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20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes

20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Feature

At the end of every year I ask y’all to respond to me about your feelings on the article content. I also ask for any suggestions on what you want me to write about moving forward. Many of you responded with requests for help.

You asked for answers to some of the common problems I’m expressing; especially with marketing your music.

Much of the content in this article was posted in a June 25, 2014 article simply as an articulation of the mistake. Here is a revved up version of that same content with some ideas and direction towards solutions. I hope this helps.

Please let me know what you think.

1. Misguided Language – Too many of you are telling people what to do on your CTA’s (Calls to Action) and failing to get conversions.20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Paraverbal Example: “Check out my new single” or “Hottest new rap artist spitting real life, yo, check him out now” or “Donate to our Kickstarter campaign”.

Nobody cares.

Hype on social media is as useless as screen doors on submarine. What you should be doing is making it about Say something like, “Wow, thank you for the follows #grateful, I want you to have a free download of my first single in return”. When someone engages YOU, respond with a similar message. Your conversion rates will skyrocket and people will begin to actually give your song a listen. This is a social media adaptation of paraverbal communication.

 

2. Paying For Discovery – Imagine a late night infomercial starting off with “Just $19.99!!!” Asking for the money and then attempting you to get excited about the product.

Would you watch?

Would you care?

Every day I see a tweet that says something like “Discover us on 20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes iTunesiTunes” or “Download our first single on iTunes”. Indie artists are misguided into thinking that giving music away is devaluing it somehow and “good business” means collecting money.

Listen, I’m all about collecting money, but just like you, I have NEVER, EVER, EVER, paid to discover an artist in my life.

Think about it, your favorite iconic artists came into your awareness for free. You discovered them on the radio (while you were waiting to hear your “jam”), a friend turned you on to them after he/she found them on the radio, or you paid to see a headlining act that you knew was worth the money and 20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Kickstarterwere pleasantly surprised by the opening act.

Without terrestrial radio,  marketing means you are going to have to get people interested in you and emotionally involved in your artistic journey before you shake them down for the cash.

In simple sales terms, you have to build desire first.

 

3. Likes and Follows Are Strong Connections – This is the biggest common fallacy.

Likes and follows are NOT strong connections in any way, shape, or form. If you ask for money directly after a like or follow it’s the same as meeting someone at a cocktail party, handing them your 20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Chain Link WeakCD and asking for $10.

Can you imagine? “Hi, I’m Johnny D, here’s my CD. You’re going to love it! That’ll be 10 bucks.”

You KNOW that won’t work.

It doesn’t on social media either.

A like or a follow is a handshake after an introduction at best.

If you’ve toured at all you KNOW that you cannot possibly remember everyone you meet. Something else needs to happen for you to remember a fan, right? You need to remember that when you networking on social media.

 

4. Selling, Selling, Selling – Too many indie artists just ask for money or hype themselves on social media with every post. This is the 20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Jabequivalent of digital panhandling.

You’ve got to give to receive, man.

Create content that is focused around YOU that can be offered for free to potential fans (make sure they know you’re benevolent) to get them interested in YOU first. THEN about every 4th post, serve up a CTA but give them the single.

You want to space out your CTA’s (where they need to act) with cool content that is about you and your brand. Read Gary Vaynerchuk’s Jab, Jab, Jab, RIGHT HOOK for more ideas on this subject.

 

 

 

5. Old School Marketing Methods – Look, I get it. Every artist we love was marketed to us via the radio, that’s where we most likely discovered them and that’s certainly where their music was driven into our brain enough 20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Old Man MEMEto become familiar after we discovered them.

It stands to reason that is how you would fashion your marketing plan because that is all you know. Listen, radio is no longer effective for exposing new artists.

The power of radio to introduce a new artist into a market is over because consumers don’t have to suffer through the “getting-to-know-you-process” of listening to unfamiliar music.

Even if you have 1 million dollars to spend on a P1 radio campaign, they have Wi-Fi in the car, man.

They’re going to change the channel when faced with an unfamiliar tune to find their jam because, well, now they can.

While there are always exceptions to the rule, I submit to you that outside of country music no new artists have broken on rock or pop radio in the last 5 years. Any artist that has their very first single on radio in the last 5 years broke somewhere else and THEN radio started spinning them.

They broke first on YouTube, American Idol, The X Factor, The Voice, TV show soundtracks (theme song music), some anomaly that created attention, or great online marketing.

Most of you don’t have 1 million dollars so relying on radio to break you is a convenient cop out that ensures you won’t make it and it’s not your fault.

Spend your money putting your promotional content in front of a targeted set of eyes. Spend your money on a PR launch for your record to get some valuable press that you can use for social proof. Spend your money either on a company that can help you find your audience on social media OR learning to do it yourself. (Gasp!!)

 

6. Directing Traffic to Digital Distributors – If you’ve marketed correctly, you’ve influenced a consumer buying decision and they will find a way to purchase your product line.20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Traffic Cop

Digital distribution has exactly ZERO effect on sales today.

No artist broke on iTunes and nobody is stumbling across cool music there either. They’re buying what they went to iTunes to look for.

So, if you’re spending the money and busting your butt to influence buying decisions and drive traffic, why send them to a digital distributor and give up such a huge percentage on purpose?

YES, OF COURSE, you need to have a presence on all DD’s but drive them to your webstore and let the consumer decide to go somewhere else. At least 45% of them will probably go somewhere else, the rest will buy directly from you where you get 100% of the money.

BTW, don’t be afraid to offer packages and products that aren’t available on digital distribution making it sexier and smarter to buy direct.

 

7. Zero Bundling On Artist Webstore – Let’s be honest, most of you don’t have a webstore which is 20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes abbeyincredibly idiotic. You’re giving at least 30% of your hard earned revenue to a company to access essentially free 1’s and 0’s.

Those of you that do have a webstore (Kudos!), don’t have bundles.

FACT: 30% of your buyers are willing to be upsold and will purchase more while their credit card is out. That is as long as there is something for them to purchase!

There is a 70% chance you are NOT one of these kinds of people who can be easily upsold, but don’t that be your erroneous, short-sighted reason for leaving money on the table.

 

8. Ignoring YouTube – YouTube is probably the biggest marketing asset you have available to you and hardly any of you are using it. The ones that do use it aren’t consistently posting videos.

