You Learn To Be An Artist

Learn To Be an Artist Feature image

By Johnny Dwinell

You learn to be an artist

like you learn to be an expert plumber, like you learn to play poker, or like you become a master craftsman working with fine wood furniture.  First you tackle the broad strokes and Learn To Be an Artist Learn button imagethen increasingly you focus on details until you become a student of the game.  Every iconic artist you admire started out as a novice and was so fascinated with the learning and the search for the truth they couldn’t help but continue to improve.  There’s the rub; you first have to be open to the fact that you learn to be an artist and then you must work to continue improving.  Often times that means getting rid of people who are holding you back, however they manifest themselves in your life.  It always means you need to maintain a sense of humility around people who are better than you; be a sponge.  It means you have to always keep working; period.


First there are the broad strokes:

  • You learn to play some chordsLearn To Be an Artist Chord Chart image
  • You start singing
  • You start writing songs
  • You play your first gigs
  • You practice for hours to learn songs you like so you can emulate your heroes
  • You get laid
  • You make a lot of mistakes

FYI, you’re not an artist yet, you’re just beginning to mess with music.  For every artist looking back from a professional viewpoint these days are always a disaster.  Hell, John and Paul admitted the first 50-150 songs they wrote were crap!  This is accurate and it’s ok.  We continued to improve because we LOVED the process; we LOVED the journey.


Then you start in on some detail:

  • You strive to play chords better, more cleanly, like they do on the records you love
  • You strive to play with the drums
  • You strive to play the covers a bit more accurately with regards to proper voicing and arrangements rather than just playing the chords
  • It’s no longer about making noise that is close, you are after making music
  • You start focusing on trying to sing in pitch more
  • You continue to write and maybe begin to realize that any words put to music do not necessarily make a song.
  • Members of your band are in the band due to pragmatism; they have a van, a P.A. system, the coolest drum kit, or a place to rehearse, etc.
  • You learn from your previous mistakes and grow
  • You make a bunch of new mistakes

You’re not an artist yet; you’re in a band at this point.  If you’re the leader, the creative _DSC2610focal point, the driving force of the band you’re mostly a babysitter to the other members; a politician if you will.  Undoubtedly you begin to lose a few band members at this stage of the game, they get more interested in significant others than music.  This is called “natural selection” or as we called it “The Yoko Factor”, it’s painful but necessary to let them go; so recognize it and let them go. (Read this and think about the melody from Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”.  Buh-bye.



Then you really start to dig in:

  • You start to play more gigs
  • The idea of making a living gets serious within you as you start to get some opportunities
  • These opportunities reveal the musical and spiritual weak links in your band; band members continue to change making way for more like-minded mates
  • You begin to experiment with recording (trust me we all suck at recording during this stage but we are FASCINATED so we press on)
  • The recording process reveals that you really aren’t playing with the drums and the drummer thinks time is a magazine
  • This brings up conversations that file000819242154will certainly manifest as confrontations between band members as the cracks in the musicianship are becoming glaringly obvious, it’s a mess.  Some of the cracks are your fault; you hate this but it’s true.  You wonder, “Is it like this on stage?”  Answer:  YES, how could it not be?
  • The strengths in your writing are steadily improving; the weaknesses are typically being ignored.  For instance, you sing like an angel and everyone is always kissing your ass so you really don’t feel the pressing need to improve your lyrics because you could sing the phone book and make people cry; they love you!  Your friends and family naturally choose to focus on delivering positive feedback to you.  So it’s up to you to see past the local and familial adoration and focus on your weak suit to become a more well-rounded writer (Most people don’t)
  • You learn from your previous mistakes and grow.
  • You make a bunch of new mistakes.

At this point you are not an artist.  You are in a band and beginning to tighten the screws; scratching the surface of being a musician.  The work you continue to do is creating small opportunities and the momentum is validation to press on.


Now you’re getting serious about living your life making music:

  • You do your first tour (aka a decent string of consecutive dates).  You are now presented with the chance to play a gig, revel in the moment, stew over that night’s performance mistakes in your head, and then fix what you didn’t like the very next day.  (It’s like skiing, you really need to put several days back to back to improve)
  • You find out that after 20 shows in a row, you are a completely different band; you are exposed to the need for professionalism (like how to sound check as efficiently as possible, politicking with band members, schmoozing the club owner/booker) and you begin to understand it; you begin to embrace it.
  • Learn To Be an Artist Drunk singer imageYou also find out the singer can’t party like the rest of the band and keep his voice.  The question is does the singer know this?
  • You finally understand the truth in David Lee Roth’s quote, “There’s Murphy’s Law and then there is the Law of Rock & Roll which states that Murphy completely underestimated the problem” as you run into countless surprise road-blocks with gear, routing, money, band members, production, logistics, weigh station delays, border crossings, transportation breakdowns, emotional breakdowns, local police, State Troopers, disruptions, alcohol, drugs, groupies, STD’s, creepy people, hangers on, etc.
  • You find out that the clubs don’t give a damn about your music, they only care about how many drinks they sell, because they are in the bar business.  You discover this truth after getting fired.  This is your first experience with the “Business” part of show business.
  • Your band is tightening up.  There is some definite attention being paid by the members to the pocket, phrasing, and the feel of the music as opposed to just playing chords.
  • You begin to create slightly better recordings as you slowly begin to digest the truth in the “less is more” approach.  Less Reverb, less effects, less notes, more space.
  • You focus on better performances on your recordings
  • You begin to explore decent sonic quality as you search for different ways to achieve improvement with amp settings, mic placement, sound control, mic chain, EQ’s, compression,  and LESS REVERB (did I say that already?)
  • Your writing continues to improve as you become more comfortable in your own skin, more willing to dig down and relay real feelings instead of stringing cool vowel, consonant, and rhyming sounds together.
  • You learn that mixing your tracks is an art form; one you don’t possess.
  • You learn from your previous mistakes and grow
  • You make a bunch of new mistakes

