074 – Are You Still in The Fight? Part 2

If you want to win, you must be in the fight. But you can’t be willy-nilly about that decision, or you’ll just get crushed. So, are you still in the fight?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I talk about how to determine if you’re still doing everything in your power to move your career forward.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:13 – It can be easy to become complacent in your career efforts
  • 00:41 – Getting back in the fight
  • 01:17 – How to figure out if you’re still in the fight
  • 01:21 – Are you still hungry?
  • 02:31 – Look at your schedule and make an honest assessment of your priorities
  • 03:56 – Assess your spending habits
  • 05:08 – Summary

Transcription:

I recently shared about how easy it can be to become complacent in your pursuits as a musician or entrepreneur.

No sooner did I publish that podcast episode when suddenly I realized I had more to say on the subject.

If we want to keep growing, we need to keep learning. When we become too comfortable in what we know and what we’ve accomplished, we become less teachable. As result, we’re less likely to learn from our mistakes. We’re less likely to keep doing the things that got us ahead in the first place.

Getting back in the fight means returning to those core fundamentals and doing the right things to stimulate growth. As we generate value, it returns to us multiplied. We don’t get to choose how or when that happens. But if we keep adding value to those around us, we will reap a harvest at the appropriate time.

Staying in the fight means doing the right things to stimulate growth in your life. Share on X

You may still be in the fight, and if you are, good for you. Keep going!

But if you’re not sure if you’re fully committed to your goals and dreams yet, or you feel like you may have gotten off track in some way, you’ll want to consider whether you’re still in the fight. Here are…

3 Simple Ways to Evaluate Whether You’re Still in The Fight

1. Determine Whether You’re Hungry

When I say “hungry”, I’m not asking whether you’re feeling hunger pangs in your stomach, as much as that can be a strong motivator.

I’m asking if you still have the desire to learn and grow.

When you’re hungry for knowledge, you will go to any length to learn what you need to know to make progress in your career and life. Nothing will stop you on that path.

When you’re hungry for knowledge, you will go to any length to learn what you need to know to make progress in your career and life. Nothing will stop you on that path. Share on X

If you aren’t all-in, your desire to learn and grow may be smaller than your desire for comfort. So, you won’t risk yourself as much. You may still put time and effort into your learning, but you won’t go the extra mile as a person who’s hungry for growth would.

So, if you’re seeing possibilities and opportunities ahead, and you aren’t taking proactive steps to move in their direction, you probably aren’t hungry.

Unfortunately, in my experience, it’s impossible to make yourself hungry. Until you feel the tension between where you are and where you want to be, you may have no desire to change. The good news is if you’re surrounded by people who want to see you succeed, you will likely feel the urge to make forward progress in due time, especially as you watch as others take their careers to greater heights.

2. Look At Your Schedule From The Past Month

Make an honest assessment of your priorities based on what you did this past month.

Actions speak louder than words. I would even go so far as to say actions reveal a person’s motives more readily than their words.

Actions speak louder than words. I would even go so far as to say actions reveal a person’s motives more readily than their words. Share on X

There is no one truly mysterious in this world, because you can learn exactly what they’re about just by watching what they do. Quiet, vague, or private people are relatively easy to figure out if you spend enough time around them.

But let’s get back to the subject of you, because that’s what we’re talking about right now.

What does your schedule say about the reality of who you are, versus the ideal you see in your mind’s eye?

Were you watching Netflix when you should have been writing music? Did you get distracted by Facebook when you should have been sending emails to promoters, event organizers, and venue owners? Did you go out with your friends when you know you should have booked one more rehearsal before an important gig?

It’s understandable that you might take the occasional break or lose your focus here and there, but you’re simply not in the fight if you haven’t been taking the steps necessary to get to where you want to go. You’re not fully engaged if you’ve only been doing a little here and there and poking at your projects instead of staying consistent and doing something daily to achieve your goals.

If you’re in the fight, your schedule will reflect this fact.

3. Assess Your Spending Habits

In addition to your schedule, how you spend your money will also reveal your priorities, sometimes in unexpected ways.

How you spend your money will also reveal your priorities, sometimes in unexpected ways. Share on X

If you’re serious about your growth, your money should be going towards books, audio or video programs, courses, conferences and events, magazine subscriptions, membership dues, and so forth.

If you’re serious about your music career, you should be investing into your music, merch, and marketing.

But is this where your money is going?

How much are you spending on eating out, movies, video games, and other forms of entertainment? How much of your money is going towards home or car loans, credit cards, and other forms of debt?

Your money says something about the standard of living you desire as well. It’s easy to find people living beyond their means, because they are unwilling to delay gratification or sacrifice short-term for something they want now.

I’m not suggesting that if you’re in the fight, all your money is going into your personal or career growth. But there’s a good chance you are comfortable with the idea of investing in yourself, and you’re proactively looking for opportunities to do so.

Carefully evaluate your spending habits, and you will soon see whether you’re spending is in alignment with where you see yourself headed in your career.

