090 – How to Determine a Focus for Your Music Entrepreneurship Career

090 – How to Determine a Focus for Your Music Entrepreneurship Career

Have you decided on a direction for your music entrepreneurship career? Are you being as effective as you can possibly be?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share how I’ve decided on a direction for my career, and what you can do to achieve clarity and focus in your career.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Who do you learn music entrepreneurship from?
  • 01:14 – Irons in the fire
  • 02:08 – What you’ve told me I should be doing with my time
  • 02:54 – Why I enjoy having multiple pursuits in my career
  • 03:13 – 2017 income analysis
  • 04:12 – What you can learn from analyzing your revenue streams
  • 04:32 – Which income sources should you grow?
  • 05:48 – How to spend your time
  • 06:08 – Generalist vs. specialist
  • 06:55 – If you were me, which income sources would you focus on?
  • 07:50 – Questions you can ask to determine a focus for your music entrepreneurship career

Transcription:

A lot of you come to me with questions about my credentials and qualifications in the music industry.

I don’t like making the podcast about myself, but these are fair questions to ask, because if you’re learning from someone that doesn’t have results or isn’t at least on their way to achieving the kinds of results you want, you could end up spinning your wheels or wasting your time learning from them.

All along, I have been quite transparent about where I stand regarding various aspects of my career.

On the blog, I’ve talked about 21 ways I’ve made money in the music industry. That number continues to rise, and I have no doubt it will keep going up.

I’ve also talked about the fact that I work almost exclusively from home. Some of the community work I do gets me out of the house and into music venues and other spaces, and I also have the occasional meeting. But aside from that, I’m not required to go to a specific workplace to do my work. I don’t actively brag about this fact, but it was a huge achievement for me personally in 2016.

Additionally, I’m the kind of person that craves variety in life and likes having a few irons in the fire.

I recently met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in about seven years, and he said to me, “You’re the kind of guy that if one thing doesn’t work, or if you get bored of it, you always have other projects ready to go.”

He’s right.

I’ve started many blogs and websites with various product and service offerings. A few years ago, The Music Entrepreneur HQ was just one among many. I decided to stick with this project because I’m passionate about music, creativity, and business. And, to be fair, it was the business unit that was producing the best results.

After spending years spreading myself out and trying different things, I decided to dig in and get focused on this project.

If I wanted to be doing something else, I could be. But I think it would prove difficult to find anything quite as fulfilling for me.

So, that brings me to an important point. Many of you have suggestions about what I should be doing with my time to prove my worth as a music entrepreneur.

Some of you say I should be making and releasing more music.

Some of you feel I should be talking more about sync licensing and placement opportunities.

By the way, I don’t know everything there is to know about the music industry, which is why I often bring guests onto my podcast to share about subjects I know nothing about.

And, some of you believe I should be creating a university level education for music entrepreneurs.

These are all valid pursuits, and I think there is value in all of them.

Rest assured, I have no shortage of ideas of what to do and what I’d like to do in the music industry, and some of the things just mentioned are on my radar.

But going back to what I was saying earlier, I like having multiple pursuits. I like the fact that my life doesn’t revolve around recording and publishing music, live performance, or session work. I get to do all those things and make money at them, but they don’t rule my life. If they did, I’m not sure I would not have time for The Music Entrepreneur HQ.

It’s tax season, and I recently had to get all my ledgers and receipts in order to submit to my accountant. I decided to do a bit of an analysis of the various income sources I have. So, let me give you a bit of an idea of where I tend to see the biggest results from.

If you check out the show notes for this episode, you’ll find a pie chart that breaks down my income from 2017.

The Music Entrepreneur HQ 2017 Income Breakdown & Analysis

I had 17 distinct income sources in 2017, but the top five were:

  1. Content writing
  2. Ghostwriting
  3. Community
  4. Live performance
  5. Crowdfunding

It’s worth noting that roughly a quarter of income had very little or nothing to do with the music industry.

Regardless, content writing and ghostwriting alone made up over 50% of my total income, and if I included other income categories like content marketing, book sales, and product sales – all of which represent other forms of writing income – that number would be even higher.

This type of analysis can help you gain clarity on objective reality. What you say doesn’t matter as much as what you do, and if you want to determine what motivates someone, watch what they do, not what they say. That way, you’ll never be confused. You can see from my income analysis that most of my energy went into writing content.

What you say doesn’t matter as much as what you do, and if you want to determine what motivates someone, watch what they do, not what they say. Share on X

Having 17 income sources is a good thing – it mitigates risk. If one income source is lost, you can always fall back on another and find a way to grow it.

But I don’t think it’s worth thinking about how to grow every income source, especially when you have that many. At most, I would look at the top five categories, and maybe only the top three. If I was 25, I might think about this differently. But I’m 35 now, and while I do have many productive years ahead, I already have several years of momentum behind me, so though I want to remain flexible and adaptive, especially as technology continues to bring about change, it makes more sense to ride the wave than to push against it.

So, in my case, my top three income sources would be content writing, ghostwriting, and community work. If there are certain income numbers I’m looking to reach, and I am, I would focus on enhancing my earnings from these categories, and not worry too much about trying to grow the others, which will basically take care of themselves because of the reputation I’ve established and the relationships I’ve developed.

This also works well for my personality and temperament, because as I’ve already said, I crave variety. Doing too much of the same thing can bore me and leave me unfulfilled. I don’t like being restricted.

