2 Case Studies: How To Find Your Sound

How do you find your sound?

Find Your Sound Feature 1

It’s different for every artist, at least it should be. There has to be attention paid to what the artist is doing creatively so that the sound is what the artist is really, genuinely trying to do or you end up with a dancing chicken. That’s no fun.


There also has to be some thought put into the marketplace. This may sound non artistic but I beg to disagree. With some projects, subtle, intelligent changes can be made to cut through the clutter or expand the audience without stifling the art.


A bunch of you reading this article believe that to find your sound is whatever you happen to write about which makes it “organic”, more natural, etc.


That is true to a degree, however there has to be intentional curation, there has to be serious thought put into what this project is going to sound like, representation, the message, the image, the artistic “lane’. If there isn’t it comes out sounding haphazard and somewhat schizophrenic.


Find Your Sound Adele 21



Thematically, Adele’s 21 was all about her breakup. If she threw in a killer hit song about anything else, it wouldn’t have fit. That’s what I mean by schizophrenic.





Just because it’s a hit song doesn’t mean it’s a hit song for you. Here’s a great example.


One of my favorite songs last year was Kenny Chesney’s “American Kids”. GREAT song! (OK it really speaks to me and my upbringing in a faded little map dot called Delavan, Wisconsin. Love that map dot)Find Your Sound Kenny Chesney American Kids


This was a HUGE hit for Kenny. What you may not know is that “American Kids” was pitched to Lady Antebellum first and they passed on it; appropriately so.




Find Your Sound Lady A



Yes, that song is killer, but it wasn’t for them. It didn’t fit their brand so it wouldn’t work right.



Here’s my point.


Finding your sound starts at “30,000 feet” where you begin to craft your artistic lane with the broad strokes first. You have to put some DEEP thought into this because it will become the blueprint that will give guidance to whichFind Your Sound BluePrint songs to pick if they’re outside cuts, which of your songs you should, record and which of your songs you should either let someone else record OR save for a future project.


How much thought?



Marrying a project that is genuinely consonant with the artist from the inside out with an artistic lane that is ideally empty or hopefully not very crowded is an art form.


Case Study #1: Bailey James

Find Your Sound Bailey James


When I first heard Bailey I was blown away by her voice. She was simply an astonishing little 11-year old girl with an incredibly mature voice. Her instrument is somewhat reminiscent of the great Patsy Cline in tone and her melodic sensibilities.


Right away, that’s exciting because I don’t really hear anyone in the country music marketplace that sounds like her; this makes her voice more “identifiable”.


What wouldn’t be distinguishable is if she sounded like or was trying to sound exactly like Carrie Underwood, or Miranda Lambert which is usually the case here with most wannabes in Nashville.

Find Your Sound Carrie and Miranda


So that’s a step in the right direction.



Next what is really unusual, is that (now) 13-year old Bailey James genuinely likes old school country like Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, etc.




I think that when your Bailey’s age you HAVE to love 5 Seconds of Summer and Taylor Swift (check!) but other than these two artists she drives her parents crazy listening to, well, “Crazy”.

Find Your Sound Patsy Cline



Here is unique value proposition #2. If we made a record that was reminiscent of old school country Patsy Cline the project would be in harmony with Bailey’s artistic soul.


I would be real. Which is to say it wouldn’t be contrived.


Get it?


This information began to get my creative juices flowing.


What if we made a record that was retro (ish) sounding? At the time there was nothing like this on the radio, (although very recently Maren Morris seems to be doing REALLY well with her very retro sound, salute! This helps my cause).

Find Your Sound What if


What if we made the melodies evocative of Patsy Cline which you don’t hear on country radio right now?


What if we supported these melodies with old school country chords and chord progressions which you don’t hear on the radio right now?


Find Your Sound Country Guitar Chords


What if we added a neat artistically harmonious twist? Let’s make the lyrics more like Taylor Swift’s early records.



There were many reasons for Taylor Swift’s success and one of the big ones is that she and Scott Borchetta created Find Your Sound Taylor Swift Fearlessan artistic lane that was previously non-existent.


There were exactly ZERO artists lyrically catering to 9-14 year olds.


All country music artists were adult themed lyrically.


Here’s the twist. Taylor grew up.


Taylor went from:

She wears short skirts

 I wear T-shirts

She’s cheer captain

       And I’m in the bleachers”

To writing

I’ve got a long list of ex-lovers,

        They’ll tell you I’m insane

        But I’ve got a blank space baby,

        And I’ll write your name.”


Find Your Sound Authenti City



So who’s speaking for the 9-14 year olds in country music now?



Keep in mind we haven’t written any songs yet for Bailey’s project.


This very thought process led to some serious conversations that I had with Bailey and her parents.


Find Your Sound Couple Music CollageIf we make a record like this, we’re going to have to commit to using the internet and touring to build a following as we probably wouldn’t be getting a lot of love from country radio, at least at first. If we wanted love from country radio we’d have to make a record like Kelsea Ballerini, which is fine, but why be derivative just to chase radio?


Country radio wouldn’t probably help us because she doesn’t sound like what they’re spinning right now and they don’t want to take chances. They’re losing listeners by the droves every single day.


Besides, radio is becoming increasingly less effective in breaking new artists so the money spent on radio promo wouldn’t really be well spent at this particular stage of the game.

Find Your Sound Guitar Music Collage


We all agreed that this was the kind of record we wanted to make and we began to get Bailey with the songwriters that were willing to do business our way.


I say “our way” because it takes guts and commitment to purposefully write something you know probably isn’t going straight to radio. Writers get paid on the back end, with performance royalties, so why would they want to mess with this?


I gathered some writer friends and we went to work. I told the writers that the imagery had to be specific, keep it in the schoolyard. If the lyrics were universal enough that Carrie or Miranda could sell it, they had to go back to the drawing board. I wanted the kids to look at Bailey and say, “She speaks for us. She is our voice.”


Melodically we wanted bigger melodies like Patsy Cline. Chord wise we wanted 1960’s country.


See what I’m doing here?

Find Your Sound 30,000 feet


I have an artist that lives and breathes old school country who is STOKED to make a record in that vein. I also have a vacuum in the market place.




Moreover, I told Bailey’s parents if we made a record like this Bailey would stick out like a sore thumb from all the Disney bubblegum pop music.


We all agreed this was a good thing to “stick out”.


Find Your Sound Blueprint Fingerprint


This initial understanding of a defined artistic lane was mission critical to picking the songs that made the EP. Bailey and the writers wrote a bunch, we picked 5 Bailey co-writes, 1 outside cut, and they were all melodically and lyrically dialed into the vision.


Are you picking up what I’m putting down?




I have some questions for you.


Have you defined your artistic lane?Find Your Sound Define

How much competition is there in your artistic lane?

What kind of thought have you given towards your sound?


To find your sound you have to build around your strengths as an artist.


Bailey’s strengths, artistically lay in her voice, her love for old school country, and her age which gives us an advantage in the marketplace. This all has to do with the making of her sound, at least a sound that has a chance of standing out in the current marketplace and being heard by someone.


So Bailey is a great example of a solo artist whose sound was put together a certain way from the very beginning.


But what if you’re a band and you’re songs are already written? Let’s take a look at Van Halen and see exactly what producer Ted Templeman did to create their sound.

Find Your Find Your Sound DLR


David Lee Roth is arguably one the very best front men ever to walk on stage (and in the interest of complete transparency I’ll tell you that he’s my favorite. AMAZING LIVE SHOW.)


However DLR would never win American Idol.




Ted was smart enough to know that the “live show” attraction of DLR wasn’t going to translate well onto tape. That’s a live thing. Eddie would though.


FREE VALUE BOMB: Btw, Templeman who was also a Sr. VP of Warner Brothers Records along with Mo Ostin Find Your Sound Free Value Bombwho was the Chairman, passed twice on Van Halen demos, it didn’t come across on their recordings. They LOVED Eddie and wanted to sign him alone, but didn’t like DLR (Templeman originally wanted to put Sammy Hagar with Eddie!) It wasn’t until they both saw Van Halen live opening for Dokken (whom they were there to see) that they got it and agreed to sign Van Halen.



