Tag Archives: DIY musician

Steve Palfreyman Shares 3 Keys To Success For Musicians & Creative Businesses

Steve Palfreyman

Steve Palfreyman

I’ve known Steve Palfreyman for a long time. Honestly, he’s a good friend and mentor, which is why having him on the DIY Artist Route Podcast is such an honor. He and I share a lot of the same ethos, our philosophies and ideas on how to grow and build are similar and synced in many ways.

One of the coolest things about Steve, which he shares in this episode, is that what we do determines our legacy, which is the most important piece of our success as human beings. Never mind success in the world of art or music or business. Legacy is a big deal, and you can see (and hear) from everything he says that this is what drives the quest for growth.

This is the first episode of the podcast that I’m doing Show Notes (see below) to capture some of the specific parts talked about. It’s also one of the only times (with the exception of Derek Webb), where the conversation lasted close to an hour. Still, this is one of the best conversations I’ve had with a colleague and fellow growth farmer on the pursuit of success for all of us in the creative industries. Steve is known for the gold that is produced from his words (through quotes). That is certainly true here.

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 5.10.08 PMOne other big point to make is that the Music Launch Summit, which he is the creator and host of, is kicking off soon. I’m privileged to join friends and past guests of the podcast like Benji Rogers & Andrew Apanov, along with Yann Ilunga, Wendy Parr, Arial Hyatt, and a bunch more folks in the creative industries. It’s free to sign up now, so get in. Get in to the Music Launch Summit here.

Podcast Show Notes:

*There are a few spots in the recording where the audio gets a little crackled or poppy. Don’t worry it’s not your speakers or your web connection.

It has to do with the recording from Skype to Logic X. I’m a bit of an audiophile and these little spots irk me on a technical side. However, this conversation was so good, and the time difference being what it is, that I stuck with this session instead of rescheduling to run the gambit of audio-syncing again.

In this conversation we’ll cover a lot of ground including

-Why you need to know your values to truly build powerful connections with the right people

-What marketing actually is (and it’s not pitching your music or work)

-Emotional intelligence, what it is, why it matters, and why your growth in emotional intelligence can determine how successful you are at anything

-Why reflection and empathy are essential tools to build solid relationships

Steve1PURE GOLD-Great quotes from Steve Palfreyman in this podcast episode:

“Marketing is just delivering stuff that is awesome.”

“Our industry is unempathetic and that’s what needs to change.”

“Emotional intelligence comes from life experiences. We all reflect, but not as much as we could.The deeper I dive, the more gold I dig.”

“Without it (emotional intelligence), the art will stagnate.”

“Social media and managing your career is no different than learning an instrument.”

“If we’re more thankful we’re all going to have more oxygen to keep doing the things that we’re doing and not feel like we’re just running on fumes all the time because it takes so much grit to get anything creative off the ground and we need so much to help each other keep going until we can get the monetary benefit too.”

Build Stronger Audience Connection With Amy Schmittauer

AmySchmittauerMost of us in the music and creative business space are seeing more and more videos in our social news feeds. Why is that? One big reason is video’s ability to build engagement. We’re naturally drawn to the power of moving visual and audio media. This is especially true when people are present in the videos. That’s the power that Amy Schmittauer shows us how to excel at.

I was not aware of how excellent Amy’s work is as a video blog coach until my friend Chandler Coyle pointed me to a video she did that talked about the power of radio for musicians. Her reference points are more in the pop realm of radio airplay, but the points she makes are spot on. In this example alone, we can see how the power of effective communication through video can convert people into becoming not only fans, but tribesmen. I’m not in her tribe, because one video wasn’t enough. I wanted to see what else she was teaching.

This video is how I first saw her work. Is it a How-To for getting radio airplay? NO. She’s talking about how getting your music in front of radio should be the first thing you think of when you think of marketing because it’s a natural fit. That’s completely true.

Amy’s site is full of her numerous videos, all showcasing ways to grow your audience using the power of video. I wanted to connect with her to learn more about her story, get her insights into how to take this platform of video production and translate it into the DIY music space, and build a dialogue. Her helpful personality isn’t just something on screen. It’s who she is  (authenticity is a key to building a solid core audience of super fans in any realm).

Does she talk about doing things in a digital space to build a big audience? Yes. Does that go against the grain for Audience Growth Farming? No. Here’s why: All of Amy’s content is about creating content for an audience you want to build a connection with. She talks about doing something from the perspective of the person you want to reach. That is EXACTLY the Growth Farming Method.

If you hear her talking about “mainstream” media or marketing in this piece, don’t ignore her words altogether because she’s still talking to you. She’s talking about all of us. We need to look at how we can present our

There are some really insightful and strong pieces of advice that Amy shares in this podcast episode (download and stream via iTunes, Stitcher, and Spreaker). Among them are how to focus on being consistent with your videos instead of trying to start out with the best equipment.

From my days back in the university world of media and journalism, I worked with a lot of young people starting their media experience.  They would hold off starting to work on their dreams of making videos until they got the best gear. Then they’d spend a fortune on gear that sat in a closet unused. Amy’s wisdom and advice here to start with what you have is spot on.

One key (very BIG key) that she points out repeatedly is something that’s covered extensively in The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook. Your focus with your marketing and engagement methods must be on the person you want to reach. Think about what matters to them. This is your tribe of super fans, your core audience we’re talking about. What do these people care the most about? How can you serve their interests? By making your end user your focus, you will not only stand out, but you will find that the right people are magnetized to you.

“No one’s thinking about what the end user really wants, they just put out what they want to put out, and that’s NOT how you get people to like you.”

