Tag Archives: radio

Jeremy Young Teaches Music & Collaboration In Podcast

Jeremy Young musician flypaper soundfly

Jeremy Young

Education for musicians and creative entrepreneurs is at an all-time high. There are multiple courses, books, seminars, trainings, workshops, blogs and everything in between for all of us to become the finest, brightest, and best at our creative endeavors.

Jeremy Young is one such educator. A musician, blogger, and education specialist with Soundfly, Jeremy has spent the past several years blending his experience with music with knowledge and expertise. The results are a powerful combination of expertise and know-how that he shares with us here.

Insights Into Jeremy Young

Jeremy is a student and musician. He’s taken his experience in the realm of musicianship to discover different methods of growth for not only his music career but also his entrepreneurial path. One of those methods is creating different music related companies. This little nugget of insight was really cool to talk about.

There’s a mention of Palaver Press in our chat. It’s a company he created to pair audiobooks and authors with musicians. There’s a market for this kind of collaborative connection between 2 different types of creators. It’s a path no one has carved yet, and one that he’s still exploring. I’m diving into this too, in a little bit of a different way. Grab my audiobook on Noisetrade to see more of what I’m talking about.

On the surface, it may seem like a wild pairing, authors and musicians in one product line. If it seems like a stretch, that’s the results of great education. Great teachers, mentors, and coaches know how to stretch their students to a place where they do more and become more than the common student. Or to put it this way,

“Growth happens by stretching and being challenged. When you stick to just what’s manageable, you’re really exchanging opportunity for frustration instead of exchanging opportunity for opportunity.”

Aside from performing with his band Sontag Shogun, Jeremy teaches courses on guitar and business at Soundfly. He also has a few music related businesses. He loves helping musicians grow by way of the Soundfly blog, Flypaper. Go there to get some fantastic articles.

soundfly education courses musicianThe Pairing Of Values Creates Bigger Wins

When was the last time you saw your core values as a connection point with other people? This is a big subject that has a lot to do with who you attract to your audience tribe, and who you connect with on a collaboration/networking presence.

Values are the beliefs and ideals that drive what you do. For some, it’s authenticity in their creative expression (meaning they’re going to be themselves instead of adopting a 2nd personality when in “music mode”). For others it’s relationship growth. Values drive what we pursue and how we pursue growth. It’s like Jeremy says,

“Interpersonal relationships are always more important than the project itself.”

Our values help to define how we connect with people. Too often, musicians look at their creative process and the end result as something independent of other people. The best results for your work will come from how you pair yourself with strong relationships, and shared values among other people. This is a common theme in The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook.

 

How To Create Opportunities For Collaboration

I first met Jeremy Young through the avenues of curiosity. As I said in the podcast, I read a blog he did for Sonicbids where he talked about the 5 best books every musician needed to read. I had just published The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook, and I wanted to see how to get it in front of him. I started a conversation based on his work, and that led to an education on Soundfly and a new friend.

It was clear in his blog article that education is a big value. It was also clear that he is someone who reads to further his knowledge base. He and I share these practices and values. I felt confident that reaching out to him would result in some great connection opportunities and I was right.

This initial contact (by way of email) created conversations that led to collaboration. We both saw how our stories are similar, and how we can be a resource to each other. Education in the digital age isn’t the classroom that many of us grew up in. We’re not necessarily limited to logging in to an online portal and only interacting with the teacher in that portal (like a classroom in school). There are opportunities to collaborate together to grow even more, you just need to ask the right questions.

Need help knowing what questions to ask to build your knowledge base, collaboration opportunities, and further growth? Connect with me and let’s talk.

 

 

Success In Music & Business Is In The Knowing Relationship

The music industry is just like any business. It’s relationship driven. Go to Hollywood and the people who continue to grow and land new opportunities are the ones utilizing their relationship connections. The tech world is the same. So are most business industries. The knowing is where the secret sauce of success is.

Relationship

Why then is it so hard for musicians in the indie, unsigned, and DIY world having such a hard time understanding this simple truth? The mantra of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps and go out into the world” is a bit of a misnomer.

