072 – Are You Still in The Fight?

It has often been said that nothing worth having comes without a fight. Many opportunities come into our lives because the time and effort we put into pursuing our goals and dreams.

Are you making progress in your career at the rate you hoped you would be? Does your schedule reflect this? Does your spending reflect it?

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – The dangers of comfort
  • 01:23 – Am I still in the fight?
  • 02:23 – My 2018 goals may require a different kind of commitment
  • 02:35 – Evaluating how you’re doing
  • 03:14 – Are you still in the fight?

Transcription:

At some point in your career, you will reach a level of comfort. You won’t have achieved everything you’ve ever wanted, but because you’re in a much better position than you were when you started, you’ll begin to rest on your laurels even if only a little bit.

I bring this up because I’ve been guilty of getting too comfortable as well, especially in the last five months or so. There are a couple of things that shook up my life in 2017, especially during the summer. My quality of life and outlook has changed considerably as a result of these events, because I have a bit of a social life now, I’ve been investing in my health, and I’ve also been taking breaks. So, all in all, these are positive changes.

This year, not only did I leave town for a week, I also went overseas for two weeks. This was as planned, and I don’t regret taking time off, because I really needed it. But as I continue to chip away at my to-do list and evaluate my progress, in some ways I feel like I’ve been slipping a little. I must give myself some grace, because I was in full-out burnout mode before going to Japan. Since getting back, I’ve caught up with a lot of projects, and I’ve spent more time on things I care about.

But I still must ask myself one important question – am I still in the fight? Am I writing as many blog post as I could be? Am I publishing as many podcast episodes as I could be? When will I finish my next book? Could I be publishing more eBooks, courses, and books? Could I be coaching more people to reach their goals?  Am I writing, recording, and releasing music at the rate I want to be? Could I be playing more solo shows?

Am I investing in myself? Am I reading books, listening to podcasts, taking courses, and going to relevant conferences and events? If I am, am I doing enough of those things?

Am I engaged in everything I’ve committed myself to? Am I spending sufficient time on these projects, or am I just getting by? Am I spending enough time with the people I care about? Am I communicating with them? Am I fighting for relationship? Am I practicing generosity? How does my financial and business life look? What is the outlook like for my future?

As I looked at 2018 and the things I want to accomplish, I recognize my goals may require a different kind of commitment on my part. I may need to form a new routine and begin orienting my life around it. As you look to accomplish big things with your music or career in 2018, you may also want to ask yourself if you’re still in the fight. You may want to ask yourself many of the questions I just asked myself.

If you’re in the fight, you’ll be willing to do whatever it takes to reach your goals, but if you aren’t fully in the fight or at least to the extent you used to be, you may find yourself cutting corners, accomplishing less, not spending your time where it should be spent, and so on.

You may not be outside of the game, but you aren’t fully in it if you aren’t fighting. If you aren’t fully in it, your work ethic, productivity, and focus will suffer. So, I want you to ask yourself: If you aren’t fully in the fight right now, when will you be? Will you recommit to your success? Will you push yourself to new heights in the New Year? Will you stick to your goals and see your dreams become a reality?

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The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Electronic Music in 2024

The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Electronic Music in 2024

Electronic music production has exploded over the last decade. The exponential growth of computational power has lowered the barrier of entry to the point where almost anyone with a laptop can be a professional producer.

With the falling barrier to entry, the number of people making electronic music has increased. This has resulted in the rise of different genres and styles. Due to the sheer volume of quality tracks, electronic music has gained the momentum required to propel it into the mainstream.

This guide will show you exactly what you need to get your first taste of producing your own electronic song.

In summary, here’s what you’ll need:

  • Computer
  • DAW
  • Headphones
  • MIDI controller (optional)

I’ll be sharing about each of these components.

1. Your Computer

You’ll be creating your electronic music in a piece of software called a DAW (digital audio workstation). Naturally, you’re going to need hardware to run it.

I expect most of you already own a computer, and chances are, it will be completely adequate for getting you up and running.

If you’re curious, the specs I’d look for in a good production computer are as follows:

  1.     16 GB of Ram
  2.     2.5 GHz clock speed
  3.     1 TB storage
  4.     At least 2 USB ports

Recommended option: Dell Inspiron 5000

When you are just learning, the computer of choice isn’t as crucial as professionals who demand more from their machines. However, if you will be purchasing a computer specifically for music production, I recommend purchasing something with a little runway in terms of specs (see the list above).

If possible, the bigger the screen, the better! I personally produce on an iMac and really benefit from the additional screen space.

Unfortunately, this will usually be the biggest expense for most of those looking to get started. Don’t sweat it if you aren’t in a position to get a new computer. Use what you have – chances are, it will be more than you need!

2. Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

The DAW is the most important piece of equipment (or software) you’ll need. It’s where all the magic is going to happen.

A DAW is a piece of software that lets you record, arrange, mix and master all your tracks. Mixing and arranging can be close to impossible without the right gear. That’s why inexpensive DAW recording softwares are essential. With the help of the right DAW, you’ll be able to ensure your audience hears you as you want them to hear your music.