At this point you are not an artist but you are beginning to be enlightened on the fact that writing is a craft, recording is a craft, playing is a craft.  You are improving!  You are probably getting a little cocky in your head.  Maybe your progress affords you some opportunities for access to real artists where you get schooled once again.  For me, I had well over a year of touring under my belt (probably 500+ shows or more) and I knew everything, all you had to do was ask me, I would be happy to tell you, LOL.  Then I saw the Allman Brothers in the studio for the first time and realized I didn’t know shit about anything.  Bah!  It felt like I was back to square one, I had the wind sucked right out of my sails; like the feeling you get when you go from being king of the hill in 8th grade to the bottom of the barrel as a freshman in high school.  But I was even MORE FASCINATED so I pressed on.

Now You’re Making Money

  • Now you’re getting the hang of it, and certain people are noticing
  • You are beginning to develop a style
  • You spend some money to make a CD to sell at your shows because it’s time to expand your business and you feel you’re ready to make a record.
  • You’re smart and hungry for knowledge so you carefully choose a production team that can advance your sound and your knowledge instead of “studio shopping” and thinking you can produce yourself
  • You get regular access to professional recording experiences.
  • Your production team stumps you with certain questions like “what is your lane?”  “Before we begin what kind of record do you want to make?”  “Who do you feel your audience is?”  “What are we going to do differently to help you stand out from the herd that occupies the same lane?”
  • You learn that your drummer rocks live but under the microscope in the studio he doesn’t cut it Learn To Be an Artist Time Mag imagebecause he is inconsistent with velocities and meter.
  • You learn that singing live is way easier than working a microphone in the studio and you struggle to step up and render the vocal that you believe you can do…but you do it.
  • You learn that your guitar tone leaves a lot to be desired when a mic is put on it and half your pedals make an UNGODLY amount of preventable noise.
  • You learn from your producer who cares that half the songs you wanted on the record are nowhere near as cool as the other half and you have to keep writing
  • You learn through new relationships with pro writers that you are on the right track but you still have a long way to go; you still have a weak suit that needs attention
  • You begin to see the difference between recording music and making records
  • You learn from a misbehaving band member that negative, unstable energy in the recording studio is really bad; he or she goes the way of Pete Willis from Def Leppard.
  • You learn that your bass player plays ahead or “on top” of the kick drum and your engineer will be moving it back.  Your bass player is pissed and secretly embarrassed but you are secretly grateful the engineer will fix it because it sounds better
  • You learn “behind the scenes” stories that break your heart about your favorite bands and how they didn’t play on their own records because recordings are forever and playing live is here and gone.
  • You learn from past mistakes
  • You make a bunch of new mistakes

Congrats, you’re beginning to become an artist.  The next step is up to you.  If you just want to make art for the sake of making art, then so it shall be; a glorious, expensive hobby.  If you want to be a professional artist, than you will have to make some money at this which means a whole new journey learning how to move product.

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A Dead Fish Can Float Downstream

By Johnny Dwinell

“Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream” – W.C. Fields

Are you a dead fish? 5FdkhUkT

I love this quote.  If you think that money and the right connections equates to “easy street” for your career or that you need these things before you can begin seriously working on your career, you’re a dead fish.  If you are working your backside off every day to write, record, play, making mistakes and learning this business, then you are a live fish swimming upstream; I’m quite sure you feel the pressure of the current as you constantly swim against it.  I was reminded of this quote when I had a conversation yesterday with an artist friend.  We went on a long walk with Scooter McGhee (My Great Dane) and my artist friend was venting some frustrations he was having with the business (I get that a lot), and I feel like he is finally beginning to turn from a dead fish into a live one.

During our walk in the course of his listening and venting he asked me a question.  He asked what I thought about a strategy where he would finish the video he just shot and then pay to have a “showcase” of sorts where he would play the video followed by a live show.  He asked me if I thought we could get him “in front of some people”.

“In front of some people” is a phrase he has used quite often throughout our friendship.

“Johnny, I’ve never really gotten in front of some people before” he would say, “I just need to get in front of some people”.  You see I believe that in his mind, and probably many of yours (which is why I am writing this post today), he feels like if he just got “in front of” the right person everything would be puppy dogs and ice cream; he would have his break and it would be downhill from there.  He is super talented by the way and I believe that if he keeps fighting, he will begin to make a solid living singing and writing songs, but he has to stay in the game (which I’m proud to say he has ramped up his game plan as of late)

I answered his question, “What if we get everyone that is important in this town to your showcase?”