Yes, you have to do the work for yourself to make growth happen. You can outsource some of the pieces, but you have to build your career to a place where outsourcing is possible and efficient. However, your ability to build relationships with other professionals in the industry is the main ingredient to short term growth, and long term success. This truth and the method for making it happen for you is detailed in The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook.

You’ve probably heard the phrase “It’s all who you know in this business” to become successful. That’s true. Yet it’s only partially true. There’s another side to this that determines whether the people you know who have clout and influence will be beneficial to you. And there’s a way to know if you have this other side solved or if you need to dive deeper into the relationship-building process.

Who knows you back?

Over the past 2 months while connecting with new professionals, musicians, industry insiders, and business experts, this subject has come up multiple times. We all agree that relationships are both the engine and the fuel that propel all of us forward. However, we get confused too often into believing that if we just get an industry pro to follow us on social media or like something we post, that now we’re connected. It’s partially true at best.

Networking, in the classic business sense, has to do with a collaboration. There’s a mutual benefit between two parties, who come to know of this reciprocal connection from having interactions and conversations. You don’t get that relationship interaction from clicking “Like” on a post, or even exchanging a few words in a comment thread.

You can start this kind of connection through dialogue. Asking questions, getting answers, and opening yourself up for communication that is back and forth is how any relationship is built. It’s how you go from the idea of “knowing someone” to them knowing you back. Until someone knows you back, and there’s a dialogue that leads to some kind of collaboration, you’ve only solved part of the problem.

handshake

When we reach out to new folks online, we’re extending our hand to create a digital handshake. This can be done through email, Facebook message, DM on Twitter, or comment on a site. The response is where the beginning of them reaching back out to you happens. When that outreach is reciprocated and conversation happens, a relationship connection can be built.

The knowing goes both ways

I’ve got to give credit to putting the phrasing of “knowing you back” to my friend Shaine Freeman of The Miews Podcast. Shaine and I see growth and success for musicians very similarly. It seems like the business world understands the need for relationship connection to grow and find success. Music and musicians seem to have missed the bus on this reality. If you want to really have a successful career, understand that it’s not just who you know, but who knows you back.

DGS_RadioHandbook_Cover-1AMake building reciprocal relationships your goal and you’ll win. Discover the proven step-by-step process for doing this in your music career through outreach to radio and media in The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook, now in Audiobook for a limited time on Noisetrade for free. Get it now.

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.

 

How Radio Promotion Is Done Right With Jesse Barnett

RelationshipBeing a radio host, I’m plugged into different parts of this industry. I’m connected to radio stations, artists, managers, radio promoters, and listeners alike. I see things from the perspective of a radio station manager, music director, program host, and curator when it comes to music submissions. I do also see things from the perspective of the artists. It might seem like these are two opposing viewpoints, but they’re not.

Not if you look at it the right way.

Jesse Barnett

Jesse Barnett

Jesse Barnett (Right Arm Resource) is one who sees the harmony between the musicians and the media platforms who showcase their work. It’s a team effort, where both sides win when they work together. Look folks, there’s no I in team. We know that. It’s cliched. But how often do you, musicians, look at your music promotions to radio as something that offers a benefit to the station you reach out to other than them “getting to play” your music?

Radio and musicians win when there’s a relationship connection in place. That’s why public, community, indie and college radio continue to be powerhouses in the modern media-rich world. Relationships matter. Make that a focus and you’ll see bigger and better wins in your music promotion.

This podcast episode is about just that: relationships. Jesse is the best in the business of radio promotion because he puts relationships first. He has worked with and represented some big names in indie music including Damien Rice, They Might Be Giants, Cage The Elephant, and others. And he works with smaller indie labels and artists too, quite successfully I might add.

We talk about the power of networking and relationship building a lot in this episode because it’s the real key to achieving anything that lasts. Trust me. Or better yet trust Jesse. We’re both proof of this. Radio is a conduit between people who share interest, love, and stories driven by music. When radio works best is when it builds communities together of people who share these areas. That’s not the same thing as it being a platform that just plays music and has listeners. That’s boring commercial radio, which you’re not listening to.

