Tag Archives: The Appetizer Radio Show

The Secrets To 1000 True SuperFans With Kevin Kelly

 

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Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is a man with a rich background in writing and science. His wisdom and thoughtfulness is pervasive in not only his writings but also his lectures.

He’s someone with an eye and ear to the future, looking at both trends and technology paired with the human psyche to see what futures await us. The artistic side of this approach to vision casting is brilliant. It’s also intriguing.

How I came to understand and embrace Kevin’s theories on growth goes back a few years to when I was starting my first endeavor in the creative entrepreneurial realm.

The Birth Of The SuperFan Idea

Back in 2008, while starting the initial syndication build for The Appetizer Radio Show, I first met an artist who would become a good friend. William Fitzsimmons had transitioned from one career as a therapist into becoming a full-time musician. He wasn’t famous, but he did have a really strong core audience that propelled his growth.

Years later, I’d connect with several other artists who’d share with me how they’d built their growth strategy around reaching 1000 true fans. It was a theory created by Kevin Kelly in an article he wrote that was published a few decades ago. Intrigued, I looked it up and found it contained the exact formula I was using to build my platform.

Fast-forward to this past summer. My good friend (and fellow DIY Artist Router) Chandler Coyle told me of an opportunity to speak with Kevin. Kevin has a new book out called The Inevitable, and was looking at some artistic, entrepreneurial and marketing related podcasts to get on to promote the book. I put my name in the hat and was privileged to get to connect with him.

The result of that connection is this podcast episode. It’s been several months in the making, but it’s brilliant on a variety of levels. The are several things I loved about talking with Kevin Kelly, especially how down-to-earth and open he is. It was like talking with an old friend.

He’s also incredibly objective, which is refreshing for someone who has done so much in their careers.

A Brief Bio On Kevin Kelly

Kevin Kelly is most known for being a writer, author, and co-founder of Wired Magazine. He’s also got a rich history in science, photography and digital marketing. He’s the founder of The WELL, a virtual community created with Stewart Brand.

He’s written for publications like The Economist, Esquire, GQ, and the New York Times. His lectures cover subjects ranging from marketing and economic growth to scientific and technological innovation.

His writings and books include New Rules for the New Economy: 10 Radical Strategies for a Connected World (Penguin, 1999) and”Forward: 1000 True Fans,” pp. 3–8, in Be The Media, David Mathison, editor, (2009), which is where the concept of the SuperFan was born.

More insights into Kelly available on his website.

Notable Quotes From This Podcast Conversation With Kevin Kelly

“The best way to do research on the Internet is to say something and people will tell you that you’re wrong. Numbers aren’t as critical as just doing it.”

“The Internet was inevitable but the kind of Internet we have (wasn’t). (There’s a) shift to Internet of experiences away from an Internet of knowledge. Much more emotional and experiential overlay will take place.”

“Marketing (The Inevitable) on Twitter was something we did well. Tweeting once a day with a quote from the book was very successful.”

Capture Your 1000 True Fans

What started as a concept and an idea has become something that is used by the truly successful indie and DIY musicians, artists, and creative entrepreneurs to build lasting success. It’s no longer a theory.

It’s a science. Connecting with real people who love and support your work is the theme of another great book that shows you the process of making it happen.

How can you take the science of the SuperFan and apply it to your work? Reach out to me in the form below and we’ll talk about getting your super fan tribe built.

 

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.

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

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

Think about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What experience are you giving?

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

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

Why Milestones Are How We Reach Our Dreams

Vision. Milestones. Perspective.

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

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

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

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

Call this accountability or transparency. These things matter.

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Who I Am And What I’m Really All About

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

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

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

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

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

Q: What are you passionate about in your career?

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

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

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

Q: What or who are you most passionate about?

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

Q: What do you believe in?

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

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

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

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

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

Be Uncommon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Community Is The #1 Key To Ongoing Success

communityWhen you begin something new, you’re always on the lookout for keys to make “the new” work better and grow. That’s inherent to the process of creating and building. Once you’ve been doing something for a while, you amend your processes to be more efficient and operate better. And after building something for a long period of time (let’s say over a decade), you’re able to reflect back and see some of the key elements to what made your work successful.

I’ve been working with musicians for over ten  years (hence the time illustration), particularly through the medium of indie radio. In that time I’ve also built and grown The Appetizer Radio Show to international syndication, been a part of some great concerts, collaborated on music events, and worked closely with artists on establishing their unique brand.

Lindsay Katt and I before our concert at the Paramount Theater in Abilene in 2013

Lindsay Katt and I before our concert at the Paramount Theater in Abilene in 2013

I spent some time this week reflecting on what has made all of these endeavors successful over the years, not just for me as an individual, but also for the artists and bands I’ve been privileged to work with. What I found was what I believe to be the #1 key to ongoing success no matter who you are, where you live, how widespread your platform is, or the size of your following.