“What if we get you ‘in front of’ all the necessary people and they like you?  What do you think happens next?”

Knowing me well, he wisely avoided an answer and replaced it with a question, “Johnny, what happens next?”

Florida Georgia Line Story

Dead Fish FL GA imageI went into describing the broad strokes on the story of how Florida Georgia Line got their deal.  These 2 guys got “in front of the right people” and somehow landed a production deal with Craig Wiseman who is one of Nashville’s most successful writers and businessmen with his publishing company Big Loud Shirt.  Craig and the producer he chose named Joey Moi (Joey produced the Canadian rock group Nickelback) recorded an EP with Florida Georgia Line and went around town with their massive influence and connections to get a record deal for the duo; everyone passed.


How can that be?  ALL the record labels passed?

YES!  Even with a proven hit songwriter and proven producer behind the group, the labels didn’t get it.  There was no social proof to ensure that the duo’s music and sound had any value in the market place, so they passed.

So Wiseman, Moi, and the group hunkered down and launched an incredibly effective marketing campaign/tour of sorts that resulted in 100,000 downloads of “Cruise”.  Boom!  Now, all the record labels that passed on the pair were clamoring to sign them.  Here is where I quote my friend Rick Barker, “Only 1 thing changed.”

  • The songs didn’t change
  • The melodies didn’t change
  • The lyrics didn’t change
  • The production didn’t change
  • The producer didn’t change
  • The record didn’t change


The ONLY thing that changed was the perception!

Listen guys, even with all the right people behind you, the work still has to be done.  In the new music business record labels DO NOT DEVELOP TALENT, they buy small businesses.  You are going to have to prove you are marketable with numbers, not dreams.  So if you’re “waiting” to begin working until you “get in front of some people” or if you’re waiting to begin working until you get “discovered” you’re a dead fish floating downstream.

Don’t be a dead fish, they’re boring and they stink.

Attack this new music market and make a place for yourself because it’s never been easier!

Swim upstream and watch the world come to you!







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All About YOU

All about You ROCK image

By Johnny Dwinell

At least once a week Ill get an email asking What does it take to have a successful music career like _____? The short answer is that there are literally a million ways to skin that cat, but the ONLY common denominator in EVERY success story is the artist. Every successful story in the music business has many facets and crazy subplots but they all have an artist, like you;

so its really ALL ABOUT YOU

You have to know that success in any field is about creating relationships

You have to know that creating relationships is never about what they can do for you rather what you can do to add value to them (so start giving more and asking for less, dummy)

You have to be willing to:

  • Listen
  • Relocate
  • Regroup
  • Change
  • Strategize
  • Risk
  • Be Vulnerable
  • Say No
  • Say Yes
  • WORK (harder than anyone else)
  • Tour
  • Collaborate
  • Be a student of the game
  • Fail

All about You Juice squeeze imageAll these things naturally happen when you have a solid goal and you are REALLY supposed to be there; you find a way to win. Its all about YOU. When YOU really HAVE to be there, the proverbial juice is worth the squeeze.



You have to be willing to weather:

  • Many storms
  • Speed-bumps
  • Setbacks
  • Rejection
  • Devastation
  • Abandonment
  • Assholes
  • Incompetence
  • Paradigm shifts
  • Massive strategic changes
  • Band member changes
  • Betrayal
  • Haters
  • Bad press
  • Passive aggressive Douche-bags

Its all about YOU

Just like you would do ANYTHING to physically survive (i.e. food, shelter, water, oxygen); the same goes for your career.

  • Are you waiting around for someone to come discover you need to eat or do you go find food?
  • Are you waiting around for someone to discover that you need water or do you find a way to hydrate?
  • Are you waiting around for someone to discover you need shelter from the crappy cold snap we just had or have you already found a way to shelter yourself?
  • Are you waiting around for someone to knock on your door and discover that you need a job or have you found work?
  • Are you waiting to be discovered as an artist or are you finding a way to make it happen?

Creating, performing, and simply existing in the artistic community is JUST as essential as breathing for any real artist. I have literally tried SEVERAL times to hang it up (and been very successful in other fields) but I never could leave the music business; its in my blood. I always had a studio in my house. I always maintained my music business relationships.

Unless youre an invalid nobody is going to constantly babysit you for too long, ensuring you eat, sleep, drink, eliminate, shower, work, etc., you have to find a way to do these things for yourself; your survival is all about YOU.

Why the hell do so many so-called artists act like invalids? Why do they believe their existence as artists relies on anyone else other than themselves? Why do so many so-called artists dream to become invalids where they get a big break and press the EZ Button while their entourage dotes over their every need? This doesnt happen in real life and it certainly doesnt happen with real artists.

I dont get it.

All about You How do you do you imageSo my answer to the question, What does it take to have a successful music career like so and so? is the one thing artist love to hear the most!


