Tag Archives: musicians

Shaine Freeman On Why Connections Must Know You Back

Listen/Download the Podcast conversation here:

Shaine Freeman

Shaine Freeman

Shaine Freeman is a really good example of people who value connections. As a musician, you’ve heard a whole lot of people talk about why you need to build your contact list, grow your connections with people in the music industry as well as your fan base, and why “who you know” is so important.

Guess what? Who you know, though it’s a big part of the growth process, is not nearly as essential as who knows you back. This art (and science) is one of the key things that created the connection between my friend Shaine Freeman and myself. His career in music, entertainment and professional sports is vast. So are his connections. But that’s only a small part of what makes Shaine dynamic.

This dude gets it. He gets relationships and how to build them over time. He gets marketing and growth for musicians and entrepreneurs. He gets the process of vetting the people you listen to for advice. He gets the power of reciprocity. AND he gets growth farming.

This podcast episode is full of wisdom, advice, and great perspectives on what folks who do what he and I do (as podcast hosts and music industry professionals) as well as what goes through our minds when people ask certain questions. There are some things that you should be careful what you ask for with certain people. Gaining instant access to someone’s contact list, particularly someone you just met, is a tale of caution.

I highly recommend subscribing to Shaine’s podcast The Miews. Each episode has great conversations and insights into how to build, grow, and be more successful with your music project. There are a few podcasts I’m a proponent for, and The Miews is one of them. It’s connecting with podcast hosts that’s one of the big secrets to getting the attention of music industry influencers. If you want insight into how to do that, contact me and we’ll talk.

Podcast Notes & Quotes:

[Why we need to experience loss and failure]: “At the end of the day you wouldn’t be who you are if you didn’t have those (negative) experiences.”

[Why growing connections and building relationships takes time & you can’t shortcut  it]: “This is an important step in your process to grow the relationship. You don’t get to pull the Game Genie out and advance to Level 30 in the relationship process when you’re barely on Level 1.”

[Why you need to check out the people you want to connect with before you do it]: “If you don’t have the decency to go and at least see what someone’s done before you ask a question, you’re not going to get anywhere.”

“How many musicians would give up their only guitar to someone they don’t know who said they needed a guitar? You probably wouldn’t. That’s how it is if you ask me ‘hey Mister, can you give me the contacts that you spent 9 or 10 years building, can I get that today, and I don’t really know you?”

[On how much you need to know versus how much you actually know]: “When I was 18,19,20 years old I thought I knew everything. My father told me to get out now while I knew everything. There was a strong message behind what he was saying. You’ll go through some realizations that you don’t know everything.”

There are SO many more great quotes in this podcast (essentially every time Shaine talks or answers a question) to list here.

One key thing we talk about over and over again is the process of networking and building relationships with your fan base AND with music industry & media folks. We talked about some of the big things artists get wrong. If you want to change your game and get them right, pick up the manual for making that happen with the DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook.
Listen/Download the Podcast conversation here:

Learn Community Building From The Beach

Mrs Smith & I In BelizeMy wife and I returned from a much needed vacation recently that took us to the Caribbean. In our hustle-and-bustle of self-employment, we hadn’t taken much time to be with each other and had started to feel the connection that we’ve had lose some of its strength. So, after months of planning, Mrs. Smith and I spent a few days closer to the equator in a tropical paradise. During our stay, we both recharged and regained a connection that was needed. We also had an incredible experience from the people we encountered. That experience is what I want to share with you here, community building lessons from the beach.

Trips like this don’t happen often for us, and had it not been for a really cheap flight deal with Southwest Airlines, we might not have taken the leap. We settled on traveling to Belize on the recommendation of my close friend named Bird. My dream vacation has been Belize since this friend shared with me her stories on the people, the landscape, and the constant awesome temperatures. While the weather shifted into fall here in Texas, it was warm and sunny (for the most part) in Belize.