Here’s an example of what it looks like:

There are a number of options available when it comes to choosing your DAW. The main players in the electronic world are:

Frankly, any of the above will do just fine. If you had the ability to choose any of the above, I’d highly recommend Ableton. It’s quickly becoming the industry standard (primarily due to workflow) when it comes to producing electronic music.

If you don’t want to make the initial investment, the following options will give you a flavor of the real thing:

For your interest, you will primarily be using two different types of audio information in your DAW: audio files and MIDI information.

The MIDI information will be used to control virtual studio technology plugins (or VSTs for short). In the beginning, the VSTs will do most of the heavy lifting in terms of creating your sounds.

The audio information, for your kick drum for example, will come from bundles called sample packs. Finding quality samples is a skill in itself and isn’t something you will need to worry about in the beginning.

All of the DAWs listed above come with a complete set of stock VSTs, sample libraries, and mixing plugins.

At first, you will have everything you need to make a complete track. As you improve as a producer, you will need to begin to upgrade from the stock plugins.

3. Headphones for Listening to Your Electronic Music

Headphones are another crucial tool of the trade. When you are just beginning, you can go ahead and use whatever headphones you have (as long as they cost more than $20).

I don’t advise using the stock speakers of your laptop computer. It’s very important to accurately hear your instruments and audio files. It will become more crucial as you advance, but even beginners should pay attention to the balance of each element in their track.

As soon as you’re able, you’re going to want to upgrade to an entry-level set of mixing headphones. The volume level of each track in your song will be difficult to balance without a set of half-decent headphones.

My recommendation: Audio-Technica ATH-M40x

You will inevitably see more advanced producers using monitor speakers to listen to their tracks. If you have the means, there is nothing wrong with picking up a pair. Just be aware that you will also have to purchase an audio interface, as well as some acoustic treatment for your room. Not crucial for beginners.

4. MIDI Controller for Making Your Electronic Music

As I mentioned above, a lot of the instruments you will be using will be controlled using MIDI information. The easiest way to control these VSTs will be through the use of a MIDI keyboard.

They are essentially the same as a regular keyboard, but they only output MIDI data instead of sound.

They are fairly budget-friendly and will make a big difference in your ability to control your instruments. If you have any musical background, I highly recommend it.

My recommendation: AKM320 midiplus MIDI Keyboard Controller

Here’s another great guide for helping you select your MIDI controller:

There are ways to get around buying a MIDI controller. You can control all your instruments in your DAW by either using your keyboard or drawing in the individual MIDI notes.

I know many producers who don’t use a MIDI controller, so you don’t necessarily need one. It will just take a little more effort on your part to learn the ropes.

Once You’ve Got the Gear…

It’s time to start making some beats!

This is the most important part! Your gear doesn’t matter as much as what you do with it.

Your gear doesn't matter as much as what you do with it. Share on X

So, we went and found a simple beginner tutorial to help you with the process of making electronic music:

Creating Electronic Music, Conclusion

That includes all you need to know to start producing electronic music! It’s very possible to get started for under $200 (assuming you already have a laptop). It’s even possible to start making your own music with free programs and plugins!

I recommend just getting started no matter your budget. You can always save up and upgrade your equipment down the road.

Producing electronic music is always a creatively fulfilling, and sometimes addictive, process. I’ll highly recommend it to anyone who will listen. I hope this article has provided you the basic information you need to get the ball rolling. I’ll be happy to answer any specific questions in the comment section below.

As always, if you’ve found this useful, please give it a share on social media!

If you want to learn more about creating awesome electronic music, sign up for access to the PDF Vault now.

Compuxor Releases New Single, “Christmas Surf”

Compuxor Releases New Single, “Christmas Surf”

Compuxor? Who is that, and why are we covering them on The Music Entrepreneur HQ?

These questions will be answered in a moment.

What you need to know now is that Compuxor released their first single on December 24, 2017. Its name? The aptly titled “Christmas Surf”.

The title is very much reflective of the contents on the inside. It sounds a little bit like a Beach Boys or The Beatles style song. But it makes references to characters you may never have heard of before.

Let’s uncover the mystery together. We caught up with Compuxor to discuss their latest single, and here’s what they had to share with us.

Why did you choose “Christmas Surf” as your first single?

I’ve put together a few songs for a fun, comedic project known simply as Compuxor.

It didn’t occur to me to distribute the other tracks, which can be heard in our YouTube videos, but that’s something I may still do.

Since we’ve already got a bit of a presence on YouTube, I figured it couldn’t hurt to release music under the Compuxor moniker. It could be one more way to get our name out there and gain more subscribers for our YouTube channel.

So, with “Christmas Surf”, it’s just a fun Beach Boys style track I recorded for our Christmas special. Every time I record something for Compuxor, I typically try my hand at a different style or genre, and this year we decided on surf music.

What is “Christmas Surf” about?

For the last three years, the Compuxor team has been putting together a stop-motion Lego Christmas special called “Wommy Saves Christmas”.

The main character, Wommy, is loosely based on Tommy Wiseau of The Room fame.

So, the song is basically about the Christmas special itself. There are a lot of references to pizza in the feature, so I had to work this line in: “So, have a slice of pizza – join Wommy and his friends”.

The song is mostly nonsensical, as they tend to be when they’re comedic in nature. And, more than anything, the song just creates a fun, lighthearted mood that lends itself well to the content.

