Life is moving at a dizzying pace. Technology is evolving quickly. Distractions are increasingly at a rapid rate. So, how do you stay productive (and more importantly effective) when there’s so much going on? In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I share some ideas on how to reduce distractions and how this will make you more productive in 2019.
I don’t find that surprising myself, but it is sad to see so many people lose momentum and give up on themselves.
And, 2019 will be no exception. 80% of people will have dropped their resolution by the second week of February.
One of the problems is that we try to do too much too fast.
I’ve noticed that people like to talk about the Japanese concept of kaizen with regards to this topic of resolutions, which is a term used to describe “progressive improvement”. Unlike what some experts say, it does not mean slow, continuous improvement.
But there’s no Breakthrough in the idea of “continuous improvement”, is there?
And yet, kaizen seems to have made a huge difference for some well-known companies.
See, here in North America we’ve taken the first character in the word kaizen to mean “change”. Then we’ve taken the second character to mean “wisdom”.
Change plus wisdom equals improvement? We’re still missing something here.
See, the character “kai” doesn’t just mean “change” It means to stop the old and change it to the new.
The character “zen” doesn’t just mean “wisdom”. It means to do good, to do what’s right. It also refers to justice, something that has value, and the root of our motivation behind benevolent acts.
Now we’re getting somewhere.
Kaizen, as a whole means to correct, or to improve the terms of a contract or your staff.
Sorry YouTube videos, you’ve done a horrible job of letting people in on this secret. Next time you need someone to explain to you what a Japanese term means, you should ask someone like me, that actually speaks Japanese.
See, what makes kaizen effective, what produces Breakthrough, is stopping what’s not working and doing more of what is working. And, it’s to have a sense of justice and value about taking things in a new direction.
At first glance, this may not appear profound. But let’s say you’re on a mission to lose 20 lbs. What would happen if you applied kaizen to this process? What if you stopped eating junk food and other unhealthy foods and just ate healthy, organic foods instead? You’d achieve your goal relatively quickly, right?
So, with that, I’d like to revisit another podcast episode from last year, entitled The Fewer The Options, The Better.
In this episode, I described how only having a laptop to do my work boosted my productivity and helped me accomplish more in less time.
Let’s go back and have a listen, and I’ll be back to close this episode at the end.
As I’m sure you’re beginning to see, reducing distraction will make you more productive this year and in the years ahead.
Although I hinted at several tactics for improving your productivity in the original recording of episode 77, I’d like to make these a little more concrete. So, here are a few things you can do to reduce distraction.
It’s a good idea to disconnect from your phone and the internet every once in a while. This is a healthy thing to do. Plus, it leaves space for ideas to coalesce in your mind and inspiration to hit. Sometimes, not being connected can help you get more done because it means fewer distractions.
Change Your Environment
Try doing your work in a coffee shop, in a library, at a bar or a pub and so on. Notice what impact the environment has on your psyche. Notice how your surroundings can influence what you’re thinking about. Determine whether you get more or less done in that environment.
I like to do my work in a coffeehouse at least once per month if not weekly. I’ve found that changing your surroundings can lead to new ideas and even help you achieve more clarity overall.
Turn Off Notifications
I’m not a fan of notifications and I’ve turned most of them off on my phone. I try to turn off notifications on my laptop and desktop computers too, because they annoy me.
The only notifications I still leave on are phone calls, texts or instant messages. But you can even turn these off and check your phone at your own convenience if you prefer. After all, your time is valuable, and you can’t be at everyone’s beck and call 24/7.
Reduce Your Email Clutter
Unsubscribe from email newsletters. I know some people put a lot of importance on seeing what other people in their niche are up to and while this can be of some value, recognize that you are the one being sold to when you’re opening other people’s emails. So, you should be sending more emails than you’re reading.
Also, I’ve subscribed to some email lists thinking I would be spying on the competition, only to forget what I was doing and end up unsubscribing anyway.
If you have multiple computers, maybe one could be for general administrative and marketing work while your other computer is your dedicated studio computer.
If you have a spare room in your house, maybe that room could be your practice room.
Determine what purpose everything serves in your environment. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, maybe it’s time to get rid of it. Don’t let everything happen on autopilot.
