Tag Archives: entrepreneur

Mark Steiner On How To Build A Successful Company

mark steiner gigsalad entrepreneur creative

Mark Steiner

In the 16 years I’ve worked with for profit and nonprofit businesses, particularly in radio, media, and the entertainment industry. There are a few key things that make for thriving organizations.

I knew from the first conversation I had with Mark Steiner at GigSalad that he had cracked the code too. In this podcast episode we both share our perspectives on what makes growth work for entrepreneurs, small businesses, artists & musicians. We find common ground and a lot of perspective that helps to put the art of Growth Farming to work.

Mark Steiner On The DIY Artist Route Podcast

Part of what put me on Mark’s radar is the platform he created and owns that is a marketplace for both musicians, entertainers, and speakers to land better gigs. Every musician I talk with struggles to figure out how to get booked at better venues and how to make their tour schedules work. GigSalad is one method that musicians, artists, entertainers, and motivational speakers can use to land more gigs. Building your reputation in the process is also what drives growth and success here.

I wanted to talk with Mark Steiner because of GigSalad but also because he’s an entrepreneur who has illustrated very specific key points to the Growth Farming method. One particular point he’s lived out is illustrated about 35 minutes into the podcast where we discuss the difference between being selfish and loving yourself:

“If you truly love yourself in the purest sense of the word, that you’re patient with yourself, you’re kind, not rude, you have compassion and love. Then the absolute natural, the absolute natural manifestation of that is love that you give to others. It just oozes out of you. So if you have people who are not expressing love then they’re not loving themselves.”

Throughout our conversation you hear a man who has come to terms with life itself, battled his own sense of identity and made some amazing discoveries in the process. We also talk about the idea of the Heart Garden, which is core to Growth Farming as a means of success.

Inside each and every one of us is a garden. The fruits that come forth out of our lives (our words, actions and attitudes) come from what we plant inside of us. Mark’s success in his business as an artist and entrepreneur illustrate his growth in building the right kind of garden.

One of the past DIY Artist Route Podcast guests, Steve Palfreyman, shares a similar ethos. There’s a lot here that pertains to emotional intelligence, which is a key point to success for any entrepreneur, business, or organization. It’s very much what Mark says here:

“I know my strengths and what I’m good at and I follow what comes natural to me, which is emotional intelligence. I’m comfortable there. I can talk about my feelings and other people’s feelings and relationships. I think those are the driving forces to any successful business.”

There’s a lot of joy that is gleaned from this podcast experience. There’s also a lot of wisdom. What does it take for you to really build success over time, cultivate strong relationships with people to open new doors, and see real fruits come forth? Adopt the method and advice that Mark Steiner illustrates in this conversation.

More On GigSalad & Growth Opportunities

On a side note, I’ve been using GigSalad as a way to get my name out for more opportunities and the system is well setup. Their support team is a group of fantastic people who are easy to work with and will help you along the way. I really believe in this marketplace, and I’m not being paid to say that.

You can get more info on Mark and get signed up for free to use GigSalad here.

Putting it all together for your artistry is also illustrated in both The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook, and the Seth Godin Growth Farming Method Ebook.

 

 

3 Ways To Growth Hack Music Success With Jon Nastor

Jon Nastor

Jon Nastor

Every now and then the “recommended” notification on Twitter will suggest someone to you who is actually a good fit. A few months back, the recommendation was for Jon Nastor. After looking at his profile and seeing that he’s a drummer, and entrepreneur, and an author, I had to see what this guy was about.

That led to an exploration of his site, diving into his podcast and realizing that he and I share a lot in common. We both love punk rock, both play drums (him far more successfully than I). We both have working in the music and entrepreneurial space for a while. We have also had excellent conversations with some of the same people on our podcasts like Tom Giles, Kevin Kelly (episode coming soon), and Seth Godin. I knew I had to talk to this dude.

Jon is a great conversationalist, and a truly comfortable person to engage with. He was gracious in extending the conversational love to me in letting me join him on Hack The Entrepreneur Podcast shortly after we talked. Listen to our chat on his podcast here.

His insights into what success actually means, how to combine our passion and our freedom to do what we want, and what growth actually is are spot on.

I highly recommend his book Hack The Entrepreneur, the book and the podcast. It’s insights into what real growth professionals like the individuals mentioned earlier and several others give to show the way forward.

Episode 26 with Jon Nastor Show Notes

Jon gives a Cliff Notes definition of “Growth Hacking” for musicians in first 10 minutes of conversation.

You don’t have to have a ton of experience before starting out. If you want to do something do it. It’s how Jon created his podcast and wrote his book. The backstory and his insights are perfect for helping you get started.

We talk about how annoying auto-DM messages and auto-responders are when first making new contacts with people on social media. This is particularly insightful for musicians who do this on Twitter. What Jon says about this is how most professionals in media and with an influential audience feels if you auto-DM them right out of the gate.

We cheer for the underdog in the story but we tell other people we’re the giant. Why that is and how that hurts us about 3/4 into the podcast.

Jon Nastor Podcast Quotes

“Do work that matters. What matters to me might not matter to you. But it’s worth talking about.”

“I like my businesses like I like my music: fast and independent.”