Templeman wanted the record to be about the guitar. That’s what was so special. Think about it.


COMPARE: Here is a link to one of the earlier Van Halen demos. Let’s just dissect the first song “On Fire”. It’s all there but it’s scattered and a bit out of focus isn’t it? Structurally as well as moment-wise.

  • The harmonic guitar lickFind Your Sound Van_Halen_Demo
  • Occasional badass DLR vocal scream (notice the first high note DLR hits is a real weak sounding falsetto without the signature multi overtone growl that he easily performs later on in the chorus “I’m on FIYAAAAA!”
  • The chorus hook, the vocal arrangement on the pre chorus “I’m hangin’ ten now baby, as I ride your sonic waaaaave” (ascending scream behind wave).
  • The guitar lead


Now, listen to VH I album cut of “On Fire” very carefully. The differences can mostly be attributed to Templeman’s input crafting their sound. Finding moments and featuring them.

  • First of all a bunch of fat was cut from the track.
  • The guitar was panned all the way to the left with only the reverb return coming out of the right. (Definitely a Find Your Sound Van Halen Irevved up guitar sound that Templeman credits completely to Eddie)
  • Drums and bass were all the way to the right with DLR straight up the middle. (This abnormal mix strategy FEATURED the guitar.)
  • Bombastic beginning chord progression before the signature riff starts.
  • Notice, from the get go, the recording is loaded with all kinds of guitar licks filling up the vocal holes, featuring Eddie’s guitar prowess.
  • Notice Templeman LOVED the harmonic guitar lick and featured it making it a recurring guitar hook. VH did it on the demo, Templeman did it more.
  • The vocal melody was re-crafted subtly but it’s genius because it’s more powerful and memorable (more question/answer on the melody…do you hear it?)
  • The end of the guitar solo was changed a bit to give Eddie a “lily pad” to land on giving the lead, which was ascending and creating tension, resolution at the end.
  • All the falsetto voices from DLR are badass strong tone with signature growl that was intermittent on the demo. Many are doubled.


So to find YOUR sound you need to think like a record executive and create a lane with little or no competition. You also need to think like a producer and bring out the strengths of the act on the recording.


Sometimes you just need to write a BUNCH to hone in on your sound. The Beatles wrote at least 50-150 songs before they began to get it.


Find Your Sound Microphone


Last thing. Both the artists in these case studies are extremely talented. Both of them needed outside help to focus the talent and make it really shine for an audience.



Who’s helping you?





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It’s Your Cage; It Can Be As Oppressive As You Want It To Be

Cage Feature MEME

Follow me on this, I promise it’s all about artists.

Cage Election BannerElection season is here in the United States and personally, I hate all politicians on both sides of the isle because their job security is not related in any way to performance.


That’s an accident looking for a place to happen.


It’s gross.


Is that just me?


You can relax, this isn’t a political rant of any kind. I have my beliefs just like you, but I disdain both sides of the isle because the system doesn’t foster performance when job #1 is just to get reelected. This means they really don’t give a damn about any of us or the country simply because they don’t have to.

They care about your vote, and ALL politicians will pander to you, looking for the biggest common “heart-string” threads they can pull to gain the most votes.

Cage Politician Promise


Until Congressional term limits are in place, where the politician incentive changes from “what do I have to do to ride this gravy train a little longer” to “I don’t have much time to leave my legacy so I better get to work” we will continue down the same path. Sadly.



Until the proper, appropriate, intelligent motivations are woven into our political structure, the sour  arguments, talking points, and voting process will stack up and linger unnecessarily like garbage in a compulsive hoarder’s home.Cage Hoarding





I liken it to a group of people standing around a swimming pool, each of them with a different colored cinder block, spouting endless spirited nonsensical rants based on their thoughts, fears, and beliefs, for the purposes of convincing the other side that their cinder block will actually float.


Cage Cinder Block Voyeur MEME

Until we reimagine the cinder block, it just isn’t going to happen regardless of your beliefs.


Our current arrangement allows us to change said political system as a people, without permission from Congress (via a Constitutional Amendment), but we won’t.


And this brings me to my point.


This is where my prior statements morph into your reality as an artist.


Right now, we live in a country where, for the most part, there is equal opportunity. Yes, it’s flawed, but the opportunities are there.

Cage Slave Collage


For thousands of years all kinds of people have been persecuted, enslaved, exterminated, controlled, oppressed, etc., including blacks, Jews, women, Irish, Italian, witches, sorcerers, all religions, gays, people with different skin tone within their own oppressed race, handicapped, the outwardly vocal dissenters, etc.


Now, just in this election, we have full term black President nearing the end of his legacy, and so far out of the four front runners in the Presidential race, 1 is a Jew, 1 is a woman, and 1 is a Latino of Cuban decent.



Here’s my point. Yes we are flawed. Yes, there is always room to improve, but we have opportunities for anyone who wants to grab the brass ring.


But, most people won’t.


Most people won’t out of fear.Cage Brass Ring


It’s a very real fact that most people secretly don’t feel they’re worthy of it.




Cage King Arthur small


Only King Arthur can remove the scimitar from the stone.


This fear manifests itself in the form of convenient stories we tell ourselves that are designed to create forgiveness,


Forgiveness for failing to believe.


“But I’m not King Arthur so I can’t grab that sword.”


“Money is the root of all evil.”Cage Root Of All Evil


“We’re the 99% not the evil 1%”


“I need to be perfect before I can bring my art to the world.”


“I just need that record deal and THEN I can be serious about my artist career”


Cage Perfectionism



There is still rampant slavery in this world and no politician can EVER promise you that they can somehow change the system to create an equal outcome for every person.




Here’s why.

Yes, you’re a slave.

You’re also the slave master.


While your opportunities can be changed by a different political system, your outcome can only be changed by you.


Did you catch that?

While your opportunities can be changed by a different political system, your outcome can only be changed by you.

Cage Feature 2

We are all prisoners held captive within our own cage.


How far you choose to expand your reality is completely up to you.


I’ll give you an example, here is a GREAT video of Tony Robbins being interviewed by Lewis Howes (I love Howes’ podcast).


Robbins talks at length about giving.


The more you give the more you receive. He was barely making a living at one point when he offered a kid a college scholarship with these rules:

  • You must have a B average
  • No Drugs
  • You can’t go to Jail
  • You must do 20 hours of community service each year.




The community service was a strategic component he placed in there to systemize exposure to giving. This requirement ensured that the beneficiary could experience the biological and mental change which occurs within a soul when it gives.



Since then, Tony has expanded this amazing scholarship program exponentially but you’d be amazed at how many kids turn down the scholarship because either they, or their parents, don’t believe they should be giving they believe they should be getting.


They find the 20 hours of community work requirement offensive so they pass on the gift!


There’s that rusty cage I was talking about.


Cage 99 percentIncidentally, about 27 minutes in Tony talks about the 99% and their views and attitudes towards money. He says that money is a magnifier of someone’s real self. If you’re mean you’re going to get meaner with money. If you’re generous you’re going to give more with money.



I personally like the fact Tony states about how half of the population of our planet live on $2.50 per day or $900 per year. Which comparatively in the context of the whole planet, places the poverty stricken Americans, the lowest of the 99%, in that evil 1% category that they love to hate so much.

Cage Tony Robbins Statistic





Think about that.






I find it extraordinarily entertaining when these 99 percenters bash capitalism and capitalists via social media from their iPhones. Nothing like ignorant irony.

Cage Kumbaya



Listen, most people are standing in a bucket and trying to lift themselves up. Until these people learn to get out of their own way, no institutionalized equal outcome ideologies will help them.



In your band somebody has to be the spiritual force, the leader. Somebody has to be John, then somebody has to be Paul, somebody has to be George, and somebody has to be Ringo.

Cage Standing In A Bucket



There will always be hierarchy in all animal species.


We’re wired up that way.



To be uplifted we need to have hope.


We need to believe that we can really succeed.Cage Megaphone Guy


Then we need to learn how to do it.


What we don’t need is any buffoon telling us we’re being held down by the man.


Because if we really believe that then it’s true.


EVERYBODY has to overcome obstacles to succeed and those obstacles don’t ever go away after you succeed.