One other thing that is mentioned a few times in this podcast episode is The DIY Musician’s Radio Handbook, which illustrates the exact things we talk about in a How-To format. Jesse has read it and shares his thoughts on it. It’s easy for me to tell you that you need this book. However, you decide how much you want to succeed. If you want to win, and you want long term wins, go grab the book here.

After you listen to this, if you get just 1 thing out of it (which I know is an understatement because you’ll get way more than that), do your part in the growth farming process and plant a seed with 3 of your music friends (i.e. share the episode). Cultivate it with me here, and let me know what 1 thing you got the most from in this conversation. We’ll talk soon!

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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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.

DGrant-SpeakingOnStage

 

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 I Work With Musicians & Entrepreneurs As A Coach

DGS-StairsProfileHeadshotRemember wanting to be cool when you were younger in grade school? As I get older, the desire to be cool in the eyes of other people still lingers but it’s not near as strong as it was in an
earlier time in my life. Part of that change is due to age, and hopefully a little maturity, but most
of it is because I know who is going to be interested in me, what I have to say, what I do and
who I am. Who I am is not for everyone, and that brings me comfort instead of fear.

The desire to be liked or to be cool with people is the same as the desire to be popular. Often
times, I think we confuse our desire to be respected and appreciated for a desire to be praised
by everyone. As technology keeps allowing for individuals to connect with each other across
spectrums without the former barriers of distance, time, or even language, there are more and
more people to potentially appeal to.

For people who don’t know their specific craft in life, or the certain colors that they paint better than others and the unique story that separates them from the crowd, coming to this realization can be daunting.

This is why I work with musicians and creative entrepreneurs as a coach and mentor. These struggles kept me from fulfilling my dreams for a long time, and they keep talented people stuck for far too long.

Musicians feel some version of this fear in several ways, as do entrepreneurs and creative startups. One way this fear comes into play is how it’s becoming harder and harder to promote your music and your business on a small scale or limited budget.

For musicians this is because the amount of indie and unsigned musicians (not including artists on major labels) is vast and large and growing by the day. For entrepreneurs, often the marketing and development side of networking isn’t something they’ve given a lot of thought to, but is absolutely necessary to reach the levels of success we all dream about.

All of these artists are creating and trying to sell their music. Innumerable options available to a
limited number of people creates fears of how it will work.

The music fan has changed too, because he or she is able to access so much more content
than any period in history, from anywhere in the world, and not have to have a hard copy of it to listen to,or have to take up room on their computer. Oh, and it’s free too. How do you sell a
product to a populace who is used to getting something without cost and who just wants a taste
of it without taking any ownership or commitment to it?

The whole identity thing is bigger than just knowing who you are and what makes you cool. It
helps you know what makes you and your story appealing to others. When you know the what, you can find the who. All you have to do is look inside.

I created a radio program (The Appetizer Radio Show) over a decade ago.  Originally it was designed for people who love music. I’m a big fan on noncommercial artists, but also love the B-side tracks on some very well-known albums. Those songs don’t get heard on the radio, not the big named stations. I was sick of having to listen to the same 40 songs repeated constantly. So I made a show that featured nearly every genre and type of artist. The radio program was called The Appetizer Radio Show, because like food, we sample different types of music regularly for our music diet.

As I tried to appeal to fans of all music, I became frustrated with the inability to really grow the
program. It’s hard to move forward when you’re trying to carry the weight of the world with you.

The whole world wasn’t going to follow one idea, and when I started to discover the stuff I was
drawn to the most, and then started featuring more of that, our audience grew. Growth was not
just in numbers but in quality of connections and relationships. I used my ability to connect with
people to single-handedly syndicated the show to markets across the country and even a few
international ones without using a high priced marketing agency (I did look at a few of those and the cost versus the return was outstanding).

Working with indie artists over the years has taught me a lot, and it’s made me a better
professional, both in music and in the relationship business that is life. One of the biggest
lessons I can give, and help people with in their process, is drilling down deep within themselves to discover the specific elements about themselves that make them great, so that they can know who will be most drawn to their art. If you want to make a million dollars in music, good luck. No one has discovered the formula for making that work, not even the billion-dollar labels. They lose money constantly trying to promote artists who don’t make real music or connections with people.