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How To Deal With Rejection

Rejection Feature

By Johnny Dwinell



We all fear rejection, we all could learn better ways on how to deal with rejection.  Men especially fear not only rejection but also commitment.  As the buyer, a man is reluctant to purchase anything out of fear of commitment.  As the seller, a man is afraid to ask for the sale because he’s afraid of rejection.  If you think about this for a second, it’s amazing that men ever get any business done at all!!  How in the hell did we ever evolve to this level of society with these common social traits?!?!

Rejection LogoTruth is we all have to deal with rejection every day with every aspect of our lives.  I thought I would share a couple (hopefully) helpful ideas, strategies, and anecdotes that you may use as “social tools”, for lack of a better word, to aid you in dealing with rejection.  Once put in the appropriate light, once put in the proper frame of reference, rejection really isn’t so bad and actually becomes quite easy to deal with.  It is truly freeing to your soul.


We all want to be loved; ESPECIALLY artists!  We all need acceptance; ESPECIALLY artists!  It’s such a primal human need that it is literally the cornerstone to all social media companies and all social media marketing; create a tribe.  So I definitely get that what I’m about to describe to you may feel quite difficult to execute on a daily basis; maybe downright incomprehensible.  Good News; it’s literally a muscle and the more you use it, the stronger it gets.  Before you know it, you are behaving subconsciously at a higher level than most and you feel far better about yourself; you will have more clarity.

I submit to you that while I am quite sure there are thousands of studies, published papers, and blah, blah, blah, I am writing strictly about my own experiences in life on this one.  I LIVE by these ideas every day.  I believe that in some instances they keep me from climbing a tower with a gun!  They have always been SUPER effective for me in that I don’t lose sleep over someone rejecting or being aggressive towards me and I have become quite adept at diffusing such situations which just makes for a happier existence.


NO ONE can make you feel like an A-hole without your permission

When I first heard this idea articulated to me in thisdevon 012 language, it clicked.  Confucius says “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” so maybe I was ready to receive this information.  It’s quite amazing (and in some cases entertaining) to watch people’s reaction when you DON’T react to their attacks.  When someone comes at you verbally and you say nothing while simply staring at them with a “What-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you” look on your face, they will inevitably spin out even more; especially if it’s the first time you have behaved in such a way to a particular person.  Listen, when you are being belittled or attacked, simply remind yourself, while the panic starts to set in, that YOU are giving them permission to make you feel bad.

Ask yourself, “Am I coming from a good, honest place?”

Ask yourself, “Do I owe this person some kind of apology?”

If you answer “yes” to the first question, and “no” to the second question, your attacker is trying to get over on you.  This is how attackers get people to perform for them; intimidation.  It will continue to go on throughout mankind as long as it continues to be effective.  It’s only effective when people allow themselves to be manipulated.  Don’t grant the permission and watch them perform for YOU.


The whole world is made up of essentially 2 kinds of people:

Rejection 2 Kinds of PeopleSome people get their energy organically; from the Earth, Sun, moon and water.

Some people get their energy from other people

Sadly, this truth while not fair, is real and you have to understand it to survive; especially as an artist.  We feel better, we thrive, and enjoy being around people who add to our lives, our creativity, our energy.  We deal with, suffer through, and find ways to tolerate and spend even more energy justifying the people who take our energy.  I have always been naturally protective of my energy.  I won’t just give it away; it’s mine and I only have so much of it.


Right now all of you have begun to categorize some people that you interact with on a regular basis!  You see, recognizing this kind of person is half the battle.  Once we can identify those who exist to consistently take from us we simply know them for who they are.  Dealing with a sack full of Pit Vipers is totally doable once you have identified them as Pit Vipers.  When you stick your hand in the bag and you’re surprised they bit you, it’s confusing, hurtful, scary, and difficult to process.  This totally helps when it comes to rising above any kind of rejection.  Once you have learned who and what they are you can adjust your approach and the amount of stock you put in their opinion.  That’s KEY to your sanity, because someone who takes your energy will NEVER have a supportive opinion for you, it would be detrimental to their livelihood and their energy.  Think about that.

Knowing how to identify these people helps when it comes to denying permission for them to make you feel crappy.

They Have an agenda, what is it?

Everybody has an agenda.  YOU have an agenda as well.  Often times we are being rejected because our agenda isn’t harmonious with someone else’s.  Once we can determine WHY exactly the agendas aren’t similar, it turns the sting of rejection into the peacefulness of understanding.  How nice would that be for you?

I have an example.  I used to work in the electronics manufacturing industry and my clients were the top Aerospace and cutting edge electronic companies.  I worked for a small company who’s founder, David Jacks, was a GENIUS; before he started his company Zephyrtronics, he was the Director of Engineering for Rubbermaid (a 7 billion dollar conglomerate) at the age of 27.  He was the one who taught me this lesson about agendas.  David and his partner had invented a super smart machine that would remove and replace these new processor chip packages called the Ball Grid ArrayRejection BGA Package imageAll our competition’s machines were complicated to operate (requiring 1 week of training even!) due to the cameras and X-ray technology on board: these behemoth machines cost around $150,000 each.  David’s machine was so smartly engineered I could get any receptionist with ZERO assembly skills to operate it successfully the first time and it only cost $14,000.

Easy sell right?

