David Andrew Wiebe: The New Music Industry

Summary: in June, I released an eBook called The New Music Industry: Adapting, Growing, and Thriving in The Information Age. It’s not my first eBook, but it is the first of this scale; it features over 66,000 words, and somewhere in the range of 140 to 180 pages. This is also the first time I’ve chosen to distribute an eBook to all major online book sellers. This is the story of how it came to be.

As with any project of this scale, it’s hard to recall the exact sequence of events and timeline for each, but I will do my best to re-tell how this eBook came about, why it took so long to complete, and what I learned from working on it.

Conception

Many years ago (I don’t remember when), I was reading an article on an online marketer’s website (I don’t remember who). He had written an eBook on why everyone should write their own eBook, and his points were pretty convincing. I would like to say that this is what got me started, but it wasn’t. It did plant a seed in my mind, however.

Then, I heard an episode on Internet Business Mastery (I’ve been a long-time lurker/subscriber), in which a guest (I don’t remember who; sorry) talked about how most people set out to write a book in their lifetime, but never actually get around to doing it. I found it really inspiring. Again, I would like to say that that’s what got me going on my eBook, but it wasn’t. It was another important piece to the puzzle though.

Then, in 2011, I finally got started on my eBook.

However, the first half of 2011 was an extremely difficult time for me. I was experiencing some financial challenges, and I was also living with a roommate from hell. I was willing to do whatever to try to stay afloat, and I even rented out the garage. I almost rented out the only remaining bedroom too, but the prospective renter was overeager and didn’t take the time to get to know the household before trying to move in. That wasn’t going to work.

I had five part-time jobs at the time, and I even took on a job as a custodian at a church temporarily. There’s a lot I could say about that experience, but without getting into that just now, I think you can see how desperate I was feeling.

The second half of 2011 was bliss by comparison. I learned that I could refinance my mortgage (I honestly knew nothing about that), and if nothing else, that would prolong my stay at my house. After refinancing, I was able to put some money back into my pocket, and even took a one-week working vacation, followed by a one-week honest-to-God holiday.

On tour with Jonathan Ferguson.
On tour with Jonathan Ferguson in 2011.

Additionally, I was introduced to an extremely powerful self-development program that ended up changing my life, a couple of businesses (which I opted to join), and I even came up with an inspired business idea of my own.

I’m sure I could go into depth about each of those things, how I ended up meeting people that had a similar vision, and how I ended up investing in a company. However, that’s a little beside the point.

So, in the midst of all that excitement, I finally started working on my first eBook.

My First Attempt

Because of all the new information I was taking in, my new eBook was fast becoming an amalgam of success, business and personal development principles combined with music career tips. The book I ended up with certainly talks about all of those things, but I had to scrap the first iteration because it just didn’t sit well with me.

I realized that nobody would want the complete encyclopedia of music career and success principles, and even if they did, I wasn’t talking about my experience as much I was reiterating what other authors and speakers were teaching.

Beginning Again

I believe that’s how I came to realize that what I really needed to do was share my own experiences in my book. That way, it would feel more authentic to who I was. Instead of recapping what other experts were saying, I could draw from my own career experiences and knowledge.

In the fall of 2012, I finally sold my house. Refinancing my loan bought me some time, but it was too little too late. There’s no way I would have been able to keep my house. Unfortunately, this is usually what happens after people get a windfall. They end up in exactly the same financial situation they were in only one to two years earlier.

My house
The house I used to live in.

Having moved out of my house and into a basement suite, I felt an immense sense of peace and relief. I was sharper and more clearheaded than I had ever been.

Shortly thereafter, I began working on a new manuscript. I didn’t necessarily have a goal in terms of length or chapter headings, but the content started taking shape.

Fleshing It Out

Eventually, I got to the point where I thought that I had a pretty good manuscript, so I sent it off to my friend James Moore over at Independent Music Promotions. I wanted to see if he would be willing to write a foreword for me.

James was happy to write a foreword, but he gave me some much needed feedback on my eBook. He told me that the content was good, but that I should be offering more actionable advice. I should be talking about tools and resources that I liked. It hadn’t even occurred to me, and had I let my pride get in the way, I would have dismissed his feedback altogether.

But I relented. Since I was learning a lot about leadership in my business training, I knew that leaders were those who were willing to go the extra mile. I decided to follow James’ advice, and I kept working on my book.

James Moore from Independent Music Promotions.
James Moore from Independent Music Promotions.

Somewhere in the midst of that, I read David Hooper’s Six-Figure Musician, which gave me the inspiration to use lists in my book (i.e. 15 Principles of Entrepreneurship). As result, I decided to end all primary chapters with either a list or a “how-to” section.

