Creating music is a complex task that requires time, knowledge, and talent. To create a song that is pleasant to the ears, it takes hard work.
It might explain why we’ve witnessed of plagiarism that has resulted in lawsuits. Plagiarism, in this case, refers to the use of music that you don’t own without the consent of the owner. It’s lazy and it can lead to unwanted consequences.
Nowadays, it’s rather common to take a sample of a song and mix it with your own song. This is called sampling and it is legal if you have consent from the original song owner.
We know it is hard work to create a brand-new melodic composition, with unique lyrics, but to avoid the sampling temptation and potential pitfalls associated, you should find your own creative inspiration.
When finding your muse in nature, you want to make sure that you’ve got a nice set of earbuds or headphones. If you’re on the lookout for headphones, then AudioStance is the perfect place to go and learn about specs and read reviews.
So, if you want to keep writing more music, you need to stay creative. Let’s look at why this can be a challenge.
Staying Creative Can be a Real Challenge!
Music is art. To create art requires creativity, not just time and effort.
Creating something new and original on command is virtually impossible. Artists feel inspired at times and uninspired at other times and they can’t necessarily control this. Most artists will experience writer’s block or other creative blocks at different times.
Creative blocks are frustrating. Unless you’ve got a bit of a runway, they can lead to financial issues and other career-related challenges.
These blocks occur for a variety of reasons, whether mental or emotional. A sense of overwhelm can easily leave you feeling less than creative.
But other things can also impact creativity levels, like personal problems. The fear of success or failure can weigh heavily on one’s shoulders too.
All these blockers prevent you from reaching your full potential.
Here Are Several Ways Nature Can Help You Stay Creative
So, with all these challenges in mind, here is how you can tap into the power of nature to stay creative.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices
What artists often forget is the importance of healthy food and a good night’s sleep. Even breathing the right way can make a huge difference.
Even though music is beneficial for your health, one should always strive to attain a balanced diet. Low energy, exhausted body, bad nutrition, not enough water, bad sleep or no sleep at all can impact your creative side. If you are feeling low on energy, you won’t have enough of it to create something.
That is why you should consider changing your diet. Eat enough fruits, vegetables, grains, and proteins in order to boost your energy and also regulate your sleeping habits.
Many artists have their own little rituals for overcoming a creative block. It can be meditation, a workout, complete silence, watching a movie, getting off the internet and technology in general, taking a break from trying, etc. Some artists prefer meditation early in the morning, at about 5 am or 6 am, to use that period of time when the city is silent and they can concentrate on the meditation.
And sometimes these methods work, and sometimes they don’t. When something like that happens, don’t let that beat you down because the answer for any creative block is out there. If your usual routines don’t work, try something new. If those still don’t work, you can always go back to the thing we always come back to when we are in trouble or we are down – nature.
People often work so much that they forget to connect with nature every once in a while. Sometimes, we don’t even remember when was the last time we walked on grass or in the woods or by the lake. Today’s fast pace of life requires us to live fast. They go from their pajamas to their car, and drive to work.
Basically, it is concrete all over, and sometimes we see a couple of trees on our commute, that is about it. We hide deeper and deeper into the cities, cutting ourselves away from natural surroundings.
This is not good for the body and the mind and it affects our physical state, problem-solving skills, multi-tasking skills, attention levels, and, of course, our creativity. Scientists have done a study that showed that if we move away from the technology and connect with nature for just four days, our cognitive functions important for creativity and problem-solving skills immediately improve by up to 50%.
That means that our brains react positively to spending time in nature in a way that our functions are significantly improved. Now, you won’t do any good if you go into the forest and look at your tablet or your smartphone all the time.
Spending time in nature is healing only if you get rid of the technology. The reason for this is that technology is interrupting our attention, and pulls it from more important things, like creative work.
Nature is good for our health in general, impacting both our physical and mental health. It takes only twenty minutes in nature to reduce tiredness and fatigue and increase our energy. It has positive effects on mental issues and disorders, like depression.
One study showed that if you live surrounded by trees, flowers or even grass, you will be less stressed, anxious and depressed. We can drain the maximum effect from the so-called green-blue environment which is a combination of green nature like trees or grass, and blue nature like lakes, streams or any other water in nature.
Nature can really enhance our creative thinking and idea development skills. If you don’t have enough time to spend extended time in nature, figure out what you can do on a daily basis so you can get in touch with nature.
You can make it a morning ritual to walk a bit in the park, or walk your dog, or simply drink your coffee or tea in the garden if you have one. If you have outdoor activities that are not so far away from home, why wouldn’t you walk to the store or the post office and walk through the nearest park?
Make Time & Innovate
If you have a daily 8-hour or 4-hour job, you can take your break in the nearest park. It doesn’t take that much time in the green space before creativity increases. It takes only 25 minutes before things start rolling in your brain and your cognitive functions start working again. Then your mind is prepared for innovative thinking because it has gone through new experiences and adventures.