 

You know what that key is? It’s a cultivated and enriched community.

Public radio has been a great resource for me, as it has for many individuals both in the arts as well as other business. As a former station manager, I got to experience first hand the dynamic power of community members coming together in support of a platform that brought something powerful to our region every day. The impact that the station had on individuals was supported in immense ways through a group of very dedicated and loyal individuals.

Experiencing how community can come together when it’s responding to a need is what has fueled the rise of crowdfunding and social media. All it takes is having your best message presented clearly to the people who want and need to experience it. This is where the cultivation and enrichment part comes in.

Tools-for-Community-ManagersWe’re no strangers to the concept of community building. We do it everyday on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other online portals. We build community daily with people we have never met in person, nor spoken with on the phone. Our community members share a common passion, interest, belief, or other similarity that binds us together. Cultivating community is a different ballgame than simply being a part of community. Cultivation requires a mixture of listening and sharing, remembering what it is that people confide in you and a commitment to helping out when called upon.

Our social communities can be a great way to engage people. But cultivation is best exhibited when you can meet in person. This is why artists starting out and in the first few years of their careers need to focus on their local community and region. You decide how wide of a spread for your region you want to reach. I encourage musicians to extend their area up to a 50 mile radius if they don’t live close to a high populated area. This gives you more opportunity to grow your network with the right people who will follow and support you.

Cultivating these connections leads to more diverse interaction online through social channels, and makes communication a little easier. Enrichment opportunities happen in live performances where your music is experienced first-hand. House shows are one of the best places to start (and continue in a broader aspect).

Community enrichment comes from both the community you live in geographically, and the sub-community you build with your art. Supporting and collaborating with other artists in your area is one of the best ways to build and nurture these communities. Relationships are what create new opportunities in everything we do. The better you can get at cultivating relationships, the more success and longevity you will find yourself with, and the stronger connection you’ll have to the communities that matter most to you.

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]

The Art Of Finding What You’re Looking For

abstract-summer-background_MkgLu3u_Remember the U2 song I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For?

Sorry Bono, we’re all in your boat too.

I spent my youth and young adulthood looking for something. I (sort of) knew what it was, yet it remained a mystery at the same time. At various intervals I thought I’d finally found it and could relax. The hunt was over, finally. A short time later, however, it became clear that only a piece of what I was looking for had been found, and not the whole thing. So the hunt began again.

Do you think I’m talking about love? In a way I am, but not the romantic kind (that’s a whole OTHER story for a later time).

I was searching for fulfillment, or purpose. It’s what we’re all on a quest for, partially one reason why we’re artists, creative people and/or individuals who get get categorized as entrepreneurs because we venture into unknowns often without a clear map of what’s in front of us.

Sound familiar?

There was a time I thought I’d found fulfillment by way of occupation. I wanted to be on the radio and had achieved that by the age of 16, working as a DJ at a station in Alvin, Tx (89.7 KACC) while in high school. A decade later I was running a public radio station (KACU in Abilene) and had created a music program (The Appetizer Radio Show) that would eventually be picked up on other radio stations across the country (through syndication). I got a piece of fulfillment in each of these capacities, a degree of purpose, but not the whole thing I was searching for.

Changing jobs and industries at the age of 31 after 15 years in the same industry altered the purpose card quite a bit. Suddenly I was in a new world with many new things to learn. I had transitioned into the realm of infinity, aka online marketing. I still do a little work in this industry, but have since transitioned yet again.

I say all of this for a little context. I’m a pretty consistent person who is big on commitments and not jumping from one thing to the next every so often. After graduation from college in 2004, I held a job with the same organization for nearly a decade. I’m good at sticking with a job. However, after switching to marketing in 2013, I quickly learned that your career path and your purpose in life are a rough marriage. They’re linked, yes indeed. But they aren’t always the same thing.

I’ve since shifted the job stuff again, now more in the self-employed sector of the job market. It’s some of the most fulfilling work I’ve ever done. But that’s not the point. The point is, in each shift, I found a different piece of the fulfillment I was searching for, and made an interesting discovery in the process:

The art of finding what you’re looking for is an evolutionary process that begins at birth and ends at death.

The idea that you reach a destination in your lifetime where you are completely fulfilled with nothing else to aspire to is missing the mark. The pursuit itself is the purpose.

Goal setting is a piece of my life, as it is yours. There are certain things I’ve set out to achieve early in life  that I’m still chasing after. Since I’m still pursuing them, and “success” as I envision it hasn’t happened yet in a gigantic capacity, means there are some more pieces I’ve yet to acquire. So the hunt continues.

At different stages of this journey, I’ve had to learn some powerful lessons, and seek help from people with experience in things I know not of. These stages are necessary in reaching the next fulfillment milestone.