We booked 3 nights at Ramon’s Resort on the beach, which was the best part of the whole trip, and the people who taught me a lot about what it means to truly deliver an amazing experience that builds community. I talk about this dynamic with entrepreneurs and musicians often. For a business to foster the same principles in a tropical region was truly amazing. Here’s what they did:

Community Building With Customer Service You’ll Facebook, Email, and Write Home To Mom About

Hey Musicians, customer service is something you do too. It’s how you treat and interact with your fan base. For Ramon’s, their customer service came out in every interaction their staff and personnel had with us. We arrived in the evening as the sun was setting. We were met at the airport by a smiling, welcome man named Joe. His first words to us were “Welcome to Paradise.” The folks at the airport had said the same thing, so I assumed it was just a cliche phrase people used. It wasn’t for Joe, and it wasn’t for Ramon’s. It was their mantra.

Joe got us to our room and got us set up. We then went to the indoor/outdoor restaurant connected to the resort, Pineapples Grill. Our server was a funny guy named Jack. Jack sat us at our table and asked where we were from. Upon hearing that we’re from Texas, he went into this monologue about all the facets of Texas, stating our state bird, state tree, state flower, and what we’re known for. It was interesting. As he sat other guests and visitors to the restaurant, he did the same thing, and was brandishing facts and trivia about other states.

Jack (middle) was one of the best memories and teachers on our trip

Jack (middle) was one of the best memories and teachers on our trip

Here is a guy who has probably never been to America, reciting facets about the locations people are from as they come in that even they don’t know. He had the attention of everyone in the restaurant. Then he would tell us to look up Jack-o-pedia online to see more of his awesomeness. The problem, of course, is that he doesn’t really have a website. But his branding and the experience he provided was outstanding. We spent at least 4 of our meal times at Pineapple’s Grill because of Jack and the other wait staff were so courteous, friendly and attentive.

There are tons of hotels and restaurants on the island of San Pedro, where we stayed. Tourism is the #1 revenue stream for the business culture there. Yet in a town full of other hotels, resorts, and restaurants, Ramon’s has built a reputation for being the best. We were recommended staying there from Bird who had a similar experience years ago. Her recommendation proved truthful and consistent after years of time gone by.

Make Your Visitors Remember You By Delivering Beyond Comparison

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 5.12.54 PMWhen we first checked into our room, which was a cabanna-styled jungle-mini with a bed, linen closet, and bathroom with a hutch roof, we were welcomed with a letter written to us and placed on the bed in a creative fashion of linens and tropical flowers. The letter said that Ramon’s was honored to have us, and that their desire was for us to have a fulfilling and blessed stay. It said that despite the fact that they’re a business, making money isn’t their ultimate objective, but providing an experience unlike anything else is what they wished for us to have. There was a short prayer on the letter wishing us well and blessings.

I’ve traveled all over the US to big and small cities. I’ve stayed in 5-star hotels and small bed-and-breakfasts. I’ve experienced some great service all over the US but nothing that welcomed us like this. It set the mood and the atmosphere for the duration of our time there.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 12.39.55 PMAside from the great food and the tremendous staff who delivered their services, we also had the chance to go out and snorkel for the first time along the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world. It was an amazing experience that allowed us to meet a couple from Indiana and another couple from Denmark. We swam with nurse sharks, stingrays, and schools of fish that looked like special features on a National Geographic video.

On that snorkel trip, we learned that Ramon’s will allow their guests to check out snorkel gear from their shop for free to swim around their pier. We took advantage of that and went swimming/snorkeling another 3 or 4 times off the pier, discovering several types of fish and seeing a lot of aquatic life neither Mrs. Smith or I had ever seen in person before.

Follow The Golden Rule To Massive Success With Your Community Building

As you can see, we had a great trip and highly recommend Ramon’s as the dream destination for a vacation in Paradise. We also enjoyed the people of San Pedro, and some of the other eateries like Elvi’s, Blue Water Grill, and The Hurricane Ceviche Bar. Each of these places had great food and provided a unique experience in conversations from their staff. The thing that unified all of the restaurants and service of the entire San Pedro area is that people there practice the Golden Rule: Treat others how you want to be treated.