What makes “Christmas Surf” unique?

Well, in the years preceding, I had recorded a Christmas hip hop track and a Christmas djent track and had a lot of fun with that.

I’ve also recorded songs in other styles for the YouTube channel – folk/country, 90s alternative rock, electronic/dance, and so on. There’s also an unreleased new wave song for which we intend to create a music video for.

So, every time I go to work on a Compuxor track, I’m doing something a little different, which is fun for me. I get to emulate the stylistic approach of other artists, which is something I like to think I have a knack for.

I don’t know if “Christmas Surf” is unique, per se, even conceptually, but it’s fair to say I’ve never recorded anything like it before, and it’s my own take on surf music, which makes it at least a little bit unique.

Who is Compuxor?

Okay, it’s no secret that Compuxor the artist is David Andrew Wiebe, founder of The Music Entrepreneur HQ. Yes, I’m referring to myself in the third person.

But I could not do everything I do without my partner in crime, Karlo Keet of Catstar Images.

Compuxor was just one of many blogs or websites I started around the same time, and somehow ended up being one of the few projects that survived.

I wanted to involve a lot of people in it, because I saw it becoming a site like The Onion or Distractify. But it was definitely a side project – not something I was planning to invest a huge chunk of my life into.

Today, we publish the occasional video to our channel and have a lot of fun with that. It would be cool if we could get it to the point where we’re releasing one video per week, but I’m not promising anything, and that may not happen any time soon, because everyone involved has a life of their own.

What gear did you use to record the single?

Here’s a rundown of what I used to record “Christmas Surf”:

Where can people find “Christmas Surf”?

You should be able to find it just about anywhere online you go to buy or listen to music. Try CD Baby for now, because that’s the most reliable destination right now. Others should eventually come online though, and be indexed on Google, such as iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer, and the like.

Have a listen, and let me know your thoughts in the comments.

071 – The Rise of Live Streaming – with John Petrocelli of Bulldog Digital Media

Live streaming is growing faster than ever. Are you taking advantage of it?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, John Petrocelli of Bulldog Digital Media reveals what you can do to unleash the full potential of live streaming in your business or career.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Live streaming is growing fast
  • 00:33 – Introductions
  • 00:41 – What is Bulldog Digital Media?
  • 01:27 – The quality of content you can now stream
  • 02:23 – Why is the live streaming market growing at the rate it is?
  • 04:48 – What is the “experience economy?”
  • 07:15 – How does live streaming transform a business or artist’s career?
  • 10:47 – How can people execute at a high level when live streaming?
  • 12:09 – How can the average musician leverage live streaming?
  • 14:16 – The connection between music festivals and live streaming
  • 18:05 – What are some of the biggest struggles you’ve encountered as an entrepreneur?
  • 21:44 – What are some of the biggest victories you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur?
  • 25:07 – What books, blogs, and podcasts have inspired you?
  • 27:04 – What tools and apps are you using to run your business?
  • 32:37 – Is there anything else we should have covered?
  • 35:04 – Final thoughts

Transcription:

David Andrew Wiebe: Live streaming is growing fast. “How fast?”, you might ask. According to Stretch Internet, internet audiences are viewing more live content than ever before. 81% viewed more in 2016 than they did in 2015. In this interview, you’re going to learn more about live streaming. Let’s dive right in.

Today I’m chatting with CEO of Bulldog Digital Media, John Petrocelli. Welcome to the show John.

John Petrocelli: Hey, David. Thanks for having me.

David: For those who don’t know, what is Bulldog Digital Media?

John: We are a live streaming agency and strategy company. Also, billed as the world’s first live streaming agency and most experienced. What that really translates to is we’re very focused on premium live experiences and bringing them to life on connected devices for all stakeholders, brands, artists, promoters, viewers, you know, you name it. That’s now become a kind of an interesting industry. Our core emphasis in that world is on music, you know performances, festivals, concerts, etcetera.

David: Now, live streaming is something that has been around for quite a while, but the quality with which you can now broadcast and distribute content has changed quite a bit in the last 10 – 20 years, right?

John: It has. That’s an understatement. I’ve been doing this, it seems like forever. In the last several years the landscape has completely transformed, and now you’re able to have a near broadcast experience on almost any connected device, which this wasn’t really the case several years ago.

David: That’s fantastic. And of course, there’s a proliferation of social media platforms and Facebook Live and things like that that people are now really getting into, so it makes sense that the quality would only be elevated, and people would continue to engage with that type of content. Why is the live streaming market growing at the rate that it is?

John: It’s a great question. My team and I have kind of lived through this period where it was, you know, early on education and a lot of experimentation to now full on growth mode. I think the market itself kind of roared to life and transformed when Facebook not only explored live streaming, then they began to prioritize it. It’s Mark Zuckerberg’s, one of his passion points at his company.

And then they publicly started to articulate that people are watching live video on the platform three times longer than “non-live”. That very much changed the market for sure. I think you’re seeing the same strategy evolving at Twitter. They are really pinning their future on the kind of combination of live video with their social platform.