One thing I used to wish was available for me to gain assistance was a How-To guide for radio program creation and development. I spent a few years scouring every online and brick/mortar book store for a book or blog on how to take an existing program and get it carried on stations across the country. When I was looking for this, it didn’t exist. Today, there are millions of artists and entrepreneurs just like you, trying to find the same answers. How do you get your work accepted by other people, people you don’t know, so that you can grow your platform?

I learned from trial and error, risk and reward, mistakes and successes what worked and what didn’t to get The Appetizer Radio Show syndicated. I used my time, energy, and limited financial resources along with networking and relationship building to make it happen. I wanted someone to show me how and instead I found my own path.

Now I know the reason for this: part of my fulfillment in life is teaching others how to do things. There was no teacher for me in this way so I was given a way to learn something that I could later teach others. Now I can teach you how to do exactly what I did. All it takes is a commitment to process, a mind willing to learn, and just a little money.

Want to learn the art of finding what you’re looking for? Reach me directly below and let’s talk about how you can find your next piece of fulfillment with your project.

Tony Lucca, The DIY Artist Route And You

Recently I was granted the opportunity to talk with a really great guy, Tony Lucca. I’d only heard his self-titled album before given the interview with him. Upon researching his background, it became more apparent that his story is incredibly valuable to both artists and entrepreneurs who have made fame their lone quest. Fame wasn’t Tony’s ambition, but he has achieved it.

6PAN1T-R PSDThe former Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer was in the same class as Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris. Matt is a feature artist on The Appetizer Radio Show, doing an exclusive in-studio session with us in 2011. Tony has also been featured on TV commercial and shows like Malibu Shores. His music career took him to the 2012 season of The Voice, being selected by Adam Levine and going on to place 2nd in the season finale. That led to being signed to Levine’s record label and a massive tour with Maroon 5. Isn’t this the dream of most musicians, or even entrepreneurs, to rub elbows and share social circles with prominent names?

All of that has its benefits, but Tony has since chosen a different path, that of an indie artist. The DIY artist and entrepreneur shares a lot in common with Tony Lucca. This podcast features the conversation he and I had about music, business, his advice to the DIY artist and entrepreneur, and an unsolicited vote of approval for indie radio’s role in helping artists grow.

What do you think of Tony’s perspective? Let’s talk about how his insights apply to where you are right now. Comment or reach out through email.

A Little Introduction

color close upMusic is a really big industry, and there are many components to it. Like most really big industries, there are several avenues that you can take to have a career and be profitable.

There is also a LOT of competition.

If you spend any amount of time online, you see posts about bands and musicians, some you know of and many you don’t. Over the past several years, the whole “indie music” movement has revolutionized the industry. Now it’s not essential that an artist cut a deal with a record label to be successful in any capacity. There are multiple channels where music can be heard across the web and even through traditional routes of TV-film, radio, and print. With all these channels come a myriad of options for your audience to choose to be on.

TARSLogoTM2014I’ve been a part of the indie realm for over a decade, helping in some ways to contribute to the change in the media landscape concerning indie music. When I created and launched The Appetizer Radio Show in 2003, web-radio was still in a beta-test of sorts with a few stations operating across the country and few had large audiences. Public radio was the only music platform that gave any time to non-labeled bands. Social media platforms of Twitter and Facebook didn’t exist, at least not in the national and international realms of present day. Even cell phones were different, as they were used for (believe it or not) making and receiving phone calls. Blogs hadn’t become a method of storytelling or review posting. There was a lot that was very different about how we engaged in music as well as how we shared it.

My work developing and later syndicating our radio show around the globe was influential in promoting the careers of several established indie acts. You can see and hear the folks we’ve had the honor of working with at The Appetizer website. Those experiences with artists in a variety of capacities led to the work I do one-on-one with artists in developing their sound, branding, and press material for audience growth. Radio airplay and mulit-media presentation is a part of audience growth, especially on social channels and blogs.

Soundcloud and Reverbnation are great outlets to get your music heard, but marketing to your target audience members through all the noise and competition on these platforms is intense and fierce. For bands and artists who want to shotgun success, good luck to you. It’s doesn’t work out very well regarding the time it takes the the frustration inherent in the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach. If it’s true in small business, it’s probably true in this industry.

A little introduction of who I am and what I do is important for you to know. I’m here to help you grow your music into what you dream for it to be. Growing your audience is elemental in that process. It is a process, not something that magically happens if you do a series of 5 or 10 steps. Here in this blog, I’ll give away some of the keys I’ve discovered in growing audience-share as well as how you can develop your sound and presentation to stand out above the competition and apart from the noise. Music is a very noisy industry. In the posts and content to come, I’ll help you take your music to the next level and get you Radio-Ready, even if radio is not what you think you need.

Are you ready? Join me and be on the lookout for my upcoming eBook.