That may not be how you operate, which means you may prefer to limit how you spend your time instead of spreading it across multiple projects and income sources. For example, you might look at how to get as many gigs as possible, and if you dedicated the most productive hours of your day to this task, I have little doubt in my mind you would see huge results from your effort.

Basically, what I’m saying is this:

I’m a good generalist. I’m not a great specialist. I’ve done a lot of things in the music industry, not all of them great. I would say I’m great at least a few things, such as playing guitar, content writing, and web design, because I’ve put a lot of time into those things. But maybe not good enough to be world class in any one area, because of how many things I can do and am competent at.

No, I may not have results in areas you want to achieve big things in. But the work I do is still important. Who is going to do the research? Who is going to write the articles? Who is going to interview the experts? Someone needs to have a foot in both worlds and I enjoy being that person. There are plenty of perks to being someone in this position, too.

Regardless, let’s say I was looking to grow my income to six-figures, and I am. If you were me, which income sources would you focus on?

I could work at my music sales, session playing, and live performance income. Particularly, live performance is in my top five revenue sources, so it’s obviously possible to increase. I enjoy all those things, and I know I can make a decent income in those areas. But it would be necessary to dedicate most of my time to them, leaving me with significantly less time to write content. I would end up pushing against a wave of momentum.

My daily responsibilities include writing content for various clients. So, it’s much easier for me to boost my income as a writer than in other areas. When I finish my work for my clients, I’m already at my desk, my mind is already in gear, and I can save energy and remain effective for longer if I’m not constantly switching between different tasks.

So, based on what I’ve just shared with you, here are several questions you can ask to determine what the focus of your music entrepreneurship career should be:

  • What do you enjoy doing? Does your personality thrive on variety? Do you prefer to focus on one thing at a time?
  • What are you doing that makes you the most money? Is there room for you to grow it, or are you capped?
  • What could you do to reduce single-source dependence? Could you diversify your income, so you aren’t caught off guard if you end up losing one or multiple sources?
  • What skills and experiences have you gained through the years? How could you combine them to get the greatest leverage from them?
  • In what areas do you see the greatest upside potential? If you’re riding a wave of momentum, what could you do to ensure you stay above the waters and not get swallowed up by that wave?

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How To Grow And Nurture Your Fan Base

Lots of people assume that most musicians struggle financially, but this stereotype is inaccurate. The average wage for a full time musician is $39,142 annually, which is certainly higher than minimum wage – and the industry is set to boom in the next decade.

A recent study found that revenue from the music industry will grow from $45.5 billion dollars in 2012 to just over $57 billion dollars in 2021. This means that there are billions of people looking for new music – so if you’re a musician hoping to grow your fan base, there are lots of fans for you to connect with!

But you will need to consider many factors if you want to boost your audience – and it is also important to nurture your current fans simultaneously. Here are a few tips to help you grow and nurture your fan base.

Growing Your Fan Base

The internet can help you to grow your fan base. It is important, however, to get your music noticed by an audience that will appreciate it, rather than just any audience. You can find the right audience by setting up social media profiles (such as Instagram, SoundCloud and YouTube) and using relevant hashtags (such as #garage or #jazz) to help expand your fan base.

It’s also important to get your music in front of influencers. You can post to your own social media profiles as much as you want, but if you can get your music shared on other popular websites and social media pages and profiles, you’ll extend your reach.

For instance, there are plenty of reviewers and bloggers who run websites that are focused on a specific genre of music, and if your music fits what they’re looking for, they may help you promote your music. You might assume that no one would be interested in covering your music, but you won’t know unless you ask. Most bloggers are always looking for new artists to cover.

Another way to grow your fan base is by asking for feedback from experienced, professional musicians. Your music may have potential, but if the quality is low, you will struggle to pull in new fans. As result, asking professional musicians for feedback can be quite helpful, especially if you are just starting out. They may be able to give you songwriting and recording tips, and this can help you elevate the quality of your content.

The final way that you can grow your fan base is by asking your connections for some help. If you know any other musicians or people who run music websites, ask them if they can give you any advice or tips to help you grow. Most people who work in the music industry want the industry to thrive, so it is very likely that they will help you out – and they may even be able to help you get discounted studio time, which is a great way to produce high quality music. Even if the answer is “no”, you’ll be in the same position you were before you started, so you have nothing to lose.

Nurturing Your Fan Base

It is also very important to nurture your current fan base, as they are already supportive and loyal, so they are more likely to buy something from you. One of the best things you can do for your fan base is show your appreciation. People like to feel appreciated.

So, for example, you could start a customer loyalty program and promote it with a monthly newsletter that includes links to your new music and updates about your band. This shows that you appreciate your loyal fans, and it will increase sales too.

Another way you can nurture your fan base is by starting contests for loyal fans. You could hold contests to give away free tickets, CDs or T-shirts, and you can benefit your most loyal fans by promoting it exclusively to your email list.

This is a simple way to show your fans that you appreciate their support, and it also means they are more likely to engage with your monthly newsletter. It is worth noting that you shouldn’t send out weekly newsletters, as this can feel pushy and overly promotional.

Conclusion

It is very easy to grow and nurture your fan base; you just need to put a little time and effort in. If you don’t have much money, don’t worry about it; most of the methods on this list are completely free or very affordable to execute.

Don’t forget – it’s important to grow and nurture your fan base. Merely growing it and ignoring your existing fan base could cause your fan numbers to drop. Plus, you’ll be ignoring the most profitable segment of your fan base.

It's important to grow and nurture your fan base. Share on X

Likewise, if you only nurture your existing fan base, you probably won’t be reaching many new fans. Growing your fan base takes more effort, but if you want to increase your revenue and popularity, this is what you’ll need to do.

089 – How to Make Monthly Recurring Revenue as a Musician – with Brian Poillucci of EVO Band Apps

Musicians must start from scratch every single month. Streams, music sales, merch sales, and paid gigs rarely happen on autopilot, and must be actively pursued. But what if there was a way to generate a predictable monthly income without having to chase after it?

In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I chat with Brian Poillucci of EVO Band Apps, who shares about the power of his new app that can help you monetize your music like never before.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:14 – Introductions
  • 00:24 – What is EVO Band Apps?
  • 03:58 – We’re all in the content business now
  • 08:31 – Relationship marketing
  • 13:35 – The recurring business model
  • 16:40 – Building your email list
  • 18:25 – Automating fan engagement
  • 21:35 – What monetization opportunities are musicians missing out on?
  • 28:07 – Affiliate marketing
  • 31:57 – Creativity and business: are they in conflict?
  • 33:51 – Musicians will buy what they perceive as being essential to their career
  • 35:35 – Final thoughts

Transcription:

David: All right. Today, I’m chatting with founder of EVO Band Apps, Brian Poillucci. How are you today Brian?

Brian: Doing really good. How are you doing, man?

David: I’m doing great. Thank you for asking. Let’s get right into this. What is EVO Band Apps?

Brian: Oh, well, that’s kind of a long story in itself. Long story really is I am a digital marketer by trade but really, I’m just a guitar player and an audio engineer, right, at the end of the day.

Recording my first album got wicked into the studio side of things. I wound up going to school for audio engineering and that’s where my passion laid and was but years ago trying to make money.

And we know the recording studio business has changed. I’m sure I’ve heard other episodes, and other people, the whole recording structure and business has changed so you don’t need to come to the studio and pay me anymore basically of recording music.

So, back in 2008 we tried to figure out how to keep the studio business really going and that led to a lot of online mixing and mastering, which I started dipping my toes into the online advertising world in general.

That did well for a while, but it turned into me helping other friends evolve and adapt especially as a digital guy, right? We’ve as musicians, we’ve all lived through the analog to digital change, right? We all went from the tape to the decks and hard drives we’re on now. It’s the same thing in business that’s evolved.

Helping other bands and friends and people with their online marketing. I was doing my business to try to keep going. I started making more money helping them as a freelancer really going and that’s really where it took off into training and I educated myself and dove in really heavy into the digital marketing world.

Fast forward, probably about six years now we’ve got a lot of small business clients. We’ve built websites, Facebook ads. We do over $4.7 million a year in other people’s ads. Facebook, which is the place where fans need to be.

But that all evolved into how do we take the same strategies, the same models, the same things that are working for all my other clients, righ?. The podcasters with the membership groups, the Twitch video game guys with their subscriptions, the vloggers in YouTube where every day at work it seemed like I was going, “Damn. If only a band was following these same strategies, the whole industry would change.”

Luckily now, there’s a lot more of these guys like you. There’s a lot of great resources, including even the other guy Indiepreneur, with that guy Kyle and how he’s teaching people really great complex sales funnels for their finding fans with Facebook ads.

You’re starting to see more guys like you guys come out and you’re starting to see more real case studies and proof of people leveraging these same tools and strategies. Even the Patreon model for example of charging memberships.

Basically, it comes down to selling your music just like every other product is sold online. The new music business like you say, it’s not really a music business, it’s a content business. We’re all in the content game now.

David: Yeah, exactly. The sooner you can wrap your head around that idea that we’re all content creators and publishers. We need to get that out to our fans. We need to distribute it. We need to market it. Then, we need to attract an audience and build an audience through that – not just an audience but a list more concretely. We need an email list or some kind of list that allows us to continually market to those people.

Brian: And We’ve learned that the email list is becoming more and more important as people say, “Oh, email’s dying.” Look at what the changes on Facebook recently, the changes on any platform. Anything could be gone and dead tomorrow either way.

It’s same thing. If you’re thinking of your band as a business, number one rule is business. Build your business on your own platform not someone else’s. You can’t rely on a third-party platform to build your own business. So, having that list is number one.

If we want to break it down, right, for what this really means, it all comes down to the difference between hope marketing which is, “I’m going to make an album and hope people find it. I’m going to play a show and I hope that the people I tell to go visit my websites, I hope some of them turn into actual fans that will buy something.”

That’s all hope marketing. So many bands saying, “Oh well, my marketing plan is crushing it. I’ve got all these plays. I’m on these lists. I’m on this and that.” But that’s all still hope marketing. Without a plan in place to turn somebody from cold to warm to hot, which is in the marketing world if anyone’s familiar, that’s the “will you marry me” marketing model, right?

In a lot of bands, I think this helps them to break it down, right? So, will you marry me marketing is a simple way to understand that selling any product whether it be a service or product, your band, getting that super fan to pay you, it’s just like trying to find a husband or wife.

You cannot walk up to a random person and say, “This is me. I’m awesome. I want to marry you right now. Let’s make it happen.” Trust me. It’s the same thing when you hope someone sees you at a live show and buys your music. You’re just going for the close. You’re going for the end game. Nobody makes purchasing decisions, relationship decisions, any type of decision that way.

