Tag Archive for: music team

Kindergartener Feature MEME

What the hell does 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, a marshmallow and a Kindergartener have to do with your artist career?


Answer: Everything.Kindergartener Marshmallow Challenge


These were the raw materials presented to several different 4-person groups with a specific challenge.


The Challenge: Each group has 18 minutes to build the tallest freestanding structure they could with the given materials but the marshmallow has to be on top.


In Tom Wujec’s captivating TED Talk, he explains that this task seems simple enough, but it’s actually pretty hard because it forces people to collaborate quickly. Wujec mentions that there is something about this exercise that reveals deep lessons about the nature of collaboration and I would add, the nature of creativity.


Kindergartener Tom Wujec Challenge

Creativity in creating art.




Creativity in marketing art.


Kids Kindergarten Marshmallow GraphTypically, each team spends the first minutes of their precious time orienting themselves to the task. They talk about how the structure will look. They also jockey for position and rank amongst the team (I always say in any band, somebody has to be John, somebody has to be Paul, somebody has to be George, and somebody has to be Ringo…but I digress).


Then the group begins planning, organizing, and they lay out the spaghetti.


Next, the group will spend the majority of their time assembling the sticks into ever-growing structures and finally, as the clock is winding down, somebody grabs the marshmallow and gingerly puts it on top; Ta-Da!


Kindergartener Ta-Da







Then they stand back and admire their work, but what mostly happens is the “Ta-Da” moment turns into an “Uh-Oh” as the weight of the marshmallow buckles the poorly designed structure and it collapses.


Kindergartener Uh Oh


They could try to do it again, but they’re out of time.




What’s interesting is that the same groups have more “Uh-Oh” moments than others.


The group that consistently performs the worst are recent graduates of business school.


Kid Kindergarten GraduateThe group that consistently has more “Ta-Da” moments during these experiments are recent graduates of Kindergarten.





Even more compelling is not only do these 5-year-olds constantly produce the tallest reliable structures, they also produce the most creatively interesting structures.


Whoa! You must be asking yourself, why?


There are a few reasons. The first is that none of the 5-year-olds spend any time trying to be CEO of Spaghetti Inc., they don’t jockey for power and prestige amongst the group.


Kindergarten Making Stuff Politics



That’s a gripping statistic all by itself. The Kindergarteners don’t overthink the project or the social structure within the group, they just get down the business of making cool stuff!




What’s more enthralling is that business students are trained to find the single right plan and then they execute on it. Therefore, they put the marshmallow on the top at the end. Then it fails but they’re out of time so it becomes a CRISIS!


Kindergarten Start With The Marshmallow MEMEWhat the Kindergarteners do differently is they start with the marshmallow. They are always putting the marshmallow on top, failing, then tweaking the prototype and attempting again. So, their “uneducated” process is to prototype-refine, prototype-refine, and so on until they run out of time. But by then they’ve figured out a couple ways NOT to do it and stumbled onto a successful design.



The Kindergartener’s process supplies instant feedback about what works and what doesn’t work and they adjust accordingly.


They learn from the previous failures.


Kindergarten Marshmallow Graph EDIT



Kindergarteners regularly outperformed groups of business school graduates, lawyers, and CEO’s of fortune 50 companies. The only group that habitually beat the kids were architects and engineers.






Even more interesting is that the CEO’s performance was greatly improved if an executive administrator was added into the mix. This was because the Executive admins have special skills of facilitation. They manage the process.


Kindergarten Marshmallow Graph



Fascinating, right?





Ask yourself how educated and how effective you are on managing different processes in your career. If you’re lacking GET HELP.


Kindergarten Failure MEME Learn from



I think some of you behave like business school graduates with regards to creating your art. You’ve been taught to do that, so you must unlearn it. JUST DO IT. Just keep writing and tinkering until you start to create something that works. This approach will also help you with the occasional bouts of apathy or writer’s block as well. Set aside some time to be creative and then…create!




Not for nothing, this is how John Lennon and Paul McCartney honed their songwriting skills. Admittedly, their first 50-150 songs (depending on the interview you read) were complete rubbish.


Kindergarten Lennon McCartney MEME



Most of you behave like business school graduates when it comes to marketing your music. In this case, society and the inaccurate little stories you tell yourselves about marketing are the “education” that is crippling your performances.




Because your (understandable) negative feelings and reactions to poor marketing or the idea of marketing are so strong, you choose not to learn about marketing. It’s easier to tell yourself that someone will discover you and they’ll take care of necessary “finding your audience” part of the equation.


Kindergarten Salesman MEMEI wanted to share this TED Talk with you because marketing for each artist is always unique. Fans often react to attributes we weren’t thinking about when we market our artists here at Daredevil Production.




Thus, with your marketing, you should expect a boatload of failure just like the Kindergarteners.


Kindergarten Prototype Refine Repeat MEME



Refine your failed approach, try something new, and repeat.




This is the formula for success with marketing your music which allows you to connect with your audience.


Kindergarten Experiment With Marketing MEME



Do you see how it’s just like writing a song? “Well, that didn’t work, would it be better if we did this?”





The market reality is that MOST artists either choose not to market or they market their music poorly.


We don’t see, hear, or talk anything about the artists who choose not to market, do we?


Kindergarten No See Hear or Talk Monkeys



Read that one more time and let it sink in.





What’s more concerning is that, as humans, we predictably react depressingly to the artist that have crappy marketing techniques.


Again, MOST artists (and labels) don’t know what they’re doing online so it’s freaking EVERYWHERE we turn!


Kindergarten Psychadelic Skull & Bones MEME

This barrage of noise and negative anti-marketing-matter creep into our psyches and we subconsciously develop an aversion towards marketing.






Marketing makes us sick.


But the secret lies in the fact that the artists who can identify this dynamic within themselves and begin to shamelessly prototype different marketing approaches will TOWER over their competition. They’ll dominate quickly as well.


It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it isn’t rocket science either. It’s just work.


Kindergarten No Mistakes in Marketing



You’ll figure it out if you just have the courage and scientific approach of a Kindergartener.




This isn’t the old record business where a failure would ruin your career (Think Billy Squier’s “Rock Me Tonight” video) because it was broadcast to a huge audience.


No, this is the new music business. A failure means NOBODY SAW IT so you’re right where you started; undiscoverable. No blood no foul.


Now, the question is, are you smarter than a Kindergartener?












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Audience Feature MEME

Audience Collect The Contact DataMany of you have now become aware of different indie artist self-help gurus and they have one common message; collect contact data.




Not for nothing, major label artists, famous people, actors, radio stations, ministers (big and small God’s children all God’s children), film studios, and TV networks could all change their worlds forever with this marketing strategy.


The tactic is called Permission Marketing.


Audience Permission Marketing


I’ve written about this before, but in this article, I’m going to focus on a little perspective and then some real-world applications so y’all can get a better grasp of how it would help you.




Here’s the whole idea of Permission Marketing in one quick sentence.


“Permission Marketing is the concept that the future value of a fan is worth FAR more than .99 cents or $10.99 the old music business would have us collect from them right now.”


Audience PM Definition MEME




Does that make sense?





Audience Broadcasting Success MEMEThe old methodology to break an artist was blasting the message about the artist via many different mass media channels. As tens of millions of people are exposed to the artist’s work via radio, TV, print mediums, and live shows, we would get a small percentage of new fans to become aware of that artist or song. Once a single person has been exposed to the artist via mass media at least 7 or 8 times (which requires massive frequency in the message) the more we will begin to convert those new fans into paying customers.


Right now, too many of you subscribe to this archaic promotion method. It doesn’t work anymore.


Want proof?


How are your sales?


How’re the record businesses sales?



Audience Your Sales Suck Image

The Record businesses sales suck and so do yours. Guess what, it’s not working.




Yikes. Sorry, but I’m trying to be real here.


Here’s the issue with the old method in a nutshell.


There are no masses anymore. The conversion rates have ALWAYS been small percentages. But mass media was super powerful despite the low percentage of conversions because the masses were so BIG!


Now they’re infinitesimal and growing smaller every day.


How big were the masses back in the day?


When the Beatles performed their American television debut on The Ed Sullivan Show February 6th, 1964 there were 78 million people watching that show! If 1% of the people converted (I believe that percentage was insanely higher but I digress), that means 780,000 people went out and purchased a record the next day.


Audience Conversion MEME







How infinitesimal are they now?


Today one of our biggest hit TV shows is The Walking Dead. Their audience is about 3-5 million people. So, if it were a music oriented show, that means a 1% conversion rate would get you about 30,000-50,000 in sales, but the conversions are much lower than 1%, therefore it would be less.




Yeah, the Beatles stuck out like a sore thumb in 1964 for various SIGNIFICANT reasons:

  • They towered over a VERY small pool of artistic competition with incredibly amazing art.Audience Clutter 3,500 Messages image
  • The people they were reaching were not inundated with 3,500 ad messages per day, not even close.
  • Thousands of incredible and wannabe artists were not clogging the ad channels with their art.
  • The day after their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show the masses all heard the single on the radio because they didn’t have choices in the car; they had to listen.
  • There were only 3 channels on TV for the whole country and probably 1 maybe 2 choices for radio in any given city.


Do you see how much everything has changed?


Here’s a real world practical example of how Permission Marketing will change your life. I’m going to break it down from a more exposed indie artist all the way down to an artist that is early on their journey so follow me on this.