Amy Schmittauer goes beyond just talking about how to make videos that people want to see. She’s a master at building engagement. It’s not enough to just make a video that has you playing your song, or acting out drama for a music video. The audio element is key too. As Amy puts it, “Audio will kill your video. If it’s not good audio or it’s windy, or it’s crackly, no one’s going to watch that video. But if the video of the video is not the best quality in the world, people still watch it, which is why Snap-chat is a thing and crappy video is fine. It’s relatable. People think, ‘That’s probably the best I can do with a camera too.’ ”

“The best thing you can do is use what you have and actually make a video. Find out what the mistakes are. Find out how important lighting is, how important audio is. Your phone is a powerful device. You don’t need a bunch of gear. You’ve got to test and you have to practice. People want the perfect set before they get started, but we never get the perfect set.”

Everything we do to growth farm our audience involves a process of building trust and relationships. Flash-in-the-pan methods of getting attention are short-lived. They don’t create the connection and growth that we need as creatives to have sustainable careers. For musicians, radio airplay is a big part of this journey, because it builds upon the trust that they listener has with the station they tune into for great music.

“We want to say things a certain way but our audience is not going to understand it until they know, like, and trust us and want to go down that path with us. I think musicians and radio speak to that because if you see somebody come out on the radio, a lot of times it’s because they’ve been working really hard and finally come out with an album or a single track that’s perfect for radio in a popular nature. That’s the thing that gets them the exposure and the eyeballs and the influence and then the second album comes out and it’s like ‘I want to know who this guy is.’”

Listen and stream the full podcast episode here:

 

This is a realm of engagement I’m working on too, concerning video. I’m doing more and more of it, particularly on Youtube and Facebook. It’s important for us to learn more about what actions we can take to get our messages out to the right people who are wanting and needing us. Amy’s insights here are a great resource for that. Follow her on Youtube to gain more insights into effective video production for growth and great tips on being successful in this creative space.

Take what Amy Schmittauer talks about in building a stronger audience with radio airplay to the next level. Sign up for the Indie Radio Course now to get your music in front of more music super fans on indie radio.

How To Get Solid Radio Airplay The Right Way

This blog article is also published on Dotted Music. Musicians submit music to radio on a daily basis. Many of these music submissions to radio go ignored. Here’s how to submit music to radio that really works.

Secrets To Music Submissions To Radio Stations

Radio Mic Old FashionedGetting radio airplay isn’t a dice roll and it’s not a matter of doing multi-million dollar promotion campaigns. Especially not in public or indie radio (where your attention should be if you’re a DIY artist).

As I’ve said in past posts like How To Build A Radio Promotion Strategy & How To Make Effective Music Submissions To Radio, the basics to submitting music to radio is fairly easy.

The science to getting radio airplay has more to do with only a few specific things, AND they must be made a high priority. Community building and communication is top of that list.

Each radio station decision-maker (station manager, program director, program host, etc)  has their own individual perspectives and motives.

These preferences determine what they play and what they don’t. They also determine how often some songs get rotation versus others. However, how radio stations decide which songs get played actually has to do with a few factors that you might not realize.

online radio station jowanna lewis radiokscr music submission indie music airplay

Jowanna Lewis, owner of RadioKSCR in Los Angeles, CA

Station managers with commercial radio will give a few spins here and there to “unknown” or DIY musicians if it fits with the format and if they earn the respect of either the DJ or the station management.

Once songs begin to chart more (meaning that the music ranking organizations like Billboard and CMJ are recording more plays nationwide) those songs will get more rotation.

Much of this is based on requests and promotion dollars from the labels.

As a DIY artist, your plan is to get your music on stations who are be looking to add indie and unsigned artists to their station playlists.

These are the radio stations and managers who you should be trying to figure out how to gain the interest of. Indie radio is your ticket here. What does that look like?

What determines an indie radio station playlist and spin count

There are essentially three factors that determine whether a radio station manager or music director will add a new song to their rotation. See if your music fits into these factors to be Radio Ready with this free ebook.

The songs that get airplay first off have to meet these three qualification. Sound quality and production value are paramount.

Most professional radio outlets qualify potential music submissions on the quality of the recording first. It’s instinctive, we aren’t going to play a poorly mixed song.

Great songwriting involves lyricism as well as composition and arrangement. Some great songs have very clever, witty, or thought-provoking lyrics. Yet others simply have a good arrangement with a nice melody but nothing very complicated about how it is written.

The last qualification plays the largest role in not only whether as song will get added to the rotation of a radio station but also how often it will be played.

Simply put, if a radio station manager, music director, or approved station personality likes a song, it will probably get some radio airplay. If that song also catches on with other station staff and especially with listeners, that song is going to get a lot more spins.

radio submission music submission to radio How To Submit Music For Radio Airplay

Radio station managers are people too. We like what we play. We have a personal interest in the content that we put on our platforms. It’s just simple human nature.

To be in this industry an din this creative space, you have to be a fan. Radio station managers are fans of music too, and often we’re fans of artists who not only make music that we enjoy but also who have engaged with us in some manner.

Next Steps To Get Music Submissions Accepted On Radio

How someone feels about you as a musician can play almost a bigger role than whether they only like your music. When you try to just separate yourself out and away from your art you limit the reach and connection-building power you have.

Instead, focus your energies on building connections and communities with the radio stations that you want airplay on. It’s not a matter of getting your music out to every single station in existence, or even every station that plays music in the same genre as you.

Learn The Proven Process To Getting Radio Airplay

Many musicians don’t think about the pieces that need to be in place before starting this process.

If you want key elements , a proven process to implement with actionable steps, you’re going to get radio airplay and much more.

All of these tools and more are available for you in the Indie Radio Course.

You can build real relationships with the people behind the microphone. Get your spot on the course here.

