Tag Archives: William Fitzsimmons

Discover The Secrets To 1000 True SuperFans With Kevin Kelly

Loyalty and passion are two attributes we wish that all of our fans had. They don’t. But superfans do. How do you go about attracting more of these kinds of people into your tribe?

I’ve been fascinated around the ability of some people to draw in the uncommon fan and supporter of creative people, folks who will go way out of their way to support the artists they love. These people are the diehard members of your fan base known as your superfans, which was an idea originally posed by Wired Magazine founder/editor Kevin Kelly.

Kevin 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.

His article titled “The Secret To 1000 True Fans” created a brand on its own, and an idea that you didn’t have to reach a fan base of millions of people to be successful. If you could gain just 1000 passionate people who wanted what you have to offer, you’d live a very successful life.

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 (superfans). 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 talk 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.

Insight Into Kevin Kelly’s Story

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 (1999) and his most recent title, The Inevitable: Understanding The 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future (2016).

Our conversation in the DIY Artist Route Podcast features the insights of Kevin into the philosophy and method of relationship building with your fans that lead to them becoming your SuperFan.

How To 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. The method of Growth Farming for success that my private coaching clients use is a big part of tapping into your superfans’ passions to build a powerful fan base.

Book your free strategy session now to build your SuperFan tribe!


Rachael Yamagata Shares Love & Music Entrepreneur Help

Rachael Yamagata

Rachael Yamagata

I have to admit to having some excitement about this podcast episode. I’ve been a big fan of Rachael Yamagata‘s music for a long time.

Going back at least to 2003 when I first heard her self-titled EP and then in ’04 with the release of Happenstance.

Great musicians write songs that connect with our individual stories, and those stories become a soundtrack to our lives. Happenstance was that for me in many ways.

The driving beat and stinging lyrics to Letter Read remain one of my favorite songs. It’s probably one of the best sad/breakup songs out there. Add her piano-driven, jazz-styled songwriting to the rest of that album with tracks like Under My Skin, Reason Why, and Be Be Your Love and you have plenty of reason to explore her songbook.

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

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

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

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

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

Big Takeaways In This Podcast With Rachael Yamagata

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

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

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

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

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

Great Rachael Yamagata Quotes From The Podcast

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

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

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

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

Listen/Download this episode:

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

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

Take The Lessons Learned Here To The Next Level

Want To Grow Even More? Gain a bigger following, growth and success with one of the best minds in business.

Learn Growth Farming The Seth Godin way in this free eBook.


3 Ways Relationships Bring Return On Investment

Photo by Kristina

Photo by Kristina

In the business world, everything you do needs to produce an ROI (Return On Investment). The same is true with creative business endeavors like music and artistry. One big thing that creates the most return is investing in relationship growth.

We all have goals for our success. Growth is a part of that. When I talk with musicians (and entrepreneurs too) the focus they have on growth is reaching a zillion people today and gaining social media followers.

Oh, and you want this kind of massive growth to happen overnight right? That expectation leads to getting frustrated when the magic of audience building takes longer than clicking a button online.

Here’s the thing: marketing for growth is a process.

It’s about relationship building and not anything else.

Three key places where you benefit from relationship building that brings ROI to your work is media features (i.e. radio, podcasts, and blogs), crowdfunding, and social media.

Focus on building bridges and connecting with people in a real way to see real growth.

What I’m going to show you here is an overview of what I teach students in my courses and work directly with coaching clients on. You’ll get a framework for the big picture in this article. Take it a step further and set up a free discovery session with me here to personalize this growth process.

Set your sights on relationship building and nothing else

Radio airplay is one way for musicians to get themselves in front of tons of new people that they didn’t have access to before. However, getting your song played 1 time on a station is a really low goal to strive for.

Look past that achievement and see what benefit you have. You get a song heard on a station and you’re introduced to let’s say 500 new people. Then the song is over and another song from a different band starts.

Of those 500 people, how many people are going to look you up? On the first listen, less than 1% will take action.

That’s 5 folks. But what if you could get more, not just more people reached total but a higher percentage of the total listeners engaged and looking you up?

It’s a matter of building something other than a goal for radio airplay. This comes down to building bridges with radio stations and programs instead of just pitching your music.

Going back to 2007, William Fitzsimmons connected with me & has been featured in multiple ways since on my multiple media platforms

Going back to 2007, William Fitzsimmons connected with me & has been featured in multiple ways since on my multiple media platforms

When you submit your music for airplay, it’s easy to focus on just getting your song picked up. But think bigger.