Relationship building through good old-fashioned methods has brought me more growth and
opportunity than I could have achieved using any other way. It’s what I want to pass on to
others, especially musicians and entrepreneurs.

There is a LOT of competition out there, but there is also a lot of opportunity. People are searching for stories, powerful ones that empower them and inspire them to do more. We’re looking for interesting people worth celebrating and connecting with, who value true connection instead of flash-in-the-pan fakery. Syncing up with the people who fit your music and artistic identity is the key to you finding the ongoing, long-term success that makes for legendary artists.

That’s what I do, that’s what I love. That is my why. Tell me your why. What is it that drives your music or your entrepreneurial endeavor? Connect with me to discover new ways of getting your story out to the audience that is hungry for it.

What Happens When Your Dreams Change Shape

I’ve noticed that our dreams aren’t always permanent things.

They can change.

Dreams changing shape or mutating into new things is good, not something that should make you nervous. I’ve heard people say with alarm, “But I used to want to do this thing with all my heart but I don’t know if I want that anymore.” It’s ok for your dreams to change if you are changing too. And it’s also worth noting why your dreams are changing.

Steve Harvey has a great book that tackles this idea called Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success. In it he talks about how to take your gift, the thing that you do naturally that no one else can with the greatness that you do, and use it to make your dreams come true. Harvey calls this your vehicle. Your gift needs a vehicle to take it to the next level, but you won’t always stay in the same vehicle to get to your end result.

Vehicles change. Dreams are the destination.

Here’s a little insight into my story and how my vehicles have changed a few times in the last few years, which was a little scary to me because they’d stayed the same for over a decade. I should have been cautious about the fact that I’d stayed at the same place doing a lot of the same things for so long. Instead, I was proud of the fact that most of my young adult friends were working on their 3rd or 4th job before turning 30 and I was still doing the same work I’d started when I was a teenager.

There is something to be said for commitment and longevity. But you have to look at the lifeblood too. I wasn’t stagnant in my job, but it also wasn’t fulfilling me in the ways that I wanted (and needed) to be fulfilled. Actually, I’d reached the ceiling on how far in the organization I was going to be allowed to go by age 29. And I knew it. But I didn’t do anything to try and improve my situation until faced with some startling realities and that forced me to move.

The fact that I had peaked in terms of how far I could grow in a company before turning 30 should have been alarming (in the ways described earlier) in my pursuit forward and should have led to a shifting in what my goals were. However, since I didn’t have clarity on my dreams, I couldn’t see that there was something really wrong with where I was and what I was investing my energies in.

I wanted to be a big success in the radio industry, but I didn’t want to be in the Pop-Radio space (think Top 40, Taylor Swift, Katie Perry, etc). I also didn’t want to move to a bigger city. So, in essence, I’d pigeon-holed my growth to have to be only where I already was. The dream itself needed to shift and the vehicle to get me to the real dream needed to change.

I worked at a public radio station that operated on a university campus with an all-student on-air staff, but a professional staff of 5 people who maintained the station’s revenues, operations, administration, marketing, and community connection. My role as Operations Director involved every aspect of the station some form or fashion (a bit in the fundraising and administration but not as much as the operations and community connection).

It was a leadership role that gave me a ton of experience in community building, organizational leadership, effective communication, teaching, networking, and management. But as I got into my 30s things around me started to change, meaning co-workers changed jobs and other factors, but I didn’t shift my outlook on the future. I didn’t have a direction.

What I enjoyed most was working one-on-one with college students as a mentor and leader. Teaching someone to talk on the radio takes time and patience. Teaching students how to ask questions that lead to other questions that lead to deeper questions when interviewing someone for a news story is what creates powerful radio. I really enjoyed that. Outside of the teaching of radio operations, I had a direct line into a many young people’s lives and had the opportunity to lead them in ways that went beyond working in the radio or journalism industry. I got to coach them on life stuff, like how to balance their budgets, what to look for in a job and career atmosphere, leadership development, and more. That was the best part of the work that I did, and the one thing I miss most from not being there.