Screen Shot 2015-11-09 at 12.44.26 PMWe sat along the beach during the day and took long walks on the beach in the morning and in the evening. There were several peddlers who would come by offering their wares. All of them were very friendly, and none of them were pushy. A simple shake of the head or a “no thank you” wasn’t met with bitterness or a bad attitude (like we’re so used to experiencing here in America) but instead was given a smile and a “ok thank you, have a good day.” That kind of uncommon attitude and behavior is so unique in a place that is surrounded by beauty and a constant stream of travelers. Yet in Paradise, people treat others with respect and love.

Action Steps To Make This Kind Of Community Building Work For You

You don’t have to go to the beach to discover community building secrets that really work, though I do recommend it (actually it’s not very expensive if you travel in the non-peak seasons). Aside from the warm weather and the sights, getting away from the day-in and day-out that occupies all of our time, energy and concentration can be incredibly rewarding. It also provides a way to recharge and gain new clarity.

Step One: Make sure you give yourself the time and space to recharge regularly, even if that means getting out and going for a walk.

Step Two: Community building core principles lie in how you value other people. Make practicing the Golden Rule, and choosing to value other people beyond what they may give you as the #1 priority in your outreach objectives. We’re naturally drawn to people who make us feel valued. We inherently want to support people who do this and be a part of what it is that they’re doing. That’s powerful building principles at work and it starts with valuing others.

Step Three: Make executing your unique experience the goal of every engagement you have with people. Since you’re focus and intention is on providing a great experience for people whom you highly value, operating out of the passion of what you do comes naturally, and it impacts the right people to support your work.

One other little note, we did this whole trip for less than $2000. Artists and entrepreneurs alike can take a great trip and not spend a fortune. My wife wrote a blog post today (ironically) on how we did this trip for so cheap and how you can do the same. Read it HERE.

Does this beach experience make you want to grow a more dynamic community around your work and passion? Good! Reach out to me in the comments and let’s talk about how you can have a more thriving connection of supporters of your work.

 

 

 

Expand Your Success By Making It Your Focus


I did a Youtube search for success and motivation. This is what I found. It was incredibly motivational. This same account has a great series of curated success motivation from various movies. I encourage you to look them up.

Success is what anyone with a dream has on their mind 99% of the time.

For me to say that you only need to focus on success in order to achieve sounds pretty silly then, doesn’t it?

Here’s the thing: most of us think about being successful a lot, and we want to be successful, but what are we doing about it?

I’m speaking from a little bit of experience because fluctuations in different degrees of success have been achieved over the years, but not to the extent of my deepest inner dreams. And I have to hold myself accountable for that, not anyone else.

Image by  Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

Image by Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

Do you know what the core difference is between high achievers, be it in business, music or entertainment, and everyone else? They all share very similar traits. They all want to be the best, they all dream of being great. And they focus on doing what it takes to make that happen. This last part is the difference maker because focusing on doing what it takes to succeed leads to taking action. Actions lead to results.

How often do you achieve a level of success and then sit back and take a break? I’ve made this mistake far too many times and tasted the bitter results. One success is a big win. Celebrate it. Then move forward to achieve another one and another one and another one.

For artists and musicians this can be getting a feature piece in a prominent blog or magazine that gives your work new exposure to a greater audience. Awesome! Celebrate it. Then use that momentum and go after another media feature to keep building. Share your successes with your audience so they can celebrate your win too.

Entrepreneurs and business owners, this could be landing a sale after months of long weeks and countless hours. You’ve put in overtime and then some and  you’ve finally landed the client or account you’ve been working so hard on. That’s fantastic. Celebrate it with your team, staff, and crew. Take yourself out for a night on the town and get a good night’s rest. Then get back at building on the momentum.

What happens when we only celebrate the win but not doing anything to build on it is the momentum fizzles out. The success of the achievement loses its wind and it feels like starting all over again from scratch, like trying to roll a giant stone out of the way with no one to help push. The debilitating feeling of starting all over again keeps us working harder than we should, sacrificing more than we need to for that next win.

