My Songwriting Journey

My Songwriting Journey

As I lay in bed, I started to hear a melody form in my mind.

Having just returned from Japan, I couldn’t express myself as eloquently in English as I could in Japanese.

So, I hurriedly jotted down lyrical ideas – in Japanese.

I didn’t understand music either. But at 13, I had written my first song – melody and lyrics.

Filling Binders with Song Ideas

I was never one to pay much attention in school. I wasn’t a bad student (not a horrible one, anyway). I was just more interested in my own creative ideas.

My grades always reflected it. I had my share of Bs, Cs, and Ds – rarely As.

So, my jr. high and high school years were spent filling binders with ideas – song ideas, lyrics, doodles, drawings, graphic novels, Sci-Fi novels, mazes, video game concepts, satirical newsletters, and so on.

At 15, I performed in front an audience of the first time. And then and there, learned the thrill of performance.

That’s about the time when most of my creative energies started being redirected to writing lyrical content – mostly rap songs, but some punk rock and hardcore songs too (The Beastie Boys were a big influence).

I still didn’t know how to play a musical instrument.

A Guitar from Across the Pond

One of my father’s coworkers had lost her son. And she promised to give her deceased son’s guitar to me.

She was not able to deliver the guitar while we were still living in Japan. So, she came all the way to Canada, and dropped off the guitar at my grandparent’s home in Drumheller, AB.

It seems someone wanted to ensure that guitar made it into my hands.

The classical guitar sat in my closet for a year or two.

But then one summer, I was at youth camp and my friend started playing the popular tunes of the time on his guitar – Green Day, Blink-182, Matchbox Twenty, stuff like that.

Prior to that moment, I had no idea you could even learn popular songs on your instrument!

Immediately after summer camp, I started messing around on my guitar, and that’s when my mom started seeking guitar lessons for me.

Connecting the Musical Dots

Apparently, I had a knack for the guitar. My guitar teacher told me I surpassed him within a few lessons!

I showed him one of my rap songs, and he helped me write some funky guitar parts to it. That was a lot of fun.

Once I started connecting the musical dots, I began writing my own songs too. But they were quite disappointing at first.

I was excited about the guitar, so I kept on. I became somewhat disillusioned with it within 18 months, when I started to see that most songs and riffs were easy, and if they weren’t, there was usually a way to simplify them to make them more playable.

An odd thing to be disillusioned about, I know. Fortunately, it didn’t last, and I would go onto jam with my drummer friend and play in bands.

All the band’s songs were either written by me, my drummer, or by the both of us.

I slowly started moving beyond power-chord pounding and open chord strumming. I started to play riffs, mimic the melody, and bust out solos, even if I didn’t know exactly what I was doing at the time.

By that time, though, my drummer friend and I were much tighter than anyone else we brought in to play in the band. So, we needed to go about finding band members differently.

I only went to college for a year, but it had some perks because I ended up building some connections. And it just so happened that one of my friend’s roommate was a bass player. So, we started jamming with him, and the chemistry was obvious from day one.

We formed a band, and as our first order of business, started working on a couple of songs for a Daniel Amos tribute compilation.

Lightly Toasted Touché

The trio would come to be known as Lightly Toasted Touché. We were a jam band. We wrote some original music, and learned some covers, but wherever we went, we also improvised instrumental music in a variety of genres (metal, reggae, blues, etc.).

How did the name come about? Well, one day, while taking a break from rehearsals for a bite (as we always did), we were making sandwiches. And the drummer asked the bassist how toasted he wanted his bread. “Lightly toasted,” he said.

Our bassist was also in the habit of saying “touché” all the time (as his roommates were also prone to doing). And so, Lightly Toasted Touché was born.

The name was probably reflective of the transient and improvised nature of the band more than anything. We certainly weren’t stoners, and I’m not sure any of us were fully convinced. But we also couldn’t come up with a better name.

One day, we recorded several improvised demos and posted them online. Keep in mind, this was in 2003. We broke the internet, and because we had so many downloads, we ended up having to move hosts.

In our relatively short history as a band, we gained a small cult following, and even got “scrobbled” quite a bit on Last.fm.

Our last order of business was to record and release an EP, A Tale of the Coming Together and Murder of My Heart in the Golden State.

This EP captures a little bit of what it was like to come to a Touché show, with an eclectic mix of originals and improvised instrumentals.