I received a call from one of the highest profile artists we’ve ever explored a relationship with, who I think gets Permission Marketing.


He’s a 28-year-old MBA, entrepreneur, rap artist, and TV personality.


Audience Shawn Satellite MEMEHe said something like this, “Johnny, I cut my teeth on multiple MTV shows where I was the host. I’m currently signed with Disney as I am a cast member on a new ABC reality show. I just dropped a single featuring Snoop Dog, we’re shooting the video next week. I parlayed all that heat into a new reality show on Bravo (which isn’t in production yet). I sold out 5,000 tickets for a show last New Year’s Eve. Oh, and I’ll know in the next 2 weeks if I get the lead role in a feature film for a major franchise (because it’s between me and one other guy). So, tell me, how would your marketing approach apply to me?”



Here’s what I said.


“Let’s suppose that we were working together from the beginning of your MTV days. We would scrub the internet looking for everybody that hash-tagged you or mentioned your name. They’re easy to find and the social media mentions would be busy during the airing of any given episode. Now depending on what your idea of fame is (meaning doAudience Shawn Explanation MEME you feel like following somebody first is smart or do you feel following somebody first will undermine your fame?) we go out and follow them all. Then, to the ones who follow us back, we offer a free song download or something valuable to them. Now we own the information. If we did that for both MTV shows, the new ABC show, collected information during your sold-out NYE show, and the Bravo show how many contacts would we have?  Oh, let’s not forget the Snoop Dog single! If you’re in the video with him, that’s instant credibility for you. Snoop’s social media wells are the gift that will keep on giving. After all that, could we maybe have 1 million emails? NOW, apply that power to the conversations you’re having with the huge feature film franchise. If it’s between you and one other guy, it’s safe to say that they like your acting chops, they like your look, but the only thing they need to figure out is who is going to fit better. What if you had 1 million contacts who are rabidly awaiting your next message that would directly receive the trailer and some BTS access during shooting? THAT’s TICKET SALES. THAT’S MONEY! THAT’S POWER!”


Do you see what I’m getting at here?


Are you picking up what I’m putting down?


Can you even vaguely see how having the contact list would tip the scales in this situation?


the more an artist gets directly connected to his fans the less he needs 3rd party entities to connect him with an audience.


He’ll still need those 3rd party entities to help him create and distribute his art, but can you envision how drastically the role of that 3rd party changes when he comes to the table with an audience that he can contact at will?


Audience The Bigger The Artists Audience MEME

The bigger his audience, the more power he has.




These 3rd party entities are TV networks, TV production companies, record labels, movie studios, radio stations, corporate sponsorships, branding and co-branding opportunities, etc.


Audience iPhone MEMEEnvision the record labels coming to you because you have an audience, you can quantify that audience, and you can contact them directly.


What would that do for an actor?


An actor with 1 million contacts could take on indie film pet-projects and get immediate funding because the investors would know that they already had an audience to recoup their money.


What would that do for a minister?


I was interviewing a potential new intern this past week. His resume showed me that while he was interested in the music business, he was deeply involved in his church and had some ideas about being a minister.


Audience Preacher MEME


Can you imagine the work you could accomplish if you were a minister with 1 million contacts? Get everyone to donate $1 To build schools or houses in Haiti. Boom, just like that you’re on your way! They know you. You have their permission to reach out because your content is relevant and personal to them, it’s consistent, and they trust you to be a good steward of their money. Of course, you would need to spend a small portion of that money ensuring that you document what their $1 investment did for them, but that position would be quite powerful.






Audience Crowdfunding Collage




Permission Marketing is the mother of crowdfunding. If you do a good enough job with the permission, you arguably wouldn’t need a crowdfunding platform, you could just take the money because they trust you with it.


What about on a smaller indie artist level?


Audience Bailey James Instagram



Well, I have a 14-year-old artist named Bailey James. She currently has about 39,000 followers on Instagram. When we started with her she had about 100 or so.  Her Instagram account is large and engaged so she now gets paid good money post stuff on her account. She’s considered an influencer. Bailey has played 3 shows so far. She is in the early stages of her artistic journey, but her audience is strong and growing every day.




Audience Bailey Fan Accounts 1

Bailey has over 20-30 fan created social media fan accounts.





I’m relatively sure that’s more than most of you. See the power in the strategy?


Audience Bailey Fans 2




Her strength in social media has gotten her many opportunities with PR companies, musicians, and corporate relations.  For instance, her relationship with The Jason Foundation was largely due to her social media audience. That relationship with JFI has led us to a decently paid, full-production gig during CMA week for a private fundraiser.





Bailey has a contact list but it’s small right now. That list will probably triple during her first radio tour this summer.


What if you’re an indie artist who plays a ton of shows?


Man, if you’re not collecting contact info at every show, you’re an idiot. I don’t care if there are 5 people at the show, those numbers add up over time. Think about how many shows you play per year and your average audience size. Add up those numbers. It becomes quite clear that touring artists have a massive opportunity to grow a list if they just understood what was right in front of them. Even for a weekend warrior, you’d have 10’s of thousands of contacts after just 1 short year.


Imagine an indie artist with just 100,000 contacts, which is TOTALLY doable in less than 2 years for a band that plays every weekend. What brands would be interested in a direct rifle shot into the hands of 100,000 people that are waiting to hear what the artist will say, sing, play, wear, drink, eat, watch, etc.?


Audience Collecting at Live Shows MEME

How much could that artist make with one video message?




What about a TV network or production company?


Imagine possessing a massive list of people who love a specific kind of content like zombie thrillers. Now you can email them directly to make them aware of your new show for free.


Do you see how this is so important?


Bottom line, the bigger your audience, the more power you have. Your audience will grow slowly so get going on it immediately.


The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second-best time is right now.


Grow your audience, increase your power, increase your income.









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Marketing Tweaks Feature MEME

Marketing Tweaks Chess Challenges MEMEMost great indie artists have incredible art but experience challenges connecting to new fans because their marketing approach needs tweaking.


There is a healthy contingent of artists who are legitimately trying to market but are naively going about it the wrong way.


A keen understanding of marketing is exactly what will put the power in your hands and that power is more than you can imagine.


Marketing Tweaks Power In Your Hands



Yes, you the artist, can hold all the cards if you simply make a few tweaks in your philosophy of marketing.



I wanted to provide some clarity to indie music marketing with this article.


First, indie artists must understand, as basic as this is, the difference between distribution and marketing.





Putting your song up on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, Bandzoogle, Bandcamp, Reverbnation, and YouTube, etc. is distribution.






Distribution is WHERE consumers will go to purchase or consume something.


Marketing is WHY the consumer is going there to purchase it.


Marketing Tweaks Marketing Stage MEME


For instance, most of you have probably made a purchase on Amazon. They are a distributor. But you didn’t buy the product because it was on Amazon, did you? You weren’t just randomly “shopping” by scrolling through Amazon web pages when you came across this shiny thing that made you pull out your credit card.




No, you were marketed to first. You were made aware of the product and somehow your buying decision was influenced enough to want to purchase it. That’s marketing!


Then you chose to go to Amazon to get it. That’s distribution.


Big Difference.


I want you to think about marketing your music with that story in mind. What is going to get people excited enough to learn more about you and your music?


Marketing Tweaks Growth Seedling MEME


Putting your original songs up on YouTube is distribution. The only people who are going to experience that music are already aware of you as an artist. Think about that. This approach is not getting you into growth.




Marketing your music is not JUST about making sure your current fans are aware of any new releases.


Marketing for the indie artist is about finding new people to expose your music too.


The previous statement may sound ridiculously elementary to some of you, but you’re not using the tools you currently have in the correct manner to grow your audience.


I know this because I see it every day with almost ALL indie artists as well as signed artists!!


One slight tweak in your approach on YouTube changes everything.


Marketing Tweaks Find MEME Possessed



Post a video of you interpreting a cover song that is popular right now. This cover song will generate a ton of traffic and a small percentage of people who are looking for the original artist’s video will stumble across your version and watch it.




That equals new people watching you as an artist. That’s growth.


Not only are they experiencing your spin on a song they are already familiar with, but because they know the song, their subconscious focus is on your interpretation.


The information that is coming through as they watch is your artistry.


Marketing Tweaks End Card Template YouTube


If you’re good, people will respond. Not for nothing, often by doing this important work you’ll find things that people respond to that you weren’t aware you posessed.


If you ask them, they’ll subscribe.


If you’re smart, you’ll give them a free download in exchange for their email address so you own the information. More on that later.


If they learn to like YOU, the artist, then they’ll be far more likely to listen to your original music. When they do listen, they’ll have an open mind and an open heart because your cover rendition won their heart and they’re prepared to love you.


This is marketing on YouTube.


If you think about it, it’s not that different from American Idol or The Voice, is it?


Marketing Tweaks The Voice Traffic MEME


It’s important to note that in a situation like TV, old popular covers will be effective because the TV show is bringing the new people to see the artist. The TV show is providing the traffic but on YouTube the new songs are what is driving the traffic.


Get it?




Always ask yourself, where’s the traffic coming from? This will influence your song choices.


Second, let’s talk about social media.


Most indie artists copy their idols’ social media behaviors. They have posts doing this or that on stage or behind the scenes, etc.