Well my first day of demonstrating this machine I had 3 appointments; I also had 3 HATERS.  WTF?  These guys were ruthless!  I would have a room full of assembly techs who were fascinated by how easy and smart this machine was and 1 guy constantly throwing me under the bus every chance he could get.  When my day was over, I was so confused I called David and vented on the phone.

David picked up the phone eager to hear my first report on his new baby, “How did it go?”

I replied, “Freaking TERRIBLE!!”

David quipped, “Let me guess, you had haters.”

I said, “WOW, how did you know?  These guys were terrible to me! I don’t know if I can sell this thing!  I feel like I wanna drive off a cliff right now!”

David responded, “Calm down, calm down!  Johnny, I need you to think, what was their agenda?”

I said, “F**K their agenda I wanna KILL those A-holes!!  I do not understand how we have a process that is smarter, FAR less expensive, easy to operate, SO MUCH better for the company and these guys not only don’t get it, they are aggressively undermining my attempts to demonstrate it and screwing their company in the process!!”

David said, “Look man, THOSE are the guys who just got their companies to purchase the $150,000 machine!  You get it?  They HATE you because even though you are coming from a good place and trying to help them you are also embarrassing them in front of their colleagues; maybe in a career ending way.  FYI, you are going to have one of those at every stop.  Even if we are coming from a good place, we can inadvertently push people’s buttons and they get wound up.  So one must think when one is coming from such a good, helpful place, what is it, exactly, that would get this person so insane with hostility?”


That changed the whole game and my life.  Once I knew who they were and what their agenda was, they just didn’t upset me anymore.  I was prepared for them!  Extrapolate that to your situation right now.  I’ll bet you have haters because you still believe you can be an artist and the haters gave up; so they really aren’t mad at you even though they are venting on you, they are upset with themselves.  The words coming out of their mouths are for them, not you.  Try pointing that out to one of them mid rant…whoa, be prepared for an explosion!

Rejection From Different Agendas:  Don’t Take it Personally

The other kind of rejection is simply where the agendas are different.  As artists we tend to deal with this one often when we are trying to get a record deal or submitting songs to artists or publishing companies.  Simply put, the label or pub company is looking for “blue solo cups” and you are a “red solo cup”.  Artists tend to get mortally wounded upon rejection and we begin spin out and think “why wasn’t my music good enough” when it had nothing to do with quality and everything to do with the fact that you or your song just wasn’t appropriate for what they wanted.  Think of it like buying a guitar.  If you go to Guitar Center and you prefer Gibson over Fender, it’s not because Fenders suck it’s because you are looking for a Gibson.  I think this concept is important when approaching the post mortem analysis after any rejection.

Haters Don’t Really Hate You

So now, when I encounter a hater, the first thought that goes through my head is that I am not going to Rejection FACT Hater imagereact and immediately give this person permission to make me feel bad unless they can demonstrate some way I inadvertently hurt them or did them wrong, in which case I will rectify the situation and apologize.  The next question I ask myself is what kind of person are they?  Are they rattling my chain to try and steal my energy?  If yes, I blow them off, they can’t have it; it’s not their energy to take!  If the answer is no, then I ask myself what is their agenda?  What am I missing that’s so profound this person feels hostile enough to hate on me or be aggressive?  I almost always can ascertain a reason after a few quick questions (which are always effective when someone is hostile at you) and while it almost always diffuses the argumentative situation and saves me from suffering emotionally, it sometimes even helps the aggressor realize why they are behaving so poorly.

I was thinking about this as I walked my dogs this morning.  I hope it helps you.

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6 Songwriter Business Strategies

Songwriting Business Strategies feature

By Johnny Dwinell

When the game is over, the king and the pawn go into the same box.” – Italian Proverb

Songwriter Business Strategies Chess Box image

This can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To me, in a way, it means that life is just a game and we are all relatively equal players who are capable of creating our own futures. As long as we believe we can achieve. As David Lee Roth so eloquently put it, “Life is a full contact sport; nobody gets out alive.” Then we all go into a box when it’s over. So this game requires strategy, some serious, deep, thought followed by action to play it like a king as opposed to a pawn. One of the things I like about professional chess competitions is the timer; it requires action.

So what is your strategy? It’s amazing to me how easy it can be to put together a winning strategy when you have accurate information and common sense.

My next question would be what action will you take to execute this strategy? The timer in your game is ticking; make a move.

The good news is that in the entertainment industry, strategy and action are more important than your talent; thatSongwriter Business Strategies Chess Timer image is to say, a killer strategy and the fearlessness to take action are often THE most important talents an artist possesses. I’m quite sure you all have a few examples swimming around in your head right now of hugely successful artists that you feel have zero talent; you know I’m right. Now you know why. It is a fact that when Kelly and I are considering talent to develop, we will take a mediocre talent with unstoppable drive and massive work ethic over some artist with a HUGE talent who is lazy and wants to press the “easy” button to succeed.


I’ve compiled 6 steps that songwriters can use to create a real strategy for success.