 

I co-wrote “Today’s Creed,” “End of the Day,” and “Foundation.” The title track was written by the bassist, and everything else was improvised.

The band imploded shortly after. We attempted to bring a talented singer into the fold, but him and the drummer did not get along, and that was that.

Going Solo

Any band I had been a part of to that point was short-lived, with Touché being modestly successful. So, I thought to myself, maybe it’s time to go about this music career thing a little differently. If I can’t depend on others, maybe I can depend on myself.

Around that time, I ended up renting an acoustic guitar and wrote a couple of songs. The songs were reflective of the raw emotions I felt after my band had broken up.

The acoustic guitar felt right somehow.  So, I kept writing and came up with eight songs. My drummer, who was still collaborating with me at the time, encouraged me to make it an album rather than an EP. So, I wrote 11 songs altogether, though one of them never quite worked. It was dropped.

During this time, I would come to learn just how undependable I was. Because sometimes weeks would go by without making progress on the album, and my friend told me it was because I failed to take initiative. I took that rather personally, as I was prone to doing at the time.

The album, Shipwrecked… My Sentiments, ended up taking about a year to complete.

Being my first solo album, it was not perfect, though it certainly had its moments.

Looking back, it was written in response to the boring and formulaic music of the time. A reviewer called it “an experimental approach to conventional rock,” and he could not have been more spot on.

Back on Shaky Ground

Those early years playing in bands and going solo felt tumultuous to me (is it any wonder my first album was called Shipwrecked?). I was overcome with a sense of loss. One, because of the band and friendships that had been impacted as result, and two, because my cousin took his life while I was recording.

It was time to begin work on my next project. But I wasn’t ready. Material wasn’t forthcoming. Having spent 2006 working on my album and writing 365 songs in 2007 (one song per day), I was spent creatively.

It turns out I just needed to live.

In 2008, I ended up burning myself out and experienced a panic attack. I spent the next five months or so recovering. In some ways, though, I’m not sure I’ve ever fully recovered from that.

I also fell in love only two months later. And only three months later, I was given the silent treatment.

Heartbreak is unpleasant, but one thing you can count on is that it will give you something to write about. That summer, I wrote my next album, and so, the concept of Back on Solid Ground was born.

Back on Solid Ground was written as a stripped-down, simple, heartfelt acoustic album.

But I ended up getting caught in the tides of chaos before the project could ever be completed.

Breaking the Silence

I had begun work on Back on Solid Ground with a new producer. But after a few months of working on it, he pulled the plug and said he couldn’t spend any more time on it. We’d captured some amazing drum and cello performances from local musicians, so this could not have been more heartrending.

To be fair, nothing was in writing. And I learned a lesson there.

In due course, I did recover the tracks. Only, many weren’t properly labeled. So, I didn’t know which track belonged to which song, never mind the fact that I would have had to manually align all of them.

Amid all this, the members of Touché were reuniting. And this time, we had a young singer interested in fronting the band. Angels Breaking Silence was born.

Touché always had a bit of a punk vibe to it, and with Angels Breaking Silence, we started embracing the emo and post-hardcore flavors of the time.

Unlike most bands, though, we didn’t write songs around breakdowns. To be honest, we only had one song that had a breakdown.

The band got booked all over – skateparks, summer festivals, camps, churches, pubs, and more.

We were so busy performing and touring that the only merch we had were posters, buttons, and my first album. We only ever recorded a few demos for MySpace and a compilation.

You’d be hard pressed to find our music anywhere online.

As with the previous incarnation of Touché, this one didn’t last longer than 18 months. Personal tensions flared, and two members were in serious relationships that likely would have prevented them from serious, committed participation.

Taking Creativity in New Directions

For the rest of 2009, I started getting into new media in a big way – blogging, social media, podcasting, making YouTube videos, composing for video games, and more. So, I did quite a bit of composing for my own videos too.

There are multiple compositions like this one on my YouTube channel (“Power Propeller” is probably one of my favorites):

I didn’t have much of an income coming in, though, so I knew in the back of my mind that I would probably need to become more pragmatic at some point (I only started learning how to be more pragmatic in 2014, by the way).

Maybe tired from all that had transpired, 2010 sort of ended up being a ”nothing” year for me. The most memorable part was travelling down through Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and later California with my mom and stepdad. Although I seem to recall making some important connections that year too.

