016 – You’re Paid What You’re Worth

016 – You’re Paid What You’re Worth

Many of us like to think we’re worth more than we’re being paid. This may be true. But in our current profession, it may not be possible to earn more. Which can only mean one thing – the only way to increase your artistic income is by shifting your mindset.

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David shares how to break out of the income box you’re stuck in.


  • Clean Slate: The most exciting and inspirational New Year live music and multi-media event you’ve ever been to. Get your tickets now, before they’re gone!


00:17 – Facing the cold, hard facts
03:22 – Confronting the truth
04:12 – The value that different businesses provide
06:35 – What artists can learn from other industries
08:16 – Finding a music career model that works


You are paid what you’re worth. Sometimes this is difficult to accept, especially when you feel like the effort that you’re putting in is not proportionate to the payment you’re receiving for it.

So, let’s look at this. What’s the problem? And why do we need to accept that you are paid what you’re worth?

Well, firstly, we sometimes need to come face to face with hard realities to be able to progress beyond where we are.

We sometimes need to come face to face with hard realities to be able to progress beyond where we are. Share on X

I’ve had to do this myself. I don’t like looking at the fact that or thinking about the idea that what I’m paid right now by some of my clients is what I’m worth. Because they dictate many of the terms.

I remember hearing that Joe Vitale got paid something like $6 per word. That’s insane. Maybe I’m not at Joe Vitale level. I certainly don’t have his notoriety.

But I would not say, especially based on the amount of work that I put into writing, I have seven books and three best-sellers out of that… That my value would be equivalent to, let’s say a beginner freelance writer.

Five, six, or seven cents per word is totally acceptable for a beginner writer. But as you gain experience, it’s got to start to go up, right? Based on the value that you’re able to generate for others.

I would not say that my value is any less than 20 cents. I would even say that a dollar per word wouldn’t be totally out of the question for someone like me because a lot of people have told me that not only do they appreciate my writing, but they think it’s great and they very much resonate with it.

That tells you something because technically, yeah, anybody can write, but writing something people appreciate, enjoy, and resonate with is an entirely different proposition.

Let’s say a client is paying me about four grand per month for the content I’m generating for them. Well, if it was four grand per month for three hours of work, I’d say that’s extraordinary.

But four grand for 30 hours of work? Well, how much time and energy am I realistically left with? After 30 hours per month of work, not a lot.

Maybe I could put in 10 hours, right? Or maybe I could put in an additional 20 or 30 hours if I was hustling and grinding.

Meanwhile, I’m thinking to myself, “That four grand per month, I’m worth so much more than that.”

At the same time, I realize I can’t argue with reality. In an argument between you and reality, reality always wins.

So, facing the idea that I’m worth four grand per month, or whatever I’m being paid in total combined between all my clients, but just for this example, we’ll say four grand per month because that’s just easier to understand, brings me to the point of going, “Huh. Maybe in this current position or what I’m currently providing to my clients is worth that and may only ever be worth that.”

Why would I want to face that harsh truth? Because it would allow me to take that feedback and go, “I need to adjust course. I need to figure out something else that’s going to be of greater value to my clients such that I can be paid more for it.”

There are many examples in the world. Let’s look at farmers because I love the metaphor as well as the example in general.

Farmers produce a lot of food, right? That’s the basis of that specific business. So, what does producing a lot of food allow them to do?

When they produce a lot of crops, they’re able to distribute it and sell it to a lot of people. Because they’re serving larger numbers of people, they’re able to earn a lot more money.

In Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, I haven’t seen too many farmers with beat-up, run-down homes. In fact, many of them have what I would consider close to castles or mansions,

They make something ordinary, but valuable. Food is valuable, and they serve a lot of people, and that’s the basis for the huge sums of profits they’re able to make.

I think a good contrasting example, though it’s one where a lot of money is still made, so in that sense, it’s not conflicting or contrasting, but one good example that sort of contrasts to that is vehicles.