“If you have an idea and you put it onto paper, and then in a digital format, and put it out to the world, that is entrepreneurship.”

“We all go against Goliath in real time, and cheer for David, but then we try to pretend to be Goliath in what we do. Then we lose that personal connection. Everything I write and everything I say is for 1 person. If I treat them well enough there will be that connection personally.”

Listen, download and share via this player:

Sponsor For This Podcast Piece:

Bandzoogle: Bandzoogle gives you all the resources you need to do everything necessary for success with your music online. You can sell your tracks, merch, and bonuses, build your email list, and more all from your own domain (instead of what bandcamp and similar sites have). PLUS, use the promo code “DIYpod” to get 15% off anything on the site.

Rachael Yamagata Shares Love & Music Entrepreneur Help

Rachael Yamagata

Rachael Yamagata

I have to admit to having some excitement about this podcast episode. I’ve been a big fan of Rachael Yamagata‘s music for a long time. Going back at least to 2003 when I first heard her self-titled EP and then in ’04 with the release of Happenstance.

Great musicians write songs that connect with our individual stories, and those stories become a soundtrack to our lives. Happenstance was that for me in many ways. The driving beat and stinging lyrics to Letter Read remain one of my favorite songs. It’s probably one of the best sad/breakup songs out there. Add her piano-driven, jazz-styled songwriting to the rest of that album with tracks like Under My Skin, Reason Why, and Be Be Your Love and you have plenty of reason to explore her songbook.

rachael-tightropewalkerThis past Friday, she released her latest album Tightrope Walker. It’s simply brilliant. And it’s already getting featured all over the place. The Appetizer Radio Show is showcasing it, as well a great indie radio platforms like Mountain Stage, NPR Music, and more.

I’ve wondered what it would be like to have a conversation with someone whose music I’ve followed for years but not ever talked with. I finally had the chance to find out. I want to give a big thanks to my good friend and past DIY Artist Route guest Chandler Coyle for helping to make this wonderful conversation happen. Chandler is a connector, and one of my favorite people.

Here’s what I discovered right away in talking with Rachael: the music connection is the tip of the iceberg. It’s really a heart connection that draws us towards the artists we love.

By heart connection I’m referring to the philosophies and ideals we live by. For me, I believe that love is the highest calling we can have. Inside of each of us is a garden. What we plant in our hearts turns to fruits we produce with our lives. My mantra each day is to plant love inside my heart and mind so that it can be reaped to give to others. This is the heart of Growth Farming.

There’s a principle of Like Attracting Like and that’s certainly something that every one of my friends who are past guests on the podcast have in common. We all believe that joining forces to help others is the path to take to succeed. Rachael is a wonderful example of just the heart and mind to do that for artists and entrepreneurs alike here.

Big Takeaways In This Podcast With Rachael Yamagata

My wife Mrs. Smith was very pleased to learn that, like her, Rachael is a very big cat fan. She shares a bit of insight into her love for her cats in this conversation. I thought that was just perfect. One day we’ll have to find a way to get Mrs. Smith and Ms. Yamagata together to compare cat notes, don’t you think?

Writing relationships in their ups is not always easy, but writing about the downs comes more naturally. Some people try to figure out why relationships go the way they do instead of just complaining about what didn’t work. For songwriters who dive into this side of the story, it takes on a whole new thing. We also learn why my friend William Fitzsimmons and Rachael should do a co-write together.

The entrepreneurial side of art and music is certainly within the grasp of any artist who wants to be successful. However, the ball is in your court. If you want to win in this realm, you have to learn everything you can about how to be a business with your music. It’s the realm of what Rachael refers to as “Artist As CEO.” She gives plenty of insights into how to make that happen here.

Patience is a struggle for everyone, especially artists. However, the process of learning an instrument shows us that we can adapt to changes and work towards improvement. She admits to writing a lot of really long and really bad songs early on in her career. We need to make mistakes often to be able to learn from them to grow.

Ultimately, her greatest desire as a person is to leave am impression on this world as someone who exhibited unexpected kindness. As she puts it, “I observe a lot and I love finding that thing that someone would really enjoy  that they don’t know how to ask for and get it into their world.”

Great Rachael Yamagata Quotes From The Podcast

” I think my calling card has always been just to remind people to connect with one another and we all have our stories and are much deeper than whatever masks we put on in daily life.”

“Emotions are so powerful and they hit you in a way that intellect doesn’t. You don’t have control over them often. You don’t always understand them.”

“I am so obsessed with my cats I have to be careful in conversations.”

“There’s a lot of studying we can do and a lot of direct connection with fans, who are your greatest asset as a DIY artist.”

Listen/Download this episode:

Rachael is a fantastic songwriter, musician and human being. This conversation really blessed my heart, encouraged and inspired me in a lot of ways. I hope you have a similar experience.

I also encourage you to dive into her latest album Tightrope Walker, and her deeper songbook. It’s some of the best music you will ever hear. Cheers!

Sponsor For This Podcast Piece

Bandzoogle: Bandzoogle gives you all the resources you need to do everything necessary for success with your music online. You can sell your tracks, merch, and bonuses, build your email list, and more all from your own domain (instead of what bandcamp and similar sites have). PLUS, use the promo code “DIYpod” to get 15% off anything on the site.

