254 – The Label Machine – with Nick Sadler of NSDMT

254 – The Label Machine – with Nick Sadler of NSDMT

How do you run an independent record label? How do you set yourself and your artists up for success long-term?

That’s what we’re going to be looking at in this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast.

Podcast Highlights:

  • 00:24 – Nick Sadler is back!
  • 00:54 – Nick’s new book
  • 08:57 – Artist contracts and recording agreements
  • 10:02 – Finding an extra set of hands to help you in your career – artist manager
  • 13:30 – Successful artists generally don’t wait around for representation
  • 16:04 – Why is it important to throw more money at album artwork?
  • 21:11 – How David won Best Original Score for The Nobody Prayer
  • 23:15 – How to grow an email list in depth
  • 33:33 – Has Nick ever had to diagnose and repair a business that wasn’t working?
  • 34:48 – What is the importance of a business plan?
  • 39:05 – Instagram and Facebook ads and the gold rush
  • 45:58 – Nick’s closing thoughts
  • 49:03 – Setting up your artists for success

Resources Mentioned in This Episode:

Transcription:

Coming soon.

Closing Segment

So, if you enjoyed this episode of The New Music Industry Podcast and want to figure out how you can take care of your artists, or even give your own music a serious boost, I want to invite you to download our new free training called Music Money Machine. If you’re discouraged and tired of trying to stand out from the crowd, only to come up empty handed, this training is for you. Claim it now at davidandrewwiebe.com/Machine.

This has been episode 254 of The New Music Industry Podcast. I’m David Andrew Wiebe, and I look forward to seeing you on the stages of the world.

The Busywork That Brings Music Career Progress to a Screeching Halt

The Busywork That Brings Music Career Progress to a Screeching Halt

Knowing what to prioritize isn’t always easy. Much of the time, it requires rigorous forethought and planning. But that’s no excuse not to do the work.

In any business, the big question is not whether you can design a beautiful logo, create eye-catching business cards, or set up a stellar website. The question is whether you can get to your first dollar. You can do this without creating a damn thing these days, because you can take pre-orders to test the demand for a product, you’re thinking about making.

If you want to get a visual on an entrepreneurial endeavor that’s not moving because of busywork and obsessing over details, go and watch season 4, episode 20 of How I Met Your Mother, titled Mosbius Designs.

I understand that this is a “business” example, but I would argue it’s totally applicable to artists. Now, I understand that music is a passion. And you want to create something you love. The point is – if you want to build a profitable career, you want to make sure there are other people out there whose hearts also beat over the same thing!

This will largely determine whether the next 10 years of your career will be spent playing every dive bar you can find, growing your audience one member at a time…

Or…

Coming out of the gate with strong wave of momentum that will quickly carry you onto the shores of the next phase of your music career.

I remember coaching a business owner who wanted to build a locally sourced, eco-friendly, humanitarian, customer-pleasing, employee-conscious business. I’m not exaggerating, I’m summarizing.

You can’t help but admire the heart of someone who wants to do that much good in the world. Someone who even questions whether they should be using the internet because of the strain it puts on the power grid and what that means for the planet.

But in the context of entrepreneurship, this was, for a lack of a more eloquent term, utterly and completely stupid.

What we encouraged her to do was look at how she could sell her first product. Get to her first dollar. Validate a market. If she could sell her product and build a profitable business, in due course, she’d be able to do more in the world.

As a giving, agreeable, listening person, I’ve often had to remind myself that you can’t contribute out of scarcity. You can only contribute out of overflow. My recent charitable efforts were intentional and deliberate, and they were created through initiatives that didn’t cost me.

You can’t contribute out of scarcity. You can only contribute out of overflow. Share on X

But no, she insisted on doing things her way. Not only did she not make an income from her business – the people she’d partnered with, hired, or contracted to work with never stuck around for more than a few weeks.

When you have a new idea about what you’re out to accomplish every other week, it signals a red flag to everyone around you who might have bought into your initial burst of passion and enthusiasm.

I know from having talked to a friend of mine that the stars don’t always align out the gate. One of his band projects was initially thinking about becoming a cover band. But it never worked. It wasn’t until they decided to work on originals that things finally clicked for them. Had they simply jumped from idea to idea without thinking, though, they would have missed out on creating their life work.