I also recorded a handful of demos through the year, which I first released in January 2011 as Demos 2010 and later as Fire Your God.

To this day, fans still enjoy the rawness of this music. Go figure.

Once again, I found myself going at it alone, trying to learn the ins and outs of music production. That said, I’m glad I got into it, because I found I was better able to make my musical visions a reality. I struggled with previous producers, especially when it came to getting guitar tones I liked.

Economic Collapse, Roid Rage & New Frontiers

As 2011 rolled around, things became more desperate financially. And timing could not have been worse since the world was very much in “recovery mode” after the financial collapse of 2007 – 2008. I started pulling 50-hour weeks at multiple part-time jobs that paid peanuts.

The first six months of the year were terrible, not just because of the mounting financial pressure, but also because of an unruly, emotionally unstable roommate, who was prone to roid rage.

My friends didn’t exactly support my decision to get into network marketing. But honestly, it was something I needed to go through at the time. My life started changing rapidly for the better, as I started engaging in business training materials.

I still don’t know how I managed to pull all of this off, but that summer, I performed at the Calgary Fringe Festival daily. I also went on a mini tour with new collaborator Jonathan Ferguson and a vacation shortly after.

I don’t want to say that the next four years, from 2011 to 2015, were irrelevant to my musical journey. They weren’t. I kept writing and podcasting about the music business. I invested in a music industry startup. I kept writing songs. And I even wrote a book.

But my life was mostly swallowed up in the world of entrepreneurship. And I would go onto learn some crucial lessons there, too.

The startup I invested in tanked, and I could no longer financially sustain my network marketing business.

Recent History

I was busy in 2016. But I made it my goal to record and release monthly singles.

I didn’t quite reach my goal, but I did write and release some great music. It felt great.

I released a couple of singles in 2017 (including this one)…

And a couple of EPs in 2019.

As result, I wound up contributing to another compilation project in 2020 (created by one of my mentors).

It seems strange to say, but I have many, many more songs I have yet to record and share with the world. God willing, they will see the light of the day.

For more inspiration, be sure to sign up for my email list.

The Renegade Musician Digital Magazine: Was it Worth it?

The Renegade Musician Digital Magazine: Was it Worth it?

I’ve been going about things a little differently in 2021 compared to the years leading up to it. As I look back on the first three months of the year, I can see that learning and experimentation has been a strong focus so far.

One idea that got a spontaneous “green light” from me was The Renegade Musician digital magazine, which I developed at the end of February and launched on March 1.

Here’s the story of how the magazine came together and what happened as result.

Backstory

At the end of February, I started developing the concept for The Renegade Musician.

Originally, I did not think of it as a digital magazine but rather a newsletter.

I don’t know if you know much about author Dan Kennedy’s newsletters, but they can easily span over 20 pages.

The way Kennedy explains it is that a newsletter is like a Trojan Horse. It’s a sales letter disguised as content, and when the reader feels like they’re reading useful content, they’re more likely to engage (i.e., they don’t feel like they’re being sold to).

Further, he has shown time and again that someone who reads his newsletters, and for that matter, his books, becomes a much better client.

So, experimentally, I was looking at the possibility of creating a series of newsletters.

Having completed my first draft, I sought out the feedback of Dr. Jonathan L. Smith.

Dr. Smith felt that what I had was too long to be a newsletter, and thus, The Renegade Musician became a digital magazine.

At first, it wasn’t even called The Renegade Musician though. It was called “The Executive Newsletter,” and I think that would have been a mistake.

The Executive Newsletter

Free or Paid?

There was just one more detail to sort out.

I needed to figure out whether I was going to give away the magazine (in exchange for an email or social share), or if I was going to charge for it.

The magazine was created in the Dan Kennedy tradition. Meaning, it was designed to educate the prospect or customer on the range of products available at Music Entrepreneur HQ and Content Marketing Musician, while entertaining and adding value to the reader through the content.

So, the more eyeballs I could get on it, the better.

Ultimately, I decided to make it a “pay what you want” deal on Gumroad. And, in the end, that felt like the only logical choice.

Sharing the Digital Magazine

As my first order of business, I shared the magazine with three of my friends, collaborators, and mentors.

Apparently, for one of my friends, it was the right thing at exactly the right time. He had been encouraged by the magazine and thanked me for it.

