045 – The Rise of Creative Alchemy

Have you ever taken inventory of all the skills and talents you possess?

Are you leveraging them to the degree you could be?

We as musicians aren’t just creatives anymore. We aren’t just business people either. We’re creative alchemists.

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, you’ll learn what it means to be a creative alchemist.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – The rise of creative alchemy
  • 00:26 – The excessive focus on self
  • 01:15 – How the artistic cycle is flawed
  • 01:41 – Why we shouldn’t be anti-establishment
  • 02:39 – What is creative alchemy?
  • 03:04 – Thinking like a content creator
  • 03:24 – The need for knowledge and information
  • 03:42 – People already like you, so demonstrate your passion
  • 04:10 – The daily deployment
  • 04:44 – The importance of relationships
  • 05:08 – Collaboration
  • 05:55 – Creating a unique experience for your fans
  • 06:16 – Knowledge alone isn’t power
  • 06:44 – Thanks and leave a comment


Thanks for joining me. Today, I wanted to talk about the rise of creative alchemy. I’ve been an advocate and a supporter for the concept of music entrepreneurship for a long time now. But I’m beginning to see some flaws in what that means for people.

The main issue is how much time and effort we focus on self. We think about how much we know, how much work we’ve put in, the knowledge that we’re gaining, how many books we’ve read, how many podcasts we’ve listened to, what skills we have, what people we know.

It’s all about self, self, self. We forget that there are so many other pieces that make this whole thing work. It’s not just about us, it’s about the fans. And it’s also about the team that you build around you. Without that, you can’t call it entrepreneurship, it’s just solopreneurship.

I’ve talked to many entrepreneurs and some of them even say solopreneurship is not a real thing. That doesn’t even exist.

I think a better place to put our attention would be on building teams and collaboration and working with others in coming up with ideas together because that’s really where some of the best ideas come from –  brainstorming with others and masterminding with others.

The Artistic Cycle

Recently, I’ve been talking more and more about why the artistic cycle is flawed. As it really doesn’t serve the fan, essentially what it is: First, we start writing our album. Then we record and publish our album. Then we promote and go on tour. Then we stop possibly even for several years before we start all over again.

But today, your fans really can’t wait that long, especially your most loyal fans. They want to see more from you. They want to be able to purchase more. I’ve even talked about the fact that they are willing to spend more money with you if you just give them the opportunity.


There are some really interesting ideas out there about music entrepreneurship. Some people seem to be promoting this idea of anti-establishment. In other words, forget the labels, forget the marketing companies, forget whoever else might be willing or able to help you. Let’s just go out and do this on our own.

Don’t get me wrong, I also believe the best way to build your career is often to manage it and oversee it yourself rather than relying on somebody else to make it happen.

But I also haven’t been too quick to say let’s tear down the establishment. Why? Because that establishment could be leveraged.

Essentially what you’re doing, if you’re becoming a music entrepreneur is creating your own establishment. So, it doesn’t make any sense to be anti-establishment. Those two concepts are completely in conflict with each other.

What I believe we should do is connect with establishments just like our own and partner up with them and leverage those connections to further our careers.

We shouldn’t be working with anybody who’s going to be dishonest or disloyal, but at the same time, we should be thinking about the resources we can tap into and what resources other establishments already have.

Creative Alchemy & Content Creation

What is creative alchemy? I would simply define it as the art of combining your skills and talents to create something unique.

Creative alchemy is the art of combining your skills and talents to create something unique. Share on X

In that regard, it’s not that different from music entrepreneurship but it might be a term that you can latch on to more easily because it simply denotes this idea that we are creators and we can create different things and we have different skills and abilities. Combining those skills and capabilities can help us create something very interesting and unique in the world.

I’ve already talked about the fact that the artistic cycle doesn’t really serve the fan. I think it’s important to be thinking like a content creator instead of just as a musician. There are people just like me publishing something new to their blogs on a weekly or even daily basis just to let people know what’s up and what’s new. That’s the approach creative alchemist should be taking.

I think it’s very easy to create a need for knowledge or need for information. Certainly, with music entrepreneurship you should be learning more about business and how business works and applying that to your music.

But I think there are a lot of practices out there that even though they work, they may not be the most honest and most sustainable ways of doing business.