YouTube is your own private TV network, treat it as such.

Many artists break on YouTube.

20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Ditzy

Hardly any have broken on the radio in the last 5 years with the exception of country music and those days are numbered.

Our artist Bailey James is 13 years old and has over 260K views on her YouTube channel and I assure you that was from consistent content with ZERO paid promotion.

That’ll change soon but 260k views and 2,900+ subscribers from just hard work and intelligence isn’t too bad.

There’s at least 2,900 people that want to see her next video enough to subscribe. How many do you have?

 

 

9. Zero Marketing – Sadly, MOST indie artists spend every dollar of their precious, limited financial resources making the record and 20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Zero MarketingZERO dollars marketing it.

Sound familiar?

If they do spend any money marketing it is horribly misspent and proportionately upside down.

Good music has rarely if ever found its own audience “organically”.

Somebody, somewhere, somehow was putting the artist works in front of the right group of people to create a little fire in the grassroots.

Whether they PAID for radio promotion, or they PAID for PR to get them on Letterman, Oprah, Jimmy Fallon, Leno, GMA, Rolling Stone, Spin, or they PAID for tour support, or they PAID for a radio promo, these were all strategic calculated marketing plans.

If you got a record deal tomorrow the label would spend around 10% of your total budget making the record and 90% promoting it. Try adjusting your budget to get closer to spending 9 times the recording funds on marketing and see what happens. Even if it means recording just one song.

Any other approach is as asinine as flip flopping the salt and the sugar amounts in any given dessert recipe. If you don’t follow the recipe you’re masterpiece is going to taste like crap.

 

10. You’re Not Asking the Right Questions – Too many of you are asking yourselves “How can I get my music to the right industry people so I can make it?” or “How do I get 1 million dollars so I can get my shot at fame”.

The questions indie artists should be asking are “Who is my audience?” “Where can I find them?”, “How can I connect with20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Question them?” “What can I do to get them to seriously listen to my music with an open heart and mind?” “Where can I learn the right questions to ask?” and “Where can I learn the answers for the right questions?

All the marketing power you require is available on your computer and it’s mostly free.

The only thing missing is a good, creative attitude about the project, some education to get you accurately inspired, and then the gumption to get started!

If you don’t know, LEARN. Yes the education is going to cost some money but somehow you managed to get your music recorded and that wasn’t free. If it was free the recording equipment you used wasn’t.

20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Book collageYou’re resourceful, when you really decide to make it happen you’ll find a way, believe me. Some good books to start getting intelligent, accurate marketing strategies are:

Jab, Jab, Jab, RIGHT HOOK: How to Tell Your Story In A Noisy World by Gary Vaynerchuk

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Other Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Music Marketing on Twitter: How To Get 1,000 Loyal Music Fans Every Month in Just 15 Minutes a Day by yours truly , Johnny Dwinell (this one is free so just click the link and tell me where to send it. You’re welcome)

 

 

 

11. Consistency – Most indie artists are not consistent with social media marketing.20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Consistency

 

Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, Facebook, and all social media platforms require consistency and content.

If I were to grow a client’s account without adding content the followers will soon unfollow because there is nothing to consume.

I would be like going to party and the host never shows up so nobody has cocktails and there is no music playing. See Ya! You have to provide regular consistent content or you’ll lose them regardless of how captivating you are.

 

 

 

12. Engagement ­– The days of the mysterious rock star have been over for quite some time now.

20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes BaileyIndie artists need to engage EVERYBODY that engages them.

People still admire creatives but they require more if they meet you through their device.

My amazing 13 year old client Bailey James interacts with every single person that reaches out to her on social media.

They can’t believe it when she does that which makes her look genuine and makes them feel special.

She has over 30k followers on Instagram and every post that little girl puts up averages a SOLID 600 likes and 85 comments per post.

The difference between you and Bailey is she gets it and you’re still making excuses as to why you can’t, why you shouldn’t, or why you won’t.

You’re meeting people for the first time on social media, think of it like a cocktail party.

FACT:  When you meet someone for the first time they won’t remember what you said so much as they will remember how you made them feel. Remember that and your fan responses will instantly change.

 

 

13. Lack of Aggression ­– You can’t seriously believe that being antisocial on social media is a smart idea.

Too many Indie artists wait around for people to follow them in a misguided attempt to grow their social media accounts “organically”.20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Aggressivve

Your favorite iconic artists have massive social media followers because they’re famous. Paying millions of dollars to promote these major label artists all over the world is what made them famous which means it was man-made, not organic. Consumers were exposed to an artist and liked what they saw or heard the music and chose to follow that artist.

This approach doesn’t create “organic” traffic, rather it’s targeted to strategic groups of people they think will like the music. The PR convinced them it was cool.

You can promote yourself online via social media and create a similar effect but you have to follow somebody first for crying out loud.

And why not be aggressive this way?

When you do the initial following you are handpicking the people most likely to connect with you.

You’re targeting (remember picking teams on the playground when you were a kid? Some of you did the picking and you picked in a certain order for a reason. Some of you were always the last to be picked you felt horrible. Well, now you’re doing the picking. Pick intelligently and make them feel welcome or they’ll feel like you when you were passed over).

Essentially, you’re deciding who gets invited to your cocktail party. A bunch will follow back if you’re not a douchebag and they’ll stay if you have regular content.

 

 

14. Overthinking YouTube – Save the super creative, expensive, big time videos for the single promotion.

20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes OverthinkingThe “I can’t afford a good video” routine is a cop out.

Every week you should be gleaning potential fans from popular videos by doing regular cover songs. Do this via low-cost, easy-to-shoot, one-shot, smart phone videos of you putting your artistic spin on whatever the most popular video will be that week regardless of genre.

In fact, the more disparate your version of the hit song/video is from the original artist, the more compelling it will be.

Study and compare Noah Guthrie’s version of LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” or The Gourd’s version of Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice” to get an idea of what I mean by different.

BTW, Bailey James’ YouTube channel at this moment has one professionally done video with about 3,500 views. 99% of the content is shot with an iPad camera. The most popular videos were shot this way as well. Just sayin’.

 

 

15. Annotating YouTube Videos – Here it is plain and simple.

They won’t subscribe if you don’t ask.20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Annotate

They won’t download that free single if you don’t ask.