2014 had arrived, and the book still wasn’t done. However, I finally made the commitment. I decided to work on it every single day until it was complete. To be perfectly honest though, this was a commitment I broke and re-made multiple times as I was getting the manuscript ready for editing.

To get to that point as fast as I possibly could, I chose to write 1,000 words per day. By that time, I knew that I wanted every primary chapter to have 5,000 words or more, so I kept repeating 1,000 word days until I saw that every chapter was at the length I wanted it to be.

Editing

Editing happened at various stages and was also done by multiple individuals including myself. I’m not the type of person to speed through the first draft and go back to edit it later. I tend to write, read, re-read, edit, and then repeat that entire process over and over.

This doesn’t mean that I get it all right the first time around; far from it! Any time I added or changed something in the book, I would then go back and comb through the entire thing to make sure it all made sense in context.

Anyway, some of the initial feedback for this book came from the previously mentioned James Moore, as well as my friend Sharon. James may have been the one that helped me bring this project to a new level, but it was Sharon that helped me to re-think my introduction, which was initially a little on the tentative side. I think the introduction I ended up with better reflects my intention as well as the content found within the book.

Then, when I was much closer to completion, I enlisted the help of Maveen Kaura from Discover Your Life Today. He had some helpful suggestions for me, and he also pointed out some troubling grammar. Originally, the chapters on blogging and copywriting were consolidated, and it was Maveen that pushed me to separate the chapters, forcing me encouraging me to write another 3,000 words or so.

Then, my friend Adam Meachem also offered to edit the book. I took him up on his offer, and he did a onceover on my behalf. To my delight, he had no suggestions on a content level. He just spotted a few spelling or grammatical errors.

Adam Meachem
Guitarist and musician Adam Meachem.

Time and time again, as I was writing this book, I ended up submitting to the wisdom of others. There were a few instances in which I took a little bit of artistic liberty, but for the most part, I chose to listen and to take the feedback to heart. I know I’m repeating myself, but I would not have elevated to this level without the help I received.

Advance Praise, Cover Design & Distribution

My next step was to start soliciting quotes from industry connections. My book was essentially ready to be distributed, but without some social proof, I wasn’t convinced that others would actually buy it.

I had worked really hard to grow my blog and podcast audience while I was in the process of working on my eBook, but it wasn’t easy, and I was only able to increase my following incrementally over time. I didn’t have a massive and engaged email list that was going to buy my eBook the moment it came out (although some people undoubtedly would).

Regardless, the quotes I got were very positive and encouraging. James Moore, Maveen Kaura, Dayne Shuda from Country Music Life, Sean Harley [Tucker] from The Spark & The Art, Tom Jeffries from Safe-Xchange, Jonathan Ferguson from Long Jon Lev, Adam Meachem, Corey Koehler from Musicgoat, and Keith A. Link from Sessionville all gave me glowing testimonials that instilled the belief I had something of value to offer. Thank you.

Quotes
Some of the quotes I managed to gather. You can read them here.

Having collected the advance praise, I made a landing page, and I also decided to include the quotes in the first page of the eBook. I knew that it would inspire buyers to dig in and learn something.

Now I also had to think about the cover design. I actually tried reaching out to designers that I liked, and asked them if they would be willing to help out, but this didn’t go over very well. I had identified flat vector artists from other websites and blogs that I liked, and I wanted to enlist their help, but alas, they either didn’t get back to me or were not available to do extracurricular designs.

Although I tend to do most of my own graphic design work, it was proving kind of hard for me to come up with a design I could be proud of. Then, one day, as I was strolling through Chapters with Jonathan (Ferguson), I came across a book with a cover design that I liked. To my surprise, it featured pretty much the exact color scheme I was working with. When I saw it, I said, “now that’s something I think I could work with.”

Ultimately, the cover design is nothing fancy by any means, but I think the font choice, the spacing, and the color scheme are pretty eye-catching (not to mention Greg Parke‘s photo in the background).

In some ways, I feel like gathering advance praise, creating a cover design and distributing The New Music Industry eBook was the longest part of the process, if only because I had to work on these things in the nooks and crannies of my busy schedule. However, my friends (in particular Jonathan and Joanna Drummond) kept asking me when my book was coming out, so with all of my material in hand, I finally signed up for a BookBaby account and had them distribute my eBook to all major online book sellers.