If you’re a musician and you’ve been creating music for a while, then the reality is there are already many people that like you. So, to me it’s not about creating some kind of funnel. It’s about demonstrating your passion. Why you do what you do.

Demonstrate your passion - why you do what you do. Share on X

With millions and possibly even billions of people now creating music in this world, it isn’t just about business knowledge. It’s about sharing your why. Why do you do what you do. If people connect with your story, then they will buy from you.

I’ve talked about Austin Kleon before. He has a book called Show Your Work! He talked about this concept of the daily deployment. What a fantastic idea.

Why not share something new with your fans every single day? Why not write a blog post talking about what it is you’ve been up to?

If you can’t do it daily then do it weekly or at the very least monthly. That will keep people updated as to what you are doing. It’s really just a different way of thinking about this whole concept of blogging or podcasting or creative videos, but it’s a great way to be in touch with people and to build more fans and more traffic over time.

Relationships & The Myth of Influencer Marketing

Additionally, to me relationships are crucial. They are very important but it’s not about bugging people which is what we’re doing right now. We’re reaching out to influencers and say “Hey, share my stuff, okay? Otherwise, I’m going to be broke.” That’s not what you want to do. What we want to do is create connections, because we tend to overestimate how well influencer marketing is going to work.  In many cases, it may not do that much for you.

Developing Your Skills vs. Building Connections

It’s not just about learning and developing your own skills even though I invest a considerable amount of my time into that because I prioritize it. Again, that creates that very narrow track where it’s all about self. It’s all about the personality. It’s all about the brand and the person representing that brand. So, it’s not just about your own skills. It’s about working with people that has skills that you don’t have.

I was just at WordCamp this past weekend. What a fantastic experience. There are plenty of people there that know more about SEO or marketing or web development or coding a website or even selling books than I do, but those are relationships and contacts I can tap into.

I can ask questions and find out what they did, what worked for them, and then leverage that knowledge and apply to my career.

We can have funnels in the perfect website and all these things set up, but if it contributes nothing to creating a unique experience for your fans, then it’s worthless.

It’s about offering more value and giving them a reason to follow, or subscribe, or become a member of your website. It’s about that sense of belonging and community that so many people are starved for these days.

So again, we can learn a lot on our own but I just want you to recognize knowledge isn’t power because the decent plan acted on is always better than the perfect plan not executed at all.

The decent plan acted on is better than the perfect plan not executed. Share on X

I would suggest getting out of your head and sharing your heart instead and get behind this concept of creative alchemy, which isn’t just about business knowledge and head knowledge and what you know. It’s about heart connection and creating experiences for the people that are following you.

Thanks for listening. What are your thoughts? What did you get from this episode? Please leave a comment in the show notes and let me know.

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Top 5 Mistakes Guitarists Should Avoid When Learning to Play the Guitar

Top 5 Mistakes Guitarists Should Avoid When Learning to Play the Guitar

Welcome back.

This guest post comes to us via Alex Frank, who shares common mistakes guitarists make when they’re first getting started on their instrument.

By the way, if you have something to say, and you think you’re right for The Music Entrepreneur HQ, go read our guest post guidelines to get brought up to speed.

Now, here’s Alex!

When one sets out to learn something new, it is inevitable they will encounter some difficulties upfront. Mistakes are common.

The same is true for the beginner guitarist. There are some stumbling blocks, which if not addressed, can become habits and impede the progress of the beginner, and prevent them from becoming a competent guitarist.

It is therefore quite important to understand some of the potential mistakes that one is likely to make, with a view of avoiding them.

The following are five real mistakes one should avoid when learning the guitar.

1. Not Performing for an Audience

Many new guitarists are self-conscious and feel naturally shy playing in front of an audience. This is a major mistake as the beginner will miss out on the compliments, constructive criticisms, and comments from the audience that could guide them to the next level.

Of course, you don’t need to practice in front of total strangers as they may not be too kind. You practice playing in front of family, friends and close associates first.

The smiles, applause and gentle correction received from this type of audience is likely to be encouraging and will motivate the guitarist to continue practicing.

You can also jam with others. This is a valuable stepping stone onto performing in a band or group situation.

2. Not Studying Music Theory

Beginner guitarists sometimes complain music theory lessons are too boring or difficult.