 

Insights From The Musician’s Webman Andrew Apanov

Andrew Apanov

Andrew Apanov

In the digital age, we’re not limited to location for who we can learn from or be aided by.

One of my favorite people doing great things for musicians is Andrew Apanov. Based out of Poland, Andrew’s platform Dotted Music is a great resource for all things digital and web for musicians. His blog is a fantastic resource with great articles and posts that shine new light on not just the pieces of building a digital brand as a musician, but the how-to steps to make that happen.

What Andrew Apanov says about online branding for musicians

Andrew and I have had several conversations about what musicians need to do with their online branding and platforms to really grow their audience. We’ve also talked about media, which is why he was one of the first people I sent the DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook to, because back in the day Andrew was a radio host too.

His inclusion in the DIY Artist Route Podcast is perfect for us as we start the summer. I know a lot of artists are taking the time to re-evaluate their growth and what they’re working on. If that’s you, you’ll gain a lot from this episode. Music marketing online, online branding, relationship building a whole lot more are all in this episode.If you’re looking to hire a publicist or work with a music marketing agency, and you’ve read up on We Spin and Dotted Music, there are some things you should prepare for in consideration before you start writing checks.

What do marketing agencies and publicists look for with new musicians

Great publicists and music marketing agencies look for specific things from artists before they sign them. Do you know what they are? Andrew does, and now in turn you do too. I see a lot of musicians paying for services that they can do themselves. The reason they don’t do it themselves (like music marketing, radio promotion, etc) is because they’ve tried methods that don’t work and they gave up. So they pay money to someone else to do the work that creates networking connections. Except, they pay the money for the airplay, but don’t get the network. It’s so backwards. And it’s one of the things I appreciate most about this conversation with Andrew. His blogs and podcast get you even more form him.

How to be your own music publicist and promoter

Speaking of music promotions and publicity, don’t be one of those artists who get suckered into some promoter’s game of paying 100s or 1000s of dollars for promotion. It’s crap. Literally. Be your own radio promoter by doing 3 big things that many musicians and even labels get wrong. Learn how to do it right. I’ll show you. Click here to get it right.

Jay Coyle Preaches Super Fan Gospel For Musicians

Jay Coyle

Jay Coyle, Music Geek Services

So far on the DIY Artist Route Podcast we’ve connected with fellow Super Fan building advocates like Benji Rogers (Pledge Music), Michael Brandvold, and Chandler Coyle (Berklee Online & Music Geek Services). Recently I was blessed to get to chat with Chandler’s brother and Music Geek founder Jay Coyle on the gospel of super fans for musicians.

Jay Coyle has a storied past with music and music marketing. His approach to helping musicians market themselves is an outside-the-box perspective that made me instantly pay closer attention. It’s the way that I’ve gone about building my audience for The Appetizer Radio Show, and help musicians connect with their fans for years. And best of all, it’s really easy.

What does your fan base want most from you?
Think about that. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience to see what you can do for them to garner more of their support, AND how you can build stronger connections with them.

Jay Coyle thinks like a Super Fan

Chances are you’re a big fan of at least 1 band or musician. What lengths would you go to in order to see your favorite band live? What about adding their music to your record library, even if that’s digital? Let’s throw some merch in too, because most of us Super Fans have merchandise from our favorite artists. What is it that we most want from our favorite artists, and why are we so passionate about them?

It’s these keen insights into what makes the super fan army move in your direction that Jay is so great at. It’s how his company Music Geek Services has helped many small-to-medium sized bands thrive in a constantly growing music market with new artists emerging daily. More competition creates more noise and less room. No musician in this industry can get by on trying to be all things to all people and expect to win. Instead, focus on your core audience of super fans and make them your prize.

Jay Coyle is one more advocate for the essential piece to your audience growth-Super Fans. Take his insights, tips, and advice to heart and to action. What stood out the most to you in our conversation on this podcast? Comment here and let’s chat about it.

Subscribe to the podcast for past episodes (mentioned above) in the right margin.

Justin Wayne On The DIY Artist Route

justin-wayne-ill-micIndie radio show host and podcast creator Justin Wayne joined me for a fantastic conversation about music, the indie music revolution, success for indie and DIY musicians and more. He and I share a lot in common including creating music platforms that have grown tremendously over the years. Justin even has an “associate producer” named Puck, who is a cat. I have a similar position filled by my cat named Baby Girl.

I wanted to talk with Justin on the DIY Artist Route podcast because his insights into the growth of indie music from the perspective of a radio host. We both agree that the appeal indie and unsigned artists have to music fans who are searching for something commercial radio refuses to deliver is a powerful one. I talk a lot about how artists can grow their fan base and reach more people by getting on indie radio. Justin reiterates a lot of the things I talk about regularly on this blog, all without any prompt or suggestion. What I mean by that is us radio folks think a lot alike. His attitude and insight into how artists can reach out to radio iterates a lot of what I teach in The Indie Radio Course.

Justin Wayne is a really funny guy and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him. Among the talking points made are his suggestion for what artists need to do in order to “get discovered” by radio platforms (i.e. get their submissions listened to and considered), the power that indie music has to change all of the music industry (for the better), what a musician’s job really is (far beyond just making music), and how partnering with people who believe in you is how you really gain the growth you want.

Here are just a few of the quotes found in the podcast:
“We get a lot of submissions and we see when we have a BCC email. If you’re not taking the time to at least check out the website for a brief moment to see if your music fits on my station, it’s kinda not worth my time to give it a listen. But it’s pretty easy to pick out the people who are taking the time to connect.”

“Have an experience with a radio platform before you start contacting people.”