You need, as a band, as an artist, the same type of sales funnel, marketing funnel, call it what you want but the process to move them between the cold audience, who are people who have no idea who you are and you’re going to engage with them for the first time. Your warm audience, you’re going to talk to her different after you introduce yourself, right? Let’s go from that, from cold – “Hi! This is my name. This is us. Here’s a peak.” All right. I’m here and I’m still here. All right. Well, let me warn you up and give you some goodies and show you why our band is more than just these songs. That this is what we stand for. These are things we believe in. That really pushed into that hot audience. Then she’s ready for the close. Then you can go in and say…

The same idea works with bands as it does any other product. It’s understanding that so much hustle that so many great independent musicians put in – and it feels… It drives me crazy when I look at them – the guys who are really hustling to connect and engage with their fans. And on the backend, they don’t have a lead magnet or that tripwire product to turn them in.

I know you’ve gone over a lot of this in your books and a lot of your stuff, but it’s the break it down fundamentally – I think those are the barriers to understand the difference between hope marketing to understand what the basic sales funnel, what your plan is, what is your strategy to move that person between cold to warm to hot.

And then, if you can get that that empowers everybody on the band like everyone in my office on the same goal. We have a team. There’s a goal. We need to introduce ourselves to these cold people. Warm them up. Turn them into buying paying fans and ultimately the real game is the monthly recurring revenue, right? That’s the ultimate game for anyone. It happens way more than people really think, I think.

David: And by the way, I did meet a girl once who wanted to be married and it didn’t really seem to matter to whom. She would post these articles on Facebook and then send them to me. I would go “That’s really weird.” These articles would talk about love at first sight and people who got married upon first meeting each other and things like that.

Brian: Or how arranged marriages really work.

David: Yeah. As the story goes, I did eventually ask this girl to go to lunch with me. Not because I was thinking “Oh, I hope she marries me.” That’s not the thought process at all. I was just like, “Let’s try to put an end to this, one way or another.” And she said, “No.” Can you believe that?

Brian: Burn.

David: Yeah, it’s crazy.

Brian: People have their own interpretations of what a meaningful relationship is either way when they push through. Just like that guy. There was a recent viral video of that guy that was being kind of a dick. He posted this Facebook Live video like, “Look. If you want to go out with me, let’s just do it. If you don’t think it’s on, then screw you. Go away.”

But it’s the same. It’s the same thing we do in real life we need to translate online. The relationship building strategies that we do in real life has to translate online. Really at the of the day that’s what the business model, you could say, that you could take that we wrapped around the mobile app platform as in itself. So, the idea is to…

Originally, our app platform was built for businesses. It’s straight up with loyalty programs and all the eCommerce stuff and mobile food ordering for our restaurant clients, but we’ve taken the app platform, those built for businesses and said, “Okay. How can we a) make this affordable enough for bands, but b) build in the automated business model that we’re talking about”.

So, the app could be their lead gen, the tripwire to connect with new people to grow their email list and connect that data into their phones by the fan signing in with Facebook, Google, Twitter, or their email. And then, engaging with those people.

When I say engagement, I mean the guys again that are really engaging. Not you posting some random stuff there just for them to listen to. I’m talking about making them feel like they’re part of the band. Making them part of the songwriting process. Making them — I’m an audio engineer so I love to see the studio stuff. I want to hear the mixes as they’re going along.

That’s true engagement and that will turn someone so hot into a super fan where they will pay you $5 – $10 a month or yearly packages. There’s been a lot of different successful packages that you can look at on Patreon. Sometimes I’ll go and look at the top Patreon guys and see what their packages look like. A lot of it is the one-off pay for a year type deal.

But we love just the small monthly recurring just like we’re all familiar paying for Netflix and Hulu and everything else on a monthly subscription now. And then to monetize them and open up.

I think one of the biggest pieces not only small businesses make but artists make are affiliate programs versus endorsements. Endorsements are cool, but affiliate programs generally generate actual cash flow.

Any product that you love, you say you Google that product plus affiliate program and you can sign up, get your own custom link and anyone that buys from that custom link that money gets sent directly to your PayPal account.

That’s just one example of opening different streams of revenue because a band is never going to be independently, or any business, or either me or you. Nobody builds wealth without multiple streams of revenue.

It’s really just all that work and all those years and everything that we’ve put into and really come in heavy now out into trying to hook up bands this way and make them maybe learn or open their mind to this business model itself.

But I’m not trying to change. I understand art. I’m a guitar player. I understand not a lot of people get excited about business like I do or maybe like you do. That’s fine. I watched the profits on my DVR, right? Like record it. That’s fine if you’re not that person, but I want to empower them with the plan, the tools, and the business model to keep doing exactly what they’re doing, right? They put my recording studio basically out of business because you can make content now cheap and quick. It doesn’t have to be perfect albums away. You can engage and make content for your fans on a whole another level that people just need to have one real system, one real strategy, and one tool to do it. So that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.

David: I mean I’m a huge believer in the recurring business model. That’s something I’m working on with my business as well. I should have some coaching options launched here soon but it’s not a complicated business model. Like you said, it’s like subscribing to Netflix and paying every month to be able to see your favorite TV shows and movies and things like that.

But when musicians are first getting started in their career they probably are thinking too much about “Oh, I should set up a subscription program.” So, in your opinion, what business models are they usually thinking about creating, if any?

Brian: Here’s a thing. I see this all a lot now. So, for example, one of my clients, and every time we’re working on something it always translates over. But one of my clients is opening a brewery here. I’ve been explaining it to bands that say they do it backwards. They say, “Look. I’m going to spend all this money on the tour, on making the album, on the studio time.” It’s like that brewery. They’re going to buy all of the stuff and they’re going to make the product and they’re going to get it and then they’re going to what? We’re back to hope marketing. We’re back to hoping people hear about it because they didn’t put any investment on the marketing side, on the loyalty side.