Today’s guest post comes to us via Robert Lanterman, founder of Hidden Home Records.
Sure, there are plenty of articles out there on how to market your music. But there aren’t many talking about the don’ts. So, here’s Robert to fill us in!
So, you have a new band. Or a show coming up. Or some kind of musical endeavor that requires the support of your community. You must get the word out, of course. Right? Yes, absolutely.
Promotion is a good thing — but only when done right. That has to be qualified because sometimes people get the word out about their musical projects without leaving a good impression. Just because something gets your name out doesn’t mean people will want to support you.
Sometimes, musicians overstep their boundaries. I don’t know if it’s just that they’re super enthusiastic or that they literally have no social discernment, but the abrasiveness of certain types of “promotion” can be off putting.
There are a million articles about how to promote your music, so let this one serve as a guideline on how not to promote it. Note that this will serve for both in-person and digital communications. Ready? Let’s get started.
Disregard Social Etiquette
You know on dating apps when you get a message from somebody who is clearly not the person they say they are? Typically, it’s obvious. Maybe they’ll go straight to speaking deep sexual lingo, or maybe they’ll ask you to click on a link. Either way, you know that something’s up. Why? Because that’s not how humans talk. The same goes for promoting your music, especially so in the digital age.
Sure, sometimes there’s no way to be personal with a mass invite. So don’t. Just start with something like “hey guys,” or “hey folks,” rather than pretending that you’re texting/messaging that person directly.
If you’re flyering at a local show, think of it like a dating scenario — you wouldn’t interrupt somebody who looks like they’re having an incredibly serious conversation just to ask them out (and if you would … stop doing that).
Along the same lines, don’t go up to them at a show and interrupt something important to give them flyers or tell them about your band. Otherwise you’ll come off looking like Kevin from Hot Rod.
Social etiquette also involves knowing your audience. For instance, back in the day Facebook Ads promoting pages weren’t looked upon kindly in the punk community as much as Boosted Posts were (if you’re confused about the difference, here’s a nice little write up about the differences between Facebook Ads and Boosted Posts).
Page Ads just showed a band’s page and appeared spammy. Boosted posts, for whatever reason, weren’t looked upon unfavorably.
I’m not saying to only cater to your genre — some of those scene “rules” are stupid and elitist, no matter what community you belong to. But if something isn’t going to be accepted well by those you’re trying to reach, then why do it?
I feel like this one should be obvious, but I still see people doing it all the time. If you’re not aware of what harassment in this case means, let me give you a real-life example:
There is a guy in my music circles who adds people on Facebook and messages them asking about a band they like, like he just wants to have a conversation. He then would follow up with, “I was wondering what you think about this band?” and as Facebook research has shown, the new band he’s sending us is his own band.
If you don’t respond, or stop responding after you realize he’s only sending you a sales pitch, he follows up weeks later with a “hey, you there?” after which, he will send the same copy and paste follow up responses to a number of us.
And this goes on and on. Even after I and several others told him we don’t want to check out his band and many of us have told him he shouldn’t be approaching it this way, that hasn’t stopped him.
Screenshots got around in our Facebook groups because people were annoyed and realized that he was doing this to several of us.
Look, don’t be that guy, because he’s lost my interest in his band. Don’t invade people’s personal spaces who you don’t know to try to get them to listen to you. Respect their privacy.
Again, it’s quite similar to dating. Reminders are fine, but harassing people, annoying them in inappropriate ways, and invading their personal space is not.
Did you recently hear about this “Jered Threatin” guy from the appropriately named band Threatin? You may have seen it in the news: a guy completely faked a fan base to book a tour, and when nobody showed up, he became the laughing stock of the music world.
He had his wife pose as his manager, told his bandmates that they had sold out tickets, and shared doctored videos with the venues they were to play at. In this case, “fake it til you make it” did not make anything happen; instead, their shows were dropped because they hustled and cheated the people that were supposed to host them.
I think the moral of the story is that blatant, braggadocious, arrogant dishonesty does not pay off. Eventually, it will catch up with you.