As for my coaching client, the story doesn’t end there. I helped her set up her website, and she had the audacity to accuse me of having insufficient systems in my business while I was on vacation recovering from burnout. I was halfway across the world without a computer offering customer support from my smartphone. I should have charged a hefty sum for that. It was a low moment for me, but I had to acknowledge that everything wasn’t hunky dory on my end either.

What we learned from that experience was to never put client websites on our servers. Let them buy their own hosting, so if they run into any problems, they can contact customer support and give them a tongue lashing on their own time.

And that’s a whole other lesson – learning from your mistakes!

But to conclude, let’s put this in terms any artist can understand. Before you go out and spend $40,000 on your indie dubstep breakbeat banjo jungle reggae funk, make sure someone gives a crap.

There is absolutely no virtue or value in creating a micro-niche there’s no demand for! I’m calling B.S. on this strategy. I’d much rather see you enter a generic market like “rock” and differentiate using your marketing and branding than spend countless hours and thousands of dollars testing your violin Celtic metal punk junk country fusion just for the hell of it.

There is absolutely no virtue or value in creating a micro-niche there’s no demand for! Share on X
Breaking the Toxic Patterns of Trying to be “Better” in Your Music Career

Breaking the Toxic Patterns of Trying to be “Better” in Your Music Career

This might fly in the face of a lot of things you’ve heard before. But you’re a creative mastermind, and a brilliant abstract thinker, so I trust you as a keeper of this knowledge.

What I learned from author Mark Manson (you might have heard of a little book called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck), is that there’s a toxic pattern hidden in many personal development methodologies. And I can honestly say I’ve sometimes been caught in that toxic pattern!

Again, I know this is paradoxical because what are we talking about here if not self-betterment – strategies and tactics for a better music career? What does it mean to be a musician if improvement is subtracted from the equation? Nothing, really, because it’s our job to show up better than we did last time! And make no mistake – practicing your instrument or voice every day is a form of personal development!

What I got from Manson is that trying to be better all the time can be a depressing way to live. And even beyond the hype-based, rah-rah weekend conferences that light you up for a mere week before you crash and go back to “normal” life, there is something about being in constant pursuit of more that disagrees with one’s identity, spiritual path, and desire to be happy (which many have entirely written off).

One of the reasons for that is because it’s human nature to play the comparison game. “Look how much better they’re doing,” you say, recognizing just how far you must go to be at their level, whoever they are, and whatever they’ve accomplished. And I do mean to say you don’t have the context to even understand how or what they’ve accomplished, because you are not them.

Either way, the question is, can you be content with where you’re at? Can you enjoy the journey of kaizen, of being a little bit better today than you were yesterday, and staying in that process over the long haul?

Because the thing about every destination is, the journey is the longest part. If you don’t enjoy the journey, you’re not going to be much happier at the destination. You might experience a fleeting sense of relief or joy, maybe even victory or celebration, but it will be so brief compared to the long, hard road it took to get there, it will hardly feel worth it.

The thing about every destination is, the journey is the longest part. Share on X

As hard as it might be to believe, every day can be a holiday. It takes some deep, intellectual work for this to sink in, but if you’re up for the challenge, have a read through Reality Transfuring, Steps I-V by Vadim Zeland and Joana Dobson. I don’t know what they were smoking or what planet they were sent from to write this work, but it can really open your eyes to the possibility of going through life with a carefree sense of joy and excitement.

Now, Bruce Lee said:

Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.

And his point is well-taken. Diamonds are forged under pressure. We all transform under pressure.

But I think what Zeland was saying is that even in challenge and difficulty, the events themselves are neutral, and we can make them mean whatever we want them to mean. You can go through any event in life with a sense of discovery.

What I learned from Manson is, instead of trying to be better, be curios. At some point, we all start to feel like we’ve seen it all, heard it all, or tried it all. But that can’t possibly be true when our lives don’t seem to be working at the level, we see others working. There’s always more to discover, more to learn. And sometimes it’s the simplest things.

In an interview with author Tim Ferriss, former CD Baby founder Derek Sivers said it was a profound discovery for him that women like sex. Like I said, the simplest realizations can sometimes alter your course for good.

Being curious is still personal development, but it’s a different approach. It’s coming from a place of humble discovery versus all-knowing arrogance.

Are You Still Working on Flashes of Elation?

Are You Still Working on Flashes of Elation?