“Radio guys love to talk about stuff. It’s nice to have something to talk about. So give us something interesting (when you make your submission). Listeners like it because they can go tell their friends.”

“It’s kinda like computer programming. You start small and figure out if it works and then you go from there. You don’t have to start out by recording a full 12 songs. Do 3 or 4 or 5 and make them really good and focus on that.”

“I would never tell an artist to change their style or what they’re doing if they’re really passionate about it. Because that’s the most important thing in my mind. That should come through.”

“When you’re building your team of your manager or even your friends who are helping you out, make sure they understand your passion and what you’re trying to do because there’s nothing more important. You’re trying to improve people’s lives, that’s really what a musician’s job is.”

“It’s sort of a religion. It’s like ‘Do you believe in Independent Music? Do you believe that it’s good?’ Yeah I do. ‘Have you taken Independent music as your personal savior?’ Ok then you’re in. It’s really like that. There are some people who don’t believe it’s good but that’s because they haven’t experienced it. Once they experience it, they’re like ‘yeah it’s great! Why would I want to listen to the (commercial) radio anymore?’”

This was a fantastic experience of indie music insight with Justin Wayne. Hear his indie music podcast The Justin Wayne Show here. Share this podcast with other musicians, indie music folks and anyone else you think can benefit from our discussion. Let me know what you think of this edition in the comments below.

Why Musicians Don’t Need A Label For Music Growth

“If I can just get signed to a label then I’ll be able to get my music out to more people and finally build my fan base.”

Unexpect out of Canada

Unexpect out of Canada

I’ve heard this phrase (in a few iterations) countless times in the past year alone. Here’s the thing: a label might save you a little bit of time but being on a label doesn’t guarantee your growth.

The reason for this is that a lot of labels AND PR firms AND marketing agencies AND music promoters don’t serve their artists as well as the artists could serve themselves if you only knew what and how to do it. This is where I come in to help you learn the what and the how. Read on if you want both of those things.

How you can do the work of a label and do it 300% better

There is this ongoing misnomer among DIY musicians that you need to get your music on a label so that they can really market and grow your music audience. This belief is mistaken, that labels are better at connecting with music industry influencers and platforms with big audiences.

Image by Johan Oomen

Image by Johan Oomen

The “label savior” belief stems from a historical period that the music industry was at around 60 or more years ago. Back then, every new artist was on a label because that was the only way that distribution worked. There weren’t indie presses for individuals to create their own records (on vinyl), CDs didn’t exist and tapes were the way that demos were recorded at home. Labels emerged as the main method for distribution for music for media companies to have something to broadcast. Remember though, that was in the 1950s and 1960s. Times have changed.

It’s no longer the case that you need a label to win in this music industry. We all know the power of the Indie Music Movement that has changed the rules for how music growth happens.

“Indie” means more than independent from an artistic standpoint. It can also mean individual.

Labels continue to exist and continue to spend GOBS of money marketing their artists. Major labels spend the most money and put their artists out every where they can as a method to gain leverage.

Let’s pause for a moment and dive into this term, because it’s really important for you.

Gain leverage without signing to a label

Leverage is the crux of what growth is built on. The more people know who you are, become connected with your name and brand, the more opportunities you have to sell your uniqueness to the world. This is leverage.

In a sense, leverage is a numbers game but only in the capacity of very big picture ideals. When labels strive to gain leverage by only playing a numbers game, they miss the mark. This missing creates negative results for artists.

Truthfully, the most powerful and successful leverage makers are those who get themselves out to the RIGHT people, and lots of them. This is one way that labels large and small can miss the mark, by not targeting their audience appropriately or communicating properly with them.

When you’re trying to reach everyone, often you’ll miss the mark. Everyone isn’t an audience or a target, it’s a black hole. Think about a bow and arrow. You can aim for a target on a tree or a post that’s 50 yards away. If you simply lift the bow into the air and shoot the arrow into the sky, did you hit anything?

Think about all the advertisements you see for artists you don’t care about, or music styles that don’t appeal to you. They’re all over the web, TV and other media. Those are attempts to gain leverage. Many of them are unsuccessful because they’re not aimed at the right audience, they’re aimed at everyone.

You don’t need a label to gain leverage in growing your music brand, gaining more fans or creating more opportunities to sell your music (both live and online). What you need is to recognize that the people who serve as gatekeepers for audience reach are just that, they’re people.

Wow, did that seem a little too simple? People are people. Radio people are regular people. People who write blog reviews and host music podcasts are regular people too. Yes they have platforms that reach hundreds or thousands (or maybe even millions) of other people that you also want to reach. At the end of the day, people are still people.

I say this “people are people” ideal because this is where labels often miss the mark. Their outreach to music curators, radio platforms, or even audience groups doesn’t communicate in a person-to-person way. The communication is far too formal and hard to embrace.

What works better for you, a friend of yours talking about a new band they just heard that sounds like Mumford & Sons but with only 3 band members and since you like Mumford you should check them out, OR a graduate level term paper detailing the exploits of a new Americana band and everywhere they’ve traveled and all the inspirations of their music and how incredible they are?

You want to listen to your friend because your friend communicates in a way that gels with you. People talking cordially with other people communicate in a way that gels. Companies trying to communicate with people don’t often do so very well.

This is one of the most common areas of difficulty I see both artists, PR companies, indie labels and management companies struggle with in terms of getting their music out to radio, media, and music fans as a whole. We’re all trying to get regular people who do specific jobs to give us their attention, their interest, their care, and ultimately their support. That’s the whole process of fan conversion.

How does that happen? How can you as an artist figure out what works to get your music in front of radio platform makers, blog reviewers, media outlets, and even individual fans both online and offline?

If only there was a book or something that showed you all of this

Actually there is. The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook reveals everything that individual artists, bands, and musicians need to do what a record label or PR firm is supposed to do, AND do it better. If you decide that you’d still rather delegate the responsibilities and time to a company or team to do your marketing and outreach, that works too. The book will show you exactly what to look for in bringing the right people into your team to get you successful results.

What kind of successful results? You’ll not only get airplay on radio but you’ll build your personal network of industry contacts for long-term relationships that benefit you over time so that your future record releases will have instant traction and you won’t have to start the “marketing” process all over again.

RadioCourseMainImage-CoverImageDo you want even more insight into how to build a stronger network of media contacts, connections with radio, and gain more support from your fan base using effective communication and messaging techniques? Click here to get all of this and much more in the Indie Radio Promotion Course and save 60% by joining now.

This is how businesses who network with other businesses work. They build connections and relationships that benefit both parties in the immediate and future time periods. That’s real connection. Gain the step-by-step process to not only getting your music heard on radio but also how to grow your connections with music industry influencers in this powerful new book, set to publish in February. Sign up for the Book below.

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Sometimes When You Need Just A Little Encouragement

Image by Megan Lynette

Image by Megan Lynette

It’s the start of a new year. Most of us are busy setting to work on getting things really going so that we can achieve our New Year’s Resolutions, or more practically that goals we set to build on last year’s victories.

Are you with me on this?

Here’s something that keeps popping up here and there in just the 4 short days of 2016, and I want to focus a little time on it now with you so we can move forward to achieve our shared and individual goals AND enjoy the process.

Sometimes we need just a little encouragement.

I’m going to be tempted to get bogged down in details with finding the right THIS or the best THAT to use in employing strategic elements to reach my goals this year. And there’s a pretty good chance that I’ll see someone advertising on Facebook or soliciting on Google that they were able to build, grow and reach millions of new people with tons of new business, all in just 3 weeks (or something ridiculous like that), and I might feel like I missed the mark.

I’m still working on reaching the big goals I set 3 years ago as far as reach and I haven’t made it yet. But I will.

However, I’ll admit to you that I do get a little discouraged at the pace of growth sometimes. You might get discouraged too, right? Do you feel a little bit thrown off like you missed the boat when you see an ad or a pitch for an online course, Ebook, or webinar where someone claims to have done something that you’ve spent months or years working on, and they achieved it in days or weeks? Most of these claims aren’t entirely accurate (experience showed me this unfortunately, but that’s a conversation we can have later) yet the feeling is real.

Sometimes we need just a little encouragement to see that when we keep working, stay focused on our goals, and put to use the insights and ideas that even outside events show us, good things can hapen. We’ll see our dreams come to life, and we’ll celebrate the victories that accomplishing goals brings us.

With the notion that disappointment might try to sneak in and throw off my groove, I’ve been on the lookout for some small pieces of encouragement, and have successfully found a few. I want to share them with you, so that you can grab them when the little antagonizing voice of disappointment or failure comes sneaking up on you and tries to throw off your groove. Then you can punch it in the mouth with this great stuff.

Here we go.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 10.08.43 PM

First, I’m a football fan and being from Houston I celebrate the Texans. Sorry Cowboy fans, it’s been a tough year for you guys. Hopefully something good can happen in the offseason.

The Texans made it to the Playoffs this year for the first time since 2012, beating the Jaguars yesterday 30-6. It was a tremendous game that saw the defense do things that would make for a full season highlight reel. The encouragement I found from this was more than just a victory, and more than just a trip to the playoffs. These guys had been written off as losers and a lost season just 8 weeks ago.

Think about that.

Most teams who start 2-5 don’t end up with winning seasons, and they also don’t make the playoffs. The coaching staff (led by Bill O’Brien) changed the way the team practiced, putting the decisions of game-time flow in the hands of the players instead of telling them what to do during the week. That changed everything. They went on to win 6 of their next 8 games, take the team to the post season and do what the sports world had said wouldn’t happen. That to me is encouraging. It means that when things aren’t working out, I can change something small, or something off the radar and get better results.

Switching from sports to politics might be a little off-kilter but that’s ok too. I don’t want to weigh in on the political race of 2016, because it is a bit of a divisive mess right now. However, it’s interesting to look at some recent news posted on the campaign of Bernie Sanders, the independent Senator from Vermont (who is running for the Democratic nomination). Like him or not and regardless of your political views, he should be someone that entrepreneurs, small businesses and especially musicians pay attention to because of his grassroots growth.

Remember that little temptation I mentioned earlier that most of us fall prey to, the one that tells us we’re failing if we don’t grow exponentially in our platform audiences in a short amount of time? Bernie has done something in his campaign that most crowdfunders dream of, let alone small business startups and DIY musicians. He’s raised millions of dollars appealing to people on a personal and real way.

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I took this little pic off of Facebook because it’s the easiest to illustrate. Again, I reference these stats and Bernie’s growth not because of his politics but because of how he’s connecting with real people. On a whole, I’ve talked a lot about the difference between building empires and building communities. I believe community building beats empires over time. It would appear that this is true based on these stats too, regardless of whether he wins the nomination for the Democratic party or not.

The encouragement I get from seeing this little blurb is that when you are real with people, appeal to individuals on a common level and not segregate others out or kick people out because of some jaded belief system, you can build strong and powerful bonds with people of different walks of life, different cultures, different beliefs, but shared values. Isn’t that what makes strong communities vibrant and thriving?

A more little note of encouragement on this piece-note that the average gift to his campaign is less than $30. That’s less than the average contribution to a nonprofit fundraising campaign, a public radio pledge drive, or a crowdfunding campaign for a tech startup. Again, it’s not about the size of the gift but the way that individuals are impacted. I can be encouraged by that. How about you?