Moreover, I think the world that we’re living in today is really now largely becoming an experience economy or people value experience is far more than buying a watch, or a house, or a car. There’s this big interest in attending things like concerts and festivals and performances. That’s a big factor, but what’s also driving this is kind of this dual phenomenon of a massive amount of connected devices entering the market. I think the prediction is another several billion devices will get connected between now and 2020.

And to your point, you’ve got this explosion of social media platforms, so it’s interesting now even though we live in a kind of connected world. The true irony now is people want to have real-time collaborative kind of participatory discussions. What’s also adding to all of this is the quality of video, if you will, on a smartphone is now near television-like quality. All of those things have kind of created almost a perfect storm and that’s what we’re seeing unfolding.

David: One thing you said there that I think is key and I want people to make sure they get this point is that live streaming is driving more engagement than other types of content. That’s something that people should definitely be aware of.

Live streaming is driving more engagement than other types of content online. Share on X

The other thing that I loved, and I was going to ask about this anyway, is that term “experience economy”. When I came across that, I was sort of chuckling to myself. I’m sure I didn’t come up with it, but I’ve been saying this about business for a while, that it needs to be an experience business. It can’t just be a business, especially in a field with a lot of competitors. If you get into it, how do you separate yourself? I think it’s by offering valuable experiences, right? So, what is the experience economy?

John: I started to follow a lot of Michael Luppino’s comments, and a lot of things that he would say to the media. I think the music promoters of today are the best reflection of that. These people are creating these immensely informative and exciting –  you could say sensory experiences – at these festivals. So, it’s not just these incredible lineups of artists that they’ve curated. It’s food, fashion, art, culture, learning, causes.

I mean what you can experience there is pretty phenomenal. That’s why we’re seeing a massive interest by the consumer to attend and experience. You’re seeing your ticket inventory sell pretty quickly. The big festivals tend to sell out before they announce the full lineup. Several festivals have gone to back-to-back weekends. A property like Lollapalooza is now programmed. Not only the Temple shows in Chicago, but it’s Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paris, Berlin, etcetera.

I think when we say experience economy that has a lot to do with it. I think you’re also seeing artists, tours, you know, big artists paired up with each other going out on tour together. A lot of interesting things can happen there. I think the world… Again, if you look through this through the lens of the millennial consumer – that’s now I think 77 million people – their interest is let’s have an experience versus let’s go buy a material possession. I think it all kind of falls into that realm. But what we’ve seen is the music world is kind of the bellwether there, and what’s happening with the festivals, the concerts, and the performances are kind of the driver behind the whole business.

Millennials want experiences, not material possessions. Share on X

David: In your experience, what sort of transformation can artists or business expect when they take their business from maybe something that’s a little more flat and a little less experiential to then incorporating something like live streaming? What’s sort of the average case study?

John: I think the most exciting aspect of live streaming is engagements and executing experience. I would say best practice which is what we’re focused on, is really transforming the viewer into a participant. It’s not putting up a webcam and filming a DJ, or a band, or a performance. It’s making a very rich and highly engaging digital broadcast. It’s the next best thing to physically being there at the festival, the venue, the club, the arena, the lounge, etcetera. That’s where we see a lot of interest, right?

If you could have someone tune in for 10, 20, 30, 40, 60 minutes, that’s a big win for everybody. Especially Madison app who is now really struggling with how do I connect authentically with the consumer, but more importantly, how can I get their attention, and how can I drive engagements. What I mean by some of those things is we’ve learned along the way as a live streaming provider – how do we do that? The live video player in and of itself has to load on the consumer device in the first three seconds, or we lose 20% of the audience.

In addition, my team pioneered in the multi kind of channel, multi camera experience. We want to get away from the traditional broadcaster kind of forced television programming. In the streaming world, we can deliver a multi camera or multichannel experience, so you can switch from a stage at a festival or perspective at a concert. So, now the viewer is curating their viewing experience. We’re also doing this at a high-quality video production.

The other, I would say equally as important, is the ability to allow the viewer to have a conversation and collaborative participatory dialogue around what they’re viewing. Having done a lot of this — I moved YouTube into this market. We had tools. We learned that sometimes the comments and the conversation, or I’ll say oftentimes are – they’re offensive, they’re not related to the video, they’re taking away… The conversation is just not germane to the performance or the artists. So, we’ve created, or we found tools that would aggregate the conversation but more importantly curate it.

So, now that social stream is completely related to videos. People pulling away from the conversation now. They’re more engaged. So, then, we started to see this is now the whole notion of moving the viewer into the role of a participant. They’re changing camera perspectives. They’re having a conversation and the user experience. We can also provide things like polling, widget or a trivia widget, or a photo wall, etcetera. Now, the viewer is completely engaged in this live performance. That’s why we’re seeing a lot of kind of movement into the space.

David: That’s great, but it does raise a couple of questions for me. I’ll start here. What do people need to know about live stream best practices? How can they execute at a high level?

John: A lot of it comes down to some of those notions and those ideas of giving the viewer something to do besides just passively watch. So, it’s create the opportunity for conversation. It’s again assuming a quality video. You want to have a live video player that loads instantaneously. Also, awareness. You want to let people know that you’re putting forth this experience, or this concert will be live broadcast and that could be powered onto Facebook Live, a YouTube or Twitter experience. Also, there’s ways to syndicate the video out onto other platforms.