Marketing Tweaks BLIND



This method is important but you need to recognize that it only supports the fans who are aware of you as an artist. Think about it, if they don’t know you, how are they going to see a post like that?





Don’t get me wrong, this is an important piece of your social media strategy, but only for your current fans. This method does little if anything for expanding your audience.


To market on social media means getting your content in front of new people that aren’t currently aware of you.


This requires a different thought process and execution strategy.


Take off your artist hat and put on your record label executive hat just for a second.


Marketing Tweaks MC X Factor MEME


You just signed the greatest baby act in the world; YOU.


But nobody knows about this new artist so how are you going to get that artist in front of a new targeted group of people who will probably like your artist’s music?




Well, let’s say this new artist you signed (you) is a rap artist. In the interest of clear communication, let’s give your new artist a name; MC X Factor.


Right off the bat, we have TONS of rap artists with faithful followers on all their social media accounts.


But let’s drill down some more.


What kind of rap artist is MC X Factor, exactly?


Marketing Tweaks Lil' Wayne Album Cover

If money and connections were no object, what rap artist would you put MC X Factor on tour with because the headliner’s audience would relate to MC X Factor’s music?






Don’t look now but you are in the process of defining your artist’s audience.


Once you have determined exactly who they are, now you have to find where they hang out.


This is called targeting.


If MC X Factor would absolutely CRUSH it on tour with Lil’ Wayne because his fans would love your artist’s music, then start following people that follow Lil’ Wayne on Twitter and Instagram.


Marketing Tweaks Love Them First MEME


Love them first. (See how it’s always about them?)




Be the first to reach out, shake hands, and say “Hello”.


A decent percentage of these new people will follow you back and hang if you have interesting content.


Don’t try and slam your mix tape down their throats immediately after they follow you back because they will unfollow you.


You would hate that too, right?


Marketing Tweaks start a Conversation MEME

What if when they followed you back you asked a question about THEM? You already have common ground in that you both like in Lil’ Wayne. Start there.  Between current news, tracks he’s featured on, lyrics, artistry, etc. you have a truck load of content to start a conversation.




What if you focused on at least the first exchange being about THEM and not you? That will forge a solid first impression.


This is creating a relationship with someone new. This is getting you into growth.


Marketing Tweaks Stupid FB Posts



Y’all are perfectly happy bitching about politics and your personal lives on your social media platforms to people who don’t give a crap. I assure you this method is easier and far more effective because everyone is interested in talking about themselves.




It’s little steps. Baby steps.


But these little gains every day add up over time.


The bigger your social media grows and the more you engage with that audience, the more attractive you become to new potential fans and the industry.


Marketing Tweaks OWN the info MEMEThird, how about your live shows?


What are you doing to ensure that you OWN everyone’s contact info after they’ve experienced your live show?



You may have followers, but you DON’T OWN your social media contacts so that’s not enough!


I’m going to repeat that because it’s SO important. YOU DON’T OWN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA CONTACTS!


You could have 5 million followers on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter but you don’t own them, the respective platforms do and it will cost you to contact all of them.


Marketing Tweaks World In Your Hand


Social media and YouTube are amazing vehicles to target audiences and connect with them but you must take it a step further and convert them into a contact that you own.





Want to be a mogul? OWN THE INFORMATION.


Y’all already know about Facebook and how few people see your posts unless you pay.


Get a squeeze page and work around that problem.


For live shows get a text capture technology. It’s super inexpensive.


Marketing Tweaks Permission Marketing MEME


Permission Marketing is simply the idea that the lifetime value of a fan is worth exponentially more than the .99 cents or $10.99 you’re trying to shake them down for right now.



You’re supposed to be an entertainer of some sort. Entertain them on social media and get them to love you.


Find new people to entertain every day.


Then capture their info and deepen that relationship.


An artist with tens of thousands of engaged contacts is quite powerful to the industry, to brands, and to other artists.


Once you accept this as the one viable method to grow your brand and expose your artistry, you’ll become discoverable and be on your way to making a living.









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Suffering Feature MEME

Because your suffering is incredibly safe.

Suffering image 1




You like to be safe.


We’re all hard-wired that way, you know.




I’ll explain.


Survival Safe Means Survival Key MEME


Thousands of years ago the species that took unnecessary risks were obliterated. The crazy species didn’t survive but the species who could find the safest way of living survived long enough to have kids. The more kids they had the stronger the herd became.



Safe equaled survival.


Safe equaled healthy.


Get it? You’re wired up that way.


Now think about how incredibly lucky you are.

Suffering Crying Heart


It’s not 1654.


You’re not a serf.


You’re not a slave.


You’re relatively healthy.


You get to eat whenever you want.


You’re living a life of unprecedented freedom.


You are safe.


So why do you love to suffer when it comes to your art?


Suffering Safe Closet MEME



Because it’s safe.





The story you tell yourself is that nobody in this crappy industry wants to buy your kind of music or art from a person like you. You’re an outsider. Until they “let you in” you’re going to stand over her with the rest of the ignored artists and suffer.


It’s tribal too.


This way of thinking is tribal.


Can you see it now?


Suffering Starving Artist Tribal Mantra MEME

Sitting around at a coffee shop complaining to your friends about how hard it is to get a leg up in this business is what really makes you happy.


If this is what you do, the prior statement is TRUE.


When an artist sits around and says, “I don’t even know how to get started” or “I’m an artist and I have no idea how to get my art to the market” or “I can’t find any band members” it’s because they’re not really interested in being successful.


Suffering Do What You Love



That would require vulnerability. Vulnerability is change. Change equals threat. Threat equals fear.




Better to be safe.


This is who they are.


Is this who you are?


These artists love to rehearse the story about how they’re on their 10th musical project and nobody cares.

Suffering Story Be Honest MEME



They LOVE telling the story.




I’ll share a personal lesson. I dated this beautiful woman for about 2 years. She was a small-town girl, which I liked. She was a teacher and loved her job. She had 2 beautiful daughters (whom I love dearly) and a wonderful relationship with her ex-husband based entirely on being the best parents they could be. But she was an angry alcoholic.


For whatever reason, she was unhappy with herself and these demons would surface after the 4th drink or so.

Suffering Handcuffs Cari Story



To be fair, I like to drink too, but I’m not hostile.




I let this relationship go on way too long. Finally, I left after 6 major meltdowns in 1 short month; 3 of them involved her getting violent. This is an interesting and scary place to be for a man. No matter what, if things ever got out of hand, I would be the one going to jail.  Thankfully I left before that ever happened but I had to put a stop to it.


Suffering Torture

I sought help trying to connect the dots on this one.






Why the hell did I stay for so long? Especially when I knew she was angry and very jealous which doesn’t bode well in my business.


The story I was telling myself was that I was in love with her.


But how could I (or anyone else) truly be in love with someone who hurts them so deeply physically and emotionally?


The reality is this: I was in love with the idea of who I wanted her to be.


Suffering She Loved Being Miserable

The other reality was that she had absolutely no interest in becoming that person. She wanted to be who she was and she was unapologetic about it.


She was happy being miserable for some reason.





Once I learned that truth, I moved on emotionally and I improved.


In all actuality, your life is safe. You don’t worry about food, shelter, or water. You can have kids if you want, maybe you already have them.


Your hardwired desire to procreate is taken care of.


Don’t you think it’s time to take a risk?

Suffering Risk Time To Take a Risk MEME




Why play the game of the suffering artist?




Why fall in love with the idea of being a full-time artist but choose to suffer instead?


I get it, there is WONDERFUL protection in that but it’s a game, isn’t it?


Today is a day where you don’t have to ask anybody’s permission to make your art.
Suffering Risk Time To Take a Risk MEME



Music can be distributed to potential fans for free and without anyone else’s authorization.




Do you tell yourself, “I’m an artist, therefore I don’t want to know about marketing”?


Do you feel that marketing is gross or dirty?


Suffering Salesman They're Fake MEME

Does the idea of making your music and having to market it to leave a bad taste in your mouth?




Why is it that when artists think of marketing they think of slimy used car salesmen?


The same marketing tactics in the music industry that brought the world’s worst records and artists into your awareness also brought us the amazing music that changed our lives forever.


Suffering Best Selling Records Collage




You have your favorite records. You know, the ones that inspired you to become an artist in the first place. The ONLY reason you have them is because someone did a good job of making you aware of them.





I have news for you. If you’re one of those artists who’s suffering story includes lamenting about the old music business and how radio and record labels would break you, that’s an illusion as well.


Yes, record labels would develop artists but only if THEY liked you, but only if there wasn’t some other bigger potential artist to get behind. Hopefully, that dynamic didn’t happen after you were signed.

Suffering Bowling MEME



Oh, and you still had to be a salesperson.





Yes, radio tours are all about salesmanship. You find yourself bowling with the staff of a radio station and you don’t like bowling but you go because you want them to like you and spin your single.


Suffering Corporate MEMEYou’d have to sell the rest of the record company on the idea of YOU. One champion, even if they had signing power wasn’t enough to move a record label to perform for you. You need everyone on board. But that required selling. There are plenty of artists who were signed by the owner of the label but they’re sitting on a shelf because the staff doesn’t get it.



Media days lasted 12-14 hours where you’d be on the phone with every single printed fanzine on the planet answering the same stupid questions over and over and over and over again.


Oh, you had to be a salesman alright.


Why would that be “different” if you had to be a salesman with a label deal but intolerable as an indie artist?