Conclusion

If you want to find out whether you’re still in the fight, you have but to consider three things.

First, your strong desire for knowledge and growth will cause you to actively seek out resources and mentors that can help you make progress in your career.

Second, your actions will be aligned with your goals. You will have wasted little time on trivial activity. You will have set your priorities intentionally and built your schedule around actions that benefit you.

Third, your money will have gone towards products and services that support your goals and desire for growth. You will have wasted little money on nonessentials.

If you aren’t in the fight right now, it’s never too late to get back in the ring for another round. So long as your heart’s still beating, you can take as long as you like, and get back in as many times as you wish.

If you’re in the fight, rest assured growth will happen. All you have to do is stay the course!

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My Top 5 Favorite Pieces of Guitar Gear

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Over the years, I’ve tried a lot of different guitars, amps, and effects units.

Many of those items never stayed with me. I ended up selling or trading most of them until I finally found what I felt were the ideal pieces of gear for me specifically.

Here are five pieces of guitar gear that have stood the test of time and have remained some of my favorites.

Ernie Ball Music Man Axis

Ernie Ball Music Man AxisI was fortunate to have found my soulmate guitar early in my journey.

I wanted a guitar that felt and played great, sounded amazing, kept tune, had a whammy bar, and could be my go-to axe for rock gigs. I found all that and more in the Ernie Ball Music Man Axis.

To say that it does everything well is a misnomer. It’s not going to replace your Strat or Tele, or even your E335, which all have distinct tones that are perfect for certain musical situations. But if you’ve been looking for the perfect rock guitar, the Axis might just replace your Ibanez, Jackson, ESP, Charvel, Carvin, or Dean.

The Axis has a thick tone, characteristic of a dual-humbucking setup (it comes with two DiMarzio custom humbucking pickups). Roll off a bit of the highs, and you can get wonderful clean tones that would be perfect for jazz. Or, if you want it to break up nice, just boost the volume on the clean channel of your amp.

As far as distorted tones go, you can get everything from a nice classic rock crunch to all-out metal mayhem, depending on how you dial in the tone on your amp. Yes, you can achieve that classic Eddie Van Halen “brown sound” too, but not without matching up the guitar with the right amp (see the next piece of gear on this list).

Peavey 6505 Mini Head

Peavey 6505 Mini HeadI had read online that the Peavey 6505 Mini Head was essentially the same amp as the 5150, and now that I’ve had the chance to play with it for a couple of years, I agree. You can easily dial in some of your favorite Eddie Van Halen tones with this amp.

This amp puts out a warm tone unless you crank up the highs and the presence. But it’s a nice kind of warm, and I find I only need the piercing highs for solos anyway.

Some amps are a little overwhelming with their spectrum of knobs, dials, and switches. The 6505 mini head also has its share of tonal options. But I feel like it’s just the right amount – any more than this, and I would seriously question its ability to produce a satisfactory tone.

The equalization knobs work much like they would on any other amp and are self-explanatory. The power amp dials will either boost your lows (resonance) or highs (presence) if you want to do some fine-tuning.

The amp also comes with reverb. I tend to leave this off or at a lower setting because I can always add reverb in later with my recordings, and as far as live performance is concerned, I generally run my effects from my multi-effects pedal (more on this in a moment).

I love using the 6505 as a recording tool – not just for those hard rock tones I love so much, but even for funk and blues tones. How it sounds is all a matter of the guitar and how you dial it in. This amp is highly flexible and capable of more than you might be inclined to think. I’m a big fan of the Mic Simulated Direct Interface for recording. It works perfectly.

Orange PPC112

Orange PPC112A mini head needs a complementary partner in the form of a mini cabinet. I happen to like how the Orange PPC112 sounds with the 6505, probably because it comes loaded with my favorite speaker – the Celestion Vintage 30 (the 6505 cab, incidentally, comes with a Celestion Greenback).

It might seem like an odd pairing, since the head is American, and the cabinet British, but trust me – it roars!

The PPC112 is durable, lightweight (as far as one-speaker cabinets go), and it looks cool onstage. I have no doubt it would sound good with any mini head you powered it with, especially if you like classic rock tones. It isn’t the cheapest cab in its category though.

If people tell you that you need bigger gear for gigging, they’re lying to you. The 6505 and PC112 can put out a lot of volume, and most bigger venues probably have a sound tech that will mic you up anyway. To me, it’s all about the tone, and you can get an incredible tone with this stack, clean or dirty.

Zoom G3X Guitar Effects & Amp Simulator

Zoom G3X Guitar Effects & Amp SimulatorThere are plenty of guitar multi-effects pedals out there, and they keep getting better and better. But you would still be hard pressed to find a pedal in this price range that not only does it all, but also delivers a killer tone.