The Release

The release itself was somewhat anti-climactic. It was mostly a waiting game, as I continued to log in to my BookBaby account on a daily basis to check if my book had been released yet. They told me my book would be available for sale within two to three weeks on most sites, so that’s pretty much what I kept telling people when they asked.

Little did I know that I was checking the wrong sources. What I should have done is search for my book on sites like Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo, because my eBook was up for sale much sooner than expected. In fact, I don’t think it took more than a couple of days to distribute (Book Baby delivered my book to all sites between June 18 and 22). Amazon has the release date as June 21, 2015, so that’s what I’m going with.

The New Music Industry eBook
The New Music Industry eBook on Kobo at #3 in its category.

I’ve been steadily marketing the book ever since. Right now, I still don’t know how many copies have been sold. Either the reporting is way behind, or I just don’t know where I should be checking.

Looking Forward

I’m still planning on putting on a book launch event this fall, though I don’t know when or where it will be just yet. There are a few contacts I could reach out to, so it’s mostly just a matter of narrowing my targets and arranging for a time and place to make it happen.

I have also been thinking about doing more live events and speaking engagements to promote the book. I think I’ll have a better sense of what to do and how to create a great experience once I’ve done it a few times, because I’m not even sure what a book launch party is supposed to look like (although the ideas have started coming together). There have been so many firsts with the release of this book, but I’m extremely grateful for the experience, because I have learned a lot.

Aside from that, you’ll see me promoting this release through social media as well as guest posting. I actually spent a lot of time amassing and thinking about marketing ideas, and I intend to put them all to good use. At this point, I’m still just getting started.

Lessons I Learned from Working on This Project

I certainly had a few missteps along the way, but for the most part, I think this project went pretty smoothly. Of course, I’m still going to be taking some important lessons with me.

I imagine there are some things I won’t even learn about until later, but for now, here’s what I learned.

Lesson #1 – Your book will come together a lot faster if you outline it first.

This is one of the reasons the book took as long as it did. I had a bit of an on-and-off relationship with it, and for whatever reason, I just couldn’t bring myself to work on it some days. Either way, it wasn’t until I started putting together the table of contents that I had a clear direction of the content.

In fact, there’s probably a lot more that I could have talked about, but I chose not to, because I wanted to stay within my field of expertise. That way, I would stay true to the purpose and intent of the book.

Lesson #2 – You can’t link to other music, book and app stores within your eBook.

I imagine this doesn’t necessarily apply if you’re only planning on releasing your eBook on one platform, but if you’re distributing it to multiple sites, you can’t have links to competing sites in there.

Since I had a lot of links in my book, I had to think about what I was going to do with them. Ultimately, the best suggestion came from my co-worker at Mount Royal University, Al Williams. He suggested that I create a separate page on my website with a list of all of the links that were to be included in the book. That way, people reading the book would be directed to my website.

That’s how the resource list came about. Thanks for the tip, Al!

Lesson #3 – Be open to the criticism, feedback, and suggestions others offer.

If you allow others to help you on this journey, your book will definitely be better for it. If not for the many people that helped me – so many of whom I’ve already mentioned – this book would not be what it is today. Everyone encouraged me to bring my game to a new level.

Frequently Asked Questions

Interestingly enough, most of these questions have come up in real life conversations. If you have any questions of your own, you’re more than welcome to email me.

Would you write another book like this?

Sure, why not (have you been tracking with the sheer length of this post)? I would love to put the lessons I’ve learned to good use and write an even better book. Of course, I am quite proud of this work too.

Next time, I hope to be a little more organized. Writing a book is a long and tedious process no matter what, but I think I could put together a manuscript even faster next time, as long as I put the right parameters in place.

How much does the book cost?

It depends on the seller, and obviously, it’s a little different depending on whether you’re paying in CAD or USD. Here’s a basic overview:

  • On Amazon Kindle: $15.93 CAD or $12.84 USD.
  • On Kobo: $16.47. I think that’s CAD, and I’m not sure what it costs in USD.
  • On Barnes & Noble: $10.99. I assume that’s USD.
  • Other: it varies.

Just so you know, I only have so much control over the price, and because I wanted the book distributed to Kobo, I had to set the minimum price at $12.99 USD. I don’t have any plans of changing the price, but there might be the occasional promotion that you can take advantage of in the future.

Additionally, I will probably be releasing shorter, more affordable eBooks until I’m ready to do another major release. However, there are plenty of other resources you can take advantage of over at The Music Entrepreneur website already.

How long is the book?

A little over 66,000 words, which apparently translates into 144 pages on Amazon Kindle (176 pages on Barnes & Noble). Sorry, I can’t give you an exact page count because it depends on the format, but I think you get the general idea.