Would you like consecutive wins and more success? Would you like to be able to build on your victories over and over again? Good. Let’s talk about what practical steps you can take today to make that happen again and again this week. Let me know what’s obstacle is standing in the way of you winning.

How Musicians Can Learn From Recent Oil Industry Breakdown

For Texans, the oil industry has a strong connection and influence in just about all realms of business. I live in West Texas, both the region and the area as it is referenced. Sandwiched nearly in the middle of Dallas/Ft. Worth and Midland/Odessa, our economy has been greatly impacted by the shale oil boom of the last 5 years. A lot has changed in that time period both good and bad. What the current downturn in oil prices and the subsequent response by the big oil companies has done provides a huge illustration for the music industry to take note of.

OIlIndustry1When the first news of fracking hit, and companies started investing in the technology of shale oil refinement, everything changed in Odessa. What used to be a strip of Interstate 20 had only a few restaurants and one or two hotels on it. My in-laws live in El Paso, so we make this trip west through Midland/Odessa a few times a year without incident. Not so much anymore.

It’s very expensive now to live in Midland/Odessa. Workers in the oil fields make a considerable wage, but up until recently there were so many workers that there was no place to house them. Trailer parks would fill up with anything that could resemble a place to lay down and sleep. Guys would pay any amount of rent to be able to keep their drive into work under a few hours each day. Others chose to live outside of town and commute in.

The boom in the oil industry created more jobs than the economy had experienced before. Smaller businesses could no longer attract and keep employees because people could make so much more money working for an oil company doing manual labor. Whether it was fastfood workers or front desk people at hotels, every business was in a constant state of hiring. The growth in the industry and the amount of new businesses opening to enter the market space led to an influx of people and a boost to the economy.

However, outside influences have recently put a negative spot on the once booming shale oil/fracking industry. OPEC’s decision to keep production at a high point has dropped the price of oil down significantly, which is a great thing for commuters like you and I. The oil barrons don’t see low fuel prices the same way.

The big and medium-sized oil companies have responded by laying off thousands of workers. Suddenly, the supply and demand quota doesn’t produce the same revenue that it did even a few years ago. In the name of the Benjamins (which is what it’s all about in most business industries), future planning and growth get put on hold so that the big wigs can continue to live frivolously. Corporate bosses might be taking small pay cuts, but when cutbacks are needed it begins with the day-laborers.

MusicansPlayInBarWhat this has to do with the music industry is pretty basic. A one time there was a great demand for independent producers of content in a marketplace seeking new players in the game. However, that time is no longer here. The music industry is overflowing with creative and talented musicians and artists creating new work every day. Then there are countless other artists attempting to enter the market every minute. Some of these new names have the talent and depth to make an impact. Others aren’t there yet, but still they are trying to compete and sale their wares.

The music fan has responded accordingly by changing the way they consume music and media, expecting most of it to be free to them in every way. A smaller niche audience is still willing to buy music, but only on their terms and only artists who connect with them in a certain way.

Established names are continuing to reinvent their presentations, alter their sound, and do what they can to be first-of-mind with a mostly fickle music audience. Pop artists who used to sell millions of albums the first week of release are re-thinking their strategy when record sales are at an all-time low and streaming royalties are debated for unfairness.

What every musician has to do is come back to center and focus their attention on the fan base who consistently tracks with them. The shotgun approach to music creation and promotion doesn’t work when everyone on the block is doing the same thing. When you have a focused approach to how you create and sync with your audience, the threat of an overflow of artists in a limited space doesn’t create the same kind of fear.

Supply has far exceeded the demand of the market. Cutbacks are inherent every time this happens, and usually not to the benefit of those smaller acts trying to do things independently of a financier. This is one of the reasons for developing a plan for reaching a specific audience is essential to achieving anything close to a profitable life as a musician. Otherwise, the course of an indie musician or DIY artist looks much like the current oil field worker. Things were great yesterday, but the fields which were once ripe aren’t calling out anymore for you.

Best Practices For Musicians And Social Media

Social media is a resource now used by more industries, companies, businesses, and individuals to market themselves than any other medium. There’s hardly anywhere you can go where you don’t see a Twitter or Facebook icon, and that’s just the half of it. The influx of social media marketing (and the continued rise in people doing it) leads to a lot of messaging taking place.