Now we all know that vehicles serve a large market, but in terms of frequency of purchases, food is far more common.

Many of us go grocery shopping. What? Once a week, twice a week? Maybe if you’re efficient, once every two weeks if you know what you’re doing and you’re buying in bulk?

So, we don’t buy cars as often. probably the people who buy most often, still only buy once every two or three years. There’s just simply no necessity for buying a new car every year. Some people may do that, of course, if they’re able to afford that type of luxury.

But many people don’t buy new cars for five years, 10 years, 15 years. And yet the car industry, year after year, produces large sums of money, right?

So, it’s still serving lots of people. That’s true, but the frequency of purchase is considerably less, and the product is sold at a much higher price point than most food would ever be.

Now you might think these examples are irrelevant to a music career, but we can easily transfer them over.

So, for example, the food industry. Okay, so you’re producing large sums of crop and serving lots of people. That’s a duplicable model in a music career. You could make lots of music that appeals to a lot of people.

It doesn’t have to be unique to get the job done, it just needs to be something people like. And if you grow lots of fans by producing lots of music, it doesn’t have to be great, but music that people like. You can replicate that and end up serving a lot of people and making good income from it.

And then the auto industry example. There is something that we can compare it to. Like if you produce great music less frequently, you can still find a fan base for it.

Another way of thinking about that is you could create fan clubs and other upgrades for the same fans. You can have fewer fans than someone taking the farmer approach.

But if you’ve served those fever fans with exceptional efficiency and you’re able to upgrade them and increase your customer lifetime value with every fan that comes to you, you would be able to create a great music career without having to appeal to thousands and tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands and millions of people.

If you want to create a profitable music career, you’ve got to begin to look at models that work. What are the models that allow you to serve lots of people? Or what are the models that allow you to serve a smaller number of people, but with increasingly better and greater and more exclusive and interesting offers that they want to buy?

If you want to create a profitable music career, you've got to begin to look at models that work. Share on X

Artists who end up spinning their wheels aren’t thinking all that deeply about business models. They’re just thinking about, “I want to make great music and hope that there are fans out there who appreciate it.”

That’s fine, especially if you want it to be a hobby level or just earn a couple hundred bucks on the side. Nothing wrong with that gig at all. And I’ve been in that gig and have found it to be rewarding in its own way.

But if you want to produce an income, well you’re talking about a business model. It must be. You must look at ways of serving a larger number of people. Or you must look at ways of serving a smaller number of people with increasingly better, higher-priced, more exclusive offers that they will purchase.

If you’re not earning what you think you should be earning, this is probably the problem – you’re not thinking of it in terms of a business model.

When Strange Things Happen

When Strange Things Happen

I’m once again aboard the Queen of Cowichan, this time sailing back to my temporary home in Nanaimo. For the most part, the ferry is sparsely populated, but there are more strange animals lurking about on the 10:10 than there would be on an earlier sailing. I suppose that’s to be expected.

But how much could there be to tell after an overnight stay in Vancouver? Certainly, more than I would have thought. Some details I dare not tell for they may be more pressing and private than would allow me to share freely. Even without touching on those sensitive matters, there are some rather strange incidents to reflect on.

First and foremost, spending an evening with like-minded artists, creatives, and entrepreneurs in Maple Ridge was nothing short of a metaphorical electrical surge. It was everything I’d hoped for and considerably more.

I handed out all but one Clean Slate postcard in my possession, for the most part attempting to make personal, articulate, moving invitations. As the night wore on and everyone was starting to notice the time, it got to “You guys into live music?” but I managed to avoid such dribble for the most part.

Post-event, after dropping off a friend in Vancouver, I drove to my Airbnb in Burnaby. Finding said home, in the rain, in the dark, was the first obstacle to overcome. Once I found it, I followed the directions to the rear entrances.

I was supposed to be able to enter the premises (door A) using the code provided, but I tried about 10 times without any success. After each rep of five unsuccessful tries, the keypad would lock up for a couple of minutes. I must have tried another 10 times, making no headway with the lock or with reaching the host. My friend encouraged me to capture a video of me attempting to enter the suite before leaving, which turned out to be wisdom.

In the meantime, I was left with no other option but to book a night at a nearby hotel, at double the cost of the Airbnb. Though not entirely unpleasant, it was unexpected.

The following morning (today), I got a message from the owner of the Airbnb with a video showing them using the code, and successfully opening the door. It was at this point that I shared my video of me using the same code to try to get in, and the owner suggested I contact Airbnb support immediately to secure a full refund. They also offered me 30% off on my next stay (will there be a next stay after these shenanigans?).

Airbnb thinks all Canadians speak French, however, and I got connected to the “We’ll talk at you without knowing your language preferences” department. They could not help me – surprise, surprise. Fortunately, they understood me well enough to hand the matter off to someone who could do something about it. The matter ultimately got resolved in the background as I was packing up the room.

I got myself a smoothie and later visited Winners to find a tighter belt. I happened across Park & Tilford Gardens adjacent to the shopping center (pictured), which if you didn’t know was there, you’d almost entirely miss out on. The only reason I found it was because I had some time to spare and decided to walk around for a bit.

Park & Tilford gardens Strange occurrences Universe getting your attention

I spent the afternoon with a friend, before dropping them off at about 4:30. It was fun and relaxing, without drama.

Knowing I would be taking the 10:10 to Nanaimo, I decided to set up “coffice” in Starbucks. At 7:00, I had to transfer over to a 24/7 Tim Hortons to continue my work.

As I arrived in the parking lot and found a spot opposite the entrance, the man in the car next to me kept honking and glaring at me without saying anything. I had no idea what I could have possibly done to upset him, but I shook my head and moved my car. Parking next to him was the problem.

In retrospect, he may have been an undercover cop. I know because I’ve had one such run-in one night involving a small, ornery dog. But that’s another story for another time.

As I was working away at Tim Horton’s, a light fixture suddenly came loose and landed on my right hand. For a moment, I thought someone was trying to start a fight, or at least trying to get my attention. Listening to the mumblings of the staff, it sounded as though this was not the first time something like this had happened (was I pranked?).

They were nice enough to offer me some ice to put on my hand, which I did not require, though it felt like maybe they should have given me a gift card or something. They didn’t. Funny, because this is the type of situation that often leads to lawsuits costing the company millions.

The cherry on top was the drive to the ferry. I gave myself enough time to arrive early but missed my turn (in the rain and the dark), which of course cost me a good 10 to 15 minutes. Now I wasn’t sure whether I was going to make it on time. In the end, I came in under the wire, but that scenario could have played out very differently.

Chiefly, we don’t always know what these strange occurrences and delays are about. It could be that we’re craving variety, drama, or suspense, and we’re being given what we’re subconsciously craving. It could be that we’re avoiding misfortune by being guided to different locations, circumstances, or solutions. It could be mischief or hostility from forces unseen.

Usually, it’s the Universe trying to get your attention. Why is something only you can know, and it’s for you to put the puzzle pieces together.

015 – Growing Your Fan Base Through Collaboration

015 – Growing Your Fan Base Through Collaboration

Why is it important for artists to pursue collaborative opportunities? What qualities should they be looking for in collaborators? What benefits can artists expect to enjoy from collaborating?

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David shares how you can grow your fan base through collaboration.


  • Clean Slate: The most exciting and inspirational New Year live music and multi-media event you’ve ever been to. Get your tickets now, before they’re gone!


00:17 – Seeking strategic collaborations
00:54 – The importance of starting where you are
01:28 – The illusion of the creator economy
02:21 – Your core audience is usually made up of people you know
03:15 – The passing of the torch
03:55 – Everyone has a platform
04:42 – When you collaborate with others, you attract different fans
05:06 – The right timing for collaboration
05:30 – What makes for a great collaborator?