I didn’t see it at the time but I do now. My dream wasn’t to work in radio, or be a big deal in the industry. The dream really was to work with individual people and lead them to bigger and greater things. Radio was the vehicle for that. The same is true for The Appetizer Radio Show. I created the show to be able to hear really great music on the radio instead of the same, boring 15 songs by the same boring 10 artists every day.

The music and media culture has shifted much since 2003 where now you can listen to the most obscure musicians online and on FM from a variety of channels. The dream for The Appetizer really wasn’t about doing something new or different. It was about making a difference in people’s lives and taking them to the next step in their journey, especially for the DIY/unsigned/indie musician. Everyone needs a platform that will give their work a start. The Appetizer Radio Show has been that platform for many artists who have gone on to bigger and greater successes.

It’s important to not confuse your vehicle with your dream, but it’s very easy to mistake one for the other. The key is looking deep within yourself and finding that gift that you have. The gift is the one thing you do naturally without bringing in education or training. It isn’t something someone taught you. It is something you were born with. What is it that people around you say you do naturally that is better than anyone else? That’s your gift.

If you don’t know what your gift is, ask some of your closest friends what they think. Then compare notes. I know that I’m naturally an Empoweror (made up word for “one who empowers”). My communications with people, whether online or in person, are done naturally and intentionally to lead to a positive result, even when I’m upset or holding someone accountable. Yet empowering and encouragement aren’t my gifts. They are a part of the gift, but not the whole enchilada.

My gift is that I’m a great listener who thinks objectively and puts pieces together to create a strong perspective and clarity. I can hear the stories people tell me and naturally connect the dots to what is really going on without knowing all the specifics. I’m good at reading people’s mail, as the saying goes. My natural inclination is to take that discernment and communicate in an edifying way that brings encouragement to the person I’m speaking with.  Positive results and outcomes are the results produced. This gift moves people forward, gives them clarity and direction, and takes them to new successes.

I see now how my gift has been used in the past careers I’ve had, yet none of the jobs or careers were the dream. The dream is bigger. What I think is my dream now is probably bigger in reality than what I imagine it is at this point. As I grow and increase the spread of who I am and become more recognizable, the dream will grow too, and the vehicles that take me there will change.

The same is true for you. The vehicle you’re in now to take you to your dream will morph, switch, change, or mutate. Some vehicles you’ll still interact with or catch a ride with periodically as you grow. Others you’ll never see again. The vehicle is what changes, but not the dream itself. The key it to really understand and have confidence in what the heart of your dream is so that you don’t confuse yourself and your direction like I did.

Do you know what your gift is? Can you recognize where you are right now as being a transport to get you closer to fulfilling your dream? How has your dream and your vehicle shifted or grown in the past year? These are the questions to reflect on to see how you’re progressing.

Since you know my gift, let me utilize to benefit you. Reach out to me and tell me your dream and the transport (vehicle) you’re in right now to get to your end goal. Leave a comment or Contact Me and let’s talk.

[feature image by Jeronimo Sanz]

How Having Your Back Leads You 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)

Let me shoot you straight-when it comes to height and weight I’m a little dude. I might be taller than Bruno Mars or Prince (who is apparently 5’2″) but body size and weight are actually big deals to guys as much as girls.

This can lead to confidence issues in those beloved teenage years where all of your friends, who are also going through changes in their height, weight, and other body factors, are always the most encouraging people on earth. Wait, our peers are always the most encouraging people, right?

Of course I’m being facetious there. In high school I was a little over 5 feet tall and maybe weighed 100 lbs. That is a scrawny little dude. But that was me. And some other physical attributes helped me to be the brunt of a lot of jokes and a bit of bullying in school. I hated it, as most kids do. I also didn’t know really what to do about it, so I used sarcasm as a means of deflecting pointed remarks. And I hid/avoided the 2 people I knew would give me the most hell.

What made the difference for me in that era of time wasn’t a self-help book or taking a kung-fu class. Though I really did want to take kung-fu. Bruce Lee was only 5’4″ in his day and he kicked everyone’s ass. That gave me some hope. But it wasn’t the path for me. Instead, I found some love in an unexpected place that changed everything.