However, the best way of rejuvenating your body and mind is to spend extended time outside, the whole weekend, a week, or even a month. Since we are a part of it, we humans are in the same rhythm as nature, so it is crucial for us to synchronize with it every once in a while.
Benefits of Seclusion
Disconnecting from technology and moving away from your everyday life in order to observe nature and connect with it can bring many benefits to your life in general, but also your life as an artist. The time in nature can help you even when you return to your regular life. You can capture those images, scents, and feelings nature evoked in you. You can think of them and use them to get inspiration.
This is what that time in nature can do for you:
- Inspiration – When we are locked in our homes or offices, we always feel the pressure of time. We need to respect the deadlines, we never have enough time and there is always pressure and it can ruin our inspiration. When you are in nature, you lose the inhibition of time, doing or being somewhere on time, you can relax and be stress-free which ignites the inspiration for creativity.
- Brain functions – Once you lower your stress and fatigue levels, your brain will start to work at its full potential.
- Memory – After spending some time in nature, memory improves and it can provide you with the brand new ideas and creativity.
- Mental Health – If you are suffering from mental disorders, it can make the creative process significantly harder than it should be. If you are depressed, it will be difficult write a cheerful song. So, spending time in nature will ease those mental health issues and once they decrease, your mind can start working on the new ideas.
- Creative block – As we mentioned before, creative blocks can be frustrating but they can be overcome if you spend some time in the healthy surroundings. You will relax your body and mind, which will allow your creative expression to become instinctive again.
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Do you wish you could play better gigs? Do you want to engage in the type of projects and work that will leave you feeling happy and fulfilled?
In this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast, I pass the mic with Robonzo of The Unstarving Musician, who’s got a podcast and a book of his own. He shares how he was able to build a profitable live performance career and how he helps other musicians do the same.
- 00:34 – The podcasting journey
- 01:39 – How did you get started with The Unstarving Musician?
- 04:59 – The value of subbing
- 08:20 – Being a good hang
- 09:18 – How can musicians better leverage live performance?
- 12:34 – Having too many lines in the water
- 15:57 – Taking care of yourself
- 17:41 – Depression in the music industry/success doesn’t make you happy
- 20:44 – Who do you know that isn’t a starving musician?
- 24:48 – The Music Entrepreneur Code
- 25:49 – Why did you get into podcasting?
- 31:14 – Current social media marketing trends
- 36:19 – Making new music
- 37:52 – Why did you write a book and what impact has it had?
- 42:11 – Are there any books that have helped you on your journey?
- 43:49 – Wrap up
David Andrew Wiebe: Today I’m chatting with host of The Unstarving Musician Podcast, Robonzo. How are you today, Robonzo?
Robonzo: I’m great. That was like one of the smoothest intros ever because as we were just saying pre-episode, we’ve just been chitchatting, ice breaking. I love it. I’m doing great. Thank you.
DA: Awesome. Yeah, we just been chatting away. I don’t know how many times I’ve said the intro like that now but I guess something people wouldn’t know necessarily is I have been podcasting since 2009 with the David Andrew Wiebe Podcast, which quickly turned into David Andrew Wiebe Interviews, a music business podcast, which then became DAWCast: Music Entrepreneurship.
And then, when I realized that nobody understood the cleverness behind the name of DAWCast: Music Entrepreneurship, I temporarily quit, and then reboot it. And that’s The New Music Industry Podcast, which is also the namesake of my book. But it’s been an awesome and fun journey. We’ll be getting into that too because you’re also a podcaster.
Your website makes it fairly clear that you’re passionate about helping musicians, especially in the area of live performance. So, where does that passion come from? How did you get started in the space?
Robonzo: Yeah, that’s where I started. I am a lifelong gigging musician, drummer, and singer. I recently confessed in another conversation with the podcast that I years ago used to play guitar and just stopped and picked that back up because I think it’s from talking to so many songwriters. I’m like, “Wow, I’d like to write some songs.” So, I picked that up as well. But it did come from gigging a lot and being very proficient at it in terms of being… I was fond of saying, you know, when I was in the markets, where there are the opportunities that I could gig at will, you know, when and where I wanted to and get paid.
I guess, you know, the story I usually tell is one December, a while back, I realized my gig calendar had one or more gigs per month in the coming year. I was like, “Oh, that’s pretty cool. I should maybe share that with some people.” Eventually, it drove me to write a book called The Unstarving Musician’s Guide to getting paid gigs.
Once that was done, maybe during the process, I thought, “What can I do to make this a little bigger?” Because if this does help musicians, surely there’s, you know, I can take it to a broader audience over time. Though, from talking to a number of songwriters, musicians, industry people, content creators that are in the music space, and learning all these other things that we’re able to share, I’m able to share, you know, even outside the podcast. So, my new thing I’m fond of saying is, “I feel like a curator of you know, expertise, mistakes, and new trends that independent musicians want to use.” So that’s how it started.
DA: What kind of gigs were you playing at the time?
Robonzo: I have always been predominantly like a club, private events, winery type of gig person. There are the occasional things that I consider a little unusual like playing at a Google corporate event or in a wedding occasionally. So, just getting out and gigging with rock bands, pop bands, dance bands, occasionally filling in for other types of genres.
And just for me, not every musician as you know, is of this ilk. But for me, I put myself out there to be a sub whenever possible to grow my network as a musician. So, just put myself out there and that started happening more and more. And before I know it, I have wonderful opportunities to work with four or five bands in any given quarter. A lot of them are cover bands and then some original artists. So that’s predominantly what I was doing.
DA: Yeah, I think subbing is probably underrated. I used to do that quite a bit as a guitar teacher. And honestly, some of the most fruitful times as a guitar teacher were when I was subbing for a group of teachers who are working at the same store, Long & McQuade, up here in Canada. It was probably some of the best pay scale I’ve seen for teaching. So, I’m kind of glad to be out of the teaching space at this point, but I remember those being really good pay days.
Robonzo: Yeah, it’s a blast. And, you know, if you’re putting in your best, it’s so fun to perform with a group of new musicians rehearsed and rehearsed. And, you know, they generally make you feel like a superstar. If you just go and make them look good, that’s a lot of fun.
DA: That’s so true. Yeah. And that’s a really great tip too, is to be mindful of the musicians you’re playing with and then complimenting them.
Robonzo: Totally. You know what? You also reminded me, I have a good friend who’s got this monster of a band called The House Rockers. Once upon a time they were the Silicon Valley House Rockers which I almost said, but the House Rockers are a nine-piece band. The guy’s a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. And I don’t think they do any original music, but they are a working musician’s band. Many of the guys were full time musicians, not all of them. So, some of those guys sub quite a bit. And in fact, I got to play with one of them on a couple of his side projects. But anyway, back to my friend who leads the band, he really doesn’t like it because he wants these guys to be available always, 100% of the time. And he’s pretty good. I mean, what he’s producing for his band and the musicians that he’s playing with is pretty special. The pay day is always good, and they really enjoy it. So, for the most part, they’re probably 99% available, but there’s the occasion where they’re like, “Dang, you know, I can’t do it. I got myself put on this other thing.” He really gets a little… I imagine he gets a little tense around the shoulders when I talk about subbing.
DA: I mean that is the life of a session musician, though, right? If you don’t have your own band, or if you’re just the kind of artists that everybody wants on their record or at their live show, I mean, that’s the life. That’s the way it is.
Robonzo: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, to state the obvious, on top of being a good player, and a conscientious player and, you know, listening to the musicians around you at all moments, being a nice, you know, a nice guy or a nice gal, to those that you work with. And beyond that, just like doing this personal inventory, or whatever we call it these days to make sure that we are because I have my moments where I’m not always the nicest guy or I get, you know, get my buttons pushed and say things I wish I wouldn’t have but anyway to just always be mindful of that too. That, to me, you know, just the effort of trying to treat everyone like rock stars and being appreciative and having gratitude for all the opportunities took me so far. Just with gigging and so you know. I mean that transcends into everything we do, right?
DA: Yeah. I’ve had Matt star on the show. I remember him talking about the fact that it was so weird sort of like introducing himself to Ace Freely, or like Mr. Big, or whoever it was, and hobnobbing with them and trying to build that relationship so that he could ultimately get the gig. He’s like, it’s not really the intention. The intention, first and foremost, was to build that good strong connection and relationship. But I think it’s still necessary, right? No matter how awkward or uncomfortable it feels, you just got to be a good hang and be around these people if you want the gig.
Robonzo: Yeah. I think it was my very first or second interview for the podcast was a friend from Texas who’s been a working musician has done some really cool stuff over the years. One of the things he talked a lot about was, and he used that word, he’s from spending time in Nashville – the hang. He said it’s all about the hang and relationships.
DA: Yeah, exactly. It really is. What other kind of tips are you sharing with musicians to help them improve their gigging income?
Robonzo: Outside of improving that, but it is related. Actually, it’s very related, is to make sure that whatever projects you’re working in, that you’re happy with. If they’re not creating joy, helping you create or realize joy in making the music that you’re making, to just take a step back and think about how you can rectify that. Sometimes that means changing the situation. So that’s a big one because you know. And I share this one lately because I’ve kind of experienced this in two facets of my life where I was doing something a little longer than I should have. But, you know, eventually, either by my own doing or by external forces, I am presented with the opportunity for things to change. And lo and behold, when you’re doing things that you really enjoy, you’re a lot more productive both financially and just kind of in the happiness scale.
Something else I’m really reminded of from a conversation earlier today that I had for Ryan Corollas Podcast, which is Breaking The business. I’m getting them all mixed up. I’m looking at too many on the pages today. And he, you know, echoed something that I’m really fond of talking about, which is, and you and I’ve talked about it too prior to hitting the proverbial record is content creation and how much that can mean for musicians. So, he’s huge on the idea. I advocated it. I didn’t get as excited as he does. But he’s not actually a musician. He’s an entertainment attorney and his podcast is to offer, you know, advice for indie musicians like both of ours. He was saying how huge it is for musicians to podcast. Also, he’s super excited both from this year and the coming year about live streaming and what it’s doing for musicians to help them increase their opportunities and hence their income.
Another favorite, you know, I love the whole house concert thing if you’re in a place to do that. To me, if you play guitar or keyboards, you’re totally house concert ready and I don’t care what genre you play, you just kind of semi acoustify whatever you’re doing if you need to, and dig into the house concert scene. There are a lot of resources out there if that’s something you’ve just kind of heard about. And I’m talking to your listeners right now, but if it’s something that you’re just kind of hearing about, there are a ton of resources, probably on davidandrewwiebe.com, and certainly on my website where you can learn more about it. Those are some of my favorite things. Obviously, build your email list, build your email list, build your email list.
DA: Good thing to reinforce because I always end up having to share that same tip over and over, whether it’s with coaching, consulting, or through the content that we create here. And what I found really interesting, I guess, is what you said about happiness. I think that’s very often overlooked. I can even admit that at times I’ve taken on jobs that I was not saying, “Hell, yeah.” to. You know, the old Derrick Rose thing. It’s hell yeah, you know. Unless you’re in “Hell, yeah!”, it’s just a no. Don’t say yes.
And so many times like I’ve had so many lines in the water as it were, you know. If you’re going fishing, sometimes you see those people with their four or five rods set up with bait on the on the end because they’re just determined to catch something. They really don’t care about the sport of fishing. They just want to make sure that a fish gets on one of those lines. They can put as many lines up there as they can. Well, you know, in business or in my various creative endeavors, I’ve been that guy at times. I think, coming to this point, I’m trying to streamline a lot more but I’ve been that guy before that on the happiness curve wasn’t always the happiest.
Robonzo: Yeah. Good thing you bring up about doing things because the opportunity is there. And it’s been talked about a lot of different ways by a lot of people smarter than me, but it is something we have to be careful about. I think it’s not uncommon for us. No matter how good we are at saying no to the right things. Some of us much better than others. You know, it’s easy for us to get caught again in saying yes to something and not realizing it until it’s irritating, you know that you got involved with it. There’s always an opportunity to course correct.
I have to tell everyone listening, yourself included, no matter what you think of Phil Collins, I read his biography, he’s a great drummer and someone I really… between Genesis and what he did and things outside of both those parts of his career. And a lot of things I didn’t know about him but the big one, you know… One thing we all remember about Phil Collins, if we were there when he was doing any of his work is, he was everywhere to the point of annoyance to a lot of people. And that was because… I’m sure he was a nice guy and he was obviously very talented. He was always getting asked to do these really great things from like working with Eric Clapton to working on the Prince’s Trust because he knows Princess Diana and, just you name it. And he was just always like, “Well, I’m not going to get to do that again.” But the most interesting part about it as much as I was going, “Gosh. Well, he can do so much. Surely, I can do more.” But those things kind of destroyed him is his personal life, his health. At the end of the day, that’s all we got.
DA: That’s true. Yeah. It didn’t destroy his career. Right? I guess that’s the one thing you can say about that. Whereas it had the opposite effect with vanilla ice being omnipresent. It definitely ended up killing his career.
Robonzo: Good point. Yeah. Yeah. And we can think of others too. Yeah, I guess that’s a whole podcast dissecting the different artists that did that. That we’re able to be everywhere to the point of annoyance and the ones that were destroyed because they were everywhere to the point of annoyance.
DA: Yeah, but I definitely want to underscore what you said. Like If you don’t have your health, you don’t got anything. If you can’t be present, if you’re not there, then you got nothing. So definitely take care of yourself.
Robonzo: Yeah, that’s one of the tips I heard. I think it was Zeus Polinski, and certainly a bunch of other people that, you know, is there creating both content and events and topics to talk about live with music artists. There seems to be a big movement, rightfully so, in kind of the whole self care thing.
Robonzo: You know, on top of the fact that we can get burned out so easily, one thing that’s been a recurring theme on the Unstarving Musician Podcast and I’m sure yours, and not by my doing but mental health. I don’t know if it’s true or not, from the outside looking in, it certainly looks like that in the artistic world that there are a number of challenges with mental health, depression, and these types of things. So certainly, this whole conversation we’re having about self care is super important to maintaining a good state of mental and emotional wellness so that we can always be creative.
I’ve also heard as you probably have that, some artists, many artists are kind of afraid to lose the emotional or the drama that they might be having in their life for fear that it will affect their creativity. But I have seen otherwise. I’m sure I know a lot many people besides me have seen the same that if you’re in a good head space you’re going to do your best work.