I’ve recently had some personal questions from those who are either interested in my forthcoming book, Flashes of Elation, or have already pre-ordered it, and are wondering about its status (and rightfully so). So, I thought it would be worth making a public statement so that no one would be in the dark about this.

You may have seen my November Monthly Hustle post on Music Entrepreneur HQ, seen the blurbs about “next books” and noticed that Flashes is missing from the equation.

First, and most importantly, I have not abandoned the project. Yes, I’m still working on it. And it is a very important work to me.

I admit that I use the term “working on it” a little loosely here, because honestly, I haven’t had a whole lot of momentum with it since 2018. But this is not because I don’t intend to complete it.

I am acknowledging that this has become somewhat of a Duke Nukem Forever or Chinese Democracy type situation, but at least what you can say about those releases is that they eventually happened (even if they didn’t impress). And it’s going to be the same with Flashes of Elation – it will happen, and hopefully, it will impress.

The other reason Flashes doesn’t appear in my “next book” list right now is because there are still some tough editing decisions to make. Will I eliminate certain chapters or entire sections of certain chapters, will I write new chapters, will I knowingly break certain writing conventions (spelling, grammar, formatting, etc.), and so on.

Not to make too much of it, but these are the types of difficult decisions I’ve been facing in the editing process, for a book that is sure to be the same length as The New Music Industry (66,000 words), which I laboriously edited many times (12 hours at a time), along with the help of my editors.

There is some good news in all this, though. I started an intensive yearlong leadership program about six months ago, and I’m in what they call the “Completion” quarter. And that means I’m looking for every opportunity to tie up loose ends in my world, and I know that Flashes is one of those loose ends I’m not willing to sit with for much longer.

But first and foremost, I plan to complete another Duke Nukem Forever or Chinese Democracy that’s been gnawing at me for even longer, and that’s my musical release, Back on Solid Ground.

That said, I’ve created a separate list of projects and tasks to complete, and Flashes of Elation is on that list!

As challenging as they have been, the last few years have taught me a great deal. With Music Entrepreneur HQ, I thought I was building a community / membership. Only to find that the traffic was just as disengaged as the stats showed. I thought it was growing into a profitable, sustainable business. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone one step forward and two steps back in the preceding years – even more so in the last six months.

I never would have discovered all that if I hadn’t gone through the motions of setting it all up and testing it in the market though. And maybe one day I will have a hungry, ready, engaged audience for what I’ve created. But I can see that time isn’t now.

I guess what I’m saying is – in experimenting with a lot of business models and initiatives, I’m recognizing that what people want from me most is music and books. And so, music and books you shall have. Online academies and coaching programs? Maybe for another time.

And, once the political weirdness that’s been playing out across the world over the last 21 months starts settling down, maybe you’ll see me on the stages of the world performing and giving presentations again.

Anyway, at this point I’ve gone on long enough, and I can’t justify spending more time on this when indeed, I could be working on Flashes of Elation. So, I hope your question has been answered, and thank you so much for sticking with me. It’s been a ride.

Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital Instrument Set Review

Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital Instrument Set Review

The Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital is all the rage right now. I was personally sent a unit a few months ago and was eager to give it a whirl.

Amazingly, I realized I’d never played guitar with a wireless setup prior to this. I’ve used wireless mics, especially as a former audiovisual tech, but never a wireless setup for my guitar. And so, this was an exciting journey of discovery.

Here are my thoughts on Evolution Digital Wireless. Did it live up to the hype? Keep reading to find out…

Packaging: Noteworthy

Sennheiser packaging

It seems a tad indulgent to comment on the packaging, and it might not even have occurred to me to do so if it weren’t worth commenting on.

But I have been sent a couple of Sennheiser products to this point, and what their boxing demonstrates to me is that they care.

I make no claims of Sennheiser’s being the most beautiful, luxurious wrapping ever invented. I have been sent a set of Status Audio headphones and considering the price (affordable) and quality of the product, when those cans arrived at my doorstep, it felt like I was opening a Christmas gift. Stunning packaging.

Even so, there is pride in the Sennheiser boxing, and it is well designed. That enhances the overall experience of the product.

Ease of Use & Setup: Slight Hiccups

I can admit that I was trying this baby out on a sleepy Sunday, so if I was feeling a little sharper, setup probably could have gone a little smoother. Which isn’t to say it was terrible because it wasn’t.