I’ve used the Zoom G3X in a variety of settings, including:

  • Solo acoustic gigs. I will typically use the G3X for tuning, looping, and some effects, like Chorus and Delay to keep things interesting.
  • Band gigs. For band gigs, I use it for individual stomp box effects. I’ve found switching between patches terribly inefficient and unpredictable. So, I will usually set the desired tone on my amp, and then use the G3X at the front to turn effects like Delay, Chorus, Vibrato, Tube Driver, and others on and off. I find the quality of the effects to be remarkably good.
  • Recording. To me, this is the real test of whether a multi-effects pedal lives up to its hype. If it can’t produce a satisfactory tone in the studio (or if it needs to be heavily effected to achieve that tone), then it isn’t worth the asking price. I’ve found the G3X can produce some great sounds in the studio, and it was my go-to recording box before I bought the 6505. Double track your guitars for best results.

Until I discovered the G3X, I was largely unhappy with every multi-effects unit I tried. This is the one that changed my mind about these types of pedals.

It’s also worth checking out the new G3Xn for more features.

Gibson CSM-CE Grand Concert

Gibson CSM-CE Grand ConcertA Canadian-made Gibson? Yes, it does exist. In 2007, Gibson purchased Garrison to expand its acoustic guitar offerings at the median price range. That’s how the Gibson Songmaker Series came about, and the CSM-CE is just one example of what they were able to achieve.

The CSM-CE is a comfortable size. It feels nice (about the only thing that would feel nicer is a guitar custom-built for my fingers). It sounds warm, dark, and deep, just as a Gibson should, though it still cuts when you need it to. And, the onboard Fishman pickup is no slouch either, making it a killer axe for live performance.

The guitar has solid spruce for the top, as wells as solid mahogany for the sides and neck.

It isn’t necessarily a remarkable guitar in terms of its features, but it is in terms of its playability and sound. There are better acoustic guitars out there, sure, but rarely in the same price range.

Unfortunately, the guitar has been discontinued, so you may have a hard time finding one, and even if you do, it might cost a pretty penny. Gibson doesn’t appear to be making more affordable acoustics right now, but the J-45 Walnut Avant Garde seems like a reasonable compromise.

Final Thoughts

I’ve used a lot of guitars and amps over the course of 16 years of playing. The above five pieces of gear have emerged as my favorites, though I still use and enjoy many others. It’s somewhat disturbing to think about all the purchases that were made, but when all is said and done, I learned from every piece of gear I bought and experimented with.

As with most things, it’s hard to know what you’ll like until you try it. The process of experimentation can sometimes be frustrating and costly, but still worth it if you emerge victorious in the end. It took me 14 years to find my ideal amp and tone, but I’m glad I went through what I did to get there.

073 – You Can Achieve Your Desired Level of Success as a Musician – with DeCarlos Garrison of Bandbasher

073 – You Can Achieve Your Desired Level of Success as a Musician – with DeCarlos Garrison of Bandbasher

Do you find it difficult to make money as a musician? Does it seem like reaching your goals is a major struggle? In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I interview DeCarlos Garrison of Bandbasher, and he explains why it is possible for musicians to achieve their desired level of success, even today.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Introductions
  • 00:24 – What is Bandbasher?
  • 01:00 – How does a musician get noticed?
  • 01:35 – What makes the music industry so complex?
  • 02:32 – What are the unique challenges experienced by musicians today?
  • 04:01 – There are great opportunities for today’s independent musician
  • 05:01 – Why is it important for musicians to understand the business side of music?
  • 05:50 – Is it possible for every musician to achieve their desired level of success?
  • 08:02 – Why create a business serving artists?
  • 09:51 – How do you sell information in an age when it’s so commoditized?
  • 13:22 – What are some of the biggest struggles you’ve encountered as an entrepreneur?
  • 15:57 – What are some of the biggest victories you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur?
  • 19:31 – Are there any books that have helped you on your journey?
  • 20:39 – What tools and apps are you using to run your business?
  • 21:37 – Final thoughts

Transcription:

David Andrew Wiebe: Today, I’m chatting with President, CEO, and co-founder of Bandbasher, DeCarlos Garrison. How are you today DeCarlos?

DeCarlos Garrison: I’m great David. Thanks for having me onboard.

David: Yeah, thanks so much for joining me today. So, for those who don’t know, what is Bandbasher and how does it help musicians?

DeCarlos: One, Bandbasher actually teaches the artists and the people in the music business in itself. We always feel that artists are undiscovered not from lack of effort but more sort of lack of knowledge. And so, with that being said, our goal is to educate them on the process to be successful whatever their term of success is in this industry.

Artists are undiscovered not from lack of effort but more so from lack of knowledge. Share on X

David: That’s fantastic, and you make a great point, which is that a lot of musicians do work hard to get noticed. But what sort of knowledge are they lacking to get noticed?

DeCarlos: Actually, it come down to most of the lingo part, right, of understanding where the money is and how split sheets work, publishing work, and how you’re seeing licensing, and how you can make money off your music. I think it’s more of they understand that you can make money, but I think it’s more to a point of how to make money is kind of throwing them off and getting comfortable with that lingo.

David: What makes the music industry so complex? Why do so many musicians struggle to find traction?