Let me tell you. In the restaurant business, it’s all about the loyalty programs. It’s about getting people to visit the restaurant or the brewery multiple times within a month. Not just once every six months or maybe where it’s at. That’s the lifeblood and cash flow for those businesses. So, it’s the same idea for musicians but they just think about it like, “Oh well, I’m going to wait until I get X amount of subscribers before I focus on having a real sales funnel or this or that.”

It’s like any business. It’s like opening the doors and saying, “Well, I’m just going to do it” but look man, that’s where we come from. I remember on my first album. We started our own little independent record label just to get our CD in Strawberries and in all the CD stores under the little section.

It used to be, “I hope A&R hears us.” Or, “I hope someone actually does listen to this album.” Or the model and the industry, musicians, we’re all still kind of living in the fog of way it used to be in some sense but what’s great–.

For example, one of our artists, Stryper, great band, been around a long time, and bands like that will keep evolving over time. You know a mobile app for them was no problem. They understand the evolution of staying in business for 10, 20, 30 years. Some of these artists that are still around, you can see that they are evolving with the market.

And the music business, man they just… We lived through all that. They did not evolve with Napster, with streaming, with you know… And now, we’re at the place where iTunes has just announced that they’re getting rid of MP3 sales entirely.

David: Yeah. I’m not surprised.

Brian: I’m surprised it took this long.

David: Yeah, exactly. My good friends in The Middle Coast, great band. They’re young guys. I think they’re in Japan touring right now. They tour every year. They’re putting out new releases, connecting with their fans.

One of the things they did very well was just simply going up to every table at every gig and asking people for their email addresses. It can be as simple as that. Like you almost… I mean technology…

Brian: Well, do you know how many times we’ve done that? When like you’re trying the next day, trying to read the scribble from their writing?

I remember we’re having someone walk around with a clipboard and then you try to type their scribbled drunk writing into MailChimp after.

But what a real tripwire product, right? A real lead gen is about the offer is giving them something. When for example when a band is at a live show and they say instead of, “visit us online” or “visit us at the table”, say, “Download our mobile app. You’ll get a free fan reward and you’ll get to listen to this EP for free and leave us some love.”

Well, that’s the tripwire product really. We’re not charging anything in a sense but it’s also the lead magnet. Then you get in their pockets and their system, then you can engage with them and warm them up.

But right from there you’re collecting their email, plus you’re being able to reengage them. The only way you can reengage your audience now as a band is with Facebook or Google retargeting ads. That’s when you get into the heavy retargeting stuff. Like I said, people should check out Kyle’s Indiepreneur for some of that heavy Facebook stuff that there’s a lot of resources and guys out there now that are doing it.

David: Yeah, exactly. I mean it’s amazing to learn that type of stuff. I should potentially even have him on my podcast. My methodology tends to be Occam’s razor, right? The simplest solution is often the best solution.

Adding call to actions to your emails. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. I saw my book sales rise just because I added call to actions in every email. I was amazed but it’s something that I learned from my coach James Schramko who was on episode 86 of the podcast.

It’s little tweaks like that that make all the difference. And like you say, automating this is even more powerful. Yeah, it’s one thing to get emails from your fans at your shows, but if you can just get a bunch of content sent out to them without any effort, and then have them engaging with you and looking at what else you have to offer, that’s powerful.

Brian: Especially like direct push notifications. Text messages get read 99.8% of the time or something. I was always curious about what happened to the other 0.2% of those people. Some bad shit happened to them, but you know text messages get opened.

Even if someone doesn’t accept push notifications on their phone you can still send the message. You get the little red dot. But you’re right, it’s about engaging with them but also automating it – you know – as much as it is.

The same rules apply for any business. A lot of the businesses we first start working with, as much as we can automate, the more we can automate, equals more margin for that process and the time for that product. The automation is key. Setting up as a model is key.

The problem is it does take a shit ton of time, money, and investment to set up a complete website with the WooCommerce set up the right way, to ship and sell your stuff, with all the different tax rates for each of the states and counties especially if you want to sell to Canada and overseas. It becomes a lot.

And again, if that’s not your game, your passion is business, I just totally… I can see what that is which is why we developed… We know that this can move over. We developed these again for businesses in the first place so that it could do all that.

For example, when we looked at restaurants paying thousands of dollars a month for those loyalty cards and the POS system integration to actually use them and reorder those things, by putting everything that they need in one system with a low overhead and it’s all automated that’s why it was such a win-win. Like you can’t lose. You’re saving money. It’s automated. So, it’s the same idea for bands automating the process and having everything in one system so they don’t have to go and spend all that time or money on either…

They have two options. Either they spend their own time and money to build out their own digital ecosystems in business, or they have a record label, hope that somebody – we’re back to hope marketing – hope that the right guy is going to hear and pay for it. So those struggles. That’s what I’m happy to wipe away and try to knock right out the gate with just a mobile app as their standard platform.

David: That’s incredible. It’s just awesome to have technology like that.

Let’s get a little more granular now. I think musicians are hearing this and going, “Okay. I can build a recurring monthly subscription model with my music and engage more fans and make a more consistent income”, which is good, but what monetization opportunities are musicians typically missing out on?