Music Entrepreneur & Super Fan Tom Giles Joins The DIY Artist Route

Tom Giles

Tom Giles

Networking seems like it’s becoming a bad word in the music and marketing world. I’m not sure how else to talk about relationship building through our existing friends and contacts. Networking just seems like the best word. That’s how I came to know Tom Giles (pronounced with a “J”), the serial musician, entrepreneur and music super fan whose business SoundBloc was recently acquired by Full Screen to further serve the needs of musicians and creative entrepreneurs in the direct-to-fan space.

Hosting the DIY Artist Route Podcast has been a real joy and privilege. This episode marks the 20th of the series. Each new person we learn from teaches some incredible and profound new things. It was past Router and friend Chandler Coyle who put me in Tom’s sphere, helping to set up this chat. But real relationship building and networking, as I’m discovering and living out, is about more than just an interview for a media post. We’ve talked at length about our respective projects before doing the podcast session, and will continue to do so. This is the power of “knowing you back.”

I was very impressed from the start with Tom’s pedigree in music and business. He’s built record labels and promotions companies while also being a musician. His mantra for audience growth is mirrored by Benji Rogers and Derek Webb, who both built similar platforms to help musicians do the same thing: connect directly with their most ardent tribe of fans.

This was also one of the first times for someone to be a guest on the podcast but treat it like a real conversation, turning questions back in my direction to get this side of the story. I appreciate that. It’s uncommon, and made me more connected from the outset.

Plus, there’s a chance that Tom Giles and JJ Watt played backyard football together at some point. Being a Houston Texans fan and having a little bit of a man-crush on Watt, that’s just cool. Chalk up another point for Mr. Giles.

Big takeaways for you in this podcast episode (download and share via iTunes, Spreaker, & Stitcher via the right hand margin) include:

  • How your brand defines everything you’re doing, and why you having full control over how your brand is marketed is very important
  • Insights into artist management and indie labels
  • The power of networking and relationship building to create new collaborations with industry professionals and how you can have those connections too
  • Why you should focus on building relationships to truly grow because it’s the most important thing, even if you don’t think you’re naturally good at relationships or marketing

Tons of good stuff to dive into here and learn from. You should have questions when you’re finished listening. I did. Reach out to me and let’s figure out how to solve your questions together.

Warning Signs You May Be Taking Yourself Too Seriously

Photo Credit: Bailey Weaver

Photo Credit: Bailey Weaver

Sometimes the best way to see problems with yourself is to watch someone else act exactly like you do. The behaviors of other people doing just what you do should cause you to pause, reflect, and go “Don’t I do the exact same thing? Oh, that’s gotta change!”

I say this because I’m guilty of doing some of the things that bother me the most about other people. Taking yourself too seriously is certainly one of my flaws, one that I’ve spent the better part of the past 2 years trying to correct. I used to be really bad. Now it’s a less-frequent problem.

Here’s how I know I’m taking myself too seriously, and the problems it’s caused me in connecting with new people

I’ve been working in radio for a long time. I’ve been making a radio show in the same town for over a decade. That can lead you to assume that just about everyone knows about what I do. Not true, yet I used to think that if someone didn’t know what I did they must have been on another planet.

This is the "Angry Rooster Face" dubbed by Mrs. Smith

This is the “Angry Rooster Face” dubbed by Mrs. Smith

I used to get offended if someone who claimed to listen to the radio station I worked for hadn’t heard of The Appetizer Radio Show. Or, even worse, if someone asked about the food that I talked about on the show. I make this face when I’m confused (see left) that my wife calls my “angry rooster face.” That’s the face I used to make if someone made a comment about my radio show and said something about me talking about food. “I thought you said you listened to my show? I’ve never done anything about food specifically. What are you talking about???” would be the thoughts going in my head, but I would not say such things. Yet you wouldn’t have to struggle to see those thoughts on my face. This face and this look don’t hide too much.

Either way, my attitude was that of an asshole. I took myself way too seriously and potentially offended good-hearted people who might have otherwise actually given the show a listen. I assumed that since I was so passionate about my work, everyone who asked me about it must be too. I assumed that if someone showed the slightest bit of interest in my work, then they should know all about it and not need me to explain to them why it is important.

You know what they say about what happens when you assume? Except I’m just the one who was the ass.

Seeing the other side of the serious-taking-issue has revealed a lot of the negative side effects that this attitude can have. It’s also the exact opposite of grace and humility. There is a good chance that you haven’t read my About page, or looked up the articles I’ve written for Sonicbids, CMuse, or other sites, or heard all the episodes on the DIY Artist Route Podcast. That’s ok. Do I want you to experience these things? Yes, of course. Is it a prerequisite for us to connect? Absolutely not.

I’m saying all of this because it’s important for us to put our contributions and our stories into perspective. This is especially true as we’re trying to reach new people we don’t know with our work. I’m not the only music curator discovering excellent talent. I’m not the only radio host who has been showcasing indie and unsigned music for years and years. Several great music radio icons preceded the work I do. The same is true for artists and businesses.

You have a passion for your songwriting and the mission behind your music. However, there are other very passionate, talented, and inspirational songwriters who are changing the world.