Me with Iron & Wine in 2010, presenting him a Golden Fork Award trophy (the first ever made)

Me with Iron & Wine in 2010, presenting him a Golden Fork Award trophy (the first ever made)

One final piece of encouragement to start the year off, this time I’ll dive into a different realm in music. I confess to spending absolutely zero time looking at anything involving pop music. I admit to following the latest news with Adele and Taylor Swift only because of the impact of the music licensing royalties with Soundexchange and the new lawsuit against Spotify because it pertains to my work (both in radio and in working with musicians). Their shared impact on music streaming platforms is intriguing as well.

Plus, in an age when music streaming is the standard method of listening for most people, their success highlights the fact that people continue to buy albums. Musicians, make note of this.

I heard a little bit of both Adele and Swift’s albums from 2015. My conclusion? Not really impressed, and it’s not because they’re pop stars. I don’t get the heart, soul and powerful presence from them that I do from the albums by Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell (Sing Into My Mouth), Trevor Hall (who had 2 releases in 2015 and both were stellar) or Brandi Carlile (The Firewatcher’s Daughter). Only Carlile among them got national recognition (via a Grammy nom). Yet despite the lack of national attention, these artists continue to grow their audiences by making great albums, convicted to the notion that real music is found in a full album experience that they deliver time and time again. By the way, they’re all nominated for a big award I do every year and you can hear 2 cuts from their 2015 releases HERE.

In a music world (and industry) that seems to be dictated by flashy imagery and millions of social media imprints, here are 4 musicians who don’t fit the pop culture’s mold of success and yet they continue to write, perform and thrive. That my friend, is inspiring. Here’s the thing though, these are just a very small group of the many MANY musicians out there who are thriving and winning in this constantly changing marketplace for music, one where the industry is panicked. When you connect with real people by giving them a powerful experience, you will win. That’s the way it works.

What experience are you giving?

That’s the question I’m asking myself every week when I sit down to produce The Appetizer Radio Show. What experience am I providing? What experience do I want my audience to have? I think that every musician and every business owner should let that question pass through their brains at some point during every week, at least a few times. In the end, it’s the experience that brings people back to us, that we build community together with, and who help us reach the goals we set out for ourselves.

Did you need a little encouragement to start your week? Good. Now let’s move forward together!

Why Milestones Are How We Reach Our Dreams

Vision. Milestones. Perspective.

Looking forward to the future and doing a combination of goal-setting and forecasting of what lies ahead, taking into account outside influences and things you have absolutely no control over.

Looking at the big picture and the future of what lies ahead, combined with the aforementioned goal setting, is one of my gifts. It’s what helped propel me into the radio industry at the ripe age of 16, into creating a radio/media property at age 21, turning that property into a business and converting a “project” into an entrepreneurial element at age 26, then setting out on my own to take on a new career outside of the radio industry to work as a coach and mentor for folks like me in the creative business space (musicians, entrepreneurs, startups, etc) at age 32.

Today marks not only a new day, but a place on the map of my future vision that will bring a new set of accomplishments of goals and achievements with it.

MeByAbbeyRoadSignI turn 34 today, and I’m writing about that because aging has been something that I look forward to instead of dreading. I want to share with you the fulfillment and successes of my journey up to this point, a few philosophical lessons learned along the way, and tell you what I hope to achieve in the coming year. As you know, community building is the mantra I live by, and as part of not only my community, but our growing group of creative entrepreneurs, I want to open up to you about the steps taken to get to this point, and the ones I want to reach in the coming year.

Call this accountability or transparency. These things matter.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

You’ve heard this phrase before. I used to not pay any attention to it when teachers at school or mentors in my life would say this. It was one of those things I could imagine Mr. Miagi tell Daniel in the Karate Kid or Yoda tell Luke as he trained to be a Jedi, but never really thought it applied to me. However, it doesn’t matter how old you are, the wisdom here is still on point. Yet what if we modified the phrase to have a little more practical application. What about this:

“Life is a series of milestones that lead us the destinations we choose.”

I don’t believe we have to settle for one destination in life. You can choose to have one truly huge, magnificently giant dream and work all of your life to achieve it. However, to reach that big, giant goal you’re going to first reach some milestones along the way. Consider a milestone to be markers that indicate that you’re making progress and give you some direction for how to move forward.

My high school graduation pic. People thought I was 16 until about 4 years ago (I'm in my 30s now)

My high school graduation pic. People thought I was 16 until about 4 years ago (I’m in my 30s now)

I mentioned briefly some of the milestones I’ve had up to this point. At age 16, like any teenager I was excited to get my driver’s license and drive all over town. But looking back that wasn’t the pinnacle achievement of that year. Becoming an on-air DJ on a college radio station while I was still in high school is what I remember as being the pinnacle of age 16. That experience planted seeds in me about what I believed radio had the potential to be, how it could impact the lives of indie and unsigned musicians, and it showed me the skills needed to do radio as a professional. That experience gave me what was needed to become an announcer at public radio station KACU as an incoming freshman at age 18. There hadn’t been a freshman walk in their door with radio experience and a resume that showed on-air and production credit up to that point. I’ll always remember age 16 as reaching that milestone.

TARSLogoTM2014Fast-forward to age 21, which we all have different degrees of fondness for. That was the age I was when I had this seemingly strange idea to make a radio program that played different genres of music from known and unknown artists, all in the same hour. The show wouldn’t follow a format of just rock or just folk music or just jazz. I paired songs that flowed together, or that I thought flowed together. And it stuck. In a little over a year, The Appetizer Radio Show was becoming one of the most talked about programs by the supporters of the station, leading to some positive feedback and later an interview with the Dallas Morning News. That would segue into the start of taking the show to other stations for carriage (syndication). Syndication would lead to turning the show into a business and a myriad of other achievements. It all began with that milestone at age 21.

