Tag Archives: conversation

Who I Am And What I’m Really All About

DGS-StairsProfileHeadshotThis isn’t a typical blog post, with tips or insights into growth strategies. Instead, I just want to shoot from the hip with a little insight about why I post the content I do each week, what drives the subject matter, and who I am so that you can have a better grid for connecting with me.

In the end, that’s what I’m striving for with this online platform: connecting with you.

We connect with people we relate to, folks whose stories are similar to ours and who show us a part of who they are that syncs with who we are.

I work in two seemingly different fields (music and the entrepreneurial business world), but actually they’re very similar. You can read the About page for more of my history, but all of those experiences lead to very concrete ways of doing things in a practical sense, especially since what I do involves working one-on-one with people.

Instead of a narrative, I’ve been asked some questions in an interview format that I’ll share with you so you can know a little more about why I do what I do (and more specifics on the what as well).

Q: What are you passionate about in your career?

I’m excited and passionate about people. I spent a very long time in life being afraid of people, scared for a few different reasons, but mostly thinking that I wouldn’t be taken seriously, or worse, taken advantage of. In the past few years I’ve come out of that shell, thanks to many great people including mentors and my amazing wife.

It’s people who have reshaped my career. Working both in radio, the music industry, and the nonprofit sector, I’ve been incredibly blessed to have been impacted through the relationships, networking, and mentoring of some great individuals who changed the way I see myself and the world.

That’s one thing that has made The Appetizer Radio Show so fulfilling to me personally over the past decade and more. Helping to launch someone from unknown and uncelebrated to nationally recognized, showcased, and prized is a big deal. Sharing in someone’s underdog story as they rise to success is a very fulfilling part of why I do what I do.

Q: What or who are you most passionate about?

I mentioned fears earlier, and I think most artists and creative people share some of the same fears. Overcoming them is a vital part of the growth and success process, and at times it’s a daily exercise. From my experience, I’m drawn to people who feel like they’ve been ignored or skipped over by pop culture, who don’t fit neatly into boxes, who have the odds stacked against them but who have a fire burning in them to win. Their ambition and goals aren’t too big for their circumstances. They just need a little help and direction. They are the Rockys who need a Mickey in their corner (I speak often in metaphors and boxing provides plenty of them for me).

Q: What do you believe in?

This is one of my philosophies: Talent is important but by itself it won’t lead to consistent wins, or even the wins that matter most. Heart and determination, paired with talent, that will take you to bigger and better place, and more powerful wins along the way. That’s what champions are made from, talent plus heart plus determination.

The quality of your character is the most important thing for who you are. Do what you say you will do. Treat others with love always. And true power doesn’t come from one person, but instead from the power of community and relationships.

Q: You writing a lot about being uncommon, building community and growth. Ultimately what is the message you are trying to communicate?

The world is inherently selfish. As individuals, it’s in our nature to be very Me-First in what we do and each of us has to deal with those tendencies in our own ways. This leads to a very important question that each of us has to answer as we face our path forward to success: How do you get people to take notice of you and unplug from themselves so that you can build an audience, a following, and a growing platform?

I think we look at the ground, plants, and trees for wisdom here. You water their tree. The basic roots of relationship are in sharing, but giving is required to start. It’s human nature to put yourself out front and shout for attention. What happens when someone notices you first and engages with you? Something happens that is dynamic in its connection power between you and that person. We care about people who engage with us. You then become a fan of this person in some way. So to attract a fan, maybe you should think about the reverse path of how they would come to you and go to them in that way.

Be Uncommon

To build anything you need strong roots. Roots that are deep and well connected to resources. Those take water and a process for growth. I want to be better at growing strong, solid roots and that’s what I work at every day. It’s what I write about here on this blog, speak about at events and engagements, and coach my clients with in their development. Growing roots and nourishing the connections we have to the people we want fruit from is the key to success, to winning at this game called business and life.

Doing growth and process this way is not ordinary, it’s not common. Common people follow the herd and do what everyone else does because it feels safe and not risky. Yet the more people do the same thing in terms of trying to be heard, the more noise that gets put out there. Noise doesn’t lead to wins. That’s why I talk so much about being uncommon. The uncommon path and uncommon people are the ones who are well received, prized and showcased. True, loyal, and solid fans/audiences don’t follow regular or common artists. They follow amazing and uncommon ones. That’s what we can build together.

Q: How about some other insights into who you are that are not business, music or career related?

I’m a staunch Alabama Crimson Tide fan, but only during football season even though I didn’t go to college there. I do love football. My favorite player of all time is Bo Jackson because he was simply a superhero on the field and we share a birthday. If you haven’t seen the 30 for 30 biography on him, Netflix it today.

DGrantTexansManningJerseyBeerUntil last year I was a pretty die hard Houston Texans fan and continue to follow them but for different reasons. I’m a super fan in most areas, so if I follow something it’s with all of my heart. Honestly I was a Texans fan because they had Danieal Manning at safety and he played at ACU when I was in college there. Manning was the first player to be drafted out of ACU since Wilbert Montgomery in the 70s. Unfortunately for my fandom, Manning retired this year and the secondary of the Texans has suffered for it, but that’s my opinion.

I’m a big fan of Batman, in particular the Christopher Nolen Dark Knight trilogy. Actually I have all of the books related to the movies including the novelizations. I’m very nerdy about that stuff. I do have a ton of comics and graphic novels as well. I think Jeph Loeb, Frank Miller, and Brian Azzarello’s writing is top shelf (excluding The Dark Knight Strikes Back, that was rubbish). On the subject of books, I’m an avid reader and am usually reading at least 2 books at a time.