Suffering the Voice Logo MEME

Why are so many artists refusing to do covers on YouTube for fear of being categorized as a “cover artist” but they’re perfectly willing to compete on American Idol (which is coming back) or The Voice?




Because NOT doing what is required to get your music out there means you get to continue suffering.


Suffering is safer than success.


Suffering Seth Godin


Seth Godin tells book writers, “Write your first book and email it in a nicely assembled PDF file to 100 people. If it’s good it’ll reach 10,000 people and you’ll have no problem selling your second book. If it sucks, you’ll know because nobody would have bought it anyway so It doesn’t matter.”


Seth also states that exactly zero people have taken him up on that offer.





You’re safe. Deep Down you know you’re safe.


Stop Suffering.


Suffering image 2


Start risking some bad feelings to find out how good you really are. If you really want to be an artist, you’ll learn to be better.


Who knows, maybe you could be good enough to make a decent living at it.


Your audience is out there.


Suffering You don't needs anyone's permission MEME



You can reach them for free.





But you enjoy the suffering better.


Suffering is an easy life to live but it’s not extraordinary.  Stories of success are inspiring and fulfilling.


Which one are you?










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Destiny Feature MEME

Destiny Pilot Boy MEMEWould you prefer to control your destiny or let someone you don’t know control it for you?



I’m going to tell you a story about an amazing artist with all the right elements, the right team, and a killer debut record but they never really made it in America because of poor marketing.


They did everything in their power (I believe) to do it right but outside forces impacted their destiny.


You have so much more control over your destiny today than before, but only if you realize it, take responsibility for it, and begin controlling it.


Destiny DNR


One of the most amazing artists to come out of the hair band era was The Dan Reed Network.


Right now, you’re like, “Who?” unless you’re European.




The Dan Reed Network was a fresh breath of air for the hair band era. They were a unique and interesting mix of Prince-meets-Bon Jovi-with-killer Steven Tyler-Falsetto-screams.  A hair band image and an 80’s rock appeal but funky with great songs.


Destiny DNR 2


They were diverse musically and ethnically within the band. All total, the group was descendant from these different ancestries, German, Hawaiian, Native American, African American, Japanese American, Jamaican, Italian American, and Jewish.



They were a Mercury records major label artist with big-time management, a hit producer, a (supposed) major label budget, and a killer record, but they never caught on in America and they’re from the Northwest, Portland area.


So, what happened?


Why didn’t this band fulfill their destiny?


Destiny USA Marketing Failure

A marketing fail is what happened and it wasn’t their fault.




There are a million stories like this out there.


Let’s dissect it so we can learn how YOU can avoid this situation.


First off, the band put out a self-released EP in 1986 which had a #1 on Portland’s Z-100 (their local) radio station.


Destiny DNR Breathless Album Cover




That’s how they got their label attention, by proving their value in advance of the deal.





Right there, they didn’t wait for the label to discover them. They made themselves discoverable and the labels called them.


They were crafting their own destiny.


Destiny Bill Graham


DRN formed a management relationship shortly after that with music promoter icon, Bill Graham. FYI, Bill Graham was instrumental in the careers of The Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers, and Janis Joplin to name a few.




Their #1 single on their local radio station garnered interest from Derek Shulman (Bon Jovi, Cinderella) at Polygram and they were signed to Mercury Records (a division of Polygram).Destiny Mercury Records Logo






In the winter of 1987, The Dan Reed Network released their debut record which was produced by Bruce Fairbairn (Bon Jovi, Aerosmith).


Destiny DNR Album Cover Debut



It’s an awesome record. I recommend listening to it.


Even if you don’t dig the style, it’s incredibly well done.





Everything is coming up roses for Dan Reed Network, right? Major label, killer producer, different sound, iconic manager, etc.


But here’s how the potholes developed.


Destiny Hysteria Album Cover




Mercury Records label mates, Def Leppard, FINALLY released Hysteria which was 3 years overdue in August of 1987; a few months prior to DNR debut effort.







Destiny Pyromania Album Cover



Hysteria was the follow up to the 10 million + selling Pyromania and the record label obviously had huge expectations on sales. (If we remember that records were grossing the equivalent of around $30/record back then we can surmise that the labels were getting around 50% of that or $15/record. So, they grossed at least $150 million [not including publishing revenue] on Pyromania).




But, Hysteria was plagued by delays and MASSIVELY over budget.


On December 31, 1984, Def Leppard drummer Rick Allen lost his arm in an auto accident.


Destiny Rick Allen Wreck Image



The band was over the Mutt Lange tedious production process they endured on Pyromania and chose Jim Steinman (Steinman was famous for writing and credited for co-producing Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell) to produce Hysteria.





Destiny Bat Out of Hell




Steinman’s approach was to record a raw rock sound that was a definite departure from the polished pop metal sound of Pyromania. Once the band realized that, they sacked Steinman but still had to pay his $2-Million-Dollar production fee.





Def Leppard singer Joe Elliott was quoted as saying, “Todd Rundgren produced Bat Out of Hell Jim Steinman wrote it.”


They reenlisted Mutt Lange and got to work on the record after scrapping all the previously recorded material but they had to pay Mutt Lange too and this was going to take a while.


By the release date of Hysteria, Def Leppard had to sell 5 million copies to break even!


This made Mercury nervous. Understandably as the cash equivalent to 5 million records to the label would be around half of the take from Pyromania or $75 million dollars in today’s money.


The record immediately shot up the charts in England, but the momentum from Pyromania had faded in the USA and the new record was TANKING.


Polygram/Mercury understandably began freaking out.


Guess who didn’t get any attention?


The new bands that were signed to the label including Dan Reed Network.


Destiny Def Leppard Women

It was all-hands-on-deck at Mercury Records. Every available monetary and personnel resource was allotted to making Hysteria at least break even.


This dynamic dragged on and on through 3 American singles, “Women”, “Animal”, and “Hysteria”.




The record didn’t begin to sell in American until the fourth single was released, “Pour Some Sugar on Me”.


Destiny Abandoned MEMEThe first Dan Reed Network record suffered a painful, slow death because of abandonment.



The label couldn’t and wouldn’t afford to promote it correctly with all the hysteria from Hysteria.


Destiny Q-PrimeSomewhere along the line, the band apprehensively switched management companies to Q-Prime with Peter Mensch and Cliff Burnstein. Q-Prime ironically started with and were still managing Def Leppard (along with Metallica, Queensryche, AC/DC, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and some other huge acts).



DNR finally got on the road as an opener on the last American leg of Def Leppard’s Hysteria tour but it wasn’t until the 2nd album was released and they toured with the Rolling Stones in Europe that they blew up…over there.


Destiny DNR Slam Album Cover




Dan Reed Network is still out there doing it today, man, but they never caught on in America and it was largely due to the circumstances that revolved around the marketing of their debut record.





The bigger band with the bigger budget and the bigger fires to put out got all the attention at the big label while the promising baby bands with all the potential suffered.


Guess what?


That hasn’t changed.


Well, it has changed but it’s worse today.


Destiny Leverage MEMEWhy would you want to be signed before you crafted some leverage to apply to the deal?



Especially considering you have the power to construct this leverage today and create your destiny?


Here’s what HAS changed.


Destiny Target MEME

YOU can do what the Dan Reed Network couldn’t do, define, target, connect, and capture the contact information for YOUR audience.





You can grow your audience. It’s not difficult like brain surgery, but it does require work and understanding.


Do you want a record deal?


Destiny Brat Boy MEMEBring them an audience and you’ll get what you want.


Do you want a manager?


Bring them an audience (i.e. something to manage) and you’ll get what you want.


Do you want a booking agent?


Bring them an audience and you’ll get what you want.


YOU must do the work and it’s never been easier to reach people, but it does require work.


Every show you fail to collect contact data is a wasted opportunity.

Every day that you don’t expand your social media to reach new people is a wasted day.


The new music business is all about artists with audiences.


Destiny Audience MEME



Let me be clear, YES, I’m generalizing, but you are NOT going to get signed on your talent alone and frankly, you don’t really want to be.




You don’t want to be the exception to the rule.


When you come into a record deal with a decent audience and some cash flow in your business you have power.


Destiny Power



Power bands like Dan Reed Network didn’t have because they didn’t know who their audience was and couldn’t reach them outside of radio.




But you can.


You might just get signed on your talent, but the Def Leppards of the world will ensure that you are ignored.

The bigger your audience, the more power you have.


How’s that for a goal?


Listen, this works.


Destiny Daredevil LogoI’ve grown Daredevil Production the same way. I find the audience first. It’s so easy (and FUN) to make relationships with important managers, producers, label executives, booking agents, etc. by bringing them business as opposed to asking for a favor.


That’s leverage.


Why wouldn’t you want to do that too?


Why wouldn’t you want to be in charge of your destiny?










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Cure Feature MEME Green

I have the cure for the anxiety and pain you’re feeling Cure Predictionright now in your career.


It’s a prediction of sorts. More like a clear vision of what tomorrow will look like for artists who wish to get a record deal and I’ll bring facts to support my argument.



That means this premonition isn’t so magical as it is observational


Cure Medicine Not Going To Taste Good




It’s not going to taste good.





Follow me on this, artists, it’s important. Or don’t at your own peril.


The very first recorded Olympics were held in 776 BC in Olympia, Greece.


Cure 776 BC Olympics



That means we have been timing people running (yes running was one of the first Olympic events) for at least 2,793 years.





Two thousand seven hundred and ninety-three years, that’s a long time.


For 2,729 years, no human had ever run a sub-4-minute mile.


For almost 3,000 years no human had ever run a mile in under 4 minutes until May 6th, 1954 when Roger Bannister did it in 3 minutes, 59.4 seconds. (He’s now Sir Roger Bannister).


Cure Sir Roger Bannister


What an incredible feat, right?


A miracle that took thousands of years to conquer!


A fluke maybe!



Maybe he was lucky like winning the lottery.


Surely it would be another thousand years, or hundred years, or at least a handful of decades before anyone else could ever do that again!


Running a mile in less than 4 minutes was so difficult it took 2,730 years for it to happen the first time. But Roger Bannister’s record was broken 46 days later by his rival, John Landy, on June 21 in Finland.


Cure Roger Bannister John Landy




Then 47 days after that, both men racing against each other, would each break the sub-4-minute mile again! (Bannister won that race but didn’t beat Landy’s solo time. Still, Bannister was the first.)





Within 3 years 16 runners had broken the sub-4-minute-mile.


What the hell happened and how does this apply to your artist career?


Bannister broke the mental myth is what happened.


Cure CuppingRoger Bannister proved it was possible and provided a cure for an “ailment” that was considered incurable.


FYI, the most intelligent physicians agreed, prior to May 6th, 1954, that running the mile in less than 4 minutes would be too dangerous and cause health risks. (Do you see how society conforms with certain myths?)


Once Roger did it, then everybody knew it was achievable, and now it’s a regular occurrence.


Here’s how it applies to you, and you’d better freakin’ pay attention.


Cure Your Ailment Myth MEMEYour “ailment”, your “myth” is that indie artists feel it’s too difficult to become successful these days and/or they need a label to do it.




The music business society agrees with that myth because the old way isn’t working and the business is looking for their own cure.


Granger Smith (aka Earl Dibbles, Jr.) build a $1.8-million-dollar indie artist empire from his laptop. Granger is a country artist and Earl Dibbles Jr. is an alter ego.


Cure Earl Dibbles Jr



He created this empire via “content marketing” on social media and YouTube.





Smith defined his audience, targeted them, and then reached out with content that was relevant and personal to THEM.


In the case of Earl Dibbles Jr., the content manifested itself as a humorous set of videos and sayings that were so funny and personal to the South, many people shared them which made him extremely popular.


As far back as 3 years ago, record labels were scrambling to sign Granger.


Cure Deep In His Pockets



But the team surrounding Smith always said ‘NO” because there was no need, at that time, to let a label put their hands that deep into his pockets.






For those of you still trying to do the math, $1.8-million-dollars per year breaks down to $150,000 per month gross.


That’s a business.


That’s what labels want, small businesses with viable audiences where they can implement their infrastructure for the purposes of blowing the brand up bigger.


Cure Lazy Cat MEME


You see the labels are suffering too. Their immediate cure is YOU creating an actual business with cash flow. But most of you still want to sell them the idea of you, the potential of you. Most of you do this because YOU don’t want to do the work…but I digress.




Well, that’s the way it used to happen 15 years ago. (ahem…wake up and smell your career burning after 15 years already).


Here’s the thing, Granger Smith is the messiah for indie artists. He’s your Roger Bannister.


What I’m going to say next is an OPINION, to be clear, on how something happened but my opinion doesn’t change the fact that the outcome ACTUALLY HAPPENED, so pay close attention.


Cure Backroad Song Image




Smith wasn’t going to get a #1 unless he signed with a label (fact). So, at some point, he and his team chose a label and signed. I’m sure they got a pretty sweet deal simply from the fact that they said “No” so many times before.





You always get a better deal when you don’t need them and they really need you. That’s just simple supply and demand economics, people.


Smith became a trophy of sorts on Music Row here in Nashville.


Cure Performance Clause MEME


If I was Smith, I would’ve put a performance clause in the contract. Something that states the label has X amount of time to deliver a #1 single (or whatever he thought he could negotiate like a top 10, top 40 etc.) or the contract is null and void. If the label failed, he would be able to cross the street and try it with another label, owing nothing to the first.



Nobody can tell Granger that he isn’t marketable, get it?


Let’s think this through, now.


The fact is that Smith’s first single, “Backroad Song” went #1.


Cure Resources MEME Time Energy Cash


It’s also true that a #1 single requires an incredible amount of bandwidth and resources from any record label. These resources include time, energy, belief, relationships, and cash.




If you’re a student of the game you know that the record business in the hey-day was around $75-Billion-dollars a year and now it’s shrunk to just $15-Billion-dollar per year.


Cure Bar Graph MEME


Knowing that all labels are (must be) running essentially skeleton crews these days with limited capital, the most promising artists get all the resources, right? (FYI, this was true even when labels were making money, but it’s been exacerbated by the shrinking sales).




Not potentially promising (because the art is good), but bottom line promising (meaning cash flow). These are 2 different things and you’d better understand the difference.


Granger Smith is the music industry version of Roger Bannister to the extent that he proved to all indie artists it can be done.  There are no more excuses now.


I promise you that when he signed with Wheelhouse Records, there were some artists on that label who may have been more talented than Smith, but had to wait.


Cure Waiting for Smith Project




They’re probably still waiting.





They had to wait until the Smith project panned out before they were going to get access to the label’s resources they would need to break in the marketplace.


See where I’m going with this?


Cure Cigar MEME YESIf you’re an artist with a ton of talent, but no audience, my biggest fear for you is what if the label says “YES”?



A record deal can be a blessing or a curse. It’s up to you stack the deck enough to control the outcome.


Cure Cards Stack The Deck MEME



Too many of you have read this article but haven’t heard a thing I’m saying. Too many of you are thinking, Ha! If I get my deal, I’ll be home free!




You’re wrong.


It’s been done now.


I promise there are other artists that are fashioning their approach to marketing in a similar way as Granger Smith.


And NO! Not by creating funny characters, but by creating compelling content that is relevant and personal to their audiences. (That content can take many forms).


These respective audiences are anticipating every email, video, and social media post from the artists they’re connected to because they resonate with the content.


Cure Waiting MEME



These new-age artists have adapted and are building their empires while you’re waiting for your deal.




You either get it and adapt, or you don’t and you’re a Luddite.  Forever waiting.


They’re going to come into their label deals with big hammers at their respective negotiating tables and ensure that, at least for a little while, all the money, energy, and attention of your current or future label will go to them.


You’ll wait.


And wait.


If you even ever get a deal that is.Cure Invisible



Or you’ll wait to get out of your deal because the label love disappeared with that new artist’s cash flow.


And you’ll pay dearly for that in time and money.


By the way, my company, Daredevil Production, is growing rapidly with a business model that is based on this very concept; turning indie artists into sexy little businesses.


Cure Daredevil Logo


But, Daredevil isn’t the only company that’s figured this out, therefore you’re not just competing against artists.


Indie artists better get on board with the program and they better do it fast.






Getting a deal is no longer a viable alternative to creating your own audience.


Your talent and potential likeability won’t matter to a label who just signed an artist with a rabid audience and healthy cash flow.


Your potential talent won’t factor in whether you’re signed to that label or not.


“A bird in the hand is worth 2 in the bush.”

Cure A Bird In the Hand


You must figure out how to create your own audience.


You create the audience, the labels come to you, they give you everything they have and all your anxiety is magically cured.


Contact capture is necessary. After you define who the audience is you go find them, make a relationship via social media or live shows, and get the digits.


These direct-to-fan relationships are the cure for the common indie artist cold.


Effective social media is mission-critical for this task.


It’s up to you, artists, do you want to be the one bird in the hand, or do you want to hang with the crowd in the bush?










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In my humble opinion, ALL artists do this in the beginning.Secret Identity Stay Stuck MEME


But, most of you never get over it and your artist spirit dies on the vine.


OR you don’t master the productive pieces of what I’m about to describe and you stay stuck.



We all create a secret identity for ourselves.


Actually, we all create many secret identities for ourselves.


Secret Identity Secret CIA Identities


Often, a secret identity conceals things about ourselves so we feel or, in fact, actually fit better into society but sometimes this behavior hinders us and therefore we suffer.




The world also suffers because it never sees or experiences the fully realized version of our artist soul.


Think about Superman for a second.


Quick question: With Superman, which identity is the secret identity?


Secret Identity Secret PaperMost of you would say Superman because that identity was kept secret, duh.


But, you would be wrong.


I’m about to geek out a little bit, but this is important.


Superman’s birth name is Kal-El and he was born on planet Krypton.


Kal-El, AKA Superman IS the original being, the genuine soul. the plane-saving, train-stopping, building-jumping real deal.


Secret Identity Clark Kent




Clark Kent is the secret identity.






Get it?


Even though Superman was kept secret, and Clark Kent was made public, the alter ego of Clark Kent was created because Superman felt he needed to fit in more to society.


Another way to put it is that Superman felt the need to hide.Secret Identity HIde MEME


How are you doing right now?


Am I ringing any bells?




You’re Superman (NOT gender specific in this case, ladies).


The artist IS who we truly are and the other stuff amounts to alter-egos created to fit in so we don’t piss off our parents, spouses, bosses, or society in general.


