Why You Must be Your Biggest Fan

Why You Must be Your Biggest Fan

This post is part of The Renegade Musician Series.

If you owned a Ford dealership, would you drive a Chevy?

Of course, you wouldn’t. If you owned a Ford dealership, you’d make money when people bought Fords. So, you’d be a proud owner of a Ford and you would drive it everywhere you went. You’d get acquainted with the product range. You’d familiarize yourself with the benefits of driving a Ford. You’d study the psychology behind buying and selling. You’d become a student of why people buy cars, and what needs or pains they’re solving when they buy cars. You’d share your knowledge with staff and employees. You’d be a product of the product, and you’d naturally be more passionate about Fords. You’d share your passion with everyone you met, because you’d know how great Fords are, and because you’d have a vested interest in succeeding.

This is not how most musicians think about their music.

I’ve seen it firsthand…

They get sick of working on their music. They actively criticize it. The moment they’re out of the studio, they never want to hear it again. There’s no conviction, no passion, no sense of value or urgency. Yet, in many cases, this is the only product they have. Even though they should have a vested interest in their art, and they’re more qualified than anyone else to share it, spread it, and sell it, they crush their own chances of success by succumbing to cynicism, jadedness, low self-image, and even contempt. I get that familiarity breeds contempt, but this is a bit much.

I don’t know how you’re ever going to create the life you want through music if this is your attitude.

Especially since most successful musicians end up playing their early hits for the rest of their careers!

Look at Britney Spears or Christina Aguilera. Have they even done anything since their heyday? I mean, technically, yes, they have released new material since the 2000s, but the songs they’re most known for stem from their early efforts. It’s the same with most acts. We didn’t come to hear your new songs, Neil. We want to hear “Rockin’ In The Free World” again!

If you hate your music after you’re finished tracking, how in the world are you going to fulfill on hundreds of tour dates? How are you going to endure hundreds of press requests and interviews? How are you going to give the release the legs it needs to stand on? The answer is you can’t, and you won’t!

If you’re not going to be the greatest evangelist for your music, you can’t expect anyone else to do it for you.

Here’s the mentality you should have…

You should be willing to playlist all your music, put it on repeat, and play it in your house and car all day long. You should be the first to buy all your releases, all your merch, and all your concert tickets. You should go to all your shows, show up early, stay late, and shake hands until you’ve got callouses. You should be so excited to share your music and message with the world, that it’s the first thing you think about in the morning, and the last thing you think about before your head hits your pillow. You should be posting all the time, sharing all the time, connecting all the time, adding value to others, and expressing unfaltering optimism and enthusiasm for your music, because it’s your blood, sweat, tears, heart, and soul on display. Genuine optimism is contagious because there isn’t a lot of it out there. Passion is how we transform the world around us.

Passion is how we transform the world around us. Share on X

Why wouldn’t you? You’re the one that benefits most when you invest in your music.

I still remember the time I gave my first solo album to the owner of a guitar store I taught at. I wanted him to review it, tell me honestly what he thought about it.

So, after he listened, I asked.

He said, “Oh, don’t make a mockery out of me man. The guitar playing on this thing is insane! What are you trying to prove? Get out of here.”

I couldn’t believe it. That’s not how I felt about my release. I didn’t get that kind of reaction from anyone else.

But that experience planted a seed. I recognized that I needed to be my biggest fan. No one else was going to do it for me. No one could follow suit if I didn’t show them the way. If I didn’t become the leader, and teach people how to engage, they would never learn. I’d be leaving everything up to chance. Even if my dancing sucked, if it was contagious enough, others would follow.

Business owners feel the same way about their businesses. They see the greatness in it, even when no one else does. It doesn’t matter whether they fix sinks, sell clothing, or help people cope with anxiety. They’re passionate about what they do. They understand the difference they make in their world. They can’t imagine doing anything else. They’re deeply connected to the purpose behind their work.

If you’ve lost passion, don’t believe in your ability to succeed, or you’ve forgotten why you do what you do, clear your schedule, and become present to one thing – your purpose.

What difference do you want to make in the world? What impact do you want to have? Why do you exist, and why do you do what you do?

Your answer need not be complicated. But it should connect with you at a heart level.

Take ownership of your music. Your music is your product. Your product solves problems. It eases pain. It helps people escape from their difficult, painful, boring lives. It saves lives. Connect with your WHY and put some urgency on it.