DeCarlos: With that being said, I think it’s a couple of variables. Like right now it’s so many opportunities to be in the music business. So many ways to get your music out in the outlet. Well, back in the day where it wasn’t… I mean our lessons are on their way to really be heard or be seen or get started with a label. And the label kind of like you know – was like the dam, right? So, they only let a small amount of water to throw the artists through to actually get into the industry. Now, there’s no barrier, no dam. This is open flow. And now it’s just flooded. So now there is a whole lot more to be noticed. Easier to be in the music business, but to be noticed and have a career is harder.

It’s easier than ever to be in the music business, but getting noticed and building a career is harder than ever. Share on X

David: What are some variables that make it harder for musicians right now?

DeCarlos: I guess the separation, right? It’s the fact that I think artists don’t understand the value of their data is one. The second part of a barrier I believe is that the fact that there’s no A&R of artists. There’s no development of artists. So therefore, they kind of like develop their selves. They are kind of like seem to just… in my opinion, they seem to just, “Oh, this sound is working so let me do this sound.” Right? I’m not saying that copycat styles haven’t happening a lot regardless. But back in the day this wasn’t tolerated. Now, it seems to be okay to sound like somebody else, because so many people… and so many fans eventually become a fan of the sound, not a fan of the artist.

David: And to your point, like 30 – 40 years ago, you might have heard of development deals in which labels sort of took a chance on artists and gave them an opportunity to grow into what they saw the potential of them becoming. But today, you basically have to have a crafted image, and brand, and talent, experience, skill, knowledge, the whole works if you ever expect to be signed by labels, which isn’t necessarily the best thing to aspire to for artists today. Some may still choose that route, but there are so many great opportunities for independents today as well, don’t you think?

DeCarlos: Oh yeah, definitely. And Bandbasher is definitely…. We’re not anti-major or pro-indie. We just want you to make the best decision for yourself. So therefore, at Bandbasher if you decide to – “I want to stay independent”, then we have tools in place that will support your effort in how to give you some of the tools that major labels are using right now with their artists. But if you choose that you want to actually be signed to a label, then that’s okay too. We want to make sure we prepare you for that process as well. So, in hindsight, we do have elements on our site that will teach you A&R, how to develop your sound and how to actually figure out where you’re going and how many shows it takes to be successful and things like that.

David: That’s great. Thanks for clarifying that. Why is it important for musicians to understand the business side of music?

DeCarlos: Oh man, because that’s really how you feed your family, right? Like you know we spend so much time on our art, developing our art. Why wouldn’t you spend just as much or not more time on the business side, so you can benefit from your art? Because everybody else wants to benefit from your art. Why shouldn’t you?

Everybody else wants to benefit from your art. Why shouldn’t you? Share on X

David: So true, because you could blindly create and keep making more and keep making more without any regards to the art and how it’s being monetized. Pretty soon you could be in a position where you’re exploited, perhaps by a third-party company or potentially a label or manager or something like that. So, it’s really good to be in control, I think, of your music and what you do with it. Is it possible for every musician to achieve their desired level of success given the right circumstances?

DeCarlos: To me, I feel yes. Everybody is not going to be Madonna, Beyoncé, or any of these huge celebrity stars right now, right. It’s only a certain few that’s going to have that kind of breakout success, right, where they can do all those things. But if you can make, and you can, you can make six figures as just a touring musician or a touring artist you know. You can make enough to feed your family, pay your bills, have some nice vacations, and get paid to do what you love to do. So yes, I definitely believe that because I think success is based on a person, not what others think you know.

David: I think a lot of artists would be surprised to hear that you could go on the road and make six figures. That sounds like some pie in the sky dream, but you and I know that it isn’t, and there are artists out there that have proven themselves and shown that it is possible to do that very thing. And using some of the tools that you have would certainly assist in that process.

DeCarlos: Yes, definitely. Definitely. And this is what we designed it for. The funny part is that when we started to design it, we didn’t design it for the megastar. We designed it for that everyday working artist that had the dream that is still working a nine to five but every evening or every weekend they find somewhere to gig and just to play. You know what I’m saying? We can find a way to increase static, increase the way they go about doing it and how can they “Okay, fine. I got this show right now but how can I double it?” “Well, I got two shows like this a week” and keep doubling from that point on to expand your area. So, some days we try selling. Like don’t look at it as, “Oh, it’s a huge task.” Let’s take it one bite at a time and gradually increase that.

David: That’s right. One step at a time. I love it. I want to switch gears and ask some business-related questions. Of any industry, music might be one of the toughest to succeed in today, why create a business serving artists?

DeCarlos: Well, to be honest it was never set out to be a “business”. It was set at first just to help people. In the process, we realized that, okay, we may need to turn this to a business so that we can keep helping people. I spend hours on the phone with artists I work with. Either those that I manage or those I just knew that was artists and just giving them advice on what they should do and how they should do it. It’s just that people need this information, so we have to keep the lights on. We’re like, “Well, to do this, we have to charge some kind of a fee, so we can provide the best information.” So, it wasn’t originally thought as to be a business. We just kind of like figured out “Okay. We got to make some money doing it.” And I just met some creative people that was good with what they’re doing so we brainstormed. And okay fine, how can we make this a very viable tool, right? We know we can make money, but let’s make sure that they are viable too for the people we are creating it for. That’s what we feel we did.