Some also fear technical knowledge will cause them to play more robotically and mechanically.

This cannot be further from the truth. It is true that learning music theory can be time-consuming, but it can speed up your understanding of music.

Music theory lessons will help you understand the relationship between rhythm, harmony, melody and structure.

Theory can help you make sense of what you’re playing, and enable you to create beautiful music.

3. Impatience

Many new guitar players make the mistake of trying to play too fast too soon. They fail to appreciate that playing slowly but correctly is more important than playing fast but poorly.

You can build your speed through practice, but only gradually.

You may be tempted to rush through lessons and move onto other concepts before you’ve mastered anything.

It’s important to take some time to learn a song and practice it until you fully grasp it before you move on.

Perfecting one technique or song is better than going an inch deep with every module.

Beware of getting frustrated and developing a negative mindset. This will prevent you from getting to where you want to go in your guitar playing.

4. Relying on Too Many Sources

Many beginners are easily overwhelmed by the amount of information available on how to play the guitar. They make the common mistake of switching from one source or teacher to another, especially when they come across a challenge they are unwilling to confront.

It’s easy to find content you can sink your teeth into – online courses, internet articles, YouTube videos, guitar magazines, and so on.

Relying on all these sources may lead to information overload, which will ultimately be counter-productive to the learning process.

You need to identify a reputable online course or teacher and remain committed and dedicated to them. Challenges you encounter could act as stepping stones onto success if properly manage.

5. Not Getting Enough Practice

When it comes to learning the guitar, practice makes perfect. It is the only way to advance.

You can develop your muscle memory through consistent practice.

You must set aside time for daily practice. 30 minutes of daily practice will help you get better results than practicing sporadically.


Be on the lookout for the above mistakes. You need to be vigilant, because it’s easy to pick up bad habits.

044 – Is One Hit Song All You Need?

044 – Is One Hit Song All You Need?

Don’t get me wrong – one hit song can make a big difference in your career. And we should all be grateful should such an opportunity present itself.

It is all you need to “make it” in the music industry though? Is that how you’ll make the greatest impact possible?

I believe this is an important question to explore, especially if you’re thinking one big hit is all you need.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Thanks for joining me
  • 00:21 – The significance of one hit song
  • 00:31 – An important question to ask
  • 00:56 – Do you need viral content?
  • 01:16 – The ripple effect of impact
  • 01:33 – Why consistency is important & the compound effect
  • 02:12 – Go after what you believe in
  • 02:41 – Leave a comment


Getting a top 40 hitHey there. Thanks for joining me. This is something I’ve been thinking about more and more as of late. We’re often told that all we need is one hit song. Superstardom, and fame, and wealth, and everything is just one hit song away. That’s it.

But I have a question to ask. Is it more important to have a hit song or is it more important to stay consistent at the work that you need to do to get to where you want to go?

I think you can tell from my tone of voice and everything else that I think consistency and showing up to bat is more important really than trying to create a hit song.

Here’s why: I don’t need a huge viral blog post or podcast episode or YouTube video virtually ever. Those things may be in my future and that’s great, and I look forward to the day where I’m reaching more people and my impact is maximized, but I’m more interested presently in making a difference where I am because the ripple out effect is always much greater than where it originated.

I could be a catalyst for a lot of positive change. I may not even see or hear about it, but if I can start that change and be that catalyst, that’s what’s important to me.

So, if I only reach 100 people with every content piece that I create, that’s enough for me. That’s awesome.

Here’s why: Because I’m going to keep showing up. I’m going to keep going up to bat hundreds of times, thousands of times, tens of thousands of times, or my entire lifetime as I continue to write new songs, put out new videos, write new blog posts, and put together podcast episodes.

The compound effect of everything that I continue to do over time, the impact of that will be much greater than just trying to get to one hit song.

So, I don’t want to discourage anybody for going for that hit song because it’s awesome. And if I happen to write one in my lifetime – and when I say hit song, it’s really just a metaphor for anything you do creatively – but if I happened to write one in this lifetime, awesome. It’s not like I’m going to turn it down.

If that’s what you’re going for, cool! But for many of us, the greatest impact we can make is actually showing up consistently, so I encourage you to think about that and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

For many of us, the greatest impact we can make is showing up consistently. Share on X

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Two-Part Writing for Horns with Fred Stickley: Session #1

Hey gang! This video comes to us via Fred Stickley.