FACT:  You get 80% of what you ask for in life so why not do it? The worst thing that could happen is they say “no” but then, since its social media, you’ll never deal directly with the rejection.

 

I recently got the opportunity to work with an AMAZING 14 year old artist name Erin Kinsey. She had 3 videos on her YouTube channel with a total of around 250k views and 1,224 subscribers. They added a 4th video just before Christmas and I annotated all 4 asking for subscriptions.

That 4th video has over 113k views now and her subscriptions jumped 41% in 3 weeks adding 503 new subscribers for a total of 1,727.

All I did was ask.

All the info you need to learn to do this is on the YouTube “Creators” tab.

 

 

16. You Think You Own The Information – You don’t own the information.

20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Own Info

 

Don’t fool yourself.

All your likes and follows may be from your real fans but you don’t own that information, and as such, somebody is going to charge you to access that data at some point if they haven’t already begun to do so (ahem, Facebook).

You need to be regularly trading free downloads in exchange for email addresses and/or phone numbers via squeeze page technology or text capture technology.

Facebook charges you for access to your following. Twitter will do the same, so will Instagram and so on. You have to own the information so you can reach them whenever you want for free, on your terms.

 

 

 

 

17. Ignoring Periscope – Why?

This is the most amazing app with the most amazing reach and the BEST capability of showing your true soul to your fans.

Be consistent and you’ll build an audience.20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Periscope

Remember, if you’re a pro artist you’re living a life most people only read about in books.

What would it be like for your viewers to experience walking onstage to a packed house of people?

How would your audience react if you told them they were live worldwide on Periscope?

Case Study:  With Bailey James we created an interactive exercise where we asked her social media following to help us pick the 5th song on her upcoming EP. They responded in droves with their choice between 2 songs.We announced the winning song live via Periscope from inside the recording studio on the day we tracked it accomplishing social proof and cool interaction. There were fans from Brazil, Canada, United States, and England on that broadcast. (Boom, drops mic).

Another neat idea is to ask for requests on your social media throughout the week and play 3 of them live at the same time on the same night, every week. When you play a request show a printed S/O to the requestor’s handle and thank them. This adds a vanity aspect to your weekly draw. They’ll want to see if you play their request and mention them. The ones you don’t mention will be excited for their opportunity next week.

 

 

18. Missing Live Show Contact Capture – Live shows have the best conversion rate if you’re good.

20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Contact Capture

 

My good friend Wade Sutton at Rocket To The Stars recently worked with a band that tours so much they have performed over 1,000 shows in 4 years. They had 300 people on their mailing list. That’s like 1 person every 3rd show!

On the contrary we did 1 show with Bailey James at a middle school and received 160 contacts!! We gave away a free download and they just needed to tell us where to send it (translation: we got their email address or phone number).

It was easy.

Is it wrong that when I see a crowd in front of a stage I envision everyone with credit card heads?

Not for nothin’ but the more you do this the more you can reach out to individual markets to let them know you’re coming back to town. Your live draw will increase if you do it until you outgrow the venue. Just a thought.

 

 

19. Social Proof ­– 2 things to consider with this.

One is that most of you aren’t putting up enough social proof if you putting up any at all (no doubt because you don’t want to come off as bragging).20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Social Proof 2

Two, you’re putting it up incorrectly and you come off as bragging.

Social proof is anything that proves you’re really doing it and other people are into it.

 

This includes, reviews, interviews, fan comments from your social media platforms, emails, live show clips, BTS clips (Behind The Scenes), etc. Rather than implying “I’m awesome, check me out” which is bragging, why not give a “Shout Out” to the source of the content?

For instance, “S/O 2 Honkeytonk Central in Nashville for letting us play #Grateful We had a BLAST partying with all of you” with a 15s clip of the show.

 

 

20. Not Promoting Interactivity People want to feel like they’re a part of something.

20 Biggest Indie Artist Marketing Mistakes Interactivity

 

Get them to interact. You can do this by engaging them.

You can accomplish this with controversial content. For instance, Bailey James posted a YouTube video of Luke Bryan’s “Kick the Dust Up” and it was controversial. I convinced her parents to LEAVE THE NEGATIVE UP and her fans defended the attackers. The result was deeper fan relations.

 

 

Also ask to be interactive. Have them send pictures of themselves and POST those pics with a S/O to the fan. This adds a “vanity” aspect to your web traffic. They want to see themselves, man.

 

Stay

In

Tune.

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

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
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

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
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

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
(Turn and face the strange)
Ch-ch-changes
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?

 

Stay

In

Tune

 

You Absolutely Can If You Will Your Life

Will Feature Image

I date a beautiful first grade teacher of 17 years who has two amazing daughters that are 11 and 8 years old.   The first week of this past October, it was their school fall break, so I took them up to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin for a couple days to see where I grew up. Lake Geneva is a beautiful, Will Lake Geneva Collagequaint, little tourist town nestled against a large natural lake with AMAZING homes on it (The Wrigley’s estate, the Walgreen’s estate, etc.) I contacted a former co-worker of mine (from a killer restaurant I used to bartend at 25 years ago) who remained in the thriving hospitality industry up there to get a deal on a resort room for the 2 nights we were going to stay. My friend, Geri, had married a guy named Lee who was a GM at one of the resorts. Geri was really a former co-worker and acquaintance to me, but a life-long friend to my little sister who also worked at this same restaurant with Geri and me at one point.

 

Geri came through, I got a sweet room at this amazing resort overlooking the breathtaking views of Lake Geneva for 50% off. This was accomplished through a small but succinct set of text messages.

 

1 week later my little sister texted me to tell me Geri had a brain aneurysm and Lee was about to pull the plug on life support.

 

My first thought: W…T…F

I still had those texts from just one week ago.

Geri had to be close to my age, give or take 3-5 years.

 

Will HeartbeaatIt’s at a moment like this I count my blessings and I take great solace in the fact that I wasn’t afraid to take risks in my life. Maybe that’s weird, but these are the things I think about when faced with my mortality (I don’t have kids of my own).

It’s true you know, on your death bed, the ONLY thing you will regret in life are the risks you didn’t take.

 

 

No one ever thought, “Whew, I’m glad I followed all the rules and flew below the RADAR screen of society my whole life.”