There’s often a sense of respect between an artist and a listener, showgoer, or other kind of consumer. The right kind of promotion builds that respect, and the wrong kind squashes it. Not to mention, you’ll burn bridges with anyone who wants to work with them. Do not hustle.
So What SHOULD We Do?
Let me start by saying it’s not typically the means of promotion that are wrongly used; it’s how people use them.
Instagram has 75 million daily users. It’s a great way to connect with people. What’s not great is leaving random, copy-and-pasted ambiguous comments saying “nice picture!” to get more followers.
Similarly, there are good ways to promote yourself on Facebook, which have been covered on this website before, and bad ways. Do not message individuals you don’t know and ask them to check out your music, and don’t send them canned pitches.
In emails, include press releases when necessary, either with an actual press kit or without. I’d also argue that your local zines, newspapers, and flyer stations are still valid ways to promote your upcoming events!
Not only is print marketing making a comeback, but independent music fans like to support independent publications as well. I’ll never forget about the time I was promoting one of my first shows and decided to stick a flyer on the front of a bank building in my hometown of Boise, ID (this is illegal; I am not saying to do this).
Later at a show, I handed one to a friend who responded, “oh, I heard about this. I think I saw the flyer on the front of a bank.” It’s not that flyering doesn’t work, but you must flyer in places that people will see it.
So, as you can see, there are good ways to go out and market yourself — you just have to work hard for it. But don’t use promotion as an excuse to overstep boundaries, and know your audience.
By doing so, you’ll have a better chance of getting your music in front of people in a way that they’ll respect, not that they’ll be upset about. Is there anything you’d like to comment on? Disagree with me? Feel free to hit me up on Twitter @Robolitious!
Today, I have a little surprise for you. I feel like I’m moving at a whiplash pace this year, so it’s kind of a surprise even to me. In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I make a special announcement concerning a new product.
My new book, The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship: Making and Selling Your Neon Yellow Tiger.
There is a bit of a backstory behind the creation of this book, but that’s something I’ll cover on another occasion.
What I’d like to share with you right now is that this book is the perfect companion to The Essential Guide to Music Entrepreneurship. Where the music entrepreneur guide was more about mindset, the creative entrepreneur guide is more tactical.
This isn’t to say there isn’t some overlap, but I think you’ll get a better idea of how to set up and run your business if you have a read through this one.
So, I’d like to invite you to check out the book at davidandrewwiebe.com/creative. I don’t have an info page set up for it just yet, so that link will take you directly to Amazon, just so you are aware.
With that, I’d like to take a moment to read the introduction of the book for you.
Introduction to The Essential Guide to Creative Entrepreneurship: Making and Selling Your Neon Yellow Tiger
In the gig economy, side hustles have become increasingly popular.
For many, traditional job roles simply aren’t cutting it. The Balance indicates that in October 2018, U.S. consumer debt rose 7.7% to $3.964 trillion. Credit card debt, auto loans and school loans account for most of this debt.
The Balance also points out that, while home mortgages are a major loan category, they don’t classify it as debt–mortgages are considered a personal investment. I don’t agree with that assessment, but that’s beside the point.
Others pursue side hustles as a means of finding expression for their greatest passions. Whether it’s to augment their income, spend time doing something that makes them come alive, or save up for a rainy day, there are plenty of good reasons to diversify and be less dependent on jobs to make a living.
Then, there are those whose side hustles have become their full-time hustle, in the form of a small, independent business. Whether it’s selling hand-crafted jewelry on Etsy, publishing unique music videos to YouTube and monetizing them through Patreon, or taking on freelance graphic design work through a freelancing site like Upwork, there simply isn’t a shortage of opportunities.
As someone who’s been working entirely from home since summer 2016, I consider myself a proponent of the gig economy. Up until that point, I was dividing my time between ghostwriting and content work, audiovisual tech work at the University, helping organize and host unique creative events, teaching guitar and playing live gigs as a musician.
In case you’re wondering whether I was “making it” during those years leading up to 2016, I was paying down my debt at a ferocious rate and even stockpiling my savings. But it was madness.