Moving forward, I’m looking to produce a lot more music, and as a result, I’m also looking for more collaborators to work with.

I’ve had the opportunity to meet quite a few people, whether it’s through the two-year intensive leadership program that I’ve been taking, or in the communities that I interact and engage with.

It’s not necessarily that I need collaborators, more so that I see opportunities. As I look to collaborate with others, I recognize that they might have access to an audience or a fan base that I don’t have.

I am often limited, and artists in general are often limited to their immediate vicinity. Even though we do live in the internet age, or the digital age and you can market to just about anyone across the world, the reality is you’re better off starting where you are and finding your audience there. Because the only people who reliably come to your shows and buy your merch and become long-term fans are the people you’ve met versus those you haven’t met.

The only people who reliably come to your shows and buy your merch and become long-term fans are the people you know. Share on X

Even though we have this illusion in the creator economy, gig economy, YouTuber culture of what’s going on right now. A lot of people are just subscribing for superficial reasons to some of their favorite YouTubers and aren’t necessarily there to buy things from them.

You think about OnlyFans or Patreon or some of these other private subscriptions that have popped up. Yes, there are people who care, but if you dig beneath the surface, you realize quickly that a lot of these subscriptions happen for very superficial reasons, right?

It’s like if there’s a YouTube model, and she’s wearing more revealing outfits in her OnlyFans subscriptions, then people subscribe to that because they want the extra content.

Maybe it’s a cynical point of view but I don’t think it is. I’ve seen this whole thing repeat and play out repeatedly because I’ve been a part of so many communities.

What we’ve primarily seen is you might attract the occasional person who is part of the broader artistic community that pops up at events here and there. But for the most part, the audiences that pack out the events tend to be people that you know or people that are in that extended network.

Maybe, for example, if it’s like the jazz community, then one of your hosts or somebody knows a bunch of musicians in the jazz community that you may not know. They’re naturally drawn to the event because of the other people who are showing up or the performers who are showing up to be a part of the event.

I played in churches years ago and there was sort of a passing of torch. I had Daniel Guy Martin on my first podcast, DAWCast: Music Entrepreneurship, many years back.

He was the one that I saw on stage at that church. He was the lead guitarist and played a pivotal role on the worship team as well.

Well, he passed the torch to me, and he told me – he was clear about this – that I would reach different people than he would be able to reach through that same platform and I think he turned out to be right.

So, when bands or artists collaborate, people aren’t always drawn to the same person. There might be something about the band.

Like in Van Halen, people were naturally drawn towards Eddie Van Halen because of his extraordinary playing as well as his childlike giddiness on stage, unmatched by other guitarists.

People also know David Lee Roth, and they know Sammy Hagar, but outside of that, they might not necessarily be able to name the other band members.

I can, of course, and I would say anyone who likes Van Halen probably can, but I think you get what I’m saying here is that you’re naturally drawn to different personalities and different acts.

People are naturally drawn to different personalities. Share on X

So therein lies one of the benefits of collaboration. You, yourself, are going to attract some people through your platform, but when you’re working with others, especially people who are in distant geographical locations, you’re going to attract, or they’re going to attract, a different audience. And that convergence is where your total audience lives.

So far for me, these collaborations haven’t quite panned out. I think there’s a timing for everything. And the right timing isn’t necessarily the moment you think, “Oh, this would be such a good idea.”

It may not be perfect timing, even if it is for you.

But I would say there are certain commonalities among those who don’t cut it.

I don’t mean to be mean to anyone. Some of the people that I’ve thought about collaborating with were super busy with other projects, so it simply wasn’t the right timing.

Whereas others, the opportunity was right in front of their face, but for some reason, they dropped off the map and weren’t in communication.

I think the mistake that we so often make is that we think it’s going to be our talent. And talent is sort of overrated anyway. I think skill is the right term for most people, but in this example, I’m equating the two.