Brian: Well, the first one like we touched on a little bit was the affiliate programs right off the bat. Every time someone gets an EVO app, we become their first affiliate. They get a little tab in the app says, “Want an app for your band?” Any time someone clicks that, and they get one, they get $100 sent automatically to their PayPal account. So, it’s a matter of teaching them that affiliate programs are effective if they’re used right. That’s part of building your fan base.

For example, as a podcast guy, if you say this is the microphone you all need, then go sign up for that affiliate program. You can do that for everything. If you put your cap on, you’ve got five guys in a band. You’ve got drums. You’ve got gear. You’ve got mixing gear. You’ve got plugins. You could put up a whole big store of affiliate. These are our resources. Just like any entrepreneur’s website. We’ve got resources tabs with affiliate links.

David: Everybody does.

Brian: Everybody. And that’s why. Why don’t bands? So that’s the big one, right off the bat, because it’s easy, it’s fast. You can implement it.

And then the other things are thinking of, I think, the shift of what your core product is and what your profit maximizer is, right? Like your core products in the sense of whether it’s the music, or the shirts. But really, we all know that you’re not making money a lot on the shirts, especially if you’re doing it the right way which is drop shipping it to start, so you don’t have to mail all that crap out from home and destroy yourself at the time of trying to ship your own stuff. Even if it’s drop shipped, there’s not much margin there. There’s not much meat.

So, the shift between thinking what is our core product as a band. Is it our merch, the music? Really, it’s the subscription model for the superfans that could come on that side but it’s also getting creative in selling different stuff that you know your fans will dig.

For example, we have artists who make one-off vinyl artwork and recordings. They’ll make one print of their custom artwork and then recording inside of it and they’ll sell it to their fan. They are getting 80 to 100 bucks per one of those. It’s different things to be creative and leverage what your fans would like as well.

If you have your own eCommerce store, that’s easy to use, and it’s in their pockets, you can just list as much as those things. We just… In Oculum band, they’ve got this awesome… And I’m not going to get political on your stuff and divide anyone, but they have some kind of Trump shirt and I’ll just leave it at that whether it be anti or pro. But their fan base, they know their fan base, and they know that’s a fucking funny shirt.  It’s made by us and it’s supporting us so here it is. We’re going to toss it up in the store.

When you have an easy system then you can easily do that stuff too without having the stress or worry about how do I manage a WordPress based site, and then add those products to the eCommerce store? That can be a hurdle for people. I’m trying to make it as easy as possible now where the app is the full eCommerce system in itself. It takes less than five minutes just to load up a new product, set the price on, and it’s all integrated with your PayPal or Braintree or Stripe or whatever else you’re using.

The core fundamentals of it are not that difficult to see but I think like you’re saying; a lot of bands get overwhelmed with all this work. What are these next steps? The hundreds of man hours it takes. I’m sure you know this. Building your website, making your products, and your eBooks, it can take hundreds and hundreds of man hours.

That’s why I’m not recording my own music or producing albums right now. I’m running this business doing this. I get that’s why they kind of can’t. Like if an artist is expected to be the best version of themselves as they can be, I just want them in creative mode. I want them creating. I want them making content, so I just want to give them the tool and the model.

You just keep doing what you’re doing but actually know that you need to all be on the same page if you’re a band or even if you’re a singer songwriter or a management team, and the labels, which has been the biggest eye openers dealing with these larger teams, versus small businesses and the pros and cons that come along with that.

But if everyone’s on the same plan, the same business model, it’s rule number one of any venture is have a plan and follow it instead of hope marketing. “I hope that social media grows so much that a small percentage of these people turn into paying customers.” If you don’t have the plan and funnel behind that you’re just playing the hope game.

I have been really going heavy on that. Honestly, hurting some feelings along the way. Some people are just great hustlers, right? They just will keep spinning their wheels and keep hustling. It’s like someone on a treadmill when they could be making the real miles on the road. They’re just building a list and not putting it through any system.

David: In a way you’ve summarized Episode 40, 41, and 42 of the podcast. 40 was bundling and packaging your music products to maximize earnings. Episode 41, how to set up a membership site as a musician. Episode 42, how to earn money from affiliate marketing for musicians.

Brian: Exactly.

David: So, here’s a solution that can kind of do all that for you without all of that extra legwork. Exactly what you said, setting up a website. This is not easy stuff. I’ve learned to do it over the years because I need a way to share my message and I believe in building on my homeland not on rented land as much as possible. Directing people to my website, getting on my email list, buying my products.

But affiliate marketing is such a powerful thing and I’m a huge believer in it and have been for the last seven years. I’m a huge advocate of it. It’s something that musicians are missing out on for sure.

Brian: Yeah. And anyone that needs even like a little bit of proof. There are guys… If you go to John Lee Dumas. You can go to his website, look at all his monthly income.

David: Hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Brian: You can look at Pat Flynn. Pat Flynn, he was one of the best that started right away with the recurring stuff. And again, this is stuff we didn’t come up with. This isn’t something I invented. People say to me all the time, “Well Brian, how can you prove it works? Who does it work for?” I’m like it works for thousands of people every single day that neither you or I know who they are, because neither you nor I are their target market.

But I know the people that I am subscribed to and the Patreon people that I do support. I do have my niche. If I really broke it down, there’s probably a good 40, 50, 60. I probably shouldn’t do the math of how many small payments I make a month to different groups, different support or here and there. It adds up, but it’s not anything that’s not proven. It’s a complete proven business model that I think the hurdles that we’ve been talking about between the web stuff and just all of it.