As you know, I’m a radio guy and have been since the late 1990s. How and where I got my start plays a role in this story of overcoming bullying because often our work or ambition experiences play larger roles in the things that we are and who we become. While in 10th grade I was given the opportunity to work on-air at a community college radio station about 30 miles from my hometown.

The station (89.7 KACC) was in Alvin, Tx. I lived in Sugar Land. One or two times a week I would drive down to Alvin and do my radio shift. It was a ton of fun and some of the best work experience I could have ever had. That experience on-air and doing radio stuff is what opened the door for me to start my freshman year of college working on-air in Abilene (ironically on 89.7 KACU).

The professional ground isn’t the focus of my story this time, but that gives context to where I’m going. There were two main guys who took me under their wing at KACC, Eddie and Shannon. Two room-mates who made me one of their buddies. I got to hang out with them off the air, camp out on weekends and essentially be a college guy 2 years before I should have.

In school I spent a lot of time feeling intimidated and picked on, though there was only one or two people who went to great lengths to do that to me and to others. Those instances of bullying, being picked on, belittled, and chastised still had terrible consequences on my self-esteem. Being embarrassed and bullied by someone who is physically bigger and stronger doesn’t do much to make you want to show up in class. There’s a reason why most TV shows and movies that involve high school portray bullies as jocks and athletes. The aggression they have has to be channeled, but realistically they feel as fearful as anyone else. Yet their pride makes them take that fear out on others. What do fearful people with physical power do? They prey on the smaller, physically weaker people. History tells us this repeatedly.

Hanging out with big Hispanic dudes who are 22 or 23 years old while you’re a short, skinny 16 year old white kid is empowering. It was to me. And they loved me, for whatever reason. One day while we were hanging out, one of my college friends, Shannon, could tell something was on my mind. It had been a rough week and I’d been austricized at school. Shannon asked what was wrong and I said a dude was messing with me, and he was much bigger than I so what could I do about it.

“Where does he live?” Shannon asked with a straight face. I knew what his thought process was. These weren’t guys who looked for fights, but they weren’t ones who ran from them either. And they were stout enough to hold their own and then some. Shannon was also a black belt in Tae Kwan Do.

“Don’t worry about it man,” I said. “I do appreciate it though.”

“No seriously, where does he live? I used to be a little guy like you and I got picked on a lot. It sucked. I remember what it feels like to be bullied. I will gladly show this punk what it feels like for a bigger, stronger person to put him in his place,” Shannon replied.

And that changed everything.

What followed wasn’t a scene out of a revenge film where we loaded up in a car, all 4 of us and drove the 30 miles back to my hometown, knocked on a door and then made mince-meat out of a teenage bully. What changed was my attitude and confidence.

Why didn’t I give the address to Eddie and Shannon to go take care of my bullying issue? Because even then I knew it would only make things worse, especially for them as young adults. The bully folks weren’t the kids of people who wouldn’t do anything about the 20-somethings who beat up their son. There were political and social elements that would make this situation much worse. So I thanked my friends for their love and said if it ever got to a place where I couldn’t handle it, I’d call them. Fortunately it never did.

Here’s what changed that made the difference.

When someone you trust and respect tells you that they have your back, will go out of their way to tackle a problem you have so that you don’t have to worry about it anymore, you should feel empowered.

IMG_1333My confidence took a steroid shot that day, and I didn’t even know it. Looking back now it all seems so clear. I didn’t cower or hide from people (or at least the same people I’d hidden from for the past few years when this happened). There was no reason to hide. If things got bad, I had a number to call who would come to my aid. That kind of support isn’t common, but it’s highly empowering.

Knowing we’re loved gives us confidence.

When you’re a kid, and sometimes even in adulthood, when we think of love we think romance or family bonds. Love isn’t just those things. Love is valuing someone else and doing whatever is necessary to make sure they are safe and taken care of. Love is looking at someone else’s best interest and putting them before you, even if it costs you something.

“I’ve got your back” is love in its purest sense. Nothing asked in return, no favors required to be put into effect. It’s just straight “You matter to me and I won’t let anyone or anything hurt you.”