So many people rely on or think that skill is going to be the thing that’s going to make the difference in whether they’re going to be chosen versus the other people who are perhaps competing for the same position.

And I can tell you categorically that’s not the case. I am looking for people who are already demonstrating some skill. If they’re totally awful singers, why would I collaborate with them? I must wait for them to improve and maybe they’ll never improve to the point of being able to work at this level.

If I’m going to collaborate with another guitarist, they better be phenomenal. I mean, preferably better than I am because then I can learn from them, but they’re sort of a baseline. They better be good enough to be able to work together. But talent or skill alone just isn’t it. I’m not saying it’s not important. Like I said, it does play a role, but it’s not the key factor.

I think the key factor in all this and having a collaboration work is somebody responsible. That’s the big one. If they can show up. If they can stay in communication. If they can commit to some weekly jam or recording session. If they’re able to follow through on what they said they’re going to do.

It’s all about mindset and attitude, isn’t it? If they can do all those things, I can tell with a fair degree of certainty that that collaboration is going to pan out. And especially if there isn’t any major pressure on it.

If we’re just talking about an EP and a few shows, I think anybody with the right attitude is going to pull through.

Meanwhile, someone who maybe has more experience or talent and is demonstrating that side of things, but doesn’t have the right attitude and doesn’t show up, doesn’t stay in communication, and doesn’t follow through… It doesn’t have much of a chance compared to someone ready to get going, who’s hungry for it.

I don’t know. I think it seems obvious, and yet a lot of artists don’t get this. They need to look at themselves, how reliable are they? Can they be counted on? Do they show up early? With what kind of attitude are they ready to start working when they do show up? Or do they go on and on about their day and how bad it was?

It’s a cliché to say you’ve got to be a good hang, but that’s a part of it for sure. So maybe you thought other people were being unfair and passing you up for a gig and never telling you why. Well, this could be it. It could be that you’re not responsible. You’re not reliable. You’re not showing up when you’re expected to show up.

You’re not working when you’re supposed to be working. Skill can be taught. Even if it takes a long time, but the thing that typically can’t be taught is being an adult, being responsible, being reliable, having the right attitude. I can’t sit there and coach anyone to have that, and I think that’s a prerequisite.

I don’t mourn any collaborations that haven’t happened yet because of timing. I assume that at some point they will happen.

But I think in an instance where talent or skill is up against the right attitude, the right attitude is almost going to win every single time. No one wants to work with someone who’s flaky and can’t be counted on.

In an instance where talent or skill is up against the right attitude, the right attitude is almost going to win every single time. Share on X
014 – Are Best-Selling Authors Gaming the System?

014 – Are Best-Selling Authors Gaming the System?

It seems like “best-selling” authors are everywhere. As with anything else, of course, some are lying about their accomplishments. But some are very genuine.

In this episode of Creativity Excitement Emotion, David delves into the world of best-selling authors and whether they’re all gaming the system.


  • Clean Slate: The most exciting and inspirational New Year live music and multi-media event you’ve ever been to. Get your tickets now, before they’re gone!


00:17 – Skepticism regarding best-selling authors
00:33 – Gaming the system
02:30 – The facts
02:57 – A great book
04:36 – Access to a significant following
06:27 – Access to resources
07:15 – You can’t achieve best-seller status without at least one advantage
08:04 – David’s experience
08:23 – Is your skepticism warranted?
09:41 – Seasons in business
11:39 – Different motivations for becoming a best-selling author
13:33 – Crabs in a bucket


Coming soon.

How to Promote a Show or Event in 2024

How to Promote a Show or Event in 2024

I’m sitting aboard the Queen of Cowichan bound for Horseshoe Bay, ostensibly to share about Clean Slate with members of a club I’m a part of. From Horseshoe Bay, I’ll drive another hour or so to reach Maple Ridge where the gathering will be held.