We don’t need any respected “expert” making us feel these hindrances are somehow “institutionalized” or out of our control, rather we need to think of them as anticipated speed bumps.


I have massive respect for individuals who were smart enough, worked hard enough, and were driven enough to get out of their hood, their oppression, their cage, their former reality and make a real dent in the Universe.


Cage Name Tag Rich Person


I lose that respect when they become famous and use their voice, with the reach of their new found megaphone to complain about their lot in life. To complain about what they had to overcome to get their success.


I want to vomit when these achievers, these people who manifested their dreams into their reality whine and jump up and down about persecution, money, unfairness, blah, blah, blah.


All they are doing is sucking the wind out of the sails of anyone from their designated oppressed community who has an inkling of hope to achieve the same success.


They’re inadvertently proliferating the very problems they content they’re trying to solve.


Hey, not for nothing, but some famous people proliferate on purpose because it makes them feel relevant or the social problem actually makes them relevant, but I digress.Cage Politician Megaphone


In a misguided attempt to shine a light on their struggle to help others, they are enslaving millions of people on the receiving end of that megaphone by implying that life is impossible because it’s unfair and it’s out of an individual’s control.


They naively believe that some social change is going to make the world a fair place and help their downtrodden people rise.


Do you see? They’re putting the results of their outcome on someone or something else.


Isn’t that kind of an excuse?


Then their besieged people respond by doing nothing; waiting around for the world to change.


Cage it's Your Cage

Stuck in that cage because now that the onus isn’t on them, it’s the world’s fault, and until it changes to make it easy for them, why try?


What these famous achievers should be doing is telling them it can be done!


Why won’t they learn how to empower these people intelligently?




There are no equal outcomes.


Here’s another example.


Cage EM HE BusABC had a hit show called Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.


If you haven’t seen this show the producers would find people in need of a new home. The benefactors were vetted by an incredible story that would touch the hearts of America, ABC would then send the family on a luxurious vacation, and build them a brand new home while they were gone.


They demolished the old edifice and built the new house in one week!


For instance, you’d have a couple with 7 kids living in a 700 square foot house.


EM: HE would pay off their current mortgage and build them a 4,500 square foot house; absolutely free.


EM HE Before and After 2


This concept sounds so beautiful, and it is, but you have no idea the psychological and societal landmines ABC unearthed on this show.


In a sense this platform promised an equal outcome, didn’t it?


Every lucky subject gets a brand new spacious free house, no mortgage, taxes paid, and their insurance paid.





Easy street.Cage Landmine


Well, not exactly as it turns out.



In the first 5 years of this TV series, they had to change the rules to protect the winners from themselves.


Too many of the winners ended up destitute again.




Yes, they got their mortgage paid, a brand new free house, a new car, much better life at no cost, and then somehow found a way to get right back down to being broke again.


This was bad press for ABC.Cage Extravagant 2


What would happen you ask?


The winners would spend the money allotted to cover taxes and insurance on things that weren’t taxes and insurance.


They’d take mortgages out on their free house that got them out of squalor to go on vacation, live like a rock star, or start a business that they weren’t smart enough to know they didn’t know about.


Some of the people would lose the house because they couldn’t afford the utility bills in the new home.

Cage EM HE Logo Image


That’s right, after having zero debt, after all the new relationships they could’ve made in the community from the 2,000 to 4,000 volunteers who would show up to build this house in a week, it ended up that the winners couldn’t figure out a way to make an effort to earn a little more money for the electric bill in the new roomy home.


This is because they never believed they deserved it so they never stepped up their game to rise to the occasion.


 They clearly weren’t being held down by the man, here. They were being held down by themselves.


They couldn’t find a way to use the benevolence to pick themselves up and literally blew it.


Cage You Are Your Biggest Obstacle


This happened OFTEN.


ABC was forced to create rules that wouldn’t allow mortgages to be taken out on the home, untouchable escrow accounts had to be set up ensuring the taxes, insurance, and utilities could be paid for the next 5 years to guarantee ABC that these people couldn’t screw themselves.


The winners were pathetic.


I don’t say that to be mean or to be condescending.


ABC vetted them because they were pathetic which made for good TV. ABC amazingly created a show (which made tons of money by the way) that congregated thousands of local volunteers to help someone in need in their community. The network and these volunteers gave some poor, broken souls a new house, sometimes new vehicles, bills paid for 5 years, and a helping hand to lift them up out of their poverty stricken reality.Cage Pathetic


What ABC discovered was that all too often, the new environment, new things, and the new situation did not change the reality of the people they were helping at all.


These people were pathetic because they believed they were pathetic.


New house, new clothes, new car, same old person.


SIDENOTE: This is amazing. Over 50% of the people who were helped by ABC were grateful for the amazing opportunity. The other 50% became instantly entitled and began making snotty demands during and after production.

Cage Complaint


Demands for “appropriate” transportation, “appropriate” behind the scenes cuisine, they would turn their noses down on the color of a brand new SUV they just received, etc.


They complained!





Every society is like this.


Including you and your band.


Cage Winwood Lyrics“Come down off your throne, and leave your body alone. Something must change. You are the reason you’ve been waiting for so long.”


You are the answer to overcoming your troubles.


It’s your cage.

It can be as big as you want it to be.

It can be oppressive as you want it to be.

It can be abundant as you want it to be.

It can be full of love if you want it to be.

It can be creative if you want it to be.


In your cage you can live the dichotomy and suffer like the rest of society tells you that should because it’s the right thing to do (and they can’t figure out how to escape it), or you can step outside of your pitiful little cage, be courageous, and push forward in the face of fear and ridicule.


Cage Chains


Take a deep breath, experience some failure, and LIVE the life you always dreamed of.


You need stop thinking about what you don’t have because it doesn’t matter.




You have to concentrate on your gifts, on what you DO have and build from there.


People of influence love to help people who get it; people who they feel are on their way.


It has little to do with your talent.


It has everything to do with your mindset.

Cage Slave Punisher

Are you a slave?


Are you enslaving yourself?


Are you a corporate slave?


A slave within your relationship?


A slave shackled by the misguided thoughts and beliefs of your parents?


A slave to your own ineffective methodologies that never seem to work because you refuse to change tactics?


A slave to your own ego?


Cage Slave NegroA slave because you believe someone else is going to be responsible for your outcomes?


Well, no election, major TV network, record label executive, recording studio, management company, booking agent, songwriting partner, and certainly no amount of money is going to free you from your own shackles until you retool your brain.


Here’s a good example, we recently lost the incomparable Merle Haggard. Merle was born poor white trash. By the age of 18 his voluminous rap sheet resulted in a 15 year jail sentence. Merle escaped from jail 17 times. This is why he was moved to San Quentin State Prison because the state of California couldn’t figure out how to contain him in a jail. It was in San Quentin where Merle saw Johnny Cash play live and decided to change his life forever.


He had nothing and was not captive to a figurative cage, rather a real cage. He was released serving 2.5 years of his sentence and changed his mindset.


He had no money.Cage Merle Haggard 2


He had no contacts in the music industry.


What he did have was his songs and an unrelenting drive to succeed.


Hag gave absolutely no one permission to take that drive from him. The rest is history.


Sadly, like the subjects on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, many of you will get some incredible opportunities and completely blow it due to your ignorance.


Many of you already have.


Ignorance is changed into potential power with education and knowledge. There are plenty of very inexpensive sources for education that only require your action and a couple bucks to implement.


FYI, Tony Robbins doesn’t have a college education, but he did read 700 books in 3 years when he first started getting his act together.


Cage Amazon Image


Why aren’t you reading?


Applied knowledge is turned into real power.


That’s a power that only you own.


It’s a power that will continually create opportunities for you.



No person, no government, no 1-percenter, and no election can take power like that away from you. Ever.


Don’t play their game, man.Cage Glass Half Full


Don’t drink the Kool-Aid.


It’s poison.


You have everything you need right now; no more, no less.


The question is what are you doing to pick the lock on your cage?







P.S. I challenge you to read 1 book a month with the subject matter being whatever you feel you need to help you further your artist career.