Keep that in perspective. It’s great that you’re not alone. What is it about your work specifically that is remarkable? What completely unique and uncommon thing makes you stand out from others who are doing similar work? These are the pieces of your communication that need to come out with new people who are being introduced to your work.

Where I see Too-Serious play out the most

Music submissions are the prime place where I experience my old behaviors play out, and it’s mostly in a digital format. Not every artist who submits music gets accepted. This is true on every platform. When an artist sends an email to me that is full of links to videos or songs, I don’t always follow all of the links. I honestly don’t always spend 15-30 minutes diving into a band’s music, especially not when the sender is a person I’ve never interacted with before. Remember strangers and gold?

I may not read all of the sender’s bio either. And when I reply and ask specific questions to get the artist to tell me more about what makes them unique (or essentially sell me on why their music is attention-worthy), some musicians take that as an affront to their music. That’s not the case.

The reality is that I don’t know the artist (yet), and the first impression they’ve left is that they take themselves so seriously that someone who wants them to tell their story makes them upset. It’s an artist giving me their own angry rooster face, and expecting the interest to be natural and inherent. I hope this isn’t the response that other music curators are receiving when they interact and don’t instantly jump into the musician’s work. It may produce worse results.

Here’s the Takeaway to save face and the connection potential

Most new people won’t know your backstory, and they may not give you the attention time you seek at first. Instead of taking yourself too seriously and getting offended at what a stranger doesn’t give you right away, nurture the first spark of that interest. Build a dialogue. Approach the potential connection with grace and kindness. So many good things come out of a change in perspective and a better attitude.

That’s the win that comes out of this reflection. When we see ourselves in other people’s behaviors we want to see happiness and joy, and not something that leads to looking like the backside of a donkey. Donkeys don’t win beauty pageants, even social ones.

Grace and respect in meeting new people, and learning how to approach strangers in a way that builds their interest while also getting you what you seek is the subject of my debut book The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook. Officially it’s out on May 3rd but you can grab the first 4 chapters for free now. Click Here.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-01-03 at 9.42.34 PM

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!

Book List: The Top 13 Books I Read This Year

D Grant Smith-2015 Booklist
After an inspiration from one of the authors you’ll read about soon, I’ve made my first ever book list. I read a lot of books in 2015. These are the best ones of the pack, most of which are Business and Self-Help books with a few biographies and memoirs.

There are affiliate links presented here if you want to buy any of these titles from Amazon. Yes, you’ll be helping me if you buy through my affiliate links and I do appreciate that. If you choose to shop for them at a book store or Goodwill (where I have found a few of these titles) that works too.

The big thing for me is to have a book list given to you to help you grow. Feel free to comment or message me on suggestions you have. If you’re not a member of my subscription list, sign up now to get a bonus mentioned at the end of this list. Connect with me on Goodreads and let’s talk books. You can see my recents and favorites in the widget at the bottom.

The Top 13 Books Read in 2015 (in no particular order)

1. All Marketers Are Liars: The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works–and Why Authen ticity Is the Best Marketing of All
by Seth Godin

A manifesto on the power of story-telling with anyone who has something to sell be it a product, service or (namely) themselves. Our inability to get people on board with what we do has more to do with our inability to convert powerful stories that incite action than it does our ability to deliver great work. It’s up to us to be better storytellers to grow the exposure and (ultimately) marketing strength that we seek to build and expand.

2. The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help By Amanda Palmer

It is a year of reading manifestos, because Mrs. Palmer’s book was a revolutionary piece of writing that spoke to the inner depths of my heart and soul, addressing fears that have stayed with me for most of my life. I credit this book with being a prime source for overcoming these fears and challenging many debilitating thoughts that have hindered my personal and professional growth. It’s also why (and how) I was able to launch my first ever crowd funding campaign and exceed the goal, because learning the art of asking and admitting that you don’t have all the answers (or all the power or all the skills) to do what you dream of doing is a gift in and of itself. Aside from that, Amanda embodies the strengths of seeing individuals wholly, which garners people into her spheres and increases the audience connection she’s fostered for years. It’s very inspirational.

3. Mandela’s Way: Lessons on Life, Love, and Courage By Richard Stengel

I read this book because I believe that we can learn the art of forgiveness and wholeness without fostering bitterness and resentment to others. I knew that from the history of what Mandela experienced post prison. I didn’t know how. Come to find out that Mandela’s peace with his captors was an internal decision to not sink to their level. Though he was technically in prison physically, he refused to think like a prisoner, nor be treated as one. His mental strength was superior to anyone he experienced in prison and he brought that strength (and matured experience) with him when he became South Africa’s President/Prime Minister. Forgiveness isn’t just a decision we make about the people who wrong us, it’s a decision we make about ourselves and how we see our individual worth. That’s the way of Mandela.

4. The Greatest Miracle in the World by Og Mandino

I’ve long felt that sales is the biggest weakness I have as a business person, and picking up this book at Goodwill was the direction of seeking a path to become a better salesman. This book is a work of fiction, ultimately, told as a parable about a servant to a great merchant in the Middle East who is tasked with trying to sell a garment that would end up doing so much more. There’s a biblical allegory in the tale but what I did learn from it is that giving to others and sacrificing (at times) what is in your own self-interest for the interest of someone else can result in greater reward that fulfilling that personal interest could ever give you.

5. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch

I had heard that this was a ground-breaking book but I didn’t know exactly how. Amazon recommended it too. Fortunately, Goodwill had it for 50 cents and I got to own it on the cheap. Pausch was a lecturer at Carnegie Mellon who specialized in virtual reality and got terminal cancer. He was asked to give a last lecture on what was most important in life. The entire book I thought was leading up to his actual copy for the lecture, but it wasn’t. He pulled a head fake (you’ll have to read the book to get what that means). The end results of reading this book is looking at life and the pursuit of happiness differently, not because a man’s dying words were to do so but because of the powerful stories expressed here left an inspiration to do more, be more, and matter more to the people in my life than merely just being a big name could every achieve.

6. Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success: Discovering Your Gift and the Way to Life’s Riches by Steve Harvey

I’ve always liked Steve Harvey, from his days on the Kings Of Comedy Tour to his work hosting the Family Feud. Despite the recent “event/scandal” with Miss Universe and the teleprompter, Mr. Harvey is a class act and someone worth modeling after. I didn’t know how much of an inspiration he is as a person until reading this book, nor did I know the challenges and obstacles he faced to get to where he is. I didn’t realize that Steve had been homeless for a while, had worked in a few jobs that were not in the entertainment world until he knuckled down and focused his complete attention on what he wanted. Most of this book is about the act of thinking like successful people think, which ended up being a concurrent theme in the majority of the books I read this year. One of the most powerful elements of the book deal with understanding who you are and what vehicles you take on your path to reaching the goals you set. Often times we look at our vehicles as the identifier to who we are, instead of just seeing it as a part of the journey. This truth alone is worth diving into the book and discovering the rest of Mr. Harvey’s wisdom.

7. Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin

I’ll admit to being a Bruce Springsteen super fan. More than that, I’m a student of the art of building a super fan base. The Boss is certainly one of the rare artists who has garnered a strong, loyal, and passionate following that has stayed with him for 40 years. People sell their belongings and travel the country to see him perform. Only a handful of artists in history have garnered the loyal base of followers that Springsteen has. This book is more than a history of Bruce and how he became a star. It’s the only authorized biography written in the last few decades, recording even exclusive interviews with friends, family, and band members that other writers don’t have access to. How do you build an army of super fans? Read this book and learn the Springsteen method. It will change the way you go about trying to build your brand name.

8. The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday

This was an Amazon purchase and worth every penny. Reading this book would lead to more self-discovery than just about anything else, and make me a big fan of Ryan Holiday. This book list is also inspired by Mr. Holiday’s influence.

I’m inspired by the underdog story, hence my fascination and obsession with the Rocky movies (among other stories). The concept implied in the title of this book was reason enough to pick it up. It also turned me on to Ryan Holiday as a voice of direction in a confusing world of mass-marketing. Drawing on the wisdom of the Stoics (namely Marcus Arilious), Holiday illustrates through stories past and present the power of using our greatest challenges as the means of overcoming them, showing that we have the power to turn our giants into vehicles that propel us forward instead of being the things that hold us back.

9. The Martian by Andy Weir

I didn’t read a ton of fiction this year, but this book was certainly worth the experience. A remarkably quick read and a compelling story that keeps you tuned in the entire time (I stayed up late night after night to get further along in this), The Martian has recently been turned into a film and rightfully so. It tells the tale of Mark Watney, an astronaut who becomes stranded alone on the planet Mars and has to use his wit, engineering, and dogged determination to figure out how to survive long enough to make contact with earth and pray for a means to intercept a returning voyage of astronauts or die alone on the planet. It’s riveting and full of adventure, and will also make you thankful that you live on earth. And it will make you appreciate the brilliance of your average scientist a little more, as well as those who work for NASA. Seriously, rocket science isn’t for the faint of heart (or mind).

10. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

This is a Must-Read for anyone in management, leadership, or building an organization. Diving into what makes great companies just that, great, Simon illustrates that no one gets behind the What of our business, but will support the Why when it is conveyed with clarity. Leadership who follows the precepts outlined in this book are destined to increase not only their bottom line, but also the people who talk about the greatness of what you are leading. This book was recommended by my mentor Steve P and I highly recommend it to you.

11. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth by T. Harv Eker

I picked this up in Audiobook from Half-Price books and listened to it at least 3 times beginning to end. In 3 short discs, Eker illustrates the powerful differences between three different mindsets that are prevalent in America: Poor, Middle-Class, and Wealthy (or Rich). I gained a lot of insights into how wealthy people as a whole think about opportunities, wealth building, relationships, growth, giving, and working starkly different than even middle-class people. One of the biggest lessons gained is that when given (what seems like) a choice between two things, poor and middle-class mindedness will choose one or the other. Wealthy mindedness will choose both. This is just one of several valuable nuggets of wisdom that changed the way I think to increase how I operate my business and family, all with great results.