 

This past Friday, like everyone else in the world, I stared on with disbelief at the horrific events that happened in France.Will France Flag

 

There were people attending a huge soccer game, people out to eat with their families, and people attending a rock concert that were all senselessly and purposefully wiped out.

 

 

 

 

 

France has far stricter gun laws that the USA, if you weren’t aware.

Will gun control

 

So these people were exterminated by illegal handguns, illegal automatic weapons, and illegal explosives.

 

It was illegal and still, they were destroyed.

 

 

Who cares why? David Letterman said it best after the 9/11 attacks when he said (and I’m paraphrasing), “If you live to be 1,000 years old, will you EVER make any sense of this?”Will_David_Letterman

 

I mentioned the gun control statement not to start a political rant, but to open your eyes to the bigger picture beyond guns.

 

Your life is short and promised to no one.

 

Too many of you are drinking whatever Kool-Aid you prefer and not paying attention to what’s really going on.

 

Here’s what’s really going on:  You’re wasting time.

 

Will Wasting Time

 

Regardless of what your government says they’re going to do to protect you. Short of putting all 7 billion of us on the planet in straightjackets to shield us from each other, if someone truly wants to damage you they can and they will.

 

Life is never going to be fair in this regard.

 

So the question is, what are YOU going to do about it?Will Straightjacket Collage

 

Any lawman will tell you most crimes are crimes of opportunity, which means you did something stupid and left yourself vulnerable. This stupidity was unfortunately recognized by a criminal mind and the situation was exploited.

 

The first day I moved to California, I was staying in Venice. At the end of the night I had the wherewithal to remove the face of my car stereo and placed it in its case, however, I left the case on the passenger seat like a moron. Next day I awoke to a busted window, no stereo face, and mangled dashboard from the rookie who tried unsuccessfully to pull the unit.

 

That one was on me. It was preventable.

 

What isn’t preventable is when someone REALLY wants to hurt you. When that situation arises, you can only take care of yourself.

 

I’ve never owned a gun and I don’t hunt (hunting in Wisconsin = COLD).

 

The gun control arguments on both sides are laughable. My problem with these debates has nothing to do with guns.

 

It has to do with the byproduct of too much control (of any kind) which is creating a society of victims who rely and/or blame someone or something else for their lot in life.Will Concentration Camps License Rodrigo Galindez

When we don’t take responsibility for our own happiness, love, safety, health, mental health, job, life mission, etc., someone else will, I promise.

The more your government, parents, friends, lovers, etc. step in to protect, the more humans will rely on that and not do for themselves.

 

 

We’re just wired up that way.

 

Nobody is responsible for you but you.

 

And just like us all, you are broken.

Will something Broken MEME

We are all broken.

 

Maggie Rose wrote, “Life’s full of broken things, like hearts, homes, and dreams. We all come from something broken,”

 

You’re health, your heart, your home, it doesn’t matter, because you’re just like everyone else.

 

What will define you is how you play the hand you were dealt.

 

Will you choose to believe the media, the governments of the world, and your naysaying friends when they tell you someone or something else is responsible for your unhappiness?

 

Will Pressure

 

It’s easier to think that. Takes the pressure off of you, right?

You don’t have to do the work but you do have to live with the consequences.

 

 

 

My friend Geri and those unfortunate people in France all stupidly lost their lives too early.

 

Their loss of life was not their fault.

 

How they lived their lives up until that last moment was.

 

I don’t know any of the victims in France. I do know that Geri led a wonderful life. She had grown kids and fostered a loving marriage to her best friend, Lee.

Will Meaning of Life MEME. License Leland Francisco

Photo: Leland Francisco

 

I hate that she had to go.

 

I love what she did right up until that moment.

 

Want to know what the meaning of life is?

 

I know the answer. It’s easy.

 

You are a mission critical cog in the wheel of advancing human society.

Will Society MEME

 

Your job is to be a little smarter, a little wiser, a little worldlier, a little more creative, and a little more aware than your parents were. (For some of you, maybe you’re a LOT more of these things.)

 

 

 

 

 

STOP thinking about what you don’t have.

 

STOP blaming your parents, past events, sickness, trauma, blah, blah, blah.Will Stop Hand

 

STOP waiting around for something to happen to you and START making something happen FOR you.

 

START working with what you have in front of you right now.

 

START making moves right now.

 

You cannot change yesterday.

 

You cannot predict the future.

 

The only thing you can control is RIGHT NOW.

 

 

Will butts

 

 

You need knowledge and you need to apply that knowledge to become more powerful.

 

We all come from something broken so your excuses for not accomplishing what you want to accomplish are like butts, EVERYBODY HAS ONE AND THEY ALL STINK.

 

 

1,000 years of additional, positive, forward progress in our advanced society will not change the fact that one cannot guarantee your safety or any kind of equal outcome to your life experience.Will Downloading Future

 

So blaming anyone but yourself is futile.

 

It’s still going to be up to the individual to craft the results of their life.

 

 

Will BurglarIllegal guns, drugs, alcohol, knives, bombs, automobiles, and hurtful words choices designed strategically for the purposes of emotional abuse will not change the fact that if someone wants to hurt you they can and they will.

 

So it’s on you.

 

Nobody can make you feel inferior without your permission.

 

 

 

 

Who are you authorizing to make you feel bad, inadequate, pathetic, or downright horrible?Will Consent Quote

Is it family?

Friends?

The news channels?

Your government?

Drugs?

Alcohol?

Television?

 

What risks have you been putting off?

 

What are you scared of?

It’s time to love deeper and forget the B.S.

It’s time to be the kind of friend you’d like to have.

It’s time to start working on your dream; start that band, finish that song, record that demo, learn how to market your music, etc.

 

What would be going through your mind if you were one of the victims in France with an illegal AK-47 to the back of their head just before you were executed?

 

What would’ve been your regret?Will Cowboy Up

Life is a full contact sport and nobody gets out alive.

 

Don’t give anyone permission to take your happiness away and put it in the hands of anyone else.

 

You cowboy up and take the good with the bad.

Will Rocky collage

 

You’re going to screw up, we all screw up.

 

 

Get over it.

You’re going to fail, we all fail more than we succeed.

 

Get over it.