So, that seemed like an auspicious start.

I spent the remainder of March promoting it aggressively – on Twitter, Medium, YouTube, my blog, the Music Entrepreneur HQ blog, my email list, and my podcast. I even shared a video across 17 pages and social media profiles.

Renegade Musician video

My eyes look droopy for a reason…

Being a “Trojan Horse” of sorts, I figured there would be some takers. And since it was designed to educate my prospect or customer on my range of products, it had the potential to lead to sales.

The Result

Ultimately, the digital magazine was only downloaded four times. And everyone that picked it up paid nothing for it.

I had one course sale at $39 though. I wouldn’t call that a runaway success, but it was a small victory.

Educating customers

The magazine educated customers on our product range.

Did it make all the effort worthwhile? Not quite, especially since I wasn’t reaching a new audience with my magazine – just tapping into the same people that are on my email list or visit my website daily.

I put three to four hours into compiling, designing, writing, and editing the magazine. I could have used the same three to four hours writing a few articles for News Break and made more money overall. That gave me some pause.

What Next?

The Renegade Musician was not my first product aimed at musicians, and it won’t be my last either.

But towards the end of March, I had a sudden, rather critical realization.

“If I pull the plug on The Renegade Musician now, I will have to fix all the broken links.”

Not pretty.

I was fond of the The Renegade Musician concept. It’s like a synonym for “musician entrepreneur,” so far as I’m concerned. Just much cooler.

So, I hurriedly wrote 8,000+ words in three days to end up with The Renegade Musician: Stepping Out of the Shadow of the Old Music Career Model eBook.

The Renegade Musician

And, on April 1, I replaced The Renegade Musician digital magazine with The Renegade Musician eBook (not an April Fool’s joke).

Now, when people go to Gum.co/RenegadeMusician, they don’t just get the eBook – they also get the digital magazine. It’s a two in one deal.

This is not a free or “pay what you want” offer anymore though. I had to put a price tag on it.

That said, I think it’s perfect as a “Twitter money” offer, and it can benefit from the work I’ve already put into promotion.

So, Was it Worth Doing?

As creatives and creators, we should all be mindful of how we spend our time.

I run a business, so obviously money is an important part of the equation. No money, no mission.

Even so, there are plenty of other rewards that can come from experimentation – happiness, joy, fulfillment… And I experienced some of that while putting together the digital magazine, even though it also felt like work (especially since I was trying to put it all together on a Sunday night).

Developing the digital magazine also forced an eBook out of me. And I can easily repurpose and leverage the eBook into other projects and products. I can still make a return on The Renegade Musician.

The Renegade Musician eBook

A look inside the eBook.

But to make the digital magazine or newsletter concept work, I would need to:

  • Collaborate with influencers. Perhaps I could get them to write a piece or do a quick interview write-up with them. The elder statesmen of your industry always have greater pull and reach, so leveraging their influence would be key.
  • Ask for mailing addresses. I know that I could get a few people to download The Renegade Musician if I sent a download link directly to my email list. But the real value of putting together a nicely organized PDF like this is to print it up and get it into mailboxes.
  • Spend more time promoting it. Not impossible with my schedule, but I was already waking up feeling exhausted some days, so adding more to my calendar was unlikely to make that situation better. Realistically, I would need to look at collaborating, hiring, advertising, or a combination thereof to improve reach.

Final Thoughts

What I’ve realized is this…

Inspiration can be a good thing and so can spontaneity.

As applied to business, however, a little bit of strategic thinking can be helpful when new ideas come to you. Especially if you want them to work.

Starting a new product (especially when you already have a dozen or so), can be like starting from scratch. When you already have other products that are selling, creating a new one that doesn’t perform can be a bit of a distraction.

It would be better to spend a little more time in research. Develop a sense of what the market wants and how to package it to appeal to your audience.

The shotgun approach works for some. Slow and strategic works better for others.

I have always straddled that line. But I’m ready to try something new. So, I plan to be slower and more strategic.

There is no preset formula, but it’s worth testing out both approaches. And whatever your instincts say, you should follow it. Because your journey will be unique. You will figure out your own way.

The story of The Renegade Musician has not been told in full. But this has been my experience of it so far.

Now, it’s time to spread the message of artist empowerment, which is what The Renegade Musician is all about.

For more inspiration, be sure to sign up for my email list.