Take ownership of your music. Share on X

Take advantage of The Most Incredible Back to School Sale while you still can.

Where to Find Me Today: September 30, 2022

Where to Find Me Today: September 30, 2022

What’s good?

The theme of the day is this:

Whether it’s a creative project, business, or marketing campaign, you can spend ages planning.

But in practice, things never go completely according to plan.

As the old saying goes:

Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.

There are things you won’t be able to see unless you start putting one step in front of the other. As you advance, one step at a time, more will be revealed.

It’s okay to make mistakes. People forget relatively quickly, especially nowadays.

But you can’t keep planning if you want to know what your next steps are. You’ve got to start in the direction of your destination and adjust course as more information becomes available.

There are unexpected occurrences on every journey. Things you can’t possibly account for.

Begin now. Begin anyway. Thinking is necessary, but action is genius in motion.

Much love.

Fresh Ink

Also peruse my various social media channels, all linked below.

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The Story of 6 Artists

The Story of 6 Artists

This post is part of The Renegade Musician Series.

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to lead multiple marketing discussions for a community project I’m involved in. The goal was to get a sense of the team’s social media and online footprint as well as who they knew that could be a potential contact or resource for the project (media and press, community influencers, etc.).

I interviewed six accomplished artists – musicians, poets, and writers. Here are some key facts I uncovered:

Out of six artists, 100% had websites.

This is a heartening stat. Each of the artists took their work seriously enough to take the time and resources necessary to set up their own website. If you know anything about my work, then you know I take this seriously.

Unfortunately, none of them have a clear purpose for their website. For the most part, they’ve treated their sites as static, informational brochures.

It’s no wonder most artists don’t see any value in setting up a website and would rather dedicate more of their time to social media. They don’t get results with their website because their websites aren’t set up to get them results.

Highlight and underline this:

Your website is a high-performing conversion tool and sales engine if utilized correctly, and it will outperform social media on its worst day. But again, I stress, if utilized correctly.

Your website is a high-performing conversion tool and sales engine if utilized correctly, and it will outperform social media on its worst day. Share on X

A Renegade Musician uses their website to:

  • Grow their email list
  • Get people to listen to their music
  • Get people to book them
  • Sell their merch and products

Their website’s layout, design, and content are all oriented around a singular goal (usually one of the above). On a plain, white, and grey website, they would have a big, bold, orange button on every page screaming out, “LISTEN TO OUR LATEST RELEASE” and the link would take their listeners directly to a page where they can enter their email address to listen to the songs. Beneath the MP3 player would be another button with an enticing, irresistible offer – “GET YOUR LIMITED-EDITION MERCH FOR $15.”

(This is not a conversation about your website’s color scheme or design, by the way – it’s a conversation about what your website is intended to accomplish.)

There are too many distractions on social media. You get to set up your website however you want (preferably in a strategic manner). Once you get your people coming to your website, there’s a far better chances you can lead them to do what you want them to do.

If your website isn’t oriented around a singular objective, go do something about this NOW. Choose your objective and build your entire website around getting your visitors to do what you want them to do. Convert them from email subscribers into customers.

Choose your objective and build your entire website around getting your visitors to do what you want them to do. Share on X

100% of artists didn’t have an email list.

If you’re not planning to build an email list, why do you even have a website? You do realize that your email list is your retirement plan, right?

Every year we seem to go back on forth on email, and whether it’s still relevant.

And every year we come to the same damn conclusion, that email outperforms social media in every conceivable way.

Email outperforms social media in every conceivable way. Share on X

Here are some key findings from a Mailmunch article:

  • 60% of marketers believe email outperforms social media, while 40% felt they were two different beasts [and 95% of people still don’t know what the hell they’re talking about].
  • If you have 2,000 Facebook fans, only 120 fans will see each post you publish. If you have 2,000 Twitter followers, only 40 followers will see each tweet. But if you have 2,000 email subscribers, on average, 21.73% of your list will open your messages. That’s 435 people (rounded up)!
  • When sharing a link in an email, you can expect a 3.57% click-through rate. Meanwhile, Facebook offers an average click-through rate of 0.07%, and Twitter 0.03%.

Even Mailmunch seems to get some of the stats garbled, so we’re not sure they know what they’re talking about either. What we do know is the sources they cited are credible. These stats aren’t new – they’re consistent with all the research we’ve done, and they’ve stayed this way for well over a decade.