Strategy 1:

Always be writing with no censorship; never pump the brakes on the creative flow of ideas. After you fill up 3 pages Songwriter Business Strategies No Censorship imageof possible lines, then you go back and pick or cultivate the strongest lines to put them together in your song, but you never censor before you put pen to paper. Always be writing because writing is a muscle that needs to be developed. The more you work it out, the stronger it gets. I highly recommend that you purchase The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. Don’t let the “Spiritual” part of the title scare you; there is nothing religious in there. This book offers up a 12 week program that will teach you to get out of your own way artistically when it comes to writing. The link I provided is one retailer, you can find this book anywhere so I provided one link to get you started. J


Strategy 2:

You should be writing with as many different people as possible. Common sense says that the more people you workSongwriter Business Strategies Co Writing Session Image with the more your circle of influence will expand; consequently so will your rolodex. In other words, more people are going to hear your work, which creates more opportunities for your songs on an exponential level. You will always pick up different little tools from different writers that will help your productivity in a writing session.


Strategy 3:

Go Where the Food Is – If you are trying to be a serious songwriter from Des Moines, IA, then the talent pool is Songwriting Business Strategies Sam Kinison understandably going to be shallow; again, common sense. I know this is true because all the serious writers from Des Moines live in LA, NYC, or Nashville.

Why don’t you? After all, this is where the business is happening. One can’t go shark hunting in Des Moines, because there are no sharks, right?


Strategy 4:

Songwriter Business Strategies Always Someone imageWrite with people who are better than you. You need mentors to mentally expand your grasp on the craft of songwriting; and it is a craft. These mentors will mentally expand your understanding of the business end as well. If you are working with people who are not as serious about the work as you are, you have stopped moving forward. You have to set up your game to achieve momentum. I promise you will not achieve momentum through the mail.

No publisher is going to hear the song you sent in and call you in your little town to deliver the good news; this is a fairy tale, not real life. In real life, ANY progress in ANY industry is built on relationships. All Ford automobiles come with Firestone tires because of a 100 year old relationship between Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. Relationships with other writers, with publishers, with music supervisors, with artists, with producers, with label executives, etc, are what is going to create opportunity and momentum for you. BTW, publishers are no longer developing writers just like labels aren’t developing talent. That was 10 years ago. The only way anyone gets a publishing deal these days is if they have some sort of social proof that their songs have value in the marketplace, i.e. a hit song. Before you get yourself a hit, you are not going to get a publishing deal.


Strategy 5:

You need to write with as many artists as possible. Be a student of the game. Think like a king, and you’ll play like a Songwriter Business Strategies Student of the game imageking. Thinks like a pawn, and you’ll play like a pawn. Record labels are not developing talent because they are no longer making money on the records. Labels need other revenue streams. Back in the 90s, artists like Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, and Garth Brooks, who didn’t write their own material, could exist and thrive on a major label because the labels made millions off of record sales. If you really look at country music in the last decade you will see that all the newer successful acts write or co-write their own material (Lady A, Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift, Brantley Gilbert, Jamey Johnson, etc.). Major labels have gravitated towards this business model of signing artists who write or co-write their own material because they can demand publishing from an artist who has it to give. Thus, labels create a very important revenue stream that is integral to the 360 record deals.

Creating real relationships with up-and-coming artists is now the way you are going to break yourself as a songwriter. Hell, it’s the way many artists like Jamey Johnson have broken themselves, through writing hit songs with other artists. Does this make sense? You want one of those artists to get some traction with your song; it just takes one and then everyone in town will think you mean money.


Strategy 6:

Be realistic and aware of the market you are writing for; a KILLER song where the lyrics are outdated is not going to Songwriter Business Strategies Market Awarenessget any attention because those lyrics aren’t currently selling. For instance, country songs in the 90’s were very story oriented like Tim McGraw’s Don’t Take the Girl. in the first verse the boy is 8 years old, in the second verse, he’s 18 years old, in the last verse he’s 23. Compare that to one of Tim’s more recent hits, One of These Nights, and you can see a definite change in the lyric style. These styles trend like anything else and staying on top of the trends will help you increase opportunities for your songs. The fact is while Don’t Take the Girl was a #1 hit in the 90s, it wouldn’t fly in today’s market.

People will always tell you that you need to get lucky, even hit writers in this town will say that. The reality is that Songwriting Business Strategies Prep Plus opp imagethose hit writers and you will have created their own luck. Have you ever heard the old adage “the harder I work, the luckier I get”? Luck is defined as: preparation meets opportunity. Strategically speaking, you need to ensure that you are not only preparing, but preparing intelligently, i.e. moving forward and learning from good professionals. If you position yourself in an environment that is rife with opportunity, your day will come; you’ll get the lucky opportunity and be prepared with the perfect song to take advantage of that opportunity!

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6 Ways to Create Cashflow On YouTube

Create Cashflow On YouTube spicket image

By Johnny Dwinell

Josh Rice is a monster on YouTube. He is having a hell of a time doing what he wants and loves to do; making music and writing songs. He started posting songs on YouTube in 2009 and has grown that initial artistic spiritual risk into a regular business with at least 5 or 6 cash registers that when combined, make him a decent living.

Wanna give a shout out to Jason Jerzewski for turning me on to this. THANK YOU! LOVE IT!