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What do all musicians want? A larger following. Social media provides a way to make that happen. However, there are some very common ways that most musicians (especially DIY and indie acts) misuse the platforms. Here are a few ways to get the most out of your Twitter, Facebook, and other social endeavors, as well as a few common mistakes people make that short-change their efforts.

 

1. Have a web presence that is monitored regularly and updated.

This seems obvious but there are a lot of artists who have social media channels that they use often but haven’t updated their website or homepage in a long time. On Twitter, they’re sending folks to their Soundcloud or Bandcamp page for their latest song release, but the link to their homepage (accessed from their profile) is very outdated. The Artist/Band homepage has no mention of music from the past 3 years, contains only old graphics or pics, and lists a tour schedule from 2012.

There are several basic web platforms that offer hosting and domain registration for no cost (and some for a nominal cost) which can be built and managed by you with little time commitment. Keep your site current because potential fans are looking for how legitimate you are, versus just having a Twitter handle and a Bandcamp site.

If you haven’t reached the point yet where you have a domain name or website, don’t worry. But if you have a main homepage listed on your Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, (etc) profile, make sure it’s up to date.

15338308235_014a57c693_z2. Have an actual of relationship with those you tag on Social Media

Have you ever had someone tag you on Twitter to listen to their song, but you have no idea who they are? Welcome to my world, and the world of many of my colleagues in both radio, online media and in music labels/artist reps.

We get solicitations from every channel possible, but being tagged on social media by folks we don’t know is becoming a constant issue. It’s something we’re not keen on responding to, let alone following the link to the track or music. Tag folks you know, and tag folks you want to get to know. Use that to start conversations or make a reply to an ongoing conversation. This is a great way to build new connections and relationships.

However, when you don’t know someone and you tag them for the sole purpose of listening to your music (or just clicking on your link for site views), you lose a potential supporter and promoter. In essence, promotion is what anyone in media and label/management does. We talk about artists because we’re passionate about you and what you do. If you want to be someone who gets promoted by passionate people (in our realm of media or management or otherwise), have some social tact and connect with us first, before soliciting us to “check out” your stuff.

Follow as many people as you want/can to get reciprocated likes and follows. Do what you need to in order to build your followers and grow your brand. But me mindful of how you tag other people, especially folks you don’t know or don’t know well.

 

3. Be Inclusive Not Exclusive

The best way for you to build your fan-base and followers is to include your fans in your messages, pics, and content. The bands I have the strongest connection with that are also the most successful do this very well. After a concert or gig, post something online from the gig making mention of the folks you met and people you connected with. People love being included in content, especially when the posts come from the artist they just saw. Pics work well here too, but make sure you have people’s permission before you put a pic of them online. Most folks don’t have a problem with this but every now and then…….

There are a lot of artists and musicians who travel town to town, play a show and then instantly start talking on social media about the next place they’re off to. They don’t mention the great experience that they just had. All it seems that they want is someone in the next town to go to their next show. This doesn’t build connection or following as well as spending a little time in the moment with the people who just gave you their time, money and excitement.

If you want to see good examples of how to be inclusive, check out the Facebook stuff from my friend Kelley McRae. She and her husband Matt have spent the better part of the last 5 years on the road, building a following of very passionate people.

 

These are just a few examples of what works and what doesn’t with social media and social marketing. Your end goal is to increase the number of people who not only hear your music, but like it. Subsequently you want them to like you too. Not doing these social marketing no-nos as a musician will really help you build your brand, grow your fans, and be more successful in what you do.

Math For Musicians

MathForMusiciansCover
When you were in grade school, there were classes you had to take that didn’t really teach us much in the realm of what we need as adults. Sometimes, math was that class. Fortunately there are some math lessons that do matter. The key is knowing which numbers to pay attention to and which to ignore.

Download your copy of Math For Musicians now to learn lessons on growth and development for your music project to reach goals and create new opportunities.

Click To Download: MathForMusicians.compressed