DA: Yeah, it’s kind of a recent observation for me. But I think the other day I came across this list. It was because of the content pieces putting together which was like, should you give up on music? By the way, answer’s no. But I found this list on Wikipedia. It was notable people with major depressive disorder. And the list will absolutely surprise you. There are people like Buzz Aldrin, second man on the moon. There might be a reason for that. Drew Carey, Wayne Brady, Eric Clapton, Hulk Hogan, the list goes on and on. And there’s tons of musicians on there too. It just goes to show you that “success” doesn’t make you happy. It may bring out parts of you that were always there to confront them but these people that we think should be happy might actually be some of the least happy people just because of the circumstances they’re in or, even maybe mental imbalances potentially.
Robonzo: Yeah, yeah. I’ve been off and on thinking that this should become a bigger part of the Unstarving Musician. I’ve been really lucky in my lifetime to not have… Compared to most people I can say I’ve had zero troubles. I’ve had legitimately a couple of episodes in my life where I was dealing with what I’ll just label minor depression. Before, maybe I should have, but in talking to people about it and having gone through just a little taste of it, it’s kind of scary. I think that awareness is always a good thing in sharing stories when we can about the times that have been tough for us. And, you know, maybe in the process of doing that, we catch someone at the right time with the right resources to help themselves. Outreach for help or just take advantage of resources that are right in front of them to get better.
DA: Yeah, I think we just got to connect with more people. People are lonely. It’s easier said than done but that’s what’s going to happen is we got to start shaking hands and going, are you okay? And people will just give you their blanket answer, but you got to keep digging, right? It’s like, are you okay?
Robonzo: Yeah, and admittedly it does feel like a strange world we’re in at the moment compared to years past. So that can certainly add to it. Everything from all things digital to political climate and culture just, you know. I’ve kind of stopped blaming just politics but just culturally people are having a tough time.
DA: Absolutely. such an important topic. But you mentioned Unstarving Musician, which is a name I really like. It seems to me we’re both passionate about dispelling this pervasive idea that if you’re an artist, you must be starving, which is an assumption and sentiment a lot of people still carry. But some people when they embrace their passion and go all in on their artistic career, they end up exploding. So, what are some things you’ve seen in this regard? Who do you know that isn’t just starving or surviving but rather thriving?
Robonzo: Shannon Curtis. I talked about her earlier today. She does it largely on community and house concerts. She tours every year and that’s all she does, house concerts. She kind of have an annual with her husband at her side in the recording process and probably the creative process too. She’s releasing music every year and this is kind of the center point for creating a house concert tour.
John Christopher Davis is a guy who’s now based in Texas. He spent a lot of years in Nashville. He’s actually in the area in which I have a lot of family now in Texas, in Dallas Fort Worth. He’s had a ton of success in licensing music. I’m going to kind of throw him under the bus. And so, he’s not among the young crowd. I’m sure he’d laugh more. He’s not really an old guy in the grand scheme of things, but he still loves what’s going on in music and it’s changed a lot because he’s been in the business for quite a while and he loves performing. He’s busy as all get out. He’s got the right relationships going on. So, he’s doing really well.
Gosh, let’s just look at the list of podcasts. There are so many people. Oh, there’s one that came back into my mind recently. There’s a band Mingo Fish Trap that is based out of Austin, I believe. And their founder, I can find them. You might know of them. Let’s see. Their founder is Roger Blevins, Jr. He went to school also in the greater Dallas Fort Worth area but at North Texas, a great music school. They have carved out a niche in the festival scene for many years. He’s someone I need to reconnect with. He’s just one of those people that’s seen a lot, done a lot, he knows a lot that I think is helpful to other musicians. I know he participates in songwriter type masterminds, the song writing groups. I think they have like a Songwriters University in his area that they sort of do online collaboration with. And so, that’s a really cool thing. But I don’t know if he’s out there sharing all of his great stories and all the you know, trials and tribulations they’re in, but yeah, that’s a great question. I’m looking at the long list of people that have been on the podcast. There are just so many, but I guess my answer speaks to one thing is that there’s so many ways to make it in music.
Ryan Carolla, who I talked to earlier today was saying there’s no better time to be in the music industry. You know, there’s so much opportunity. On the other side, I think, “Man, it’s so hard to be in the music industry.” You have to be so many things. You can’t just be the artist anymore, right? There’s two ways to look at it but one thing’s for sure. There’s a lot of different ways to create your income and your niche and ways to make it happen.
Like Ryan says there, if you’re resourceful enough, it’s all out there for free on the internet. If you need a little extra help in the way of some courses and I’m one of those guys. I like a good course you know. That’s there. The books are there. Your books, my books, and just tons of super smart people helping people out like you are.