If you build a connection with an individual, and can start a dialogue where you both provide something to each other that is mutually beneficial, you gain long term benefits.

Which could include a radio interview, a CD giveaway, a blog review or showcase, and multiple songs spun a number of times in a concentrated period of time.

This is really powerful marketing because you get in front of a focused audience multiple times.

The more you can get in front of the same number of people in an engaging way, the higher percentage of people will connect with you. It’s scientifically proven:

According to salesforce.com it takes 7-10 touches for a person to convert from observer to buyer when it comes to products.

Music is no different. In the business community, people have to experience your product offering a period of times before you can build the trust offering to get them to buy. This is a matter of your messaging (marketing) building a relationship connection with the individual to lead them to spend their money.

With radio listeners, your desire to get them to buy your music comes into play here too. Getting them to follow your social channels and engage with you is the same thing. Add crowdfunding to that, where asking people to invest in your project comes down to a reciprocal connection.

How to build a relationship that brings return

Let’s look at ROI the way that business people do. Robin Sharma writes in his best selling book The Greatness Guide,

“Ultimately business and life is about forging human bonds. Before someone will lend you a hand, you need to touch their heart. And that business is all about relationships.”

Helaine Olen of Inc Magazine’s piece in May 16 titled Spread the Wealth talks about how even asking for a loan from a bank is about relationships. If a bank, which has to use loans as a way to stay open, is still particular about operating their business from a relationship standpoint, how much more do we need to be in the creative space.

She writes that,

“You don’t want your conversation to be a once-a-year event, where it’s like you’re called into the principle’s office to beg for credit. Relationships matter.”

This is why friends can ask for gold but strangers can’t even give away free candy. When you know the person who is contacting you, and when you like this person, you’re willing to do much more for them than just what they ask.

Begin by reaching out to someone and asking a question, showing them that you value who they are and what they do.

Think about it from their perspective. If you were emailed, tweeted, and contacted countless times everyday by people you don’t know, all asking you to do something for them, how would you feel?

On the flip side, if you were contacted by someone you don’t know yet they knew your name, and talked about how much they value the work you do, would you feel the same way about this person as you do the strangers who just want a handout?

No, it’d be the opposite.

That is how you gain attention that leads to action.

Attention alone is pretty worthless, because it’s so fleeting. An Empirical Study of Web Use, researchers determined that the average human span in 2013 was only 8 seconds (the average goldfish can pay attention for 9 seconds).

You can gain 8 seconds of attention or a friendship that will benefit you for years. Which would you rather have?

Put relationship building to work for your growth success

Want To Grow Even More? Gain a bigger following, growth and success with one of the best minds in business.
Discover The Growth Farming Method Of Successful Relationship Growth by having a free strategy session with me here.

Build A Super Fan Tribe The Bruce Springsteen Way

Over 40 years and more commercial success than you or I can throw a stick at might make some musicians think that Bruce Springsteen is so untouchable as a musician, trying to follow his path to success is a pipe dream.
That thought would be off, in a few ways.

After completing the biography Bruce by Peter Ames, I found myself with several journal pages of insights into how a self-starter musician in the late 1960s transformed rock music, created a cult following that has stretched into the modern day despite  obstacles, and much more insights.

Let me be clear, I am a Springsteen fan, potentially a super-fan of sorts. I do have most of his album collection on CD and vinyl, though I have not seen him perform live yet. By confession, I’ve only been at this level of interest in his music for less than a decade. Maybe I’m a slow starter…..

I say all of that because there’s a chance you’re not a massive Bruce Springsteen fan, though there’s also a good chance that you enjoy his songbook, or have at one point. The purpose of this book review isn’t to convert you to his fan following. What music you enjoy is your choice. Instead, what I want to do is give you plenty of reasons why you should pick up a copy of this book, if anything to learn some very practical and specific ways to cultivate super-fans of your own work.

Bruce is not all sunshine and rainbows, as the Springsteen lineage is traced back two generations and we see the trials and tribulations of his grandparents and parents. Their stories have found a way into Springsteen’s stories over the years in a few different varieties. And his own story is allegorical in songs like The Promise, which outlines the breakdown of his relationship with former manager Mike Appel.

I talk with a lot of artists who are convinced that they just need a manager or a booking agent to be successful. Maybe those two job roles could help. In Bruce, we see how even passionate and well-intentioned people can do things that are not in the best interest of the artist they represent. And we see how those situations can be avoided.