A lot of it is word-of-mouth but also cadence. I think the ability to do this on an ongoing kind of programmatic basis is very helpful as well. So, now the viewers, and the fans know that once a month we’re going to see this concert series brought to you by American Express or you know, put forth by a content partner. That’s also how the audience knows that “Hmm. I’m going to tune in and I’m going to bring my friends along to the subsequent live stream show that will happen further along in the calendar.”

David: This is the other thing that I’m wondering about. Obviously, what you offer is a high-quality service. You said it’s not just about putting up a webcam and then streaming live, but most musicians probably don’t have a sophisticated setup for capturing streaming video, nor do they have a massive budget to spend on it. In your opinion, how can the average musician leverage live streaming to build their fan base?

John: Well, the good news is a lot of the cost to do this are falling dramatically. The cost of bandwidth has declined substantially. When we started doing this, it all had to be satellite based. You’ve got to bring a satellite truck and take the feed and, you know, point it up and then pull it down and then code it. Very costly to do that.

Now, fortunately, a lot of venues have video or streaming bandwidth infrastructure installed. But if an artist is starting out in their career, there are now tools that are user friendly tools across a lot of these offerings. Now, anybody can live stream on Facebook. There’s a live platform called Livestream. They make these very cost effective live streaming appliances that was just acquired by Vimeo, I think about a month ago.

Same for Twitter Periscope. Literally anybody can put forth content on the platform. Now I think there’s almost no barrier to entry to create a live video experience. The other end of the spectrum obviously is the Coachella like broadcast where there is content coming from, professionally produced content from six stages. It’s three channels of live video, eight to 10, to nine hours a day. There’s something there for everyone regardless of cost or lack thereof.

David: That’s good to know. I certainly had an earlier podcast episode interview that was specifically about video switchers and things of that nature. They were selling something that cost probably people a little bit more, but you’re absolutely right, the costs are coming down, and the barriers are falling away, which is fantastic.

What is the connection between music festivals and live streaming?

John: It’s an exciting time. The big driving experience obviously is the Coachella experience, and that happens on the masthead. It’s all across YouTube. You can see it in all its glory and all of those stages all those days. The big experience is that multi day, multichannel, multi-stage experience like a Coachella. Similarly, you’re seeing Rebel TV as I think a very predominant player in the space. They power Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. Last year they also had Bonnaroo and then a couple properties in Europe. That’s a very rich experience.

Recently, I think Red Bull has opened it up and brought it out to other platforms as well, but they bring a full-on kind of like ESPN kind of game day approach with host and interviews in addition to a myriad of live performances. And then, Yahoo and Toyota also package up Firefly, Voodoo, and others this past year. It’s a developing market. It’s also you could say a little fragmented. There’s been other experiences along the way.

The result – I think what’s interesting here is that the notion of these are almost professional sporting like experiences in their broadcasts. This, I think become very appealing to the marketers and brands who are saying “Boy, I can’t reach these consumers.” This consumer is – I always say this – they are not watching Law and Order on Thursday night at NBC, and they’re consuming the State Farm commercial. What they want to do is go to shows and go to experiences. We’ve seen data. I’m a former… I previously took a business. I sold it into AEG and I kind of moved that market and I have live streamed you know Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Rock in Rio, etcetera. It’s been interesting data.

In this country, I think it’s one in five millennials will attend at least one music festival. The interesting related data point to that is that they’ll travel an average of 903 miles to attend. We conclude that they’d love to attend more if they can. The ability of creating more and more live stream festival inventory, there’s an audience there that’s ready to take it in and enjoy it and experience it. It’s an exciting market. I think it’s moving very quickly.

There’s an audience that’s ready to take in more live streamed music festivals. Share on X

I think the appeal here is that you’ve got… In some cases, 80 – 160 bands performing in the course of two, three, four-day weekend that they’re performing, they’re ready to go, and to take this video workflow and streaming workflow infrastructure and flip the switch and turn it on. It’s the next best thing to actually attending and being there.

We spend a lot of time in that market. We work with 30 to 40 music festivals and kind of guide their live streaming strategy and kind of create the dialogue with the platforms as well as the brands and the media agencies and say, “Hey, you’re spending traditional dollars to reach consumers who are not watching your kid TV commercials or your billboards. This is the most effective way to reach and engage them.

David: That makes a lot of sense. I’d like to switch gears now and ask some personal and business-related questions.

John: Sure.

David: What are some of the biggest struggles you’ve encountered as an entrepreneur?

John: Hmm… The biggest struggle for me in this business was immersing myself and fully understanding how Madison app works and how brands operate, especially through their labyrinth of agencies. The big brands of the world have media, digital, and now they have social agencies, they have experiential agencies, and it’s a constantly changing world.

Some of these agencies are owned by the same parent companies, yet they compete somewhat. It’s a constantly moving market for them. I think the throes of, I would say massive disruption, they’ve built their entire industries on traditional television and print and other forms of out of home advertising.

The world is rapidly changing for them. Now they’re trying to connect with a pretty big group of society who’s growing up as digital. Today’s millennial has known nothing but some sort of connection and ability to access information and experience content whenever they want.