Even the hurdle of some people in the drain of installing WordPress even on their own and then it messes up and then they got to call GoDaddy to figure out why they can’t get back in now. There are little hurdles that can take up a lot for anyone.

Now, those basics do need to be there, but again, we’ve developed this so that it’s all of that in one in that sense. The best part that we’re launching now is we’re going to start hearing about progressive web apps more in the next year or two as Google, Microsoft, and Apple all get their stuff together on the same page with push notifications. You’re going to start… Progressive websites are going to start be more of a term, like back in the day no one knew what a responsive website was, right, or a mobile friendly site. It’s the next stage which basically the browser technology is getting stronger to be able to run mobile sites like mobile apps. So, you get a mobile website version with that as well. And a lot of bands don’t even have good mobile websites.

Again, it’s the market and the business. I didn’t invent it in the sense of anyone invented this business model. I just hope that people, if anyone does a little bit of research they can find people in the area, in their state even, musician that you’ve never heard of who are just monetizing their 50,000 fans. At the end the day that’s what you need.

These guys that are making three, four, five, six grand a month, they are more than most bands ever wish to make even on record labels back in the day. That was still a haul. So now you can own all of it.

And the core fundamentals, right? Like TuneCore, you know having your distribution set up, being registered with ASCAP or BMI to track those streams. There’s some basic things to set up and there’s plenty of resources – guys like you that are teaching people different fundamentals and strategies on how to do that stuff. All you have to do is Google that and that’s super easy. Type in some emails. Type in your stuff. Get it going. There’s other people that teach that. I just build the tools to you know do it.

David: Yeah. That’s awesome. I mean that is one of the things that is sort of a mental gap for a lot of musicians. “Well, I’m a musician. I like to create. I like to focus on the creative side. I would like to not spend so much time on the business side. In an ideal world, how can I accomplish that?”

I mean there’s always been tools. There have always been different ways of accomplishing that such as by hiring a team but then the excuses come, right? Well, I don’t have the money, or I don’t have the time to overlook [a team] like as a manager. It’s like you don’t need to micromanage your people especially if they’re qualified people but I get where they’re coming from.

Brian: Well, you know what? You said. I think you said it once, I think. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you said a band can find a way to get that money for printing the CDs, you know money for the studio time, or money for the van or the travel. And then when it comes to the actual marketing or making investment on the other side they’re just totally not with, because again, I think it’s a mental barrier of well, does it work or what doesn’t work. To us, it’s in our world and our bubble. We see that. So, I just hope people poke into other bubbles that they’re not in right now. Poke your head in the recurring passive income side of podcasts or books or business teachings. Start to get like, “Oh, you mentally…” I think once they see other people that it’s actually working. I think some of those fears can go away and they’ll get excited about doing it.

The only thing that they’re going to get is a bunch of retargeting ads for a bunch of really expensive stuff to do that for you which, you know, most of it is unreliable in a sense but that’s why you have to build it like you’re saying on your own platform. You were the one that said that, right?

David: Exactly. I was basically sharing with you the fact that if you want to sell to musicians it’s about helping them understand or demonstrating that it’s absolutely essential to them. And I’m giving away a bit of the secret sauce here but that is what you want to do, because musicians will look at investing in their CDs as an absolute essential. They will look at distribution as an absolute essential. If you can show why your product is the same in their ecosystem, then they will buy it for sure.

Brian: Well, I think well then, I should sell shit ton of apps because it’s like a business opening up without doing any marketing. They’re going to be out of business. It’s essential.

The best part is you know as an artist like you’re saying, not only do we want to create. They create. We create. But we love engaging with our fans and our people as it is you know.

I even remember being younger right in the last… The only stamps in letters I’ve ever sent my entire life were to like musicians and bands that I loved. Like I remember when looking at Guitar Player magazines and finding articles and guys in there and finding their actual address and sending them a letter and connecting.

I think digitally now, it’s easier but you don’t have to change anything you’re doing in a sense. It’s just a matter of doing it with a model, with a plan, and with a purpose. What’s the model? What’s the plan? And what’s our purpose? It can all be just done that way, but if you have the tools set up, it’s how it runs. You just need the tools for the job.

David: That’s great. Well, you’ve made my job as an interviewer very easy, because you just kept on talking and that’s perfect. Is there anything else I should have asked or anything else you’d like to talk [about] in closing?

Brian: No man. I just like chatting with you. It’s good to get some insight on that. I hope anyone that listens… Like I said I’ve listened to you and some of the other stuff. I hope people are really diving into other people’s bubbles. Get out of our bubble a little bit. Go somewhere. Search some Google terms about some… What is monthly recurring revenue and how can it work for bands? Just start diving out there into some stuff.

Once you see other people and you see a pattern of other content creators making a good living, you would never know who they are. I am amazed by every day the different people and groups and super fan groups that I’ve never heard of and they’re getting apps and stuff now. It’s exciting. It makes me excited to see, because really at the of the day, I just want to be a studio engineer and make some music. I want to do that as well. I’m just like you are. We’re building our stuff on monthly recurring revenue with what we love. That’s what all bands need to do too. Yeah, man. I talk about this stuff all day. It’s what we do so anytime brother.

David: Yeah. Great closing thoughts. Thanks so much for your time and your generosity, Brian.

Brian: No problem man. You have a good one.

David: You too.

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A Primer On Guitar Pedals [INFOGRAPHIC]

An indisputable fact about guitar pedals is this: without them we wouldn’t have half the songs we know and love. Take classics such as The Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”, or Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)”, or virtually any Brian May solo – the sound, along with the guitar and amp, is a direct result of the guitar pedals they used.