 

You’re going to have to get back up again, shake it off, and learn from the mistake.

 

It’s a scientific fact that the big win, the big score, the game-changer in your life will absolutely happen immediately following a failure that you had to recover from.

Will No Traffic Jams Extra Mile

 

Don’t wait, man.

You’re life is almost over.

 

 

You’re out of time.

 

There are no roadblocks in the extra mile. If you’re feeling them, you haven’t driven far enough.

 

Get to it.

 

Stay

In

Tune

 

 

 

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Separate The Emotion From The Event

Emotion Event Feature image 2

I have found that one of the key skill sets to success is learning how to separate the emotion from the event in certain business and life scenarios. Emotion heart beat stick figure image

I refined this concept while occupying a National Sales Director position for nationwide short sale corporation.

Stay with me on this, ok?

After the 2008 mortgage meltdown there were millions of homeowners who found themselves in the unenviable position of having to sell their home when they were “upside down” on the mortgage.

In plain English they owed more, sometimes much more, than what the property was worth.

Emotion Short Sale

 

Almost all the time these good people could put themselves in a FAR better real-time financial situation by short selling their house and moving, thus, dramatically lowering their monthly housing costs.

 

Often times they could keep the SAME lifestyle.

 

 

Sometimes they could move across the street to rent an equal size home, with equal amenities, for HALF of what their monthly mortgageEmotion Half a Payment payment was costing them on their current house.

How would you feel if you could cut your monthly mortgage or rent payment in HALF without really changing your lifestyle or neighborhood?

 

Sounds like a no-brainer, right?

Emotion Duh Einstein

 

 

It was the most baffling exercise in communication I have ever gone through.

Homeowners had a problem separating the emotion from the event.

 

They would say, “Our kids grew up [are growing up] here”.angry-woman

A valid point.

I would remind them that a house was simply a building and their family made it a “home”. They would make a home anywhere.

They would say, “We like this school system and don’t want to move our kids”.

Another valid concern. (Even though nobody was suggesting their kids should change schools.)

 

 

 

The simple FACT that all these good people were facing was that their investment in the American Dream had gone horribly wrong.

Emotion Home is Where The Heart is

 

If they moved they could get out from under a HUGE investment debt that had begun to destroy their financial future, as opposed to cultivating equity. All this came at a monthly cost that was literally TWICE what they could get for the EXACT same lifestyle if they sold (eliminating the bad debt), rented a comparable property, and began to rebuild their finances.

 

 

The truth is their pride was hurt because they were financially wounded with the property.

SONY DSC

Often times this was due to financial circumstances that were out of their control.

 

Often times this was due to horrible financial decisions they had made.

 

Either way, the damage was the same.

Often times they were subconsciously punishing themselves for getting into the position.

Emotion Guilt

 

Many ended up in foreclosure which was far worse for their credit rating and completely PREVENTABLE.

 

Get it?

They were scared to move so they screwed themselves.Emotion Scared will set you free

 

Artists and songwriters do this too, and they do it often.

 

How many of you are being held back because your good friend is the weak link in the act?

 

How many of you are hurting your brand because your artist child wants to put everything it ever creates up on the world’s refrigerator before its ready lest you be judged?

Emotion Poor Quality

 

 

How many of you are creating product with poor quality (horrible sonic quality, shoddy performances, amateur arrangements, etc.) because of whatever excuse?

 

 

How many of you are so busy lamenting the fact that your careers are not going the way you pictured they would (or should), that you’re Emotion Missed Opportunitiescompletely missing the opportunities and strategies that will effectively get them going?

How much energy are you spending on the emotion vs. action towards the event?

 

How many of you are procrastinating or avoiding taking action because you are unsure of exactly what it will look like when you’re done?

 

If you want to be an artist than BE AN ARTIST.

 

Emotion I Am A Writer

 If you want to be a writer than BE A WRITER.

Stop riding the fence and GET IN THE GAME.

 

 

This statement sounds like it should be filed in the “easier said than done” category but let’s look at the rest of your life.

Let’s dissect the destructive phrase “Easier said than done”.Emotion Easier Said Than Done

 

What if you approached your current job with the same attitude that you approach your fledgling artist career?

 

What if you called your boss and told him you weren’t feeling it today?

Emotion Boss

What if you told your boss you weren’t coming in because you were scared?

You know, scared of dropping a tray of food or drinks, making the wrong cocktail, measuring once and cutting twice on your construction gig, or scared of learning some new software process they are requiring.

 

Would you have a job?

 

 

Of course not.  So you go to work even though you don’t have a clear picture of what your day is going to look like and you get through it.

You already KNOW how to separate the emotion of your daily job from the daily events that occur.

Some of them are great events.

Some of them are nasty events.Emotion Paycheck

Some of the bad events happen EVERY DAY for crying out loud (don’t we all have that douchebag at work we have to tolerate?)

You still push forth every day, on a consistent basis and do what you have to do and you get your results.

A paycheck.

 

You pay your bills.

 

You do it again.

Logically speaking, if you would apply the same predictably mundane climb, up the staircase of faith you do at your day job to your music career you would begin to see magnificent results.

Emotion Staircase of Faith

 

Take a deep breath and let me ask you this.

 

Why do so many of you place the hopes of your future career on meeting “the right people” that will do it all for you?

 

 

I mean those drinks aren’t going to make themselves.

That board isn’t going to measure and cut itself.

That food isn’t going to deliver itself to your table out there.

That new software isn’t going to learn itself.

 

Why do you expect anyone in the music business to jump in and help you for free when you clearly won’t do it yourself?

 

Why would you expect anyone you don’t know in the music industry to help you for free when you don’t expect anyone you know to do your job Emotion Help Yourselffor you at your regular job?

Or do you?

How is it that you can separate the emotion from events occurring in your day job but you’re afraid to make a move in your artist career?

 

Is it because you just can’t see EXACTLY how it will look?

 

Why are you not as fearful about these SAME issues at your day job?

I mean, who knows what could happen, right?

Emotion Unknown

 

Where do you get the courage to consistently go to work and face the terrifying unknown, but fail to execute this same brave behavior with your artist career?

 

 

 

I’ve got news for you.

 

You will never know EXACTLY how it will work out at your day job or your artist career.