DA: Yeah, boom, Mic drop. There you go. Yeah, you don’t have to be starving at all. And I love what you said about things being kind of bloated and confusing out there. I’ve seen that in the music entrepreneur space, and I’ve been in those talks and I was kind of surprised that what they had for me was this giant mind map or what they had for their listeners, viewers, attendees, whatever was this giant map of these are all the things you got to do. I was kind of thinking to myself like, “No. No. No. It’s got to be easier than this.” And that’s why I’m currently developing the Music Entrepreneur Code. That’s all I’m going to say about it right now. But if people want to get on the waiting list, they can go to davidandrewwiebe.com/code, and find out when that’s going to become available.
DA: Now, you’ve referenced podcasting. We both have podcast and we’ve interviewed some of the same people even, which kind of shows you who the squeaky wheels are in the music business. But what was it that made you think podcasting would be the right channel for your message?
Robonzo: Well, while I was thinking about what I was going to do to make this a little bigger, a website was obvious. A blog, to me at the time was pretty obvious. I got involved in a large international community mastermind thing for personal branders. It really had little or nothing to do with music. Nothing actually is really for anybody who wants to niche out something like helping musicians whatever.
Maybe you’re in the world of education and you want to make life easier for teachers. It didn’t matter. But one of the loudest recommendations I got from the mentor ringleader of this whole thing was, “Roberto, you need to start a podcast.” I took his advice, thinking, “Well, he’s got one. He’s obviously building a great business with it.” And to me, by the way, that’s a good thing to build a great business around what you’re doing whether part of it’s trying to help musicians or just to get your music out there. You kind of have to, right? Because if not, you’re going to run out of gas at some point. He says, “You got to start a podcast.” I did and I found Immediately after getting to maybe the first couple of interviews that… I probably did then too. My first one was a big disaster, but I loved it. I found inspiration in one podcast and then a couple that are kind of big-league podcasters in the art of the interview. So that’s what really inspired me.
The more the more podcasters I talked to, the more podcasts that I get exposed to and kind of check out. There are so many directions for growth or for rebranding that are out there. Somebody told me the number of podcasts that are out in the US just this week, and it’s a huge number, but we also are hearing that it’s still at an early early stage. So that’s why I got into it.
I find it to be a lot of fun, but you know, it’s not going to be everybody’s jam. Some of the musicians that that you and I talked to need to start a YouTube channel because that’s their jam. Podcasting is a ton of fun for me. I would like to become more of a YouTuber, a video kind of guy. And in fact, I’m going to have to. It’s on the radar. I want to start putting up my own performance content. And I would love to have an occasional thing where people can see conversations like ours today live, you know, doing some live streaming. So yeah, little steps at a time.
DA: Yeah, and I can definitely see this podcast base continuing to grow. I think it is challenging. I’ve seen a gradual uptick in my listenership recently, which is great. But it was a long stagnation there for a while sitting at about 1000 listeners per month and it’s like, well, that’s great. I’m just wondering if I should keep going with this thing because it doesn’t seem to be to be growing. Well, it’s always validating to see those numbers continue to go up and change but I think sometimes it’s also easy to take for granted that like, you have a reach of 1000 people and you’re like, “Uh-oh, that’s actually pretty significant when you stop and think about it.”
Robonzo: Oh, yeah. I don’t know if you knew this, but at just 1000 listeners per episode, your percentage wise, hugely, far and a way above all the rest of the podcasters. So, if you’re podcasting and you’re at that level, you’re doing great. And you know, not everybody has to be Joe Rogan or pick your podcast. That’s like one of the most famous in the world.
We just need to be engaged. Same as when we play our music. When we create our music, engagement is our friend. And same thing with podcasting. By the way on engagement, if I can throw this out there. Ryan Carolla was sharing a story. I’ll see if I can find her name. I’m sharing it with you, but we were on the threat of live broadcasting, video streaming, and the great opportunities it provides to musicians these days. Mary Ambers, who I believe you talked about. She’s doing big things; I think you said on Twitch or [unclear 30:15]. But like her I’ve had a guest on my podcast that’s done very much the same. She’s doing everything from writing her songs in, you know, going through the writing process in a live stream, asking for suggestions for anything as small as I need a word to rhyme with whatever, you know, fill in the blank while she’s live streaming. And actually, letting her fans collaborate with her.
I’ve had a guest that has done that. She’s had guests help her choose songs from those she’s working on to vote which ones they like best for her upcoming release. They work with her on the cover art and various other aspects and that’s pretty amazing. So I think, you know, podcasting can be this way as well. But what a cool thing though. He got me pretty excited about the whole live stream thing. It’s something I want to explore with my guests in the future and it gave me food for thought in my own new chapter and music.
DA: Yeah, right now Instagram Live is a big thing. I had a friend who came to me and said, “I’m going to start doing lives on Facebook.” I had just spent like probably the better part of five, six months experimenting with Facebook’s Live. I was like, “Dude, you got to move on over to Instagram because based on my testing and my experiences, yeah, Facebook Live is no longer where it’s at.” And he was like, “Okay. Well I’m going to do it on Facebook because technologically it just makes more sense for me to start there. But then I’m going to distribute it to Instagram.” I said, “Great. Do that for sure.”