What about the infamous super-fan following that The Boss commands? Where did that come from and how did he manage to maintain it for several decades?

One thing that is clear in the book is that Bruce and the E Street Band played a ton of shows, and at times did touring that didn’t put them in front of massive audiences. The purpose of the rigorous schedule was to get the music and the band out to as many places as they could to promote their albums. Radio airplay helped promote the music to a point, but touring was key. This was how music success worked in 1973-1984 even with a hit record. It’s still true today.

The more you get in front of people, the greater opportunity you have to connect with music lovers who could potentially be your super fan. That’s one part of the puzzle Bruce and Co figured out early. The other part was more what Bruce discovered on his own and incorporated into everything he did. This part was operating from the mantra that people matter, and people’s stories are his to be shared. Music is the community connector.

Here are some quotes from the book dealing with this ideology:

“There’s a morality to the show, and it’s very strict. Everything counts. Every person, every individual in the crowd counts. To me.”

“…..the fans who came out every night in search of something more perfect than they could find in their daily lives.”

“(Audience growth) happens through the conversation you have with (people) in your songs. If people fall away, it’s because you lost the thread of that connection.”

There are many other great quotes worth your exploration. The heart of the How-To guide for Springsteen Super-Fan creation is an ideology that’s lived, and has been since the beginning. It’s not a facade or experiment to see “if I do this, people will love me and then I’ll be successful.”

The Springsteen method of super-fan growth is to be who you are. For Bruce, that meant to be a common person and not a diva, at least for the most part. No one is perfect and there are a few stories where we see a dark side to Bruce who seems a bit more like a diva than who he was trying to be.

What he did to connect with people and build his following happened as much off stage as it did on it. Bruce would spend time at places where his fans would frequent, like dancehalls and bars. He would engage with people he’d seen at his shows, or even as shows for other artists and have conversations with them, sharing stories that gave him a better perspective of people who could occupy his songwriting.

Even after the success of Born To Run, which launched him into stardom as a musician, he continued with this mantra of being approachable and relatable. Two decades later he took that relational practice a step further, personally contacting the families and survivors of 9/11 who expressed some degree of fandom for his music in the material he had access to. He kept his communications with those fans private, not using it as a marketing tool to promote his tour. He wanted that connection to be real and personal, and not perceived as political or a part of any agenda. Doing so had such a more dynamic impact than what we see musicians and entrepreneurs do so often-using events and tragedy as an opportunity to get their name and face out there.

“The best of my music that has social implications functions like that. They reach your heart first, then they speak to your soul, then they get into your bloodstream and move through the rest of your body and into your mind.”

Isn’t this a different pathway than many artists write? Most “undiscovered” or unsigned musicians are writing to connect with the mind first, with the hope that what the song is and does can eventually find its way into your heart. Instead, when the music becomes a part of you, you have created a connection that goes much, much deeper.

In a recent conversation I had with indie singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons, he said something incredibly profound that we see in Springsteen’s work. William said artists must have a mission statement, and it can’t be to just make music. That’s too easy. For William, he writes musical therapy, that’s his mission.

For Bruce, “ordinary people tell their story through music; intimate stories of ordinary folks whose labors made wealthier men’s dreams come true.” This concept defines the entire songbook of Springsteen. It’s mission-driven work. Being great as a musician was a part of this mission, but there was something else driving the bus. The heart that drove the machine was the real and genuine connection with people.

Bruce by Peter Ames Carlin is available via Amazon and if you click on my affiliate link I will really appreciate it.

What are you doing to make real connections with people? How can you take the story of Bruce Springsteen and apply those keen insights into your work? Let’s talk this week about that. Reach out here and tell me how your music can be better impacted through relationship connections.

Why You Must Have A Mission Statement To Grow Your Audience

Why do you do what you do?

This is the heart of every organization, company, leader, speaker and author’s work. This mission statement defines your why to understand the purpose of your endeavors. Understanding your why is what connects other people to your cause, your music, your business, your brand, and ultimately to you.

51mh08K4bsL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_World changers operate from a mission statement. They have to because there are so many voices, agendas, lobbyists, and intangibles all clamoring for their support or against their endeavors that, without a clear “why” for their purpose, they will lose their direction. Nelson Mandela was a man of greatness, overcoming 27 years in prison to unify his country and end apartheid. How did he do it? In his own words:

“Have a core principle-that people matter. Everything else is just tactics.”