I don’t know what’s going to happen next. I don’t have a crystal ball. But at least for the immediate future, my money’s still on email.

Note that this is not a big, red stop sign shouting, “DON’T USE SOCIAL MEDIA.” Email and social media complement each other quite nicely (if done right).

But you don’t get to keep your social media following. You never know when the platform’s algorithm will change, when they’ll update their terms and conditions, when they’ll shadow ban or delete your account completely. In the age of “disinformation,” I would not trust a platform to keep my profiles, accounts, pages, or groups active, let alone safe.

In the age of “disinformation,” I would not trust a platform to keep my profiles, accounts, pages, or groups active, let alone safe. Share on X

You need an email list. It’s the only sensible backup plan. But it’s not just a backup plan. It’s the plan. It’s the only way to reach more people and get more clicks. It’s the only way to ensure you have a contact list when a platform like TikTok takes a dive.

Get as many of your followers to join your email list as possible. NOW. And keep doing it. Don’t forget to send weekly updates. Tell them Uncle Dave knocked some sense into you.

Get as many of your followers to join your email list as possible. NOW. Share on X

Five out of six artists didn’t think they had any press or media contacts.

There are many ways to promote a local event, but getting coverage in media (papers, radio, newsletters, etc.) is a good way to get widespread exposure for less effort.

When we asked our artists and production team whether they had any press or media contacts, only one artist responded affirmatively.

Understand – these artists hadn’t started their careers yesterday. I don’t think there’s anyone with less than a decade of experience on our team.

With all the people that had reached out to them over the years for comment, five out of six artists didn’t think they had press or media contacts.

When we followed up the question with whether they knew any local bloggers, podcasters, influencers, YouTubers, or small independent creators, all responded affirmatively, and some even referenced the names of program directors at college radio.

See, you don’t need to know award-winning journalists, celebrity hosts of a breakfast show, or for that matter, Oprah, to be able to say you have press or media contacts. There’s a very good chance there are a few in your extended network already, some of whom you’ve previously interacted with.

If you can’t think big, think small. Think of people who do interesting things. Those are the people you need to identify and connect with ongoingly.

Comb through your email archives TODAY and identify all the people who’ve reached out to you for comment in some capacity. Make a list of these contacts and make them a part of your ongoing follow up plan whenever there’s something major happening in your career (new release, tour, music video, etc.). Remove people from the list if they ask to be removed.

Out of six artists, only one was actively exploring new platforms and opportunities.

It seems like just yesterday the only relevant social media platforms were Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Fast forward to today, and the number of platforms (with staying power) is rapidly mushrooming.

In the last two to three years, the demand for free speech platforms has increased as never before, leading to the growth and proliferation of platforms like Odysee, Rumble, BitChute, Telegram, Truth Social, BrighteonSocial, Parler, MeWe, and Minds.

Some of these, like Odysee and Rumble are Web3 platforms, much like DeSo (I’m a fan of DeSo and all they’re attempting to create).

Live streaming? Check out Twitch, BIGO LIVE, Widsom, and Clubhouse.

Interested in writing? Try Medium, NewsBreak, Substack, Steemit, and CloutPub.

If you’re not actively seeking new opportunities, what are you doing? Waiting for MySpace to make a comeback? Pining for the day Facebook will recapture its former glory? They say you shouldn’t bet against Mark Zuckerberg, but I don’t think their plan to take over the web is going to be accomplished through Facebook. Another platform, perhaps.

To my point, Vox reported that Facebook lost roughly half a million global daily users in the fourth quarter of 2021 alone. I think that number is much higher.

I’m not asking you to spend all your time finding new platforms. But we each have a responsibility as Renegade Musicians, to understand something before we jump to conclusions about it. Because Sally said it sucked eggs (say that 10 times fast) is not a good enough reason to write something off. You need to go and see it for yourself. You don’t get to call yourself informed if you don’t do your own homework.

You don’t get to call yourself informed if you don’t do your own homework. Share on X

We need to practice accurate thinking, especially here.

If you don’t know something, either commit to experiencing it firsthand, or admit you don’t know and move on.

Take advantage of The Most Incredible Back to School Sale while you still can.

Deconstructing the Spotify Delusion

Deconstructing the Spotify Delusion

This post is part of The Renegade Musician Series.