Robonzo: Yeah, Instagram video is all the rage. This is going to sound weird to some people, not everyone, LinkedIn video. I know it’s going to sound weird. Going to sound weird, right, to some people because that’s not for musicians, that’s for people looking for jobs to some people.
Think about if you’re not there. Think about how you can or should be because LinkedIn videos in its infancy stage, kind of like Facebook wasn’t once upon a time or maybe Instagram is right now. So, it’s a great place to get your message out on video.
DA: Yeah, I think you got to get on there too. Be on LinkedIn. There are a lot of opportunities. And the video engagement has been really good.
Robonzo: Oh, yeah. And a growing number of industry professionals out there too. These people are great to… I’m learning more reasons why industry pros are going to connect with you know. When I first started, I considered myself a musician. I do. First and foremost, I consider myself a musician and an author, you know, a content creator. But I figure slowly but surely, I’m kind of falling into what I consider industry. That, you know, I’m an educator, right, to a degree. Maybe someday I’ll speak full fledged. But, you know, when I was just looking at myself as a musician, I really just thinking I just want to talk to musicians. I don’t really need to talk to the industry people, but there’s so much that they have to offer just in terms of information because they’re talking to and working with a ton of musicians. And most of these folks really, really, really love helping musicians. Some of them are musicians. Some of them not so much. Some of them are crappy, self admittedly crappy musician, but they just love music, and love musicians. Wow! I’m kind of getting slapped in the face recently with what great friends and partners they can potentially be.
DA: Yeah, no, absolutely. There’s a lot that can be learned from that. It depends on who you talk to too. Some of them are going to be a little more traditional and conventional in their approach and what they talk about. It may not end up applying to some independent musicians. And then, there’s others who are looking to the future and looking to the possibilities of streaming, online marketing, and everything else that’s going on in the world. You can get different perspectives that way.
Robonzo: Yep, totally. Love it. And from different genres, I suppose too. You know, a genre that I’m kind of excited about. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it forever, but DJs. One of my former guests who’s going to be… I’m going to do a follow up interview with pretty soon but I got to meet her in Nashville in person, her name is Notell. And she’s kind of grown up. She’s a singer. I consider her a singer first and foremost. She’s a songwriter. But she’s been immersed in the DJ world for a long time. And when I met with her in Nashville just last week, she just came from recording session. She was putting together… Get this. It was new to me. Maybe it’s not to you. She’s working on a product that would be distributed to the DJ community for use as samples.
So, it’s a lot of vocal stuff with some music overlay. I was imagining. I’m real interested in speaking with her more about it, but what I’m kind of imagining is, you know, she’s got this digital product or maybe physical as well. And it’s got probably snippets of things kind of like when you go into a garage band or something and you find these, you know, license free or royalty free music options that you can use for podcasting for those who are familiar and can make that comparison but that was yet another way to make, you know, to put your career together, another income stream. But a really cool and exciting thing I was unfamiliar with and, and again, you know, she turned me on to some DJ to check out. I’ve seen a couple that I’m like, “That person seems pretty artistic.” And I’ve seen some band Incubus. I don’t know if they’re still around, but they had a guy that would, that I considered, you know, a DJ on stage with them and he was brilliant, you know, in this rock band. So, they’re all certainly all kinds of applications. And I know there’s some crappy ones, of course, but it’s something I’m more interested in these days.
DA: Yeah, no, it’s really cool. And you know, there was that entire period of kind of the hybrid hip hop band, pop band, rock band sort of thing, Linkin’ Park, or even Sugar Ray to some extent. I think Incubus might still be going at this point. I’ve been compared to them or some of my music has been compared to them, which is kind of cool. I guess I had a little bit of that alternative vibe. Recently, I wouldn’t say like I came back to music but I’ve started making more music than I did in the past.
Robonzo: Good for you.
DA: I’m planning out a new album for 2020 and that kind of thing. But I think it all came from something podcast guests recently shared with me off air as it were. And he was like, “Hey, I went and listened to your Fire Your God recording. It says it’s released in 2018, but is that new?” And I was like, “No, it’s actually not. I think I first released it in 2011.” And he’s like, “Well, something I just wanted to tell you, it kind of makes me think of John Frusciante. Have you listened to his stuff?” And so, I’ve had that comparison before too, but I hadn’t sat there and listened to John Frusciante. And then, when I did, it’s like, he actually has quite a few, rew unpolished demo-esque recordings. And I was like, “Oh, well, if someone like him is doing it, certainly I can too.”
Robonzo: Yeah, what a great artist too. Now that you said that I need to listen to some of his solo work.