Your artist career will NEVER develop EXACTLY as you planned it.

 

Your boss doesn’t want you to make the same mistakes over and over. He/she expects you to learn at your position and improve.praying-hands-Pencil

In fact your current boss is banking on that concept with you.

For some of you (and you know who you are), your bosses have more faith in your abilities to learn and improve at your day job than you have in yourself to learn and improve your artist career.

 

Whoa, let that one soak in a bit.

 

You are going to have to get serious about your artist career and change your behavior if you expect to see real results.

Emotion Einstein Mistakes quote

 

You are going to have to work smarter.

You are going to have make some mistakes.

You are going to have to invest time and money.

You are going to have to pay for some training so you can LEARN to be better.Emotion Paid Training

 

You are going to have to do this yourself and create momentum.

 

I promise, once you have some momentum, the “important people” you seek will appear.

 

Emotion Momentum

 

They will come to you.

 

You will have far more leverage in a relationship like that then you would have if you seek them with your hat in your hand.

 

 

The difference between artists and professional artists is simply commerce by definition.

 

The rest of the details will naturally, organically improve if you have a heart beat and a brain.

Your art will get better.

 

Your business acumen will develop.

Your relationships will develop.

 

file0001034171256

Things that once were foreign and unimaginable will become second nature to you, like tying your shoes or tuning a guitar.

Yes, you will have to work extra hours above and beyond the demands of your day job.

 

 

Welcome to the world of professional artists.

 

Professionals are all in, man, and don’t get me wrong, they get pissed off when things don’t go their way.

But they press on.Emotion Just Believe In Your Dreams

There is no such thing as “spare time”

There is no such thing as “free time”

There is only life time, so don’t waste it by avoiding what you love to do.

 

I mean, you already know how to separate the emotion from the event.

 

Stay

In

Tune

 

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12 Thoughts On Un-Professional Songwriters

Professional red ball image

By Johnny Dwinell

I was having coffee yesterday at The Red Bicycle in Germantown (holy crap their crepes are AH-MAZING) with an artist writer friend.  We got involved in a passionate discussion about song demos and some different perspectives to consider before recording and pitching them. We were discussing what it means and what it takes to be professional.

To act professional.Professional Unprofessional image

To be perceived as professional.

To be taken seriously as a writer in this town.

There are a slew of different common mistakes writers and artists make when it comes to the art of recording a song demo.

Remember, a SONG demo is a demonstration (aka demo) of your SONG, not you as an artist. It needs to be treated this way. The purpose of a song demo is to demonstrate the lyric, melody, and vibe of your song in such a manner that an artist can “hear themselves” singing your song and then subsequently cut your song.

I am perplexed when I hear songwriter’s wax about their elitist, unwavering passion for “quality” in their songwriting juxtaposed against their proclivity for cutting corners to save a few bucks in the recording process.

Quality song, inferior recording. What’s the point?

brokenCD2It’s like they put their blood, sweat, tears, and whole heart into creating a killer blue print of a house and then constructed the house out of rotting balsa wood & weathered duct tape. They built this with novice builders too, and as you can imagine, the house looks shitateous and is unlivable.

Then, after all this, they get butt-hurt when they’re judged by the professional world on exactly what they built.

Huh?

 

Don’t present crappy, novice song demos and expect to be treated like a professional.

This topic gets some songwriters really pissed off. In fact, I wrote an honest article about it last year called “10 Worst Song Demo Mistakes” and I believe it was the most provocative article I have written to date.  Some songwriters got it and others clearly got emotional and defensive about these mistakes. Many songwriters anonymously wrote negative comments about how a professional community would react to unprofessional song demos (many also wrote negative comments about completely different subject matters which is always amusing).

The song demo “audience” is comprised of producers, A&R execs, song-pluggers, publishing companies, and ultimately artists.

All of which are professional.Professional Judged Empy Picture image

All of which are human.

Here’s the deal, you don’t know what’s going on with them.

Maybe they’re having a bad day and your messy sounding song demo is annoying to them.

Maybe they’ve just listened to 200 PROFESSIONAL sounding song demos, they’re exhausted, and your song demo sticks out like a sore thumb because the sonic quality and performances are so poor.

 

I mean, why would you think these human beings could read your mind and hear the way you wanted the demo to sound?

If you read some of the previously mentioned article comments you will see a couple responses like “A real producer should be able to hear past the production on a good song, so you suck and I’m not going to listen to your advice…blah, blah, blah

Did it ever occur to you that your audience isn’t just judging the song?

Professional My Song Demo CD imageDid it ever occur to you that they’re judging you as a professional too? After all you are now in a professional environment, right?

What does that amateur sounding song demo say about you, the songwriter who is trying to be professional?

 

 

 

 

What does that say about your craftsmanship, attention to detail, work ethic, and intelligence?Professional DIchotomy KEEP RIGHT image

I mean, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well, right?

Did you ever think that your audience may be hung up on the fact that you have a professional opportunity and you choose to display something that is incredibly unprofessional?  You know, like showing up on a construction site and demanding to use your plastic toy hammer.  Everyone is like, huh?

 

 

 

Here are 12 thoughts I have about unprofessional songwriters:

  1. You’re lazy; if you weren’t you’d do it better.
  2. You’re cheap and unwilling to put skin this game you want to dominate so badly.
  3. You don’t really believe in yourself; if you did, you’d do it better.
  4. I wonder if you can’t hear the difference. If you can’t tell that your recording is second-rate than what else are you naïve and uneducated about?  How will that affect our business relationship?
  5. If you can’t tell the recording is poor than maybe you’re one of those artist writers who is insanely arrogant about their art and not really interested in getting better. These kinds of people are of no use to me in any aspect of my business.Professional Arrogance is Weakness Disguised as Strength
  6. You clearly don’t mind “cutting corners” on your product which infuriates me because I’m ALL ABOUT QUALITY.
  7. You’re not resourceful. I’ll bet you have some really good excuses as to why the demo sucks. Therefore, your professional behavior in the workplace leans toward making excuses instead of overcoming challenges. I need people that can handle challenges; they’re winners.
  8. You’re a novice and I need a professional.
  9. I have artists that need professional writers and we are counting on these writers to deliver consistently on a professional basis. How can you be trusted to deliver for them?
  10. What will my artists think of me if I put someone unprofessional with them?
  11. You have clearly demonstrated your inability to operate at the professional level required in this business.
  12. I also wonder if you even care because your song demo has confirmed you have no pride for the work that you do

 

Whoa! Read that last one again, man. Yikes!