Secret Identity Snake Toxic MEME

Here’s the thing, all of these different personalities within us are powerful, some are necessary and productive, but some are toxic.





The toxic characters can come from a good place and be well founded, so they don’t seem toxic to us, but they get in our way.


Big time.


Here’s a great example of a toxic secret identity.


I was listening to a Tony Robbin’s podcast where Todd Herman was being interviewed. Todd works with premiere sports athletes to help them understand, identify, and control these secret identity behaviors.


Secret Identity Tony Robbins Podcast

Todd’s company helps athletes amplify their strengths.







Tell me that doesn’t sound psychologically interesting.


He was telling the story about a premiere female tennis athlete who has never won a championship but was amazing enough to be ranked (which is a BIG deal), so she was GOOD.


To this tennis player, fairness was a value that she lived her life by and felt was very important to her.


Secret Identity Tennis Player



Picture this, she would hit the court and over the course of a couple games and/or sets, she would DOMINATE her opponent. But, somewhere during the game her inner feelings of fairness would begin to creep in and she would self-sabotage to allow her opponent a chance to come back.





She did this subconsciously because she felt that if the final score of the game was too lopsided it would humiliate her opponent.


Her personality would never allow her to humiliate anyone, but sports are about momentum.


Just ask any New York Giants fan, it’s not uncommon for a pro football team to “limp” into the playoffs (with a 9W-7L record) and “peak” at the right time to win every game including the Super Bowl


Secret Identity NYG Logo


Their record shows that NYG were not the best team during the season, but that doesn’t matter in the playoffs. They found their momentum at the right time and what happened previously didn’t matter.





This is what would regularly happen to the tennis player. Her concern for the feelings of her opponent would trigger the self-sabotage which would change the momentum but the pendulum swung too far causing her to lose momentum. Often, she would never recover.


Todd and the tennis player would talk about how fairness is an admirable trait in humanity, as long as the game was being played according to the rules (aka “fairly”) it had no place on any sports scenarios.


Your job is to win, period.


Fair and square? Yes, of course.



Secret Identity Good Sport



But forget about how it looks or makes the other person feel because that’s not your concern when you’re both professional athletes.







Her opponents will have to learn to step up next time (they’re pros after all) and, of course, she’s always a good sport, win or lose.


Winning to the point of dominating your opponent doesn’t make you a mean person.


We all have secret identities that are quite beneficial. If you have kids, you probably behave one way at work and then shift gears when you come home to play with the kids.


Secret Identity In Bed Boots


Maybe you have a certain approach with one set of friends that differs from another?


How about the difference in your personality at work vs. your secret identity in the bedroom?





What about a radio or podcast interview/performance?


Do you take on a different personality to a degree when you do a live show?


See what I mean?


Secret Identity Business Negotiations


What if you have to make a deal with your booking agents, or team members?






It’s important to understand what personalities are required for each task and make sure the right ones show up and the wrong ones don’t!


On my first tour, I was feeling so blessed to have that first contract (which is a GOOD thing) but they got over on me. I could’ve negotiated a better deal and it cost me dearly.


Secret Identity 1st Tour Humble


We had a killer band (product), a killer 2×3 foot full-color poster (marketing), and the agency was in LOVE with us (buy-in). If I knew what I was doing, I could’ve inked a 10% commission rate instead of 15%.




That may not sound like much.


But, showing up with a different personality for that one meeting would’ve meant the difference between the tour breaking even and Ryder Truck Company sending me an $8,000 bill after the dust settled.


See my point?


Secret Identity Negotiate MEMEYou can be blessed and grateful, but shrewd at the same time.




It’s OK to have humility and love but be intentional with your business dealings.


These behaviors are not a contradiction to your personality, it’s good business and good business is fair.


Secret Identity Puppies



Think about it, your most important role of a loving parent or best friend doesn’t always manifest itself in the form of endless puppy dogs and ice cream.




Sometimes you have to be the bad guy.


I negotiated a 10% commission with our booking agent down in Florida on the Kidd Gypsy version of our journey and we lived a far better life because of it.



Secret Identity TV Heads


FYI, you’re probably thinking it’s just 5% of the gross! Big deal! To the agency, this was a 33% reduction in their possible revenue from us over the course of a year. But, it would’ve meant us paying 50% more than we needed too had we settled on the original 15% they asked for.




Get it?


I promise those numbers make sense when you think about them in terms of relativity.


My concern is that y’all created your own versions of Clark Kent and you’re buying into the role a little too much.



Secret Identity Don't Buy Into The Role of Clark Kent MEMEIt’s a false reality.






Stop trying to be somebody that you’re not (Clark Kent) and start embracing the Superman in you.


You’re an artist. You can be an artist if you really want to, but you must be intentional about it or it isn’t going to pan out for you.


Secret Identity LIve Show your terms

Live your life on YOUR terms, not anyone else’s.





If you’re going live out the life you really want, which is making a living as an artist, then you’re going to have to understand and identify all your secret identities and master them.


Some athletes actually create back stories for their secret identities on the field of play.


Many pro athletes create names for these secret identities, THAT’S how seriously they take this concept!


I want you to win.


Secret Identity Secrets Girls BE Superman

I don’t want you to get too caught up in a toxic secret identity that has you getting in your own way.




Don’t accept any identities that tell you it’s ok to wait. Your time is now. Be patient but never stagnant.


A really good portion of my job description at Daredevil Production is teaching artists how to get out of their own way.


Secret Identity Superman and Supergirl




This is a common way we all self-sabotage.







I hope this helps you in some way.


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Value Feature MEME

Your songs have no value.

Value Believe

It’s true.


Not yet anyway.


Do I have your attention?



I think that most artists make the same mistake in believing that their music has value simply because they value it.


The reality is there is exactly ZERO perceived value in the marketplace for art until the value is created.


The marketing signals get crossed when artists inadvertently compare their art, which they think is valuable, to a product that actually has a definite market value.


Value dominoes Interrupt

Marketing requires reach and frequency.





We interrupt new people to make them aware that the product exists and then keep touching and telling them about our brand until we sink into their subconscious mind.


But for some products, the value is already inherently understood in the mind of the consumer.


I’ll explain.


Value Hammer MEME


The market understands the relative value of a hammer. In fact, people from time to time will desperately need a hammer, so they’ll go to the store and purchase one.




In this scenario, the market can absolutely comprehend the value that this tool will bring them.


Because we often have this need for hammers, there is a certain amount of money that will be spent every year on hammers.


If you were to create a new brand of hammer, you begin to make a dent in that product’s universe with decent marketing.


What’s more, having a relationship with a major distributor like Home Depot would mean an astronomical increase in sales simply because the product is there when consumers need it.


Value Umbrella


How about a street vendor selling cheap umbrellas when a huge storm arrives?




In a city like New York, vendors make tons of money selling last minute, on-the-spot umbrellas because the need is so immediate, the consumer really doesn’t care about the quality as much as will it work right now?


The same could be said about Gas, clothing, food, automobiles, etc. These are items that we need as a society, some more often than others, but the need is real and everyone understands the value of each of these products.


They understand they need these products.  Once a consumer knows what they need the next stage of the game is what price will they pay.


Is it a commodity?


Does the product dictate a certain social status where the price could be higher?


But it’s different with music and art, isn’t it?


Value Consumers are All Set MEMEAsk 1,000 people if they need new music and they’ll tell you they’re all set up.





With music, the art in marketing is creating value in something that nobody needs.


The art of music marketing is creating a buzz.


Think about it, you don’t just upload your song to iTunes and experience a massive increase in sales like if you put your hammer into Home Depot.


Does this make sense? (If you’ve ever uploaded one of your songs to iTunes, I’m quite sure it does!)


As artists, we think that if we make compelling music we’ll get a couple people to listen and they’ll love it. Then they’ll tell 2 friends, and they’ll tell 2 friends, and so on, and so on, and so on.


Yes and No.


This is not the way it happens.


At least not at first.


Not before you reach “critical mass”.


Value Critical MassYou must continue to build the buzz until you reach a certain “critical mass” and then the brand takes on a life of its own.



Until then, you’re not done working.


You’re not done working after critical mass is reached either it’s just that some of the job descriptions change a bit.


Value Not Done WorkingBy the time you hopped on board with most music/artist brands, critical mass was already achieved. Therefore, your experience was that once you were turned onto the artist, you became excited and told a friend or two. Then they might have experienced a little excitement from you but they heard about it again and again on the radio, TV, or from other friends.


This is “critical” mass. Everyone is talking about it whether it’s paid advertising or not.


The awareness in the marketplace is rampant because the reach and frequency are sufficient.


Let’s take Def Leppard as an example of how to create critical mass from a buzz.


Value On Through the Night

Their first record was On Through the Night.

It did ok, they got a few radio spins and reached the top 15 in the UK, but this wasn’t enough to blow them up into the stratosphere.





Not even close.


It did create a small group of early adopter fans, a base if you will. (Not for nothing, it also created a legion of haters who shunned the band because they thought they were trying too hard to appeal to America with songs like “Hello America”.  TAKEAWAY:  Don’t worry about the haters!)

Value High n Dry



Then they switched producers to the legendary Mutt Lange and recorded their second effort, High n’ Dry. The first single faired about as well as the others, but the second single, “Bringing on the Heartbreak” began to create momentum. Mostly because MTV put the song in regular rotation.


MTV Regular rotation (in 1981) = massive reach + massive frequency.