That core principle, or mission statement, kept his mind focused while enduring imprisonment for over two decades, and was the central anchor in him leading his country to unification despite endless struggles, even within his own party. More on the magic of Mandela can be found in the book Mandela’s Way by Richard Stengel.

What is your music mission statement?

Every truly successful artist has a mission, whether they are actively pursuing it or not. Some artists aren’t aware that they are operating with a specific mission in mind, but there is something discernible that is leading the direction they are traveling with their music.

williamfitzsimmons-240William Fitzsimmons, an outstanding songwriter and musician creates music from a specific place. For him, his professional background of therapy has spread into every area of his writing. He calls his writing “musical therapy” and in doing so, it directs how he crafts his songs. That craftsmanship and mission-led direction has drawn audiences across the globe to his music, allowing songs to be coping mechanisms for fans dealing with loss, depression, mental illness, and other ailments.


What is your music mission statement?

dgrantsmith-ironandwine-2010Fellow bearded songwriter Iron and Wine hasn’t operated from a directly implicit mission statement throughout his decade-plus career, though his early work is indicative of someone who wants to do similar things as Fitzsimmons: provide helpful commentary on life’s most difficult passes. His early work of Endless Numbered Days describes coming to terms with death as inevitable yet loving in songs like Naked As We Came. By making shared experiences a part of the coping process, we are able to live at peace with each other and our trials. Music is one key that unlocks this opportunity.

What is your music mission statement?

Let’s be honest and open-minded with each other: from a market standpoint, the music industry is more supply heavy than the oil market. There are producers of music in every single zip code in America, with many more globally, and all are trying to grab a piece of the limited pie that is the music fan base. We as a music audience collectively are not in a shortage of supply. Demand is also at a medium level considering the massive amount of channels and listening options available to any one person as any time. From terrestrial (FM) radio to online radio to streaming providers (Pandora, MOG, Spotify, Apple Music) to satellite radio (XM among others) to youtube, to cable TV (too many numerous music stations there) to independently produced web stations, the choices are often too many to quantify.

With all of this content, music for music’s sake is an offering that doesn’t warrant attention. Not in today’s market. There was a time when music for the sake of a fun beat and a good time might have gained an audience. But not today. There are too many places where that can be found.

Look inside yourself, your music, your writing, and the thing that drives you to create songs. What is it that you want other people to connect with you on? Be specific. If all you want is “for other people to feel like I’m with them on their journey,” dive deeper into that line. What aspects of that journey do you want people to connect with through your music. You can have a few key parts, from good experiences to tragedies, but be specific.

The more specific you can be about your music mission statement, the better your ability will be to connect with music fans who will support you. Sometimes artists have a very hard time defining who their target audience is. The music mission statement solves that problem.

I’ll ask again: What is your music mission statement?

Let’s talk about it and find out how to take your mission statement to the audiences that are actually look for it so that your audience can grow and  you can experience more success with your music.

William Fitzsimmons, the DIY Artist Route, And You

Don’t you love how an experience can teach you things you didn’t exactly ask for, all in a good way?

I find myself here a lot, but only when I’m conscious of it.

Sometimes that experience is watching a movie, or reading a book, or even having a conversation with someone. In the process of the experience, some incredible wisdom, insight or piece of advice comes forth that makes your day.

williamfitzsimmons-240This happened to me this week in an interview conversation I had with indie singer-songwriter William Fitzsimmons. William is a fascinating guy, a songwriter who was first a psychiatrist and therapist before leaving that professional world to pursue music.

It’s an interesting transition, but it does go to show you that you don’t have to have a degree from Berklee College of Music to have success in the music industry.

William hasn’t completely left the field of therapy though, and he admits it. Calling himself a “musical therapist,” that area of his life is also a part of his music and for good reason. Helping people through rocky patches and into greener pastures is what therapists do. It’s also what music does. Shouldn’t the two go together?

Your life is similar. If you’ve worked only in music, that realm has brought its own series of events that have helped shape who you are as a person and as an artist.

If you’ve worked professionally in a different field, and dreamed of being able to pursue only music, that dream is entirely possible. What can you do to see how to make William’s story your own? Listen to the podcast interview and he’ll tell you.

Like I said, sometimes in the midst of a conversation, little pieces of golden wisdom come forth that change everything. That happened in our chat, along with some other really good insights into how family dynamics change how you make music.

What did you get the most from this experience? Reach out and let’s talk about your DIY route and where it is leading you.