DA: Yeah, absolutely. We’ll wrap this up here shortly but another medium you’ve chosen for your message is a book. It’s fair to say that there are many people in this space with a book but it can be a massive undertaking. And while it establishes your credibility and authority, getting it read can even be even more of an intensive uphill climb. So, what made you want to write a book and what has the impact of that been?
Robonzo: I’ve always enjoyed writing and yeah, it was a quick read but still creating even a quick read for the first time feels like a monumental task. And then, I did the self-publish route. Then, I would imagine whether you’re doing self publishing or traditional there’s still a lot to learn, right? So, there was all that and then there’s the sigh of relief when I finally put the last period on the paper right the end whatever. And then realizing, “Oh crap, now I have to start working to get it out there.”
So, again it the idea that you know, I have kind of a cool story about what this whole subbing musician, gigging musician, a drummer, and a busy one who’s gotten to work with a lot of wonderful people that I want to share, because I’d seen some of my peers around me struggle with something that was coming to me pretty easy. So, I figured, there’s more people out there that struggle. And yeah, so I put it together. It did take a little while. I would like to actually improve upon it with a second edition. I’ve slowly started working on that. The title of it was to lend itself to a series so that I could have an Unstarving Musicians Guide to fill in the blank. The first one was about getting paid gigs. So that was the initial intention, but I’ve just done the one. Speaking of that, I was looking. You’ve published a few. That inspires me to get back in and get back out and write or get to it, so to speak. But you know, you and I were also talking about paid work to create content. I’ve had some of those opportunities come across my desk recently.
DA: Yes. That’s fantastic.
Robonzo: Yeah, yeah. And I’m taking advantage of those and the work is interesting and will help me with the economics of keeping the Unstarving Musician going for now. So, you know, something that I felt compelled to do but yeah, I’m meeting with another writer on a regular basis to a couple actually in a workshop environment and a mastermind environment to keep myself going. But yeah, they’re great. They’re a great business card, right. They’re one of the things, yeah. And you know if you’re a musician, and/or a podcaster, or you’re just a podcaster, or you’re a whatever, if you have a book, that’s a great way for you to ask your community to support you. You know, pick up a copy of my book, it’s available on you know, on Amazon and all the other platforms via kobo.com or however you’re selling it.
And speaking of which, I almost forgot. I’ve been really bad about this. I sponsored an event recently for Zeus Polinski, a rock star advocate, and in celebration of the event, I put the book on sale for the first time. I know how the price is right in front of me. But I think it’s like $399 for the paperback and $299 for the Kindle on Amazon. Kobo is just a place where you can get it on all the other, you know, electronic platforms. And that’s through this month. So, if you happen to… I don’t know if anybody’s going to hear this before then. I should’ve asked that. But if they do, or maybe something that gets mentioned in the show notes, so that was kind of a big deal for me. But the bigger thing, getting back to, if you have a book, or you’re thinking about a book, it’s a great way for your people, your tribe, your fans, your patrons, your supporters to support you in whatever work you’re doing.
DA: Absolutely. Yeah, I do have four books now. And rest assured there are more coming. But I think, I was here worried about automation and AI beginning to take over content work, which I guess to some extent it is like producing business reports and stuff like that. But I think this is actually the most lucrative time to be in content creation. So, if you are a writer or if you want to get into that work or have a little bit of side income, now’s the time to get into it. It’s big. Are there any books or other resources that have helped you on your journey?
Robonzo: Well, it’s a podcast or the… Well, I shouldn’t say the podcast but the person, Pat Flynn, was a big inspiration. Yeah.
DA: That was the only one for me too.
Robonzo: Tim Ferriss was a big inspiration. He was also helped by Pat Flynn, by the way but he was a big inspiration because I like his interview style and his comm. The topic is always superb. Mark Marin, has been a big inspiration. Man, I’m getting inundated with smart people and smart guys these days. And so, I think I’m at a point though, where I should zero in on some stuff that’s really related to music.
Some of the conversations I’m having as of late with the air quotes, music industry people. I think that I’m going to be digging into those relationships more to ask them questions, ask for help, try to be a value to them because I know they’ll help me and they’ll help me help other musicians. I’ll be sharing those things always on UnstarvingMusician.com. I know you do the same on your website. So that’s one of the many places that you can find great great information and resources if you’re a gigging musician or a songwriter or somebody who’s whatever, just trying to get the needle to move a little bit.
DA: Yeah. That’s great. Well, I know you’ve got other calls and podcast recordings and other things to hop on here so we’ll let you go but thank you so much for your time and generosity Robonzo. Is there anything else I should have asked?
Robonzo: No, man. I think you covered it quite well. I just want to say it was a pleasure. I really appreciate the opportunity. I want more people to know about the Unstarving Musician and the podcast especially. Talking with you today was a great opportunity for people to learn about it. So, thanks.
DA: You got it. And people can just go to on UnstarvingMusician.com right?
Robonzo: Yep, that’s the one.
DA: Fantastic. Thanks again.
Robonzo: Yeah, man. Appreciate it.
DA: All right.