As a followup to some of the life experiences described earlier, I’ve moved on and done a good bit of forgiveness, most of which the individuals involved know nothing about. That’s the thing about forgiveness, it’s really more about you than the people who caused you pain. Holding on to past pain and grudges only stymies your growth and ability to move forward. It also keeps those same fears in place, instead of releasing them to have the freedom you want.

Every single one of us struggles with fear in some form or fashion. For me it was fears regarding self-image and body size stuff. With friends who had my back, I was able to overcome a lot of these issues at that crossroad in time and move on to pursuing my dreams. I later returned to facing those fears head on in my 20s, which I talk about and describe in this blog post.

Do you struggle with fears and want to know that someone has your back? Let’s talk about what fears are keeping you from pursuing the goals and dreams that you have. Reach out to me below and let’s tackle them together. I have your back.

The Uncommon Choice Has Real Value

Coach Rivas instructs two amateur boxers

Coach Rivas instructs two amateur boxers

Though I work in radio and with musicians, I haven’t spent all of my free time doing music related things. I used to work out at a boxing gym where my Coach kicked my ass every day. I loved it (strangely enough) when each workout session ended because we all had collectively done above and beyond what we believed we could do physically, mentally and emotionally in those workout sessions.

It was fabulous. However, I did dread those workouts before going up there each
day, because I knew they would be intense, and would require everything I had and then
some.

We were there Monday through Friday for about 1.5 hours a day and were pushed beyond
the limits of what our minds told us we could do. I remember days of doing nonstop cardio
workouts for 20-­30 minutes at a time, to switch to doing wild bag work combinations. My mind
would be saying “I can’t do anymore, please let us stop,” but Coach kept pushing us, and we
ended up being able to do more than we thought we could.

Though I didn't fight in competition, I did go to events to support the team. I'm on the far right in the back behind a few people

Though I didn’t fight in competition, I did go to events to support the team. I’m on the far right in the back behind a few people

I learned a lot from those experiences. I learned that listening to just the common thread of thought in your mind can be very limiting, because often times you won’t push yourself past your own limits unless something else is the driving force. But to get to the real results you want, you have to do uncommon things, which may mean subjecting your will to that of someone you trust to push you harder than you’ll push yourself. It was one of the first times in my adult life to have a coach who did such things. The results were amazing.

I learned a lot in those 2 years before I moved locations and the gym eventually shut down.
While I was there I got into the best physical and psychological shape of my life. Being a
relatively small person (standing 5’ 7” and weighing 110 lbs soaking wet), I’ve struggled with
insecurity and fear my entire life. This is a common thing that people feel, especially at school
with jocks and bullies. I’m no stranger to this stuff. But I backed down from challenges and
endured way too much emotional setbacks in my youth and early adulthood, all on account of
fear. Part of going to the boxing gym was to face that fear literally, and put myself in a
situation where I had to fight or flight.

I never ended up being very good at boxing, but I still enjoy the sport. Having done it on an
amateur level showed me so much about the unspoken and irregular aspects of the game,
something similar to how musicians who closely study their instrument and playing something
beyond chords or basic scales might understand. There’s music theory, there’s your
instrument, there’s your creativity, and there’s you. Isolating those things independently of
each other loses a lot of the power they have together. That’s just an observation. Back to
boxing.

I got in great shape boxing but what has stuck with me more than the exercises and the
knowledge of fighting is something that Coach said at nearly every session­ “Be uncommon.”
There were times when he was almost preaching a sermon to devoted followers in how he
spoke of being uncommon as a boxer and as a person to achieve true greatness in what you
do. As I’ve worked in business and in music, those words ring more and more true as I see
and experience well­-meaning people doing the same things everyone else is doing, the same
things that produce no positive or good result.

When I was in grade school, I wanted to fit in. Just about everyone wants this. No one really
wants to stand out, so we try and dress like our friends or the popular kids. We would follow
someone else’s leadership in what we would do, what we listened to, how we wore our hair,
and so on. Sometimes we would be followers of rebels instead of doing our own version of
rebelling, because following is easier than being a trendsetter and throwing popular opinion to
the wind. Standing out is difficult. Fitting in is desired because it’s common to blend and not
make waves.