Think about this for a second.  I PROMISE you that if any hit songwriter like Dallas Davidson, Kacey Musgraves, Craig Wiseman, or Michael Garvin called ANY Producer up and said, “I just wrote a song I think you should hear, but I only have a work tape of it.  Will you give it a listen?” they would ALL listen to it with an open mind and an open ear to give the song its due attention.

Now, think about these writer’s and their publishing companies and how much money they spend on song demos every year at $600-$900 per song.

Stay with me now…

This is business right?

How much money could the writers and publishing companies save each year if they stopped making full production demos knowing their best writer’s songs will be considered with less expensive recordings?

Professional Think Quality Don't Cut Corners

 

I mean they have proven hit songwriters writing hit songs that are pitched to the best producers and industry execs in town who should all be able to hear through bad production, right?

While there are always exceptions to the rule, all the publishing companies and hit writers continue to pay to for professional song demos.

They do this for one reason.

 

They’re professional and they want to compete.

 

If you want to be a professional songwriter, act like a professional songwriter.

 

Then watch your world transform.

 

 

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Imagine Every Artist

Imagine Feature image

Imagine Every Artist just wanted to make art.

Imagine Every Artist started paying attention to effective content marketing and social media.

Imagine Every Artist stopped SELLING on social media and focused on building relationships.Imagine Lyric image

What if legacy and heritage artists monetized their million dollar brand names via direct-to-fan marketing?

What if legacy and heritage artists changed their business models to be subscribership/internet mail order businesses?

Imagine indie bands, singer/songwriters, and major label artists actually had a customer list like every other successful business on the planet. (How is this constantly overlooked?)

Imagine indie bands, singer/songwriters, and major label artists surveyed these customers to see what exactly they wanted and what they were willing to pay for like most other successful businesses.

Imagine Customer List image

Imagine Every Artist wanted to learn from a producer

What if every artist could be half as good at creating relationships on social media as Amanda Palmer?

 

 

Imagine Every Artist was interested in being better rather than famous.

What if every artist stopped making excuses for why they aren’t doing their art?

Imagine Every Artist lived for the journey and stopped focusing their emotions and self esteem on the time it took to get to some fleeting destination.

What if every artist could find a way to make a living being an artist? ($30k-$40k isn’t that difficult. What do you make right now?)

Imagine Every Artist stopped coveting other artists and started working on their own art?Chain

Imagine Every Artist knew the idea of being famous was a lot better than the reality.

What if every artist replaced the energy they spent on worrying, hating, coveting, pontificating, waxing nostalgic, brooding, complaining, and being narcissistic with real work/creativity?

Imagine Every Artist understood that their weak points need to be as cool as their strong points.

What if every artist could hear the difference between “art that is done” and “well done art”? (Yes, art can be objective)

What if every artist continually worked to create opportunities instead of waiting for opportunities to show up at their door?

Imagine Every Artist understood that commerce wasn’t a bad thing if it was done on the artist’s terms, done well, and done consistently.

Imagine Every Artist understood that to really be unique you need to be brave enough to be yourself. (Stop being derivative!)

What if every artist knew how to build a decent team?

Imagine Every Artist knew terrestrial radio was going to be 1000 times less effective tomorrow that it is today. (How would that change your approach?)

What if every artist used a company that offered text phone number capture technology to build their customer list during live shows because text messages have a 99% open rate?

Imagine Every Artist didn’t give away 90% of their revenue to tell their parents and friends that they have a record deal.

Imagine Every Artist understood how a squeeze page with the proper language could maximize the exposure of Imagine Don't Be Afraid imageevery public appearance including live shows, magazine interviews, podcast interviews, song placements, TV interviews, blog interviews, etc.

Imagine Every Artist wasn’t afraid to be afraid.

Imagine Every Artist expected relationships in the music industry to work like their personal relationships with quid pro quo and adding value.

What if every artist focused on making a living being and artist instead of being famous?

 

Imagine Console imageImagine Every Artist stopped making excuses and started recording.

Imagine Every Artist used Stage-It to reach out to their fans for the purposes of including them in the song selection for the upcoming release ala Bon Jovi’s Pizza Parlor Jury

What if every artist understood that it’s a numbers game and you have to constantly create opportunities through hard work rather than placing all their emotional “eggs” in one basket, for one deal, with one person, at one company?

Imagine Every Artist stopped being closed off to constructive criticism and opened their mind to constant improvement along their journey.

Imagine Every Artist wasn’t afraid to fail.

What if every artist understood it starts with the song and spending money on a better recording of an average song will render a better recording of an average song?

Imagine Every Artist stopped asking and started giving.

Imagine Every Artist knew they needed a team to get to the next level.

What if every artist knew they needed to shop for this team rather than shop for studio rates?

Imagine Every Artist stopped bad-mouthing successful artists.

How Will You Add Value?

How will you add value

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

In real life you have to earn respect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Get it?

My mother always told me water seeks its own level.

Add Value Water image

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

 

 

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

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

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

The rest of the world doesn’t care.

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

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

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

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

You behave like this too, by the way.

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

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

Get the point?

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

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

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

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So how will you add value?

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

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

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

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

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

There are no short cuts so KEEP WORKING.

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

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

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

I want you to put a band together for me.

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

I want you to make the labels like me.

I want you to find my audience.

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

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

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

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

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

Understand booking agents work on commission.

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

Record labels need to sell records to survive.

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

Do you really want a counterfeit commitment?

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

 

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10 Worst Song Demo Mistakes

Song Demo Mistakes feature

This week I got the call to produce new record for an artist on a NY label.  It was a rush project as they wanted it “in the can” by 1st week of December in time to ship for Christmas.  Mostly the songs were already chosen, however, at the last minute, the label decided they wanted to add 2 more songs to the project.