1 Amazing Step Will Absolutely Set You Free, Baby

Freedom Feature

It doesn’t matter what you do in life, we all want to be successful. However you define “success” is up to you. I define success as a life spent making a living doing something you absolutely love which results in true artistic freedom.


Some of you in the Daredevil community are hipsters, hippies, children of the world, etc. If you can find a way to barter your music in exchange for a house, food, transportation, educations for your children, and a decent quality of living, God Bless.Freedom Hippie Bus


For the rest of you commerce will have to occur for you to make a living.


If no commerce or not enough commerce is occurring then one must make a living outside of their passion.


Freedom Child Fence


This is living a dichotomy.


This is where people become cynical, bitter, and angry with themselves.


The dichotomy is where artist souls go to die.


Where there is fine art there is always business. If that fact wasn’t accurate you wouldn’t know about the art.

Think about that one for a second. Think about it again.Freedom Artist Graveyard

Whoa! Right?


Success comes from momentum and momentum is created from taking the first step.


Too many people live their whole lives afraid to take the first 3 steps.


I say this because 50% of people will quit after the first failure or misstep.

80% of people quit after the second.

95% of people quit after the third.


Freedom Dog Fence


Isn’t interesting how these numbers correlate very closely to the top earners on our planet?


Would it surprise you then that while there are always exceptions to the rule, the top 5% of the wealth was created at some point by people who courageously took the 4th step?


How much smaller is that group of people?


Standing out amongst 5% is far easier than battling 100% wouldn’t you agree?


I’m not saying the goal is to be super wealthy, but the people that got that way were people like you who desired freedom. Unlike some of you, they weren’t afraid to truly seek it.


You have to take the first step.


Freedom ScaredThe first step is the hardest because it feels the most foreign, comes with most fear, and has the most to lose, which would be whatever groove you’re experiencing now.


Even if it’s a bad groove, it’s familiar.


We like familiar because familiar is comfortable.


Even if it’s an uncomfortable familiar.


Just ask the emotionally and physically abused. They’re afraid to leave the relationship because the idea of stepping outside their current real reality more uncomfortable than the abuse.


Freedom HandcuffsThey fear the unknown.


They believe the degrading messages that are communicated by their abuser.


They’re petrified to take the first step.



When I was young, we had a 1 acre lawn that I was responsible for mowing. THAT was a project. Especially for a pre-teen/teenager who had far better things to be doing than spending a day mowing the lawn.Freedom Marine Drill Sargeant MEME


I would sit for HOURS, dreading the idea of beginning to mow the lawn. I would overthink everything, what I had to do, what I wanted to do, I would day dream and completely psych myself out.


That regular project would have been so much better had I just STARTED the damn process.


My father wouldn’t have been so pissed off all the time either, which isn’t a good thing for anyone, but he is a Marine. If you’ve never encountered a pissed off Marine, well, I don’t know what to tell you.


Marines work, they hustle, they improvise, adapt, and overcome to execute the task at hand.


Marines take care of business first. Play later. Period

No lollygagging.

No excuses.


I am sharing human nature with you.


We ALL react this way.

Freedom Chained Books


Our most difficult tasks, hurdles, and obstacles seem smaller once they’re in the rearview mirror.


There I was regularly derailed by a simple chore that required zero ingenuity and 100% effort. The job seemed so large to me in my head that it habitually became overwhelming.



That’s because I chose to let a task, that I knew had to be done conquer me, instead of me conquering the task. Which would have resulted in my freedom much earlier in the day.


That procrastination wasted so much of my time!

So no fear there, just inaction and resignation.

Freedom Music is Freedom MEME


What’s overwhelming you?


Take a task like marketing your music that requires a formidable work load, couple it with an obligation to learn and to innovate and you have something to really be fearful about.


Marketing represents a requirement to step into the unknown so it’s easy to see why so few artists don’t become successful to the level that they want to be successful.


It’s too scary.



Freedom Let Go


You think you know how to write a song and you may be right.

You think you’re a great player and you may be right.

You think you’re compelling and you may be right.



But I’m right when I say you can be better.

Either you think you know how to market yourself or you’re completely ignoring the proverbial elephant sitting on the couch (most of you are experiencing the latter but I digress).

Freedom Elephant


If you were marketing effectively you’d be making a living. Period.


If you’re not marketing at all and you’re making a living doing what you love, then you could be making a better living for you and your family.


Either you’re currently living the dichotomy or you can do better at being a professional musician.


Freedom Always Learning Library


All of my most successful artist friends STILL PRACTICE. They are always asking questions, curious about any new approach they can apply to their career to escalate the return on their effort whether that be songwriting, playing, marketing, business, you name it.


They’re always learning.





It’s easy to go to work every day putting your future in the hands of someone else’s momentum.


That makes it easy to blame that someone else when things go wrong.Freedom Headvice


It’s far more difficult to create your own momentum and be your own boss. Mostly because the only one you can blame for poor results is yourself.


Alexander the Great said, “Through every generation of the human race there has been a constant war, a war with fear. Those who have the courage to conquer it are made free and those who are conquered by it are made to suffer until they have the courage to defeat it, or death takes them.”


You are stronger than you think.


Freedom Tortoise HatchYou are more courageous than you can possibly imagine.


Devour the fear of the unknown along with the potholes, speed bumps, and setbacks for breakfast because they come every day to every person.


You will require an audience to become a successful artist and you will require marketing to produce that audience.


Marketing will create momentum.



Momentum starts with the first step.

Freedom Find Your Freedom







Please comment and SHARE this if you found it helpful.


David Bowie: Exhilarating and Terrifying

David Bowie Feature Image

Sorry this post took a while. I was a little devastated. I’m unsure as to whether I knew about David Bowie and his battle with cancer and ignored it or simply didn’t know. Either way, I felt blindsided. This is a tremendous loss for the artistic community. He was super intelligent. A visionary. Mostly he was an artist right up until the end.David Bowie Interview



Watch this 2000 interview with David Bowie. Here he begins to predict the power of the internet to change the music industry in the future.




David Bowie Exhilarating Ying Yang




“I don’t think we’ve even seen the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do to society – both good and bad – is unimaginable. I think we’re actually on the cusp of something exhilarating and terrifying.”


“The monopolies do not have a monopoly:”


David Bowie No Monopoly


Pretty spot on, huh? Hard to imagine it was 16 years ago that he gave this interview.


I want to discuss the “exhilarating and terrifying” part of that quote.



We need to touch a little on the terrifying to truly find an accurate perspective of the exhilaration counterpart that accompanies it.


The terrifying has manifested itself in many ways, hasn’t it? Free tracks have temporarily devalued music but artists like Taylor Swift have proven that when you embrace the new methods you can still sell 8.6 million records. Which blows the whole “if they can get it for free they won’t buy it” argument right out of the water; now THAT’S exhilarating!David Bowie Wolfman Jack


If she can sell 8.6 million records when the ENTIRE industry can’t really crack 1 million in sales, YOU can certainly make a living. Oh, and she’s clearly doing something different than the rest of the industry.


It’s terrifying that our tried and true methodologies of curation have broken down. It used to be that a trusted DJ in a market would spin something that moved him and if it was good (which it usually was because of the hurdles an artist had to overcome to get their song to the DJ to begin with), the world would catch on. Rod Stewart’s “Maggie May” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” both broke in this fashion. They started abnormally in the Midwest and caught fire moving outwardly to the coasts. FYI, Pink Floyd’s single became viral in spite of a power play by The Syndicate (a group of 6 men that controlled radio in the 70’s) to keep Floyd OFF the air in an attempt to prove their power eclipsed their ability to get a song played.


It’s exhilarating that artists like Karmin, Noah, and Macklemore can find a huge audience without the corporate amen from the powers that be at terrestrial radio or major record labels.

David Bowie Karmin



It’s terrifying that records used to cost the 2016 equivalent of $29 and now they only cost $10.99.


It’s exhilarating that proper marketing can not only bring record sales back, but monetize the tremendous talents of artists in many brand new ways.





Unimaginable was what Bowie said, I believe.

David Bowie Unimaginable MEME



It’s terrifying that the record labels are so broke they no longer develop talent anymore. The methods artists used for 7 decades to get their music made and heard no longer apply. This is foreign and foreign creates feelings that range from the uncomfortable to downright scary.