There’s No Such Thing as “Remote Work”

There’s No Such Thing as “Remote Work”

Work has been, and always will be, done wherever you are. And you are not remote. Your team members may be, but wherever you are is local to you. You may be video conferencing instead of working together in the same office now, but for everyone on your team, wherever they are working is local to them. They are only “remote” to you. And you are only “remote” to them.

I get that you may not be commuting to the same office or workplace anymore. But it’s funny how we never called that “remote” work, because everyone had to gather in the same place to do their work.

Currently, I live in Abbotsford. But if I took off to New Zealand and did my work from New Zealand, I would not say that I was working remotely. I would be working locally in New Zealand. And because I live nomadically, I would continue to journey on, exploring different countries (like that’s ever going to be a possibility again). Regardless of where I journeyed, I would say that I was working locally.

I find it fascinating how we attempt to adopt different paradigms for the changing dynamics of work. I completely understand that phone calls and video conferencing are no substitute for in-person meetings. I have also felt the disconnect.

I attended an online conference a while back (while working, I might add), and no matter the sound effects, or digital “claps,” it just didn’t do it for me. It will never replace the connection, excitement, and directness of an in-person conference.

And we call these “virtual conferences.” I don’t get that terminology either. If it’s virtual, isn’t some part of it fake? It’s not virtual, it’s just not happening at a hotel, theater, or conference center. It’s happening online. It’s just a glorified video conference.

Getting back to the point, how effective were your meetings in the first place? If your office was like most, the answer is not very.

And, again, even though I understand well the challenges of communication that come with the heavy reliance on devices rather than direct communication, the fact of the matter is, there isn’t a whole lot of difference between where you used to work, and where you work now.

You’re still staring at a screen (or multiple screens). You’re still using email to communicate (which is funny, because it’s more useful now than it used to be – it probably shouldn’t have been abused in the office). And you’re still pulling the same hours if not more.

This is just the perspective of a digital nomad, so take what you will. But to me, there is no such thing as “remote work.” Work happens where you are. And for your team, work happens where they are. It’s helpful to adopt that paradigm, because otherwise you might tend to think work is happening elsewhere. That’s not quite true. For everyone in your circle, work is happening where they are. And part of the separation you feel is because of that unnecessary distinction.

 

What Are You Putting off Because it’s “Boring?”

What Are You Putting off Because it’s “Boring?”

There’s work that needs to be completely urgently.

And then there’s work that we can put off, seemingly indefinitely.

The life of the creative is paved with scenarios like that.

But what we don’t acknowledge is that the work we put off might hold the key to our next breakthrough.

The “boring” is worth giving some attention to. It’s where you have the potential to see the greatest growth.

Where I Feel Like I’ve Fallen Short

What strikes me as sexy, at least in my world, is content, traffic, and product development.

Content tends to come first in my day, if only because I’ve made a commitment to publishing daily and because I have staff writing duties to carry out.

I’ve been trying to put product development first in my day because I know that’s where the greatest return is going to come from. Some days I’m successful, some days I’m not.

To be honest, there are times when product development can seem boring to me. But that’s because it’s time-consuming and intensive work.

But what I’ve recently come to realize is that I find the following business tasks the most boring. Things like:

  • Understanding my target audience better
  • Keyword research
  • Competitive research
  • SEO
  • Content audit

I’m knowledgeable and well-versed in every one of these areas but have had trouble bringing myself to work on them consistently.

Which isn’t to say I should be doing it all myself. But since I haven’t experienced any breakthroughs by focusing on content, traffic, and products, maybe the step forward I’m looking for is in engaging the boring.

I’ve Already Started the Grind

This realization about the “boring” occurred to me last week.

I was watching my business coach in action from a 2009 presentation, and what I saw was just how diligent and thorough he was in research and gathering information to determine whether a business had the potential to be profitable.

Let me restate. This was in 2009! Holy.

We’re in 2021 now, and no matter the niche, no matter the audience, things are more competitive than they’ve ever been! You’ve got to bring your A-game, bro.

I’ve never claimed to win a high school popularity contest (which is pretty much how social media, online business, and even music has occurred to me at times), and I don’t think I’m about to. So, that means I’ve got to build a tribe that resonates with me specifically, even if it’s a small one.

(By the way, I do feel I could change my context around this “high school popularity contest” business and would even benefit from doing so.)