If you’re an intelligent musician, then you already understand well what I’m about to share. Otherwise, fair warning, you’re about to have your bubble burst.

The facts and figures that follow mostly come from a 2020 Rolling Stone article and a 2022 Music Business Worldwide article, but you can double check the facts for yourself – that’s the responsible thing to do.

Spotify’s mission, which they’ve repeatedly insisted on publishing in their annual results is:

… to unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art.

Bear this in mind as you read what follows.

Currently, the top tier Spotify artists, numbered at 43,000, account for 90% of streams. That’s just 4.3% of the one million creatives Spotify is supposed to be liberating.

What Rolling Stone goes onto explain is that the top 43,000 are earning $963 million of the $1.07 billion generated for all artists. That’s essentially $22,395 per top tier artist, per quarter. These financial figures are based on projections, but we don’t expect they’re too far removed from reality.

In 2020, Spotify’s creator base was three million. That number has more than doubled in two years to eight million.

But sticking with the three million for just a moment, if you subtract the top tier 43,000, you’re left with 2,957,000 non top tier artists who are making just $12 per month, on average. To make more than that, you’d need to join the top 1.4% of artists on Spotify.

For Spotify to ever reach its goal of helping one million artists, 957,000 artists would have to join the top tier. What is the likelihood of that?

Even as Spotify’s creator base continues to increase, the figures aren’t going to change. It will always be the top 1.4% of artists benefiting most from the platform. 1.4% of eight million is 112,000 artists, not quite three times the 43,000 referenced earlier, and not anywhere near the same ballpark as the one million they want to create an opportunity for.

I’m a fan of another dynamic known as the Pareto Principle, or the 80/20 rule. It shows that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. This rule can be used to your advantage, and I will be addressing how in another post.

But here’s a stat you won’t like – nearly 80% of artists on Spotify have fewer than 50 monthly listeners.

The 80/20 rule isn’t just a rule. It’s more of a law. It plays out like clockwork in virtually every domain.

Look, for your sake, I hope you and I transition into the “top tier” Spotify artist club. But accurate thinking dictates that this is exceedingly unlikely, and we would be wasting our time trying to get there, especially when there are better things we could be doing.

Why the industry, business, and even independent artists continue to clamor around Spotify is anybody’s guess. Shills and charlatans pushing Spotify strategy are partly to blame.

But we can’t blame Spotify. Returning once again to the famous stat cited by the legendary Earl Nightingale, only one in 100 will become wealthy and only four in 100 will become financially independent. The same dynamic will continue to play out again and again, regardless of platform or their stated mission. It will play out regardless of your chosen artistic path.

95% of independent artists clamor around Spotify. Because they’re clueless.

Here it is in a big, flashing, neon red stop sign:


I don’t care whether it’s gigging and live performance, direct response advertising, or eCommerce. There are better ways of earning an income from your music that deserve more of your attention (and, of course, there are more strategic routes as well).

Don’t give Spotify 80% of your attention, because if you do, it will only ever amount to 20% of your results. Flip the script. Give Spotify and streaming platforms 20% of your attention and dedicate 80% of your valuable time to high value tasks. Even writing songs is a better use of your time. Streaming royalties are the cherry on top, and if they’re amounting to more than that, you’re in the top echelon of artists. If that’s you, you’re welcome to cast aside this post.

Streaming royalties are the cherry on top, and if they’re amounting to more than that, you’re in the top echelon of artists. Share on X

Don’t be discouraged. We will be looking at your best alternatives throughout in posts that follow. For now, see this through the lens of accurate thinking. To know what to embrace, you must know what to betray.

Take advantage of The Most Incredible Back to School Sale while you still can.

Where to Find Me Today: September 30, 2022

Where to Find Me Today: September 29, 2022

And I’m back with another episode of “where you can find me today.”

As with yesterday, there’s plenty of fresh ink I’m proud to share. You’ll find links to all the posts below.

And if you were in Burnaby today, you may have caught me at Cineplex VIP Cinemas Brentwood hanging out with my friends. This was a rather rare outing, but it ended up being a ton of fun.

Tomorrow isn’t necessarily shaping up to be a big day, but it’s already after midnight, I’ve got an early meeting, and I will probably engage in a ton of marketing activity. So, I’m off to bed for now, but I look forward to connecting with you again on the final day of September.

Fresh Ink

Also peruse my various social media channels, all linked below.

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