As my ghostwriting and content work started taking off, I decided to leave “organized chaos” behind so I could focus on what was becoming a more lucrative opportunity for me–ghostwriting and content work. That also freed me up to put more time and effort into creative communities, gigging and building my small, independent business–The Music Entrepreneur HQ.
As I look towards the future and what I’m planning to accomplish, I can see that the possibilities are nearly limitless. My small business doesn’t need to stay small forever. My earning potential isn’t capped. I can make my own hours and work when I’m at my personal best.
And, though outreach is still a crucial part of what I do, people often come to me wanting to work with me, whether it’s independent musicians, music business owners or other creatives.
And, that’s the same opportunity that’s staring back at you.
This isn’t to suggest that entrepreneurship–or freelancing, for that matter–is easy. But it is simple. It’s all about finding a need and filling it. It’s about serving a hungry audience and presenting a solution that’s right for them.
But these ideas might seem a little elusive as a creative. You’re bound to have many questions:
How can I serve an audience with my art?
Do I need to sell out to make it?
Am I required to adapt my art so that it appeals to a larger audience?
And, the answer is “it depends”. It depends on what you’re hoping to achieve.
There’s nothing wrong with creating art for the sake of creating art. If it fulfills you and you find joy in the process, I think that’s worth more than any price tag you could put on it. And, if you’re lucky, simply engaging in what you love can attract an audience.
As a musician, I’ve often created music that I wanted to create as opposed to music that fits a certain demographic’s interests.
But I’m also under no delusion that this music will reach a huge audience and result in large sums of revenue. Music represents an important outlet for my creative self-expression, and to that end it will always serve my needs. Beyond that, it’s anybody’s guess.
But when it comes to serving my audience–namely creative entrepreneurs–that’s a different matter entirely. I am focused on creating content that benefits them and helps them reach their goals, whatever they may be.
Adding value to others can take many forms. And, sometimes the things you put effort into don’t always bear fruit. But I find the process fulfilling. Though I have certain business goals I want to reach, I’m more focused on the journey than on the destination. If I’m not enjoying the process, perhaps I’m not engaged in the right activity.
So, creative entrepreneurship may not be for everybody. But the good news is that you can pursue it at whatever level is right for you.
I know there are plenty of experts selling the idea of hustle out there. And, they talk endlessly about the fact that if you’re not struggling, you’re not getting anywhere. To succeed, you need to be pulling 14- to 16-hour days, butting your head against the wall, and if you’re not, you’re probably not going anywhere.
But I know for a fact that you don’t need that type of work ethic to earn an extra $500 to $1,000 per month.
So, if that’s your goal, you’re probably not listening to the right people.
Go as far as you can, and then you’ll see further. And, for you, going as far as you can might be starting a blog and sharing your poems on a weekly basis. There’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe, in a few months, or in a few years, you’ll want more. At that point, you can choose whether you’re ready to commit to more.
The greater the desire, the more work you’ll need to put in. But you don’t need to start off with 16-hour work days, especially if your goals are humble.
In the chapters that follow, you will learn about various aspects of creative entrepreneurship, from marketing your art to building a team and a great deal more. The ideas and examples presented should help you navigate the road ahead, whatever that may look like.
This book is intended as an overview to creative entrepreneurship. But there are references to plenty of great tools and resources you can access throughout. If you need additional help, I suggest that you refer to these. And, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me personally.
Are you looking to make 2019 your best year yet? Are you looking for a better way to plan your schedule and activities?
In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I review a method I refer to as “defaults”. By setting defaults in your life, you can significantly cut down on wasted time, get more done, and foster more happiness in your life.
10:45 – My methods for planning and organizing are constantly changing
Are you looking to get more done in your music career in 2019? Then this podcast episode is for you.
Last year I shared about a concept I call “defaults”.
The idea here is that you have a default plan for your day. What this does is it eliminates wasted time and energy.
If we’re constantly having to think about what to do now and then what to do next, then a lot of our time is being wasted having to plan moment by moment. A much easier and more productive way to go about your day is to have a clear plan and to follow it.
Time blocking is a popular way to go about this. People will use tools like calendar apps or spreadsheets to color code different parts of their schedule and account for every hour in their days and weeks.