Even if temporarily, I’ve convinced myself that success has a price, and if the price is a couple of ferry rides and a night in a shared Airbnb in exchange for 10, 20, maybe 30 ticket sales, it will have been worth the excursion. If nothing else, it makes me realize that the journey itself – even if it is with definite intentions (not underlying motive) – is a luxury I can revel in.

When it comes to events, though, I believe “share” is the right word, as the idea of “promotion” is either as outdated as the Jurassic period, or it is as far-fetched as monkeys flying out of your butt.

Promotion suggests that you can broadcast your intentions, post a bulletin, or throw your book at a stranger and have them spontaneously commit an upcoming Friday night to your show. A Friday night they would probably much rather spend cozying up by a fire and a flat-screen TV.

Oh, throwing a book at someone will get a reaction. But probably not the reaction you were hoping for.

There is simply too much noise, and everybody is trying to make a go of some permutation of “entrepreneurship,” the gig economy, the creator economy, some spinoff, or a combination thereof.

Sure, it’s relatively obvious when someone with superficial intentions enters the arena and promptly gets clobbered by the nearest metaphorical 250 lbs. muscle-bound linebacker, but even then, we’ve come to a point where people can’t tell shills and charlatans from their elbow.

Not to mention – we’re essentially sharing the same pie. Did anyone stop to think… if it’s a false economy anyway, shouldn’t we all go to each other’s events and buy each other’s stuff? (Like two logging trucks passing each other on opposite sides of the highway – did anyone stop to think about the logistics?) If nothing else, we’d all break even.

Nah, I guess that would be a little too weird-headed.

Anyway, what my community history has shown, time and again, is that personal invitations must be made if you’re to have any hope of installing a core audience for your event. Maybe not so if your name has a draw, but that’s a rare thing at the community level.

In your content creation, social media carpet bombing, and advertising efforts will you attract a small contingent of thrill-seekers, boredom killers, or oddballs who find your marketing “neat?” Possibly. But “small” is the operative word here. Without a core audience, there are no bandwagons to jump on.

You can make those invitations any way you want, but it would be preferable to leave your invitees touched, moved, and inspired in some way, shape, or form because that’s going to increase the chances that they’re going to respond favorably to your invitation.

With a core audience established, your show or event should have a leg to stand on.


I am also convinced of something else, that energy lives in conversation.

When left to our own devices, we very naturally tend toward our blanket of dark thoughts. Even if they appear justified in some way, they rarely are.

We’re all very capable of turning on a dime. You’ve done it. I’ve done it. One moment you’re down in the dumps, the next moment you receive a compliment from a stranger, and suddenly you’re flying high.

You may see your current endeavor or project as some hopeless cause, but what’s going to turn it all around is a well-placed phone call. Getting on the horn and asking others for their best thinking will help you see everything from a different perspective.

It took me a long time to figure this out, so I’m going to shortcut years of learning for you right here.

Those who are actively and consistently having conversations about what they’re out to create in the world are the ones making their dreams a reality. This is one of the reasons I have no choice but to call B.S. on not sharing your goals with anyone. Try it. Let me know how it goes.

Those who are actively and consistently having conversations about what they’re out to create in the world are the ones making their dreams a reality. Share on X

In pursuing conversation, quality matters, but quantity is just as imperative if not more so. You need many perspectives, not just one. You need the help of many people to make your dreams a reality, not just one. One is the most dangerous number in business.

You need the help of many people to make your dreams a reality, not just one. Share on X

It’s impossible to manage such a large rolodex perfectly, so don’t try. Simply categorize the people you meet (musician, manager, executive, etc.) and make notes on those you have the best conversations with. But keep having more conversations. That’s the key.

And if you’re still wondering how this is going to make any difference, here’s the rub:

As you engage in conversation, what inevitably happens is you’re presented with opportunities. So-and-so offers you free coaching sessions. What’s his face lets you stay at his house for a month. What’s-her-name agrees to mention your music in her newsletter.

These conversations end up forming the critical turning points on your way to the success you desire.