I’m also not saying that this is the fault of Sennheiser. I’m not even saying that this factors into my overall rating of the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital.

But I must point out the irony in the fact that I had to think about how the cabling was going to work as I was setting up a wireless unit.

The user manual seemed to indicate that the AF out on the receiver was for the included 1/8” to 1/4” cable, when clearly it accommodates standard 1/4” cables. Maybe I’m missing something here? But the 1/8” cable is quite obviously for the transmitter, not the receiver.

Sennheiser wireless user manual

Once I got my cabling sorted out, though, setup was quick and painless.

The transmitter and receiver pair just as Bluetooth devices do. That part should be familiar to most. It should be noted, though, that the on switch for the transmitter is on the inside (where the batteries go). Nice design – you shouldn’t bump the power switch on accident.

After that, I didn’t adjust anything on the receiver. I only adjusted my amp to taste, and I was well taken care of.

Range & Performance: No Issues

Live performance wireless unit

I live in a humble basement suite. Even so, my first inclination with a wireless unit is to test its range.

So, I strapped on a guitar, and walked around the various rooms while playing – the living room, the bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, and even the study in the far corner. I heard a slight delay at that distance (as is to be expected), but I didn’t notice any signal dropout while walking about.

And as I understand it, the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital automatically maintains signal integrity on your behalf. No effort required on your part unless something is off.

One of the things a guitarist might be concerned with is a degradation in tone. And let’s face it – this is nothing new. Whether it’s cabling, effects pedals, or rackmount units, our signal path tends to dictate the integrity of our sound.

I’m happy to report that I did not notice any degradation of tone while using the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital.

Now, when I switched from my Ernie Ball Music Man Axis (with humbuckers) over to my Fender Mexi-Strat, I did notice quite a bit of noise. And while that’s somewhat expected with a Strat (equipped with single coils), I can’t fault the Evolution Wireless, because I think there’s a loose connection in the guitar (it’s high time I took this baby in for a look over). Might explain why I’ve had some issues with it on other occasions.

Overall, I can’t promise flawless performance at any range, I don’t think even Sennheiser promises that, but within reason, the Evolution Wireless will deliver with flying colors.

Practical Application: Yes!

Wireless transmitter and receiver

Could I see myself using the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital live? Yes! I would even be happy to try it at my next gig.

It doesn’t eliminate the need for cabling, and the freedom of movement offered will still be somewhat dictated by how well you’ve secured your transmitter, but overall, it’s going to give you far more freedom to move around on stage without worrying about you or someone else tripping over your cables.

I only tested the unit with a bare minimum setup (amp and guitar), but those with a more sophisticated signal path should still enjoy the benefits of a wireless setup, if that’s what they’re looking for.

Appearance & Esthetics: Magic

Both the transmitter and receiver are compact and sturdy pieces of gear. They look nice, are easy to set up, and honestly, most instrumentalists using the Evolution Wireless console probably won’t find the need to adjust the receiver.

Esthetically speaking, the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital is pleasing to the eye. The modest black and grey color scheme is standard stuff, but it’s standard for a reason – it works. Plus, the display is bright and easy to read.

The box comes with rackmount mounting gear, as well as power adapters in case you happen to be plugging in across the world (in your gigging efforts). Seems like they’ve thought of everything here.

Final Score for the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital: 8.5/10

I couldn’t find any major issues with the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital. Only minor nitpicks or areas for improvement. I’ll summarize.

The issue with the user manual (AF out) is a funny one, and if someone can sort me out on that, I might bump the score up a notch.

And then there’s the issue with noise. Again, while I don’t think my Strat is in perfect working order, it might not reflect an isolated incident (further testing needed). And, with more sophisticated guitar setups, it might be something to look out for as well.

But overall, the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital Instrument Set works near flawlessly. Setup is mostly fast and easy, and there’s no lengthy menu surfing required. For the most part, it works automatically in the background.

It’s a practical solution for live performance, and a fun one for general practice and jamming purposes too. It preserves the integrity of your tone and keeps your signal strong and clean.

There’s not much I can say about its durability besides what has already been said, but if you take care of your gear, I can’t anticipate you’ll run into issues with this product. It should last you a good long while.

In brief, the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital comes with excellent packaging, relatively easy setup, strong sound integrity, nice esthetics, and reliability.

Find the Sennheiser Evolution Wireless Digital here.