David: That could be a viable teaching point for entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs that are listening, because many times we go in with the idea of creating a business, something that makes money for ourselves. But if we start with the idea of serving others and adding value to them, then in a sense money just chases you down. So, the opposite approach doesn’t always work when we’re always thinking about ourselves and how much money we can make. But when we think about others and how we can add value to them then we have something that people might find a lot more value in.

When you prioritize adding value to others, money chases you down. Share on X

DeCarlos: Yes. Yes.

David: Now, we’re in the information age and knowledge is becoming commoditized. How do you build interest in your business when one of the main things you offer is educational content?

DeCarlos: Well, the part about that is a little tricky. What we do we kind of like sell the curriculum up for the beginning. As like right now it is in our platform. It’s still free for right now, but generally first we move to a paid platform. But what we do now is just we kind of like set you in a course path of where you’re at. If you’re like brand new, so we begin with beginner lessons first. And then, later on, we drop those that have a little more experience and we do that by asking questions about where you are at in the process, where do you need help with and things like that. So, we kind of examine things like where do we suggest certain course for you to take. Now, you do have people like lynda.com that do the same, that teach as well, but we’re more music focused, and we just simply focus on the business side of it. And then we then tie it to the analytics to show what you learn for social media wise, how to apply that to your social media. And then, once you start seeing the uptake in that, and then we show you how. Okay. Now let’s see how you can grow your fan base. And we show you how to grow your fan base. So, we kind of like teach you the process as well. The education part is just a part to get you familiar with the lingo of what’s going on in the music business. But the most important thing that we teach is process.

David: I would imagine one of your value propositions there is just the fact that you’re offering something that has been curated and carefully crafted. You could spend years/decades doing all your research, and finding books, and going to the library, and Googling, and finding Wikipedia articles and all kinds of blog post out there. It’s really what I think something like your platform offers as well as my book is the fact that all this knowledge has been curated and thought about and researched and combed over so that other people like artists don’t have to do go through that entire process of spending the next decade or two building their music career and learning the ups and downs along the way, or learning everything by trial and error. So, I would imagine that’s one of the things that helps artists as well.

DeCarlos: Yeah, I totally agree with you. Like you said before, let’s go into the process of finding information, put it in one location. You write in your book. You can go through all the experience you went through. All we’re doing is offering our life experience and the things that we have experienced in this industry. And just save off some time, right?

David: Yes.

DeCarlos: We just saved off some time for you. Like now you don’t have to spend all these years just researching. Now you can start learning and use that time we saved you and put it towards the process. Because there’s still the process. You still… Because you read your book or take our courses, that doesn’t mean “Oh, now I can go start already making hundred thousand dollars a year.” No. That’s not what we’re saying. You still have to go through the process to get to that, right? You’ve got to perform in front of three people first before you perform in front of 30 people. So, that’s the process that we like to instill in people. If there is something that you truly love and truly want to do, and this is what you want to do with your life, just like any other career, you don’t start at the top, you still start at the entry level position. You still got to work yourself up.

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

DeCarlos: It’s two parts. First is just letting people know that the idea that we have is a viable idea, right? And for people to stop looking at artist and music business they don’t make money, and I’m like that part is not true but okay. Right? So that one, we’re starting to get over. The other part was just, you know, fundraising. It’s another issue that you face as an entrepreneur. Above all of that, it’s just people. Just hiring the right team. Like that is the most difficult part. We did get lucky. We hired a couple of key people right off the top that was passionate. We have very passionate conversations in our office because we’re all passionate about music, and we all are passionate about putting out the best product. So, we’ll have a conversation for hours about color schemes. Or debates back and forth like here’s the right color scheme. Our UX person, you know going back and forth for our creative director in the beginning, and now that they didn’t work out their flow like the flow is easier now, right? So, its personnel and being… it’s just the time so that everybody gel together in having that patience.

David: I have an article on the website called 21 Ways I’ve Made Money in the Music Industry, so to your point, I think there are many ways, whether you’re an artist or an engineer, or you’re in the music industry in some other capacity, there are so many ways to make money in the industry that people tend to overlook. And to your point about making a team, I mean I could see that being a real challenge and a struggle, especially when you are somebody that has a hand in creating the business, and you have a vision for it and you want to see it move to a certain level, and you need people around you that support that vision and get behind it. Nobody will be invested as you are ever, but you want people that are just as passionate. I can see how that could be a big challenge.

Nobody will ever be as invested as you are in your business. Share on X

DeCarlos: Yeah. You are exactly right. Nobody would be more invested than you are.

David: That’s right.

DeCarlos: Because you stay up at night worried about is this the right thing? Yeah, I totally agree with that.

David: Yeah. I’ve been there for sure. On the flipside, what are some of the biggest victories you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur?