But you must understand that MTV was constantly putting the band and their work in front of new people as was the tour schedule opening for Ozzy and Blackfoot. Even though the record was distributed everywhere, people weren’t shopping for Def Leppard like they were shopping for hammers until after they were exposed to the band enough times.



Because of MTV, the song received far more terrestrial radio airplay as well, but in the end, that record only sold about 250,000 copies. (It’s obviously sold more now after the huge sales of later releases but these are relatively accurate numbers for 1981/1982 sales)


Def Leppard’s third effort, Pyromania, was released to a much larger waiting audience than High ‘n’ Dry but still, they weren’t at critical mass, yet.


Value Pyromania


The production on Pyromania was groundbreaking. All the songs were amazing, the band had really gotten the hang of songwriting over the last 2 records and they exploded. Radio and MTV were spinning all the singles non-stop and now they had reached critical mass.





Completely different then hammer sales, huh?


Are you picking up what I’m putting down?


How many NEW PEOPLE are exposed to you as an artist and your music every day?


Most of you emulate your favorite famous artists on social media by creating a cool “backstage pass” into your life. This is all well-and-good but how many new people are discovering you?

Value The World Is At Your Fingertips MEME


You need to continually grow your social media accounts as well as provide the content. This is the difference between using social media as a cool connection tool and a marketing tool for the artist to gain new fans.




Both approaches are important but the latter is almost always ignored by indie artists.


You can easily expand your reach every day.


Worldwide reach.


How about your YouTube strategy?  If you’re putting up crusty old covers of your favorite songs, the only people watching are current fans.


How is that strategy getting you into growth?


It’s not.


Cover current hits that are creating massive traffic. Some of these people will stumble across your version and if you’re compelling, you’ll gain new fans here.


Value Old Car MEME


Again, growing every day.




When you grow sufficiently that the fan base is large enough to begin to take over you’re reaching critical mass and your music now has value.


But until then, you need to keep creating the value in the marketplace or continue to starve.









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Responsible Feature MEME 2


I heard this on a podcast and it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Responsible Ton of Bricks

 What I’m about to describe applies to all people in all jobs, not just indie artists, singers, and songwriters.




This fact goes hand in hand with self-awareness which I’ve written about before.


Responsible Self Aware MEME


There’s a story I heard (second-hand) from some paid coaching I purchased. The person telling the story was talking to his billionaire friend. He was endorsing another friend’s resume to the billionaire saying, “He came from this family, he has a Master’s Degree in so-and-so from this amazing institution, and blah, blah, blah”.


The billionaire’s response was simple, “Yes, but is he worth a damn?”


Responsible Worth a damn MEME


The billionaire didn’t care whatsoever about his resume and “what he looked like on paper”, he cared about his self-awareness and his common sense.



What kind of responsible is this person?


The more self-aware we become, the smarter we are because we recognize our strengths and weaknesses to craft our life around reality. We strengthen and deepen our character when we’re aware of what tools we’re missing, and we take action to find these missing tools.


Responsible Craft Our Reality MEME 2



We often think we have it together, but when we’re not self-aware, we are bullshitting ourselves.




These fictional stories manifest themselves in multiple ways including what kind of responsible you are.


Responsible 3 Kinds of Responsible Monkeys

There are 3 kinds of responsible.




Responsible Responsible



The first kind is responsible. Responsible people do what they say they’re going to do, work hard, follow up, and take care of all business in their lives.




The second kind is the opposite of responsible, which is irresponsible.  We all have at least one irresponsible friend.  They are always a hot, ghetto mess!


Responsible Irresponsible Party Girl


They don’t do anything, they’re always late, they party all the time. Sound familiar?

They completely fail at any kind of functional reality and therefore, irresponsible people don’t find happiness or success simply because they’re not willing to work for it.




Sometimes we feel like they find happiness. Sometimes it looks like they do, but they don’t.


You know, like that friend you have who’s Facebook page is a complete fantasy; at least to their lives.


They think they know how to define happiness, but they don’t know how to work for it. Therefore they don’t know happiness. It’s a destination in their minds.


Responsible Cookie Cutter MEME


The definition of happiness different for everybody which means the individual has to work to find what it means to them. Otherwise, they’re just crafting their lives to a societal cookie cutter and the society responds with acceptance, but the individual is not truly happy.




Can you guess what the third kind of responsible is?


NON-responsible is #3.




Yes, non-responsible.Responsible Non-Responsible


Non-responsible are people who claim to be responsible but get nothing done and if you ask them, they’ll tell you it’s not their fault.





Who did you just think of?


Non-responsible have an excuse for everything.


Responsible Marine Corps Logo

I was raised by a Marine. Excuses were a luxury my sisters and I were not afforded.






I would have conversations with my dad like this,


Dad: “Did you mow the lawn?” (knowing full well the lawn was ignored)


Me: “Well I started but then this happened and that happened and to top it all off, this crazy thing went down.”


Responsible Drill Sergeant



Dad: “Ok, but you didn’t answer my question. I understand what happened and why it happened but what EXACTLY was the outcome with regards to the lawn?” “Did you execute or not?”


Me: “No.”




Dad: (he was an Officer in the Corps who oversaw the Drill Sergeants so he had to have a tone of voice that ensured he would not be misunderstood, misinterpreted, or ignored. Oh, and he had to be louder than the Drill Sergeants. You get the picture now) “So why do I care about all this other crap? You have plenty of great excuses and I’m proud of you and your creativity for birthing these incredible challenges, but the bottom line is that the lawn didn’t get mowed. Excuses are like butts (he used a more colorful word, I assure you), everybody has one and they all stink. So, what are you going to do right now?”


Responsible Excuses MEME



Me: “I’m gonna mow the lawn, Dad.”


It was either mow the lawn or get a size 10.5 up my keester.


Get it?


Non-responsible people can’t or don’t care about communicating. The outcome is predictable. They get frustrated that people don’t understand what they’re trying to convey and ultimately blame these people and the world for not understanding.


They don’t feel heard.


It’s the job of the communicator to ensure they’re being heard, NOT the other way around.


Responsible Shark Tank MEME


I was watching an episode of Shark Tank the other day. After the pitch, the panel all passed on the offer. But, as the future entrepreneurs were being led off the stage, one of them says to the panel, “But I don’t feel you HEARD me!”




To which Mark Cuban responded, “It’s not MY job to hear you, it’s YOUR job to make sure that you’re heard!”


The moment the entrepreneur said, “You didn’t hear me” was the instant he revealed himself as a non-responsible person which I assure you was a complete turn-off to the panel of very successful Type-A investors.


Does that make sense?


Guess what? Record labels don’t appreciate non-responsible artists. Neither do any of the business relationships you’re going to encounter on your way up.


Responsible Can't Recognize A Good Demo


I have previously broached this subject in a couple different blogs 10 Worst Song Demo Mistakes and 12 Thoughts On Unprofessional Songwriters. When a songwriter hands in a crappy sounding, cheap, amateur song demo and says or thinks, “It’s the producer’s job to recognize my amazing song through all the sonic challenges” this is an example of non-responsibility.




By the way, in this instance, it’s almost guaranteed that the song sucks, because the person is non-responsible and therefore doesn’t have enough self-awareness to improve their craft. A crappy sounding demo of a hit song is almost like a Unicorn; I’m pretty sure they don’t exist.


How about this non-responsible viewpoint, “I can’t find any good players where I live so I can’t put a good band together.”


Responsible DDHS

This is BS too. I grew up in Delavan, WI, a town with a population of 8,500 people. My graduating class was 189 kids. Somehow, I managed to put a band together that made it to FL via the Allman Brothers and then onto Rob Cavallo at Warner Bros. records. 7 years on the road.


That wasn’t luck, it didn’t happen by accident.


Do you see how this is a non-responsible attitude?


I can never say this enough, communication is NOT YOUR INTENT, but what is actually being received by the listener.


Responsible Communication MEME


Responsible artists understand that if the audience isn’t picking up what they’re putting down then they must change the message, approach, content, etc. This applies to their art AND their marketing.




Non-responsible people just complain that they feel like they’re never heard. Which is true, they’re probably never heard, but that’s only because they suck at communicating and refuse to take responsibility for fixing it.


It’s just too easy to get angry and blame them for not understanding.


Make no mistake, communicating is an artform all its own. This what makes marketing music so exciting for me.


What other things are affecting your career in a negative way that is in your control but you respond in a non-responsible manner?


Responsible artist 2 MEME

Marketing?  “I’m an artist, so I don’t have time for marketing.” = Non-responsible





How about business? “I don’t have time, money, or the inclination to be a business person.” = Non-responsible.


Responsible Artist Guitar MEME

These non-responsible outlooks are keeping you right where you are. These mindsets do NOT get you into a position of growth.





You need to evaluate everything in your life at the moment and take a good, long, hard look at what you’re being responsible about and non-responsible about.








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Design Explode Feature MEME


Have you ever heard of Bert Hinkler?

Design Bert Hinkler


Probably not.


He did something amazing. He even did that amazing thing faster and more efficiently than the first person who did it.


Bert was better, hands down, but he was second.


Therefore, you remember Charles Lindbergh and the Spirit of St. Louis, don’t you?


Design Charles Lindbergh 2

 This is because he was the first person to successfully fly a single-engine airplane solo non-stop across the Atlantic.





Want to hear something crazy?