I just watched this video of Louis Howes interviewing Josh about how he is making a living as a writer and a musician on YouTube; HE BREAKS IT ALL DOWN MAN. He starts from the beginning and lets us all in on what he had to do to INVENT this future of his. I LOVE this kid!!! FYI, Josh doesnt know squat about the internet, HTML, coding, etc., hes just a singer and a writer.

This means you can do it too.

Heres the video link:

I dig that hes not waiting around to be discovered.

I dig that hes not letting the disintegrating music industry become a speed-bump on his journey to artistic success.

I dig that hes INVENTING his own future as an artist!

This is what YOU need to do.

Too many of you are not grabbing the bull by the horns here. You are basing your future on the dying business model of the old record industry. You dont need a label, you dont need to be discovered, you dont need to wait for your big break; you just need to write and/or sing! JUST DO IT. Create your own artistic business. Build it and they will come! Josh Rice is proof that this is really possible! I love how Josh was raised in Washington State, and moved to New York City, then Los Angeles, before ultimately landing in Nashville to pursue his musical dreams; he wasnt afraid. In the new music business, artists careers will be built from the bottom up, not the top down. Its a harder road, but the reward is the journey.

Look, I KNOW how artists think, so if your success as an artist or writer is dependent on ANYTHING that you feel is outside of your control, you are consciously or subconsciously using that as an excuse to wait; to protect yourself from the unknown. Think about it. Yeah, now you are admitting to yourself that you really need not wait for anything or anybody.

This video INSPIRED me, man! I LOVE IT when somebody pulls the curtain back on all this new Wizard of Oz shit and shows us how they succeeded.

This video interview is 43:45 long and if you want to be a player at all you should watch the whole thing. Partly because the information is so vital to your artistic success, but MOSTLY because this Josh Rice is so much like you and me!! This kid is just using a little fearlessness, hustle, and common sense to make a living with his music. If he can YOU CAN TOO!

Again, you should watch the whole thing because its worth it, but I broke down some of the key points for yall if your pressed for time.

4:50 he gets into collaboration with other huge YouTube stars and how that helped him grow a following. Remember when I said you need to surround yourself with people that are smarter and farther along than you? Boom! This is a perfect example of how that helps you flourish.

7:30 Josh discusses how many times he was rejected by some of these YouTube stars and how that was good karma. He CONTINUED to create relationships.

9:20 he discusses how he had to learn everything. He goes into how his first videos werent even synced with the audio so they sucked but he didnt care, he just kept on getting BETTER. He learned the audio program by himself and actually took an online course to hone his video editing/production skill-set.

11:05 he reveals numbers. He talks about his subscriber numbers and how many views he has had.

11:38 he discusses how his goals changed once he got into working his plan. I huge reason was that he kept writing songs and they were being hacked. So he changed his plan to adapt to problems that were occurring.

16:00 REVENUE STREAMS Josh discusses the different revenue streams he has created and how none them look very pretty by themselves, but put together he is able to make a good living. Those revenue streams include:

  • iTunes sales of his own music
  • iTunes sales of covers that he has licensed.
  • Ad revenue from the hits on YouTube
  • Streaming revenue
  • Merchandise Revenue
  • Mechanical Royalties from the cover songs

22:44 Josh Discusses how he was able to obtain more traffic to his videos.

24:00 He discusses how he did it RIGHT. The YouTube, Twitter, and Google algorithms are constantly evolving so the old tricks of putting porn keywords into the metadata no longer works. The key is to put out REALLY GOOD material! That will go viral.

25:25 Keywords process / promotion strategies

28:00 Website to drive traffic.

29:10 Psychology behind driving clicks

30:00 How often he is posting videos

31:10 Approaches to building a brand and working on YouTube.

36:30 Strategies behind likes, comments, favorites, and subscribing.

39:20 Related videos, gaming the system, all this doesnt matter anymore with search rankings.

40:30 How YouTube is ranking now.

Hope this provides some inspiration for Y’all!



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DIY Artist Development

Artist Development Artist development image

By Johnny Dwinell


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

You Are Responsible For Your Artist Development

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

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

YOU need to ensure that your recordings are simply incredible.

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

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

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

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

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

All artists need to be developed; they need to be encouraged and inspired to mature. Inspiration comes in many forms, but as a former artist, I can tell you that oftentimes when it comes it takes the form of someone pushing you beyond your comfort zone and it tends to PISS YOU OFF. Jesus, did I get wound up sometimes, but the people pushing me were right; if I wasnt uncomfortable then I wasnt trying anything new, which means I wasnt growing.

If youre not growing youre not serious; period.

Dont get comfortable.