Final Thoughts

There are many people without whom this project simply wouldn’t be what it ultimately became. I would love to thank everyone that had a hand in helping me make this eBook a reality, but if I did, I’m sure I would miss somebody (you can also take a look through the acknowledgements in the book). If you helped out in any way and supported me on this journey, you know who you are. Thank you.

If you would like to learn more about this release, please click on the banner below. You’ll be able to check out my personal note to you as well as the many glowing testimonials I received from friends and colleagues. And, if you would be so kind, please consider leaving a review for my eBook on the Amazon store. This is the main way it gets seen by more people.

The New Music Industry: Adapting, Growing, and Thriving in The Information Age

If I could collaborate with any musician in the world, living or… living, I would pick the following individuals to create albums with.

Nuno Bettencourt

Nuno Bettencourt

Who?

Nuno Bettencourt is most known for his work with the Funk Metal band Extreme during the late 80s and early-to-mid 90s, and the hit song “More Than Words”. He has since been involved in a variety of bands and projects, including the Mourning Widows, DramaGods, Satellite Party and more recently, Rihanna. He is considered one of the most accomplished Rock guitarists alive.

Why?

I think it would be awesome just to trade riffs and learn from the best. Guitar collaboration projects don’t always measure up to the hype they create (I’m definitely not comparing myself to the masters), but I think Nuno and I could create some great hooks, explore some new musical territory and maybe even develop some twin guitar licks. Nuno is super versatile, so no matter how ambitious we got in terms of scope or genre, I’m sure we could come up with some great music.

Ivana Santilli

Ivana Santilli

Who?

Santilli is a Canadian R&B singer and multi-instrumentalist.

Why?

I’ve always loved the sound of a Fender Rhodes, and when I think of Rhodes players, I can’t help but think of Ivana Santilli (and she has a great smoky vintage-y voice besides). If we collaborated, I’m sure we could cover a lot of ground, from Jazz to Soul to Funk to R&B, but I think it would be just as cool if we experimented with Electronica and Rock as well. Another cool angle would be to write a few stripped-down, acoustic guitar and keyboard numbers.

Remy Shand

Remy Shand

Who?

Remy Shand is another Canadian R&B/Soul singer and multi-instrumentalist.

Why?

It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that I developed my falsetto voice while singing to Remy Shand’s only official release, The Way I Feel (affiliate link). I know that Remy is a versatile guy, and whatever he contributed to the project would be nothing short of stellar (bass, keyboards, vocals, etc). Undoubtedly we could make some great grooves and harmonies together, and since I already have a few songs that are stylistically similar to Remy’s, we could flesh those out as well.

Harry Hess

Harry Hess

Who?

Lead vocalist of Canadian Melodic Rock band Harem Scarem.

Why?

I’ve always loved the Melodic Rock/Power Pop genre, and I can’t think of a better vocalist to collaborate with in that genre than Harry. I don’t necessarily have a great voice to carry a rock tune, but Harry does, and I’m sure we could come up with some great harmonies too. Harry is also an accomplished studio engineer, and has a great ear for vocals and instruments.

Pete Lesperance

Pete Lesperance

Who?

Guitarist of Canadian Melodic Rock band Harem Scarem.

Why?

Pete Lesperance is quite easily one of the best guitarists in the Melodic Rock genre. Not only that, but he also writes songs, plays keyboard and sings. At one point, Pete was collaborating with Our Lady Peace’s Mike Turner under the name Fair Ground, and that was a great project with a very different feel from Harem Scarem’s music. I’m sure that no matter what type of music we created together, it would be very melodic and hooky.

Josh Ramsay

Josh Ramsay

Who?

Lead vocalist and chief songwriter for Canadian Punk Rock band Marianas Trench.

Why?

I like practically everything the Trench has ever done. Unlike many bands in the same genre, they back their music with talent. Aside from creating some awesome hooks, I think it would be awesome if we did a concept album. Again, vocals have not always been my strong suit, and I would love to work with other vocalists who could help me realize some of my musical visions. Besides that, I’m sure we could create some great music plain and simple.

Dan Reed

Dan Reed

Who?

Lead singer of the Dan Reed Network.

Why?

The Dan Reed Network was a largely overlooked Funk Rock/Electronic Rock band from the 80s, but they had a lot of catchy songs with great hooks. I’m a sucker for Rock with a groove (Pat Travers, Rick Derringer, Lenny Kravitz, etc.) and I think we could make some great Groove Rock together. But, even if we went in more of a laid-back acoustic direction, I would be elated.