It’s exhilarating that there is a new frontier with an embarrassment of artistic and monetary riches that waits for the pioneers that are willing to learn. It’s never been easier and this inexpensive to target, connect, and create relationships with your fans.


As David Bowie said in the interview, music is now a community experience.David Bowie Community



It used to be an artist would get distribution overseas and have no choice but to trust the suits that their music “wasn’t really selling”.



It used to be that an artist would sell 8 million records and never fully “recoup” the budget put forth by a record label because they could hide the money and screw the artist in perpetuity.


David Bowie Beggar


Now, we can track everything digitally. There is no reason for an artist to have to “trust” anyone. Now artists can “trust but verify”.


The monopolies no longer have a monopoly.



You don’t need a record label or radio to find your audience, you can find your own fans at your fingertips and it’s basically a free exercise.


You don’t need a record label or radio to create a buzz about your artistic efforts.


David Bowie Bailey JamesDaredevil artist Bailey James has at least 14 independently created social media accounts. They were created by fans. 12 on Instagram and 2 on Twitter last time I checked.


That’s buzz


She hasn’t even released her record yet.


It’s real, man.


About 6 months ago, Bailey posted a cover of Luke Bryan’s “Kick the Dust Up” on her YouTube channel. This song was chosen simply for the traffic value we felt it would bring and it didn’t disappoint. However, this cover was the first that created some real controversy. The reaction to the video was split down the middle with as many people hating it (whether it was Bailey’s performance of it or the song itself I’m still unsure) as loving it. Bailey’s father was systematically removing the negativity in an understandable paternal effort to protect his little girl (she was 12 years old).


I told both parents to keep it real and leave the negative comments up. I said this because there were people that were actually listening to our artist expecting a train wreck (due to the negative comments) that were blown away by her vocal prowess and therefore baffled at the negative commentary.


They commented as much.

David Bowie Bailey James YouTube 3

Now they’re fans and subscribers to Bailey’s channel.


Some of the best, deepest relationships in life are forged from adversity. If the adverse reactions were allowed to stay, I said, her fans would come to her defense.


What makes you believe something deeper than defending it? Psychologically, that has a subconscious positive effect on the defenders; a bond is created between the defenders and the defended.David Bowie Scary


Last week a little girl made the sorry mistake of posting an Instagram message calling Bailey James a “bitch”.


Papa bear let it ride.


Whoa. The fans SKEWERED that little girl who left the bitch comment so much I felt bad for her. She digressed and said it was some boy on the bus who posted the comment without her knowledge or approval so it wasn’t her fault.

David Bowie Bailey James Bitch


I think all those protectors will buy the record when it is released, don’t you?


They’re passionate now. Definitely more passionate than before the bitch comment.


All this is possible from a laptop or smartphone.


You can create your own demand.


You don’t need a record label to make a living making music, everything you need, including the education on how to do it, is right at your fingertips and instantly available for those who know to ask the right questions.


You don’t need a record label to monitor your money for you. In fact, collection agencies like ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC are all feeling the pain of maintaining their relevance in this new digital age.




You don’t need 1 million dollars to make your music and market it these days. You just need to want to do it enough to venture forth into the unknown and learn some new skills.


That’s what I did.


You need to be bold instead of whiney.


You need to be courageous instead of fearful.


You need to be curious instead of lazy.


Embrace the change.

I still don’t know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streetsDavid Bowie Young Americans
And every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

(Turn and face the strange)
Don’t want to be a richer man
(Turn and face the strange)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace timeDavid Bowie Hollywood Star

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence and
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

(Turn and face the strange)
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
(Turn and face the strange)
Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace timeDavid Bowie Patch

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace
I’m going through

(Turn and face the strange)
Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
(Turn and face the strange)
Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time


You were a true genius, Davie Bowie.


Thanks for the great music, man.


God Speed.


Now any artist can make true art without corporate intervention and bring it to the world without corporate intervention.

That is, if they really want to.


When you can have complete control over your art and your cash, why would you place your future in the hands of 2 different committees (record labels and radio) whose businesses are dying right before your eyes?


Why on Earth would you want to do it the old way?






Here Is Your Bottom Line

Bottom Line Feature MEME

Bottom Line Doubt WomanFar too many of you are dumbfounded and FRUSTRATED because you aren’t selling your CD’s after you put so much time, effort, money, blood, sweat, and tears into your beloved project.


How come nobody cares?


What is the reason that they aren’t selling?


YOU are the reason you aren’t selling.


That is to say it’s your business model.

Your bottom line is unless you recognize this fact and adjust accordingly you will continue getting the same results.


Bottom Line Signed Contract 2


Let’s say you were going to sign your dreamlike coveted major label record deal today. Let’s say the label agreed to a budget of 2 million dollars to launch your career.


MAYBE $200,000 would go towards making the record broken up into expenses that range from producers, engineers, studio time, musicians, food and lodging for all, mixing, mastering, and duplication.


That leaves $1.8 million.


What would they possibly spend that on?



A major label record company never signed an artist using your current business model. That is to record the project the best they can and put it on the shelves, cross their fingers, and hope the world will catch on.


90% of the budget would go to exposing the artist’s music to a targeted audience and CREATING DEMAND for a product that nobody actually needs.Bottom LIne Chess


It’s a slight bit easier when you make a product that people need and you have to market the product to compete with the other products, like gasoline, automobiles, food, clothing, electronic devices, cleaning supplies, tools, building materials, restaurants, etc.


No, you are marketing a product that nobody is looking for or actually needs.


This is a trickier challenge. Recognize it and treat it as such.


I would imagine MOST of you haven’t really spent ANY money marketing your music meaning 100% of your precious funds were spent recording the project.

Bottom Line Business Plan


Those few that have spent any amount of money marketing probably spent 99% of the allotted budget on recording and maybe 1% on marketing, if that.


Record labels spend around 10% of the budget making the record, 90% marketing it.


You spent 100% of your budget making your CD and zero marketing it.



And the y’all get frustrated because nobody seems to care.


You get more than frustrated.


You get downright depressed.

Bottom Line Disappointment Road


You begin to doubt.


Maybe you’re always doubting and you increase your doubt every time you think about it.


You then begin to think of plan B, right?


Nobody knows about your music, man.


You don’t know how to reach them and they’re NOT looking to find you.


If you did know what you were doing, people would know about you.


Zero dollars on educating yourself about marketing were spent on your project.

Zero dollars paying a company to market your music were spent on your project.

Or very little was spent and probably misspent at that.


Let’s take a look at Daredevil Production artist, Tanya Marie Harris.

Bottom Line Tanya Marie Harris


Yes, she’s incredibly talented.


She’s also incredibly smart.


To be clear we produce Tanya and I occasionally have marketing conversations with her, but Tanya has done all her own marketing.


Instead of spending all her money on a whole CD she started with 2 songs. Then spent her precious monetary resources on marketing.


In this December 29th Chicago Tribune article she explains just a few of the accomplishments she’s achieved with this approach.

Read it now.


Maybe your business model needs to be tweaked?





Invest In Your Future

Invest Feature Image MEME

If you want to own a McDonald’s franchise you are going to have to invest some money in the franchisee contract.Invest Hawiian Shirt FREE Commons image


If you don’t own a McDonald’s franchise and you work for McDonald’s, you’re an employee of the person who does own the franchise.

If you want to look decent at a professional job interview you are going to have to invest in some business attire.


What are the odds of landing the gig if you show up in tattered cargo shorts, a stained Hawaiian shirt, and moldy plastic flip flops?

Invest Gas Can Chris Potter License

Photo: Chris Potter

If you buy a beautiful brand new car you are going to have to invest in the purchase of the car or monthly payments, gasoline, tires, and occasional maintenance to keep it running.

If you don’t invest in these things your ownership of the car will be quite short, either because it was repossessed or because the engine will freeze up.

If you are going to play guitar you are going to have to invest in a guitar, Invest Guitar FREE Pixabay Imageamplification if it’s electric, strings, regular maintenance on the truss rods, frets, and wood to keep it humming consistently throughout the seasons.