So, maybe they would use red blocks to indicate when they’re going to be practicing their instrument. They would use blue blocks to indicate when they’re in a rehearsal, and so on.
If you’re a particularly organized person, I think this might be a great way to ensure you’re doing the right things to achieve your musical goals.
A default is far more flexible and less rigid. It’s a bit like conditional statements in computer programming:
If this, then that.
For instance, let’s say you typically rehearse with your band on Thursday night. We’ll call this variable A. If A happens, then you go to rehearsal. We’ll call this variable B. But rehearsals will sometimes get cancelled or moved to another night. That’s variable C. Finally, you have variable D, which is what you do by default when C happens.
When A happens, B is your default. When C happens, D is your default.
Let’s say you typically have Wednesday nights free and you’re looking for something to do.
If you leave this to chance, you’ll probably just end up sitting on your couch and binge-watching Netflix. But you’re looking for something more worthwhile to do with your time.
So, you could have going to an open mic on Wednesday night as a default. You don’t necessarily need to decide which open mic to go to. You would simply hold Wednesday night as your open mic night and keep that plan in front of you. And, of course, you’d follow through with that plan.
The benefits of going to an open mic as a musician are obvious. You can network with other musicians, gain live performance experience, sell some merch and maybe even get booked for a feature or a gig.
Now, it’s all well and good that defaults can set you up to be more productive.
That’s something I addressed in last year’s podcast episode too.
I mentioned that rest, leisure, entertainment and even spontaneous fun could all be made defaults in your life.
For instance, if you know that you don’t typically have any work to do on Monday, you could have going to the mountains as your default. Getting out into nature is good. It’s refreshing. You can get some exercise. And, it could be a good opportunity to think and reflect, too.
The value of regular reflection can’t be overstated, so just in case, here’s a little reminder – please remember to reflect, at least on a monthly basis!
Now that I’ve introduced the topic, why don’t we go back and listen to episode 76 which was all about setting defaults for yourself?
Now, I should let you know that my methods of planning and organizing are always changing.
Last year, defaults made a lot of sense to me. This year, things are a little different.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that I continue to use a desk calendar and yellow legal pad to plan my life. Honestly, it’s come to the point where I feel naked without these items.
Recently, I’ve been feeling the need to digitize my calendar as well, though I am somewhat reluctant to go in that direction. While I do work from home, I’m often on the go because of meetings, events, open mics, performances, recording sessions and so on.
But you might be wondering why I decided to revisit this idea of setting your defaults with you if it’s not something I’m actively doing right now.
That’s because I still see value in it, and I want to continue to share with you any ideas that may help you better organize your schedule, be more productive and happier overall.
If it’s not this method, then there will be another that’s right for you. Though I’ve adopted some of David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology, I’ve tailored it to my needs. You can do the same things with defaults.
And, ultimately, productivity doesn’t change that much. Regardless of what method you use, you’re going to need to be diligent and intentional about the process.
As some of my mentors always used to say, success doesn’t happen by accident. So, start planning!
02:46 – #3: My Top 5 Favorite Pieces of Guitar Gear
03:03 – #4: Musicinfo: a Music Distribution Platform That Can Help You Reach Music Fans in China
03:40 – #5: How Important is Social Media Marketing for Musicians? – with Melina Krumova of Drooble
04:02 – #6: The Big List of Resources for Musicians
04:20 – #7: The Best Electric Guitars for Beginners in 2018
04:42 – #8: How to Set Up a Home Recording Studio
05:01 – #9: 5 Ways to Become a Better Band Member
05:21 – #10: What do I Bring to a Gig?
05:41 – Conclusion
Although we’ve been accepting guest posts for a while at The HQ, I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say that 2018 was the year of guest posts.
One of the reasons I decided to begin prioritizing guest posts was because I knew I couldn’t cover every topic under the sun. So, it was a way to tap into the expertise of other musicians and music entrepreneurs.
And, the result is that we got plenty of outside perspectives on the industry and there were some that were especially valuable too.
Unfortunately, pretty much everyone under the sun – from marketers to content agencies started contacting me about the opportunity to write guest posts. And, it was clear that most of them didn’t read our guidelines or even understand the concept behind The Music Entrepreneur HQ.