Lets take Bruce Springsteen for example. His big record was Born to Run which was his third record. Most Artist Development Born To Run imagepeople dont remember the first 2 records which were Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. and The Wild the Innocent & the E Street Shuffle. Most people DO remember Manfred Manns Earth Band #1 hit Blinded by the Light which was written by Bruce Springsteen and appeared on the Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. record. I remember listening to an interview with the singer from Manfred Mann where he was asked why he stopped covering Bruce Springsteen songs (they also did a version of Spirit in the Night) and he said that after the 2nd record, Bruce had gotten so good at the writing he really couldnt mess around with the songs and make them better anymore. BTW, Bruce wrote Blinded by the Light and Spirit in the Night AFTER he submitted his first record to the label and Columbia said go back and write some songs that can be played on the radio SO YOU CAN COMPETE PROFESSIONALLY (pushing him out of his comfort zone). He was forced to play ball or lose his deal. Are you approaching your career this way? I encourage you to go and listen to the first 2 Springsteen records and write down the lyrics and then see for yourself how he gets it right on the 3rd record; he developed. BTW, the second verse of Blinded by the Light was all about his frustration with getting people in the bars to pay attention to him during his performances proving that he didnt walk onstage for the first time as a ROCK GOD; he developed. Similarly, check out the first 2 Bon Jovi records and compare them to the 3rd record Slippery When Wet. The difference is Polygram (his record label) understood his raw talent and put him with a hit songwriter named Desmond Child to improve the quality of the songs on the 3rd record; consequently Bon Jovi, Sambora, and Child co wrote You Give Love a Bad Name and Livin on a Prayer. These became the 1st 2 singles for the record and they would both go to #1.

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


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

Artist Development Requires Mentorship

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

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

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

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

The team is more important than the studio.

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

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

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

You more than likely have a job right now and youre good at it Ill bet, just imagine how you feel about people who come into your workplace and simply dont get what you do or what they have to do to get it right. How do you feel about them? Yeah, yeah, you may say I would help them out. Maybe thats your job is training people. Labels, publishers, managers, bloggers, everyone in the professional music industry gets HUNDREDS of submissions a day, so Helping them all out is quite impossible. So you pass because they arent ready.

You wanna be a pro, then look like a pro, sound like a pro, and show up with a professional product and behave like a professional. Take your time looking for your team. Dont just take the first guy down the street who has a pro-tools rig and make him your producer. LISTEN to what he has recorded in the past. Find out what lengths hes willing to go to make something amazing. Make SURE he/she is enthusiastic!!

I remember my 1st recording experience in Milwaukee, WI when I was in High School. We would finish a take and ask the engineer, how was that? He would respond, Did you think it sounded good? We would say, Fuck yeah! Were awesome! We were really good but we were green. We didnt know. There was reverb on the bass guitar for Artist Development Baby O Recorders imageGods sake!!! I remember taking these recordings to LA to get them professionally mixed because WE WANTED TO BE GOOD. I remember the producers I used had mixed Black & Blue, and The Vinnie Vincent Invasion along with some other major label records. I remember making a killer deal on the phone for a flat rate to mix 3 songs (those cost a fortune back then FYI, there was no Pro Tools) and those guy saying, How bad could it be? I remember hanging in the lounge of Baby O Recorders on Sunset next to David Hasselhoff who was also recording there. I remember them coming out of the studio PISSED because there was reverb on the bass LOL. So embarrassing!! Im quite sure they didnt make any money off of me, because it took forever to clean up our stupid mistakes. They did it though. Our recording was kick ass! We ended up getting tons of spins on a local radio station that played the real heavy stuff. We sounded better than most of the other crap they were playing. You get it?

STOP telling yourself why it wont work and START asking, What has to happen to make this a reality?

Henry Ford stated Theres a man who thinks he can and a man who thinks he cant. Both men are right. Which man are you?

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

Be fearless!!

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You Don’t Need Radio To Make A Living

radio on the air image

By Johnny Dwinell

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

The hustle started back in the 50s oddly enough with the invention of the TV set. Radio moved from dramatic programming to a top 40 music format. Consequently DJs exploded around the country as more and more music was being produced. Shortly after this happened, we got the Payola Scandal. Record promoters, working for record labels, had DJs in their back pockets offering Drugs, booze, and broads to the DJs in exchange for a guaranteed amount of spins. The subsequent scandal arose after the disgrace of the rigged game show 21 (You may remember the movie Quiz Show about this particular scandal). Once the Government was under public pressure for the dishonorable game show behavior, the radio outrage was next on the congressional agenda. The problem with payola for huge record companies like CBS was that CBS also owned radio stations and TV stations; which required massively lucrative broadcasting licenses. When the government threatened to pull the broadcasting licenses from any station accused of payola, these corporations had to change their strategies; after all, the record labels only accounted for maybe 3% of the gross corporate revenue. So, DJs like Alan Freed (who coined the phrase Rock & Roll) were fired for being a threat to the corporation along with any promoters who worked for the labels. Payola didnt go away. It just morphed into a 3rd party company system or Independent Promotion instead of all inclusive of the record labels.

Radio Promotion

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Start your own little label that will take care of only YOU. Its mathematically proven. You just dont know how to do it yet.

Walter Yetnikoff gets it:

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

Heres a cool article on Joe Isgro and Hit Men:,,317976,00.html

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

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Are You Paying Attention To The Losers?

By Johnny Dwinell

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


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


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

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

You have to develop yourself.

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

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

How are we going to do that you ask?

By studying the losers; FYI, theres a lot.

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

Here it is:

Now, how does this associate with the music business?

What do we have to learn from the losers?

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

Only 10% were profitable.

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

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

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

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

Want some proof?

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

Want some more?

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

A Radio Promo Budget Doesn’t Mean Success

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

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

Just ask the RIAA and Danny Goldberg.

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