Can you really learn to play guitar without investing in one?



Can you really put up a lemonade stand unless you invest in the lemonade first?

What if you put up a lemonade stand with the hope of finding someone to purchase the lemonade for you?

Invest Lemonade Stand FREE Pixabay image



What would consumers and potential business associates think if they stopped by your lemonade stand only to find you had no lemonade?




What would you tell those consumers and potential business associates about your hopes and dreams of a profitable lemonade stand that would remove the sting and 1st impression that you simply don’t have any lemonade?Invest Lemonade Idiot Meme


You can’t expect a fat retirement account when you retire unless you invest a portion of every paycheck while you’re working throughout your career.


Invest Cornfield FREE Pixabay image


Dave Ramsey makes the thought of investing painfully simple…if you want to grow corn you are going to HAVE TO PLANT CORN!!!

Why are so many of you trying to launch your music careers without really investing?



Without investing time?

Without investing money?

This is a fantasy.

As with anything in life, relationships, careers, equipment, domiciles, hobbies, pets, you are going to get out of it what you put in.Invest Sorry Cartoon FREE Pixabay image

In plain English YOU HAVE TO PUT IN.

It’s going to cost money to get this career of yours off the ground.

Excuses as to why you can’t or more appropriately why you won’t invest in yourself are just that; they’re excuses.

Yes, I’m sure they are valid but they are, in fact, excuses.

Excuses are reasons to forgive yourself for not doing something. They act as a pardon of sorts, making us feel ok that a certain objective wasn’t met.

Invest Suffocationg FREE Wiki image

Do you ever make excuses for not breathing?


Do you ever pardon yourself for not eating?



No, somehow, some way, you find a way to breathe, you find a way to eat because your life depends on it.

If your breathing or eating is curtailed for too long you will fight to make it happen.

Many of you say that your life depends on your music, but you find excuses as to why you won’t advance your career intelligently.

This suggests that your life actually doesn’t depend on making music.

Doesn’t it? (Pun intended)


I’m certain there is a great deal of self-sabotage embedded in this dichotomy.Invest Hamster Wheel FREE Creative Commons Image

We all come by it honestly because the people that love us are fearful we’ll be broke, so they tell us to get a “backup plan”. In order to frame and sell the backup plan scenario correctly, they need to tell us that the music business is hard.

It is.

If it was easy EVERYONE would be a rock star.

Life on the hamster wheel is hard too.

It’s hard getting up every day to go work at a job that you just don’t have any passion for.

That’ll suck your soul, man.

Invest Fall In Line


And all this for the sake of being responsible and falling into line with society?


All for the sake of making your parents and/or other people happy?


This is where they want you by the way. Don’t blame the messenger(s) in your life. Whether the message comes from love or from nasty, bitter, jealousy they are regurgitating what they have been taught their whole lives.Invest Kool Aid FREE Creative Commons Image

It’s what THEY believe and sometimes they really don’t like being reminded there are other more attractive avenues.

The talking points are clear and obvious, the question is are you drinking the Kool-Aid?



What you invest in this scenario is far more valuable than money; it’s your TIME.

Where there is a will there is a way.


I can assure you that every artist’s path to success is unique so the only manner in which you can discover yours is to actually start walking down it.

Invest Falling Horse FREE Public Domain Image


In other words, you won’t be able to research all the remedies in advance of all the challenges you are going to incur with your artist career.


There is a scene in the movie Apollo 13 where the NASA expert gives the astronauts a red cyanide pill. The NASA expert says, “We can think of 1002 reasons why you would need this, but mostly it’s for the reasons we can’t think of.”


I think of artist careers like this.



You won’t be able to research how to avoid new ways of falling off your horse. You won’t research your way to a painless and mistake-free outcome.

This is the main issue I see all of you grappling with.

Let me save you the suspense, YOU WILL FALL OFF YOUR HORSE.

Everyone does, so that’s a real easy statement to make.Invest Hard Work Meme


The trick to life is learning how to get back up on the horse and learning how to avoid falling off again in the same manner.


The more you get back up on the horse, the longer you stick around, the more contacts you make, the deeper you get into the business, the more relationships you will make, the more successful you will be.


While every detail to every artist’s recipe for success is unique, this basic formula is ubiquitous.


This will require an investment of time and money. You pay for food, you pay more for bottled tap water than you do for gasoline, so why not find a way to pay for your career?


Invest Marketing FREE Pixabay image


Have you invested enough in:




Practice space?



A website?

Professional recordings?


Education for marketing, recording, and writing?

I seriously suspect that the most overlooked item on the preceding list, for every independent artist, was marketing.

What haven’t you invested in?Invest Money Bag FREE Pixabay image

Why haven’t you invested in it?

Is it because you think marketing is too expensive?

A nationwide radio promo campaign is going to cost $500,000 to purchase the opportunity to crack the top 50.

You don’t need radio to get the fire started and create serious attention from the industry.

Is it because you don’t understand how to market online?

You can learn.

These days the music business is hard, don’t get me wrong. You’ll invest more than you get back initially.


Invest Instant Gratification Meme


There are different kinds of investments. When you invest 40 hours of your time at your day job you get a regular paycheck every week in return.





When huge venture capital companies invest large sums of money into tech companies they are not expecting to get an immediate return on their investment.

They are not expecting instant gratification.



The good news is it’s not rocket science.


I’m a smart guy but I assure you, I’m no genius.

All my knowledge with this online marketing stuff I obtained via trial and error and a bunch of education. Invest DDP Graph meme

I paid for both either with time, money, or time AND money.



My company essentially has 2 revenue streams, recording revenue and marketing revenue.

  • In 2012 Daredevil Production, LLC made money from recording artists and made ZERO dollars from marketing artists.
  • In 2013 we again made recording revenue and we made a little revenue from marketing artists.
  • In 2014 we again made money recording artists and we made far more revenue from marketing artists than we did in 2013.
  • By mid-2015 we continue to generate cash flow recording artists and we have already surpassed the 2014 revenue from marketing artists.

Clearly you see an obvious trend with the revenue, but there is a trend you don’t see.

The unseen trend is that the amount of work required to create that momentum in the new marketing department was same in 2012 as it is in 2015.

Get it?

My dream is to make a dent in the Universe creating and refining new methodologies for exposing and marketing talented artists.

I’m sharing this general financial information with you so you can see clearly that if my plan was to require “instant financial gratification” I would have failed.

Invest Paycheck John Lambert Pearson License

I’ve been called a failure.

By people who are close enough that it stung even when I knew the information was incorrect.

I submit to you that the only sensible business plan for instant gratification is work for someone else.

You’ll get paid every week.




If you plan on being your own boss, you will have to invest a huge amount of time, faith, grit, and some money to make it happen.

It won’t happen right away.

Thinking intelligently about how and when your investment will be realistically recouped is equally as important is the investment itself.

Who better to invest in than yourself?

StayMistake Twitter




PS: If you haven’t already downloaded my free Music Marketing On Twitter book, please enjoy it on me. Go to put  in your name and tell us where to send it. It’ll teach you how to get 1,000 new targeted followers every month for just 15 minutes per day.


If you like this post, please SHARE it and/or LEAVE A COMMENT thank you!

[ois skin=”Bottom Post”]


Good Business

Business. Keep Right


Good business.


We all aspire to do good business.

Business Everyone has good ideas

We all dream of exactly how we are going to treat our employees, business relationships, and charities once we’re on top and the cash starts rolling in.

The trick is getting the cash to start rolling in.Business Cash Flow King

Getting the cash flow requires business savvy.


The entertainment industry is no different than selling any other widget. It’s all about creating relationships, creating good product, and selling that product.

Don’t be naïve, just because that product means something to you, moves you emotionally, or is your reason for living doesn’t discount the fact that it is a product, although certainly means it’s an important product.

To you anyway.

Business Savvy


The rest of the world won’t know unless they experience it.

If you’re making art for the sake of art, God bless, you need not read any further.




If you’re aspire to make a living at making art, then you not only need to be an artist, but you also need to be a good businessperson.

This important product, for some of you it’s your life’s work, needs targeted exposure to infiltrate the marketplace.