DeCarlos: My team. At the end of the day, like anything else kind of like falls in place as long as your team believes in the vision that you are trying to take. Because as an entrepreneur in any company, the main thing that you run into is funding, right? That’s always going to be an issue, trying to… Especially when the days of where we are right now when you have to have this free part first of the platform to get people used to it. Now you go through that part trying to figure everything out. And once you figure those things out, you might miss a couple of things or may fall behind on certain bills or whatever the case may be, but your team, your team will constantly work through those obstacles for you because they believe in you. So, definitely my team is the best team because you’re going to have up and downs as a company. As long as your core team is there to go through these times with you and encourage you, they know the work that you’re doing is viable work, then you’ll be okay.

David: I’ve heard some entrepreneurs say the most gratifying thing is when an employee goes and innovates on their own and comes up with a solution that is just perfect for the business. Maybe something that you wouldn’t have come up with yourself. So, I could see how having a great team in place would make a tremendous difference.

DeCarlos: Yeah. I totally agree with you on that. Because to that point, when we initially start to look for a team to help us build Bandbasher, we interviewed a couple UX people with coders and backend guys. One guy suggests us that we should be the Google of the music industry. And I’m like that’s not what we do. You know what I mean? We already have Google. So, you know to become Google of the music industry isn’t really going to make sense. It wasn’t until we actually met our UX designer Alex, our director, and was talking about the music business, I was telling him about some of the problems, and he’s just like we should do that. We should teach them. I’m like teach them the music business? He’s like let’s make courses, let’s make videos, and teach them the music business. I was like, that’s different. I can see that. That was sort of what I was thinking about. As a core thing, I was more like somebody to ask questions. I’m someone to answer questions for them. Answer them and point them in the right direction. I just want to connect with them. He’s like, “No. We should teach them.” And that was like a lightbulb moment for us. “Well, okay, perfect. Let’s teach them.” So, henceforth everything else. We tied up analytics and things like that, so yeah. Totally agree to that point. It’s great when your team comes up with something you weren’t thinking about.

David: It’s awesome. And because like so many opportunities tend to come your way when you’re getting started, and you might not even know exactly what direction to head in, but over time, maybe you begin to see certain things gain traction. Or, like you said, somebody comes to you with an idea that makes a lot of sense based on your experience and knowledge. So, that is one of the challenges of being an entrepreneur, but also one of the fun things.

DeCarlos: Yes. I totally agree with you on that.

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

DeCarlos: Blogs, I do read GrowthHackers a lot. I’m really all about the GrowthHacker’s blog. I do like the Kevin Lau’s Internal President. Making It Happen. I like that book. It’s like Daymond John’s book [Rise and Grind: Outperform, Outwork, and Outhustle Your Way to a More Successful and Rewarding Life]. Daymond is the guy who started Fubu. The Power of No is a great book. But most of the times it’s just really the GrowthHackers. I’m on there a lot. Podcasts, I listen to different podcasts. There is no one in particular that I listen to. Like okay, I get information from… I’m more of a reader more than anything. So yeah, I like the GrowthHackers. There’s a lot of great case studies from what I’m in trying to do. Like okay. Like the story of Slack and things like that was amazing.

David: That’s great. A Couple of resources for people to check out. We like to geek out a bit on the show. So, what tools and apps are you using to run your business?

DeCarlos: Oh, hands down Intercom. Intercom is amazing. It is the best tool that we have right now. Of course, we use Slack in the office, just for interacting and doing things that keep people up to date, but Intercom we use just for customer engagement. We’re starting to dabble with Heap a little bit as well for reading analytics. Yeah, these couple of things. I’m sure when you talk to my design team, we probably have a thousand more that we use. But for me that was the ones I’m using. Definitely Slack and Intercom. I love Intercom.

David: Yeah, communication being a critical part of your business, and of course your team members. It makes sense that those are your couple of picks that you would select.

DeCarlos: Yes.

David: Well, it’s been a great conversation. Is there anything else I should have asked?

DeCarlos: No. But you can follow us on our social media – Instagram, Facebook is all Bandbasher. And yeah, if you have any artists, or people that manage artists, or moms or fathers listening to the show and their kids want to be in the music industry, please log on to bandbasher.com and start familiarizing yourself with just what this industry is about. Because if your kids love it and you support them, or you’re backing them, or if you are a friend and you have a friend that you feel is a great musician or great artist, then you need to learn this, so you can help them out.

David: Fantastic! Well, thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you for your time and for your generosity, DeCarlos.

DeCarlos: Yeah, David. Thank you so much man for having us onboard. Thank you.

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How to Make Money as a DJ

Welcome, music entrepreneur!This post comes to us via Graham Aubrey of Disc Jockey Geek.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to publish a piece on The Music Entrepreneur HQ, you can find our guidelines here.

Now, let’s get right to the good stuff.

Being a DJ is arguably one of the most enjoyable professions in existence.

Hell, your job is literally getting people up and onto the dancefloor and having a good time – how could you not love it?