You weren’t aware of the #2 person who succeeded in this incredible flight but you probably know the #3 person to ever do it; Amelia Earhart.

Design Amelia Earhart



How come you know the first, never heard of the second, but the third is also famous?



Answer: Because she was the first woman to do it.


The Law of Leadership.


Design The 22 Immutable Laws Of Marketing



This is the first law in an amazing book that has been out forever called The 22 Immutable Laws of MARKETING. (This link takes you to the Amazon “used book” page where there are tons of copies for freakin’ .98 cents! An IMPORTANT, quick education for less than $1…but I digress)





Here’s the question that I want you to ask yourself, “Am I trying to succeed as an artist by default or am I trying to succeed by design?”


To be clear, my definition of “success” is this: you make a living writing, recording, and performing music. Making a living doing all these or just one, but doing what you love means no day-gig.




Design Wonder What Happened Monkeys

 Too many of you are trying to become successful by default.




Yeah, let me explain.


There are three kinds of people in this world.

  1. People who make things happen
  2. People who watch what happens
  3. People who wonder what happened


33% of People “make things happen” because they approach success by design.


They choose to learn so they KNOW what they’re doing. People who win by design make a choice to follow an educated path spending their precious time and resources in the most effective places.


More education = less naivete.


Design Waiting MEME 66%

 Which means 66% of people, the ones who “watch what happens” and “wonder what happened” live by default; the world happens to them.




Did you catch that? I’m going to repeat it, 66% of people live by default meaning the world happens to them.


Design Meteor MEME Artist For God's Sake


You’re an artist for God’s sake!



By D E F I N I T I O N, you, the artist, are supposed to happen to the world!



If you’re going to be an artist that happens to the world (because I don’t believe there are artists where the world happened to them. If there is, we don’t know about them, so did it happen?), you must build your career by design.


Building and living by design mean you cannot watch what happens and you cannot wonder what happened. You must know what’s going on!


Design Education Is The Key MEME

Education is the key.






You are the CEO of your little company. FYI, the biggest and best started out of garages like yours (Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Ford, Madonna, Metallica, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, etc.)


If you say to yourself that you “suck at marketing” or you “suck at business” then you’re probably right which makes you a sucky CEO.


There’s nothing wrong with being a poor CEO but you won’t succeed, sorry.


Design CEO Suck At Marketing MEME



Whether you like it or not, whether you believe it or not, you’re in charge. If you suck at some mission critical part of your dream, you’d better address that now.




In The 22 Immutable Laws of MARKETING, the authors say that any CEO who isn’t in charge of his or her own marketing is living by default.


Design In Charge



To work by design YOU have to be in charge. You have to work with the outside companies you hire to ensure your brand is being conveyed correctly.




Are you waiting for someone to sign you?


You’re living by default, waiting for the world to happen to you.


Are you waiting to meet that one big relationship before you kick it into second gear and get serious?


Again, Living by default.


You have to GET IT GOING people. YOU are your only hope.


Yes, there are a couple artists who seem to have gotten lucky, but if this is your plan you’re living by default because these so-called “lucky” artists are exceptions to the rule (PLUS, I promise you don’t know the whole story so they’re not as lucky as you think.)

Design Lottery Ticket MEME

Winning the lottery is an exception to the rule…but, again, I digress.





This book is weighted completely on business brands with no mention of the music business whatsoever.


Try and see past that. The gems are in there.


I’ll connect a few dots for you.


Substitute “leading” for “First”



Design Harvard Logo


What is the leading institution in this country?



You probably thought Harvard.


Design William and Mary Logo



You would be right and they were also the first institution in this country founded in 1636. William and Mary College is the second oldest and they’re slightly more famous than Bert Hinkler.




Time Magazine vs. Newsweek, guess who was first?


Design Time Mag Collage




Yep, Time.





Advil vs. Nuprin and you’re right, Advil is the leader in the market with a 51% share and they were also first.


Design Advil Collage


Would it surprise you that twins often complain that the first of the two whom a person meets always remains their favorite even though that person gets to meet the other twin?


It’s better to be first than to be better.


Get it?


That’s the #1 Immutable Law of Marketing.



If you can’t be first like Xerox with copiers (people stand in front of a Ricoh copier and ask for a Xerox copy!), Keen-ex with facial tissue, or Gore-Tex, Jell-O, Fiberglass, Saran Wrap and Scotch Tape, then be first in a sub-category.





Like Amelia Earhart being the 1st woman.


Chrysler has just 10% of the auto market but owns 50% of the minivan market because they were first.


Yeah, yeah, I can hear some of you, “But Johnny, what does this have to do with me as an artist?”


Answer: Everything.


This is called the Law of Category


What is your artistic lane or category?


What are you doing differently that will make you identifiable?


Hello, these are design questions.


Design Taylor Swift Album cover



Taylor Swift was the first young country artist to lyrically speak to her peers.  This is partly why she is so huge. Nobody was communicating to the 9-14-year-olds in the country market at that time.






Kiss was the first rock group to make the make-up famous and provide a bombastic live show.


Motley Crüe was first in the market with the new 80’s glam metal sound, they added to what David Bowie had done with glam and made it harder edged.


Design Awareness Motley MEME

 By the way, when I say, “first in the market” I mean first in the market’s AWARENESS which is to say they were first in the mind.





There may have been other glam metal bands before Motley Crüe, but they were the first to get into your awareness so they win.


Marketing is a mental game, the products, to a degree, don’t matter.


Thus, “It’s better to be first than to be better”.


Organic The Beatles




Brian Epstein fashioned the Beatles into 4 neatly trimmed, clean faced, suit-wearing, bowing-after-every-song, safe boys you could bring home to mom.






Andrew Loog Oldham knew he couldn’t occupy the same lane with the Stones, so he fashioned them in a new category as the “anti-Beatles”. They were dangerous and scruffy looking.


Think about it, if marketing was objectively product based like we want to believe, there would be no sucky music.


No artists would be famous unless they were uber-talented.


But that has never been the case, has it?


Therefore, whoever markets better, wins.




Being first in the market is important only to the extent that it allows you to be first in the mind.


This is so important in the music industry that MANY really talented artists have been signed for the sole purpose of being shelved to keep them off the market so as not to compete with the label’s priority who is similar.


This is good info to know if you’re looking at a deal. Why are they signing you? You’d better know all the artists on the label roster because I promise you the courtship is exactly the same. It’s the outcome that changes.


Design MITS Altair 8800



The MITS Altair 8800 was the first personal computer, it came out in 1974 and the Apple II came out later in 1976.




But Apple had a better name and better marketing so they got into the mind first.


Design Apple II




Marketing is a battle of perception, not products so the MIND takes precedence over the marketplace.






It’s one thing to be an amazing artist but it’s another to be in the mind of the consumer.


Design The Law of the Mind MEME

This is called the Law of the Mind.




Everybody lives within their own perception. Their reality is their perception.


Think about this fact in terms of politics, religion, or your bandmates opinions on the best artists or equipment.


How about emotionally and sexaully abused people? Their perception is they don’t think they’re worth anything so that becomes their reality.




So, reality doesn’t matter as much as perception BUT, in today’s music business, the perception had better be authenticity.


Design Perception is Reality

You’d better be REAL and GENUINE or the market will see right through it.






Hype won’t make perception a reality. Until your audience perceives you to be real, you’re a fantasy.


You’re the Altair 8800.


Design You're not in the mind MEME

You’re that amazingly talented friend of yours who didn’t get the record deal.




Falling into the (often inaccurate) assumption that you have more talent, therefore you deserve success is killing you.


The artist who wins will be the artist who infiltrates the consumer mind first, talented or not.


The artist who stands out will be the artist who is the most unique in the new music business.


Design Mind The Gap




Therefore, the artists who lack on a body of work simply won’t have authentic art.




The more work an artist does to “close the gap” between their taste and authenticity, the more authentic their art becomes.


Therefore, covers are so important.


Cut the crap, you won’t be misconstrued a cover artist, I promise.


Let’s be honest here, the reality is that, right now, you’re not seen by the market as any kind of artist, isn’t it?


Or at least you’re seen by too few people to make a living.


Until you put in this work, the artist is unique and the art is not.


It’s not about your music.


Rather, it’s about what people think about your music.



Design Car Logo Collage

If objectivity on the product were the determining factor in marketing, all products would perform equally throughout the globe.




In America, the top 3 Japanese auto imports are Honda, Toyota, and Nissan IN THAT ORDER.


If people purchased based on the objectivity of the product, like designs, functionality, styling, etc., this same ranking would exist in Japan, but it doesn’t because the Japanese think about these brands differently.


Japan’s top 3 selling auto brands are Toyota, Nissan, then Honda coming in third because the Japanese think of Honda as a motorcycle company, not a car company.


Design Harley Davidson LogoGet it?


Imagine how well Harley-Davidson cars would sell in America.


They wouldn’t.


In America, Campbell’s soup is #1 but in England, Heinz soup is #1.


The question is, exactly what are you doing to get yourself in the mind of the consumer?


I want you to win.


You’re only going to win by penetrating the mind of the consumer.


Get someone to do it for you if you don’t know how to do it.


If you can’t afford that, get an education and continue to learn. Understand how to permeate the consumer’s mind by design so you happen to the world.


If you’re not happening to the world, you’re not an artist.


I mean, maybe you are, but I haven’t heard of you.








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