Since I’m looking to build our brand around Confidence, Breakthrough and Fulfillment, it no longer makes any sense to accept low-quality guest posts that I end up spending all my time editing and formatting.
Unless you’ve already contributed to The Music Entrepreneur HQ to this point, I will not be accepting guest posts from you in 2019.
Another reason I felt it important to do this is because I’d like to simplify my efforts and continue to optimize the hundreds of value-adding posts we’ve already got. I’m not saying there won’t be plenty of new content too, but at this point I think it’s more important to put my energy into eliminating bottlenecks in my business.
In any case, as I already mentioned, a lot of great content went live on the site in 2018. Here are the top 10 posts from 2018.
1. How to Make Money as a DJ
The most popular post in 2018 was a guest post.
I think Graham Aubrey picked a great topic – one that many are sure to be interested in right now. And, I’m glad he contributed, because there isn’t much I could say about how to succeed as a DJ. It’s not something I’ve ever done, though I have friends who have.
With the popularity of EDM, I think being a DJ is also top of mind for a lot of people.
2. Top 10 Tips For Beginner Vocalists
Guest poster Pamela Brown put together this listicle for us.
This is essentially a back to basics post featuring simple tips for beginner vocalists. But I’m sure there are plenty of vocalists out there that would find some value in this.
If you’re interested in finding out how you can care for your voice and ensure that it’s always in ship shape, you should have a look at this list.
3. My Top 5 Favorite Pieces of Guitar Gear
I had a lot of fun putting together this post, because over the years, I’ve owned a lot of different pieces of guitar gear. This list features the best of the best. Honestly, there isn’t much I would change about any piece of gear on this list because they’ve all served me well.
4. Musicinfo: a Music Distribution Platform That Can Help You Reach Music Fans in China
Music distribution services generally purport to distribute your music worldwide. In a general sense, this is true, but there are many that don’t reach every corner of the world.
There is a huge listening audience in China, to the tune of 720 million people. So, if you’ve ever thought about getting your music into the hands of Chinese music fans, you’ll want to check out what Musicinfo has to offer.
And, if you’re planning to use the service, use the promo code DAWESOME at checkout to get 10% off. That’s d-a-w-e-s-o-m-e.
5. 082 – How Important is Social Media Marketing for Musicians? – with Melina Krumova of Drooble
Having played with it a little, I can honestly say that Drooble is a cool social network for musicians. I’ve often thought about adding this channel to my marketing efforts but haven’t had the bandwidth for it.
Anyway, this episode of the podcast features an interview with Melina Krumova, Co-Founder & CEO of Drooble.
6. The Big List of Resources for Musicians
Is there a specific service you’re looking for as a musician? Do you need someone to handle some aspect of your career, whether it’s design or PR? Then you’ll love this list.
I spent time curating a lot of great resources for this blog post, and I’m planning to add many more in the future.
7. The Best Electric Guitars For Beginners in 2018
Not sure which electric guitar to buy as a beginner?
In this list, I share four options that are worth looking at.
Now, you could always spend more and get something better than what’s on the list, but if you’re just getting started and you’re not sure whether you’re going to keep playing over the long haul, then you should look at buying a guitar made specifically for beginners.
8. How to Set Up a Home Recording Studio
Written by Faisal, this guest post gets into all the essentials you need when you’re setting up a home studio.
Based on the affordability of the gear as well as how easy it can be to record and make your own music from home, I think setting up a home studio is a great idea for many musicians.
9. 5 Ways to Become a Better Band Member
Nick Rubright of Dozmia is back with another great post about how to be the best band member you can possibly be.
When playing in a band, it’s easy to see yourself as being the most important person. But it’s important to get out of your head and look at how you can add value to your band members.
10. What do I Bring to a Gig?
Guest poster Perry Bowers offers some great insights into the equipment you should bring to each and every gig you play.
Regardless of the gig, it’s always best to be prepared. You just never know what problems or technical difficulties you might encounter, and if you’re ready to deal with them, your gigs will go a lot smoother.
What was your favorite post from 2018?
Are there any topics we should be covering in more detail in 2019?
I look forward to answering your comments in the show notes.