Millennials have known nothing but the ability to access information and experience content whenever they want. Share on X

So, knowing and kind of going into that world is a little bit of baptism by fire. But it all kind of migrated in the right direction, especially in the last two years (i.e. The whole Facebook Live prioritization. And then, Twitter, and YouTube, and even Amazon is kind of going down that road).

I think I would say my biggest frustration was I probably started my business maybe a year or two early. But I think the upside is it’s better to be a year or two early than a year or two late. Now we’re kind of reaping the benefits of it.

To counteract that, we had to do a lot of handholding, a lot of evangelism, you know whitepapers, you know panels. I spoke on a panel yesterday and that helped position us as, I think a thought leader in the space and someone that the content, brand, artist, music, promoter, community, could turn to knowing that the world is kind of moving into this universe. That’s been, I would say a challenge but also in some ways helped us build our character. It’s been a little bit of a blessing in disguise in the long run.

David: It’s interesting. The point that I related to was just starting too early in a sense. I feel like The Music Entrepreneur HQ wasn’t necessarily an idea that resonated early on. It might have been four or five years too early. Either that or I just really didn’t know what I was doing when I built the website but.

John: Well, we’ve kind of gone down almost the same path. Music has become a real hot business, I think, right now especially with the Apple and Spotify, Pandora title market now really starting to return revenues back to the record labels. You’ve got artists now making terrific money touring. I think there’s a bit of a renaissance going on. I like to think that digital has a lot to do with that. I think there’s a lot of great entrepreneurs in the music business as well who are taking risks and rolling the dice. It’s a fun ride.

David: Yeah. An exciting industry but not the easiest to succeed in, I think.

John: You said it. That’s dead on.

David: And on the flip side, what are some of the biggest victories you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur?

John: I think early on getting into winning business at a company like Coca-Cola and having a very successful partnership with them. Live streaming a major music festival and helping them achieve their goals has been really, I think a big feather in our caps. Partnering with a wide group of music festivals. Getting to work with the promoters. Having to help them understand how this business is changing digitally.

I think they’ve got a pretty good handle on their universe which is challenging for them. The have to book bands, sell tickets, and manage on-site sponsorship. We’ve been able to almost fill a niche with them and say “Hey, we’ll take care of everything on the digital side. We’ll shape the conversation. We’ll do the execution.” That’s been really helpful.

Moreover, I think it’s also been… Going down that road and talking to the brands for so long is now returning pretty big dividends. In this year alone, we’ve worked with Nestle, Snickers, Coca-Cola, AT&T, Nissan, Sony, Hilton. Facebook is a client of ours. It’s proven that the time we invested early on is now starting to reap some good benefits for us. I think the most rewarding thing is probably addressing the biggest challenge, which was getting in a plane and going to New York and sitting with a massive, big, big agency who’s managing all of Mastercard’s money or American Express, or Coca-Cola and winning their trust and helping educate them, and then going out and doing deals together. I think that’s been the biggest success.

David: There’s an interesting parallel there with my business as well, because early on I wasn’t really sure what my product or service should be. It’s just recently that I began to see some things gain some traction. I went “now I know what my focuses are in terms of generating revenue.” So, it’s such an interesting journey.

John: Yeah. Sometimes it just comes to you. I think you start a business, you have a couple directions you can go. People always use the word “pivot”. You may find an experience or a customer or an opportunity that can really transform and change your business. If you can react to that… Fortunately, as entrepreneurs you can.

I think it’s a lot harder for a big massive heavily entrenched company to have flexibility and change with the market. I think you’re kind of seeing that today. A lot of the print companies are in dire straits now knowing that people aren’t buying a lot of print like they were 20 – 30 years ago. So, there’s an upside too as an entrepreneur. You’re kind of reading the pulse of the market. Where is this headed? How can I reorient my business to move in the right direction?

David: Right. The ability to be agile and flexible and change the approach as necessary. I love that.

John: Yeah.

David: Are there any books that have inspired and helped you on your journey? And if not, are there any blogs or podcasts that have?

John: Yeah. Mark Cuban wrote a book. It was called How to Win at the Sport of Business and he only made it available digitally. He’s a guy who… I kind of got into this business largely due to him. I got into streaming when I saw that this guy had created this audio-based live streaming platform for largely… His story is he’s from Pittsburgh. He was living in Dallas. He wanted to stream his Alma Mater which is Indiana State in Indiana. He figured out a way to get the radio feed and code it and live stream it. He built that into a company called AudioNet and then Broadcast.com, which he sold to Yahoo for $5.7 billion. I said “Hmm. There’s a business here.” This is purely audio. There’s no video at the time.

He’s been a pretty outspoken guy. He’s not shy, but he wrote a terrific book about hustling, being determined, continuing and pushing through. I loved his philosophy that you’ve got to sell. People aren’t going to come to you and knock on your door and hand you business. You can’t expect to be an order taker. You’ve got to go out there and make things happen and learn from that. That was really helpful.

I’m a big follower. I really enjoy Bob Lefsetz. His writings, I find him to be thought provoking, very interesting. He started a podcast I think earlier this month, which I think is really informative. Then, I like Recode. Peter Kafka’s podcast of all things business and media is pretty interesting as well. It’s been very helpful.

David: Great. Those are some things for me to check out as well.