Anyway, waffle as I do, the grind has already begun for me. As we speak, I’ve started dedicating some time to pruning and optimizing my content at Music Entrepreneur HQ, my lovechild (over 800 pages…).

And this means combing through Google Analytics for pages that haven’t gotten much traffic in the past year and figuring out why that’s the case (oftentimes it’s just because of a missing or broken image, though there are some low-quality posts that I’m upgrading or pruning).

Content audit

I already know that this is nowhere near as important as creating an offer that converts and developing a sales process for it. That said, I have multiple products just waiting to be launched, and that makes no difference if there isn’t an audience there to buy them.

I’ve spent 12 years building an audience. What’s funny is that I’ve changed a lot in those 12 years, and whoever is still with me has had to endure that roller-coaster ride.

Maybe it’s too much to expect that they’d still be with me. Only a small number still are…

Like I said, I’m not winning any popularity contests.

What Have You Been Avoiding?

Again, I drone on.

But this post is about you and what you’ve been avoiding.

What is something that has been showing up as boring in your world?

What is something that deep down you know you haven’t been giving the attention it deserves?

It might even be something that occurs to you as a total mess (just as Music Entrepreneur HQ does to me).

We are all in a dance with how things occur to us…

But maybe there’s a breakthrough waiting for you in that very area.

Like a to-do list with tasks, you never seem to get around to or even want to touch…

It’s human to move towards the comfortable. Move away from the uncomfortable.

But there’s something magical about the uncomfortable.

When you finally tend to it, you may find that it isn’t a big deal after all. You may find that it only takes a few seconds to do. Even if it takes longer, you may find that it’s not as hard as you thought it would be.

Some suspense may follow your actions (e.g., like if you were cold calling an influencer), but the task itself might not be the mountain you’ve made of it.

In my coaching efforts, I like to poke and prod in this area, just as I did on The Unstarving Musician podcast a couple years back.

Because maybe the next breakthrough you’re looking for isn’t going to come from doing more of the same.

Like if you were a writer and thought that one more article was going to make all the difference (in my experience, it’s not…).

Your next breakthrough may come from seemingly unrelated areas in your life that you haven’t addressed. Things like:

  • Having that difficult conversation with your significant other you’ve been putting off
  • Owning up to that money you didn’t mean to keep but did anyway
  • Clearing up a white lie you told to a friend because you just didn’t want to be around them
  • Following through on a commitment you’ve made (to yourself, your child, friend, boss, or otherwise)
Your next breakthrough may come from seemingly unrelated areas in your life that you haven’t addressed. Click To Tweet

Whatever you’ve been avoiding, chances are, there’s something there.

Final Thoughts

You’ve been avoiding the “boring” work for a reason.

Some part of it strikes you as tedious, cumbersome, repetitive…

But it might just be where your next breakthrough comes from.

After all, insanity is doing the same things expecting different results, right?

So, maybe if you went and did something that’s outside of your ordinary routine, you’d begin to produce different results. Maybe it’s exactly where you should be putting some of your attention.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Pay what you want for the first issue of my digital magazine, The Renegade Musician.

The Renegade Musician

How to Succeed as a Part-Time Musician

How to Succeed as a Part-Time Musician

Are you a part-time musician?

Then you’ve probably asked yourself:

“What should I be focused on?”

And…

“Is it even possible to achieve success if I can’t dedicate all my time and effort to my music?”

You might even be thinking to yourself, “should I even bother trying if I can’t do it full-time?”

At the outset, I want to ensure you that, even as a part-time musician, you can achieve success on your own terms.

Here’s what you need to know:

Follow One Course Until Success

The one thing musicians (and creatives) often fail to do, in general, is take the time necessary to identify what they’d like to achieve, and how they’re going to get there.

If you’re part-time, it means you can’t dedicate all day every day to your music. You’ve only got so much time to work on your passion.

So, you need to be clear on how you’re going to spend that time and make the most of it.

And yes, you will need to choose. If you don’t, you’ll be like every other artist that’s running around like a headless chicken.

Without knowing you or what your skills are, I can’t point you in a specific direction (but you can always take advantage of my First-Time Coaching Special, which is the heavily discounted version of my coaching program for newcomers).

But with live music in semi-permanent suspension, these are some of the more promising opportunities available:

But why, exactly, are these promising?