If you’ve ever wanted to write for horns, there’s some excellent information in his videos. I’ll be posting more of them here since he reached out to me with the idea of sharing them with you. Cool, right?

So, here’s Fred to take it away.


Good morning music lovers, and songwriters, and arrangers, and all you music folks out there. My name is Fred with FredStickley.com. Well, FredStickleyMusic.com, that’s my website.

The reason I’m here is I got to thinking the other day. I have written for horns, and I’m involved in three bands too. One of them has four horns – a horn section of four. My jazz group has a horn section of two. I know that a lot of people like horns. It’s really great. It’s great for your performance, your live show. They’re a lot of fun.

I started looking around the internet and I didn’t see a lot of information on horns. I saw some but not – I thought I could do a better job in showing you an easy way. Something not too difficult to incorporate horns into your group. I want to start small with two horns, which is very different from three, four, and five horns. Two horns is kind of its own animal.

In my case, we have trumpet and tenor saxophone, and they double on flugel and flute. The tenor saxophone doubles on flute. Anyway, so let’s look at the trumpet for a minute and let’s figure out where the trumpets ranges.

So here we have treble clef. The trumpet can play down to an E and up to F and G depending on the player actually. Usually, I don’t write trumpet – high C, D, that’s as high as I go. A lot of times if I get up to around C and D, that’s pretty good. All that brilliant really nice high R&B stuff that you hear on trumpet will be above the staff starting at like F, G, above the staff. That’s where that real cool R&B sound. But don’t forget, trumpet sounds fabulous in the middle of its range. You can use the two horns differently depending on where the trumpet sits. Whether you’re going to use octaves or thirds or sixes.

I never write down to an E on the trumpet even though I can play that note. I don’t go any lower than like – usually Bb to up here is a good practical range. I don’t write above a D or a C. If I’m going to have them hold out a note, C, D, right in there. That’s plenty. I mean that’s why I haven’t pop a high note.

On the tenor saxophone, let’s do a bass clef. The tenor saxophone’s lowest note, I believe is an Ab and will go up to here’s middle C, and we’ll go up to an Eb. But I don’t write much more higher than a C, low C, middle C, to high C. That’s kind of where I like to write them. A little bit higher once in a while. Most of the time, especially if the trumpet’s playing up in its higher range, I just write octaves – sounds great.

When the band’s playing, and cranked up, and you hear the horn section come in, mainly you’re going to hear the trumpet up there and then the saxophone is going to support it quite nicely down on octave and that’ll sound big. I’ve written whole arrangements with just my horns, my trumpet, and tenor in octaves and it sounds terrific.

Also, very important to remember when you’re writing your arrangement, make sure all your chord changes are set because that’s going to dictate a lot of technicalities especially if you’re writing in harmony and things like that, you want to make sure you [know your] chords. And that’s usually more critical with jazz.

So, if my trumpet gets up here up high, like I said I’ll put the trumpet, the tenor, an octave down. If the trumpet’s mainly in the staff, doesn’t get too high like E, let’s say our trumpet plays… Like here’s a good scenario for our trumpet. Let’s say it’s playing Do Re Mi, and let’s say the chord is a C chord. Okay? All the white notes on the keys. He’s low enough and in a good spot to where it’s nice so I could write the tenor a third below so the tenor would play this A, B, C.

[Timer beeping]

And there’s the egg timer. Now, I have my egg timer because if I don’t have – I set it to five minutes – I’m trying to keep my blog’s concise. If I don’t have any egg timer then I’ll just go off and it’ll be a half hour go by like that. So that is the end of our first session.

But let me finish this idea. So, there is trumpet and tenor in thirds and you can do that or we could drop the tenor down to a sixth interval which would – be there is C. That would be E, F, and G. And that would be a sixth interval. And that will sound good too. It’ll sound a little more open. Put the tenor down a little more in the middle of its range, a little more body. And they’ll have a little different color.

The other thing you want to remember when you’re writing for horns is you write – or a lot of orchestral elements unlike singing in a country western or a rock and roll band where you can put harmonies above the main melody or everything. With horns, you want the voice from the top down. So you figure out where your trumpet is going to be and then you’re going to figure out whether do you want that in octaves or harmony. Then voice down.