12. Me to We: Finding Meaning in a Material World by Craig and Marc Kielburger

This year I really dove into the power of community-building, adopting the core principles of community-enrichment as the foundational mission for all I do. This was certainly one of the best books on the subject, highlighting how people around the world who have embraced a We mindset of helping others have transformed societies and helped communities of people thrive. There are great real-world examples that Craig and his brother Marc use including spending time with Mother Teresa to illustrate the power of giving, service, and individual sacrifice in the name of helping others to cut away from the selfish nature of Me-First that dominates the American way of life, and move into a We-First attitude that has made strong, vibrant communities around the world. It’s great examples of real people doing these acts that inspire the kind of change our politicians and leaders aspire to do.

13. Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising by Ryan Holiday

I’ll admit, I became a fan of Mr. Holiday this year. Following The Obstacle Is The Way, I bookmarked on my Amazon account this book and bought it for myself for my birthday. The new revised version has even more great content in just 120 short pages. It’s a thorough guide to how to adopt a mindset change to dramatically increase your audience base and marketability with little to no budget, paired with some additional materials including a FAQ and other bonuses. I’m already putting this book into practice and it’s super-charging what both of my businesses are doing. Look for Ryan to be a guest on my podcast in the coming months where he’ll talk more with us on the power of growth hacking, and how you can implement it into your work, especially for DIY musicians and entrepreneurs.

In conclusion there’s more to come in 2016 including a book by me

This year also marked the completion of my first book, which will be published officially in a few months. It’s called The Radio Promotion Handbook: The DIY Musician’s Guide To Growth Hacking Your Audience Building And Networking Through Strategic Radio Airplay. I’m going to be talking about this a lot in the coming months, and some of the biggest lessons learned from this book list found its way into this upcoming book.

Members of my subscription list (up top in the left column) will get a special discount on this book, and those who buy my upcoming book will get an even bigger discount on The Indie Radio Promotion Course. Sign up now if you haven’t already.

How To Overcome The #1 Challenge You Face Today

The Biggest Challenge Every Musician & Entrepreneur Faces revolves around the same thing. Most of us who go from working for someone else to working for ourselves, or starting our own projects struggle with the early building process because we don’t identify 2 foundation elements to our projects. These 2 elements determine how we keep the machine on and moving. I don’t refer to your work, business, or operation as a machine callously.

The machine is the passionate work you do that you believe in with all of your heart and want to share with the world. It’s your art, your business, your creation. To you, it’s not a machine but a calling. The calling has to have life coming into it for life to come out of it. That income, is where the machine part of the analogy comes into play. Machines are made of pieces that keep the passion/calling going and growing. If the pieces stop moving, life runs out, frustration takes over and you end up quitting (in whole or in part) on your calling. Keep those pieces moving.

Those pieces include
1. Audience/Client base creation and growth
2. Business model & plan
3. Execution of plan and adaptation to changes

None of this is easy, and none of it allows us to be flippant or passive with how we go about achieving our goals, creating success, and repeating that success for growth.

How to overcome the challenge of establishing the base, model, and execution of your plan

There are lots of people with good ideas on how to overcome this challenge. Use those ideas. Even better is finding people who have USED the ideas they talk about in a real capacity instead of “I have clients who took my platform and made a million dollars in just 3 weeks.” I’ve bought into a few of these platforms and none of them work as advertised.

Is there a one-size fits all approach to keep the pieces moving for all 3 of these areas that works 100% of the time, that you can automate to work without having to pay attention and that will ensure that you can make money and have success without having to think about it?

(This is the part where some marketers will tell you YES THERE IS!!!!!)

I’m not that kind of marketer, though I do some marketing. There’s a difference. In any case, I don’t know how to achieve all three of these elements with my eyes closed, hands tied behind my back, and feet propped propped up on the desk while millions of dollars flow in. No one truly does, though lots of people will claim that this is what they do every day and that they can show you how to do it too.

FunCouponsHave you seen Wolf Of Wall Street? The title character is Jordan Belfort, a trained stockbroker who takes his NY skills to penny stocks and transforms how investment trades work. He was a great salesman, and a great marketer. He was also an incredibly greedy, self-centered douche-bag of a dude. There are multiple times in the film where he would lie to prospective clients about how investing in his “expertise” would lead to 3 or 4 times ROI. Did he believe he could do that? He didn’t care, it was all about the money.

Addressing false claims made by sales people is where most of us in the coaching or marketing space have to fight harder and harder. There are many negative stereotypes of being untrustworthy if you’re a marketer or have a product/service to sell because there are people so bent on leading you down a path which makes big promises while costing big money but doesn’t deliver as advertised. Overcoming this stereotype is a challenge in and of itself. We judge others by the experiences we have that are (often) negative and misleading.

What actually works in audience growth, business modelling and execution

The true key to  audience growth, business model/plan and execution is testing, testing, testing. What works you repeat and improve upon. What doesn’t work you fix, edit, amend, or throw out. This is a long game of strategy and fluidity. All business is. The great companies and products are those that not only stand the test of time but also adapt to changes in markets, people’s needs, AND stay true to the core audience of those who most benefit from the product or service.