Because, for the most part, they don’t require you to build a fan base. You just need to identify opportunities or build a steady flow of clients. Not necessarily easy, but not as hard as building a fan base.

If you want to succeed as a part-time musician, you’ve got to FOCUS – Follow One Course Until Success. You need to be sold out to the cause!

And you will need to adjust and even pivot occasionally. But trying to do too much is the enemy of greatness for every part-time musician.

Trying to do too much is the enemy of greatness for part-time musicians. Click To Tweet

Fail Early, Fail Often

If you want to be successful on your own terms (whatever that means to you), you can’t be afraid to fail.

You shouldn’t expect to know everything going in. That would be like going to high school and asking to take the final exams on the first day. The three years leading up to that point are what prepare you for those exams!

Don’t see yourself as superhuman. You’re going to be disappointed more often than you know and holding yourself to standards you can’t live up to is sure to add insult to injury.

Instead, humble yourself, get out there, and be willing to make mistakes. Stop trying to learn it all before getting out there and doing something.

Stop trying to learn it all before getting out there and doing something. Click To Tweet

The reality is that you can never gain enough knowledge. And the moment you stop thinking that way is the moment you become unteachable.

So, do your best. Don’t worry about doing things the “wrong way.” Rights and wrongs are moving targets based on the situation and the people you’re talking to!

I’ve been a creative consultant and a coach for 10 years. I help creatives and musicians achieve clarity and find their focus. And even I have made mistakes too numerous to name!

Failure is just a feedback mechanism. It tells you what works and what doesn’t. Use that information to improve yourself and your processes.

Failure is just a feedback mechanism. It tells you what works and what doesn’t. Click To Tweet

Document Your Journey & Share Publicly

Documenting your journey can end up helping you and others. It can even help you create opportunities and build an audience for your art.

This is not “do as I say, not as I do.”

Since July 28, 2020, I have been publishing daily about my journey.

In that time:

No, I have not experienced explosive growth in any one area. But I’m proving, as I’ve done so many times before, that publishing works.

Documenting your journey and sharing publicly allows you to:

  • Grow your fan base
  • Grow your email list
  • Grow your social media following
  • Attract clients
  • Make sales
  • And more

But we need to keep this simple. You need to dedicate 80 if not 95% of your time to working on your music, not to admin, social media, or building your website. Really.

So, make this as easy on yourself as possible. Here are some ideas that may work for you:

  • Write and publish a quick blog post at the end of the day
  • While in the studio, record a quick audio talking about what you’re working on and post it to YouTube
  • Make a vlog with your smartphone and post it to YouTube

That’s it! I’m not asking you to become a content marketing god. Trust me when I say I know how hard that is (I can’t believe I’m putting myself through the pain of building traffic to new web properties this year).

I just want to see you connect with your fans. And publishing is part of the program, no matter what method you adhere to (trust me – I’ve looked at most of the courses for musicians out there, and they all talk about publishing).

Build Your Network Intentionally & Strategically

If there’s one last high-level thing I can leave you with, it’s this – build your network.

Pick a platform, be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or otherwise, and start connecting with people.

You don’t need to learn sales tactics. You don’t need to know anything to start connecting with people in an authentic, genuine way.

In-person events are basically on semi-permanent suspension anyway, so you almost don’t even need to shower!

Show up. Be real. Add value. And don’t try to sell people. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

I’ve gotten plenty of work for just showing up (like I said, I publish daily). It keeps me top of mind with people.

Yes, I’m also intentional about connecting with people, especially on social media.

If you don’t know where to get started with that, take my coach’s course on Conversational Conversions (it’s just $9 and only an hour long, how can you go wrong?).

But trust me when I say the best opportunities will come through people. And if you aren’t ready, the opportunity will pass you by.

I can’t tell you how many advances from young ladies I missed simply because I wasn’t ready and didn’t know how to respond!

People say they want success dropped in their lap when they have no clue how to handle it.

People say they want success dropped in their lap when they have no clue how to handle it. Click To Tweet

So, build yourself. Build your mindset. Prepare for success.

And I don’t know of a better way to prepare for success than to build your network strategically and intentionally.

Keep it simple. No NLP training required!

Final Thoughts

In summary, to succeed as a part-time musician, you’ll want to:

  • Choose an opportunity matched to your talents and stay focused on it
  • Fail early, fail often, and learn from your mistakes
  • Document your journey and share it publicly
  • Build your network intentionally and strategically (opportunity always comes from other people!)