So, next time we’ll get more into that sort of thing. So, thanks for coming by. Don’t forget it’s Fred at FredStickleyMusic.com. I’ll put it on a lower third. Shoot me an email. I love to hear your comments. See you next time.

043 – Why You Should Join a Mastermind Group as a Musician

Have you ever heard of mastermind groups?

What are they? Who are they for? Should you be a part of one?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I explain the importance of joining and actively participating in mastermind groups.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Mastermind group for musicians
  • 00:18 – What is a mastermind?
  • 00:39 – Why join a mastermind?
  • 01:35 – Does a mastermind cost money?
  • 02:13 – Who are masterminds for?
  • 03:40 – Finding masterminds in your locality
  • 04:10 – Closing questions


The importance of group discussions and accountabilityThanks for joining me. Today, I wanted to look at Mastermind Groups for musicians.

What is a mastermind? It’s basically a gathering of people who are committed to achieving more and helping others do the same. It’s often a weekly, biweekly, or monthly gathering.

Sometimes there’s money involved, sometimes not, but everybody is there to talk about their business or what they’re up to and what problems they’re encountering.

Why would you want to join a mastermind? First of all, you can get accountability. So, others will be holding you accountable [to your goals] if you join a mastermind, which means you’ve got to take action on the steps that you decide on.

The other people in the group are going to give you ideas on what you could be doing to advance your career, so you must commit to action after you’ve decided on what it is you’re going to do next.

Masterminds can provide motivation, especially after hearing other people’s stories and what they are up to and the successes they’ve had. It’s inevitable that you’re going to feel more inspired and motivated to take action and take yourself to the next level.

Masterminds can provide motivation. Share on X

Masterminds can help you generate new ideas that will help you take your career further. You may also come across cross-promotion opportunities. Everybody in a mastermind group is generally serious about their career or business and they may look for opportunities to incorporate you into their endeavors.

Does a mastermind cost money? In some cases, it does, but I’m not necessarily suggesting that you should go and join one that’s going to cost you $10,000 per month. To get started, you should either find a low cost one or one that you can join for free.

Another great alternative is to start your own. It doesn’t have to be formal, it could be a loose gathering of six other musicians that you each discuss what challenges you’re encountering and what you’re trying to overcome.

I think you’ll get the most benefit from masterminds when it is done consistently and when there is some money involved because you’re going to take it more seriously but if you just want to start and see what it looks like and try it out for a while then this is not a bad option.

Who are masterminds for? Well, they are not for everybody. It’s for people that are forward thinking and want to grow their careers. It’s for people who are serious about advancing and taking action steps every single day.

If you’re not serious about taking action based on the information available to you, you could even get kicked out of a mastermind so it’s not worth joining unless you are committed to what you’re doing.

You may not know it yet but if you join a mastermind, you’re going to grow as an individual and as a musician. Through that process, you’re going to become more knowledgeable, more resourceful and more able to help others with their businesses and careers. So, you’re going to learn an incredible amount and become a more resilient person.

You could then turn around and use that knowledge and experience to help others and grow their businesses and careers. Joining a mastermind group and staying with it over the long haul will give you opportunities to give back to others and this isn’t this what it’s all about?

Now you may not resonate with that and that’s perfectly okay and that might be one sign that mastermind groups aren’t for you. Maybe you only need your band members to hold you accountable, and maybe you only need them to help you grow as an individual and as a musician and that’s totally legit.

But as it has been said before, we become the average of the five people that we hang around with and the books we read so if the five people you’re hanging around with don’t have the results that you want to achieve, you might want to start hanging around with people that do.

If you’re looking for masterminds or collectives in your locality, you could try searching Meetup.com. Now, most mastermind groups aren’t just going to be posted anywhere and everywhere and they may be harder to find.

In some cases, you might find it beneficial to go and join business masterminds. At least ones that aren’t going to cost you an arm and a leg, but one way to get started is just to go to Meetup.com see what kind of gatherings are in your community and just begin conversing with the musicians that attend these Meetup groups and network and connect with them.

Are you thinking about joining a mastermind group? Do you think you would find value in it? Why or why not? I look forward to seeing your comments in the show notes.

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