But something that many of us quickly realize when we take that first step into the industry is that it isn’t as easy as we imagined it to be. No matter the skillset, it isn’t that glamorous. There’s a striking lack of backstage parties, a notable absence of groupies, and most importantly, a significant lack of work available.

The DJ world is highly competitive.

Every man and his dog know a good DJ, and as a result, getting gigs can be challenging.

This can make it incredibly difficult to make a living as a ‘professional’ DJ.

And suddenly our dream job isn’t what we thought it would be…

But there are a few things we can do to keep the work floating in and build our reputation as a solid and high-quality DJ.

Now I should also note that I am assuming that you have all the necessary equipment to make some money as a DJ, and your skillset is also up to scratch.

With this article I’m not going to be teaching you how to DJ, I’m going to be outlining some key aspects of making money as DJ – something that is often much harder than it is made out to be.

Get Busy Online

As much as we would like to believe that we can let our music do the talking and the work will simply roll in, this obviously isn’t the case. A large part of getting work and developing a solid reputation comes down to building an online presence and promoting the absolute heck out of yourself.

Create a Facebook page dedicated solely to you as a musician, and start posting frequent updates. A large part of this should be posting mixes on a regular basis, so people know what you sound like.

You will also need a place to post your music and have it readily available for listeners. Taking this into consideration, your two best options are unquestionably SoundCloud and YouTube.

These are ideal platforms for you to post your music, where it can then be linked through to your other social media accounts easily and efficiently.

Create a presence and then create a following.

Make More Friends

Now this isn’t to say that you don’t already have enough friends – I’m sure you have plenty – I am specifically talking about meeting with people who already have both feet well and are truly planted within the industry.

This means taking the time out of your schedule to network, and network hard.

Familiarize yourself with local clubs, and get friendly with promoters, bartenders, and if possible, club owners. Put yourself at the forefront of their mind, and give them the opportunity to listen to some of your work (that online presence is starting to pay dividends…).

The good news is that most clubs are always happy to get some new DJs through the door – assuming they are any good.

So, if you’re good, and there’s an easy way to hear what you sound like, it shouldn’t be all that challenging to get that first gig.

And a bit of a note on this: for that first gig, get as many of your friends to come along as you possibly can. If you can bring 20+ people on your first night, you’re starting to look like a pretty safe bet.

DJ Weddings

During those early stages when all you want to do is play your personal mixes to a crowd, the thought of working as a wedding DJ may not be all that appealing.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not lucrative.

When you are first starting out and trying to build a presence within the local club scene, working as a wedding DJ is a great way to get a bit of extra cash into your bank account, while also providing you with an opportunity to hone your live skills.

And if you want your personal brand to remain separate from the event DJ industry, you can sign with an event firm. This will allow you to work as a wedding DJ covertly, ensuring that you can keep paying the bills while continually building up your personal DJ entity.

Explore Every Avenue

There are some genuine positives associated with living in the era of technological wonder that we do – one of which relates to our ability to make money without having to leave our own living room.

Now, again, this is much more of a challenge than many think, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

As a DJ, you have a somewhat unique set of skills. You can capitalize on these skills in an online setting, allowing you to make some money and build your brand even further.

And as a bonus, you can think outside the box on these.

You could work as a freelance musician, creating tracks for websites and video advertisements.

You could create and sell “how to DJ’” tutorials, providing video demonstrations of specific skills and techniques. This could also revolve around the specific software you recommend, and the equipment that you believe to be most beneficial.

You could start a blog, a vlog, or a podcast.

The online world is literally your oyster – so make the most of it!

Takeaway Message

As much as it pains me to say, the DJ world is not as easy and as glamorous as it was once made out to be. To make it as a DJ in this modern age, you need to be highly skilled, extremely dedicated, and incredibly savvy.

In saying that, making money as a DJ isn’t impossible.

By using some of the tips outlined in this article, you can slowly build your brand and work yourself towards becoming a full-time DJ – all while paying the bills on time.

The Best Acoustic Guitars For Beginners

This guest post comes to us via Nadav Biran, who shares about some of the best beginner acoustic guitars on the market.

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Whether you want to learn guitar or you’ve already started, investing in your own guitar is something every beginner needs to consider. Guitars can be found in almost every store. The choices are endless, and finding a suitable acoustic guitar is important. The instrument could be accompanying you for years to come, after all.

And it’s a big decision. The guitar you choose will probably be with you for a long time.

I got my first guitar – a Yamaha C40 – when I was 12. And now, 15 years later, I still play it. Call me sentimental, but I may never get rid of that six-string.

So, I hope this article helps you find the best acoustic guitar for you.

Won’t Any Guitar Work Just Fine?

Technically, you could go to your local pawn shop and pick out the first acoustic guitar you see. You could even learn on that guitar.

But honestly, you don’t want to do that.

There are characteristics of a guitar, like intonation (how it sounds as you move up the neck), action (the distance between the strings and the neck), and how well it holds a tune, that will affect how you learn. You don’t want to learn on an out-of-tune guitar or one that’s difficult to play because of the high action.