If you need more help, that’s what I’m here for.

Sign up for my First-Time Coaching Special.

First-Time Coaching Special

Be a Creator or a Consumer… the Choice is Yours!

Be a Creator or a Consumer… the Choice is Yours!

“There are consumers and creators. Consumers spend five hours per day engaging with content. I’m a creator. I want to create the content that people spend all their free time engaging with.”

At the time, I didn’t know my new roommate all too well. He seemed like a nice guy at first. I’m almost certain my comments rubbed him the wrong way.

It wasn’t long before I discovered he was the angry, sociopathic, lone wolf type who spent all day and night drinking beer and watching Star Wars, leaving for casual, part-time work only occasionally as he found himself able to carry his lazy, drunken (or hungover) body out the door.

How Much Time do You Spend Engaging with Content?

BroadbandSearch has shown that people spend an average of 58 minutes per day on Facebook, 40 minutes per day on YouTube, and 53 minutes per day on Instagram. They’ve got some interesting stats on other social networks too.

I honestly think those numbers are low.

The stat that I often like to refer to is from 2018, which showed that U.S. adults spent nearly six hours per day watching video (TechCrunch).

Just because those six hours are distributed across different platforms (Netflix, YouTube, Amazon Prime Video, etc.) doesn’t mean the average has changed one iota.

If anything, with the pandemic, I would suspect these numbers have shot through the roof.

You Can Still Consume

“But… I love watching my favorite YouTuber!”

Consumption isn’t the problem. Especially when the choice is intentional.

But classic personal development has it that if you just took 30 minutes out of those six hours and dedicated it to study in a specific area, you could become an expert in that field.

I have had people debate this point, but the adage that you can “stay ahead a lesson,” in my experience, is 100% true. This comes from someone who occasionally taught piano (guitar is my main instrument), despite not being able to play piano all that well.

The boring math shows that 30 minutes x 365 days = 10,950 minutes (or 182.5 hours).

So, with just 30 minutes per day, in a year, you would have spent nearly 200 hours studying in your field of choice. Maybe you wouldn’t be a world-renowned expert in a year but imagine if you did this for 10 years.

Get Busy Creating

Last night, I was watching one of the training videos my business coach had created. The focus of the training was on developing a six-figure per month business (that’s $100,000 and up per month).

One of the key things he mentioned is the fact that, if you want to be earning those types of sums, you’ve got to get busy creating. You will probably be spending a good chunk of your time creating content that connects with your audience.

Whether you start a membership, affiliate business, infoproduct venture or otherwise, I think his observation is spot on.

The content you create can be leveraged to promote your business, establish your brand, boost your authority and credibility, capture and nurture leads, make sales, and train your team. It can even be repurposed into products.

And my coach found that the more content he published, the more sales he ultimately made.

Shake off Perfectionism

You can’t be prolific if you’re going to be a perfectionist. The two don’t go together.

I’ve written five books, over 400 stories on Medium, and 670 posts on Music Entrepreneur HQ. Music Industry How To has over 1,100 posts and I’ve written about 35% of those (385).

If you want to count all the posts, I wrote for my niche blogs, InfoBarrel, long forgotten guest posts, ghostwritten posts for a variety of publications and blogs, my numbers are basically in the thousands.

And I’m not even close to being the most prolific. There are plenty of people who’ve published significantly more.

The point is that there’s no space for perfectionism in my life. If I were worried about that, I would have lost the game before getting on the field.

And the reason I keep getting up to bat and enduring failure is because I have a vision of helping people like you.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, my best friend and I were able to escape the toxic environment our new roommate had ushered into the entire household.

What was once a safe, wholesome, and friendly shared space was quickly turning uncertain, scary, and even dangerous.

There’s something to be said for being mindful of who you say things to. But the truth always stings when you hear it for the first time.

The truth always stings when you hear it for the first time. Click To Tweet

I hope my ex-roommate learned from that experience. I know for a fact the landlord ended up selling that home, so I’m almost certain there wasn’t a peaceful, amicable end to it all.

But it makes the point. You will either spend all your free time drinking and watching Star Wars, or you will spend your free time intentionally, making things people engage with.

Pay what you want for the first issue of my digital magazine, The Renegade Musician.

The Renegade Musician