TARS10thAnnConcert-LindsayKatt-ElliottPark A little over a decade later and a whole lot has happened. The Appetizer celebrated its 10th birthday in 2013 with a live concert at a historic theater in our hometown of Abilene (The Paramount Theater) featuring indie music sensation Lindsay Katt and Billboard #1 songwriter Elliott Park. That was a great milestone for me because I’d never organized and put together a live concert on my own before, but achieved success for all parties involved by utilizing strong community engagement and bringing together a powerful team of people to help make it happen. There were a lot of lessons learned in that process, and it certainly created a platform to do more live events that drew the greater regional community together.

As I enter this new year and transition into casting a vision for what I want for the next several years, the game has changed a lot, not only in regards to media (radio, online, streaming services) and music (both from the standpoint of musicians and the music industry), but also the landscape for how to succeed in the creative marketplace. I came into the world of self-employed coaching from spending over a decade in the nonprofit realm. It’s still an adjustment that I’m getting used to, and there have been a lot of lessons learned in just 2 years. Moving forward I want to achieve two big goals, which will create two big milestones to reach.

One goal is releasing the first in a series of books I’m working on that delves deep into providing a road map and guide into community building, starting with unsigned and DIY musicians (and those on the indie music circuit). Community building is the same as growing your fan base but it includes so much more. It’s the combination of your super fans, your fringe audience, the people who help get your music to other people in other places, and the people who help grow your outreach. It takes a community to succeed, and I’m currently writing a book that not only illustrates the practical steps to achieve this, but highlights some real life musicians who are doing this right now.

I’m going to take that framework and apply it to other books that will show entrepreneurs, startups, and nonprofits how to do the same thing in their fields and regions.

That’s a big vision to have, and some very serious milestones to reach.

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The second big piece of the vision is taking that message to the streets, and doing speaking engagements that teach individuals and groups the key elements they need to not only build strong fan bases, but cultivate powerful communities of support for their music. Again, this is big picture vision casting, and I am sharing this with you because what I’m building will impact your world. I want you to know what I’m working on so that you can benefit the most from everything I have planned.

This is how I’m going to be spending my 34th year.

BoJacksonOn a side note, another reason I’m excited about turning 34 is it was Bo Jackson’s number when he played for the Raiders. Bo is my all-time favorite athlete. We also share a birthday, which makes it extra special. One of these days, I want to be able to meet him. That will be a milestone for a different time, and one that I can’t see clearly at the moment, but believe strongly to be possible.

What are you milestones for this coming year? As we enter the end of our calendar year and have 1 month left in 2015, share with me the milestones you’ve had this year and what you’re wanting to do in 2016. Let me know in the comments below.

Why You Should Be A Mayweather Fan Even If You Don’t Like Boxing

FloydMayweatherFirst things first, let’s identify a few important types of people: Entrepreneurs, DIY/Unsigned Musicians, and Small Business Owners and Managers.

If you fall into any of those categories, this blog article is for you. If you saw the name Mayweather and the word Boxing and were interested, this will be worth your while as well. If you want to carve an Uncommon Path, Mayweather is a great person to model after because he is Uncommon in many ways.

Any of the people mentioned above (or some combination of any of them) need to pay attention to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It doesn’t matter if you like boxing or not. It doesn’t matter what you think of him outside of the ring (some of his luxurious lifestyle and all of the convictions of assault are not to be proud of) or inside of it. It doesn’t matter if you think he is a cowardly boxer who runs from his opponents (which many of his detractors do) or if you think he is a boxing genius and defensive master (which many of his supporters do).

Remember in 2008 when the housing bubble burst, sending the economy into a downward spiral and fall from a large height? Millions of people lost there jobs, their retirements, and a lot of money went down a black hole. The stock market plummeted. Whole industries took a huge nose dive. Other than politicians, who still made (loads of) money in 2008? Mayweather did.

If you think Mayweather was still able to capitalize his earnings on the fact that he’s a professional boxer, you need to look closer at the details. Not all professional athletes make money, or in this case tens of millions of dollars per year, especially in a downward economy. Boxing as a professional sport is nowhere near as popular in America as football, baseball, basketball or golf. We can chalk Nascar up there too. Where there is popularity there are masses of people who spend massive amounts of money to support athletes and organizations. With the masses come sponsors and advertising, which fuels the whole enterprise.

Boxing has a few big sponsors, but they don’t have the masses or audience. The days when a heavyweight boxer could captivate the nation were the days of Ali, Frazier, Foreman, Tyson, and Hollyfield. Though the legendary Bernard Hopkins (the oldest boxer to be champion) is still in the game,the lack of interest in the sports world for boxing has affected the greatest names’ paydays.

Except for one person: Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

But you shouldn’t pay attention to Mayweather because he’s one of the richest athletes in the world, or for being the #1 pay-per-view moneymaker in history. That’s not why you should care. The money (no pun intended) only proves the point that he has been able to do something magnificent in a time when everyone else in business and entertainment has made excuses for not living up to their ambitions or abilities.

For Floyd Mayweather, Jr, success isn’t a matter of whether or not the economy is doing well, or even if the market for sports is stable or not. It has nothing to do with the popularity of a sport that continues to decline in viewership. How many business owners or entrepreneurs do you know who will justify the poor standing or quarterly results for their business with excuses on how poorly the market is doing?