Everyone feels that on some level. We all want to be loved for our uniqueness yet are afraid
that what makes us unique might also be what causes others to criticize, mock, or reject us.

So many of us hide our uniqueness and do what everyone else does so we can fit in. In the
process, we lose part of our hearts and a sense of self (or sometimes a sense of purpose)
because the road regularly traveled is quite dull, and so beaten into the ground.

Until the advent of social media, we didn’t (or didn’t as often) let our opinions dictate our
course of action like we do today. In music and in business, I keep seeing the majority of
people do things that don’t make sense. The only reason I can think of for some people’s
behavior is “That’s what everyone else does, so it must be what works.”

Everyone can be wrong. Everyone can fail to do what they set out to. This is why when you
look at those super­-successful people in any industry, they’re the minority of the group. A
small portion (usually 1­5%) of an industry or business type are the most successful in the
short term and long term. They’re not doing what everyone else is doing, because if they were
they wouldn’t be successful.

Values we represented as a team and values to live by

Values we represented as a team and values to live by

In boxing, an uncommon fighter is one who doesn’t make lazy decisions like dropping their
hands. An uncommon fighter looks for ways to strike at angles instead of standing directly in
front of their opponent and just throwing punches. Other traits that uncommon boxers have is they work harder, longer, and more consistently. They don’t let their bodies get out of shape between matches. There’s a reason why Roy Jones Jr and Bernard Hopkins could not only still fight in their 40s but remained champions as long as they did. Those two were always, always, always in shape. That’s not common.

Uncommon boxers put themselves through more vigorous workouts and prepare their minds
as well as they prepare their bodies. They study their opponents strengths and weaknesses to
find ways of getting an edge. Floyd Mayweather has fought much stronger fighters than
himself, but he always wins the battle of the mind. Sugar Ray Leonard did the same thing with
his mental game. Finally, uncommon boxers don’t just win. They win effectively and
consistently. They aren’t on one day and off the next. Winning seems to be an ingredient
throughout their lives.

The same is true for musicians.

Music success doesn’t depend solely on talent, though talent does help. It doesn’t depend on
popularity, though that can be a blessing. Music success depends on an artist’s ability to draw
a listener into their world using notes, beats, and words (unless they’re an instrumental
performer). One hit wonders are a form of music success but who really sets out to just create
one great or memorable thing?

I’ve seen it and experienced it firsthand, where outstanding artists craft brilliant music and
draw global fans into their realm through excellent songwriting, performance and sound
quality. But how do you get your music to a level of greatness that beckons a global
audience?

Don’t do what everyone else does.

It’s common to hope that winning the lottery is the answer to achieving the fulfillment of your
dreams so that you never take the steps and the time necessary to invest in reaching your
goals.

It’s common to think you can become an overnight success just because you have a desire
for greatness and a little talent, instead of putting patience, diligence, and hard work into
effect along with gauging your work over time and making improvements/adjustments when
necessary.

It’s common to do just enough to get by instead of giving more than is asked.

It’s common to do one thing well and expect the world to faun over you instead of being
gracious and thankful while seeking refinement and improvement.

It’s common to expect people to just open doors of opportunity for you that others have spent
their lifetimes working hard for and then having a bad attitude when things don’t just go
perfectly the first time.

It’s common to act like a complete diva (Kanye West isn’t the only one in music; most artists
have a degree of this that they showcase more often than not). Many artists demand that
their music be showcased, promoted, and talked about, then act butt-hurt when that
opportunity isn’t given to them.

It seems that everyone wants to shortcut the process of paying your dues, cutting your teeth,
and struggling through the early stages of growth to achieve something truly great that has
lasting value.

Don’t do what everyone is doing.

Don’t be common.

Common people can’t change other’s lives or become inspirational heroes because there’s
little inspiration in the life of someone who just gets by.

Common people don’t recognize the beauty and glory in the transformation process, the kind that takes time, commitment, hard work, and difficulty to reach monumental results.

                                                           Instead, be uncommon.

                                                           Be great.

                                                           Be more.

                                                           Change the world.