What tools and apps are you using to run your business? We like to geek out about this on the podcast sometimes so.

John: What I really, really like, and I tell people when they ask this question all the time, you know when you’re moving around and you’re an entrepreneur, a lot of your business is conference calls. I live in LA, so it’s a car you know. You live in your car. I used to find myself stumbling and trying to find the conference call number and the pin code. Then, from the moderator I have my own passcode as well. I think this is super difficult.

I found an app called MobileDay and it syncs with a calendar. It literally takes the number, the dial the number, the passcode, and the pin. You hit one button and you dial right into the call, so that’s been a lifesaver. It’s been a terrific app for me as a business operator. It’s also returned a lot of time to my day. I don’t want to be thinking about what’s the number I have to dial into. That’s been really, really good.

I have to say to that LinkedIn, I think has added video in the last four months. That’s been really, really helpful. I’ve also used it as a way to publish articles or interesting things I read about live streaming. It’s garnered me, I think a lot of feedback, a lot of nice followings. You can see who’s reading, who’s viewing your posts. It’s people at Amazon and Live Nation and AEG and Google, so I know I’m kind of connecting to the right audience. That’s very recent. It’s been very, very effective. Our followers have also shot up pretty high. Those are, let’s say, MobileDay, LinkedIn has been very, very helpful for the business.

One of the things I did too is I hired a PR agency. I started to see there was a lot of noise being made about the live streaming market. A lot of confusion a lot of times in my world, it’s production people that are raising their hand and saying “oh, I produce content so therefore I can live stream.” It’s a little different. Watching video on a mobile handset, a smartphone, a tablet, a gaming console – it’s a different experience than filming something. There’s a bit of a fine line there.

I started to see a lot of the companies, the tech companies too, that were in just the pure online video world were also making a lot of noise about being “experts” at live. VOD and live are two different beasts all together. I think the internet was architected on a VOD basis. Meaning, if you want to watch a music video, you go to Vevo, a TV show, on Hulu, a movie on Netflix and anything and everything on Apple and YouTube.

I think what people didn’t realize is that live was going to happen the way it did and explode. Serving live show out to 2.4 million people who are on a thousand different device profiles who are also posting a comment and retweeting. It’s an entirely different business. It’s sometimes just not easy.

I mean we brought in a publicity company to do just that, and kind of talk about why we’re different, why expertise is important, how to help, you know, whether it’s live streaming artists like a Paul McCartney or an A-list artist like Coldplay. They are particular about how they want to be represented, and how their performance should be represented in a live stream or on a connected device. We’ve figured that out. We’ve learned by being in the trenches and going out to places like Bonnaroo where there’s not a lot of technical infrastructure of any kind in creating a broadcast.

Same as doing that in a small venue somewhere. So, having a, let’s say a PR agency, you know, my PR agency is also Bruce Springsteen’s and they’ve been together for I think 37 years, so they know the artist perspective very intimately. That’s really, really helped the company get some attention across the market.

David: I like your selection. I feel like in an ideal world there wouldn’t be conference calls, because unfortunately I find they don’t add a lot of value a lot of the time. But if you’ve got to do them, you’ve got to do them, and having an app that streamlines that process is a certain value.

LinkedIn is an interesting one. I don’t prioritize it myself, but I still do post my stuff there sometimes just because certain articles or podcast episodes will gain a little bit of traction on LinkedIn. So, still worth sharing, even if it’s not primarily creative or music based platform.

John: Yeah. Now we had too – linking your LinkedIn to your Twitter feed so any post you put on LinkedIn appears in Twitter. That’s actually been probably the difference, and has been really helpful for me.

David: Yes. Using Twitter as a slave. I like that technique. It works great for Facebook too, so if you want to get more Facebook followers that’s a good way to do it.

John: Yeah. And I think you can’t underestimate too the attention that’s being given in Instagram as well. It’s been helpful for the business.

David: Yeah, Instagram is huge.

Well, this has been a great conversation. Is there anything else I should have asked?

John: I concluded… I did a panel last night and the conversation was “well, what do you see happening next?” I think in my world, at some point the notion of VR, augmented reality, mixed reality, is going to kick in. I’m always at a loss to explain when because I’m kind of living in the live stream market today where you don’t need a special device to watch a concert or a performance.

I’m always wondering… I guess I’m coming into the New Year wondering – is this the year that more of those devices will ship during the holidays or we’ll see more adoption. That’s one thing.

But I think overall, I’m anticipating, from my perspective, a pretty major year and the growth of the live streaming market. I think music is going to be the main driver there. What I mean by that is I’m seeing companies like Yahoo, Amazon, and YouTube, they’re writing these big checks for things like an NFL game or an NBA game or some mobCONTENT. I understand why they’re doing that, but I think their attention is going to shift into live music given that it’s probably not going to carry the price tag of the NFL. But I also think it’s got much broader appeal. I think an NFL game has great popularity largely in the US and Canada, but music I think is a universal experience.

Viewers around the world would love to see Kendrick Lamar’s headlining performance at the Firefly Festival or Outside Lands. I think they’d also like to see an artist like Springsteen performing in a big festival in Europe in the summer, whether that’s Class and Berry. Even the festival market in China is now exploding. I think especially with electronic music. What is it like to see Dead Mouse playing in Beijing?