We put out the word amongst the writing community here that we needed songs quickly as we were planning on cutting in under a week.  Usually this song request process manifests itself in the form of a “Pitch Sheet” of some sort.  The tip sheet will dictate the kind of songs styles and lyrics styles that are needed for any particular project like “Up-tempo party songs” or “Mid-tempo island country grooves” or “ballads” or lately we have seen a lot of “AC/DC songs with country lyrics”.  The tip sheet will also tell the reader who the artist is along with a few other dos and don’ts about song submissions for that particular artist, etc.  Since we didn’t have time for a tip sheet we personally called or texted every writer we knew with specifics on the artist, kind of songs, melodic ranges, and lyric content needed.

After roughly 48 hours, we received just over 250 songs. I sat down this past Saturday to dig into the task of listening. After hearing the first 2 songs, I knew what my next blog was going to be about. I want to share the experience that I had going through all these songs to give you a perspective from the producer side as we try to do our job. I thought this might help you on your future pitches! The intent here is to reveal what goes through a producer’s mind as we have to trudge through so many songs to cut the list from 250 to 15 or so that we present to the artist who then chooses the final list of songs that will be cut on the record. FYI, this is not the most fun part of our job, this part is busy work that we would just as soon get out of the way as quickly as possible. Every job has this component in some fashion or another.

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As a producer, I am very familiar with the artist brand and voice. We’d better be, right? We understand the vocal range and we understand the kind of songs the artist gravitates towards. Matter of fact, I was so clued in that I predicted the very two songs we thought would make the record out of the 18 that I presented.

10 Worst Song Demo Mistakes

  1. Long Intros SUCK – all we are thinking about during the vetting process is the DSC_2314melody, lyric, and vibe of the song; and isn’t that what you are selling?  For the life of me, I cannot understand why ANYONE would have a song demo with a 45 second intro; it seems like a lifetime when you have 250 to listen to. If they all had 45 second intros, that would be 187 MINUTES (just over 3 hours) of time we wasted waiting for the damn songs to start! Think about it! What’s the purpose of a long intro on a SONG DEMO? You are trying to sell the SONG, not blow people away with your producing skills. Why make us wait? This is such an annoyance; we had probably 8 songs like this. Every single one of them pissed us off immediately (because we could tell it would be a long one). To some extent, we rendered a poor judgment on the song before we even heard the first verse. Fair or not, this is what happens; foretold is forewarned.
  2. Crappy/Cheap Production – We did come across a (very) few songs with horrible production, cheap demos. We just laughed and ripped on them. They provided a welcome comic relief from the work load we had to complete. How does that make you feel? I will tell you honestly, that you have to compete and compete intelligently in your marketplace. From the first note of crappy production, we are ripping on the demo before we even get to the song. Poor production certainly colors our opinion. Food For Thought.
  3. Wrong Song – READ the tip sheet or LISTEN to the instructions on what the project is requiring. If the producer asks for up-tempo party songs, don’t send ballads. If the tip sheet has an artist with a limited vocal range, don’t send huge songs no matter how good they are. Who’s gonna sing them? Don’t use an opportunity to pitch a certain song as a vehicle to send the producers every song you have. We don’t care (not right now, anyway). We are only looking for the songs we need for THIS project so we can get on with producing it.
  4. Vague/Missing Email Subject Lines – As you might imagine, in about 48 hours I added 250 emails toSong Demo Mistakes my regular daily allotment. As a sender you definitely want to put the name of the artist pitch into the subject line so your song doesn’t get lost in all the traffic. The subject line is how the receiver will find a song among so many emails. That’s called common sense.
  5. You Didn’t Research The Artist Before Sending Songs – In the case of this particular artist, his songs have a very positive message; they are on the bright side as opposed to darker themes. We came across a couple songs about heavy drinking, sex, and adultery that just wouldn’t be right for his brand. Clearly, the writers that sent those have no clue about the artist and simply wasted our time. This doesn’t make a good impression on us about your songwriting no matter how good the song is. In fact, it makes a bad impression on us that you didn’t listen to what we really needed.
  6. You Chose The Wrong Singer – Choose a pro singer for your demo, NOT someone who is your friend or who is half-price. Unless you’re an artist, don’t sing it yourself to save money. FYI, suitable vocal ranges to the intended pitch are very important. It is really hard to hear a big, high, soaring melody an octave lower. We try, but it really is difficult, especially in the face of a 250-song listening session. Those demos with poor singers or inappropriate singers (with respect to the artist) are ignored immediately. Sorry. I strongly suggest that if your song would work down in a low octave as well as a high soaring vocal performance, demo it twice, or at least cut a second vocal so you have something that clearly represents both vocal ranges.
  7. Your Lyrics Aren’t Strong Enough We listened to some GOOD songs with average lyrics up throughSong Demo Mistakes the first chorus. However, the GREAT songs with KILLER lyrics kept our attention through the second chorus…because we just couldn’t wait to hear what the writer was going to say next. Simple artistic curiosity kept us inside that song.
  8. You Don’t Honor The Purpose Of The Recording – What is a song demo supposed to do for the writer, EXACTLY? It is supposed to sell the SONG – specifically the lyric, melody, and vibe of the song. Anything more than that production-wise and you are doing yourself a disservice and frankly wasting money on your demo.
  9. You Over Produced Your Demo I understand the impulse for any writer or artist to do this. It’s really almost a rite of passage. I guess we ALL have to learn “less is more” by doing it. For writers with very little studio experience, you tend to get caught artistically somewhere between a song demo and an epic album track. Stick to the song demo side. DO NOT OVERPRODUCE your song demo! Put BGVs only where they are obvious to lift the chorus. DO NOT put Oohs and Ahhs and fill in some holes with BGVs. Your taste may not be the taste of the person you are pitching to. Don’t add too many guitar tracks or color instruments; keep it as clean and sparse is possible. You really want to leave room for the producer to do their job and take the song to another level. Remember, this should be a solid blue print for a song, not a production idea for a record. Another good reason not to overproduce is that tastes and trends change constantly. We definitely heard a few older demos (like more than 10 or 15 years) with production that was cool and in style 10 or 15 years ago but not cool now. In those cases, the production choices personally took me out of the song for a second or two. If the dated production values were not present, the demo will certainly be more “durable” over time.
  10. Bad Vocal Tuning – Holy cow we had a demo where the damn vocal tuning was borderline Cher! It’s unbelievably distracting! Hire a pro singer, y’all, it really is the way to go if you are trying to compete with the big boys.

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