But here’s the surprising thing: a lot of people don’t know what guitar pedals do, which pedals give you which sounds, and most importantly how to connect them all in sequence. The people at Zing Instruments have taken it upon themselves to lift the lid of this murky world of guitar effects pedals and shed some light on the subject.

Check out the infographic below, which explains what some of the most popular pedals do and how to connect them. Enjoy!

A Primer On Guitar Pedals [INFOGRAPHIC]

Top 11 Tips for Starting Your Own Guitar Music Blog

Here in the internet age, information is not in scarce supply.

But wouldn’t it be great if you could start your own guitar music blog?

You could share personal trials and tribulations of trying to master the instrument or even promote your own recordings and introduce people to some new guitar music. You could even make a little money while you’re at it.

So, here are 11 tips on how to start and build your own guitar blog.

1. Make it Real

If you can’t play guitar, you shouldn’t be starting a guitar blog. Or, if you’re just starting out, you should be transparent about the fact that you are a complete beginner and share that journey with your audience.

The main thing is sincerity.

Bloggers have something to say and a desire to share that information with like-minded souls. Sharing in your own voice is the best way to build trust with your readers.

2. Research the Niche

Look at what other bloggers in the niche are doing. You need to find a way to stand out from the crowd, so if you end up doing exactly what others are already doing, you may find building your audience to be an uphill battle. Also, looking at other blogs can help you come up with content and marketing ideas (more on this later).

The more you’re able to share something unique with others, the more likely your blog will become a go-to place for guitar enthusiasts.

Here are a few great places to get started with your research:

3. Share What You’re About

What are the key things you want your readers to get from your blog, and in what manner?

For example:

  • My site will provide the best information on learning how to play guitar that I can provide.
  • I will present this information with respect for all musicians and music lovers.
  • My site will guide students of the guitar with ongoing guitar related content, music and personal growth tools to meet learning challenges.

Share your mission/values on your site so your audience understands your intent and what to expect.

4. Make a Plan

You’ve got some principles to guide you through the long term, so now it’s time to look more practically at the day-to-day (week-to-week) progress of your blog.

You may have a lot of content ideas already.

But time is precious and if you don’t write down your plan for how and when you are going to create and publish; it may never come to fruition.

There needs to be time in your day to maintain, add, and create new content (and don’t forget you’ve got to sit down and play your guitar too!).

But don’t let this scare you off, as most blogs start out very simply and grow organically over time, so just keep a basic blog plan in place. See simple example below:

Date Post Name Draft Final
Mar.5 My Song Half done For next week
Apr. 9 Her Song To be finished

Add your own columns.

Planning should help you keep on track.

5. Create Great Content

If you aren’t sharing content related to guitar on your blog, you don’t have a guitar music blog at all.

Before you ever go live with your blog, you can start developing content. It’s a good idea to have several posts ready to go before you ever launch, as this will take some of the pressure off of having to come up with ideas and write something new.

The last thing you need is a half-baked post on guitar maintenance when you feel more like burning your guitar, and not in a Jimi Hendrix kind of way either.

Things happen, and you can’t expect everything to go smoothly all the time. Save up a few content pieces for a rainy day.

6. Get Your Blog Started

There are plenty of tutorials online that will tell you exactly how to set up a blog, so I’m not going to cover that here. For instance, Blogging Basics 101 is an excellent resource, and it’s free to use besides.

In most instances, I would suggest getting started with WordPress, because it’s easy to use, and most hosting companies allow you to install it on your domain with one click. Check out the products section of the website for recommendations on hosting and WordPress themes.

7. Create Your Blog-Building Habit

Small things done consistently build momentum. So, make a habit out of your blog-building efforts.

Start with something simple like brewing a cup of coffee in the morning. It sounds silly, but setting up cues like this can help you create your routine, and routines always become habit. Cue, routine, reward. Follow that framework and you will do well.

Also, have a read through Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art. Confront the resistance that’s stopping you from getting into action, and recognize what it takes to be a true pro.

8. Listen to Your Readers

What are your readers saying? Have you given them a way to leave comments on your blog? Do you have a “Contact Me” page?

The blog is for your readers and if they keep mentioning certain topics, then you should consider addressing their concerns and interests in a future post.

A couple of great examples of guitar blogs that keeps updated and actively engages their audience are Guitaristnextdoor.com and Haley Powers Music. What can you learn from each? What do you see that you could incorporate into your own content creation efforts?

9. Maintain Your Blog

Over time your site will gradually build up with older posts, references, and links.

You will want to perform some maintenance on your blog, ensuring there aren’t any dead links on your site.

Also, check for malware! If you end up with a virus, it can have serious ramifications for your blog, and may impact your SEO too.

10. Take Responsibility

As time goes on, your readers will have grown accustomed to using your site on a regular basis and can depend on the quality of information you’re providing

With that comes a certain responsibility to your readership.

You must keep the content fresh and engaging.

Many sites invite guest posters to write. This can add variety and give your site a boost with new faces and ideas.

But you must set the tone for these posters, so they understand your voice and write content that’s relevant for your readers.

11. Keep Growing

I’m talking personal growth.

As you and your readers grow and learn on your respective journeys, you may find yourself branching out a bit more to address other interests, places you never thought your blog would go.

Be flexible and your blog will grow with you.

Summary

I look forward to seeing your guitar music blog. Post yours in the comments section below once you’ve set it up.