This is content that’s not going to be on broadcast television, but I think the live stream offering can be available to anybody on any connected device. I think there’s a big movement in growth in this market overall.

David: That’s great. Sounds like next year will be a big year for you, so I wish you all the success in that.

John: Yeah. Same for you.

David: Thank you. Well, thank you so much for your time and your generosity.

John: Thanks David. I appreciate it.

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How to Grow Your Fan Base on YouTube & Beyond

Practically every musician has a YouTube account. But when it comes to promoting and growing a fan base, many musicians struggle.

In this guest post via Sarah Jacobs, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about steps you can take to get your videos out there to more people.

If you think you’ve got the stuff, you may want to consider contributing a piece to The Music Entrepreneur HQ yourself. Now, let’s move right into Sarah’s post.

So, you’ve written a few songs, and you’ve posted some videos online – but you aren’t getting any views! What are you doing wrong? Well, here are a few tips from actual artists and recording labels on how to get your music noticed on YouTube and, eventually, by big labels.

Select Your Songs Strategically

If you want to get noticed, you can’t just film yourself playing any old song and post it to YouTube.

Many artists want to get their original material noticed, but it may be necessary to capture the attention of your audience with a well-selected cover song to start gaining some traction. Many of the big names on YouTube found some success this way. Just look at Igor Presnyakov or Pomplamoose.

Find a song that’s popular and record yourself singing or playing it. Choose a song people already know, so they’ll be more tempted to click on your video.

Make a Music Video

Now, you may have the audio squared away, but what about the visual aspect of your video?

Your video must be attention-grabbing. Specifically, the first 15 seconds of your video are crucial, and must draw people in.

Then, continue to hold their attention with eye-catching visuals and a storyline.

If you aren’t sure how to achieve this, consider studying a variety of videos from artists in different genres to get a sense of what they’re doing.

Before filming, draw out a storyboard and plan your video, so your filming goes smoothly and you capture the exact footage you need to engage viewers.

Promote Your Video

So, you uploaded your video. If you do nothing, you’ll probably only get a few views. Now what? Now you must promote yourself.

There are many ways to do this. For instance, Twitter is one of the biggest social media platforms out there, and a lot of artists use it to get themselves noticed. When sharing your music, use popular hashtags like #nowplaying or #MusicMonday to draw more attention to your videos. Don’t forget to tag if it’s original content or if it’s a cover. Share your posts multiple times to hit the widest audience.

Facebook is also an important platform for artists. If you don’t have one already, create a page! Post your videos and add links from your YouTube channel. Use hashtags.

Another surefire way to get noticed is to ask other people to promote you. There are channels, pages, or accounts that will post your video with links to you to help you reach a wider audience. Connections in the music industry are crucial, so get out there and network.

Get More Fans & Followers

Now, you’ve got some fans liking your videos. To keep those fans, you must stay consistent with your publishing schedule. Keep to it. You don’t have to release a new music video every week, but you can release behind-the-scene clips, Q&A’s, sneak peeks, etc., anything to keep your fans roped in. Start a weekly vlog. Post a few reaction videos. Dabble in all sorts of different areas and find out what you’re good at and what gets the best reactions from your fans.

Once you’ve got a solid fan base, you can start releasing original music content. But don’t just rely on the strength (or weakness) of original material to carry you. Continue releasing cover songs keep luring in new fans. Don’t forget to thank your fans. The fans make your career! Fans love being thanked by their favorite artists – it makes them feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Interact with Your Fans

Invite them to ask questions for Q&A videos, reply to or like comments, check out their profiles. Even a simple follow back can mean the world to a fan. People don’t like artists who are rude to their fans. Appreciate the people who support you, and you’ll have a very tight-knit and dedicated fanbase.

Mix it Up

Try out different styles and genres. Don’t be afraid to cover a new genre, artist, or write something different than usual. Try releasing just instrumentals. Sing some mashups of popular songs. Sing a pop song in a rock style. There are so many different things for you to try.

Look up some popular artists on YouTube to get an idea as to what kind of content people like. It will not only give you more visibility, but it will also help you cement your own unique style. Remember – always stay original!

Use Multiple Platforms

Don’t rely on YouTube to build your career. Join SoundCloud, BandCamp, Rormix, and so on. Restricting yourself to one platform lowers your chances of getting noticed. YouTube may be among one of the most popular sites out there, but that also means it’s the hardest to get noticed on.

Collaborate

Find some other artists near you who are willing to collaborate with you on some songs. Not only will your fans be watching, but their fans will also be watching. Collaborating with higher profile musicians will help your visibility, and allow you access to their fan base as well.

No other artists nearby? Ask other artists to cross-promote with you! Building a network of other artists is essential to making it big in the music world. See if some of your favorite artists would be willing to help you out.

Conclusion

Making music should be fun. If you’re not feeling it, or if it’s too much for you to handle, cut back. Maybe post a little less often, or find something else to do. Music isn’t for everybody, and the industry is a tough place; there’s no shame in choosing a different direction.

But for those of you who dream only of performing, don’t let a few bumps in the road tear you down. As the saying goes, it’s always darkest before dawn. Stay strong and play on!