So, yes, any guitar could work for a beginner. But how serious are you about learning guitar?

Play Before You Pay

When I went to buy my first guitar, I brought my uncle with me – a fantastic guitarist and an amateur luthier. He knew his stuff when it came to acoustic guitars, and he was super helpful when it came to choosing the right one.

If possible, try to get a guitar from a physical music store. It’s best to play the instrument before you pay for it. So, if you have a friend or relative who’s an expert, or at least an experienced guitarist, ask if they’ll come with you to the guitar store.

The reason for this is because every guitar – even those of the same make and model – is different. Guitars are often handmade, so they can be ever so slightly different. Maybe one Martin DCX1E has a slight buzz on the 11th fret while another one has slightly higher action.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a music store in your area, you can always buy online.

The Best Of The Best

Now we can get down to the nitty-gritty of what guitars and models you should consider. These are the best acoustic guitars for beginners.

Martin DCX1E

Martin DCX1EThis is the guitar I own, and I love it. It has a full, warm sound (something Martins are known for) and it stands up to temperature and humidity changes pretty well.

The only reason it may not be one of your first choices is the price – it sits around the $600 mark. Many new guitarists don’t have that kind of money.

Pros:

  • Full, warm sound.
  • Reliable (holds tune, does well with weather changes).

Cons:

  • Not as affordable as other guitars.

Martin LX Little Martin ¾ Scale Acoustic Guitar

Martin LX Little Martin ¾ Scale Acoustic GuitarThis ¾ size guitar is a great one for beginners, especially for people who want to travel with it. It’s definitely a fun guitar to play and the intonation stays consistent.

Pros:

  • Convenient size.
  • Good for people of smaller stature.

Cons:

  • Not as affordable as other guitars ($400 – 500).

Yamaha FG730

Yamaha FG730For about $300, the FG730 is a pretty good deal. It holds a nice tune and usually has decent intonation.

However, some users have said that it’s too bright and “tinny,” rather than having a full and rich sound.

Pros:

  • Holds a tune well.

Cons:

  • Too bright, tinny.

Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic-Electric Guitar

Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic-Electric GuitarEpiphone is a trusted name in the music world, and the Dove Pro is no exception. What’s cool about this guitar is that it’s acoustic-electric, meaning you can plug it into an amp or audio interface.

Pros:

  • Good intonation.
  • Acoustic-electric.

Cons:

  • Not always consistent constructions between models (that’s why you should play any guitar before you buy it).

Luna Safari Supreme

Luna Safari SupremeLike the Martin LX Little Martin, the Safari Supreme is a ¾ size guitar, making it great for children or someone who just prefers a smaller instrument. Plus, this one is very affordable, coming in at under $200.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Convenient size.

Cons:

  • Not acoustic-electric.

Takamine G Series Dreadnought

Takamine G Series DreadnoughtAfter travelling to several music shops with my uncle, I ended up buying a Takamine, my first purchased guitar. Takamines are generally decent guitars, although I didn’t properly care for mine and it developed cracks in the body.

The G Series is another guitar worth looking at as a beginner.

Pros:

  • Rich sound.
  • Stays in tune.

Cons:

  • Not acoustic-electric.

Washburn WD 10S

Washburn WD 10SThis is a very good deal – an acoustic guitar with a full-bodied sound for an affordable price (roughly $200 or so).

The only downside is that it does not have is a cutaway for chords higher up on the neck.

Pros:

  • Affordable.
  • Full sound.

Cons:

  • No cutaway.

Taylor GS Mini

Taylor GS MiniIn my experience, Taylors usually have a brighter sound compared to other guitars, but the GS Mini offers a nice, full sound. It’s smaller than a standard guitar too, so it’s easy to carry around.

Pros:

  • Full-bodied sound.
  • Convenient size.

Cons:

  • Not acoustic-electric.

Alvarez Artist Series AD30

Alvarez Artist Series AD30The Alvarez Artist Series AD30 guitar is one of our top picks for beginners. It has a full and rich sound, and you can get one for under $300 – a nice balance of quality and affordability.

Pros:

  • Stays in tune.
  • Affordable.

Cons:

  • Not acoustic-electric.

Our Top Recommended Guitar: Seagull S6

Seagull S6Seagull makes nice guitars, and the S6 is our top pick as the best guitar for beginners. This is the ultimate mix of a great sounding guitar that’s also friendly on your wallet.

Pros:

  • Great sound.
  • Affordable (especially considering its high quality).

Cons:

  • Not acoustic-electric.

How Does It Feel?

Ultimately, choosing the right guitar comes down to how it feels to you. You have the final say, not some guitar reviewer.

So, if you go to a music store, play every one of these guitars, and you’re having trouble deciding between a few, just let your fingers and ears tell you which to choose.

You’ll be spending a lot of time with this new guitar, so let your knowledge and your gut instinct work together to make the choice.

Ask yourself: how does the guitar feel in my arms and in my ears? That’s what matters most!