Success isn’t where you start but how you adapt to the steps on your path to take you there

Success is a milestone that leads to greater and higher milestones, and greater levels of success. Which leads us back to the beginning and identifying who that core group of people are that want and need what you have. Identifying this group of people and building your business model/plan around them is probably the big secret that you’re looking for. It’s the #1 most important part of the whole recipe because you can have a great product/service, outstanding marketing, and deliver 300 times the cost of the service to your client but unless you can identify WHO that target client/core audience is and know the WHY they need you, you’ll spin your wheels.

StormTrooperAimThere are big companies who spend millions of dollars marketing products that try to appeal to everyone out there and bomb. Why? Everyone is too non-specific and far too difficult to position anything for. It’s like shooting an arrow into the sky and hoping you hit something. What were you aiming at? Everything! And so you got some air and hit nothing. Such is the case with being non-specific on what your target is. Plus, who wants to have the accuracy of a Storm Trooper, or any villain in a ’80s action film. Those guys can’t hit air, apparently.

Once you know the WHO and the WHY you can adapt a plan and a strategy around it, execute that strategy and reform it again and again. This is the essence of Growth Hacking, as defined by Ryan Holiday in the game changing book Growth Hacker Marketing: A Primer on the Future of PR, Marketing, and Advertising. It doesn’t matter what you build or create as much as it does who you are building and creating it for, AND are solid on the reasons why this group of Who’s are interested in you. Get that nailed down before you spend a second’s time investing in anything else. Then your profits and  your income will flow more surely than anything else. That’s not a big promise, it’s a truth as executed by self-employed, small business, DIY bands and anyone else who has done this.

Jerzy Jung, The DIY Artist Route And You

JerzyJungAwardJerzy Jung embodies everything you can imagine for a DIY artist. She is a musician, actress, music teacher, and practitioner of the golden rule. Her songwriting is comparable to that of Regina Spektor in how she takes common, everyday elements and pieces them together to tell a much bigger story. Her song Black Dress/White Dress is a prime example of using fashion as a metaphor for how society treats women.

I’ve known Jerzy Jung for several years, first discovering her music in 2009 when I heard her songs on myspace. We ended up doing an interview and have kept in touch since. She’s a regularly featured artist on The Appetizer Radio Show, and was a perfect artist to chat with in the DIY Artist Route podcast series.

Every conversation on the DIY Artist Route podcast has featured some great quotes. Here are just a few of what you can gather from this episode:
“The mindset of ‘pick me pick me and my whole life will change’ hurt me. The student mentality will help you better. Now I’m like ‘what kind I learn and attracting people who may help me’ has been more helpful. I make the best work I can and my focus is there, and on attracting people who can help.”

“This industry we signed into is not easy, it’s mysterious, and it’s not kind. You’re wondering where your road map is and you have this goal and no idea on how to get there.”

“To be a good community member you have to give in the ways that people are asking to give instead of just what you feel like giving.”

Hitrecord is this fantastic online community where artists connect from anywhere in the world. Nothing is too big or too small.”

“I’m concerned with the business side (of music) but I try not to lose that playfulness.”

Lessons from crowdfunding: The fear of doing it is worse than actually starting and doing it.

“Doing the crowdfunder and making the video helped me to clarify why I make art and it felt really good to define it and see it on paper. It was a reminder to myself for why I chose this life.”

“The real test with all this ambiguity and all this disappointment, do you still love it (music) and just have to do it? Even though this life we picked is weird, focusing on gratitude is so important.”

*Note: I did just get the podcast on iTunes, yet there have been intermittent issues with the podcast host site, which is why I included the Podbean player above so you can hear it regardless.

I’m working to get that resolved so that this episode will be included in the iTunes list. Suffice to say, I’m learning from trial and error about podcasting and how it works best. I also am gaining valuable experience on who to use and who to avoid when setting up a podcast. If you have any suggestions or insight into the podcast realm, please share them with me. Thank you!

Lessons Learned In Crowdfunding

Two months ago I launched my first ever crowdfunding campaign. It was, to say the least, an adventure. It was also a big learning experience in both communications, outreach, community building and fundraising.

I thought I was pretty good with at least 2 of those 4 categories, and I did learn new things in each of them. Since crowdfunding has become a more common approach to fundraising and project creation for both entrepreneurs, startups, and musicians, I wanted to share the lessons I learned in crowdfunding with you, so that you can have even more success with your projects.

What I’m going to share here in no way makes me an expert on crowdfunding. There are plenty of people who have run campaigns that raised 100s of 1000s of dollars and more. Our campaign was relatively small, but we did fund it successfully, while several similar projects have had a rough go at getting funded. Here is what I learned that you can and lessons you can take with you to make your campaign run successfully.

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  1. Do a lot of research BEFORE you start your campaign.

I did a lot of reading and asked friends who have done crowdfunders before how their campaigns worked, what they did right and what they would do differently if they could do it over again. I also read a ton of articles before we started the campaign. I did a lot of research before I picked which crowdfunding platform to use. Regarding tactics and strategies used, Amanda Palmer is one of my biggest mentors for this by way of her book The Art Of Asking.

I’m a big fan of PledgeMusic (even beyond having interviewed Benji Rogers for a kickass conversation) and what kind of connection-building platform they have, but the project we did was not something that we could necessarily bring our audience into the making of. Our biggest challenge on which crowdfunding platform to use came down to Indiegogo, Go Fund Me or Kickstarter.