Here are 3 Takeaways you can get from Floyd Mayweather’s success and how you can apply it to what you do:

1. Use any attention given to you to draw people into what you do and then you set the pace.

Mayweather is great at being a heel, to the point where he uses the public’s dislike for him to gain more of what he wants (in this case money). He’s a master at making bad press or negative reviews work to his favor. Are there haters in your world? Floyd uses the sentiments made against him to draw his detractors in and make them interested in what’s going on. He makes haters buy in to his events in the hopes that their desire for his defeat will be won. His undefeated record reveals how well he’s executed his plan, and how people continue to buy expensive pay-per-views for the same reason. He sells the conflict, instead of selling one side of it or the other.

2. Mayweather is a consummate student of the game of winning

Nonboxing fans think that a boxing match (especially one that costs $60-$100 to see on TV) should play out like a Rocky movie, with two fighters in the middle of the ring duking it out. Sorry folks, that’s not good (or real) boxing. Without getting into how the sport actually works, defense and technique have more to do with solid boxing than raw power alone. If you want KOs, watch UFC. Rhonda Rousey is really good at that (speaking of carving an uncommon path, a woman who dominates a male-heavy sport is certainly doing an uncommon thing).

The science and art of boxing is different, it’s to hit and not get hit. KOs and knockdowns are an exciting part of boxing, but they’re not the whole thing. Most fights are won by decision, by determining which fighter on a round-by-round basis did the most to score points by landing punches, avoiding being punched, ring generalship, and being aggressive.

Floyd is a true defensive genius in the ring, making opponents (many considered to be more powerful punchers than him) look silly trying to hit him. If he struggles in a round and takes too many shots (as he did in only a few rounds against legends like Cotto, Mosley, or Pacquaio), he rebounds in the next round and changes his strategy.

Mayweather is two important things here: Fluid/Adaptable and Experienced/Studied. For you as a musician or entrepreneur, knowing the ins and outs of the science of your craft makes you an excellent and skilled individual in your ring (market). Being adaptable and fluid (adjust to changes as they come) and not allow an occasional blow to throw off your game will make you a champion.

Mayweather-v-Pacquiao-The-Fight3. Sell the potential for happiness and satisfaction

One caveat here, you should be selling actual happiness and satisfaction with your offering. For Mayweather, since he knows that many people buy his fights in the hopes of him losing, he sells the hype of that coming to pass and plays on it. In the end, he’s still selling the potential for his haters to be satisfied. For his fans, he’s also selling the potential that their happiness will continue, because he consistently trains harder than anyone while also claiming to be the greatest of all time. Both sides win, at least until fight time.

Most of the people who bought Pacquiao vs Mayweather in April 2015 weren’t buying a boxing match. They paid $100 to see Pacquiao, one of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport and former undisputed pound-for-pound champion, put Floyd “Money” Mayweather on the mat. It was some of the same fan-fare that led people to watch the first Frazier-Ali fight, and subsequent rematches. It was classic good guy vs bad guy in the billing. Floyd knew that it would bring in non-boxing fans who just don’t like him, and he cashed in on that. Most viewers bought this fight to see Manny beat the hell out of Floyd. That’s why I watched the fight, being a big Pacquiao fan who never had much appreciation for Mayweather.

Until I watched the two greats fight each other.

The  fight spoiled a lot of hope for a lot of people. Mayweather brought his A-game technique and defense, as well as some amazing counter-punching and precision power-shots. Regardless of whether or not Pacquiao was 100% the night of the fight (post-fight his trainer Freddy Roach claimed they knew he had a torn rotator cuff prior to the fight but chose to fight anyways), Floyd avoided getting hit and returned/countered more punches with authority and accuracy.

As far as boxing goes, I became a Mayweather convert after watching this fight. Non-boxing fans hated it, but they bought the potential for satisfaction, aka hype, and not real boxing. Boxing fans got to see one of the best fights in the history of the sport. And at the end of the day, Mayweather walked away with much more than another victory and justification for his claim of being the greatest.

Hype is not something many people want to admit to buying into, and usually not something anyone brags about being said about them. Look at the last 20 years of NFL draft picks in the first round, particularly quarterbacks. But in this case, hype selling was hugely profitable for a sport who has seen better days.

Mayweather “officially” ended his career with a scientific beatdown of Andre Berto. Berto was a long shot on the ticket, a heavy underdog, who never gained any traction during the entire fight. Mayweather, though not known for power shots had a counter and tactic to best every one of Berto’s strengths, rendering them useless. The victory put his professional record at 49-0, tying Rocky Marciano as the all-time best record in boxing.

This tie leads most serious boxing fans (myself included) to believe that Mayweather will return to achieve the yet unattainable 50. Will that match be against Khan, as many boxing fans have wished for years, or a rematch against Pacquaio. We’ll just have to find out.

The big takeaway for you is this. Regardless of the economy or the popularity of your market. Regardless of whether your fan base boasts about you or you have a ton of haters seemingly out to destroy your name at every turn. Regardless of whether your product offering or place in the market is over-crowded to the point of mass congestion, you can still win and win big when you carve an uncommon path. Choose to look at your situation a little differently. How can you out-strategize your competition, lure new people into what you’re doing using uncommon methods, and take negative reviews about your work and turn it into a positive?

Be like Mayweather, and you won’t be able to do anything else but win. But it takes a strong commitment to being focused, dedicated, educated, and uncommon. Do you have what it takes?

 

**Author’s Note**

I am a fan of what Mayweather does inside the ring from a boxing standpoint. In no way do I support or condone his behavior outside the ring, including multiple convictions of assault against women, and the myriad of other indulgences his vast wealth affords him. The purpose of this blog article is to show how he’s done some amazing things in an unpopular sport, not to say that the dark sides of his lifestyle and behavior should be ignored in favor of his winning streak.