Business Communicate Stick Figure

You got to turn people on to something cool, man.


You got to serve it up so consumers are willing to receive your information

You’ve got to communicate with them.


The old wives tale that states “great music will find its audience” (or some such nonsense) is perpetuated by legacy artists who had their record deals in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s and chose not to think about marketing or any other business aspect of their careers.

You have to understand that while they are definitely doing you a disservice by making such a statement, these misguided artists aren’t intentionally lying to you.

You always have to consider the source.

Business Always Consider the sourceThey made music and it found an audience. While this was their experience, I can tell you that the “Great music” statement completely negates the amazing marketing efforts of their label.

Yeah, their great music “found” an audience alright, that’s because some marketing team went out, targeted the audience, and put something wonderful in front of them to consume.


Consume they did.


How the hell can anyone respond to something they haven’t experienced yet? Sheesh!


Listen, there are TONS of people who live and die for music out there; maybe even your music.


FACT: 99.99999% of these people will not take the time to discover the music on their own. They need to be shown something good and then they’re a Superfan for life.


Here’s the good business dichotomy I see every day with most artists.

Business Dichotomy Break


Y’all are MORE than willing to spend your money, your life savings sometimes (or someone else’s), on a killer recording project, be it a single, EP, or full CD.

This is good business.

You’re (hopefully) dead set on creating an amazing piece of work, AKA product.


Business Good business is good business






Most of y’all’s plan to market this product is to “put it out there” on iTunes, CD Baby, Spotify, etc. and see if anyone likes it.

Business Bad Business Practice Band Aid

This is bad business.


This is the reason your music doesn’t sell at all.



This is the reason you’re broke either financially, spiritually (working your crappy job), or both.



So you’re willing to take the financial leap artistically speaking with regards to making the product.

Why is marketing the product never worked into the budget?




Why is there some disconnect on the value of marketing?Business You're Broke Pocket

That’s like writing songs with beautiful lyrics and melodies only to record them with no singer.

What’s the point exactly?

Business What's the Point GoatWhy is marketing, at best, an afterthought amongst indie artists?


This is a mission critical oversight.

Some of you want so bad to be on a label that will do this for you but you ignore doing it for yourself.




This is adolescent thinking because you need to learn to market yourself to get the record deal.

Then you’ll need to know how to market yourself to keep it.

DSCF4881 (1)


You have to wake up, your careers are burning.


The contradiction lies in the fact that you gladly paid good money to get your project recorded or you did it yourself (which requires thousands of hours of experience for there to be excellence).

You got the sound you wanted for your release.

Now, for some reason you choose not to put the same financial attitude/approach or work ethic into the marketing of your epic release.

I’ve said it a thousand times, once you get that record deal you are so desperately seeking, the label will allocate a staggeringly low percentage of the overall budget to recording.

The lion’s share will go to marketing for the sole purposes of doing good business.



DSC03800-BLabels understand what you don’t.

You are going to have to pay for customers initially.



You are going to be a startup business in the beginning.


It’s going to cost money to expose this masterpiece of yours to the marketplace.

If your music is as good as you think it is, those customers will become fans.Business Mission Critical

Fans = repeat customers.


Repeat customers are far more profitable than preliminary customers.


Profitable repeat customers are non-existent without preliminary customers.


Get it?


If you keep in step with a normal record budget in terms of the financial allocation, at least 75% of the overall funds would go to marketing; the remainder is for the actual recording.

What did your last recording budget look like in comparison to this equation?

Why is marketing so often overlooked when it is the biggest piece of the professional artist pie?



cmw3_d40_dsc_446_cropped-300 (1)A MISSION CRITICAL piece of the pie you desire so badly.

Think about that statement for a second. If good art was mission critical we’d have no bad songs or horrible artists.

Yep, good marketing is mission critical for an incredible project, it turns crap into commerce too.



So many of you are spending low or zero attention & money on marketing efforts and consequently getting low or zero dollars in revenue.

Zero marketing = zero revenue.

Makes sense doesn’t it?


Here is the way I see it.

You have choices.Business Learn From yourself

  1. You can choose to learn this yourself – in the lifetime you have left after work, family, writing, recording, etc.
    • Yes, this will work just fine (provided you commit to a consistent effort which will require passion for marketing) but you have a huge learning curve.
    • I dare you to work half as hard on learning the marketing as you did learning to play your instrument. Can you imagine?
    • Where exactly will you get the knowledge in this extra life time to learn?
    • How long will it take to tackle that learning curve and begin to see results?
    • How certain are you that this isn’t just an excuse not to start?
  2. You can choose to pay for knowledge – and get a jump start on the strategies while you learn to customize these strategies to your particular situation.
    • This method will cut your time to the coast for sure.
    • It also means you are truly taking action instead of making excuses.
    • Some of you paid for music lessons right? Isn’t this logical as a next step?Business Knowledge Empowers You
    • You still have to put in the sweat equity but at least you are addressing the fact that you need to market your music and you need to learn how to do it well.
  3. You can choose to pay someone to set it up for you
    • Watching someone is the fastest method for learning.
    • Of course, it’s the most expensive of these three options.
    • You will witness the process of developing customized marketing strategies for your particular brand.
    • If you have a brain this would be considered an education because it will get your creative marketing juices FLOWING while it teaches you “how to fish”.


I have some thoughts.


You probably paid for some kind of musical lessons somewhere along your journey.

Business Music Lessons

You probably paid for studio time somewhere along your journey.

Some of you have paid to play somewhere along your journey.


Some of you have paid for a music education or recording education somewhere along your journey.




If you can agree that marketing your product is crucial, then you will need to pay for some marketing education somewhere along your journey.





Paying a company you trust to work YOUR project is far more effective than any marketing class you’ll ever take. Kill 2 birds for the price of 1.

That’s just good business.





Business Steve Jobs


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Quality Over Quantity

Quality vs Quantity Feature image

All too often I see artists overcome the common hurdle of funding their recording budget only to fail miserably at project management. They’re engrossed with recording a full length CD so they focus on how to achieve that goal within their budget parameters.  They choose quantity over quality.Quality vs Quantity Scale image

Professionally this is a poor choice.

What’s your intent?

Do you want to be received as a professional artist or do you want to record a vanity project?

If you intend to sell your project you need to accept the fact that you are competing with all your favorite artists, the ones who inspired you.

Quality stand out in a crowdIt has to be GREAT or you will not stick out of the crowd.

Your mother and your friends will understand how and why your project sounds amateur.

Consumers won’t care.

If the songs don’t blow them away and the record doesn’t sonically sound amazing they won’t buy it.

If consumers don’t buy it that obviously means that they are not listening to it.Quality no buy image

If they’re not listening to the music that means you have a vanity project.

Vanity means it’s just for you, your friends, and your family.

Which is totally fine.

Unless your dream was to make a living making music.

This requires commerce.



Quality Steve Jobs quote


It’s confusing to me to hear artists wax on about how they want to record albums like their heroes did, back when they “made the records they wanted to make”.  However, the artists they speak of were on major labels with incredible infrastructure in all aspects of the record making process.


These heroes wrote world class songs (often with hit songwriters).

They worked with world class musicians (often not the same musicians in the band)

They worked with professional engineers, and producers.

Then they recorded in world class studio facilities.

So they “made the records they wanted to make” with a quality-tested team of professionals who earn a living every day making records (which is a vastly different skill set than recording music)

Quality Professionalism Consistency of quality


Don’t you think this is an important fact to consider?


I mean this is your dream, right?


These are your babies, aren’t they?


If you want your project to be competitive you will not be able to accomplish this in a home studio all by yourself.

Your undying admiration for music and a Pro-Tools rig is nowhere near enough, you’re going to need experience.

The good news is that it is easier and less expensive than ever before to access quality professionals and create your epic masterpiece.

A little consideration towards project management can go a LONG way to making the dent you need to attract major attention in this business.


Attention from consumers.


Attention from the industry.


Quality over Quantity

Quality Universe quoteI constantly see artists screw up their projects from the get-go. They feel they HAVE to record a full length CD because that’s always been their “dream”.

Was the dream really to record 10 songs, or was the dream to be a professional artist who finds an audience and makes a living selling their music to their fan base?

The problem is a smaller budget won’t allow for quality AND quantity so they erroneously choose quantity and go “shopping” for a place that will take their limited finances and deliver a 10 song CD.


I promise, if you are looking for a studio that will charge $250/song or $25/song YOU WILL FIND IT.  Your tracks will suffer greatly but you will indeed have a 10 song CD.


Did you win or lose?


What if you focused on quality instead of quantity?

CASE STUDY: We were approached by an amazing Canadian singer/songwriter named Tanya Marie Harris.  It was time for her to record her next project.  I remember her saying, “Johnny, for what you and Kelly are charging me for 2 songs, I could record a whole CD up here in Toronto.” I remember preparing my usual response of “Well, we aren’t your guys then” when she followed up with “but it would be mediocre and I need something awesome. This is my last shot and I want these tracks to blow people away.”Quality Tanya Marie Harris

We did exactly that.

Tanya recorded 2 songs and is currently building a real career on the strength of those tracks.  She recorded “A Woman Scorned” and “Secondhand Dreams” which currently has almost 2 million YouTube views and is getting more spins on radio every day.

Tanya is touring constantly.

Tanya signed a deal with a Nashville management company.

She made a dent.

Quality make a dent in the Universe


Professional recordings mean that you’re a professional.


How nice would it be to hand someone your recordings WITHOUT a disclaimer?





To quote Steve Jobs, “Quality is better than quantity.  One home run is better than 2 doubles”

FYI, he put his money where his mouth is. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak built their very first run of Apple computers out of Wozniak’s garage.  They had a limited budget and chose to manufacture 50 quality computers over a quantity of 500 of a lesser quality. The rest is history.


What are you after, home runs or doubles?


Find a quality team.


Stay in tune.


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Are You Smart Enough?

Are You Smart Enough

Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to make records?
Just because you own a Pro-Tools rig and can record music to present to the world doesn’t mean you should; it doesn’t mean it’s good for your brand. OMG, these are GREAT tools for endless exploration. I was, and continue to be fascinated with my rig. I used to fly Kelly out to L.A. and pay him an hourly (bro rate) to help me mix my projects so I could LEARN how to make records! But there is a difference between doodling in your home studio and making records. The sooner you realize that the sooner you will gain some real momentum.


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to orchestrate proper arrangements?

I hear the home projects that you put out there for the world. Most of you create arrangements (like we all do when we are beginning) that are WAY too busy with God knows what recorded right over the vocal. They typically don’t work which makes you sound amateur.


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

that while art is subjective but it can be objective too?

Some songs just suck.file4671348049272

Some bands just suck.

Some singers just suck.

Some songs say absolutely nothing.

Most songs are overloaded with cliches.

Some recordings are sonically shitateous

Some recordings have terrible performances

Can you really hear the difference?

Do you have the communication skill set to get the most out of your band in a recording situation?

Most of you can hear some of the difference but not all of the difference so stop being so sensitive.

Smart Educatin vs Experience imageIt takes EXPERIENCE to hear if the bass player is locking up with the drummer.

It takes EXPERIENCE to hear when it doesn’t happen and make a performance call on the record.

It takes EXPERIENCE to get to a frame of mind as a songwriter that allows you to judge your own “A” songs from the “B” and “C” songs objectively.

After all, if you put the finger-painting up on the world’s refrigerator, the world is going to judge. The world is not your mother so the world doesn’t care about your feelings, and they will vote by not voting; by not buying. They WILL make a decision about your art based on what they hear.

How are your sales going btw?


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to manage your brand?

Putting your home recorded demos, live band rehearsals, partial recordings, home studio recordings, work tapes, song ideas, etc up on Soundcloud and Reverbnation is a HORRIBLE move for your brand and reputation. Imagine if your art were an unfinished prototype car you were presenting to consumers for the purposes of commerce. Now imagine it only had a chasse, 4 tires, 1 seat, a dashboard, a steering wheel, and all the necessary pedals.

Don’t be pissed that consumers will make a judgment because they can’t see your body design.kf174

They can’t see the color it will come in.

They can’t see the rest of the seats to comprehend the functionality of your interior design to their lives.

They are scared because it doesn’t look SAFE without the body around it.

They can’t FEEL, COMPREHEND, UNDERSTAND, and therefore CONSUME your works in progress because it’s still in progress, so WTF are you putting it out there? People will JUDGE based on what they see and hear, not what is in your head!

You can only create a reputation for what you have done, not what you are going to do. Save the works in progress for your band mates and other artist friends who understand the process, they’ll get it; consumers won’t. Hell, I hate bringing A&R reps in until the mix is finished and they’re in the damn business!


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how to mix properly?

Smart Mix imageA killer mix is an art form and incredibly important to your dream. A killer mix requires thousands of hours of practice and an expensive rig.

Did you know that mix specialists like Tom Lord-Algeand Chris Lord-Alge sometimes get $5,000 per song and crank out 3 mixes per day? Why could they possibly command this kind of money if what they were offering wasn’t so important?

Did you know that Guns & Roses went through several different mix engineers before settling on Steve Thompson and Michael Barbiero? Yes, all of the mix engineers had a pedigree but Thompson and Barbiero got it right. So why are you mixing your project?

MIX for the love of God!! Explore!! Learn!! But learn from people with experience and certainly don’t release your own mixes just yet! Most of you have 1,000 to do before you are going to get any good at it.


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

How badly you need a producer?

Just because you or your friend went to recording school doesn’t mean you know how to make records! Producing is its own art form as well! Kelly got a degree sound engineering too, but the only reason he got his first internship was because he outworked all the other interns and had a better attitude. His degree had little to do with it and he didn’t know how to make records right out of school. Besides, why is it that most of the iconic bands you love STILL use producers?


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

What producing is exactly?


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

the difference between a great live player and a great studio musician?

You may be a killer live band, but some of your members aren’t good enough to be on the record. Live is here and (SNAP) gone, but the record is forever. Stop fighting for the whack_the_bagbrotherhood/sisterhood to stand tall in the face of the ugly music business and start fighting for making the best record possible; it’ll sell better. Don’t worry, if the weak links are dedicated, they will grow into the role over time. Don’t hold your potential momentum hostage over someone’s feelings. You would be astounded at how many of your favorite band’s records didn’t include all the members of your favorite bands.


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

how much work will be required to make ANY dream like this a reality? (Better stop judging)

Think of YOUR story,

YOUR past,

YOUR history,

Now think of how you would feel about anyone judging your struggle, making statements about what you feel, how easy it was for you, etc. Pissed off yet? How could they possibly know? They weren’t there every day. Guess what, you weren’t in anybody else’s struggle but your own, man, so don’t make the mistake of assuming how “easy” it was for some artists who appeared on your RADAR overnight. It took them forever to get there, and whether you like them or not, they worked harder at it than you are right now, so shut up and get to work!


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

success requires a team?Smart Team A-Team

Nobody can do it alone.

Who is your current team?

Who is your dream team?


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

about the value of a mentor? Everybody needs mentorship in everything.

You have to learn to tie your shoes.

You have to learn to count to 10.

Hardcore drug addicts have to learn to do drugs the proper way to avoid infection or death.

You have to learn how to be a master carpenter.

You have to learn how to be a master plumber.

You have to learn how to do your job on the first day, first week, the first month, etc.

Why would you kid yourself that you know enough to put out acompetitive record that you, engineered, produced, wrote, sang, and played all by yourself?

Are you planning to market it yourself? Do you really know what you’re doing?

Don’t you want to learn?


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

relationships are mission critical to success?

There are a million singer songwriters far better than the ones that are currently making a great living right now that will, unfortunately, never be heard because they either suck at creating relationships or they truly believe the opportunity they need is going to come knocking at their apartment door one day while they are high on the couch watching TV.


Are You Smart Enough To Know That You Don’t Know

consistency is the key to success in the music business?

Success in your music career, any career, your life, your relationships, etc is all based on what you do consistently every day. Your relationship with your significant other is not based on one event, one amazing evening, one sentence, one moment, one “big break”, etc. it’s based on all the “little things” you do every day to show your commitment.

Why would you feel that your music career would be any different?


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