME

“How can I get on the radio?”


START asking yourself these questions:

“Where is the traffic coming from?”


“How can I connect with them?”


Just focus on building your audience and everything will fall into place after that.


Activity Traffic MEME








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Record Deal Feature MEME

Getting a record deal can be a blessing or a curse


This statement has been true since the first record label was created. I would hope that by this time, most of you would be aware that during the glory days of the record business, 90% of the signed artists lost money.

Record Deal Blessing Curse MEME


90% of them failed to make a living doing what they loved to do.


Which means the 10% of the artists made SO MUCH money they covered all the losses from the other 90%.


How was that possible?


How did any business not only survive, but thrive when 90% of the products they paid to develop, manufacture, and distribute were money-losers?


Can you imagine if 9 out of 10 McDonald’s hamburgers were returned?


Record Deal iPhone Broken

Can you imagine 9 out of 10 brand new iPhones were broken?




How does a business making these incredibly uneven statistics work and become profitable?


Why was this horrific ratio the reality back then?


The answer to all these questions is radio and distribution.


Radio was such a powerful promotional tool that it literally influenced enough consumer minds to purchase 600 million units from the Beatles, 300 million records from Madonna, 230 million from Rhianna, 100 million from Jay-Z, etc.


Record Deal Radio Artist collageOf course, that was when people were listening to the radio.


But even in the best days, radio was restrictive.


There are roughly 12 spins per hour resulting in 2016 spins per week.


A song in heavy rotation accounts for around 70 spins per week (10 spins per day or roughly 1 spin every 2 hours). Medium rotation was 40 (ish), and light rotation about 15-25 per week.

This leaves about 3-4 spins per week to “test out” a new song the stations would consider adding to a rotation.


Now let’s say that the label loves the song and puts the promo money behind it. Let’s also say that radio loves it and a station wants to add it to their rotation.


There is something in the law of physics that MUST happen before any new song can be added to a rotation.


Somebody else’s song must be dropped from rotation to make room for the new one.


See how that works?


That’s what I mean by restrictive; it’s mathematically limiting.Record Deal Titanic MEME

Radio was powerful but there wasn’t enough time in the day to spin all the songs from all the artists on all the labels, thus, only 10% were able to grow their audience and thrive.


Today, the stations are failing. They’re losing money and the future of radio is seriously in jeopardy.



But we don’t need radio.


We don’t need radio and for all intents and purposes, radio isn’t going to be around to help you so drop that part of your dream right now.


It just isn’t a reality. Especially when you consider the fact that 2 of the 3 big corporations that own all the major market stations are either out of the radio business or about to be.


We don’t need to ask anyone’s permission to make our art, connect with and create future fans, or distribute our music.


Record Deal couch MEMEWe can do all that from a laptop on our couch.


Wow. How crazy is that?


Yet, so many of you have a dream of getting a record deal.


Why? Why do you have that dream now?


When everything was working, your dream had a 90% failure rate.


Do you have any idea how many KILLER artists I know that paid good money to get out of their deal?


Record Deal Artists need a deal MEME

Most artists aspire to be signed because it symbolizes a formerly necessary step to making a living in music. A record deal implied success even though the opposite was true for 90% on the label’s roster. Also, most artists don’t know how to do it without a record label so they feel the label is the only answer.





For the record, I’m not saying a record deal is a bad idea. I’m saying for most artists it is. It’s only a good idea for the savvy artists who know how to position themselves in today’s music business.


There was certainly less expected of an artist back then because the label did just about everything. This also meant the artist had little control over their careers.


The label and radio decided to make you or break you.


Today, there is more expected of you, but you can “stack the deck” in your favor.  You can come into a contractual negotiation with power as opposed to nibbling on whatever crumbs they decide to throw you.


Yuck.Record Deal Mr. Yuck



If you follow my articles you’ve read the story about indie country artist Granger Smith. He created a 1.8 million-dollar empire from his laptop. All the labels wanted to sign him but the artist and his team said “NO” for years until they said yes to Broken Bow Records.



They were given their own imprint called Wheelhouse Records (That means their own label under the Broken Bow umbrella with far better splits than a normal deal and the ability to profit off other artists on the imprint). I’m quite sure that Granger negotiated some stipulations that would ensure he had all the money and infrastructure necessary to accomplish his next goal; a #1 single.


Record Deal wheelhouse-records-logoHe had the power to do that because they wanted his business so badly. He made himself sexy to the labels and it was about his business, not the art.




Don’t let that upset you. It was about the business for them. It was about the art for him.


But too many of you fail to understand it’s always been about the business for them. Not your potential, your business.


My question to you is this: What happened to all the artists with a ton of talent but no audience, that were on Broken Bow, the second that Granger Smith signed his deal?


Did you ever think about that?Record Deal About The Business MEME


When Smith was signed his record deal, he ensured that he got all the capital resources, the human resources, etc. The artists that weren’t making money for Broken Bow at that time, waited. They were put on a shelf for the time being. Or worse, forever.


Is that what you want?


Record Deal Skeleton MEME

Is that a risk you’re willing to take just so you can brag to your friends about having a record deal?





Having a record deal today is incredibly different than 20 years ago when your heroes got signed.


Needing a record deal to reach your audience has also completely changed in today’s music business.


I promise there are going to be a truckload of artists in the very near future who are just as savvy as Granger Smith. Which is going to make it increasingly difficult for the talented artists with no audience on any given label.


Which artist do you want to be?


Record Deal Man Or Mouse CollageDo you want to be the artist like Granger who comes in with all the power to craft your deal into a blessing?

Or do you want to be the artist with these amazing musical gifts whose record deal quickly became a curse?


The difference between the two is the size of your audience.


Record Deal Size Of Your Audience MEMEThe size of your audience will determine your future and how the big-wigs are going to play with you.




The super cool part is that you get to choose which artist you want to be. You have control.


By not marketing, not learning to market, or by not entertaining different ways of approaching marketing, you’re choosing the former. You’re choosing to roll the dice and hope all the planets align in your favor.


Record Deal Whoever Finds Your Audience MEMEChoosing to suffer through learning the crap you don’t want to learn about marketing right now means you’ll be more educated tomorrow. It means you won’t be naïve. It means you’ll be driving. It means you’ll be sexy for the right reasons. Oh, and it also means nobody gets to tell you how to make your art.  So, there’s that.


I want you to win.


Choose wisely grasshopper.