Kickstarter has a more robust set of tools and more funders use it, which leads to a greater overall contribution total than all other crowdfunding platforms. However, there’s only 1 way you can raise money and that’s if you raise 100% of your goal. Indiegogo gives you to option to keep a portion of your goal, or whatever you raise. Initially, that was the deciding factor in picking Indiegogo, except that we ended up selecting the Fund All option (more on that in a bit).

2. Get a commitment for 20-30% of your goal total before you launch your campaign.

This was something that came up consistently in the research. Before you kick off your campaign, have some commitment from your fans, followers, audience, email list or family and friends who pledge to fund a portion of your campaign. I got this commitment via email 2-3 weeks before we started the campaign, with suggested pledge levels and a few insights into possible perks.

Suggested contribution amounts in that introductory email are important. Some people will contribute at the suggested level, while others will give a different amount. When we kicked off the campaign, we had a solid first few days where we eclipsed 30% of the goal in no time. It was a great launch to the campaign itself.

3. Be patient with the process.

The solid start led me to a little fear after the first week when we hit this lull and the contributions virtually stopped for a few days. It was agonizing. I mentioned getting a solid commitment from folks via email but there were several people who didn’t respond to the initial email message and I wondered if my message had been lost. The lull in campaign support and the lack of response to messages in those days made me question a lot about my ability to communicate effectively, the value of our project (the creation of The Appetizer Radio App, which will debut before the end of 2015).

Fear is common in fundraising but you have to remember that it is a 30 days process and not something that happens overnight. I was reminded of this fact when we had a final surge towards the end of the campaign and eclipsed our total goal well before the campaign end date.

Crowdfunding isn’t an overnight fundraising event, or even a week long pledge campaign. It takes 30 days (60 if you elect to run that long). My fundraising experience in public radio pledge drives lasted 7 days on end, and there were usually 1-3 days in the middle of those drives where the pledges and contributions were stagnant. I had to recall those experiences in the midst of this crowdfunder as a reminder that the beginning and the end of the campaign is when the majority of your fundraising contributions come int.

4. Crowdfunding is sales and it takes a sales strategy to be successful.

Like I wrote about last week, we are all in sales no matter what industry or career we’re in. Crowdfunding is a sales process too, even though the setup is different. The core sales aspect is that you’re campaigning to get people to buy into your idea, your project, and the benefits that funding the campaign will provide for them. You have to sell people on the campaign, the project, and above all on you. None of the process is a given and nothing is guaranteed (more on that later).

Sales strategy is very much a matter of clear communication, which has to be a commitment from everyone on your team. I had 3 people working with me on our campaign so that it wasn’t all on me to take care of. The other responsibilities included marketing and promotions on our blog and social channels, outreach to new people, followup on contributions, email marketing messages, and updates to the campaign.

I also added videos and images periodically through the campaign to show more of what the value of the project is to existing and new funders. These videos helped to strengthen the connection to the project and provide more incentive to give. The videos were easily produced using iMovie. Production time took about 1 hour per video.

5. Don’t buy the promotion pitches you’ll receive after you start.

This was a big mistake I avoided and am very relieved we did. Almost immediately after the campaign began, we started getting private messages on Twitter and through Indiegogo from all of these companies who claim to be able to put your campaign in front of millions of crowdfunding supporters.

We already had the campaign shared on every social platform a whole lot and had some other media talking about the campaign. We weren’t at a loss of publicity or people talking about it. Chances are you will have a lot of people talking up your campaign too. If you follow my previous advice you’ll be in good shape. None of the contributors to our campaign were from random people who just saw our campaign and thought “Hey that looks cool. I’ll give them $5 to help out.”

That’s not the way crowdfunding works. There are hundreds of campaigns going on at any given time. People don’t part with their money easily. You have to build a connection with them and give them a reason to support your project. The so-called social media promotion companies all charge $25-$150 or more to put your campaign out to their list of people. They will message you throughout your campaign with solicitations to buy their promotions. Save your money and focus your energies on connecting with the people you know and the communities you’re in to get support.

6. Followup is key before and after the campaign ends.

This is one of the biggest lessons you can learn in community building. Followup and strong communication pave the way for better connections and more fruitful collaborations. I’ve seen crowdfunding projects that are funded successfully and then spend months without contacting the supporters to let them know updates or news about the project. How detrimental to your success is that!

We’ve made it a point to not only post updates to our Indiegogo campaign through their site but also email our funder list periodically to inform them on the status of the app, questions about particulars for perk items, deliverables and new connection information. And we’ve made it possible to continue to support the campaign after it ended (what Indiegogo uses is In Demand). These people are not just your funders, they’re your strongest community members. Keep them in the know for ongoing success and connections.

In conclusion

Crowdfunding is not a guaranteed way to fund your next recording project or make up for the money you already invested in your big idea. It is a way to really connect with the people in your community and garner their trust. Crowdfunding is about relationships and networking, and it requires a strong skill set in relationship management to be successful. If you want to just make money, pick a different method. If you want to build connection with your community and expand your network for a project that you don’t have the funds for on your own, consider crowdfunding as a viable option.

If you need any help, tell me how I can serve you.