My favorite thing in the whole world is having engaging conversations with people. I love to grab a beer or coffee and talk about anything and everything. Again, people are what I’m really passionate about.

I’m married to a gorgeous and amazing woman who inspires me every day to do things I haven’t thought of, and who makes me laugh harder than anyone on earth. If you want some truly fantastic storytelling plus really awesome DIY ideas for your home, visit her blog HERE.

Now that you know a little more insight into the what, the who, and the why philosophies behind the blog articles and posts, don’t be shy about reaching out and asking questions.

I’m open to you to build your uncommon pathway forward. Reach out and let’s talk.

Keep Your Music Submission Email From Looking Like Spam

 Many artists present their music messaging/submissions as a Spam-A-Lot special. PR firms for radio are doing the same. The effect is your music doesn’t get heard by the people you are trying to reach.

It's not healthy or tasty. You don't want to eat it. So don't try to give it out to people you don't know.

It’s not healthy or tasty. You don’t want to eat it. So don’t try to give it out to people you don’t know.

When you don’t know someone, how you put your content out there and try to initiate their interest in you will determine whether they listen and potentially give you some of their time/interest or whether they treat you like a spammer.

Don’t follow what you see others doing that turns your stomach when people do it to you. That’s not a strategy you want to emulate.

Every music blogger or radio host gets more than their fair share of unsolicited messages from artists and bands every day. Many of these messages or posts go unread and the music not listened to. What’s the main reason for this? Is it because our email in-boxes or our social media PM boxes are too full of incoming messages? No, even if we do get more incoming than we think is appropriate.

Is it because we only read or respond to messages from contacts we know, remember or have an existing connection with? Not necessarily. Sometimes I prefer to limit the amount of content I take in from unknown parties, but that’s not necessarily a prerequisite to getting a read from me. What are the main reasons I don’t read or respond to incoming messages? Better stated, what makes a message seem like Spam and instantly get put in the Trash?

The answer to this has everything to do with the basics of relationship or connection building. If there’s a generic, wide-net subject line that doesn’t pertain to me, and if the message is from an unknown party, my instincts tell me it’s SPAM. Yours probably do too when it comes to your email inbox. If the first few lines of the messages don’t contain any introduction or even a greeting, if the content is specifically only mentioning the artist, song or album, or if there isn’t any content other than the song and band name, that’s Spam. My colleagues and associates in radio, blogging, and other media treat email and social messaging this way too. Trust me, it’s something that comes up in conversations when we chat with each other.

There are plenty of sites and more than plenty of artists who are constantly promoting and pitching their music. Most of these are really in-effective in building the networking connections needed to really be beneficial to the artist and the long-term (or even short-term) success of the music created.

Once a message gets trashed it’s out of the realm of recognition for the recipient. Too many messages from the same sender that come across as spam, the sender can be blocked. That’s a burned bridge or a connection not made. If your messages get flagged as spam, not only does your intention of getting your music heard by gatekeepers not happen, but your ability to send out messages through email systems can be lost.

social-networking_110003874-012814-intDo you use an email service like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or AWeber to do e-newsletters or email marketing? If so, you need to pay attention to not only the content of your messaging but the way that your messages and emails are being received. You won’t be able to keep everything you do from being flagged as spam, even by your closest contacts. Some people flag messages as Spam because they’re too lazy to unsubscribe. But if your emails are being flagged for spam before you get to a place where you have a connection or subscription with someone, that very negatively affects the reputation of your email address and can hurt potential future endeavors for email marketing.

That’s a more technical consequence to not doing email the right way. The more direct and obvious consequence is a loss of connection and promotion that you were looking for in the first place.

How can you solve this? One key is to not try a broad-stroke approach to how you market yourself and your music. Even if you employ a message that is copied and pasted to different email addresses to send to, take just a little time to add something that is a unique greeting or introduction.

Keep your message simple but make sure you do these 3 things:

  1. Introduce yourself and your band/music
  2. State the reason why you’re reaching out
  3. Reference how you know of the person/entity you are contacting and indicate some experience or knowledge you have of their work and the impact of their platform.

Going this route does take more time than just putting your name, band name, album, single, and website/video link in an email addressed to 200 contacts and hitting send. However, do you know what the max return is for going this road? less than .01% (aka less than .0001) You might get lucky and have 1 person respond.

Take a little extra time, do a little research and make notes of the people you are reaching out to. Make sure that their platform and offering fits in line with your sound, your brand, and that you have similar fan bases. It does you absolutely no good to send your single or band video to a website that promotes and reviews progressive rock when you are in a country or folk duo. Just because a blog or web station may be included in a list of “indie publications,” make sure you make a good match with the platform before you contact them.

Doing this little bit of research and taking the time to make a genuine connection will pay off in spades when you start getting responses. You’ll get actual messages back from people who want to talk with you more. And doing so creates connections that open bigger doors down the road. Even if you don’t get a long note back, you may just receive a mention of when your song will be featured or played, which is fairly uncommon in many media platforms due to timing and lack of information presented.

You want to build your network and the connection database for people who are playing, talking about and promoting your music. You do this through not being spammy with your messages. Go down a slightly longer road to build much better connections and relationships through stronger conversational messaging. The benefit is for both you and the platform that showcases your music. And it gives you something you can build on instead of a dead end.

Get more insights and how-to methods for contacting music media, music influencers, and building your network in the DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook.